The PewterReport.com 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.
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.