The Bucs rumble in the jungle
Have you ever seen a team shoot itself in the foot more than the Cincinnati Bengals? But to quote a famous British sports commentary, "who cares?"
Your very own Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3-1. That's one more win that Peter King at Sports Ilustrated predicted, equal to the number the Bucs had all of last season and 30% of the target that Raheem set at the start of the year to sniggers from the assorted Bay area media.
And these are not the finished product by any stretch of the imagination. There are more holes in the team that a Swiss cheese and no real stars or egos on the roster. But they win. And they find a way to win when you think it is all over.
How many times has Josh Freeman led this team back in the fourth quarter now? Green Bay last year, Cleveland this year and yesterday in Cincinnati. And think back to other games from 2009 when he brought the Bucs back, Atlanta, Miami. There is ice water running through those veins and a calmness and a compsure that you cannot teach.
Calmness and composure is not something you could pin on Raheem during his post-game press conferences. Have you ever seen someone so hyper? Please take the expresso machine away from the coach.
But the players love him. I have seen behind the scenes at One Buc Place and first-hand, I know the respect they have for the youngest coach in the NFL. He took his lumps last year and he learned from them. Now he is starting to regain that young hot-shot reputation he had around the NFL when he was first given the coaching role.
On the receiving front, when was the last time you saw an NFL team with two starting rookie receivers? But Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn are the best the Bucs have and wow are they stepping up to the plate. Sammie Stroughter is the veteran (a sophomore 7th round pick veteran at that) and is so much more effective in the slot. And then there is Micheal Spurlock, cut more times than the victim of a gang turfwar.
And still they keep bouncing back. Sabby and Cody, the much-maligned safeties. They are not going to compare with the best around the NFL but there they were making plays and doing their part in a defensive effort that saw no sacks, no real pressure on Carson Palmer, yet three interceptions, six points and big plays when the team really needed it.
The offensive line is still a weakpoint both on pass protection against the blitz and in making holes for the backs. I swear that every time Cadillac's number is called, the opposing defense gets the call too. The guy simply had no chance at times yesterday. It reminded me of the scene from "Bull Durham" where Kevin Costner tips the pitch to teach Tim Robbins a lesson.
So your Buccaneers are 3-1. There will still be negative posters out there, people who still don't believe. Fine by me. The bandwagon bus has pulled out of the driveway and is off down the road. If you want to sit in your armchairs and watch, that's OK. There will be 65,000 people on board this Sunday when the Saints come to town.
And one final lovely note from the game. The Bucs UK runs a Survivor competition and one of our members picked the Bengals because he thought winning the event was far more important than a die-hard allegiance to the Buccaneers. Poor old Dan Money. He may be a Great Britain Olympic athlete but he is eating some serious humble pie today!
You've been great, enjoy Pepsi and Shirlie.