TAMPA – As Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter walked off the fields at One Buc Place following his team’s training camp workout on Wednesday, a fan shouted out, “Good practice coach.’’
“Yeah, I’m not so sure about that,’’ Koetter muttered back.
Wednesday marked the 19th of the Bucs camp workouts. It also marked the third time in the last week that Koetter walked away from a workout unhappy with what he’d just seen.
“Not good, not good,’’ a clearly perturbed Koetter said Wednesday when asked how practice went. “Our effort – it wasn’t good enough. And that’s on me. I have to coach them better.’’
Not necessarily. After more than three weeks of workouts and two preseason games, the Bucs appear to have reached that point where they’re just over camp and are ready to play start playing games that matter.
The problem is, they’re really not as ready as they need to be. From an execution standpoint, the Bucs need every work day they have left before the start of the season, and Wednesday’s workout showed why.
It was another day when the energy level wasn’t quite what it needed to be and the play on the field was rather sloppy, and the fact the Bucs mauy have grown tired of the same old camp routine is no excuse for that.
“We’re definitely at that point,’’ Koetter said of being anxious to end the grind of camp, “but that’s making excuses. If you’re looking for excuses that would be one, but you try not to do that.’’
The hope of course, and the likelihood, is that the Bucs will soon break out of their malaise. The fear is that they won’t break out of it before the season starts and it’s a legitimate fear.
The Bucs have a sprinkling of veterans who know, or should at least remember, what it takes to make it to the playoffs. Guys like Robert, Ayers, Chris Baker and Brent Grimes.
For the most part, though, this a very young team, one loaded with players who have never experienced a playoff run or even been on a team that was expected to make one.
The bulk of the Bucs best players, in fact, fall into that category, and what’s worrisome is the possibility that some may have fallen into the trap of believing all that’s being said of them.
The Bucs were picked for Hard Knocks and have since emerged as one of the chic picks to make the playoffs because they have that look of a good young team on the rise.
The Bucs can’t just throw their helmets out on the field and expect those expectations to become reality, though, and Koetter has been preaching that since the team first gathered together back in the spring.
Koetter was among the first to try to quell all the great expectations everyone has for this team and he did so, in part, out of fear his young players might start believing the hype.
It’s hard to tell if that’s what’s happening here, but when a coach describes every third or fourth practice as “sluggish’’ or “not good enough,’’ something is definitely wrong, and time may be running out to fix it.