I was going to be critical of Edmonton, Alberta, and
Canadian hockey fans who have gone
to social media to protest Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli after the
flambéed by the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
I was. Past tense.
If you’re an Oilers fan and see this and get pissed off at the would-be criticism, relax. Really. You’re reacting to a shit situation that’s been ongoing under different guidance for too-long now. You’re reacting as you should. Do Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans do that? No so much.
Today is the last day of the Buccaneers 2018 season. They’ll
be going for their sixth win of the season against the Atlanta Falcons. Sixth
win of 2018. Tampa Bay’s NFL team has only won 12 games total since December
11th, 2016. They could get #13 today. They could hold steady to sub-mediocrity
and come up short in their season finale. Whatever, sub-mediocrity rules at One
Buc Place and Raymond James Stadium as acceptance of subpar play reigns among
Buccaneer fans… or so it seems.
That’s basically the conclusion to draw from #FireChiarelli:
fan frustration and fan reaction to a team failing to compete. There’s a lack
of it with football in Tampa Bay.
The Bucs have played 33 games since the
December 11th, 2016 win against the New Orleans Saints. That’s a .364 win
percentage, just over — we’re talking a diminutive fraction – one-third of
games played have been victories. Oh, you can go through final scores from
2016, 2017 and 2018 and specifically cite games in all three seasons that were
oh-so close but still turned into a loss.
That’s all that matters in the end, you win or you lose, and
the Buccaneers are consistent on the latter.
Mind you, I’m not pushing Super Bowl-or-bust here, I’m talking consistent competiveness here. It’s something historically foreign with the franchise and the wrong mentality helped take the club back there — the mentality of all-or-nothing.
I’m a fan who got won
over by a total system drive that came to be in the mid-1990s under the
guidance of GM Rich McKay and coaching of Tony Dungy. From 1996 until 2001, the
Bucs went 54-42, a .563 win percentage in regular season play. Unfortunately, Dungy’s
inability to win it all in the playoffs led to his dismissal, being replaced
with Jon Gruden in the winter of 2002.
Yeah, Gruden won it all in his first season as head coach
with the club going 12-4 in the regular season. He also led to GM Rich McKay calling
it quits in Tampa because of issues
with Gruden. The Bucs continued to have competitiveness, but things faded
before Gruden’s tenure in Tampa ended after 7 seasons with a 57-55 record. That’s
just over .500.
The Bucs haven’t made the playoffs in 11 seasons, they have
only 2 winning seasons after Gruden’s departure (2010, 2015)… And whatever
they do today, win or lose, the reaction from the fan base will be
wait-til-next-season and acceptance of the meh.
Or so it’s left to feel.
Now, it’s hockey that led to me writing this and I need to
reference hockey again because of relevance. Last spring, during the NHL
playoffs, I got shocked
and pissed off with Lightning fans who were calling for head coach Jon Cooper’s
ouster because the Bolts fell in the Eastern Conference finals to the
eventual Stanley Cup winning Washington Capitls. The mentality that was in by
the reacting fans seems to be that of a spoiled child — the Lightning had one
hell of a season but they didn’t do it all. Doing it all is all that could be
done to satisfy the spoiled and that mentality seemed to have already played
out in Tampa Bay sports with Gruden replacing Dungy (and thus replacing
McKay). The spoiled fans got it all in
the Super Bowl 37 victory and then… then things went back to a level of
mediocrity that the Buccaneers franchise has almost always been known for
if Edmonton Oilers fans and NHL fans can lobby for the
ouster of Peter Chiarelli as Oilers GM in reaction to the clubs ongoing
struggles, Buc fans and the NFL contingent in Florida are long, long overdue to be pushing for the dismissal
of current team GM Jason Licht (the club is 27-52 since he became GM in 2014),
if not going higher and calling out ownership. While the right mentality was in
place at the start of the Glazer family ownership tenure, it’s turned into
something akin to what was prominent under original franchise owner Hugh
Culverhouse, where a middling effort is a challenge and hype of potential reigned
in the local media but competitiveness and accomplishment were not to be found
on or off the field.
Losses suck, and mid-season change doesn’t mean a team’s
competitiveness will suddenly be found… But the season is over in Tampa and
finding competitiveness once again is a necessity.