Tampa Bay's Season Went Down With The Ship
By Christopher Scali
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2013 season was a complete bust and the ship has sunk down in the misty bay and is nowhere to be found. The Buccaneers organization cleaned up the crew and brought in fresh leadership after former head coach Greg Schiano ran QB Josh Freeman out of town. As we all know, this season was a complete disaster and all fans can do is hope for improvement next season. So far, the Buccaneers made some strong coaching moves quickly by hiring new head coach Lovie Smith, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazer. With this new crew, I am feeling very confident that Tampa Bay will make a run for the playoffs in 2014. I can't commit to another losing season next year - the sails must be raised high down in Tampa.
There were plenty of high hopes this past season with Schiano's second year as head coach and of course Freeman, who had been expected to be a franchise quarterback with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers started off the season on the road against the New York Jets. I was at this game personally, and I was thrilled to see how this Buccaneers team was going to operate on the road. The Bucs finished the season with a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs by the skin of their teeth.
As the Buccaneers ran onto the field with ex-Jets CB Darrelle Revis behind his new team, MetLife Stadium began to shake. This was a Super Bowl atmosphere and the energy was simply electrifying. The Jets charged onto the field with rookie QB Geno Smith looking to lead his troops to their first win of the season. I was praying that the Buccaneers defense would make Smith wish that he were never born.
The Buccaneers offense took the field for its first drive of the game. The stadium was so loud that the Bucs had to burn their first time out of the game. As Tampa Bay sailed back on the field, the Bucs tried to get their offense under control. I was expecting a run and gun drive from the Buccaneers, but the drive ended rather quickly with a safety. Freeman was flushed out of the pocket and the Jets forced a fumble, and Freeman kicked the ball out of the end zone. I screamed at the top of my lungs and instantly slammed my hands in my face and said "Here we go again, another disappointing season.”
The Buccaneers played like a high school football team. They could not drive the ball down the field and the defense was simply horrible. This game went back and fourth the entire game, until the fourth quarter.
The Bucs had the ball with two minutes left, and marched down the field rather quickly before being stopped inside the 20. The Bucs settled for a field goal and were up 17-15. Right after the Bucs hit the field goal, I took a breath of fresh air and thought the game was over, but I guessed wrong. The Jets took the ball and advanced up to the 50-yard line. It was third and long. Buccaneers LB Lavonte David was called for a personal foul for hitting Smith out of the bounds. I thought the call was absurd, but this set up the Jets with a game-winning field goal with two seconds left on the clock. Nick Folk drilled the kick and MetLife Stadium erupted. From that moment on, the Buccaneers season went down hill.
The big story flying around the 2013 season with the Buccaneers was the Freeman situation. Unfortunately, the coaching staff and organization ran him out of Tampa Bay in order to start rookie Mike Glennon. Don’t get me wrong, I am big Glennon fan but the way the change was done was very unethical. Freeman was told to watch the game from his hotel room and not from the sidelines and he was not allowed in captain practices. Freeman was not treated like a player, he was treated like a child and they released him with the drop of a hat. Sometimes, I wish Freeman was still with the Buccaneers. He would have made a good back up quarterback.
As the Josh Freeman drama drifted off to sea, the Mike Glennon era began to rise. Despite the Bucs losing record, Glennon showed that he can be a franchise quarterback. Glennon finished off the season with an 83.9 QB rating, 2,608 yards and 19 touchdowns. In my eyes, that is a very impressive season and new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford said Glennon will be the starting quarterback next season. I am excited to see how Glennon will look next year.
With the Glennon era still unfolding, the Buccaneers started the season 0-8 and I thought this was going to be another repeat of the Raheem Morris era. The Buccaneers got destroyed on Thursday Night Football at home against the Carolina Panthers. Tampa could not contain QB Cam Newtown and the Panthers running game. The Buccaneers coaching staff looked like a deer in the headlights.
Right when that game ended, there were “Fire Schaino” billboards all over the city and fans made it clear that they are over losing seasons. The entire coaching staff was on the hot seat and they knew that they had to make adjustments to save their job. But on Monday Night Football, we thought the Bucs were going to turn this ship around.
The Bucs squeaked by the Miami Dolphins by a final score of 22-19. There was some light down in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers won four out of their last five games and the postseason looked like an outside possibility. The Bucs went through some running back drama, losing Doug Martin and Mike James, but Bobby Rainey quickly took the reigns as the Bucs hit their win streak. But the big question was how long this would last.
The Buccaneers ship quickly sunk in Week 15, as they were shipwrecked by the San Francisco 49ers 33-14. The Bucs sailed home with a loss and were eliminated from playoff contention. Tampa Bay had nothing to play for but a draft pick and pride. The Buccaneers went 1-5 in the NFC South and right when Week 17 ended, the Tampa Bay coaching staff was no more.
Tampa Bay had a very rough season, but I am ready for the Lovie Smith era to begin. I believe the Buccaneers are going to look like a whole new team and they will be making news around the league in 2014. The Bucs are going to have a fierce running and passing game with Glennon under center along with Martin and Rainey in the backfield.
Watch out Buccaneers fans, but we are going to be the top dogs in the NFL!