And now it's 1-9 - the aftermath?
Having watched the New England and Green Bay games live, and then the Miami game from a friend's house in Belleair, it seemed strange to be back in front of the computer screen on a cold dark November night in London. And after a game like that, you might wonder why anyone would bother.

There are always going to be tough games with a rookie QB at the helm. Peyton Manning had them, Troy Aikman had them and Josh Freeman was always going to as well. Perhaps it was best that he did it on a day when he would have needed to have been Johnny Unitas to have any chance of a Buccaneer victory.

So aside from the fumbles, interceptions and rookie mistakes, what else can we take from the 38-7 loss to the Saints?

Err absolutely nothing. Four out of the next five games are on the road and right now I can only see one possible chance of victory between now and the end of the season and that is when the similarly rookie-led New York Jets come into Tampa in mid-December.

The Buc defensive line is a total shambles full of cast-offs and rejects from other teams. Watch any play from any game this season and see if there is any kind of interior pass rush. The Bucs might as well sign Santa Claus to play defensive tackle because at least he'll have one sack by Xmas which is one more than Chris Hovan or Ryan Sims will have.

Tim Crowder, Jimmy Wilkinson, Michael Bennett - these are all guys cut or released by other teams and not exactly defensive powerhouses at that. Roy Miller has shown some promise but he's a third-round rookie.

Perhaps the Bucs don't have the players for the scheme Jim Bates wants to play. Right now they don't have the players for any defensive scheme. Which makes you realise that the linebackers and defensive backs must be doing a pretty good job to even hold teams like the Saints to 38 points.

I can throw you a bone with the play of the offensive line which has been OK when you consider they are in five man schemes most of the time. Someone needs to tell Kellen Winslow that the job description of a tight end does actually include blocking.

The backs are OK but the receivers need a serious upgrade. I can accept Michael Clayton being on the roster but when he's the fourth WR not the starting one.

So it's not a promising outlook for the rest of 2009 Buc fans and yes it is taking me back to the dark days of 1986, 1990 and 1991. But there will be brighter ones ahead and it is moments like this when the true fans stand up and are counted.

Paul Stewart,, November 2009