No Room For “F” Word

January 23rd, 2021

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For my money, the Bucs have already come out on top in this bold experiment.

Even if Tampa Bay falls short at Lambeau Field on Sunday, the future-is-now approach employed by the 2020 Bucs should be deemed a success.

The grade is in, writes Ira Kaufman. No final exam necessary.

Why not? A franchise that hadn’t won more than 10 games since 2005 stands 13-5 heading into the NFC title game, powered by a six-game winning streak.

Anyone who declared “Super Bowl or bust” when Tom Brady signed as a free agent 10 months ago will undoubtedly be bitterly disappointed if Green Bay advances, but no one should consider this season a failure – no matter what happens in the frozen tundra.

An early playoff flameout in Washington would have been devastating, but it didn’t happen. Beating the favored Saints on the road last week tipped the scales, even if a former Buc says otherwise.

On this week’s “Eye Test For Two” podcast, fellow Hall of Fame voter Clark Judge asked Booger McFarland if the Bucs are now playing with house money.

“I disagree,” McFarland said, “because when you say they’re playing with ‘house money,’ you’re meaning the expectation was to get this far. When you get Tom Brady, and you couple him with Gronk and AB (Antonio Brown) and Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and everybody that they got, you’re not making those moves to say, ‘Let’s get close.’

“You’re making those moves to see if we can win it all. So, nah, it’s not icing on the cake. To me, if they don’t win Sunday, it’s going to be a failure. And they will treat it like that.”

Failure is a strong word. In this case, too strong.

Surely, the expectations for this team jumped exponentially once Brady replaced Jameis Winston under center and Jason Licht added some veterans to the mix. But only one club from each conference can reach the NFL’s showcase game and the Bucs have already knocked off two division winners, including the NFC’s No. 2 seed.

Tom Brady sees things differently, says The Sage.

In my mind, Tampa Bay has already met expectations, but Brady looks at things through a totally different prism. When you’ve won six Super Bowls and played in 13 conference title games in your first 20 seasons, nothing matters except raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

That’s understood.

Throughout his unparalleled career, Brady has been masterful in dealing with high expectations and low temperatures.

Even if the weather turns nasty Sunday afternoon, Brady will know how to deal with the elements. He has overcome snow, wind and rain on the road to Canton, so it doesn’t take a Lambeau Leap of Faith to figure No. 12 is going to play very well.

You can run on the Packers, and the Bucs will try. Even without Antonio Brown, they have enough quality targets to test a solid Green Bay secondary. The problem rests on the other side of the ball.

Led by imminent league MVP Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are slight favorites. Green Bay led the league in scoring, but don’t think for a moment that Brady can’t win a shootout, if necessary.

“Of course, I’m a little biased,” McFarland said. “I’m going with Tampa. I think Tom Brady is the key to a team that was talented enough last year to go deep into the postseason. But they didn’t get that opportunity. But now you have a defense that’s a year older, that’s starting to play its best football and has the weapons on the outside.

“I just think that Tom Brady has been the decisive factor for a team that’s been talented enough to get to this point. He puts them over the hump this year.”

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26 Responses to “No Room For “F” Word”

  1. Bucfanforever Says:

    Forecast: Snow until lunchtime. Kickoff: 30° falling to 25° by the end of the game. Brady and the Bucs: Red hot. Rodgers and the Pack: tears frozen to their faces.

  2. SB : Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    Nice article Ira.

  3. PSL Bob Says:

    I’ve vacillated on what it would mean if the Bucs lose tomorrow. If they lose, you can’t deny that they’ve had a great season. And thinking they may lose certainly dulls the mental impact of a loss should it happen. On the other hand, with the all-star cast on offense and a continually improving D, it would break my heart to see them lose at this point. Come this far and then have to go home empty handed. To a city hosting the SB. No they’ve got to win. They were built to win now and so I have to agree with Booger. They will have failed to achieve their goal with anything less than at least a SB appearance.

  4. Bird Says:

    Right on the mark
    But you know who will be out if bucs dont win

    When bucs started out it was up and down and “the cult” was laughing calling brady signing a disaster and him garbage.
    When bucs started winning it turned to super bowl or bust
    Now 2 away wins in playoffs and “the cult” went silent

    Winning in green bay is not easy …but can be done. We do have a bunch of holes on defense still to fill which can be filled next year in draft and free agency. You dont think free agents who want a ring may sign team friendly deal with bucs to do just that. To play with the goat.

    Im excited. Say 40/60 chance if defense plays like most of regular season. If defense shows up , then i think is 50 percent or better.

    Go bucs!

  5. Allbuccedup Says:

    One thing for da_m sure Brady was a success!

  6. Jbeachbuc Says:

    Watching last week’s NFC GB vs LA.. NFL Network.

  7. The Red Mirage Says:

    Discouraged naw, I’d say disappointed. You say discouraged, again I’d say disappointed.

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    A failure if we lose?……..absolutely not…….disappointment?……yep…

  9. Coburn Says:

    Yeah i sure would like to be cheering for my own team come superbowl Sunday. However regardless it’s Been a great year, a successful one. Was expecting improvement but wasn’t counting on winning it all after so much losing over the years.

