Greetings from Tampa!
My flight arrived yesterday and I promptly went the local Cuban joint for some pork, yellow rice and black beans. I love Cuban food.
The mood down here towards the Bucs is indifferent at best. No one cares. More people here are interested in the Tampa Bay Lightning home game this evening. I have not seen this level of complete apathy since the 1980s in Tampa. The house that Dungy built is officially burnt to the ground.
Here are a few local headlines...
Greg Schiano era among the worst in Bucs history.
The point is this: For all the suffering that Tampa Bay fans have endured over the years, this is pretty close to the bottom. There hasn't been a positive headline out of One Buc Place for months now, and it may be months before there is another.
That about sums it up, doesn't it?
Rookie RB James eager to seize opportunity...
"I'm sitting here having nightmares of (Panthers defensive ends Greg) Hardy and (Charles) Johnson and Kuechly and (defensive coordinator) Sean McDermott," Sullivan said. "The numbers don't lie. These guys are up in every category."
That quote by the Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is very telling. He knows the huge challenge his young crew faces tonight. The Bucs are starting rookies at both QB and RB, not because they want to, but because they lack other options.
James is a sixth round rookie out of the University of Miami and a Florida native. I expect the limited crowd to be pulling for him.
“We just want to win. I’m just being honest. We just want to win,'' defensive end Gerald McCoy said. "I guess it’s prime time. That’s it. There’s a lot of fireworks around it...This is a division opponent that we don’t like.
“Desperate, that’s kind of like the last straw isn’t it? If you don’t have a win? The Giants won last night. I was like c’mon now. Dang it. Another team with a win. We’ve got to get one. We don’t want to be the last ones. We’ve got to get it.’’
It doesn't sound like the Bucs are giving up on the season and the Panthers would be wise not to overlook them. They need to come out and match the intensity they had against the Rams if they expect to go home with a winning record.