Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been very inconsistent

They are a good football team. Sometimes.

There are days when you can catch them in just the right light and you can see a contender. In those moments, when the quarterback is precise and the run defense is vicious and the running game is churning, they look like a promising team on the brink of delivery.

Alas, you cannot count on those moments.

They are a bad football team. Sometimes.

There are moments when you have to look away, else you see a wayward team moving in the wrong direction. At such times, when the penalties are mounting and the turnovers keep happening and the defense has forgotten how to tackle, they look like an undisciplined, plodding bunch that is moving in the wrong direction.

Fortunately, you cannot count on that team, either.

They are the Tampa Bay Bucs, and they are harder to figure out than politics.

They are talented enough to beat New Orleans, and they are terrible enough to get run out of the stadium by San Francisco. They are strong enough to hold Atlanta's Michael Turner to 20 yards rushing and weak enough to give up 145 to Chicago's Matt Forte. They can make Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan look ordinary, and they can make San Francisco's Alex Smith look like a star.

Whatever you think of them, they will soon change your mind. They are contrarians who defy identification. At the exact moment you start to think they are good, they will make you reconsider. And as soon as you conclude they are bad, they will argue against that, too.

They are the Bucs.

They lead the league in split personalities.

"It's the old Rod Marinelli line," said coach Raheem Morris, referencing the former Bucs defensive line coach. "It's hard to repeat what you do well. It's easy to go out one week and play hard and play fast and play smart. But to repeat it week after week is what makes football hard, what makes football great."

In the NFL, nothing is harder than consistent success. Ask the Saints, who scored 62 points one week and lost to the previously winless Rams the next. Ask New England, which lost to Buffalo, or the Jets, who lost to Oakland, or San Diego, which lost to a Kansas City team it beat earlier in the year.

In a confusing league, however, no one has been more baffling than the Bucs. They are equal parts faith and doubt, skill and sloth, progression and regression. They are the reason fans are crying for more games on television and the reason that once they are, remote controls end up shattering against the wall.

As the season nears its halfway point, isn't it time to figure out who they really are?

For crying out loud, would the Bucs please identify themselves?

Today's game would be a fine time for that, don't you think? If the Bucs can beat the Saints for the second time this season, it would be hard to argue against the notion of them as a contender. If they do not, they are just another 4-4 team that should change their jerseys to resemble a Rubik's Cube.

On the other hand, these are the Bucs.

Over the years, they have always been fairly easy to figure. In the bad years, you could always see trouble coming. In the good years, they didn't sneak up on anyone. You always knew who the Bucs were.

This year?

Four steps forward, three steps back.

"I have thought we were a good team from Day 1," Morris said. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have set our goal at winning the division. We aren't a finished product, by any means. But you want to get that thing going and finish strong at the end."

As the season nears its halfway point, the chief concern of the Bucs ought to be this: What, exactly, does this team do well?

It isn't particular fast, and it isn't particularly disciplined, and it isn't particularly nasty. It isn't safe with the ball, and it isn't a great defense, and it isn't a dangerous offense. No one denies the Bucs have young talent, but Josh Freeman has struggled to protect the ball, and Mike Williams has disappeared and the running game seems to show up every other week. There are too many penalties, too many sloppy plays, too many slow starts.

Remember the movie Twins? That's the Bucs. Some of the time, they are Arnold Schwarzenegger. Some of the time, they are Danny DeVito.

Who are they going to be today?

Stay tuned.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been very inconsistent 11/04/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 5, 2011 8:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule

    Tennis

    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]