NGSC Sports

Same Old Tampa

The 2014 NFL season was deemed the mark of the beginning of a new era in Tampa Bay. Three weeks into the season, it’s safe to say the new era has started but not much has changed. This is the same old Tampa. For Tampa faithful, this team resembles the same injury-riddled, heartless team from the Greg Schiano era; just in Arena Football League uniforms.

Replacing Greg Schiano with proven head coach, Lovie Smith gave the franchise the breath of fresh air it desperately needed. Smith and his staff brought optimism and represented hope. It was well documented last year that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players grew tired of Schiano’s strict rules and micromanaging philosophy. He created a stressful environment and workplace. Guys just didn’t enjoy playing football under his leadership.

Unlike Schiano, Smith has the support of the locker room. All summer players raved about Smith. They loved his laid-back personality and the freedom he gave them on the field. The difference in cultures Smith and Schiano created can best be compared to college versus professional.

Lovie Smith didn’t just stop at changing the culture; the roster has seen a major overhaul as well. Gone are starters, Donald Penn, Davin Joseph, Mike Williams, Jeremy Zuttah and Darrelle Revis. Smith recognized he had several weaknesses on his roster, so he cut costs where he could and added talent everywhere. He brought in 11 players that were projected to be starters or rotation players. This list is headlined by pass rusher Michael Johnson, cornerback Alterraun Verner, offensive tackle Anthony Collins, center Evan Dietrich-Smith, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and quarterback Josh McCown. That doesn’t account for the players drafted this year.

On paper, it appeared Smith assembled a solid roster across the board with the potential for an elite defense. This gave reason to believe 2014 would be a major bounce back year for the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, the worst case scenario for the Bucs has occurred and they have dropped two games at home against teams that didn’t have their starting quarterbacks. Thursday night was no better, as they were embarrassed on national television by the Atlanta Falcons. To make matters worse, the injuries continue to pile up, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

While there are still 13 games to be played, it would be hard to believe Bucs supporters still have faith in this team; particularly after Thursday night’s 56-14 blowout loss to the Falcons. After the game, Lovie Smith said, “Rest of our lives, we’re going to remember this game.” We may not forget this game, but this could be another forgotten season for the Buccaneers.

Tampa has a new coach and the roster has seen adjustments but how much has really changed? They look like the same old Tampa from recent years.

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