Archive for the ‘THE OPTIMIST’ Category

THE OPTIMIST: Soft Schedule, Draft Dreams And Bucco Bruce

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

In these unsettled times of devastating Bucs losses, constant change and growing pains, Joe thought it would be wise to bring back THE OPTIMIST.

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t. … Of course, THE OPTIMIST’s opinions are his alone and are not influenced by Joe. (more…)

THE OPTIMIST: Trust The Plan And The Drafting

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

lovie smith 0511In these unsettled times of devastating Bucs losses, constant change and growing pains, Joe thought it would be wise to bring back THE OPTIMIST.

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t. … Of course, THE OPTIMIST’s opinions are his alone and are not influenced by Joe. (more…)

THE OPTIMIST: Paitence Leads To Pride

Friday, October 10th, 2014

LovieTomlinIn these unsettled times of devastating Bucs losses, constant change and growing pains, Joe thought it would be wise to bring back THE OPTIMIST.

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t. … Of course, THE OPTIMIST’s opinions are his alone and are not influenced by Joe. (more…)

THE OPTIMIST: Emotions Ruining Objectivity

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Gut the team but save the coach. That's the refrain from THE OPTIMIST in his latest plea to save Raheem Morris.

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru ofBucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t. … Of course, THE OPTIMIST’s opinions are his alone and are not influenced by Joe.

Seemingly everyone is hot after Raheem Morris’ job, people were even refreshing their Twitter and Facebook pages this week thinking the Glazers are going to fire Raheem.

I have news for you…the Glazers are the most consistent people on this planet. If they fire Morris — and that’s becoming a bigger “if” each week — they will do on a Friday at 5 p.m. in January. The Glazers won’t be emotion with this decision like the rest of us.

For all we know, the Glazers could be looking at this season with an emotionless outlook, looking at simply the cold hard facts. Changes need to be made, and I’m sure there will be many. I doubt seriously many assistant coaches keep their jobs.

Greg Olson is probably gone, along with the WR coach and RB coach, too, and probably Raheem will lose his D.C. title, and that will be good. But head coach too? Wasn’t it just 8 weeks ago no one was calling for his job? Wasn’t it a year ago we ALL wanted him COACH OF THE YEAR?

Some players have quit on Raheem Morris, and Morris has done one thing honorable, he does not throw players under the bus.

We also know for a fact the lockout affects first- and second-year players the most. It seems like the whole Bucs team falls in this category. You cannot go back on any internet browser using any computer prior to week 6 and find anyone demanding Raheem Morris’ job or Mark Dominik’s. That means you are just using the emotions of this losing streak, and that is quite pathetic to vent on someone, anyone, and the head coach is the easiest target.

I’ll give you a perfect example of how emotions can ruin your objectivity. Take Mark Dominik. All of a sudden, Mark Dominik MUST GO TOO, he is a horrible GM. Really? He was a rock star 8 weeks ago! Everyone wants to bring up Derrick Ward, but you forget about Connor Barth. You bring up Michael Clayton, but Michael Koenen is practically neck and neck with Barth for MVP! Dominik is just following orders, and the Glazers are the ones who need to change the most. How does a rock star GM turn into the worst GM in the world? Losing.

What can a new coach do? You can’t make the players work harder; Morris already has them doing gassers and such, probably the reason the weak-minded players started tuning Morris out. Those players will be gone next year, or not starting. They will then have to PLAY for their jobs, the one mistake this organization really made: giving young kids jobs without earning them.

The BUCS as a whole are guilty of these transgressions:

Gutting the veteran presence that helps young players
Removing experienced leadership from the locker room.
Going way too young with kids that are too ill-tempered
Allowing poor accountability – some players don’t talk to media after a bad day.
Offense gives up the running game too easily
ZERO depth at running back with a feature back that is a one-trick pony.

These are the Glazers problems that THEY created, not just Raheem Morris’ or Mark Dominik’s. Morris is responsible for the lack of accountability, hopefully he sees that and adjusts it accordingly.

LeGarrette Blount should not be the feature back. He doesn’t block or catch the ball. He should be the fourth-quarter closer when the Bucs get a lead, and someone to soften a defense up at the start of a game. Veterans are needed all over the team to provide leadership.

I don’t care about firing Raheem Morris, I’m waiting to see if the Glazers are going to finally spend some money on salaries, because if not, 2012 will bew a campaign against Bucs ownership.

If the Glazers don’t bring in some veterans, if they don’t spend some money and capture some excitement by bringing in one or two TOP-OF-THE-LINE exciting free agents like they did with Keyshawn Johnson, they will have succeeded at becoming the next Hugh Culverhouse, and no one in the Bay area can allow that to happen. But we will wait until next year to see if that happens.

Firing Raheem Morris would bring change, and must be honest, it would be refreshing to see change and to see a positive upswing in everyone’s attitude towards the Bucs.

