JR: Gary, did Raheem Morris get himself pardoned last week, or does a victory against Seattle qualify for only a temporary reprieve?
GS: It's a piece of evidence, at least. Any 2-12 coach can use all he can get. But, no, the questions are not all answered.
JR: That's why I think today's game is the most important of December. It gives the Bucs a chance to show how much they've grown since facing the Saints a month ago. They don't need to win, but they can't soil the bed like they did in November. Do they have a shot at some minuscule version of redemption?
GS: No, not redemption. Not with a dozen losses. But a competitive game would allow an argument that this team is getting better.
JR: So what will it take to be competitive? Cadillac Williams going over 100 yards? Drew Brees getting sacked three times? Raheem selling his soul?
GS: Five sacks. Four turnovers. And one bad ankle for Brees.
JR: Not four calling birds or three French hens?
GS: I don't know about the readers, but I always shop at Romano's for my after-Christmas puns. Half off these days?
JR: For you, they're free. It's the least I can do. The absolute least.
GS: Here's what strikes me about today's game. The Bucs are underdogs like the guy who was in Braveheart, like the Spartans in 300, like Davy Crockett at the Alamo. Except all those guys lost.
JR: Yes, but they still made movies about those losers. Why? Because Mel Gibson didn't miss open-field tackles. And Davy Crockett didn't give the flag away every time they got into Mexico's red zone. From where the Bucs stand, victory isn't as important as fighting the good fight.
GS: I disagree. I can't tell you how many of Leeman Bennett's teams played close but lost. I can tell you all about 2-14, though.
JR: In a perfect world, yes, it's better if they play well and win. But they're far from perfect, and so realistically I think signs of improvement are what you hope to see. If going 3-13 was so much more important than 2-14, the Bucs would have been better off with Jeff Garcia instead of a rookie at quarterback.
GS: This team would have been an empty bottle with Garcia, too. But close losses don't earn anything, or people would still be celebrating the Miami and Atlanta games. Close only helps if your standards are low.
JR: And when did you get the impression standards were high around One Buc Place in 2009?
GS: When I saw the ticket prices.
JR: Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Gen. George S. Patton when you get all philosophical and principled? Either Patton or Wilford Brimley. I can't decide.
GS: Weren't George and Wilford the original coordinators this year?