Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pair of wins give Tampa Bay Bucs new view

What if Lavonte David had pulled up?

What if, during those frenzied final moments of the Jets' game, David had just escorted Geno Smith out of bounds? After all, David is a terrific player. What if he recognized that a quarterback going out of bounds was a hands-off play, and because if it, the Bucs hold off the Jets?

Would the Bucs be 3-7 today instead of 2-8?

What if Greg Schiano had trusted Josh Freeman?

What if things hadn't become so strained that Schiano turned Freeman into a bystander during the Saints game? What if he had let Freeman throw the ball on third and 6 near the end of the game? Or, another way to put it, what if he had grown so fed up with Freeman that he sent him to the skybox a couple of weeks earlier? What if the Bucs protected their late lead against the Saints?

Would the Bucs be 4-6 today?

What if Mike Glennon had done a better job of protecting the ball against Arizona?

What if that wasn't Glennon's first start? What if, by then, Glennon was as accurate as he has been lately (one interception in his past 184 passes)? What if he protected the ball, and the lead, instead of throwing two interceptions on the team's final three possessions?

Would the Bucs be 5-5 today?

What if they had closed the door, just one more time, against Seattle? What if the MRSA scandal had never happened?

What if?

Here, in these giddy days of two in a row, this is what back-to-back wins have earned for the Bucs. Just like that, you are able to look differently at that horrible first half of the season.

That's how it works. When a team is losing, everything is miserable, and all you can see is ugly. But when a team is winning, you can also look back and see the games that got away.

These days, it is possible to wonder what would have happened to the psyche of this team if it had gotten off to a better start. If they beat the Jets, which they should have, or the Saints, which they could have, or the Cardinals, which they might have, how would that have affected them in other games?

Oh, you can drive yourself crazy playing this game. All bad teams do it, and usually, it offers up a lot more frustration that it does consolation. Spin things hard enough, and everyone knows you can turn the 0-16 Lions of 2008 into a wild-card contender. Beauty contestants are fashioned from such makeup.

Let's be honest: the NFL is a league of close games, and bad teams often try to make them look better than the final result. Consider this: Houston is also 2-8, but has lost four games by a total of 10 points. Minnesota is 2-8, but has lost three by a total of nine points. So what? The world is filled with teams on their way to nowhere trying to imagine where they would be if they had won this close game or that one. In the NFL, no one gets a mulligan.

Let's be honest. This Bucs team was never going to challenge for the championship. But could it have been a .500 team? Well, maybe.

That's how much the feel of a season has changed around here. A couple of weeks ago, at 0-8, this was the NFL's wasteland. There were skulls and vultures and wavy stink lines. Soon, everyone was going to get fired.

Then came a win against Miami, a bad team, and Atlanta, a bad team, and suddenly, everyone is smiling. There isn't a two-win team in the league where the locker room feels better. It's like talking to a guy who is a little sickly, and he says, "Yeah, but two weeks ago, I was dead.''

These days, Schiano looks less like a bully and more like a guy who convinced his team to stay with the season. These days, Glennon looks less like a wobbly replacement and more like a kid who improves by the week. Two wins, and the viewpoint changes.

Will it last? Who knows? Detroit will be a handful on Sunday; Calvin Johnson can get to places vertically that the Bucs can't cover. The 49ers are ahead. The Panthers are ahead. The Saints are ahead.

That's the NFL, too. If this team hits another dip, then this two-game streak will be quickly forgotten, and the bad headlines will return, and just like that, Schiano's office will be getting measured for the next coach's furniture.

For now, however, things feel as good around the Bucs as they have for a while.

They've only won two.

But it's been in a row. Yippee.

And that's the thing. When you have been living underground, even a small hill feels like a mountain.

Bucs up next

at Lions, 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit

TV/radio: Ch. 13, 620-AM, 103.5-FM, 95.3-FM

Pair of wins give Tampa Bay Bucs new view 11/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 10:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.