THE OPTIMST: Stability Is The Savior

January 6th, 2015

lovie and mccown 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, 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.

No one in their right mind saw a 2-14 record coming. If you did, you’re just a Glazer, Lovie Smith, or a Bucs hater, or all three.

I had the Bucs going 9-7, but I’m the optimist! I always have the Bucs winning next year. Throughout the 1980’s, I predicted the “turnaround” each season, only to find another 5-11 in my Christmas stocking!

This year was tough on Bucs fans, until you stop and realize what we didn’t want to realize: the franchise was in worse shape than we thought.

We knew we didn’t have depth but we thought we had talent capable of competing right away. That talent was made up of hired guns, and the fact is, firing three coaches in seven seasons ripped apart this roster.

It cracked me up to hear fans call for the Bucs to fire Lovie Smith. That would add to the already ongoing problem: too many coaching changes.

Revisiting Raheem

While Ike Hilliard, Warrick Dunn, and Derrick Brooks wouldn’t be able to help the Bucs out anymore due to age, those guys could have helped provide the veteran leadership missing from the locker room under Raheem Morris.

Instead, Mark Dominik cleaned house in 2009, and started over with a (too) youngry Bucs team. When special teams coach Rich Bisaccia left the Bucs before 2011, the “Bad Cop” left only the “good cop” in charge of the inmates, so to speak. All the progress of the turnaround from 2010 was lost in the firing of Morris and hiring of the exact opposite personality in Greg Schiano.

Kellen Winslow II would have been great to have in 2012, maybe he could have been the missing piece to get the Bucs to 9-7 or 10-6, which may have been the difference in accepting Schiano, rather than two losing seasons, which was too much for Bucs fans and ownership to handle.

Just think of all the players that were on the Bucs in 2011, guys who could have helped out this season had they still been here.

I’ll start with Josh Freeman. I’ve been in the camp that he was weak minded and Schiano got to him and broke him. If Schiano didn’t, then someone else would have. That mental toughness and discipline was actually there, but we may never know what Schiano did to break Josh Freeman of his desire to play football.

Other things in life became more important to Josh than football, and that was Greg Schiano’s doing.

Had Raheem Morris continued to coach the Bucs, and the transition went from Morris to Lovie, we would not need to gamble on a QB in the 2015 draft.

Let’s remember what Josh Freeman was: he led the Bucs on more fourth-quarter comebacks than any other QB in history. It’s not even close. As Raheem Morris told us, that is when discipline comes into play, during the fourth quarter with the game on the line. The Bucs had to be disciplined, or they wouldn’t have come back.

Historic Flag

Don’t think that one miserable, 2010 referee call against Detroit didn’t doom the Bucs more than any other act in recent history.

Kellen Winslow II was called for pass interference that didn’t happen. It cost the Bucs the game, and a playoff spot. The Green Bay Packers took it and ran it all the way to the Super Bowl.

Are you sure the Bucs could not have made it to the championship game that year?

Behind the passing of Freeman to Mike Williams and K2? Behind the legs of Legarrette Blount and hands of Cadillac Williams? How much patience would have been awarded to Morris a year after an appearance in an NFC championship game?

Perhaps the Bucs brass would have seen that Morris needed veteran leadership in free agency, rather than award that to a new coach instead?

Comfort In Close Games

There are those who say the Bucs won too many close games in 2010, yet no one wants to give credit to the 2014 Bucs for losing close games in the same fashion.

Also no one gives the Bucs credit for signature wins that year because critics deemed them as “unworthy.” The franchise lost every attempt to win in San Francisco for 30 years, yet a 21-0 shut out of the 49ers on the road is rarely mentioned. Or a 20-7 beat down of the Carolina Panthers on the road, and a sweep of them, as well. They demolished the Seattle Seahawks, who beat the Saints in the playoffs, plus a win over the Saints in New Orleans, when Drew Brees was still on the field with the rest of the starters.

Instead, we had regime change, and personnel jettisons, and now, the Bucs must stock the pantry with talent from the only place worthwhile, the draft.

Losing offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford sabotaged the team before it got started. Yet the Bucs’ defense proudly moved forward and established itself as the leaders on this team — headed into an offseason of more change.

