October 23rd, 2011. Wembley Stadium in London. The Bucs were ‘at home’ to the Chicago Bears in the NFL International Series. It was that day, almost 7 years ago, where despite us losing, I became a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan. I’d been following the NFL for a while but had yet to choose a team. I decided that it was time and that the Bucs and Bears were the candidates. I knew little about both at the time other than that it was a lot colder in Chicago. That day I bought a jersey of “franchise Quarterback” Josh Freeman and my rollercoaster ride began.
We live and die, succeed and fail, cry and laugh all by the choices that we make.
Bears mauled us
I’m not even sure where to start. This entire game played out a little like it was a script written by a beat writer. Unfortunately, their probable ending of Jameis coming on to win the game was always unlikely. Trubisky took what he was given, and often. His first touchdown was his longest of the year, at 34 yards. The Bucs defense looked like they were already on the bye week. Time after time the Bears carved their way through with relative ease. The Fitzmagic has either worn off or was left in the locker room. When the Bucs did get the ball, they couldn’t get a rhythm. The Bears would win it back and Groundhog day would continue.
I’m not normally one to call for someone’s head, but this was atrocious and the blame has to be laid somewhere. Coach Koetter started the season on the proverbial hot seat and has made some smart decisions so far. Moving play calling to Todd Monken offered him a fall guy if it all went wrong. When it was going right, he looked a genius for passing on the responsibility. He may have to make a brave call again. Mike Smith had nothing to offer against a Bears offense who had previously maxed out at 24 points in a game.
In my previous post about momentum, I highlighted the pitfalls of losing this game going into a bye week. I didn’t envisage the manner of the defeat, which will make the ‘stewing’ all the worse. The players have time now to go and rest up, see their families and clear their minds. Will it make a difference when we head to Atlanta? I’m not so sure. The Falcons defense looks comparably bad, so we could be heading for a shootout, something Atlanta has been in for the previous 3 weeks and may continue into week 5 where they face the Steelers.
Jameis – the silver lining
With all of the doom, gloom and uncertainty surrounding the defense, the return of Jameis may prove to be a blessing. The natural charisma of Winston, coupled with a media who have been starved of him for weeks, should be a welcomed distraction for the rest of the team. I’m not sure I’m judging the performance of Winston in the second half against Chicago with too much scrutiny. The circumstances were desperate, the outcome was inevitable. It was good to get him some game time, and he wasn’t injured. We’ll take that.
As of Wednesday morning in the UK, the only news leaving One Buc place regarding changes was a cut and pick up – neither coaching related! Choices and decisions need to be made, incorrect ones are going to cost people their jobs. I hope that the coming days are used wisely.
London games return
The first of 3 London games coincides with week 6, so I won’t be able to watch our response in real time. Instead, i’ll be watching Jon Gruden’s Raiders entertain the Seattle Seahawks at Wembley Stadium. This year we have 3 games in 3 consecutive weeks to really test the commitment of the UK NFL fans. London is approximately 2 hours drive from my house and tickets are £50 each so it’s certainly going to test my wallet.
Until next time, Go Bucs.