The 2016 season started off with a win and a lot of optimism – Photo by - Cliff Welch/PR
There is a feeling in the air for Bucs fans.
Can you feel it?
No, not the first blast of cool Canadian air that arrives as the calendar tells us Fall is approaching as the local drug stores put out Halloween candy and bad seasonal decorations.
Instead it is a feeling of optimism that Bucs fans haven’t felt in years.
I do. And it’s almost unrecognizable.
When was the last time has it been felt? Prior to the 2011 season, when the Bucs were coming off a 10-6 record in 2010 and barely missing the playoffs? Was it 2008 when the Bucs raced out to a 9-3 start before collapsing down the stretch and marking the end of the Jon Gruden era?
Honestly, even those two years it didn’t feel like this.
Sure, it’s one game. One win.
I mean the Bucs won their first game of the 2012 season in Greg Schiano’s debut, but did it feel like this?
I say no. But this year it just feels different.
When was the last time Bucs fans were so excited that the building blocks were in place like they do now?
I finally see a franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston. The best running back duo in the NFL in Doug Martin and Charles Sims. A young wide receiver capable of a 1,500-yard season in Mike Evans. An offensive line scattered with young talent and savvy veterans in Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith, Joe Hawley and more.
Defensively, a multi-Pro Bowl talent anchoring the defensive line in Gerald McCoy. Two difference-making linebackers in Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. A rookie, play-making cornerback who will only get better in Vernon Hargreaves.
But just as important as the players on the field, is a stability in the front office and a talented coaching staff. General manager Jason Licht and his personnel guys. Dirk Koetter and his coaching staff.
When was the last time it felt like this? Prior to the 2002 Super Bowl season? 1980 after coming within nine points of a Super Bowl?
However long, it has been years.
It was just one game. One win. And if the Bucs travel to Arizona next Sunday and get blasted 34-7, do we still feel it?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But for now it feels good.
That is the beauty of sports. In a world filled with war, terrorism, political division and so on, we can forget about it on Sunday afternoons for three hours. Nothing else really matters.
It unifies a town and no one cares if you are Republican, Democrat, gay, straight, black, white, Christian or Muslim. Fans unite. Fans cheer. Fans curse. But when the game is over, and your team wins, fans high five, back slap and buy each other a cold beer.
At 4:04 p.m. last Sunday afternoon we saw that.
Yes, it was one win. One game.
For the first time in years, this franchise feels legitimate. A legit head coach in Koetter. A legit general manager in Licht. A legit quarterback in Winston. A legit defense led by Mike Smith.
There is an optimism. A feeling in the air.
I do. And after being in a football town without a good football team for so long it feels damn good.
It all feels like it is coming together. Finally.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya’ll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
I can feel it, too! Even all the way up here in Iowa. There are several reasons for it. But, it starts with Jameis. A franchise QB that can play, that has talent that is rare, that loves the game, loves his coaches and teammates, and will do what ti takes to win!
Sunday looked much better than the last decade, but it is just one game. I thought Atlanta was a very winnable game and a MUST HAVE TO win game. I expected a 2-3 start, if they do better than that then “I will feel it”.
Yeah I feel it! Last year when Jameis started all of his RAH RAH, I thought just another rookie spouting off. But, I was wrong. I believe he is for real. The kid is just a baller and that’s a fact. Jameis feels it that for sure.
While I was watching the game again, cause you know I taped it, I paid attention to what the head coach was doing when the camera was on him. He actually smiled on numerous occasions. Even when things were not going as scripted. Dirk feels it too.
The whole team looked like they were having fun. The team feels it also.
All my Buc buddies feel it too!!!
Don’t think I’ll use the term Buc buddies again.
You said Bucs Buddies
I feel it! Couldn’t be more excited. And Our team is young so this will probably end up being the best( next) 10 years in Bucs history , and maybe longer as long as Winston is here and healthy. Good chance Koetter and Licht are here for a very long time too. I feel it! GO BUCS!!!
I feel it! I will feel it better when we beat Arizona. Go Bucs!
If they beat Arizona I hope it means as much as beating San Francisco so many years ago did when the Bucs realized they could actually beat good teams and kept doing so.
You hit on it DtT. The Bucs have to start beating good teams now not just .500 teams. They proved they were capable of that last year. Still, beating the same team three times in a row is no easy feat.
The Falcons were outplayed last year. This year they were outplayed and outcoached.
The Cardinals are good but they aren’t unbeatable as are the Broncos and just about every team on their schedule.
If they go into the bye week with a record of 3-2, I think a feeling of optimism is justified. Cautious optimism.
The whole world is coming together now baby….can you feel it, Can You Feel It, CAN YOU FEEL IT!
Yes, brother… I can feel it too!
If anyone wants to see why the Bucs resigned Chris Conte, go to atlantafalcons.com and watch the guy break down two plays against the Bucs.
The first one is of the Mohammed Sanu catch where both Hargreaves and McDougald get sucked in on a fake zone run play and blow the coverage of Sanu. Conte comes from across the field to make the TD saving tackle.
The second is when the Bucs blitzed and left Robert Ayres in coverage of Kevin Coleman. Not a good thing.
