is the possibility (probability?) that our Core Players (Sherman, Thomas, Wagner, Chancellor, Bennet, Avrial) on defense genuinely are that important to this team's performance week-to-week.
It never fails--never!--to have Chancellor out for a game or four, and then as soon as he's back in there he makes 2-4 game-changing plays. Wagner's absence is less visual, but when he's out the defense surrenders something like ten more points than they do with him. It makes me wonder if this defense really is all about those core players, and if it requires them in order to function at a high level.
I know, I know; the offense was the bigger problem against TB. But this offense has laid eggs before, and will continue to do so it would appear, so I don't worry so much about that aspect of things. They don't have a legit #1 WR, no matter how much you like Graham or Baldwin, and they did overpay Baldwin (in my opinion) but what was the alternative? It's not like Julio Jones types hit the market during their prime; everyone recognizes the value of that type of player, whereas slot receivers like Doug are less universally valued.
I think if the defense had been able to stop those first drives, the offense would have been more relaxed. Without Prosise or a legit red-line threat in the WR corps it's going to be incredibly difficult for this team to come back from big deficits. A guy like Mike Evans can get you back into agame with one play, which he (or those like him) actually manages to do on a weekly basis.
Not worried about the loss, but not encouraged either.