But I’ve been a Bucs fan through all the losing seasons, when no one liked the Bucs, and I followed them through all of that. Even if next year is a total flop, at least we will know we made the right decision, we’ll have ANOTHER premium draft pick, and a lot of our players will have another year of experience to show what they’ve got.

If you can’t stomach two losing seasons, you can’t call yourself a Bucs fan, because being a Bucs fan has ALWAYS been about following a losing football team. That’s our history. That’s our legacy. It’s called patience.

THE OPTIMIST: Raheem Shouldn’t Take The Fall

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

We have now seen the Bucs fall and trip over themselves for six straight games. The defense has crumbled to 1985 proportions, and maybe even worse. The Bucs are on pace to give up more points than any Bucs team ever since that era.

The outside linebackers are completely outclassed, and the secondary is shamefully not tackling anyone, other than No. 20.

We can’t complain about the loss of Gerald McCoy because other teams have injuries, look at the Houston Texans. They were down their best D-ineman and wide receiver, and blew us out of the Bay.

This team has only one running back, and the Bucs offensive coordinator doesn’t know how to use him. Not that it’s Greg Olson’s fault that LeGarrette Blount doesn’t know how to pass protect yet, or is it? Maybe our running back coach is to blame.

Speaking of coaches, that’s the first place everyone wants to go. Even the diehard fans are calling for Raheem Morris’s head. Well, before I do that, it’s time to pass some of the blame around. Namely, the Glazers; owners since 1994.

How do you fire the head coach you promoted to the job and told him to be patient and make this team win with a college all-star team? There are three veteran free agent players on this team right now that don’t work on the offensive line.

Kellen Winslow, Ronde Barber, and Michael Koenen. Don’t be surprised the punter is on this list; the two kickers for the Bucs are in a dead heat tie for 2011 Team MVP right now. My money is on Connor Barth by a nose.

The Glazers are the ones most responsible for this poor product. Coaches coach, players play. Right now this young coaching staff probably has some turnover in store for it, but head coach is probably not one of them. It was the Glazers who instituted this plan in the first place. Build a team through the draft, pile up draft picks and field a team so we can see where free agents are needed. Well, we now know where the holes are, so now your going to get rid of the coach?

It doesn’t make any sense, and that is why I’m still behind Raheem Morris keeping his job, because there are too many indications in history of this sort of thing happening. It may not happen to this degree, but then again show me an example of a team of players so bad before.

Bottom line is anyone who is upset is guilty of putting too much stock into the Bucs 10-6 season last year, and the notion there would be guaranteed improvement. Last year the team overachieved, but this year it’s underachieving. But we all built up our expectations too much. Most people predicted the Bucs would be 6-10 or 7-9, and that’s probably where the Bucs are headed, so what’s the problem?

If Raheem Morris is fired, it will be a done deal, and it will probably shock no one. But ask yourself this one question: you knew it was a long-term deal, you were prepared to undertake it. Is one more year so much to ask to make sure you don’t make a mistake and set the franchise back 3-to-5 years?

THE OPTIMIST: Time To See Fresh Faces

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

The Bucs have gone from 4-2 to an unbelievable 4-7 record, and while the playoffs are not completely out of reach due to the losses of the Bears and Giants in Week 12, the Bucs are three games out of a Wild Card spot.

With only five games remaining, it’s unlikely that’s within reach, but it’s important not to give the team the message “We’re giving up!”

As far as what Bucs take the field, we already know what E.J. Biggers can do (or rather cannot do, as in tackle). We already know about Myron Lewis, though maybe we need to see a little more. But what about the young guys that the future of this secondary depends on? Larry Asante was picked up last year, and we’re to guess that he’s not playing because he is not as good as the rest, but maybe Asante is one of those players who come on when the lights do?

How about Anthony Gaitor, the rookie from Florida International the  Bucs drafted this season? Number 24 has only been seen a few short  times, against New Orleans at home and against the 49ers, where he  recorded one solo tackle in each.

Mossis Madu should be given some time at tailback if he’s capable of  blocking for Josh Freeman on thrid downs, otherwise Blount should be given  more time and Freeman should be told to be alert, so he doesn’t turn into a splat on the ground like Tony Romo last year.

As we saw in typical fashion Sunday, Kregg Lumpkin cannot be counted on as a running back. His failure to pick up a solid foot on 3rd down in the  fourth quarter was just one example of his poor ability to run the ball. We just don’t want to see Freeman get hurt.

Speaking of Freeman, if he keeps locking in to No. 82., then take Kellen Winslow Jr. out and put in Luke Stocker so we can see what he offers. He seems to have good hands, and he’s the future at tight  end, Lets see if this ends up being an improvement or not. Stocker  was taken high in this year’s draft, he is a premium pick, play him,  start him, use Pianalta for two TE sets for blocking, because we all  know K2 cannot block, and when he tries, yellow ensues.

