Through Thick But Not Thin

Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. The Bucs slid to an unbelievable 0-4 in games decided by three points or less when Jake Delhomme hit Steve Smith in the end zone with a little over a minute to go.

The Bucs used to fall apart late all the time, but the Super Bowl championship was supposed to cure that ill by providing intimidation and confidence. The fact is the Bucs have neither and opposing offenses have both when they are driving against the Bucs late in games. The team and its fans have caught the "here we go again syndrome", something that must be remedied if the Bucs are to right the ship.

The Bucs have given up 23 points in the four games they have won this year, with an average margin of victory of 19 points. The Jekyll and Hyde performances put on by the Buccaneers have taken fans on an emotional roller coaster this year, and unfortunately people are jumping off the band wagon as if it was the Titanic. All of those "I was a Bucs fan way back when's" are now talking about how terrible their team is. Try this on for size, pick a team and support them through thick and thin, a concept that is foreign to about 50% of Tampa Bay fans. It is fine to voice criticism, that is a fan's right. The problem is rather than supporting the Super Bowl Champs that they had "loved all along," they are talking about the season being over.

The fact is the Bucs have a light schedule by NFL standards for the rest of the year, only Tennessee has a winning record among the Bucs' remaining foes. The NFC is full of average teams like the Bucs, only six conference teams have winning records. So it is insane to count them out of the Wild Card. Where are all of those fans who predicted an undefeated season, maybe they moved to Kansas City because deep down they were always Chiefs fans. A team with post season experience has a huge advantage in the playoffs, something the Bucs have a lot of. When Tampa Bay gets into the playoffs and the band wagon is full of the "I never doubted them for a second fans", they will be the team that no one wants to play.

Don't get caught up in the negative emotion circulating through town. The team has not given up so the fans should not either. Granted, the problems are glaring. The special teams continues to make bone head plays, case in point Ellis Wymms doing his best Leon Lett impersonation by jumping on John Karney's quick kick, then laughing it off on the sideline without a coach in sight. It remains to be seen if he even knows the rules, something that should never be questioned on a pro team. The defense got burned, and did not tackle well. The offense did not execute and Kenyatta Walker continued to be Kenyatta Walker. An embarrassing performance like Sunday's will force the Bucs to get back to basics and focus on discipline, a fitting motif for the week of the Marine Corps birthday.

Do not count the Bucs out just yet because there is a lot of football left to be played. The Buccaneers have their backs against the wall and will respond like a veteran team should. The road has become much more difficult to travel as a result of the back-to-back division losses, but nothing worth having comes easy.

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