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The Martin Chronicles

All things sports and beyond.

Abominable Bucs Missing Their Chance

Another Sunday, another celebration for the other guys

Loren Elliott, Times photographer

Another Sunday, another celebration for the other guys

Of course, they can still win the division.

They can still make the playoffs.

That’s what makes the previous 17 days so abominable for the suddenly 2-4 Bucs.

The Bucs have lost three straight games in their attempt to fall of the NFC and NFC South wagon, but they’re still in it, which means each of these losses – the kick in the pants against New England, the Arizona embarrassment and Sunday’s blown win at Buffalo – resonates in its own way.

Aaron Rodgers is out. Ezekiel Elliott and Dallas are suspect. The Eagles are the only one-loss team in the NFC. The South seems winnable, even from 2-4, because the Bucs have all six of their division games remaining, with Cam Newton and 4-3 Carolina coming up Sunday before a trip to New Orleans, which currently leads the division at 4-2.

Then there’s Atlanta, 3-3 after they were squashed by New England on Sunday night (no choke involved) in the big Super Bowl rematch.

What’s nutty is that these young Bucs are just the kind of mercurial bunch that could win their next two games. They really could. Crazed league.

That’s what so abominable for the Bucs. …

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Dirk Koetter sounds Bucs alarm: 'They're the players that we have'

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

MONICA HERNDON | Times

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

Then it happened.

“I think we have to do a better job of trying to put them in the best possible position,” Smith said. “They’re the players that we have.”

Uh-oh.

“They’re the players we have” is a variation on a theme explored by Bucs Dirk Koetter time and time again in his first two seasons in charge.

Remember this line?

“Our players are our players.”

Koetter has said that more than once. I remember it coming up last season when he talked about his overwhelmed offensive line.

Our players are our players.

And there was this from Koetter, I remember:

“The cavalry isn’t on the way.”

None of these statements mean something good is going on.

I suppose you could construct it into being a boost of confidence, kind of like a defiant Gene Hackman in Hoosiers, pointing to his runts and telling the gym crowd, “This is your team.”

But not really.

Mostly, it means there’s trouble. The draft is over. So is free agency.

No cavalry.

This is your team.

They’re the players we have. Our players are our players. …

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Fennelly: Even frustrated Bucs fans hold out hope

Bucs fans cheer during a preseason game against the Washington Redskins in August at Raymond James Stadium.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Bucs fans cheer during a preseason game against the Washington Redskins in August at Raymond James Stadium.

Many fans wrote back when I threw out an all-points the other day, asking if Bucs fans are perpetually in a state of expecting the worst.

Check out some of these responses and where they’re from. There are Bucs fans across the country, even the world. Serious.

Subbu Pichappan from Philadelphia wrote:

“I've been a long-time Bucs fan since I went to my first game in 1996 at old Tampa Stadium as a 5-year old. Until I was 18, I lived in the Tampa Bay area with my parents and attended games each and every season. 

“It was quite a roller coaster ride during that period (1996 to 2008). Bert Emanuel's non-catch in 1999, Tony Dungy's firing in 2001, the miracle 2002 season, the underachieving 2003 and 2004 squads, the resurgence in 2005 with Chris Simms and Cadillac, and the debacle of 2008 leading to Gruden's firing.

“But even after I left Tampa and I traveled all over the world (I've lived in San Francisco, New York, London, Dubai, and Singapore), I still never missed a single game. I followed diligently the tenures of Raheem Morris (over his head), Greg Schiano (not a good leader), Lovie Smith (game has passed him by), and now the Dirk Koetter years. …

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Dirk Koetter, not Jameis Winston, has to make the call

Whether Jameis Winston plays Sunday or not is Dirk Koetter's call.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Whether Jameis Winston plays Sunday or not is Dirk Koetter's call.

“Touchdown” Tom Jones, the best Bucs columnist in town, took it to the house Tuesday when he wrote that Jameis Winston should do the right thing and take a seat if he’s not perfectly healthy to play at Buffalo.

But that’s where Dirk Koetter comes in.

Because Jameis will want to play. That’s what he does. He has never missed an NFL start in three seasons. He wants to run through walls to win. He will do anything to get on the field.

And that’s where Koetter comes in.

He needs to be the wall if need be, immovable.

He must talk to the medical staff and look in Winston’s eyes and make the call. It might be over Winston’s protests if he decides his quarterback can’t go. But this isn’t Winston’s call.

It hasn’t been a good couple of weeks for the Bucs head coach. He had a lousy game against New England. He didn’t have his team ready in Arizona. But this is the most important coaching he’ll do all season.

This is where the coach has to listen to his head and not Winston’s heart, no matter what the quarterback says. If there’s any doubt, you sit Jameis. Ryan Fitzpatrick plays.

It’s the biggest decision of the season, and can’t be Jameis Winston’s decision. It belongs to Koetter.

 

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NBA off and running to its usual ending

Call me when the Warriors win, Martin Fennelly writes.

Getty Images

Call me when the Warriors win, Martin Fennelly writes.

The NBA season began Tuesday night.

It ends in June.

Call me when the Warriors win.

True, there was news Tuesday night, bad news, grisly news, as Celtics small forward and newcomer Gordon Hayward dislocated his ankle and broke his tibia in a look-away injury early in Boston’s opener at LeBron.

Translation:  Cavs win the Eastern Conference.

And there are 81 games to go.

In other news, Houston stunned defending champion Golden State by one point on Tuesday night. Wonderful game.

Maybe there is hope after all.

Translation: Warriors defeat Cavs in Finals.

If this seems like an oversimplification, it is.

There will be many wondrous nights between now and then, and pretenders, and chemistry experiments:

Kyrie Irving in Boston (he was booed in Cleveland by his former fans on Tuesday). Dwayne Wade reunited with LeBron. There are Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in Oklahoma City. There are James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston.

Here’s one more word: Lonzo. …

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