Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs need many high draft picks to fill needs

ST. LOUIS

Yay for the draft pick.

By this point, this is all that you care about. After this display, this is all that you are interested in. In a wretched, forgettable Bucs season, this is all that remains.

Forget about the results.

Just give us a new dose of hope.

And so it was that you were able to survive a rather dull drubbing of the Bucs by the St. Louis Rams, a team that isn't very good but is still miles and miles ahead of Tampa Bay. Once again, the Bucs offense was awful beyond watching. Once again, the defense wasn't good enough. Once again, the Bucs lost, for the 11th time in 15 games this season.

Then again, there is a very high draft pick in the Bucs' future. Yippee.

The only question is: What position needs him the most?

For most of the afternoon, this was an ongoing conversation with the Bucs. The more you watched the Rams knock Mike Glennon around, the more convinced you were that the draft pick from this year's ineptitude should be a quarterback.

The more you saw Bobby Rainey run to darkness, the more you could argue that it should be an offensive lineman. The more you saw the Rams offense moving the ball, the more certain you were that it should be a defensive end.

Or maybe it should be a wide receiver. Maybe a linebacker. Who knows? Maybe a head coach, assuming the Bucs can find a way to make one eligible for the draft.

That's your reality about this team. The number of holes exceeds the players who are entrenched in their positions. Put it this way: The Bucs could have the top five picks in the draft, and I'm not sure they could cure all of their ills.

Look, this wasn't Warren Sapp vs. Kurt Warner, and it wasn't Derrick Brooks vs. Marshall Faulk, and it wasn't Ronde Barber vs. Isaac Bruce. The Rams are now 7-8, and a 7-8 team shouldn't push another team around like this. But push the Bucs around they did. And the Bucs? They took it the way most 4-11 teams take it.

"We got our butts kicked," is the way defensive tackle Gerald McCoy described it. "They didn't surprise us with anything. They just beat us."

For instance, the Rams treated Glennon terribly. They sacked him seven times, and they harassed him on a lot of other plays. It was as if the Rams' game plan was to make Glennon rue that he had not been born a tight end. It was the fourth straight game in which Glennon has passed for fewer than 200 yards.

For instance, the Rams buried Rainey under defensive linemen. Rainey ran the ball 20 times, and he gained all of 37 yards. Over his past two games, Rainey has 31 carries for 64 yards, and yet he remains all the Bucs have.

The common denominator here is the offensive line, which was spanked on Sunday. They could barely slow down the Rams. Defensive end Robert Quinn had three sacks himself, which means he was the most productive thing around when the Bucs went to pass.

For crying out loud, what would you call if you ran this offense? You can't run, and most of your receivers can't get open, and you can't block, and Glennon cannot cure all of the ills around him. Let's face it: The Bucs were scrappy to get a touchdown and two field goals out of this bunch. And they wouldn't have, if not for getting exactly half of their yards on their 85-yard touchdown drive.

And you wonder: Could Teddy Bridgewater have done better at quarterback? Or maybe Derek Carr? Could a tackle like Jake Matthews have bought more time? How about a defensive end such as Jadeveon Clowney? A linebacker such as Anthony Barr?

In other words, think of this game as a cry for help.

From somebody. From anybody.

In some ways, perhaps a game such as this should have been welcomed because it reminds the Bucs how far there is to go. There for a while, the team had played fairly well. It had won four of its past six, and the only losses had been to a pretty good Carolina team and a pretty good San Francisco team.

This? This was uglier. This was ruder. This was reality.

This was a Rams team that is missing its star quarterback, that was missing its star receiver, that is one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Still, the Rams dominated on both sides of the line and, in so doing, pointed out to the Bucs that they had this flaw, and that one, and that one.

The truth? The Bucs can play with the bad teams of the NFL, teams such as Miami and Buffalo and Atlanta. But top-level teams, and even second-level teams, give them fits. They shut down their running game, and they make the Bucs rely on Glennon and a lot of ordinary receivers (plus Vincent Jackson). They overwhelm the Bucs' offensive line.

Who knows? Maybe the infusion of a great player will help. Maybe it will held solidify things so that next year is better than this year.

After all, everyone loves a high draft pick.

The shame of it is that the Bucs will only get one.

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