"We’re not as good as we thought we were"
Roy Cummings, Florida Football Insiders, published 30 October 2017

Surrounded by a team that was “playing with a lot more swagger,” than he’d ever seen before, Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was all full of vim and vigor back in the summer. Now, in the midst of a four-game losing streak, the swagger is gone and the high hopes the Bucs once had of breaking their decade-long playoff drought are fading fast, even among player such as Evans.

“We’re not as good as we thought we were,’’ Evans said in the wake of the Bucs 17-3 loss to the Panthers at Raymond James Stadium. “The only good thing about it is, we still got nine games left.’’

The problem is, the Bucs were saying the same thing a week ago when they had 10 games left and it’s not like they did anything on Sunday to suggest they’re on the verge of turning their season around. Sure, the defense played a lot better. Even without makeshift group of cornerbacks they still managed to achieve their goal of holding their opponent to 19 points or less.

But oh, that offense. Though they’ve shown an ability to rally late in games, the Bucs have yet to show the ability to run the ball or throw the ball consistently at any point in a game. That’s why they’re always having to rally in the first place, because an offense that many projected to be among the league’s most dynamic can neither start fast early in games nor sustain drives late in games.

“I wish I knew why we weren’t starting fast or finishing,’’ Evans said. “Like I said before the season, on paper we’re an amazing team. But we’re not as good as we thought we were. “I mean, we were sucking (today). We played terrible. Too many penalties, too many missed opportunities. We just didn’t execute at all. And I honestly don’t know why that is.

“What I do know is that we have to pick it up soon or the season is going to be gone. We’re 2-5 right now and we’ve got a lot of games left, but we have to pick it up if we hope to reach our goal.’’

That goal of course was to make the playoffs, but the Bucs goal right now can’t be any greater than winning a game. That’s how far this team has fallen in a short period of time. And the offense, of course, has fallen right along with it. Once a group so talented and confident it bordered on cocky, the swagger is indeed gone and even the players seem to be wondering if they can get it back.

“We’ve got explosive players, but we’re not making enough explosive plays,’’ Evans said. “I mean, that’s all it comes down to. We just have to start making plays. It’s that simple.’’

It is indeed, but for some reason that is a task that has become very hard for the Buccaneers.