No doubt about it, these Bucs are brutal
Can we just skip the remaining 13 games and go straight to the draft? Would anyone notice?
Oh, probably. The National Football League frowns when even its most hopeless teams don't show up to play the games on their schedule, so it's an unfortunate reality that Tampa Bay Buccaneers have three more months of wretched football between them and the end of a season that has already gone on three games too long.
You can actually argue that the Bucs didn't show up Sunday at Ray-Jay in a 24-0 loss to the New York Giants, but since there were men running around out there in pewter helmets adorned with a pirate flag we'll assume that really was them.
Any further resemblance to a competitive NFL football team was purely accidental, though. Oh, and they're $30 million under the salary cap.
The only reason the score wasn't more one-sided is because the Giants fell asleep after holding the Bucs to (this is not a misprint) 19 total yards in the first half – 10 rushing, 9 passing. Nice balance.
After three quarters, just before head coach Raheem Morris pulled ineffective quarterback Byron Leftwich and replaced him with "career backup" Josh Johnson, the Giants had 326 yards in total offense to 35 for the Bucs. New York had 21 first downs to Tampa Bay's 1.
The Bucs have played badly before but I honestly can't recall a game where they looked completely helpless like they did in this one. The Giants simply lined up and ran over them, five and six yards at a time. There was never a sense, even at the start, that the Bucs had a chance.
New York drove 80 yards on 12 plays in 6:55 on its first possession, finishing it off when Brandon Jacobs ran untouched up the middle from the 6 for a touchdown. I'll repeat that: He ran untouched, up the middle, from the 6.
The Bucs responded mightily with a 3-and-out. Thus, the tone was set.
There were large pockets of open seats in the upper deck at the start, even though the crowd was listed at 63,689 and was called a sellout. No telling what the crowd would have looked like if so many Giants fans hadn't shown up. At one point during the game, I was looking at my notes when I heard a loud roar.
Thinking the Bucs had done something well, I looked up quickly only to find that the cheers were to salute a good play by the Giants. And the perfect accent to a miserable afternoon came early in the second when a hard rain opened up, each drop seemingly a message from the sky that asked fans, "Why are you here?"
Maybe it was so they could let loose a loud Bronx cheer (in honor, no doubt, of the visiting New Yorkers) when Cadillac Williams ran 3 yards for the Bucs' initial first down of the afternoon. It came with five minutes left in the THIRD quarter.
You can break this game down in more detail if you want, but why would you? The Bucs got seal-clubbed. There weren't competitive in any phase of the game. End of story.
Now they're 0-3 with a pair of road games coming up at Washington and Philadelphia. A few more weeks of this and the watch will really be on to see if they can match what the Detroit Lions did just a year ago. That may be the only thing anyone will be watching on this team.
Joe Henderson, The Tampa Tribune 27 September 2009