The Bucs don’t have to do all of these things at once. Maybe  implement one or two players each game along the way.

Next season is going to require at least a few free agent acquisitions, and Bucs fans are NOT going to cheer another speech by Mark Dominik on how the Bucs are going to entirely with the draft.

Otherwise the stadium will be empty and frankly, Raheem Morris wouldn’t survive another underachieving season.

THE OPTIMIST: Defending Gerald McCoy

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

Ask your average Bucs fan what he thinks about Gerald McCoy, and you’ll get every grade in the book.

You’ll hear what a future star he is, and you’ll get the “bust” word, too. He get’s compared to Booger McFarland and, of course  Warren Sapp. The truth is, he is all of those, and none of them.

McCoy only has 18 games to his credit. He started from Day 1 in 2010, but was injured and his season was over after week 13. Some would say McCoy was just starting to come on around week 9 playing Carolina at home. He had his first five-tackle
day, with two passes defended and a fumble. The next week he got his first sack against the 49ers, then two more sacks the next week against Baltimore. After that McCoy went down.

This year McCoy got a sack in week 4 vs. the Colts, part of a six-tackle night. He got hurt the next week at San Francisco and should be back for the Saints game this tomorrow. What is not measured, however, is the penetration that McCoy gets and the 
disruption that makes QBs feel uneasy. It’s exactly what he did in college, and it’s exactly why the Bucs drafted him. It’s also the same reason Bucs fans are calling him a bust.

To understand we have to do a little history lesson; Gerald McCoy’s best year at Oklahoma got him 6.5 sacks, his junior season. He went down to six in his senior year, with a grand total of 14 sacks in all three of his years with the Sooners. The Bucs did
not draft a sack machine; they drafted a defensive tackle that brings an explosive first step, quick penetration, major disruption; everything the Bucs covet from the position.

The problem in all of this is a fella we see on the NFL Network who is headed to Canton one day. Warren Sapp played the 3-technique on the Bucs D-Line just as McCoy does, but as I said, Sapp is headed to the Hall of Fame one day. Sapp is one of a kind,
once in a  lifetime. To expect GMC to be another Sapp would be the same as the 49ers to expect Alex Smith to be another Joe Montana, or Bills running back Fred Jackson to be another Thurman Thomas.

Will Gerald McCoy play better? Truthfully he’s not playing that bad right now.

He is causing disruption, and that’s what the Bucs want. In the future, you’ll hear his name more and more, but it may not be sacks, it may just be pressures, which do a lot of the same thing — create turnovers.

This info. is not lost on the Bucs; they know quite well what kind of player GMC is. And yes, spending a top pick on a DT who can
control the line of scrimmage and do what you want him to do IS worth the pick.

What the Bucs are doing is drafting defensive ends around McCoy who can bull rush to the QB. The sacks won’t come from the defensive tackle positions, but from the ends instead. You can only double team one or two players; someone else is going to get to the QB.

THE OPTIMIST: Defense Improvement Is Clear

Monday, October 31st, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

We’re one game away from the halfway point in the Bucs’ regular season and so far, at least, the team strategy is starting to take form.

The Bucs spent the first two picks of the 2010 NFL Draft on defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. McCoy played last year until his Week 11 injury that cost him his season. Brian Price only got into a couple games last year as he had a freak injury, but he’s back and thriving and should finish up the year alongside McCoy, who is due back from an ankle injury on Sunday.

This year, the Bucs spent their top two picks on defensive ends, and that is paying dividends almost immediately. Second round pick Da’Quan Bowers is coming along nicely, but top selection Adrian Clayborn is leading the team with three sacks.

That ranks him 28th in the NFL, but last season, no one from the Bucs even made the first page. The top sack man in 2010 was Stylez G. White and Clayborn needs only 1.5 sacks the rest of the way to equal that mark. Clayborn has actually come on fire lately, and he could easily break Lee Roy Selmon’s rookie record of five QB takedowns set back in 1976.

But football is a team sport, and stats are for losers, right? Well, our Bucs have improved in D-line play as a team, too.

Statistically, the Bucs are ranked 28th in total yards against, 26th against the pass and 22nd against the run. Out of 32 teams, they are 23rd in sacks. In the running game, they are 18th in allowing 4.5 yards per play.

In 2010, the Bucs were 28th against the run, giving up 132 yards per game. So far this year it’s 123 yards per game. But instead of being 23rd in sacks, last year they were 31st out of 32 teams. Only Denver was worse.

Not only that, but in three of their seven games this season the Bucs have held the opposing offense to under 100 yards combined rushing. In 2010, the Bucs only had four games all year that they didn’t give up over 100 yards rushing. Clearly the defensive line is making a difference.

Middle linebacker is also an improvement this year and responsible for the Bucs slight but still apparent move up the charts.