Offensive coaches will be fired, and the roster will change. But the Bucs will return in 2015 one year closer to being a finished product, and will continue to do so, as long as the Bucs don’t try to start over … again.

32 Responses to “THE OPTIMST: Stability Is The Savior”

  1. lightningbuc Says:

    yet no one wants to give credit to the 2014 Bucs for losing close games in the same fashion.


    This “losing close games” thing is such nonsense. Look at the Las Vegas odds for NFL games on any given Sunday, and more than 90% will have a spread that is less than a touchdown. The NFL isn’t FSU vs. FAMU, the majority of the games are close, so spare us with this crap. Good teams win and bad teams lose.

  2. AK Says:

    “Freeman was weak minded and Schiano got to him”…. but in the next sentence blames Schiano for his undoing. . Is that Steve Duemig posting this?

  3. DHutch Says:

    well written Joe

    As you can see from the introduction, Joe did not write this. –Joe

  4. bucrightoff Says:

    The Bengals have had stability for about 12 years now…how’s that working out for them? Striving for mediocrity is not strirving for anything. Lovie is who he is, he’s not a guy who will build the Bucs into a long-term, consistent winner. Too poor a talent evaluator to do it. And remember without Devin Hester, the greatest returner ever, Lovie’s record in Chicago would be worse.

  5. JFat Says:

    Nice bucrightoff… That terrible talent evaluation led to the Bears drafting Hester and putting him in position to be the greatest returner ever…

    The Bucs went after a lot of the consensus top free agents last year, unfortunately they didn’t pan out too well. Givem another year, maybe they get better with a little consistency.

  6. RayRay1 Says:

    IMO 80-85% of the Bucs undoing lays @ Lovie’s feet. Did not have to completely redo the O line. Bucs need to win 7 games next year or L&L are in trouble.

  7. Skyline Crew for Mariota Says:

    I agree that we change our HC more often than some change their underwear around here.

  8. Phil Says:

    As long as we have Lovie I wouldn’t count on winning anything other than another first pick in the draft. How could anyone not see we were going to be worst with Lovie as our coach. His first move is to cut the best player on our team.

  9. Robert 9 Says:

    robert 9 agrees that we need consistency. we can’t keep firing coaches every other year.

    doesn’t mean robert 9 won’t complain. i might get pissed at the wife, but i’m not trading her in.

    maybe i should be easier on lovie? nah, robert 9 thinks lovie is obtuse, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut given enough time. time is on lovie side.

  10. Biff Barker Says:

    A nicely written piece that borderlines on fiction.

    Freeman ruined Freeman.

    There is not comfort in close games. That’s why we keep score.

    The roster churn last season was a disaster and the draft wasn’t especially great either

    Continuity only works if you’ve picked the right coach to begin with.

    Then the owners circumvent the time honored system of checks and balances in an origination by granting supreme authority to an unqualified HC. Brilliant!

    In a league that rewards innovation….. we’re stuck in the 90’s.

    I submit to you Mr. Houlis that if you remain insistent on keeping this HC and staff that 4-12 is highly likely next season.

  11. Robert 9 Says:

    if you aint 1st your last is my moto

  12. Skyline Crew for Mariota Says:

    bucrightoff Says:
    January 6th, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    The Bengals have had stability for about 12 years now…how’s that working out for them?
    Working a lot better for them than 50% of the NFL considering they were in the playoffs.

    2002 – 2-14
    2003 – 8-8
    2004 – 8-8
    2005 – 11-5 made playoffs
    2006 – 8-8
    2007 – 7-9
    2008 – 4-11-1
    2009 – 10-6 made playoffs
    2010 – 4-12
    2011 – 9-7 made playoffs
    2012 – 10-6 made playoffs
    2013 – 11-5 made playoffs
    2014 – 10-5-1 made playoffs

    I think that we could only dream of being that well off when it comes to making playoffs. Or even imagine putting together 4 winning seasons in a row. They only had 3 losing seasons in the past 12 years. Doing pretty well. I would take that over this crap show.

  13. JFat Says:

    I fall in the optimist category, especially in comparison to 90% of the people that post here. I’m not going to judge any of the offensive acquisitions from last year until I see how they perform when they have an actual OC.

