The Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic related to the Tampa Bay Bucs each week.

This week’s topic: How Will The Bucs Fare Down The Stretch?

Publisher & Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds: 8-8 Is The Best Bucs Can Hope For
Heading into the second half of the season with a 3-5 record right now is far from ideal for head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht, who are on the hot seat. At this point, I think an 8-8 record could salvage their jobs for one more year as it would be an improvement on last year’s 5-11 mark and there has been progress offensively in yards, overall scoring and red zone scoring.

However, that would require Tampa Bay to go 5-3 down the stretch and win some games back-to-back, which is something the Bucs have only done once this year, and that was a 2-0 start to the season. Where would those wins come from? Start with the 1-7 New York Giants and 2-7 San Francisco. If Tampa Bay can’t beat those teams they won’t sniff .500 this year, and won’t deserve to do so.

Another win could be had at 3-5 Dallas, but that only gets the Bucs to six wins on the year. Baltimore, which is 4-5, has the best defense in the NFL, but a sputtering offense. Could Tampa Bay go up there in December and steal a win? That’s a 50-50 proposition at best given the circumstances.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The 5-3 Redskins present an opportunity because they just put their two starting guards on injured reserve this week and left tackle Trent Williams is injured. Tampa Bay plays Washington at home, and a win on Sunday stops a two-game losing skid and puts the Bucs at 4-5 on the year with a trip to the Giants and a home game against the 49ers coming up after that. If there is ever a chance for Tampa Bay to get on a winning streak it’s right now, and that means a victory on Sunday over Washington.

It will be tough for the Bucs, who are a league-worst minus-15 in the turnover margin, to win one more NFC South game as New Orleans, Atlanta and Carolina have proven to be superior. All three of those remaining division games are at home, and if the Bucs could steal a win here, it would offset a potential loss in Baltimore. With the current state of the Bucs defense not being able to record takeaways, it’s incredibly tough finding five wins down the stretch. I think a 5-3 run is the ceiling and that’s wishful thinking. I think a 4-4 (7-9) or 3-5 (6-10) finish is more likely unless the defense has a miraculous turnaround. That likely won’t be enough to stave off regime change in Tampa Bay.

Editor-In-Chief Mark Cook: 5-11, Hopefully I Am Wrong
This doesn’t appear that it is going to end well – for a lot of people. With a historically bad defense, and upcoming games with the likes of the Falcons, Saints and Panthers again, who thinks the Buccaneers have a chance to beat any of them? So where do the wins come from?

Despite a disaster of a performance last week at Carolina in a 42-28, I think the Buccaneers were embarrassed enough that they will come out and beat the Redskins. I believe there is still plenty of pride left in this locker room, but the players appear lost defensively and without a leader. The Redskins are beat up across their offensive line and their offense will never be confused with the Saints or even the Falcons or Panthers. So I do like Tampa Bay’s chances.

The team sorely needs linebacker Kendall Beckwith to get back on the field as soon as possible. While Beckwith isn’t some magic elixir that will cure all of the team’s ills, he could be that spark plug in the middle the team obviously misses since Kwon Alexander went down with an injury.

But after the Redskins game, who would the Bucs be favored to beat? The Giants? Maybe? The 49ers? Don’t count on it. Based on last week I wouldn’t bet on either of those games. I have tried to come up with an scenario that gets this team to 8-8 and saves Dirk Koetter’s job, but this defense is just too much of a mess for me to believe they can come up with a 5-3 record down the stretch.

There are just too many “what ifs” at this point, and if I am a Bucs fan, I am bracing for a house cleaning when the season ends. And who knows how many people are affected by some shrapnel that looks like it will come from the grenade that is ready to explode. I hope I am wrong, but following this team over the last 40 years tells me, somewhere I have seen this movie before.

Bucs Beat Writer Trevor Sikkema: 6-10, That’s All I Got
The Bucs are at 3-5 with the Washington Redskins coming to town, whose roster looks like a hospital waiting list at this point with all their injuries. Let me just say this, I have my doubts that the Bucs can even get to .500 by the time the season ends, and if they lose to the Redskins at home then the wheels will fall off this wagon.

Even though the Bucs have five of their last eight games at home, they are against tough opponents. Three of the five are against division foes, and as the Bucs are being reminded of, the NFC South is one of the best divisions – if not the best division – in football. Outside of that they have to travel to New York, Dallas and Baltimore. The 49ers are proving they are no push over, either.

We can sit here and talk about the potential of how this Bucs offense can hang with any team in the NFL – and it can, on paper – but paper doesn’t win jack, and right now the Bucs can’t win jack, either.

I can’t envision this Tampa Bay defense performing well enough out of nowhere to turn it around. They’re on pace to be the worst defense in franchise history, and one of the worst in NFL history. No offense can overcome that week-in and week-out.