Once again Conte has t come from across the field, takes an angle to prevent a cut back and then when he forces Coleman to continue running straight down the sideline, adjusts and makes the TD saving tackle from behind.
Watch the film and tell me Conte isn’t a good safety.
It’s also interesting to note the both those plays attacked McDougald’s side of the field.
Checked it out and you are correct. He is a tough guy to.
As for feeling it, I am in AZ part time now and can’t wait to watch them play which I usually have to wait
on replays. If they beat Cards I will most definitely feel it. Go Bucs.
I am with you drdneast. I thought he did a nice job last year, too. I also notice those two plays when i watched the game. So glad he was able to make the play when needed. I wasn’t surprised at a busted coverage with a new defense. hopefully we won’t see as many as they get more experience in the defense. Go Bucs!
Errybody is starting to feel it!
When was the last time we actually had air time on ESPN or NFLN? When was the last time we were top 15 in power rankings?
This team is turning the corner right before our eyes!
For the first time in a long time when game day rolls around I am not just excited or maybe a little anxious, but I am confident. Sure… The past 4-5 years I’ve gotten excited as anyone during the offseason thinking it is going to be a different year. And well last year was the latest turning point getting famous Jameis in the draft. This last Sunday morning I was anxious but I felt an overwhelming warmth of confidence billowing out from inside me. I knew that the start to this year was going to be different.
And well so far I am feeling it and feeling it well!!! I would easily say just as so many under the radar analysts have said, this years bucs are the under the radar dark horse team to reach the playoffs and make some news, not noise, when they get there.
Buckle up bucs fans because it’s gonna be a fun and wild ride this season!!!!
B U C S
We finally have a Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator that actually know what they are doing.. Hell yeah I can feel it! *cues music* Hey Hey Tampa Bay, the Bucs know how to shine!!
The burst of optimism is all due to Jameis Winston. That’s the difference from past week one victories. Yes, the team has won the first game before, but didn’t many seem like a fluke with some folks wanting to put an asterisk beside the W? In spite of Ryan putting up some decent passing numbers, the “good guys” were always in control. Those three highlight reel plays and defensive stops made me wonder if the pieces to the puzzle are finally falling into place.
Yes I feel it too. I have i gnomes the guys saying Koetter will stink he didn’t win enough college games. Same guy said Conte sucked so not much credibility. Lol. Also ignored the large amount of people that said Winston wouldn’t be good enough or as good as Mariota. He’s the real deal. To beat Cards we have to be near perfect. Not turnovers. No dumb penalties, and no slow starts for Jameis. We will also need that run game clicking better against a better defense IMO.
Consider me in the cautiously optimistic group. I saw Lovie Smith outcoach the Falcons last year twice so I hope the guy who replaced him could do the same. The real test will be in the coming weeks where the effort has to remain consistent and real progress can be gauged against better teams. Like what I saw on Sunday but pump the brakes until they show more and prove this is how they will play against everybody.
If bucs go 2 and 0. I am a believer. I have thought since the 3rd preseason game something good was happening. It is all going to come down to injuries. We have already lost a starter for the season in first game. IF we stay healthy at receiver and running back, DT, and QB, we could be special. 10 and 6 is not impossible. But if we get hit in any of those positions, 6 and 10 is also possible.
This week one win feels a lot different. Its because the team, the coach, the local media like PR and other columnists, and all Buc fans THOUGHT we were a good team, improved, etc. But this time when it mattered, they went out there and looked the part. ON THE ROAD when the other team was amped up (fans too) with positivity for their new and improved team (so they hoped). We didn’t play a perfect game and destroy Atlanta. But we sure showed immediate improvement in many areas (not all). Fewer penalties, pass rush was there, Evans was consistent catching the ball, good pass protection, defense got stops when they needed to, corners defensed passes more often, Lavonte and Kwon were unleashed—flying around, no missed kicks or truly bone-headed penalties, or other “are you friggin kidding me?” plays. (ok Hump going out of bounds late when we needed to kill clock qualified but didn’t hurt us obviously)
I have been more invested in everything Bucs for the last 6 months thinking we SHOULD be good and make some noise. But on opening weekend, the offseason was over…now it’s about proving it when the games really began. Would they really show it? Or was it all the usual offseason hype? They proved it and then some. Everyone was saying, Jameis would make the big leap in year 2. I always get nervous when vast numbers of “experts” and other people predict and just assume things will be great and pick up where they left off. It usually doesn’t pan out. But JW did show in a big way that year one was no fluke and ACTUALLY put his improvement out there on tape.
Jameis seems like he could be a “once in a generation” player who can literally “will his team to wins” with his charisma, infectiousness backed up by talent. Elicit the best everyone has in them. All managed by a very rootable head coach who represents excellence, integrity, straight shooting (when its unheard of among coaches) and most remarkable to me—humility. I mean he’s got ASJ saying he is a father figure to him and would do anything for him. Oh yeah, how about continuity coming off a successful 1st year—this cannot be understated. I can’t remember since circa the Dungy era and the post-superbowl season that we had a success story coming back again the next year. Something we all felt like “let’s keep this good thing going—they’re going to be even better this year” instead of feeling optimistic just because we were starting fresh—again. That’s why I felt this offseason and culminating with a week 1 win was so different than in years past.
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