So the Roadrunner’s a dick, right?
Wile E. Coyote has some issues of his own, no argument. The ancient Greeks wish they had come up with a hubris myth as simple and powerful as Wile opening an ACME box.
But the Roadrunner is the real villain of the series. Weird Al Yankovic devoted a piece of his criminally-underappreciated magnum opus UHF on the subject.
Perhaps the most philosophically interesting moment of the Roadrunner series, however, is when Wile running off a cliff and he…continues running. That is, until he realizes that there is nothing beneath him. That moment of realization, of sickening dawning comprehension? That moment, ladies and gentlemen, is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the bye.
Coming into the season expectations were…mixed. “Catinka” was curiously optimistic about the Bucs chances, predicting that if Ryan Fitzpatrick could pull a victory out of his beard in even one of his three projected starts in place of the suspended Jameis Winston, they had a legitimate chance to go 7-9 or even 8-8. On the other hand, she also predicted that the Tampa defense was going to be “nasty”. Which was prophetic, I suppose- just not in the good way.
Let’s start with the obvious: Bucs fans began to believe in FitzMagic. Through four games, Tampa is somehow leading the entire league in in passing yardage and is second in passing touchdowns to Patrick Better Mahomes and Gardens. The Bucs are third in yardage overall despite rushing for less than 70 yards per game. And this is essentially all down to Ryan Fitzpatrick catching fire in the first three games, averaging over 400 yards in each. They won shootouts over New Orleans and the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles (God, that still sounds wrong). Even after a loss to the Steelers in which he threw three interceptions to go with his three touchdowns, there was widespread Sports Talk Radio Taekage that Tampa should stick with The Amish Rifle even after Winston was reinstated, because This Might Be Their Year. Fitzpatrick donned noted Smurf-American wide receiver Desean Jackson’s clothes for a press conference and pretended to be Conor McGregor, for God’s sake.
But the candle that burns twice as brightly burns half as long, and so it was for the Bucs. As any Rams, Bengals, Bills or Jets fan could have told them, there exists The Fitzpatrick Cycle, first formalized by Friend of the Show and Uproxx refugee Dave Rappoccio. He noted that there is a never-ending Vicious Circle that traps both Fitzpatrick and the teams he plays for: sign as a backup-get thrown into a game when the starter gets hurt-play well and displace the starter-get paid-suck-get released-sign as a backup ad infinitum. The trick here was that Fitzpatrick had turned it up to 11: he essentially managed to cram an entire season’s worth of “play well” into 3 games. Consequently, though, he bypassed “get paid” and rushed straight to “suck” in record time. Chicago’s defense can make most quarterbacks look anemic this year, but Jeebus Almighty that was brutal. He got yanked for Jameis at halftime, who proceeded to suck at his own impressively rapid pace, managing one garbage-time touchdown (although in fairness, the entire second half was garbage time). It was so bad that Dirk Koetter called for his own firing.
We all knew this was coming. We knew that this offensive pace was unsustainable, just like we all knew that the coyote was going to look down eventually. We just didn’t know it was going to be this abrupt, this brutal and this humiliating.
It should be noted, however, that scoring only 10 points against the Bears is not humiliating unto itself. No no. The humiliating part was making Mitch “Love to Kiss Tittiess” Trubisky look like the Second Coming of Joe Montana. Tampa’s defense has been putrid all season. Like, if you took all the urine and incest jokes from Wakezilla’s excellent Season Preview, used them to create a Weird Science-style creature and then trotted that thing out onto the field and told it to rush the passer.
They have given up almost 5 points per game more than the next-worst team (the Mackless Raiders). They are next to last in yardage allowed. In their shootout games, they’ve known that the opposition was going to be passing almost every down and they still can’t stop them. They have one interception.
And they made Bears fans insufferably excited about Mitch Trubisky. That is a Deep Crime.
The prolific offensive output managed to largely paper over this San Andreas-sized gap in team play. But not anymore. I would be utterly shocked if they win more than two more games this season. The Sports Radio Narrative has turned overnight to “well, they should trot Winston out there for the rest of the season to see if they want to keep him or draft a new quarterback in the top 10 picks.” They are Fucked. Perhaps even worse, they Know they are Fucked and have no graceful way of crawling back to reality from their irrational exuberance over FitzMagic. He sucks again. Jameis is still breathtakingly mediocre, and will cost the team $21 million next year. Everyone’s sort of picked up on this rare window exploited by the Eagles and Rams, where years 2-4 of your rookie quarterback’s career are the time to make a run because you can afford to spend elsewhere while your QB is making Fullback Money. Well, that window is slamming shut on Tampa’s proverbial fingers. At this point, I’m looking at Mike Evans as the new Joe Thomas/Calvin Johnson, wasting his prime years on a team that can’t get it’s shit together– indeed, appears to have an Organizational Policy that no shit will be gotten together, not on their watch.
Seriously though, Wile’s just trying to eat, man. I get that the Roadrunner has a vested interest in foiling any plans that end up with him (her? Are we sure the Roadrunner is male?) as dinner. But why you gotta be such a dick about it? In the words of Winston Churchill, “after all, when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.”