I hope you like the draft, because baring a miracle turnaround from a coaching staff that is losing the faith of most who follow this team, we’re a few weeks away from draft talk once again in Tampa Bay.

Not even 8-8 would make the playoffs in the NFC this year.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]


  1. Unfortunately, this is right – somewhere between 5 and 8 wins is likely, with 8 being the most optimistic ceiling for this team. The general feeling is it will take 8 wins to save Koetter and Licht, and that is unlikely to happen. A new housecleaning just means the team is starting over again and as great as this offense is, it may be awhile (three or four years) until we see what the new regime can do.

    The sad thing is, since 1976, we have seen this happen over and over. The only years of relatively stability were under Tony Dungy and then Jon Gruden. Before and after those years it has been one cycle after another of absolute failure. Who is to say the next cycle is going to be better? I will stick with this team but it is really hard to be a fan of a franchise with so many long term issues. I have followed Tampa since they were 0-14 in 1976 as my family moved there when I was a small kid in 1975 the year before. The only positive thing is they have won a Super Bowl – something many other teams still have failed to do.

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    • Well, I agree with your assessment of the season.

      But the other part, moaning about the “lack of stability”, as a cause of our defense’s badness, rather than a symptom, that part I don’t agree with.

      You see – stability can be highly overrated.

      Stability when you’re bad, is bad.

      Stability when you’re good, is good.

      See the difference? If you are a good franchise, you will tend to be good, because who wants to blow up a good thing? Other than idiots.

      But when you are a bad franchise, instability is simply the result, not the root cause. When you’re bad, something HAS to change, or you will remain bad. The trick is figuring out what that something is that needs changing, and then having the brains, courage, and determination to change that thing, whatever it is.

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      • The lack of stability besides those two coaches are because they were relatively successful to everyone else. The others were unstable because the lack of success – it is the right thing of course.

        The Bucs were stable also under John McKay, but was that a good thing? Questionable. He was the funniest coach they ever had, and had modest success with the franchise. I remember one question, “What do you think of the team’s execution?” after one loss. His answer, “I am all for it.”

        The damning thing is the offense execution at times has been good, as scoring 28 points is no small matter. The problem is very much on the defense – and since Licht has been here (and before, ever since Monte Kiffin left) it has been pretty much miserable.

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    • What was the difference? Rich McKay was hired, and the he hired a Tony Dungy. Ever since then, no GM has really hired the coach here (I believe Schiano was hired strictly on Belichick’s reference to the Glazers). Every coach/GM was some weird forced marriage.

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      • During Rich McKay’s years the Bucs were stable (he started in 1994, hiring Dungy). That was when the Glazier brothers were not owning the team and their father, Malcom Glazer, did. I think Malcom had a better idea on how to run the team than his sons do. I think in 2003 he gave up full control when he had his first stroke, and that is when his sons stepped in and fired Rich McKay. Obviously a mistake now.

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  2. Truly a sad state of affairs and it pains me to see such great talents like Evans, David, Alexander, and a handful of others being wasted on this Charlie Foxtrot. On defense, the first thing I would do is to begin shopping McCoy while there is still the potential for a first round pick. For me, McCoy is the Tim Duncan of defensive linemen. Tremendous talent, but lacks that killer attitude that Sapp brought to the defense. I want to see nasty on the line because this is football, not a church outing. And where are we with finding a new defensive coordinator? Bueller? Bueller?

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    • What the hell you smoking Sailsteady? Tim Duncan got several championships and several NBA title rings.
      Killer attitude? A ring is killer enough for me.

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  3. I’m sticking with the 7-9 I stated here right before the season started and haven’t deviated from.

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  4. At this point…who cares!!!


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  5. Talking about various opponents on the schedule, and playing numbers games, “well, we might win 5 of our next 8” or “we will probably win only 2 more games this season” really misses the point.

    The point is that we have a pretty good offense, and the worst NFL defense in history. How do we even win a single more game unless and until something happens to wake up the defense? Historically bad defenses are a great formula for spiraling down the drain to an ignominous end come the last whistle on December 30.

    So, what exactly is the Bucs plan to develop a functional, not horrible defense over these last 8 games? I’m not hearing anything from anyone, the Bucs or the media, about that plan. What actions are they taking?

    Apparently, firing Mike Smith WAS the plan, and guess what, it was a stupid plan and of course it did not work – it produced probably the worst single game defensively play I have ever witnessed in the NFL … watching Carolina literally run circles – and yes, I really mean “literally” – around our defenders made them look like a bunch of junior varsity high schoolers.

    IF the Bucs can figure out how to fix the defense, then I could easily see us finishing off 8-8 … and maybe, as Scott suggests, that might be just enough of a teaser for the baby Glazers to give in and not fire them all come the end of next month.

