Posted by Jeff at December 29, 2003 08:04 AM
I'm trying. Really, I am.
I find myself having to put forth an effort to say something positive about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the season they stubbed to a halt yesterday.
At the end of that search for something green in a valley of muck, all I can say is this: at least Jon Gruden didn't vomit his spleen and bleed from his eyeballs on the sideline.
As implausible as that might sound, I think that given the stress this year provided for him, it would have been a pretty easy thing for me to do had I been wearing his visor.
Think about it: Super Bowl champion coach who puts in 20-hour days for the better part of 11 months gets the pleasure of watching his team self-destruct as it puts in lackluster performances against sub-par teams and fails to string any pearls of consistency together. Mouthy wide receiver destroys team chemistry. General manager connives his way to a new job with rival team for no compensation. Place kicker who had been a model of predictable results suddenly has all the quality assurance of a 1973 Ford Fairlaine. Heralded defense forgets how to tackle runners who - get this - dare to run up the middle. Special teams spots opponents 25 yards per kickoff.
The fulcrum came on Sunday when Tennessee Titans quarterback Neil O'Donnel throws for 232 yards and two touchdowns. After being out of football for 16 weeks. The guy was doing color commentary in a TV booth for a college team. And the Bucs make him look like a world beater.
They made everyone but themselves look like world beaters this year. And therin lies the problem. They were so busy preening and chest-thumping and doing commercials and trash talking that they forgot to actually play the game.
Give me less media exposure, less conjecture about this being a dynasty and more fundemental tackling and kicking and passing and running and defending skills and I'll be satisfied.