A good start to the 2012 season made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 4-12 2011 campaign a distant memory that many hoped to soon forget all together. But in a disappointing 41-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, the memories came roaring back for some of Tampa Bay's most faithful fans.
The bloggers over at Bucs Nation were hit especially hard with the familiar feelings, seeing a team that looked "lost" against a Saints squad that has struggled all season.
This was the first time this season, where the Bucs truly had no chance of winning the game. The first time they resembled the 2011 team that got blown out through ten straight games. The first time Greg Schiano's team has really looked lost.
The loss was especially crushing to the Buccaneers' already slim playoff hopes. Though Tampa Bay is not eliminated from playoff contention mathematically, they are all but ensured of missing the playoffs once again.
Holes in the defense crushed any hope the Buccaneers had of reviving their playoff aspirations against Drew Brees and the Saints, and the bloggers recognized it right away.
Yet today's loss was worse than that. We saw a defense that had trouble tackling, was taking bad angles and getting outflanked even in the running game. The defense in no way resembled the defense we've seen for most of this season.
The offense provided no help in the matter, as quarterback Josh Freeman was picked four times and the other aspects of Tampa Bay's attack were more than held in check.
Josh Freeman was awful and inaccurate, but the offensive game plan deserves some criticism, too. Dallas Clark was the team's most-targeted receiver, even though the New Orleans cornerbacks are awful and the Bucs have Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson. That's not a winning strategy.