Christmas is done which means one thing, returns! Everyone is out this weekend returning the garbage they got for Christmas and getting the things they really wanted. While most Bucs fans would really like to return the tickets they used to go see their team at home this season, here are the things the Bucs need to return from the last calendar year.
Optimism and High Expectations
Once upon a time, after a busy off-season of free agency and high draft picks, some actually thought the Bucs could make a playoff run this season. It was supposed to be a return to the Dungy years. Rather than trying to build something new, the Glazers thought they could just jump in a DeLorean and rekindle the glory years of the Bucs. Well, that old fashioned brand of football never worked this season, and thus any optimism that any fan had before this season should be returned until our beloved Bucs show us any sense of progress moving forward.
I remember the day Greg Schiano was fired, less than a year ago. I was hosting a radio show, and my first reaction was that the Bucs finally needed to get an offensive minded aggressive coach. The Glazers instead went with the defensive-minded conservative Lovie Smith. Lovie's decisions in free agency have been failures, his draft picks (other than Mike Evans) have been questionable, his game-plans have been out-coached, and his in-game decision making has been laughable. It's as bad of a first season a head coach could have. I'm not saying Lovie Smith should be fired. I'm saying they should return him and act as if this attempt to reconnect with the Dungy years never happened. It should be fun seeing who Lovie Smith goes after as his 2nd offensive coordinator in two years.
Anthony Collins was hand-picked to protect the blindside of Josh McCown. Hell, the two of them had a joint press conference together when they were signed by the Bucs. Collins has been so bad that he not only has been benched, but he has been inactive for games, and Garrett Gilkey is getting more playing time than him. During an off-season where Branden Albert, Eugene Monroe, and Jared Veldheer were all free agents, the Bucs top target at tackle was Collins, whom they gave slightly less money to than the elite names mentioned before.
I know some Bucs fans just want to place blame on Michael Johnson for his lack of production and sack numbers. I find that hard to do after speaking with NFL Films' senior producer Greg Cosell, who told me that Johnson is far superior against the run and has always struggled in pass rush. How does Greg Cosell know this, but the Bucs brass pays Johnson as if he's an elite pass rusher. I think Johnson has played this season the way he always has, it just became more magnified this season because of his salary. If the Bucs are still looking to spend big bucks on a pass rushing end, it will be interesting to see if they go after Jason Pierre-Paul in free agency this year. Pierre-Paul did play for USF here in Tampa.
Yes, I know, it is too early to judge draft picks from last year, but last year's draft was one of the most talented drafts ever, and the Bucs had early picks in each round and needed to hit homeruns with each pick. Mike Evans was a great pick, but Seferian-Jenkins and Charles Sims have both been meh their rookie seasons. Seferian-Jenkins was selected 2 spots after Derek Carr and 3 spots after OG Joel Bitonio, both of which have started all season. A simple trade up could have gotten the Bucs either and both have played better at more important positions than Seferian-Jenkins. As for Sims, the Bucs took him one spot in front of center Marcus Martin who has started for the 49ers, six slots in front of Tre Mason who has been a far superior runner this season, and 12 spots ahead of Gabe Jackson who has started every game for the Raiders this season and is becoming their most valuable lineman. I'm not saying Seferian-Jenkins and Sims will be bad players, but the Bucs could have gotten better players at more important positions with each pick.
The new uniforms have grown on me, but much like the slogan "It's a Bucs Life," we're starting to think of losing when we see them. Once the Bucs start winning again, these new uniforms will be considered cool. Until then, I wish the Bucs could shelf these uniforms so we don't put them in the same loser category as Bucco Bruce.
New Concession Stands
A big story leading into the season was the Bucs' $7 million investment into improving the concession stands inside Raymond James Stadium. Well, this has been an epic fail. All I have heard have been complaints. There was a stand that sold water as if it were liquor and the story of the Bucs using an organization that provided homeless people to work as vendors during games. For an organization that has made a living wasting money on players and coaches, you'd think the Glazers would pump a few more bucks into the stadium to make the game day experience at least tolerable for their fans, but maybe that's too much to ask.
Every Offensive Linemen Other than Demar Dotson
Lovie Smith thought it would be wise to completely blow up the Bucs offensive line from last year and bring in a bunch of new faces. Ironically, the only good lineman the Bucs have is the only name they carried over, Demar Dotson. The following players are a joke: Garrett Gilkey, Oniel Cousins, Anthony Collins, and perhaps even Evan Dietrich-Smith. Logan Mankins is past his prime and severely overpaid. By the way, Davin Joseph started for the Rams, Donald Penn started for the Raiders, Jeremy Zuttah started for the Ravens, and Ted Larsen started for the Cardinals.
Lovie's Infauation with Josh McCown
Unlike most Bucs fans, I don't have a problem with Josh McCown, I just think he is in the wrong role with the Bucs. McCown has been and still should be a backup quarterback. He was handed the starting job and captaincy as soon as he signed a contract with the Bucs. If (when) the Bucs selected Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota in the 2015 NFL Draft, I would have no problem if McCown is kept on as their backup. I would, however, return the way Lovie Smith handled his infatuation with Josh McCown.
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