It may not be earth-shattering, but the dominant Bucs defense of old wasn’t built overnight, either.

THE OPTIMIST: Freeman’s On Target

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

I work at a local restaurant (soon to be unemployed, anyone know who’s hiring a kitchen manager?) and after the 2010 Super Bowl when the Saints beat the Colts, we had an awful lot of chicken wings left over.

“Super Bowl sales were down for the first time” was the report, as every year for the four previous years each Super Bowl Sunday resulted in an increase in wing sales from the previous Big Game.

But it turned out the wing sales were right where they were supposed to be. The year prior, the Super Bowl was in Tampa, and with all the local excitement of having a Super Bowl in our backyard, sales were inflated.

It holds true for the progression and expectations of our quarterback Josh Freeman. Many have the beleaguered QB “regressing” in his third season. All of a sudden, the pre-draft concerns are coming out of the woodwork again. 

The truth is, Josh Freeman is right where he is supposed to be for a third-year QB — if it weren’t for such a spectacular 2010 season, where Freeman tossed an amazing 25 TDs to six interceptions. That was a record for a second-year QB and rightfully so; it’s a great set of numbers for even a veteran signal caller.

So good that you can’t help but expect Year 3 to be even better, but just like our wings situation, if you take out the incredible number, the end result of growth in the third year is exactly where it should be.

Wings Cases Sold

2006  10
2007  14
2008  17
2009  29
2010  23

Year 3 in the Josh Freeman Franchise project, he is still learning and doing the things he is supposed to in his third season of growth. But our expectations of Freeman, and perhaps the Bucs in general, is that there should be growth from last year year when that may not always happen.

Of course, a win cures everything. We were still amazed with Freeman and the Bucs after their comeback over Minnesota in Week 2, even Ronde Barber had a career day last week in the win over Indianapolis.

Yet how many people after Sunday want Barber to retire because he looked too old. In truth, the whole team looked guilty of not being ready, and when every single player and facet of the game is played so poorly, you can’t do anything but look forward to the next game and write it off as an aberration.

As long as it doesn’t happen again!

THE OPTIMIST: Bucs Monday Night Highlights

Friday, September 30th, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

 

It’s Back! Monday Night Football!

I started thinking about how a lot of today’s fans havn’t really had a chance to enjoy their Bucs on Monday Night Football, and if you became a Bucs fan after the SuperBowl when Chris Simms was our QB or later, you don?t remember the days of Sapp, Lynch or the rebirth of MNF on the Gulf Coast.

So let me take you down memory lane as you get ready for Prime Time on Monday.

The Bucs became a team in 1976, and almost instantly Bucs fans learned to loathe MNF, not so much because we were never on it, but we never got to see our team on the halftime highlights.

Because they were narrated by Howard Cosell, Bucs fans learned to hate the nasal announcer. It wasn’t his fault — blame the producers — but that didn’t stop Tampa Bay from hating Mr. Cosell.

Finally, after the magical 1979 season, the MNF team awarded the Bucs two Monday night Games (one on Monday, one a Thursday Night special edition vs the LA Rams in a rematch of the NFC Championship game.) The Bucs scored 10 points to avenge their 9-0 loss — 10-9 on a late Doug Williams touchdown.

During the game, a MNF Camera panned the crowd and showed a sign reading MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL with a photo of Howard Cosell. After a brief moment, it was revealed it was two signs, and the half that said MNF dropped showing the words “COSELL SUCKS!”

“We’re not going to touch that.” announcers said.

A few appearances later, during a disasterous 1983 season, the Bucs put the country to sleep with a 12-9 OT win over Green Bay, and even though it was Week 15, it was Cosell’s last game on MNF.

Fifteen years later a whole new crew of MNF appeared in Tampa as the Bucs hosted the Packers again, only this time with Pewter uniforms at Raymond James Stadium. The place was rocking as MNF hadn’t been in Tampa Bay for a decade and a half. Some people got too excited.

One guy ran onto the field and was leveled by a state trouper thatlooked like a middle linbacker, all caught on film by the MNF crew, showing how crazy we were for primetime in Tampa Bay.

Even though it hasn’t been 15 years, Bucs fans of late have a lot to look forward to on Monday. The nation will be watching us; and, as I mentioned above, we have always had something good for MNF to show to the country:

1999: Rookie Shaun King gets his first start, and throws two TDs to beat the Vikings.

2000: A fake punt Mike Alstott pass to a wide open Dave Moore was overthrown.

2000: St. Louis Rams came to town for a rematch of NFC Championship game, and fans saw the best Bucs game of all time.