    But, if the Bucs are simply incapable of fixing the defense, of making look at least sorta kinda maybe deserving of the descriptor of “an NFL defense”. then I can just as easily see us finishing off 3-13.

    Right now, it is ALL about the D (to paraphrase the UM motto).

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  6. My ceiling is 7-9. Most likely 6-10. Another season OBT. I hate to see it and hate to say it. So…if Koetter doesn’t have any answers, then how can this team get better? It won’t. Over Before Thanksgiving. Again.

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  7. I don’t remember the exact number of wins Vegas gave the Bucs, but I’m sure it was no more then four this season. We scoffed then, but it could be close to right. I don’t see us winning more then three games down the stretch. Let’s not forget Jameis might factor in too. I’m seeing 5-11, get the brooms ready.

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    • It was 6.5—at least at the Atlantic City books and I took the over. I figured no problem getting to seven after starting 2-0, now I’ve been worried for the last month.

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  8. I think I stated 5-7 wins, now I’m saying 4-5 wins.
    If I ‘m the Glazer’s, I’m calling the Rays for help. Time to trade or release the under performers. Some won’t like this, but trade Mike Evans because we need another 1st and 2nd round picks; he’s a good consistent performer, but we need help in other areas.

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    • Calling the Rays will be no help. MLB has no salary cap and has no TV revenue sharing, while NFL does, and those are supposed to be the great levelers. The Rays do well within the ecosystem in which they operate, but it’s not like NFL. Even the salary cap and revenue sharing are not enough to make up for bad management.

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      • I know that. I would hope most people got what I was saying. Dump players who are under performing; use that money on players who are performing until you get close to the cap.

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  9. I don’t know, but did you guys hear Atlanta signed Bruce Irvin from Oakland? I suppose we just sat on our hands once again because our D line is so dominant already.

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  10. New group coming after this season. No need to spend anymore money. This season is done and it’s a history maker.

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  11. Mediocrity prevails. Bucs got 3 very winnable games upcoming. Skins, Giants and Niners. I don’t think we beat the Skins though. They are playing well despite injuries and they have actually brought into caoch Gruden. But if you can’t beat the Giants and Niners….Then what you playin for. If Koetter could win 3 straight, the get out of town talks would go away…a little. But very few of us have faith he can win 3 in a row. And thats just outright Sad.

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    • Not sure we can beat 49er’s; Giants, yes.

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      • If the defense plays against the Giants like they did against the Panthers, I could easily see Eli Manning having a career day. After all, we gave one of those to Mitch Trubisky back in September.

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  12. 6-10. Possibly 7-9, 5-11.

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  13. Bucs win eleven games. You heard it here first.

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    • My hero. The most important quality of a Buc fan is the ability to move quickly from post game morose suffering to delusional optimism. Well done.

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  14. Trade Mike Evans? Lmao for who horse? Names like Frank Pillow and Willy Drewery…perhaps Bruce Hill….Cmon man.

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    • I know it’s not popular, we need more draft picks. We’re good at WR spot.

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      • Evans is one of the best WR’s in the league and in his prime and you want to trade him for some unknown Draft pick(s). That’s a Horse trade I don’t want to see. Now offering up Gerald McCoy is a thought.

        We’re at half time of a season that sure piqued our interest for a brief moment at the start because many thought is was destined to be no better than the 3-5. Now our current record. This Sunday we enter what some considered the softer part of the schedule. Eight games against opponents for which there is at least a chance at victory and sadly an equal chance at defeat. We have all been conditioned over the years to think the worst to protect our own sanity.

        We all used to think with our solid Defense we had a chance every week if the Offense at least did something to help. Now it’s reversed. I’m pretty sure we have the fewest punts against us. Thus, if we can just force the opponents to punt once in a while (and not downed inside the 5 yard line) maybe we can outscore our foes. Even better if by luck we intercept an errant pass. Is that too much to ask?

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        • All the draft picks in the world won’t help if you don’t know how to draft. Would Evans be worth a first rounder and three second round picks? That’s the number of picks we wasted last year and on a kicker in an earlier draft. Wouldn’t you love to have those back?

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        • Sometimes you have to trade your best player in order to obtain the opportunity to draft players that will help turn this team around within 2-3 years. By then Evans will be just entering the down side of his career.
          I am just throwing a thought out there. I like Evans, he’s a very good WR, but can he really help us by the time we are good enough to make the Play Offs? We need more draft picks. Remember my thinking is Licht won’t be here to screw the picks up.

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          • Trade McCoy, and trade him now.

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  15. If we lose this weekend, I am fully on board with tanking the season for a shot at Nick Bosa or Ed Oliver, then swing around and draft Amani Oruwariye in the second round. I think that would be a great start to our draft

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