Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5 Reason the Bucs Are NOT a Playoff Team
“Are the Bucs playoff bound?”
After mounting an unlikely comeback victory over Peyton Ma—er, I mean Curtis Painter’s Colts this past Monday night, fans are beginning to jump on the Buccaneer Bandwagon and set the skies alight as though the broadcast blackouts never happened, but let’s get real.
After barely beating a winless Colts team led by Curtis Painter, a third-year player making his first NFL start and allowing him to throw a pair of strikes and post a 99.4 quarterback rating, I wouldn’t say Tampa Bay did much to make their case on national television.
But if that’s not enough, here are five reasons why the Bucs will be on the outside looking in come January.
Their Schedule Is Against Them
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While it was often noted that the Buccaneers endured one of the easiest schedules of any team last season, I don’t find myself to be a keen supporter of this strength of schedule nonsense.
For the most part—omitting the “Bungles”—and for whatever reason, teams simply do not stay the same, so considering past records to determine a team’s strength of schedule or likelihood of victory is pure lunacy.
But looking at the schedule with the current state of every team in mind, the prognosis isn't looking good for the young Bucs.
It is by no means out of the question that Tampa Bay go on to lose seven to eight of their next 12 games unless they gain some consistency.
At Green Bay
They Are Far Too Inconsistent
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While comebacks are great for adding drama and thrill to the NFL in the way end-zone celebrations once did, the ability to systematically shut down and put a beating on an opponent is what separates a true contender from a pretender.
Those aforementioned abilities are not those one would associate with Tampa Bay by any stretch of the imagination.
Entering his third season in the NFL, Josh Freeman has already led his team to nine comeback victories. Quite an incredible statistic, there truly is no doubting that the former Kansas State star has the potential to place himself among the elite—if last year’s 25 touchdown passes to six interceptions wasn’t enough to put him in the conversation already—but Tampa Bay is at this point a team of no guarantees.
You cannot guarantee a comeback every time you fall behind but the Bucs have fallen into the habit of starting off sluggishly, lacking urgency from the gun and waiting until half time for the light to finally come on—albeit brilliantly more often than not.
The Bucs must learn to hit the ground running and to depend on a few incredible plays and lucky breaks to pull out a win in crunch time.
Boring isn’t always bad!
The Saints Will Win the Division
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Simply put, the New Orleans Saints without a shadow of a doubt are the best team in the NFC South.
While I can attest to the possibility that the Bucs may be able to pull out a victory at home, I find it incredibly hard to bet against Drew Brees who is lighting it up to this point, as he is sporting a passer rating over 102 with 10 touchdowns thus far.
Currently deadlocked at 3-1 atop the South standings, the tie is more superficial than truth telling for two reasons.
First, had the Saints not played the defending Super Bowl Champions—not to mention currently undefeated—Green Bay Packers right out gate they would likely be undefeated and alone atop the division.
Secondly, the current tie at 3-1 is misrepresented in that Tampa Bay lost at home while New Orleans lost away at Lambeau Field, which so happens to be one of the most difficult venues on the planet to steal a victory from.
There Are Stronger Teams Vying for the Wild-Card Spots
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Accepting the notion that the Bucs won't be winning their division this season barring an injury to Drew Brees and/or a catastrophic collapse of the Saints altogether, snatching a wild-card berth appears to be a much more viable possibility.
Assuming that the 49ers, Packers and Giants all go on to win their own respective divisions we are left with a number of other quality teams on the outside looking in such as the Lions, Redskins, Cowboys, Falcons and—reserve your hate—Eagles.
Taking notice of the Eagles current failings and the odds stacked against them, I’m going to say that the Lions and Cowboys are better than the Bucs.
Detroit may have only averted us by a single touchdown in Week 1, but as long as Matthew Stafford continues to prove he’s made of something more durable than papier-mâché, there is no stopping Calvin Johnson Jr.
It would be completely fair to point the finger and call me a hypocrite when it comes to the subject Dallas and Mr. Romo. Still, before “Antonio” started throwing touchdowns to the other team in Detroit he was playing out of his mind.
The man simply couldn't do anything wrong. Now, he couldn’t do anything right.
That said, the Cowboys are an entirely different sort of inconsistent.
Don't Let the Record Fool You, the Bucs Are Still Rebuilding
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The Bucs remain one of the youngest teams in the NFL, a surprising fact considering their relatively high level of success in spite of that.
Still, the resounding truth is that Tampa Bay is not yet ready to take that next step forward and they are more than likely destined for a step-backwards in terms of their actual win-loss record from the previous season, only to be followed by a giant leap forward come 2012.
This is no longer a team characterized by the term “potential” which is more befitting of a group of players who have yet to show what we have been led to believe they are capable of. These guys can really play, are supremely talented and only going to improve. But it’s too early.
So if success is inevitable, then when? I’m putting all of my money on next year.