Bucs do what they do best — lose

by Gary Shelton on September 27, 2015 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Sunday, 5:50 p.m.

In their self-identification as one of the bottom-dwellers of the National Football League, this is what they do. Any questions? Anyone want to know exactly why the Tampa Bay Bucs have won only three of their last 19 games?

This. That's why.

Missed kicks. Dropped passes. Dumb penalties. Wayward throws. Meager pressure. A defense than can be too soft. An offense that cannot finish. Coaches who cannot count to 12. This is what bad teams do in all the most important moments. This is the business card. This is the resume.

Hi. We're the Bucs. We flub up.

Does that explain it?

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The Tampa Bay Bucs lost a game that they might have won Sunday. Instead, they were left to parcel out percentages of another yet another frustration. Bluntly put, the Bucs simply make too many mistakes – and give up too many plays – to win a football game. And so they lose, as if that has become their lot in life. Because otherwise, how in the world would you recognize us?

So where do we start the autopsy?

How about with the field goal kicker, a guy whose college career made you wonder if he could be accurate enough? Greg Brindza missed two crucial field goals and an extra point. Just asking, but has a kicker ever been released after a Sunday when he kicked a 58-yard field goal?

"We're not going to indict a player because of one bad game,'' coach Lovie Smith said.Maybe not. But who would blame him?

Don't forget to throw in the head coach. Lovie Smith's Bucs had 10 more penalties Sunday, and the season number has risen to staggering numbers. Isn't Smith supposed to be a disciplinarian? Isn't this team supposed to be on the rise?

"This is what losing teams do,'' Smith said.

How about the dropped passes? The Bucs' receivers kept batting down passes, as if that was the point rather than, you know, catching them. Get this: The Bucs tried to throw it to Mike Evans a whopping 17 times. Yeah, he caught seven for 101 yards, but that's not enough of a return of the investment.

"This is on me,'' Evans said.

How about the quarterback? Yeah, yeah, Winston had an excuse, this being his third start and all. He did throw for 261 passes. But there were too many passes where the ball just sailed on him. Winston has to be much, much more accurate. He's new, but the NFL doesn't grade on the curve.

How about the defense? The Bucs were playing against Ryan Mallett, who had won only one other game in his NFL career. But Mallett hit 24 of 39 for 228 yards. And the Bucs were playing against running back Alfred Blue, playing because Arian Foster was hurt. Blue had only 48 yards in his first two games; He ran for 139 against the Bucs.

The team didn't make third downs (one for 12). It didn't run the ball (less than three yards a carry). It didn't maintain the ball (less than 23 minutes of possession time all day).

In other words, you could make a checklist. This is what a team has to do to lose. The Bucs would pretty much have a check by all of them.

The truth of it is that, despite all of it, the Bucs were close enough to consider the possibility of winning against Houston. But that didn't happen. They were simply to deficient in too many areas for that to happen.

Yes, the Bucs could have won this. But can we honestly say they should have won it? With all the deficiencies. When the Texans had almost 100 yards more of offesne.

Winston referred to it as a “promising loss.” What, exactly, is this loss promising? Another 10-loss season?

This is more and more depressing. There is a gagging, smothering feeling to watching this team's shortcomings stack up on most Sundays. For Smith, it might be the second season of it. But it's – what? – the fifth in a row for Bucs fans? It has been so long since the team made a run at even an in-and-out playoff berth.

Think about it. This is the Bucs' 40th season, and they've had 12 winning seasons total, and that incluces five wins in nine games in 1982.

And in the history of this team, there have been so many Sunday's like this one. Sundays with coaching errors, kicking errors, blocking and tackling errors, dropped balls, bad kicks, the whole shebang.

Why are we to believe next Sunday will be different?

Should we?

I ask you: Should we?

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