Heavenly Hype-free

May 16th, 2018


Anonymity has its privileges.

On a broad perspective, nobody’s talking about the Buccaneers. They are an afterthought for the Vegas odds makers, a non-entity on NFL Live, a subject rarely discussed on national sports talk radio.

It’s understandable.

When you’ve finished in the division basement six times in the past seven years, it’s natural to be considered irrelevant in the power rankings. That’s a good thing for this franchise because the Bucs haven’t handled hype very well over the years.

“Expectations last year, that was supposed to be our year,” says Lavonte David. “We didn’t fulfill that, so pressure is on us even more. Everybody is back talking down on us, so we have a lot more to prove this year. There’s a sense of urgency, where we want to be and where we need to be.”

When there are too many eyes on the Bucs, this franchise tends to lose its focus.

A year ago, coming off a 9-7 season, Tampa Bay was a chic pick to win the NFC South after the Hard Knocks cameras headed out of town.

Instead, the Bucs flopped to 5-11, falling out of playoff contention before Halloween.

History On Their Side

In 2011, the Bucs had the look of an emerging power. They had just gone 10-6 led by Josh Freeman, a young gunslinger who appeared to be the answer under center. It was not to be. After a 4-2 start, Raheem Morris lost his final 10 games before losing his job.

The 2008 Bucs were reigning division champs and jumped out to a 9-3 record before a December collapse put an end to the Jon Gruden regime.

After winning the NFC South in 2005, the Bucs fell apart the following season, plunging to 4-12 while averaging only 13 points per game.

The most painful memory of all? Try 2003, when the Bucs began defense of their Super Bowl title by blanking the Eagles 17-0 on the road in the season opener.

In some ways, they looked better than ever.

A month later, on another Monday night, the Bucs blew a big lead against Tony Dungy’s Colts and were never the same.

On the flip side, all of the exciting  Buc seasons since the Super Bowl came when outside expectations were low. The current over-under win total for Tampa Bay (6.5) seems rather depressing, but Buc fans are used to the disrespect.

So are the players.

Radar Games

“It is what it is,” says Donovan Smith. “You control what you can control. Under the radar, on the radar, whatever you want to call it. In the box, out of the box, it doesn’t matter. We still have a job to do. We still have things as a team that we have to hold each other accountable for and go out there and perform and compete and produce. It doesn’t matter where on the radar we are.”

A 10-year playoff drought doesn’t generate much enthusiasm outside of Buc Nation, The core fans will always be there, the true believers who could care less what the Vegas boys have to say.

The stage seems perfectly set for the Bucs to pull off another surprise, like they did in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2016. They can be the NFL’s stealth team this fall, flying so far under the radar you won’t see them coming until the league has no choice but to flex their meaningful games in December.

Buc fans have hope. Who needs hype?

Ira Kaufman is the most revered sports personality and writer in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also hear Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Wednesdays during football season, and see him now on Mondays at 10:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sports 360 (aka BayNews 9). Ira also is part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show and enjoys beet salads, Riesling, Chiefs victories and needling Joe.

21 Responses to “Heavenly Hype-free”

  1. The Buc Realist Says:

    Damn right Ira!!!!!!!

    Hear that that low rumble in the back ground!!! Its just the team grinding to improve this year!!!!!!!!!

    Now were talking, NO Distractions!!!!!!!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Dooshlarue Says:

    Wise words Ira and I couldn’t care less about fanfare or expectations.

  3. Casey Morgan Says:

    Yes our defense needed major work, but we could easily have won 3-4 more games last year. We were hurt by Hard Knocks, the hurricane taking our bye week away, no place kicker, and a few key injuries. I feel like we have much more depth this year…

  4. Rick Says:

    Been a Bucs fan since the beginning in 1976. Been through the 80s. I will never give up on my team because when we do win it is that much better

  5. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Take the over at 6.5 on the Buccs this year despite a tough NFC. The problem with the Buccs, like the Rays in the MLB, is that they play in arguably the hardest division in football.

    IF the Buccs were in the AFC South, they might be the three seed in the Conference. Not only do they have their division foes, they’ve got a slew of other conference contenders and wildcards. NFC Contenders outside the division: Packers, Vikings, Rams, Eagles. Wild Cards: Giants, Seahawks, Bears, 49ers, Cowboys. So, you’ll likely have around 13 teams vying for six slots. The Buccs must win the division this year in all likelihood to sniff postseason. It is imperative to get off a to a good start.

  6. Frank Pillow Says:

    Let’s be honest, we’ve hurt by a woefully deficient roster, poor coaching and terrible play–for about 35 out of 41 seasons. Ira’s right, we’re completely irrelevant outside of being laughed at for donning the worst uniforms in the league or a Jameis low-light INT or fumble being played on network highlights. We’re a team that has been SCORCHED over the past few years to the tune of basically being the homecoming team on the big boys’ schedule. Last year we laughed at the Jags during training camp, then failed to demonstrate a single oz. of comparative grit or toughness when the season started. We’re still a black hole. A place where careers go to die. Can we shake all of that and revel in low expectations? I’m just not sure. I want to be an optimist, but it’s damn hard. Ironically, we have two fired coaches in our ring of honor.

