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Nothing's changing with 0-6 Bucs

TAMPA

Every week, it sounds the same.

In fact, take the postgame quotes from Bucs head coach Greg Schiano from any game and put them after any other game and they fit perfectly.

Like this one: "I have great confidence this team will stick together, this team will win.'' That came after the loss to the Patriots.

"We've got to stick together.'' He said that one after the loss to the Cardinals.

"We have to look at what we're doing coaching-wise. … It falls on me.'' That was after the loss to the Saints.

"I put it on me. … It's frustrating because I've said it standing at this (microphone) before." That was Sunday after the Bucs fell to 0-6.

Perhaps the reason it all sounds the same is because every week looks the same.

The games are, generally, close. The offense pretty much knocks off work at halftime and spends most of the day kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. The defense gives up a few too many big plays. And the officials get back spasms from picking up all the penalty flags after a Bucs player commits another penalty.

And here is the worst part: nothing is changing.

The loss in Week 1 looked like the loss in Week 3. The second loss looked like the fifth loss.

Forget how hard the players are working. Forget about how close the losses might be. Even forget that the Bucs are playing with a rookie quarterback.

It isn't getting any better. The Bucs still commit a slew of costly penalties (are there any other kind?) and find ways to lose games instead of, as cornerback Darrelle Revis said, accidentally winning even one.

They've played good teams, such as the Saints and Patriots. They've played so-so teams, such as the Cardinals and Eagles. They've played young teams (Jets) and beat-up teams (Falcons).

Doesn't matter.

They've lost to backup quarterbacks and Pro Bowl quarterbacks. They've lost at home and on the road, and after going winless on Sundays, they'll see how they do on a Thursday.

Let's be honest here. Only diehard Bucs fans thought this was a really good team coming into 2013. Most of us thought this was, at best, a .500 team. I predicted six wins. So maybe we shouldn't be shocked that the team hasn't played especially well.

But here's the thing: If you are trying to build a team, if you are trying to turn it into a winner, don't you look for signs of improvement from week to week? And if you're looking to judge a head coach and his staff and if you're trying to evaluate your roster, don't you expect the team to get better as the season gets deeper? Shouldn't they be better now than they were two weeks ago?

Yet that's the issue. The Bucs aren't better now than they were two weeks ago. Other than rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, it's hard to find a player or aspect of the game that is better now than it was earlier this season.

The problems of the first week continue to be problems now, and it starts with penalties.

Schiano accurately pointed out Monday that if you look at the season statistics, you would think this team is around .500. Items such as first downs and time of possession and total yards are in the same general ballpark as their opponents. The Bucs' turnover ratio is zero, meaning they've turned over the ball as often as they've forced a turnover.

"Usually, when you're even, your record's pretty even — you're usually 3-3, 2-4, 4-2 (and) we're 0-6,'' Schiano said. "Penalties are certainly a big part of it.''

Some penalties are simply a part of the game. Every team jumps offside or shifts illegally or blocks someone in the back on a punt return. That happens.

Some penalties are a result of a player getting beat and being forced to hold or commit pass interference. Often that shows you just aren't as good as the other guy and there's nothing you can do about that except work harder, coach better or get more talented players.

But it's the other junk — the late hits and the selfish personal fouls — that are inexcusable.

And as much as you might want to jump on Schiano for that stuff, the players bear most of the responsibility. I mean, should Schiano really have to tell Vincent Jackson that he shouldn't grab a guy's facemask and try to rip off his head? Is Schiano responsible for center Ted Larsen stupidly picking up a personal foul penalty? Does Schiano really need to tell his players not to push players who are out of bounds or not to hit the quarterback in the head or not to lead with their helmets when making a tackle?

My feeling is that Schiano is telling his players those things and the message is not getting through.

Instead of talking about how good his players are and how hard they are working, maybe Schiano needs to be brutally honest and tell his players what they need to hear:

They are not good enough to overcome 10 penalties a game. They don't have enough talent to commit more than 100 yards worth of penalties each game. They aren't the Broncos or Seahawks or Saints. They are a below-average team that can only win when they play near-perfect football, and they are one of the worst teams in football when they play stupid.

That's the message that needs to get through. If it doesn't, you know what we'll get?

The same old story.

Nothing's changing with 0-6 Bucs 10/21/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 21, 2013 10:35pm]

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