Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: Bucs are the biggest underachieving team in the NFL

TAMPA — Bad football.

What else can you say? The Bucs are a bad football team, putting out a bad product.

They can’t win. Worse, they don’t even entertain.

Did you watch Sunday’s game? It was awful. It was boring.

"There is nobody more frustrated than us right now,’’ center Ali Marpet said.

Wanna bet? Why don’t you check with the Bucs fans who haven’t seen a playoff game in a decade and sense another season going down the tubes? Why don’t you check with the thousands who paid good money to watch that slop on Sunday?

That’s four losses in a row for the Bucs. They are now 2-5. The season wasn’t supposed to go this way. No one saw this coming.

What happened to that "bad-(expletive)’’ football team? Where’s that big (expletive) stick? They are the biggest underachieving team in the NFL.

The only good news is that there are only nine more of these stinkers left. That’s how many games are left in the regular season.

As far as postseason? Forget it. This season is over. Not officially, but let’s be real. This team probably has to go 8-1 or, maybe, 7-2 the rest of the way to have a shot at the playoffs. Based on what we’ve seen in the first seven games, what makes you think the Bucs have seven or eight wins in them?

Here’s a spooky thought: It’s not even Halloween and it might be time to start thinking about next year’s draft. Seasons like this often end with people losing jobs.

"We’re going to work our hardest and try to turn it around,’’ safety T.J. Ward said.

"Everyone has to get together to win a game,’’ linebacker Kwon Alexander said.

"Just have to keep on playing,’’ tackle Donovan Smith said.

Bucs players can say all the things they’re supposed to say, but you wonder if they, deep down, believe their words. A walk around the locker room after Sunday’s loss revealed a team that has a crisis of confidence.

"It’s more searching for answers when you’re losing rather than just going out there and playing,’’ defensive tackle Chris Baker said. "The only way to get this feeling out of your mouth is, we’ve just got to keep coming back to work.’’

You can excuse Baker for mixing his metaphors. After all, no one has any answers at the moment. You don’t even know where to start.

We all figured the defense was ripe to get torched on Sunday and, instead, it was the offense that didn’t show up. They scored three points. Three! How in the world does that happen?

The quarterback was a first overall draft pick. The running back was a first-round draft pick. The tight end was a first-round pick. One wide receiver was a first-round draft pick and the other was the prized free agent of the offseason. The head coach is supposed to be this offensive guru.

All that talent and you can only produce three more points than a pee-wee team could have scored? It’s inexcusable and the biggest reason why the Bucs find themselves with one foot in the grave and another standing on a banana peel.

The quarterback still can’t help handing the ball to the other team. The offensive line can’t get through a game without drive-killing penalties. The offense still doesn’t have an identity.

Jameis Winston says he has to play better. Dirk Koetter says he has to coach better.

No objections.

So where does the team go from here?

Mike Evans said the Bucs need to pick it up immediately. Winston says there is no room for error. Ward said this team still has the potential to be great. Koetter again warned his players from pointing fingers.

Koetter gave a succinct "no’’ and nothing more when asked if the season is slipping away.

He might be right. The season isn’t slipping away.

It feels like it already has.

Contact Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones

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