The Pewter Enigma
What a night Sunday night. My pulse is only just coming back to normal now after Europe's phenomonal Ryder Cup comeback and then the Buccaneers nearly doing the same. Very different feelings at the end of these two sporting events though.
As I was trying to get to sleep on Sunday night with my head still buzzing from the evening's events the word to sum up this year's Tampa Bay Buccaneers hit me. They are an enigma, a pewter enigma.
Fans don't know what this team is, I'm not sure the team know what this team is. There are times we look like world beaters and at times we look like something that would get beaten in a High School game.
Through four games now we have seen Josh Freeman throw over, under and behind his receivers and then in the same game look like Dan Marino going down the field for big plays to Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
We've seen No,5 sit in the pocket for, what seems like, an eternity and then we've seen him running for first downs and rolling out as well as anyone in the NFL does. I just don't think Freeman knows what he's supposed to be doing, and I don't think the coaches know how they want to use Freeman.
To me it is simple you put the game in Josh's hands and let him move, call plays, no huddle etc because that is when he has, historically, been at his best. If he bombs doing this then at least he has been given every chance to succeed.
The same can be said for the Buccaneers rushing attack. Doug Martin has been run into the ground in the first quarter of the season, even running on the now infamous first down with two minutes left, trailing by two scores last week in Dallas. LeGarrette Blount and DJ Ware have both made plays when they have been sparingly introduced.
What has been strange is that we've seen the run be such a dominant element of our offense but then when we needed to run the clock down in the last minute on Sunday we start opening up the passing game. Now the Bucs biggest gains against the Redskins were through the air and deep but there are times when it is right to run and that was one of them.
In the passing game we go from being a team that throws short passes to Dallas Clark, Doug Martin and occasionally someone wearing a receivers number to looking like one of the great passing attacks of the past throwing the ball downfield with regularity for big gains.
On Sunday the Buccaneers had two receivers over 100 yards receiving for the first time since the days of Mark Carrier. The week before we barely got over one hundred yards total offense. The team doesn't know what it is and doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Schiano talks about being run first but then playcalling doesn't seem to reflect that.
On defense we shutdown Cam Newton's Panthers, then give up earth shattering numbers to the Giants, then we do a great job against the Cowboys, then we get torched by RG III and co. With the possible exception of McCoy, Bennett and Barron the rest of the team have been very inconsistent.
Are we a marauding, gang-tackling team who will shut down offenses or are we that team that can't defend a deep ball and struggle to contain a running back that gets to the edge?
So many questions and so few answers from One Buc Place at the moment. I really believe that one of the reasons for the poor ticket sales is that fans don't know what to make of this team. The Schiano era needs to find its identity on both sides of the ball and start to play like a team who know what they want to achieve and then start achieving it. If that happens then I think positives results and ticket sales won't be far behind.