So another week, another humiliating destruction of the once proud Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here's something to ponder regarding how far the team has fallen. In the 6 years you'd consider the Pewter Power years (1997-2004), the Buccaneers were blown out (losses by 14 or more) just 11 times. In the three in a half years under Raheem Morris, the Bucs have been blown out 12 times.
This season's blow out total has reached 5, most since...well, Raheem Morris' team in 2009.
Jon Gruden had 6 blowout losses in 2005. After that, you have to go back to Sam Wyche in 1995 season (known by pre-2000 Bucs' fans as the 5-dash-two season) to have a year with this many blowout losses.
The point differential between the Bucs and their opponents is the worst since....wait for it....Leeman Bennett in 1986.
It's as bad as it's ever been folks.
Still, we here at SB Nation Tampa Bay do see some light at the end of the tunnel (and no it's not an oncoming train). We think this football team isn't quite as bad as they've played. This is the same team that navigated a difficult opening schedule to a 4-2 start, beat both New Orleans and Atlanta and took the undefeated Green Bay Packers to the limit.
There's talent here - it's just been lost in confusion, lack of confidence and well, lack of heart.
Here's 10 Things We Think We Learned Would Help the Bucs Immediately.
1. Fire the entire coaching staff and spend some money to bring in an NFL caliber coaching staff.
It's painfully obvious that while Raheem Morris is a well liked, great guy - he's a terrible head coach. Maybe he'll be a great one one day, but not here in Tampa Bay where he has too close a relationship with his players.
Raheem must be fired - whether it's today, tomorrow or on Black Monday. It must be a sweeping, complete change.
From there, the Bucs need to hire a disciplinarian in the mold of a Jon Gruden (but not a guy who was considered a liar by his team like Gruden was) who will kick some backsides and jerk this young football team out of there pleasure camp experience.
This needs to be a guy that's been there and done that in the NFL - preferably winning (or at least playing for) a Super Bowl.
Cowher's not coming to Tampa Bay - the market simply is not high profile enough for him to leave his cushy job with CBS and let's face it - it's not likely the Glazers will break out any of that Man U money for his price tag.
Now, there's Jeff Fisher and Brian Billick - both would fit the mold. My choice would be Andy Reid - if Philly is stupid enough to give the fans what they want and fire him.
Reid is a quarterback guru with a brilliant offensive mind. While he made a big mistake with his choice for defensive coordinator this season, his teams have traditionally been stout on defense.
Having just been terminated, the price tag might not be as high as a Cowher would command.
Regardless, the Bucs need some name recognition with their next head coach or fan apathy will be the worst in this franchise's history.
2. Sean Jones, you are the weakest link - good bye.
The blown coverages of Sean Jones need to finally be put out of its misery. Jones is a major reason this secondary s-u-c-k sucks. It's hard to know if Ahmad Black can be a suitable replacement - if he's even ready to play football in the NFL - but the Bucs need to figure it out.
Jones is probably one of the biggest culprits of loafing on the Bucs' defense and as one of the few vets on the team, his example of how to play down the stretch has been terrible for the younger DB's.
If Black isn't the answer, Tampa Bay must find another one.
3. Mason Foster should be moved to his natural position.
Foster definitely has some skills and he's probably the surest tackler in the linebacking core (as evidenced by his 71 tackles) but the Bucs made a big mistake by moving him from the weakside linebacker position where he was brilliant at the University of Washington and giving him the responsibility of calling the defense on the field. Foster is thinking too much, which is effecting his ability to use his skills to make plays.
The Bucs desperately need a veteran leader in the middle of the defense. A player like Jon Beason, who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2012 would be an excellent addition.
Let Geno Hayes and Quincy Black go, move Foster to WLB, allow Dekota Watson or another free agent to wreak havoc on the strong side (San Francisco's Ahmad Brooks?) and you've instantly upgraded your defense.