2002: Keyshawn Johnson and head coach Jon Gruden get into an argument on the sideline for the cameras, but it would be ok. They’d win a Super Bowl togetherin a few months

2003: Bucs open “The Linc” in Philly with a 17-0 shut out of the Eagles

2004: Rams Adam Archuletta pulls in a ball that fell off of Michael Pittman’s ankle and returns it for a Rams touchdown

2008: The Bucs at 9-3 give up 300 yards rushing to a 9-3 Panther team that started a four-game losing streak for the Bucs that cost Jon Gruden his job, and put him in the MNF Booth — to call this game Monday.

If you didn’t get all that, see you in 10 years, we’ll have a bunch of new MNF history to tell the new fans then. And it all starts Monday.

THE OPTIMIST: Stop Jumping Ship

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

Every once in a while, everyone feels the urge to jump ship. Yes, even The Optimist.

Ask yourself honestly, did you on Sunday?

You watched a slow backup running back take a handoff and run around the left side of the field, as Ronde Barber missed, as Quincy Black took the worst possible angle, Tim Crowder jogged, and as Cody Grimm appeared to run hopelessly nowhere near him, all the while Toby Gerhart gained 31 yards.

Did you feel like going overboard then?

How about when Donovan McNabb made you think you were watching Randall Cunningham as he ran around the end and tiptoed along the sideline getting a first down when it was 3rd- and-long. All the while Brian Price was hobbling along.

Did the thought cross your mind to look for the nearest life preserver?

Maybe when you saw any of the many Quincy Black whiffs, or whoops attempted tackles?

Because it’s ok…The Optimist did. I had enough. I thought back to a few other times I had to consider the benefits of being a Bucs fan. Halftime 1983, the Bucs were 0-4, but they lost their games by  11, 7, 3 and 6 points, respectively. So of course I’m going to watch the Bucs play at Green Bay. It was Packers 49, Bucs 7 — at halftime!

In 1985, the Bucs just won their first game of the year, they were 1-9,  but being a mini Optimist back then, I always watched the Bucs. They went up on the favored Jets 14-0 in the first quarter. OH! Lookout, the Bucs are back! The Jets led at the half 41-21.

Orange Man Overboard!

Listen, it happens. After everything I went through in the 80s and early 90′s, the Bucs were even THINKING about moving out of town?  That was going to be Hugh Culverhouses legacy? Cheapness? Followed by abandonment?!?

Sometimes, especially when hopes are inflated a little higher than they should be, the let-down is just too much to handle. But is it really jumping ship when you know someone is going to come swimming after you? Is it really all that bad to curse out Buccaneers when you know the players are going to come to life in the second half? 

Trust me, even the Bucs know they let down themselves, their fans, and relatives, and everyone who has anything vested when they under perform.

It’s the same thing as the team did last year, so you have to look for the common denominator; youth. Raheem Morris coined the phrase  ‘Youngry’…but this is a team that gets hungry only once it’s able to get over its own poor play. They need to learn how to move on  past a bad play. Arrelious Benn dropped a ball and was down all over  himself. One has to wonder how many other Bucs players are doing the  same thing,
wallowing in their despair over a poor play. Maybe  instead of Youngry, the word should be You-gretful! Or You-covery!

If that’s the case, then we are going to have to get used to this brand of football, because until the Bucs get more experienced, they’ll give
us all the first half springboard material we need to get ourselves in trouble.

Until then, we must watch Mason Foster grow before our eyes, Adrian Clayborn, too.  And maybe after a year to think about it, Tanard Jackson has matured enough.

Lets hope so, jumping ship can be quite painful! But it’s not permanent.

THE OPTIMIST: Upon Further Review, Not So Bad

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the team goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

The haters are out in full force. The memory of a seven-game turnaround and a 10-6 season is a long forgotten memory in their minds. But Bucs fans do have a few things left in life to continue living.

After watching the game the second time, I saw an offensive line that did not perform all that bad. Detroit’s main weapon is their defensive line. All world Ndamukong Suh had two tackles and no sacks. Josh Freeman threw over 40 passes yet was sacked twice. Suh was basically shut down, although the O-line could have run blocked better. It’s not like the Bucs have a short-yardage or game-changing flash back either.

The Bucs defense made the adjustments early stopping Detroit on their first two drives from scoring two TDs and instead forcing them into two field goals. But when you consider three of the Bucs defenders are rookies, playing their first game, you can see there are brighter days ahead.

Detroit did not gash the Bucs run defense like they did last year.

And it wasn’t just the Bucs, almost every poor performing team in the preseason fell on Sunday; Atlanta, Kansas City, and Cleveland for example. Yet as bad as the Bucs played, they were only a good minute away from tying the game. Wasn’t that the recipe for last season to being with?

Last year Barrett Ruud led the team in tackles, but he just wasn’t physical enough. His replacement is physical, but is young and green and will make mistakes. Later on in the year, just like Gerald McCoy started to come on around mid-season, Foster and Clayborn and Bowers will get it.

Then again, you can always bail on your team, but if you’re like me, you”ll stick around and watch the young talent develop.

