Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
Analysis: This isn’t meant to be gallows humor. I’m entirely serious when I say I haven’t seen anything out of the Bucs that leads me to believe they’re not very capable of going 0-16. They truly don’t have anything positive going for them right now, and they’re bad in virtually every area. Maybe rookie quarterback Josh Freeman will provide a spark now that he’s been named the starter. But the Bucs gladly would have turned things over to Freeman much earlier if they thought he was ready, and it’s a stretch to say the light is suddenly going to come on just because he’s getting the bye week to get some first-team reps. Freeman has more physical talent than predecessors Byron Leftwich and Josh Johnson, and there is some individual talent on this roster. Problem is, that individual talent hasn’t been playing anywhere close to its ability.
Best chance for a win: A close look at Tampa Bay’s schedule doesn’t change my thinking that this team has a very real shot at going 0-16. The Bucs have to play the Saints and Falcons twice each and they’re making a cross-continent trip to Seattle, which is just about as long as the London trip they already made. If there’s one game where I think the hope for the Bucs is strongest, it’s the Dec. 6 game in Carolina. The Bucs played the Panthers close in Tampa. With last week’s loss to Buffalo, the Panthers appear headed for a free fall. By December, there’s a chance John Fox could be in his final days with the Panthers and might not be getting a lot of effort from his team. If the Panthers can’t win in Carolina, they better hope that Atlanta comes to town on Jan. 3 with a playoff seed already locked up. If the Falcons are resting their starters, the Bucs might have a chance.
Repercussions: Contrary to popular opinion in the Tampa Bay area, the Bucs did not hire coach Raheem Morris to come in for one year and then replace him with one of the available big-name coaches. They hired Morris to tear down an aging team and rebuild it with youth. He’s done a fine job of tearing down the team. But he needs to show some signs he’s building it back up and he needs Freeman to create some hope for the future. Most important, he needs some wins. No coach is going to survive a 0-16 season.