  14. Skyline Crew for Mariota Says:

    For comparison I’ll show the Bucs last 12 years.

    2002 – 12-4 Superbowl Champs
    2003 – 7-9
    2004 – 5-11
    2005 – 11-5 made playoffs
    2006 – 4-12
    2007 – 9-7 made playoffs
    2008 – 9-7
    2009 – 3-13
    2010 – 10-6
    2011 – 4-12
    2012 – 7-9
    2013 – 4-12
    2014 – 2-14

    That is a crap show.

  15. Skyline Crew for Mariota Says:

    Since 1976 the beginning, the Bucs have only had 11 winning seasons. What does that tell ya about us? Most of those came under Dungy and Chucky. Scary man, very scary to think we could be headed back to the dark ages.

  16. Skyline Crew for Mariota Says:

    Robert 9 Says:
    January 6th, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    if you aint 1st your last is my moto

    Of course not. There is 2nd and 3rd and 4th. Good movie though.

  17. bucrightoff Says:

    Skyline see that’s the fan attitude I see so much that is, frankly, disgusting. The Bengals have 0 playoff wins in the last 12 years. Is that what we’re striving for? To not be an embarrassment, but to also accomplish nothing? We need to expect more, instead we’re basically cool being a mediocre team who’s never top 5 in the draft bad, but also never good enough to make the playoffs more than 1 time out of 3 season. Is that better than now? Yes. Is that still pretty much meaningless? Yup.

    So if you wanna not be an embarassement but not win anything, Lovie’s a pretty solid choice. If you actually wanna become something of significance? Should strive for better.

  18. kevin Says:

    I disagree with much of what nick wrote. A lot of it seemed to be excuses. Although some of them were true, it happens to every team throughout the season. You have to find a way to win the game. He is right on the frequent coaching changes and the affect they have. This team lacks continuity and depth. The offense needs to be kept together. Not the offensive line, they are not invited. Neither is arroyo. Just the weapons. Asj will have the jitters worked out and be ready to go next season. New line new oc new qb will be enough change. Keep our weapons

  19. Skyline Crew for Mariota Says:

    Bengals went to the playoffs 5 out of 6 years. I’ll take that. Them losing is on them. They have a jinx or something. I’d just like to see get to a winning season sometime in the next 5 years. And continue to win. I don’t see Lovie having a winning season with us. He is out of his element and his past his coaching prime. We need young blood to come in and coach and we need a coach to stay longer than 2 years. I think Morris should have had another year and I also think that Schiano should have had another year to coach. Every time we get a new coach they gut the roster and we can barely get 4 wins in a year. That is BS from a fan perspective to continue something that doesn’t work. Glazers need to sell the team to owners who know what they are doing.

  20. Biff Barker Says:

    BucRight, I’d rather be walking than crawling and as of today, this franchise is whale sh*t on the bottom of the ocean.

  21. port richey george Says:

    I think Raheem morris would have done a better job as a coach if he had the $$ to spend like lovie. Raheem didn’t have darrelle revis like schiano.

  22. bucrightoff Says:

    A jinx? Yeah that’s gotta be why they can’t win a playoff game. Or because they’ve constantly looked horrible in the playoffs is the more likely scenario.Losses to Matt Schaub and Mark Sanchez aren’t because of a jinx, it’s because they weren’t a great team. Kinda like when we made the playoffs in 05 and 07, we made it but I think we all knew those teams were not great teams, certainly not good enough to win it all.

    If we’re drafting a QB getting an offensive coach to be here for 10 years would be ideal. Instead the QB might end up with 3 OCs in 5 years with Lovie. Just not a recipe for success. Lovie is a nice guy and all but he’ll never make us much more than Chicago, pt 2 and while people can act like taking them to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman is everything (conveniently ignoring how weak the NFC was that year), missing the playoffs twice as much as making it should be the more important thing to remember.

  23. Hawk Says:

    Biff Barker Said:

    “A nicely written piece that borderlines on fiction.”

