Josh Freeman

Reasons For The Slide

November 16, 2011 at 10:19am by Scott   •  7 Comments »

Mason Foster has resorted to yelling BOO real loud to try and cause fumbles.
Stephen Holder tried to make sense of the problems the Bucs are having by breaking it down into three separate reasons. Here’s a preview: One of them isn’t overabundance of awesomeness.

Reason No. 1: When the Bucs made their talent evaluations during the offseason, they needed to take into account that the first- and second-year players who succeeded last season had not done so over a sustained period of time. You know why NFL people say you need three years to judge a draft? Because you don’t know what you have until then.

And that all seems valid. But then Holder goes on to say:

Right now, it is hard not to think the front office overestimated the talent level of this team.

But it takes three years — you just said. At the end of this season, it will have been three years since drafting Josh Freeman, Roy Miller, E.J. Biggers and Sammie Stroughter, and none of them have played three years worth of games yet. I’m going to guess that Freeman is as talented as we all think he is and that he’s just having a slump. Everyone else is still kind of debatable.

As for the rest of the team, if the Bucs overestimated their talent, than they did so with good cause. The team went 10-6 last year and had some pretty good rankings in some areas. Maybe they overachieved a little bit, but isn’t that what you want when you grab undrafted free agents and castoffs? For the price they paid (both money and draft picks) for the players they have, I don’t think they overestimated them. Now… whether that level of talent is capable of competing in the NFC South, that’s a different story.

Reason No. 2: This is closely related to my last point. One of the problems with starting so many young players at critical positions is the fact that few of them had to fight for their jobs. There were precious few position battles in training camp, and one of the reasons for that was that most incumbent starters were unchallenged.

Young players have the tendency to get complacent when they have immediate success. I suppose the team could have made some more effort to spur competition for certain positions, but really, was the depth ever there to do that? You saw the camp bodies they brought in. Those guys were never going to really push the incumbents. The only competition that was really hot was the one between Mason Foster and Tyrone McKenzie, and the Bucs basically handed the job to Foster. You can debate whether or not that was the right decision, but McKenzie is currently sitting on Minnesota’s practice squad, so no one else saw him as even a part-time player, either.

Some of the poor depth surely has to do with the lack of an offseason and the delay in being able to sign undrafted free agents. They kind of did the best with what they had.

Reason No. 3: Leadership often is an overrated quality in sports. The overwhelming majority of outcomes are decided by talent, pure and simple. But when a team is at a crisis point, as the Bucs are now, leadership is essential.

I covered this the other day so I won’t rehash it. But I do think there is a lack of veteran leadership on the team and as a result, no one is there to impose a standard of excellence in the way that only a player who has had his share of battles can.

The trouble with these three reasons is that there’s no an immediate solution for any of them. You can’t will your team to get more talented. They either are or they aren’t. There are no good free agents out there, unless you want to bring in Terrell Owens to help catch balls, and I don’t think that really does much. And the kind of veteran leadership this team needs isn’t the kind you can get with a street free agent (despite the story about Albert Haynesworth trying to rally everyone at the end of the Houston game). They either have to grow up in the team or they have to be signed early so they can be seen as a true part of the team and not some hired gun. If these truly are the reasons for the Bucs’ slide, it’s not going to get better this season.

7 Comments to “Reasons For The Slide”


Louie (November 16, 2011 at 11:31am:

You could always want more talent, but for the most part, the talent is there. If not, how the heck were they able to beat Atlanta and New Orleans? It wasn’t just dumb luck.

I think the biggest problem is the lack of veteran leadership. Two of the worse playing positions are LB and WR. In each of those, there is no veteran presence.


cubsandbucsfan (November 16, 2011 at 11:48am:

I have been too negative this week so let me say this: I love the Bucs and I love the offensive core. Freeman is my guy and I agree with Scott that we know the talent is there but it is not translating well right now, albeit due to injury to whatever misc. reasons.

I love BPrice (I am a UCLA homer) and so far love Clayborn. TJack is an asset for sure but after that, I have my concerns on the defense.

There is such a fine line between success and failure in this league and I think the true parity of the league is unrealized. The ’95 Chargers were the worst Super Bowl representatives but they made it because a bunch of things happen to work out for them. You could juxtapose this years 49ers with last years and see this point. Look no further than this year’s Ravens…Loss to the Titans, Loss to the Jaguars, Loss to the Seahawks, but blew out the Steelers?

It is a crazy league, and I am praying for a crazy weekend where we lay the wood to the Packers!


toolman (November 16, 2011 at 12:10pm:

After watching several games, or perhaps the whole season, and watching the team implode…the reasons for losses are many. Second string offensive coordinator, players whose ego was built up by the media (helmets too small), failure by staff to use the best “next man up” when their pet is gimpy, coddling the playmakers (if they can’t practice, how do you expect them to develop timing), etc. Stop the rhetoric about the “youngest team” and start one about the most “undisciplined team”. If Morris is going to be a coach, he cannot be the good guy, he has to earn respect by demanding players to play 100%. Bench them if they don’t want to put out 100%. Look for Josh Johnson to play more. Look for second teams to play more. Let’s see who steps up to the plate then.

Mark S

Mark S (November 16, 2011 at 01:31pm:

One of the reasons first year successes often have a lull in the second year is tape. The league knows what you can do and what you can’t or don’t like to do. Unless you develop additional moves and upgrade weaknesses, defenses will take away what you are good at. Camp and OTAs are critical to getting that coaching and development. As disappointed as I am in the Bucs this year, it may be as simple as getting a good off-season program. That said, I think they made a mistake when they chose to not bring in some free agents. I wasn’t looking for big names as much as professionals that could provide competition and leadership. I still believe in the talent of this team, I just think they are finding out that constant improvement is also required.

Matt Price

Matt Price (November 16, 2011 at 06:38pm:

I thought from the beginning that Morris isn’t a good coach. He doesn’t understand the concept of accountability and he doesn’t lead — he befriends.

I also don’t think Domink is a good talent evaluator. He’s too interested in finding questionable players that will make him look like a genius if they pan out rather than finding the kind of solid players who really make teams competitive year after year.

I also am not surprised by how this season is going because it was painfully obvious last season that the Buc were only beating crappy teams and teams that were suffering a temporary let down, and they were getting crushed by the better teams. This year, they have a tougher schedule and suddenly everyone who drank the KoolAid last year thinks they’re regressing. The truth is, last year was a mirage, this year is the true assessment of where they are.

But all that said…

This team has some solid talent in some key positions. It needs stronger leadership and it has to learn accountability. But that can come with a stronger coach OR if Morris realizes he has to be the guy in charge.

I think what the Bucs really need is someone to explain to everyone what their jobs really are. Beyond that, they do have the nucleus to become a pretty solid team.

worker b

worker b (November 16, 2011 at 09:52pm:

“Young players have the tendency to get complacent when they have immediate success.”

I think that’s the whole enchilada.


BaldBuc4055 (November 16, 2011 at 10:18pm:

@Matt, I agree with you completely about this year being the true assessment of where they really are. They overachieved against an easy schedule, and I had them pegged for 8 wins this year, taking a step back before hopefully making a giant leap forward.

This team was built to be competitive for 2012, 2013, and beyond, not this year. Hopefully a full offseason program will help them out since they didn’t have that going into this season. That will be the key. As well as finding some solid veteran players of good character that can show these young guys how to be pros.

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