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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Wins Aren't Always on the Scoreboard for Bucs

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23:   Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws the ball against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Clint EilandAnalyst ISeptember 23, 2012

The Buccaneers have opened up their schedule with a 1-2 record with losses to the Giants and Cowboys. By just looking at that, you'd think they have some serious work to do. 

But the reality is that these Bucs, while not exactly a top-tier team yet, are taking huge steps in the right direction. Anyone watching the games can see that.

If there is one thing that has looked great, it has been our run defense. Tampa currently ranks third in the league, which is a night-and-day improvement from last year. No, seriously, we were the worst team in the league in run defense last year. Now we are in the top five.

On the flip side, pass defense hasn't been too good. You could attribute that to the fact that we've faced guys like Newton, Manning and Romo, but you would think you would see some improvement. On the upside, they have forced six interceptions.

Offense also looks better, considering they have finally found a sort of balance. Josh Freeman also looks better than last year, though he needs to get back to his elite days.

Now you may be asking: What does all this mean?

It means that Tampa Bay has certainly improved and is on its way back into playoff contention.

Disregarding feelings about Schiano's late-game antics (boo hoo, you're afraid of injury), the Buccaneers actually look like a team. I know that statement sounds pitiful, but think about it. 

Last year, 80 percent of those guys looked like they didn't want to play football. We would get blown out and devastated by teams in the fourth quarter. It was a far cry from the Bucs teams we knew and loved.

This year is different, though. The guys are fired up and giving their hearts on every play. Schiano is giving these guys something to fight for, something to excite them. It has worked brilliantly so far.

Let's be real: The Buccaneers don't have the most talent in the league. That will take time and coaching, both of which will have to be taken advantage of. Until then, don't expect them to be going toe-to-toe with the likes of the 49ers.

But you can expect the same amount of effort they have been giving these past three games.

The wins will come in time. For now, just have solace in the fact that the Buccaneers are on the right path under Schiano. The future is bright, my friends.

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