Bears vs. Buccaneers: 4 Keys to Tampa Bay's Loss vs. Chicago Bears
Oh, those Jekyll and Hyde Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
One week they look like world-beaters, while the next week they force fans to pull their hair out due to immense frustration.
Is it injuries? Play-calling? Personnel?
It's time to whip the magnifying glass out and comb through four keys leading to the Bucs' demise in London, England.
Greg Olson Needs To Go
Completely abandoning the running game is a major no-no in the NFL. Why make the defense's job easier by allowing them to sit in coverage and rush the passer all game with zero consequence or fear of a rushing attack?
Buccaneer offensive coordinator Greg Olson has done it twice now this season, and the results were exactly the same: defeat.
And before anyone comes in here and says, "But, Basil, the Bucs were down to their third-string running back. What did you expect?"
1. The Dallas Cowboys were forced to use their third-string running back, and they continued to run the football. DeMarco Murray ran the ball 25 times for 253 yards and a touchdown.
2. Whose fault is it there wasn't another running back on staff? With LeGarrette Blount being injured and Allen Bradford waived, having another viable option might have been smart, eh, Dom?
Olson has become fairly predictable and it feels like he's apprehensive about his play-calling. If the Bucs offense continues to decline, Olson may have to be sent packing.
Josh Freeman Has To Play Better
Too many fans as well as people in the media are afraid to say it, so I will: Josh Freeman's not very good this season.
As a matter of fact, he's terrible.
This is supposed to be Tampa's franchise quarterback? Throwing four interceptions—three of which were directly to the opposition—is now good enough to have the label "franchise quarterback" bestowed upon you?
Is Luke McCown still available?
Freeman doesn't seem right. His decision-making has been slow and suspect. His ability to step up in the pocket and launch a poised throw is MIA. His overthrows on sideline routes are disturbing.
So where exactly did Freeman go? The argument all season has been, "His receivers aren't getting open and helping him." After watching the game twice, I'm of the opinion that Freeman has lost his confidence and tries much too hard.
Bucs fans ought to worry, is this or the 2010 version the real Josh Freeman?
Injuries Are a Factor, But...
Bucs head coach Raheem Morris loves to use the phrase, "Next man up."
The Buccaneers have clearly been decimated by injuries, but it shouldn't be an excuse—not according to Morris.
In 2010, Tampa Bay was hit just as hard by the injury bug and they rallied around their fallen comrades, playing with courageous effort and discipline from a team full of no-names.
The mounting injuries have now become a crutch and the "next man up" isn't exactly playing with confidence.
That falls on Morris and his coaching staff.
"Next man up?"
Then make sure he's ready.
Defense Reverts Back to "Soft" Ways
The Bucs defense held the Saints to 70 rushing yards without defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
Bears running back Matt Forte surpassed that mark before the end of the first half of Sunday's game.
Why do the Buccaneers look so stout on defense one week and completely inept the next?
It's a matter of toughness, and only a handful of Bucs on this defense have that fortitude etched into their cranium.
Defense is a lifestyle. It's a mentality. Either you're vicious or you're not.
Either you're going to submit your will onto your opponent or you're going to get run over.
This defense consistently enjoys being run over, although Tanard Jackson has been a pleasant surprise by playing extremely well, but now even he is out for an undisclosed period of time.
When it rains, the Bucs cower...