4. While we're sending people packing, say good-bye to Aquib Talib and Myron Lewis.
The Bucs need to totally revamp their secondary. It begins with taking out the trash. Assuming the great Ronde Barber retires, the Bucs should also be saying good bye to troublemaker Aquib Talib and bust Myron Lewis. I'd include EJ Biggers on this list but no team wants to decimate their secondary by jettisoning their top four corners.
Talib isn't worth the headache and there's some on the team who believe he's getting special treatment. I'm not sure what type of trade value Talib may have or if the Bucs would simply release him but they need to cut out that cancer.
The secondary should be reworked with free agency and the draft. There will be a number of quality corners available in the 2012 free agent class including Bryant McFadden (Steelers) and Carlos Rogers (49ers). Add a couple guys, draft another high and the Bucs could have the makings of a decent secondary.
5. If it's all about Five, get Five some weapons.
We learned this year that Mike Williams isn't a game breaking wide receiver. He's a good football player but he's not a speed burner that can stretch the defense. Opposing defenses have been pressing the Bucs' receiving core who haven't been able to get separation.
The Bucs desperately need a threat at receiver - a Desean Jackson (without the attitude) or Steve Smith that would keep a defense honest.
Tampa Bay could be within striking distance of brilliant Oklahoma State speedster Justin Blackmon in the 2012 draft.
Matt Forte is a disgruntled football player in Chicago, his rare combination of speed and skill would be a brilliant addition to the Bucs' arsenal. It would be a 2012 version of Thunder and Lightning with Forte and Blount.
If Forte is well out of the Glazers' purse strings, then the Bucs should spend a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick on a speed back.
The speed quota of this football team must be improved at the offensive skill positions.
6. Put Kellen Winslow, Jr. on the block
Winslow has put up solid numbers in his three seasons in Tampa Bay but let's face it - he's not part of the future of this football team while his selfish attitude hasn't helped Freeman.
Winslow certainly has some trade value left and could fetch a higher draft pick. Luke Stocker may not be the receiver Winslow is but he definitely has some potential to be an effective weapon.
7. It's time for Jeremy Trueblood to be sent packing
Yes, we're blowing up the team here on 10 Things....but these are situations that have been long overdue. While Jeremy Trueblood has finally cleaned up his penalty problems, there's still the matter of him simply not being very good at the point of attack. Last night he was exposed by Dallas on national television. It's not the first time the Bucs have seen that type of performance from Trueblood.
It's time for the Bucs to find a better option - even if it upsets Trueblood's BFF Davin Joseph.
8. A veteran backup for Josh Freeman.
We don't believe Josh Freeman needs competition at quarterback but he could certainly benefit from a veteran voice in the QB room. Sure, Josh Johnson's a great talent and it's fun to see him in the wildcat offense - yet he's as clueless as to what it takes to play quarterback in the NFL as Josh.
Perhaps its time to bring in a mentor.
9. The Albert Haynesworth question
Could Albert Haynesworth truly be the veteran presence the Bucs want on their defensive line? I think not. While Haynesworth hasn't been terrible, the Bucs really need to bring in a veteran role model for their young defensive lineman to mold their games after.
The Bucs should definitely get some insurance for Gerald McCoy - who can't stay healthy for an entire season - but I don't believe Haynesworth is that guy.
10. The Glazers must dedicate themselves to the Buccaneers
Look, we understand it. Manchester United is to the rest of the world what the New York Yankees are to the U.S.A.. We get it. But if you can't devote significant resources to both franchises then you need to sell one of these properties.
Both fanbases are unhappy with your ownership. How much money can you possibly squeeze out of a franchise before you begin to destroy its value?
The Bucs are at a crossroads. They are a rudderless ship that has no direction.
We know the Glazers will have no choice but to spend to the cap floor in 2013. Why wait a year? Do it now.
Put some money into the coaching staff and bring in a crew that will legitimize and get the most out of your young team.
You don't have to be the Eagles and spend frivolously this off-season...but allow Mark Dominik to bring some veteran leadership to this football team. Bring in some guys who can show these young kids how to be NFL football players.
You don't have to care about the Bucs fans - but at least give the impression that you do.