It wasn't what you call a happy place. If you haven't noticed, the Buccaneers are a team in serious disarray, and they have had a bunch of blowout losses this season. I really don't have the heart to mock them in the way I would a team, say, called the Philadelphia Eagles. But I still thought you might be interested in seeing what it is like over there - and maybe it will make you realize, as I did, how good we really have it as fans of the Cowboys.
I started off with an article from earlier in the week titled Tampa Bay Buccaneers Leaving Us Speechless. Which of course meant that the author had a lot to say about the situation.
A season of optimism and hope for a playoff berth has turned into a race to see how many fans they can alienate in the last half of the season. The loss against Jacksonville was brutal. We were spotted 14 pointed and still couldn't hang with the Jags, who are at the bottom of the barrel. Their bottom of the league offense made it look like they were running 7 on 7 drills.
The article goes on to list all the suspects in the situation. One thing that jumped out at me is that there is a lot of suspicion that the owners are not spending the money they need to. The team is owned by Malcolm Glazer, and in a situation that may be familiar to us, there are three chairman listed for the team, Bryan Glazer, Edward Glazer, and Joel Glazer. The Cowboys also have a family approach to ownership/management, but I think they are in a much better position, especially when it comes to getting the wallet out to pay for talent. Right at the end of the article was a line that smacked me right between the eyes.
Gruden's $4-5MM comes off the books at the end of the year, freeing up that money to be used towards a new head coach and defensive coach.
Can you imagine Jerry and Stephen Jones letting something like that have any influence on their decision making about coaches?
Further scuttlebutt after the jump.
Another article that stood out in stark contrast to what I think is going on with Dallas is on about the decision to keep cornerback Aqib Talib. I'm going to blockquote a blockquote from that article to set it up.
This offseason, Morris became too much of the first example when he spoke up for Talib. After getting arrested for the gun incident, Tampa Bay management was ready to cut ties with Talib once and for all, according to a team source. General manager Mark Dominik didn't care about Talib's supreme talent, the distractions were no longer worth the drama, the source said. Talib had been in at least four altercations with teammates and coaches before the gun incident and was arrested for assaulting a taxi driver in 2009.
Because of the lockout, the Bucs couldn't follow through right away, giving Morris time to talk Dominik away from the proverbial ledge. In the process, Morris sent a message to his young team that talent trumps character.
There are a couple of things here. One is the dissension that seems to exist between the GM and the head coach. The other, of course, is that the Right Kind of Guy is apparently not an issue in Tampa Bay. (If you aren't familiar with the "gun incident", which happened in Garland, you can do some more reading starting here.) I make that observation with the hope (based upon some very tenuous hints) that part of the reason for Sam Hurd leaving the Cowboys was that the team had an idea of what was going on and got rid of him, along with anyone else that was involved. And I really, really hope I am not wrong about that.
It will be interesting to see how the team handles itself, especially in light of the fact that there reportedly was a plan in place to fire head coach Raheem Morris last Monday that fell through.
ESPN's John Clayton is reporting that Raheem Morris was to be fired this Monday, but the Bucs coaching staff wasn't big enough to function without him. That makes some sense. Not only would they have to replace Raheem Morris as head coach, they would need to find a defensive coordinator, and replacements for the two promoted coaches.
Will the team, which does seem to like the coach, put out an extra effort to try and help him? Or will the whole outfit just be in the "don't care" mode?
In more evidence of how disheartened the fan base is with the team, here are a couple of quotes from Cowboys - Buccaneers Preview: Predict the Game.
Tampa Bay does have a chance to win this game, but they will have to show up and play the best football they are capable of playing. Recent history suggests the Bucs will do the exact opposite, and play their worst football: that's what they've done the past two games.
Ultimately, though, I think the Bucs lose this game - and lose it in blowout fahsion. 31-17 seems like a reasonable score to me.
The comment thread is even more pessimistic.
Oh, just a note that Martellus Bennett's brother Michael Bennett plays for the Bucs at defensive tackle, and according to their take on the injury report, his questionable status is a problem for their defensive front.
There is a little pure football analysis, like the article on the three key matchups when Tampa Bay is on offense. And being the proud Cowboy fan that I am, I had to pull this for your enjoyment.
One of the players that just jumps off the screen when you watch the Dallas Cowboys is linebacker Sean Lee. While his fellow starters have been nothing more than average this year, Lee has been dominant. The second-year player is dynamic, speedy and hard-hitting - a true impact linebacker
That covers most of what I saw of interest. But as I mentioned at the beginning, gathering the information for this really made me feel glad to be a Cowboys fan. There are apparently worse owners in the league. There are teams whose coaching situation is far, far worse than our own. Dallas at least is still in the mix for the playoffs, and seems to be headed in the right direction.
And one other thing. Maybe it's just the Christmas season working on me, but I really have to say that I am so grateful to be writing here for BTB, because I think I get to put my stuff in front of the greatest audience in the blogosphere. In doing this series, I have seen good, bad, and in between sites, but none that I would ever consider as holding a candle to this place, and this community.
So have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone. Or Happy Holidays if you prefer. We are accepting of all at BTB, at least as long as you love the guys with the Star on their helmet. And one more thing: