Simply put, Bucs don’t measure up
Martin Fennelly, The Tampa Tribune, published 16 December 2013

4-10. The effort was there, as were a whopping 14 points of offense, and a 10-minute drive where a contender separated itself from a pretender. At this point in this Bucs’ season, is it a moral victory when they’ve hung in against a good team? Not in my book. My book says Greg Schiano and the Bucs hit 10 losses Sunday — the Bucs’ 22nd season of double-digit losses. Hang it up there, by its ankles. It’s history.

The San Francisco 49ers beat the Bucs 33-14. People will say it was closer, but was it, truly? OK, truly the 49ers were up only 20-14 early in the fourth quarter and the Bucs defense had them pinned deep in their own end. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his offense at first-and-20, then second-and-18, then third-and-12 — and let them off the hook. The 49ers rammed it down the Bucs’ throats, slowly, 10 minutes, 27 seconds, slow death. 4-10.

That drive, this is what winning teams do. This is when big boys come to play. “That 10-minute drive, it kind of killed us,” Bucs linebacker Lavonte David said. The Bucs, and Schiano and his staff, simply didn’t measure up, particularly on that are-they-crazy trick play after the 49ers took a 23-14 lead — the one the Bucs’ Keystone combo of Page-to-Shepard fumbled off a reverse on the ensuing kickoff, 49ers touchdown, over and out. 4-10.

That’s the reality. Have expectations been so lowered that we’ve forgotten what this season was supposed to be like? This is how the head coach keeps his job? This is what the Glazers should want? Maybe 0-8 makes anything that follows and avoids complete disaster seem strangely palatable. I refuse to read off that menu. Bucs fans should do the same.

The optimist could point to the Bucs’ 4-2 record since starting 0-8. Never mind that the last time the Bucs met a good team, namely Carolina, they were smashed. And what about those touchdown drives up-down Mike Glennon and the offense put together in the hurry-up Sunday, going for 80 and 92 yards?

And now the dark side: Those drives accounted for 172 yards, and the Bucs gained 11 yards combined on their 10 other possessions. That is astounding. Even against a great San Francisco defense. To be that schizoid, that all-or-nothing, calls, at the very least, for a new coordinator. It calls for more than that, really.

The defense, for all the moments it had, didn’t show at the critical juncture against the scrambling Kaepernick, particularly when he rolled right and found a wide-open receiver. Could that have happened a few hundred more times Sunday?

The Bucs played to keep it close into the fourth quarter. That was the strategy all week. Then they get nine points down and try to have Eric Page and Russell Shepard try to pull rabbits out of their hats. I don’t think either of those guys owns a rabbit or a hat. Anyway, where was some of that daring in the first half, when Glennon and the offense bogged down, with their first five drives gaining exactly 30 yards? 4-10.

They didn’t measure up. They couldn’t stop San Francisco and that endless drive. “We just had to get off the field, man,” David said. Or off this season. “We have to find a way to be on the other end of that,” Schiano said. “We have a few times, but not enough.” That’s the story of this season for this team, for this coach. 4-10.