  10. Tbbucs3 Says:

    A lot of Bucs fans don’t want to here this but when you have Mr Super Bowl himself in Tom Brady on your team, anything less than a Super Bowl is a failure… least in Toms mind it is.

  11. Pewter Power Says:

    Lose this week if your going to lose, can’t lose the Super Bowl in your own stadium. We both played 5 playoff teams, we played Saints twice. Green Bay played a garbage weak schedule and dominated rams but no one will even talk about Aaron Donald being hurt in the playoffs. O line ain’t as good as people claim. Saints, Colts and Bears were the only good front they played this year, beat Saints by a touchdown and lost to colts beat no offense bears twice. O line didn’t have to go up against Vea before. I think we win easily and they get beat down twice just like they did by the 49ers last time

  12. dmatt Says:

    I hope the Bucs defense is doing its homework on ARodgers. He’s going to use the hard count throughout the game n his primary target will be Suh. Also, coaches, please scoop the dbs, especially JDean cause after his pick six last time they met, Rodgers will use every technique to get him to bite on the pump fake.

  13. Darin Says:

    Booger is talking like a player. You dont win the title your season was a failure. The fans and others can debate that. All i know is they fail tomorrow if they dont win. I’ll still love em tho. Go Bucs

  14. Hodad Says:

    There’s only one happy team at the end of the year. One success story, thirty one failures.

  15. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Pewter Power, GB’s schedule wasn’t that weak. They beat NO, Bears 3 times, Charger & Tenn. I’d say a lot harder than Bucs. Week 6 the temp was 83° at 50% humidity, I’d question if it’s harder to play in that weather versus 30°. That being said Bucs do match up and their LB core is no where close to Bucs but their DB’S ha e the edge.

  16. stpetebucsfan Says:

    At least we know at long last the powers that be in the NFL are rooting for the Bucs big time.

    In a SB in the shadow of a horrible pandemic this would be the brightest news of all. It has ALL the ingredients.

    Start with the first time in league history a team plays the SB in their own stadium.

    Mix in the confirmation of absolute greatness in Tom Brady going for a freaking amazing 7th…I can’t even believe I typed that…a SEVENTH SB ring.

    Add in the story of the two amigos…Brady and Gronk reuniting…Gronk is a story by himself…

    The story of two GREAT players who never saw the playoffs before this season in LVD and ME13.

    The story of young rookies coming into their own with Winfield and Tyler Johnson as well as the rest of the kiddie korps. If Vea plays in the SB he will be a huge story as they cover the history of the amazingly STRONG Samoans who have played before him.

    There are stories than I can even type here. It will be television gold.

  17. bojim Says:

    Why not win it all Ira?

  18. Buc1987 Says:

    I’m as happy as a clam right now.

    Then again. I’m not one of those SB or bust fans.

    If they win tomorrow I’ll prolly lose my shyte.

    If they lose….oh well. See ya next year!

    Go Bucs!!!!

  19. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Booger has always been a big talker…and a slightly above average player. I don’t think he even dressed for the Bucs Super Bowl run in 2002. Anyways…it feels like a success so far to me…but I find myself feeling “greedy”. One win away from home field in the Super Bowl. It’s a once in a career opportunity for these fellas.

  20. Tom Sumner Says:


  21. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Ira, I agree with the premise of your column. However, Scissors goes on record as Bucs by 10.

  22. HeyItsAdam Says:

    It takes a lot to get a #1 draft pick. I beans you stunk for an entire season. And when you get that pick, it’s not something you give up on because no one gives up on good QBs and let’s them hit FA.

    I SAID IT IN THE SUMMER: Cutting JW loose means Super Bowl of bust. Yes this season is nice and playoff wins are nice, but we are at LEAST 2 seasons from drafting a franchisee QB. My hope for the long term success of the franchise is Brady gets his ring, retires, Bucs sign Prescott.

  23. alton green Says:

    I read all these comments and there is a pattern. I see a lot of “if we don’t win.” Seems like we are developing a handicap. Been watching Brady since he was a Jr at Mi and thank God not winning is not allowed in his DNA. Sounds like many want to play “to not lose” Mike Tyson did that once and Buster Douglas kicked his ugly a*& into the next county

  24. TampaTown Says:

    We CANNOT allow the F’n Packers to play the SuperBowl in our house. No!

  25. DavidBigBucFan99 Says:

    Right now as long as we’re winning it is Super Bowl or bust! Anything else right now would be failure. Moral victories are for the off season not playoffs. We the people believe in the Bucs now and Brady is the biggest reason but the offense and defense over the last 2 gameshave proven together they can win in championship style. Each struggled in their own way but together they came out on top. Last time Brady threw for only 166 yards, I believe this time around that amount will be quite a bit higher. If we also run like we ran last time, hard to see us not winning this game

  26. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Another, of many, great article with correct prospective Ira. Fortunately, the Bucs will advance, IMO, and move on to a home game.