As hard as it is to believe – either because this season might have flown by or it has gone by painfully slow – we are here in the final week of December in the last game week of the 2017 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs won’t be playing for any postseason implications this Sunday when they face off against the New Orleans Saints, but as you’ll learn from some of the points below, there is still plenty to play for. Knowing that, there was also plenty to learn on the last game week Wednesday of the season at One Buc Place. These were the five things we learned.

Jack(son) Is Back

With the Buccaneers injury list so long over the last few weeks, there are a number of players that might be set to come back for one final game.

According to Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, wide receiver DeSean Jackson is one of those players. Jackson left the Monday Night Football game against the Falcons with an ankle injury and was in a walking boot after the game. At practice on Wednesday, he participated in some capacity. Koetter said Jackson is fighting to play in this last game.

Can’t Guard Mike?

The last time Mike Evans went up against Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, it didn’t end well for Evans. Not only was Evans held to just 13 yards on one catch, he let Lattimore get in his head and ended up blindsiding him on the sideline which resulted in Evans getting a one-game suspension.

Evans is 54 yards away from achieving his fourth straight 1,000-yard receiving season. You better believe Lattimore remembers Evans blindsiding him, and knows he can stand in the way of Evans getting that milestone.

McCoy Ain’t A Sucka

Not only did Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy play on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, despite having to fight through the pain of reportedly partially tearing his biceps just weeks prior, he also got a sack and a quarterback pressure.

There was all kinds of speculation and “other side advice” of whether or not McCoy should even play since the team doesn’t really have anything to play for postseason wise. He was asked about that mindset in the locker room portion of the day on Wednesday and said that any mentality of him not playing when he could play is a loser’s mentality.

McCoy ended his quote by saying, “that [mindset] is for suckas and losers, and I ain’t either one.”

McCoy Loves Koetter

No one likes to lose.

Not only does it affect whether or not your team can play for a championship, but losing also affects people’s jobs and even people’s mindset. Koetter’s seat has been hot for over a month now and that’s not only tough on him but also his coordinators and his players as they have to deal the speculation surrounding their leader.

McCoy was asked about playing with all the rumors of Koetter’s job security swirling around and gave a great compliment to Koetter comparing him to Bob Stoops, McCoy’s coach at Oklahoma, in terms of them meaning a lot to him personally.

He ended the quote by saying his loves his coach.

Bucs Players Playing For Koetter

Speaking of caring for their coach, the Bucs have played two hard-fought contests over the last two week against two playoff teams. In a time when they’ve had no playoffs to work for, defensive coordinator Mike Smith said the effort we’ve seen over that course of time is the players playing hard and not giving up for their coach.

Regardless of Koetter’s fate, the players are trying to do right by him.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
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4 years ago

I said it in my Baker post. These players are playing for their own careers. Koetter has been a dead man walking, the players know it. What they put on film is more about them trying to keep their jobs, then Koetter keeping his. I’m sure McCoy, if he survives the purge, will love his next coach as much as he’s loved his last Four!

Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

Surferdudes, I agree with you, but I also believe Mike Smith is responsible for many of these losses too. If I had to choose which one should go Koetter or Smith, it would be Smith. Just my opinion.

Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Like held at gunpoint ‘had to chose’? Sure, no doubt. The preferable option is to flush the bowl on both of em.

4 years ago

Horse, remember who brought Smith into the fold.

4 years ago

I feel bad for these guys. So many coaches, so many schemes. All this speculation about Gruden. One thing for sure, the situation is very different from when Gruden came to the Bucs last time. No first-round draft picks, and much more talent on the team then. Now he (Gruden or whomever) inherits a team that has a handful of stars and a plenty of dead weight but a top 5 Draft Pick.

Reply to  seat26
4 years ago

You’re absolutely right about the current situation being drastically different than at the end of the Dungy era in 2001. When Dungy was was told to clean out his desk the window of opportunity was closing with the star players on Defense aging and very few on Offense. Should have won it all in 1999. Combine that with the forfeiting of four premier Draft picks and the result was no way to replenish the roster. Yet folks blame Gruden for poor drafts. As you noted; at least a top Draft pick, a few potential stars at LB on Defense and… Read more »