"There's Always Next Year"
Although many members of the Bucs UK will have only seen the Carolina and Dallas games this season by virtue of those being the only two thankfully shown on British TV, I have been lucky (interesting use of the word) enough to have seen all 11 games now thanks to Pontel and SopCast.

And although it may have come as some surprise to a few on how badly the Buccaneers performed against Dallas, it really came as no surprise to the Right Honorable member for Addlestone and Weybridge as John Davies referred to me earlier this week.

Defensive decline
This decline in the defense has been coming for the past 18 months and last season's No.1 ranking was the biggest travesty of justice for that position since Joe Dolce stopped "Vienna" reaching the top spot in the 1981 pop charts.

A group of wily veterans can get away with their declining skills on occasion, as a veteran pitcher can pull a result out of the bag several times in a season (see Maddux, Greg - 2006), but more often than not, the lack of speed and athletic ability will be found out with unfortunate results.

Then when you take away the likes of Simeon Rice, Brian Kelly, Ellis Wyms and Shelton Quarles (injury) and Anthony McFarland (trade), you start replacing decent original parts with second-hand items from your local scrap merchant. Barrett Ruud is a keeper, but the likes of Jovan Haye, Jon Bradley and Philip Buchanon were not on an NFL roster six weeks ago and there is a good reason why too.

No longer reliant
In the past, the Buccaneers have won because of reliance on the defense. Since 1997, they have held opponents to 13 points or less 51 times including eight last season. In 2006, it is one. Not surprisingly, this was one of the three victories (Cincinnati).

Tampa Bay right now does not have an offense that can carry this defense. It does not actually have an offense that could carry the 2001 Baltimore Ravens defense but that is another story. So the results are evident as even when the Bucs take the lead as they did last night, then you know what is going to happen. The Cowboys could have scored a hell of a lot more than 38 points last night and Tony Romo will never look so good again.

The solution?
What to do about it is the $64,000 question and one I will address fully in the next editorial. But right now, we are staring down the barrel of 3-13 or 4-12 and the race for the top pick. This is the time when real fans remain loyal and true and the bandwagonners jump ship until it turns around again.

I wrote magazines for the Bucs UK through all the losing years and have enough of those games on DVD to remind me of them during the cold dark winter nights. I did say I would take 10 straight losing seasons in return for a win in Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego. Looks like the Devil has come to collect on his bet.

You've been great (unlike the Bucs last night) - enjoy Ultravox.

Paul Stewart, November 2006