Some thoughts on the end of the season loss

Well, that sucked.

There's no other way to put it. A season that went so well in so many ways ended yesterday leaving the fans with more questions than answers.

A lot went wrong, but it was clear that the biggest difference between the two teams was the qb.

In some ways, this should have been no surprise. Brady is the greatest ever and Hurts is nowhere is his league. But I don't think anyone expected him to be as good as Brady. They did expect him to be somewhat competent, and he didn't reach that standard.

He was late on passes, missed open receivers and showed that his arm strength is an issue. Now, I will say this. I thought the coaches were equally as bad. Nick Sirianni seemed to think that he could show up, call 40 running plays and cruise into Green Bay. There was zero creativity, and it seemed like Tampa Bay knew exactly what we were going to do before we did it.

I don't know if it is the fault of the qb or the coaches, but we relied on Dallas Goedert way too much. At times it seemed like he was the only player on our offense who was eligible to catch a pass. This has been the case for much of the season, and it was clear Tampa Bay had a plan for that.

Comparing our scheme to that of the 49ers, and the differences are clear. I don't think Jimmy Garappolo is any better than Hurts, and it was clear that the 49ers won despite their qb and not because of him. The Cowboys eliminated Kittle from the game yesterday and the 49ers were still able to move the ball using other pass targets who excel at yards after the catch. Their play calling really stood out to me, and Garappolo was rarely asked to sit in the pocket, scan the field and find an open guy. Instead the team had him roll out or used misdirection to scheme receivers open.

Our offense was simply the same quick passes that relied on receiver blocking and chucking it to Goedert in hopes he could beat double teams. Again, I don't know how much to blame on the coaches, but relying on Smith and Watkins to block seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

Also, this team makes bad personnel decisions. Huntley is our best kick returner. where was he? On the bench. Kenny Gainwell averaged 6.5 yards per carry against Cowboys starters behind a backup offensive line last week, and where was he? On the bench.

I don't get it. Instead we ran Sanders coming off an injury, and didn't change things up when he was not effective.

I don't remember a single time when we spread the Bucs out. This to me is insane. Hurts is essentially a running back. Going five wide and making the Bucs pick between putting an extra man in to defend the run or defending the perimeter of the field seems like a no brainer. Instead we went bunch formations and essentially invited the Bucs to load the box.

Also, not one quick pass to Smith who had a corner playing 15 yards off coverage? Again, not sure if this was on the coaches or the qb, but I just didn't understand. It sure seemed like a free five yards on a day when five yards was hard to come by.

And I think it is important to remember that while Hurts had a bad day, there were qbs who were a lot worse. Mac Jones was badly outclassed in his game, and accounted for 250 yards of offense. Hurts put up almost 300 yards, albeit with the game already decided. But at least he was able to generate some offense at some point.

He had a better day statistically than Dak Prescott, who has better weapons, was at home and who ended the game on an absolutely boneheaded play. Hurts also had more difficult weather conditions to deal with.

And, again, I think he did so with his best weapons on the bench. The running back rotation was terrible. They should have tried other players before abandoning the run. Reagor continues to be a black hole on offense, and I can't believe that there aren't any better options.

But I think the biggest thing to remember is that we have to have patience. The coaches and players on offense are mostly in the infancy of their NFL careers. Quez Watkins and DeVonta Smith are going to get better. Kenny Gainwell is going to get better (once the team gives him a chance.) We have to draft picks to add a top wide receiver to the offense and correct previous mistakes.

Our defense is going to get an infusion of talent.

Yes, there is still the issue of whether or not Hurts can ever get better. But I think Minshew is a decent insurance policy. Minshew is at least as good as Garappolo, and Garappolo is still playing. So even if Hurts has hit his ceiling, we have a solid plan B on the roster.

And this may not be a popular opinion, but I think Minshew would have given us a better chance yesterday. He clearly does some things better than Hurts, and having him at qb would have made life more difficult for the Bucs. I still think we would have lost, but I think it would have been a closer fight.

So overall I am pretty optimistic for next year. But I do think the team needs to be honest with itself and put the best players on the field. Let Hurts and Minshew compete for the starting job. Make the receivers earn their way onto the field. Use a rotation at running back. And most importantly, demand the coaches and front office get better.

Simply losing our minds and grabbing whatever qb we can find and expecting him to solve all of our problems is not a strategy that will lead to any kind of success, and I hope the owner of the team realizes that.