Conspiracy theorists, sociologists and Vince Lombardi disciples have tried to determine why the Tampa Bay Bucs are stuck in so much misery.
Save the energy.
The answer rests with head coach Lovie Smith.
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He is just too nice of a guy.
Lovie is smart, knowledgeable about football and had success in his nine years as head coach of the Chicago Bears.
But Bill Parcells, who has turned more NFL franchises around than any coach in league history, said other things are more important.
Parcells has a simple message: initiate confrontation.
"I've seen coaches avoid confrontations with their players because they don't like conflict. But without confrontation you are not going to change the way they think and act," he said.
Parcells told that to the Harvard Review more than a decade ago, and it still holds true today.
"Even the most talented teams can fall into the habit of poor performance. If you want to break that habit you better be prepared to get in people's faces," Parcells said.
He turned around three franchises -- the New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets -- in earning his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Times have changed and NFL rules have changed, but people are people. The Bucs' Gerald McCoy knows it.
The defensive tackle recently chastised his teammates for being soft, and after the Bucs loss to Cleveland on Sunday said the players didn't care enough.
Lovie said he wouldn't have used the term soft and, in his gentlemanly way, said guys have to get tired of losing.
McCoy was blunt. Parcells would've been in your face.
Lovie is too much the gentleman.
"I don't think anybody is upset enough with losing. I've been dealing with this for five years; I'm tired of it," McCoy said.
Lovie often practices passive criticism.
He hasn't called Mike Glennon his quarterback of the future recently, but what he should've done was lambaste Glennon for running out of bounds two straight games when he had a chance to make a first down.
Here is what Parcells said about successfully turning around a team: "You have to be honest with people -- brutally honest. You have to tell them the truth about their performance; you have to tell it to them face to face. Sometimes the truth will be painful, and sometimes saying it will lead to an uncomfortable confrontation. So be it."
So be it, Lovie: Get mad.
Most of the Bucs don't understand the level of caring you need.
In his first season with the Giants, Parcells said he was surrounded by players with big names and big egos and didn't confront them the way he should have.
"As a result I didn't get their respect, and I wasn't able to change their attitudes. So they just kept on with the habit of losing," Parcells said.
He advocates not shooting for the stars in the beginning.
"Set small goals. When you set small, visible goals and people achieve them, they start to get it into their head that they can succeed," Parcells said.
Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht have been criticized for poor free-agent acquisitions, but Parcells says successful free-agent acquisitions are more about attitude than skill level.
Are you listening, Michael Johnson, Alterraun Verner, Anthony Collins, Dashon Goldson?
"I've found it's not always the one who has the best reputation or even the most outstanding set of talents. It's usually the one who understands what it will take to succeed and is committed to making the effort," Parcells said.
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.