How’s that for hospitality?

On a day when the franchise welcomed back alumni who toiled through such miseries as a 0-26 run, today’s Bucs did whatever they could to be gracious hosts.

So, in keeping with traditional tenets of good manners, Jon Gruden’s crew laid out a welcome mat and covered it with enough familiar rotten eggs to funk up Raymond James Stadium so badly even the Falcons fans opted to leave early.

This was stinky!

Correction, it was putrid!

“I’m being straight with you, it’s hard,” running back Michael Pittman said after a 17-6 loss to the Falcons dropped the Bucs to 3-10. “It’s hard to go to work, when you work so hard and don’t get the outcome you want. It’s frustrating for me and I know my coach is frustrated.

“It’s hard, we put in time in the OTAs, spring ball, mini-camps and to go out here and play the way we do as a team is not good enough. It’s hard to look at people in the eye the way things are going right now.”

You have to appreciate Pittman’s candid reaction and you have to hope all of his teammates feel equally humiliated. After all, how much worse can things get?

On second thought, don’t answer that.

“It’s real miserable,” linebacker Shelton Quarles said. “We think we should be winning games and we’re not. We’re not playing as a team and until we get that right, the wins are going to be hard to come by.”

Try damn near impossible.

For the seventh time this year, Gruden’s offense has been held to 10 points or less. Six times this season that offense has failed to score a touchdown.
This was the type of performance that makes fans wretch in the parking lots and pushes owners to do the same in the box suites.

Ultimately, that was the type of performance that gets coaches fired and players released.

Honestly, it’s time to think about who goes and who stays for next year.

“I try not to (think about it),” left tackle Anthony Davis said. “But, when you’re on your own, you think about it, don’t get me wrong, real is real. At the same time, you don’t bring it to work. You come in and get the game plan, lift weights and do what you do. The offseason is going to handle the offseason. There are going to be some ‘booms’ in the offseasons, hell I could be gone. You never know.”

Look, the Bucs don’t need an extreme makeover. They need to build a whole new house, from foundation to attic. They did it with the facility, now they have to do it with the team.

Start by spring cleaning and tossing out the existing dead weight.

If you can’t tackle a fullback in the open field, you’ve got to go.

If you can’t pass protect, cover someone deep, catch the ball in traffic, make open reads, then you’ve got to go, too.

If you can’t realize that the age and talent level of your squad is a factor, then here’s your boarding pass.

Commonly, coaches hesitate to belittle their players during adversity, but ask yourself what does Gruden mean when he says his team needs to find a quarterback who can dominate?

Simple – he means that they don’t have one who can dominate.

Thanks for the news, I must have been under a rock.

Here’s a mystery, how does a team that won the NFC South division last year, go 0-6 against that same division one year later?

“It’s hard to say that we got swept, it’s hard to say that,” Pittman said. “I’m going to keep it real here and say I’m embarrassed about it.”

Good, because no one wants to hear any more excuses. No one wants to hear about injuries and rookie quarterbacks and young offensive linemen.

Here’s what’s real, Gruden’s team has crumbled – not in effort, but in production, and in hope.

Here’s what’s also real, a couple of playing and coaching careers – maybe not Gruden’s yet, but probably some of his assistants – are likely to be euthanized.    

“It’s a reality. We all know that,” Pittman said. “Nobody is promised tomorrow. Hopefully, we will see tomorrow. I really don’t know what’s going to happen this offseason with the coaches and with players. I might not be here, I don’t know… I support my coaches and my players. I can’t turn my back on any of them, that’s all I got. I’m in the same boat with all of them.”

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