Remember; take away a Ronde Barber interception and runback, the Bucs probably get blown out by Cleveland last year in the opener. Week 2 the Bucs looked great on the road.

Lets tune in, after all it will be on TV! And we should enjoy that, because the blackout will be back faster than Mathew Stafford can release the ball.

THE OPTIMIST: A Happy Goodbye To Cadillac

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the team goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

No doubt it was a sad sight last night seeing beloved Cadillac Williams in a Rams uniform scoring a touchdown and looking pretty darn quick during an 11-yard run.

When Cadillac officially went to St. Lous early in August, Facebook was on fire with differing opinions about the man who carried a big load for the Bucs for the past couple of seasons, and going back to 2005. It’s hard to say who is right or wrong.

Cadillac was adored by many Bucs fans who love toughness out of their football heroes. We were crazy for our No. 40, Mike Alstott, and were able to overlook his fumbling problem for a few years because he scored touchdowns, was the definition of class, and with his Brad Pitt looks gave back to fans as fans gave to him.

We feel the same about No. 24; but is Cadillac Williams still a strong football player? Sure, last year showed us as much when he is not relied upon to be the main guy. Cadillac thrived in all areas as a third-down back. But much as Alstott had a downside, Williams two knee surgeries obviously had taken their toll.

People say Cadillac should be kept because he is a leader, yet most who played with him say he was quiet in the clubhouse. He wasn’t a team captain. He may be a leader to by his example, but experience doesn’t make one a ‘leader.’ One only needs to view the whole Cadillac Williams tribute Video on BucStop.com to see the way No. 24 ran in 2005 when he was a rookie. It wasn’t the same as in 2010, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, first and foremost, are a business.

We don’t like to think of it as such, but we’re reminded of it every time one of our favorite players is bid adios by the organization. It was hard to swallow when Derrick Brooks was let go, but the Bucs needed to move on one day, they just felt 2009 was as good as any. Looking back even farther, Joe Jurevicius, Warren Sapp, Hardy Nickerson, all at some time had to sit at the desk of someone telling them they were great in their time, but time did, after all, move on.

And no, the decisions weren’t always correct. John Lynch was let go even after offering to take a pay cut. The Bucs felt Lynch had his best days behind him, with his shoulder and neck issues. Tony Dungy (Colts), Herm Edwards (Jets) and Lovie Smith (Rams DC) all passed on him, too. Denver took a crapshoot, and hit big. Lynch played at a pro bowl level for several more years.

Up until this decade, Bucs fans have never really known what it’s like to lose local sports heroes. Oh sure, Jimmy Giles was cut and picked up by the Lions, as was Kevin House, and Doug Williams left for the USFL, but it wasn’t the same as when our Pewter guys were let go. But were now feeling what it’s been like for other team’s fans.

I can promise you Buffalo Bills fans weren’t too thrilled to see Thurman Thomas close out his careerin a Miami Dolphins uniform. Or Dallas Cowboys fans watching the NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith play his days out with a Bird on his hat. I won’t even get into the Green and Purple stuff.

But life goes on for the NFL, its fans, and its teams.

Someone else will move forward to play second string to LeGarrette Blount, and he will do just fine. There was a time when Cadillac Williams had to be taken off the field on thrid down because he could not pass protect better than Michael Pittman. In time, that job became Caddy’s.

We wish Cadillac well, and share our fond memories, and remember his courage and tenacity when we run into hurdles in our lives.

THE OPTIMIST: Smile At The Bucs In London

Monday, August 1st, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the team goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have been out there on Dale Mabry watching the Bucs beat up on Da’ Bears in October, but not everyone is able to attend the games like I can, including perhaps myself when the time comes. The job market is shaky around here.

And if it’s so that many people could have a hard time financially attending Bucs games this year, then that means one more game will be on the tube for sure for Bucs fans to enjoy this season — the home game against the Bears played away in London.

The NFL has made it clear it is going to send its name and image across the globe. The greater the fan base of the NFL, the more money it makes, the more money the players make, the better the product is overall.

The London game sells out in minutes. It’s a huge event when it happens, and the Bucs probably had one of the better experiences of teams going over there. No, the game didn’t do much for fans, but when Mike Alstott, Shelton Quarles and Lee Roy Selmon show up for a touch football game with Bucs UK fan club vs. the Patriots’ fan club, well, talk about an experience of a lifetime!

It was so much, NFL Films devoted several minutes of its 2009 Bucs yearbook video on Paul Stewart and the Bucs UK. Stewart, the founder of the Bucs UK, watched a Monday Night game back in 1982 and the Bucs beat the Dolphins that night. He became a lifelong Bucs fan that moment; Of course it may have been different had anyone told him the Bucs would lose for the next 14 years.

I do hope the Bucs are not chosen again for this trip for some time; the fact is, the logistics of a trip to London are brutal. But the impact on the franchise should be a positive one, unless of course they lose by 20+ points again.