    Couldn’t have said it better. Does this guy also write for politicians who get caught in embarrassing situations? Excellent ‘spin’ doctor.
    Having said that, I have hope for the future, of this franchise (I’m a Buc fan, hope is entwined into our genes through osmosis), but I won’t sugar-coat the problems. We may not agree on what the problems are, who is to blame, or how to fix them, but we all (the still sane ones) agree there are problems.

  24. Newbucsfan!!! Says:

    Who is this bucrightoff kid?

    The nfc south was not weak during the bears superbowl run nor was it weak when they went back to the nfc championship game where cutler broke a nail and couldn’t return. The following season the bears had a winning record before cutler stubbed his toe and caleb hanie went in and was the worst qb in bears history. The bears D could make up for the O but they couldn’t do it w/ hanie as qb. It’s amazing how buc fans let other’s insult your coach wanting the brilliance of rex ryan yet he did not do what Lovie did. I can only think of a handful of coaches that i’d take before Lovie.

  25. Newbucsfan!!! Says:

    And if you all don’t think that lovie haters or trolls from the Chi don’t come here than you’re wrong. I looked at chicago media sites yesterday(csn,trib,etc.) and they had the story of trestman being in florida before florida had the story out. The media soured a large portion of fans out there in chicago with negativity because Lovie gave “boring” interviews and would not let them inside. He is the 3rd winningest coach in their history and they call him mediocre yet mike ditka is the boss. You know ditka screamed and yelled and was very entertaining but he could only coach a team that had the greastest D in nfl history along w/ walter peyton, dominant o-line and good receivers to one superbowl. Look at what Lovie did it with in comparison.

  26. Newbucsfan!!! Says:

    You idiots from the chi get on my nerves with your hate and I think that Lovie has so many supporters out there because we know what the real deal is in Chicago. I thought Lovie chose Tampa because it would be different climate wise and have more diversity. Man I wish he chose Detroit a team with talent and not Tampa a scrub team with no talent and a crappy fan base (excluding all the real supporters).

  27. Skyline Crew for Mariota Says:

    I still wouldn’t call Cinnci mediocre they are better than 65% of the NFL and they play in a tough division. If we could make the playoffs 5 out of 6 seasons I don’t think you can call the mediocre. Lots of teams lose in the playoffs. By those standards then anybody who isn’t the Patriots are mediocre. Pats have won quite a few Superbowls. Other teams no. only 1 team out of 32 can win one every year. If we have winning seasons more often than not we have a better chance of winning a Superbowl than a team that can’t get past 4 wins.

  28. Justafan Says:

    @Skyline –

    We’re in the dark ages again. We’re not headed there, we’re there. In the six seasons after winning the championship, Gruden amassed 45 wins, and plenty of fans wanted his head.

    They got what they wanted, and in the six seasons since, we’ve seen 30. A full 50% reduction in victories, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to the disappointment.

    Fans that talk about what the organization should strive for were the ones stating that Gruden had nothing left – yet he was still pulling 9 wins from a team cobbled together with the lowest salary expenditure in the game, whereas his three replacements have done far less with much more money.

    Yup, dark ages indeed.

  29. Skyline Crew for Mariota Says:

    Newbucsfan, I’ve never seen a fan who follows a coach around. Kind of creepy. To each their own though. People are upset with Lovie because he overhauled our team, told us we had to win now, then won 2 games. He is technically, the worst coach we have had in ages. Now if he can turn it around next year, then great.

  30. The Buc Realist Says:

    wow, this was the history of the bucs according to local sports radio. was there any fact finding in this article?

    A pessimist complains about the wind, a optimist expects it to change, The Realist adjusts the sails!

  31. Jonny 2.3 Says:

    I agree with some of it. I seriously think if Kelly came here instead of Schiano, Freeman would still be starting for us. We have seen what Kelly has done with Sanchez, a far inferior passer than Freeman in accuracy, decision making, arm power and most importantly mobility.

  32. CalBucsFan Says:

    Joe, if you plan to let others write articles for your website, I would suggest you have a competition with your fan-base to find better writers. This reads like a bunch of post-it notes dusted-off that were stuck on the guy’s backroom bedroom wall over the years just got pasted together. Subject: ‘Stability’ was Subject: ‘Hodge-Podge’.