  7. zzbucs Says:

    well said Mr Kaufman…!!!!! Tons of examples you are right. Never give up on the Bucs, but they make me mad from time to time….But never a quitter….NEVER

  8. SB Says:

    Im with you Rick. Been a fan since ’76 as well and I don’t care if we went 0 and 16 I would still proudly rock my John Lynch jersey.

  9. Pickgrin Says:

    “Hope” has been in short supply on these comment threads ever since last year’s kick in the nuts season turned ugly the 2nd game of the year.

    I get it – because all Bucs fans have suffered far too much the last 15+ years – and getting your doors blown off the 1st half in Minnesota in the 2nd game of the year and downhill from there in the win column after a pre-season of such hype and hope – well – it was almost like the “last straw” for many it seems….

    Yes – last year really sucked – but I see this team as still very much on the “rise”. So I guess that means I have “hope” that the Bucs can compete at least well enough in 2018 that we are still in the equation for a playoff spot in mid (or better yet – late) December.

    10 wins for the Bucs in 2018 is doable – maybe not likely but absolutely doable.

  10. Dewey Selmon Says:

    WOW! I hope we don’t make the playoffs. heaven forbid everyone pay attention on us, We might crack under pressure.

  11. 813bucboi Says:

    Hear that that low rumble in the back ground!!!

    YEAH!!!!!….moving trucks for dirk and smitty!!!!!!….along with a truck full of tmaxi and new skirts for @realist!!!!!!!!


  12. 813bucboi Says:

    if folks are so scared of attention and afraid it will keep us from winning, why don’t the glazer suggest the nfl blackout all of our games?….only STH would get to see the fun at rayjay….that’ll eliminate all the distractions…..GOD forbid the league treats us like an actually NFL team….lol…


  13. 813bucboi Says:


    10 wins was doable last year with the right coaches…..im a STHer and I cringe at the fact that dirk and smitty are leading my favorite NFL team in 2018…..they are soft and the team has taken over that identity…..I see exactly what Mr. Blank was talking about when he said the falcons were soft…..

    maybe this year will change…maybe not….we’ll see soon enough….


  14. Not there yet Says:

    I would love it if the bucs were underdogs bullying the league but I guess that was Philly last year.

    Only reason I think this year will be different is guys like McCoy and lvd they have to be thinking now or never and should show up more than the newer guys

  15. '74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Been a fan since ’74 – technically when Tampa was awarded an NFL team – Bucs fan like you others since ’76. I WILL NEVER GIVE UP, I WILL NEVER SURRENDER! I will hurl insults at the tv from time to time though.

  16. Dooshlarue Says:

    @Frank Pillow

    You might be my new hero.

  17. Jason Mclaurin Says:

    I remember all the times too Joe. Been on board since the days of E. Rhett toting the rock in the early 90s and H. Nickerson coming over from the Steelers. Absolutely right to Joe. We should have more it seems like with the huge amount of hype over the years and the player accomplishment that been achieved but 1 super bowl after all the hype and we never recovered once our defense was exposed by Dungy, Manning and the Colts never really made it back to being an every year playoff team since then either. I hate to say it but I feel this will be another down year for the Bucs. I’m seeing between 9-7 and 7-9 . They’re trending up but I just get a feeling Koetter will walk away for either retirement or a return to college football for a chance to see his offensive scheme be successful just as Lovie did even though Lovie was fired. Koetter will either be fired or just resign on his own

  18. echase Says:

    I have been a fan since 79′ (sadly),, and we are depending on Winston to grow up, learn to throw the deep ball, stop hanging out with people that allegedly grope women and to stop with the embarrassing pre-game licking fingers speeches.

    Thats a lot of hoping. 5-11 again and this time next year we will be talking about the new coaches, new gm, new coordinators and new players.

    I/we have been threw this so many times.

  19. unbelievable Says:

    Yup, it’s been this way since we won the SB.

    I’ve never seen a team that responds so poorly to accolades and positive sentiment. It’s bizarre.

  20. Clw JB Says:

    The veteran players are not the Driving force of this team, it’s the kids and as such they lack mental fortitude to meet expectations

    GMC /LVD are great talents but we now know, not leaders that make those around them better

    Why does Alexander have to take over the D? BecUse the ProBowl talent won’t

  21. Buccfan37 Says:

    The Bucs are great…scratch that. The Bucs will be better this year…say that every year. The Bucs are overdue to make some positive noise in the league…now you are talking the same old Bucs fan wishful thinking. The Bucs fans can’t wait for the season to start…bulls-eye.