The rebuilt pirate ship is still springing leaks.
The Buccaneers have lost three games in a row. They failed to sell enough tickets for Sunday’s game to avoid a local TV blackout. Their head coach is being mocked for behavior that some have interpreted as amateurish.
Does all of this sound a bit familiar?
While these issues are nothing new to Bucs fans, it’s not a repeat of 2011. Youthful Raheem Morris is not the head coach and, yes, the Bucs are a more competitive team now than they were for the majority of last season, when they dropped 10 games in a row and were blown out on a regular basis, resulting in the postseason dismissal of Morris and the hiring of Greg Schiano to replace him.
Schiano’s team is showing up every week and playing hard, which is more than we could say about the Bucs as their season spiraled out of control last season. The Bucs have been in all four games they have played this season, but they are 1-3, and Schiano has become best known for demanding his defense go all-out on kneel-down plays at the end of games.
The first quarter of the season for the Bucs was encouraging and disappointing. The same critical problems — losing and struggles with ticket sales — exist for the franchise despite ramped up efforts to improve on both fronts this offseason.
The Bucs stopped treating free agency like a spectator sport and spent big money on WR Vincent Jackson, OG Carl Nicks and CB Eric Wright. Two first-round picks were added to the mix on draft weekend in SS Mark Barron and RB Doug Martin.
Schiano has better talent to work with than Morris did, and he also has a business administration that rolled out some different strategies to appeal to fans.
The Bucs lowered the prices on 80 percent of tickets in the offseason and introduced a half-season ticket plan. They also offered a 12-month payment plan and became the first team to get on board with the league’s 85-percent rule, which would allow them to call their game a sellout as long as 85 percent of the tickets for non-premium seats are sold 72 hours before the game.
However, all three of the Bucs’ home games have been blacked out this season. They have failed to sell enough tickets to avoid a blackout in 16 of their last 18 home games, and the Bucs can go a long way to ensuring things will not get any better by failing to take care of business Sunday at home vs. a Chiefs team that will be starting Brady Quinn at quarterback.
With Matt Cassel out after suffering a concussion in Week Five, Quinn will make his first start since the 2009 season.
The Bucs have had trouble defending the pass this season — they rank last in the league in average passing yards allowed (345.2)— but if Schiano cannot devise a game plan good enough to stop Quinn and get the Bucs a much-needed win, then at what point this season will a fan on the fence about buying a ticket to a Bucs game be convinced a seat at Raymond James Stadium is worth the investment?
The Bucs are coming off a bye and have had plenty of time to prepare for the 1-4 Chiefs. Schiano needs to make it abundantly clear that his team is heading in the right direction on Sunday — for the sake of his credibility — and the only way he can do that is with a win, giving the club something to build on heading into a winnable Week Seven home game against the 1-4 Saints.