THE OPTIMIST: Stat Sheet Tells Its Own Story

September 30th, 2010

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

Caution: Objects in mirror closer than score indicates.

Before you pronounce the Tampa Bay Buccaneers D.O.A. following that unpleasantly aromatic display against the Pittsburgh Steelers, I feel it my duty as “The Optimist” to remind everyone exactly what that loss was on Sunday.

One non-divisional, non-conference loss.

Nothing more, nothing less. The Buccaneers clearly were outmatched and handled on the scoreboard. But truth be told, only the scoreboard reflects the difference between the talent level on the Steelers and the Bucs.

For those who wish to downplay Charlie Batch, I offer up this tidbit of history; He is now 5-2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having gone 4-2 with the Lions beating Tampa Bay four in a row from 98-2000. Batch has thrown over 50 Touchdowns in his career; he is an NFL backup Quarterback. It does not matter if he is second string, or third string or fourth; that is a matter of politics.

He is a quality backup, and capable of beating any other team in the NFL. Everywhere else, the Steelers outmatched our Bucs, and their level of development compared to ours should come as no surprise.

When we last played Pittsburgh, we were a 2006 falling-apart franchise that should have started the rebuilding process right then and there. Pittsburgh was a veteran group only a year away from Super Bowl status. Today, they’re still a Super Bowl contending team; we are still a growing baby by comparison. The score showed it.

But while the scoreboard was capable of measuring the difference between the Black/Gold and White/White on the field, the stat sheets were not. That is because this young Bucs team was for the most part able to play with their older cousins for quite sometime they got punched in the mouth. First Downs: 18-17 Bucs. Total yards: 387-303 Steelers. 3rd down efficiency: 44%-43% Pittsburgh. Passing yards 228-186 Bucs.

So I ask, which Buc/Morris/Dominik/Glazer hater would not point out a Bucs disparity on the stat sheet if they beat a team 17-14 but gave up 340 yards of offense? Then be fair on the other side, and realize that two fluke touchdowns by the Steelers had a big effect on the course of the game and the outcome on the scoreboard.

Would the Bucs have had a chance to win if Cody Grim and Aqib Talib made the plays in the endzone instead of being goats? Of course, there’s little chance it have made a difference. Pittsburgh is an elite team, even without Big Ben, because Big Ben is NOT the player the Steelers revolve around.

So does a 38-13 pasting kill off what was a promising season? What kind of Bucs team is this?

The Bucs have shown it can and will beat the lesser teams in the NFL, teams similar to what the Bucs were last season. They are a Bucs team that is not mature or developed enough to compete against the elite in the NFL, but probably will compete against the average to above average teams, depending on when and where they play them.

Even the best Bucs teams got shellacked at some time during their season.

The 1999 Bucs reached the NFC Championship game, but suffered the worst loss in franchise history 45-0 to the Raiders.

Even the defensive 1979 Bucs team that also managed to reach the NFC Championship game played to a 0-0 tie at halftime against an Archie Manning-led New Orleans Saints. Final score? 42-14 Saints!

In 1997, the turnaround season that started Pewter Power, gave us a 31-0 loss to the NY Jets at the Meadowlands.

So even the better Tampa Bay teams have suffered blowout losses, and unlike the NY Giants or NY Jets from last year, the Bucs were not played out of the stadium. Tampa Bay was not even competitive in those games last season, but against Pittsburgh, the Bucs were able to move the ball and play competitively except for a handful of plays that went the way of the Steelers. Does this mean the game was completely even except for a few plays? No, Pittsburgh outrushed the Bucs 201 to 75.

The Bucs used to make plays on defense and make plays on Offense. So until they are good enough to do so again, they should expect scores and results like this possible when you take on a team that much better than you. 

But this schedule is not full of Pittsburghs, it’s full of teams that the Bucs CAN beat, and that is why this season is FAR from a disaster, even though the last game was.

5 Responses to “THE OPTIMIST: Stat Sheet Tells Its Own Story”

  1. oar Says:

    Yep, take away the two “fluke” TDs from that 38-13 beating and…..well 24-13 doesn’t sound that bad, but it’s still a loss. Shoulda, coulda, didn’t! But what if…..

  2. McBuc Says:

    I do not thnk Nick is playing the what if game, but he is showing the stats were not as lopsided as the score showed. We all like to say a win is a win, so we also must say a loss is a loss. The bottum line is statisticly, with the exception of rushing yards, the Bucs did not play as bad as it felt. However, at the end of the season no one will remember or care about the stats, just the Ws and ls.

  3. Capt.Tim Says:

    Another great article by the optimist. This guy is a genius! Spot on appraisal of what we are achieving, and how much futher we have to go! All still good in Buc land

  4. Gatorbuc15 Says:

    Great article OPTIMIST. You’ve made some of the best points as to why this Bucs team will be alright this year, more than anyone else.
    Thank you sir.

  5. BamBamBuc Says:

    Actually, I think one “fluke” play was missed. The pass that Stroughter had hit his hands (I think he was hit in the air) that popped out to the hands of the Steelers and was run back for a TD. A catch or even incomplete pass in that situation also changes the complexion of the game. It also shows why the stat sheets are so close with the score being lopsided. Defensive yards don’t count on the stat sheet. Also, if those two TD passes were knocked down, that would reduce the Steelers yardage by about 80 yards.

    Sure, the team got beat down by the run game in the 2nd half. That’s a luxury the Steelers had when they were up 5 scores. This is what we talked about before the season began. The team is young, they are bound to make rookie mistakes (or at least young player mistakes). It will make the year somewhat of a roller coaster. We will look horrendous some weeks, and look pretty solid other weeks. Consistency comes with experience.