No one other than those inside the walls of One Buccaneer Place are giving the Buccaneers a chance on Sunday against the Saints. And while the deck is stacked against them, the coaching staff and players believe they can beat the Saints if they can correct some of the miscues that plagued them the last two weeks.
Bucs head coach Greg Schiano could very well be coaching for his job this Sunday as the Bucs travel to New Orleans to face the Saints.
Unfortunately for Schiano, the Saints face a must win to have a shot at the postseason, and will have a loud sold out Mercedes-Benz Superdome behind them.
And with the way the Buccaneers offense has performed over the last few weeks, the task would appear to be nearly impossible.
But Schiano and his players would love to play the spoiler role against their NFC South division rivals, and want to finish the season on high note.
“I think these guys are pro athletes,” Schiano said. “That’s what they get paid to do, be under pressure. I don’t think pressure fazes these guys, to be honest with you. That’s what we do. I think the excitement of playing in this game is really more of the story. When you’re 4-11, you don’t usually get pushed back in the day on the TV time. Obviously it’s a game with implications and we’re fortunate to be involved in it. Even though it’s not our implications, it’s our implications. It’s our playoff game. We’re going down to play it that way and come back with a victory.”
Bucs defensive end William Gholston said the Bucs want to finish the season on a positive note.
“Definitely – just the opportunity to finish strong and to finish with a win and finish 5-3 in the second half of the season,” Gholston said. “I think we’re going to go out there and give it all we’ve got, not just to spoil them but to make sure that we finish our second half of the season off on top.”
But in order for the Buccaneers to have any chance of winning they will need to get their offense on track, and do so quickly, a point not lost on offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.
“It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing, there’s no doubt about it,” Sullivan said. “It’s not been the season, in any way shape or form, that anyone would have wanted, not to the standard we had established last year. Difficult circumstances, but none of that matters. At the end of the day, there’s a job that has to get done, despite any type of obstacles. All of my focus, you talk about my pride, at this point it’s just on trying to – with the only opportunity we have left is vs. a tough division opponent, with a playoff-type atmosphere – is going out and responding. Doing something – there’s no way to turn back the hands of time and make things different with what’s happened earlier this season. There’s nothing to think about as far as anything in the future. It’s just about that opportunity.
“We had a really sharp, crisp practice today. I feel very good about the plan and really zeroing in on the things that we feel comfortable [with], that we’ve had success with and trying to have some multiplicity in terms of how we want to get about doing that, both in the run and the pass. From my perspective, personally, it’s all about what we can do as a team, as a unit, as an offense, to – with this one last opportunity – play the type of football that we’re capable of playing and play at a high level.”
Sullivan said the Saints present a number of challenges, and the Bucs must avoid the self-inflicted wounds.
“I think time of possession – particularly with an opposing offense that is as potent as theirs is – is critical,” Schiano said. “First and foremost, we can’t turn the football over. That’s hard for us as an offense to try to sustain drives and get first downs and be in manageable third downs etc. if we are turning it over. I think, from the standpoint of our thought process, first and foremost is taking care of the football and putting ourselves in those manageable type of third downs. I’m not so sure as much as it’s trying to put added pressure of ‘Let’s come up with some additional shots’ or any type of gadget plays or gimmicks or we have to score lots of points, but rather, when we have the opportunities, make sure that any of the self-inflicted wounds aren’t going to rear their ugly head and that we’re able to just sustain.
"Again, a lot of times the best defense is with No. 9 [New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees] sitting on the bench. We just want to get some consistency. That’s been the goal all year and no better way – again in a tough game, in a tough environment – to match up against these guys, to get that done on Sunday.”
Quarterback Mike Glennon, who has also struggled as of late, agreed with Sullivan that time of possession will be a big part of the team’s game plan this Sunday.
“I think a big part of the game is to keep that offense off the field,” Glennon said. “We want to control the ball as long as we can because that’s such a powerful offense and they’re one of the best offenses in the league. We have great confidence in our defense, but at the same time, [they have] one of the best quarterbacks in the league and one of the best offenses, so we want to do everything we can as an offense to stay on the field and score points to put our defense in a good situation.”
While there is no way to tell exactly what the Glazers are thinking at this point as far as Schiano’s future, coming away with what would be considered the upset of the season in the NFL, would go a long way in possibly shaping the franchise’s future.
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