Time to appreciate the good times
It comes to something when am genuinely disappointed that the Bucs have lost by a point to the best team in football. It comes to something when I am disappointed to have not outscored a team who are breaking franchise records left, right and centre this season.
It comes to something when forums use words like "gutted" about a game which saw a near faultless offensive performance and relatively decent defensive one. That is how far Greg Schiano and his staff have bought this franchise in such a short space of time.
As great as the six wins have been to date the five losses have provided additional reasons to be positive. Those losses have come by one score to the reigning Super Bowl champions, in their own back yard. By one score to possibly the most high powered offense the NFL has seen in years against New Orleans and last Sunday by a single point to currently the best team in football.
Even the more disappointing losses to a very average Dallas Cowboys side and an exciting Redskins team were by less than a touchdown. The Bucs have competed with every single team they have played this year and won more than they've lost to this point. I don't think even the most optimistic of Tampa fans would have predicted quite this level of performance from this team.
A new head coach, new co-ordinators and several new players in key positions gave this season a level of the unknown that we hadn't seen in the somewhat stagnant Tampa roster in recent years. I've said before that clearing out the trouble makers is as big a plus point as any other off season work, and there is no doubt that this has helped to breed a much better atmosphere around One Buc Place.
Vincent Jackson is having a career year and Doug Martin is playing on a par with any other back in football. There are many reasons behind the relative success that we are enjoying this season and sometimes is easy to lose sight of where we've been while looking forward to where we're going. This is a team that lost ten straight last year and was by far the worst team in football at that time.
This is an offensive unit who were lucky to score a touchdown some games and whose redzone woes were a sight to behold. This is a team that internally was a mess...and now we're disappointed with Sunday's result? What a turnaround that is.
The big question for Schiano and his charges now is can they continue this for the season? If the level of performance continues going forward, and key members of the team stay healthy then things look pretty bright in the coming weeks. Wins seem a real possibility against Eagles and Rams putting us at 8-5.
The Broncos game could be a bit of a shoot out as surely Manning will torch our secondary but you wouldn't rule it out? That leaves the two divisional games against the Saints and Falcons. The Buccaneers have enjoyed recent success in the SuperDome and I fancy us to win there again.
If you realistically take a loss in Atlanta and even give Peyton the win against the Broncos that could still leave us at 9-7. 9-7? After last season? Play-offs or not that is one hell of an improvement, especially in light of the behind the scenes changes that have gone on and this season could be a real landmark in the franchise's history.
Whatever this season ends up yielding all fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would do well to take stock of just how far we have come this year and savour the improvement and every win that it brings us.