But at least if that happens, we can drown our sorrows with Bucs fans from all over the world.

THE OPTIMIST: Bucs To Overcome History In 2011

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

"Step aside, little man."

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the team goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

Every time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have tasted success after prolonged agony, the next season turns out to be a major disappointment.

The start of it goes back to 1980, when the Bucs sold out almost every home game following one of the greatest sports seasons in Tampa Bay history. It was the year after 1979, when the Bucs shocked the world and won 10 games when only 16 games before that the Bucs had won their first two games EVER — to the tune of a 2-26 lifetime record.

Ending up 10 points short of the Super Bowl, everyone expected the Bucs to make a serious run for the Big Game in ’80. Instead, Bucs fans got a team that surprised no one, and felt the move from an easy schedule to a much tougher one.

The ’80 Bucs defense was passed on repeatedly and its linebackers were exposed for being poor at covering receivers and speedy runners out of the backfield. Add to the mix rumors of drug use, and 10-6 turned into a 5-10-1 disappointment. The Bucs bounced back to make the playoffs the next two years.

Fast forward to 1998. The second year of Pewter Power had the Bucs expecting a playoff push to the Super Bowl following the breakthrough playoff season in ’97 with new uniforms and a new day in Tampa Bay. Instead, an inconsistent Tony Dungy team made more mental mistakes than ever, and it wasn’t until proper focus in 1999 and beyond were the Bucs perennially playoff bound.

I could go on and on … the Super Bowl victory was followed up with a 7-9 season. Take away a blocked extra point vs Carolina and that ridiculous LEAPING game with Colts on MNF (and the 21 straight points Indy Scored) and the Bucs start out 2003 with a 5-0 record. Instead they were 3-2 and the wheels were ready to fall off. After two losing seasons, Jon Gruden put together a solid defense and durable running attack in 2005. The next year, the QB’s spleen and the rest of the 2006 season were outta here.

This time it’s different; so don’t expect the 2011 Bucs to have a down year before resurfacing in 2012. There are just too many reasons why it won’t happen, and we’ll all be happy campers, lining up overnight for playoff tickets this coming January.

1) Nothing was really won in 2010: All the other examples show the Bucs winning something tangible, and when you win something, sometimes your fight goes away for a bit until it comes back. The Bucs won nothing; no division title, no playoff position, they simply had a winning record. If anything, that should make the team even hungrier, because they were ‘robbed’ of something.

2)The schedule does not get tougher: Granted we don’t play the NFC West this year, instead we get the NFC North, which does have two tough teams but two easier ones as well. Even the AFC division we play, the South, has Titans, Jaguars and Texans teams with weaknesses. The Colts are no longer the powerhouses they once were. The Bucs are going from the easiest schedule to the 15th-easiest, right in the middle, so there should be no complaining. There are only TWO GAMES each year that match your position in the division standings anyway. And this year it’s third place.

3) The Bucs have potentially nine games against teams with new coaching staffs and/or rookie QBs. That alone is an advantage in any normal season, but coupled with the lockout, a team like the Bucs returning its core group of players and coaching staff with the same offense is going to have a major advantage over teams whose players will be learning terminology only a few weeks before the start of camp. 

So I’m pretty sure the outcome is going to be something special in 2011 and beyond, a result you don’t have to be a real optimist to see.

THE OPTIMIST: The Greatness Of Culverhouse

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

The Bucs' often despised owner fought his owner comrades to get games televised

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the team goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

Today, THE OPTIMIST serves up an intriguing history lesson exploring the positive impact of Hugh Culverhouse. Joe learned a few things. Enjoy.

Whenever anyone wants to pin blame on the old Orange Bucs’ 14 years of losing seasons, one word comes to mind: Culverhouse. That’s Hugh Culverhouse, first owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He has been accused of being cheap, racist and greedy, yet amazingly I’m going to tell you that at one time, Culverhouse was the epitome of what an NFL owner should be!

To be entirely correct, Culverhouse was not even the first owner of the Bucs, or at least he wasn’t supposed to be. Tom McCloskey, a Philadelphia builder was the original franchise winner (Imagine that, a Phily guy owning the Bucs). McCloskey took a closer look at what was involved and passed. The NFL turned to a Jacksonville tax lawyer who made millions in real estate. Culverhouse put $4 million down and bought the Bucs.

Big deal you may say, we knew he had money; but you didn’t know he spent money did you?

Big Names, Big Bucks

At that time, John McKay was like Jimmy Johnson or Steve Spurrier; an innovative coach who created the I formation and his style of the 3-4 that shut down running teams. Culverhouse lured McKay from his cushy home in Southern Californai where he was winning national championships every few years.

