Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What a Difference an Offseason Makes
Do you know what the difference is between hope and despair? Around here, 218 days.
That's how long it's been since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have played a game.
Back then, in what I'll call the Land of the Loss, accountability, discipline and victories were the endangered species.
Mental lapses, shrugged shoulders and entitlement were the all-consuming and ever-present beast, contaminating the landscape and tarnishing a once-proud franchise.
And while eight months have passed on the calendar, doesn't it feel light years ahead of where it was? Better yet, doesn't today feel a little more promising than yesterday, which felt a little more promising than the day before that?
What a difference an offseason makes.
The linebackers look fierce and focused, the running backs look fast and feisty and guard Carl Nicks looks like the biggest free-agent signing of the offseason (literally and figuratively).
Me-first has been replaced by we-first, which will do wonders when it comes to achieving their goal of finishing in first.
Oh, and did I mention the new coach?
You see, it's hard not to be optimistic having seen how much Greg Schiano and his staff have molded and transformed this team over the span of just a few months and a handful of practices.
Is my optimism premature? Perhaps. Especially when you consider that they are in the midst of a 10-game losing streak that dates back to last October, a stretch of 295 days, or roughly four Kim Kardashian marriages.
Nevertheless, the course has been set and the Schiano blueprint has been laid out.
Good, bad or indifferent, the next five or so years will all trace back to what has transpired over the course of the previous eight months.
By then, we'll all look back at the 2012 offseason and have a pretty good idea whether the decision to hire Schiano, the March free-agency splurge and Schiano's first draft class were as good as envisioned.
However, that debate is best reserved for the years and offseasons to come.
For now, let us enjoy the offseason that restored hope and accountability. Let us sing the praises of ownership and applaud the structure and tenacity of a 46-year-old head coach.
But above all, let us remember that 218 days ago, we didn't have much to look forward to.
And that my friends, was the most important offseason development of all.
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