Loss to Saints shows Buccaneers have clearly regressed
Roy Cummings, Florida Football Insiders, published 6 November 2017

Put quite simply, Sunday was one of the worst days in Buccaneers history, a day so bad that losing 30-10 to the Saints wasnít even the worst thing that happened to them. The Bucs lost quarterback Jameis Winston again. He re-injured that right throwing shoulder that was just beginning to heal up, though you wouldnít have known it from watching him throw.

They lost left tackle Donovan Smith as well, to a knee injury, and defensive end Will Gholston to a neck injury that required him to be carted off the field, his arms and legs moving thankfully.

How long any of them will be out is hard to know, though at this point it probably doesnít matter. Losers of five straight now, the Bucs season is all but over. And that may not be the worst of it.

The Bucs have regressed. As a team. The most fundamental aspects of the game Ė blocking, tackling, running, throwing, catching Ė are all tasks that currently seem too difficult to be carried out properly. Thatís how it was on Sunday at least, when a blown blocking assignment resulted in a blocked punt that Saints defensive back Justin Hardee picked up and ran 7 yards with for a touchdown.

When missed tackles resulted in two straight 33 yard gains for the Saints, the second coming on touchdown pass to rookie running back Alvin Kamara late in the first half. When Winston, before he was hurt, failed repeatedly to hook up deep with his receivers and when rookie tight end O.J. Howard fumbled away a short gain early in the second half.

This game turned in New Orleans favor long before that but if there was any hope at all of the Bucs salvaging anything, that too was lost when the Saints scored on the very next play. At that point, the Bucs looked like a team that had quit, which makes you wonder if this team has possibly regressed all the way back to where it was at the end of the Raheem Morris era.

That last team that Morris coached quit on him. It was obvious. Sunday looked a lot like that, the lone exception perhaps being that this team at least had a little fight left in it. Literally. When Saints rookie Marshon Lattimore began barking at the Bucs bench and shoved Winston for poking at the back of his helmet, Mike Evans shut Lattimore up by running up from behind and shoving him to the ground.

A melee ensued. For the Bucs it was the highlight of the game. It may go down as the highlight of the season, a season that has gone horribly wrong in way no one could have seen.

Remember, coming off a 9-7 season in Dirk Koetterís first season as head coach, the Bucs were one of the NFLís preseason darlings, a chic pick to make the playoff for the first time in a decade. That wonít happen now, and you have to wonder if Koetter will be given another chance to make it happen next year. After all, the responsibility for a season like this ultimately falls on the head coach.

Itís not all on him, of course, but the Bucs have become an impatient organization and their patience may be running short yet again. When you look at how far this team has regressed, itís hard to believe itís not.