Before luring McKay to the Bay Area, Culverhouse got Oakland Raiders GM Ron Wolf to come to the Bucs and fill the same role. “Build a championship team like you built the Raiders.”  So in 1975, the Bucs had their architect, then he set out to develop the right look. Wolf was responsible for building a Bucs team that won a division championship faster than any other franchise ever had, in four years. Wolf would later build the 1990’s Green Bay Packers; and Culverhouse spent well for him.

Culverhouse did not want a ‘toothless pirate’ for a logo, he wanted something classy, something Errol Flynn. Bucco Bruce was born of Tampa Times and Tampa Tribune artist Lamar Sparkman. So don’t think Culverhouse wasn’t capable of conjuring up a team that was tough…at the time, the Bucs were the ONLY uniforms with a hand drawn helmet logo. He wanted it classy, and Florida Orange went over so well, 40 years later we’re celebrating it once a year.

Money was no object back then for Culverhouse, who spent $1.75 million on what was then a state of the art scoreboard capable of showing video tapes and animated action. This was after Culverhouse got through the lease with the Tampa Sports Authority, an 80-page document that took 14 weeks to negotiate, and is a better lease for the public that we have now with Raymond James.

Today, the Glazers keep ALL concessions. Back then, Tampa Sports Authority got some of the revenue, too. Not bad for a cheapskate.

Fighting with the Fins

Culverhouse even caught the ire of fellow owner Joe Robbie, whose Miami Dolphins teams had complained about the ongoing preseason exhibition games against the Bucs; that Tampa Bay players were taking it too seriously, and Robbie didn’t want to play the Bucs anymore.

Then there was the issue where Culverhouse single-handedly changed the blackout rule in favor of us, the Public. Culverhouse okayed the Bucs’ local TV to telecast the Bucs/Dolphins preseason game after it sold out. Robbie was old school, and dead set against this.

Back then owners did not want ANY home games — preseason or regular season – on TV; they felt that would generate last-minute ticket buyers, rather than people buying their tickets ahead of time. How wrong the owners had it, and how right and what a visionary Culverhouse was. He strong-armed Robbie into agreeing to the broadcast and the first ever preseason game was on TV.              

Culverhouse understood what it meant to finance a ‘start up’ before the phrase ever even became popular. He knew you had to spend money to make money, and he wasn’t afraid to do it. His famous phrase on the opening night public address system …”We’re here for one reason and one reason only, to bring the fans great professional football (to Tampa Bay)”…and he meant it.

Doug Williams Debacle

So what happened? Well for starters, Doug Williams.

In 1982, Doug Williams was in his fifth and final season, which saw his completion percentage increase each year. Still, when your rookie percentage is 42 percent, you have nowhere to go but up. Keep in mind though this was before the advent of the West Coast offense, back in a day when you ran the ball and took shots downfield. Williams would throw the ball away to live to throw another day; he was one of the least sacked QBs in the league back then, only going down nine times in 1979.

Then negotiations went bad; each side fired shots at the other via the media, which is why you don’t hear things anymore like this. Williams reportedly wanted $600,000 a year. Top QBs back then were Archie Manning (600k), Ken Stabler (450k), Joe Ferguson (440k) and Steve Bartkowski (410k).  Williams was not up to the level of these Quarterbacks yet, it could be argued, but Williams was a leader, a winner.

He was currently being paid $120,000, and he felt it was because of one reason; he was black. John Elway was a rookie and signed a $1 million contract, as had Dan Fouts. At some point, though, Williams request went up to $850k. Eventually the Bucs offered $600k, but it was too late. The Bucs had signed Jack Thompson, paid him $200,000, then offered Williams an ultimatum; accept the deal by the start of camp, or it’s gone.

So Williams, the Bucs’ quarterback that guided the team to the playoffs three of the past four years, was gone. After he left, the Bucs went 2-14! They traded a No.1 for Steve Deberg a year later, as Jack Thompson did not work out. The Bucs started to lose, and we all know what losing does to a fan base.

In 1986, the Bucs had the No. 1 pick, and wanted Bo Jackson, stellar running back out of Auburn; but Hugh Culverhouse and the Bucs screwed up again. They flew Bo in a private plane and ruined his final eligibility. They then gave him an ultimatum, baseball or football. Doug Williams was telling Bo what to expect from Culverhouse, and Bo chose Kansas City and baseball over Bucs and football.

IF that wasn’t enough, in 1989 Culverhouse claimed the Bucs were losing money, and had to move three home games to Orlando’s Citrus Bowl to expand the local fan base. When Culverhouse passed away, papers showed the Bucs were not only profitable but one of the MOST profitable franchises out there.

His death led to family fights for the franchise that ended with the sale of the Bucs to the highest bidders. In the end, the Culverhouse legacy was a Bucs team that did not even know if it was going to stay in Tampa Bay or not, and then along came the owners known as the Glazers who spent money on the team once again, and turned it into an eventual Super Bowl winning football team.