Welcome to The Hook, my weekly column that hooks you into a different Tampa Bay Buccaneers topic each Thursday, as well as some of my thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL at the end in a section called Cannon Blast.

I invite you to offer me some feedback on The Hook below in the article comments section.


 

Sunday’s matchup against the Packers isn’t a must-win.

The Bucs are 3-2, tied for first in the NFC South and have yet to even play their best ball.

And while it isn’t a must win, it is however a statement game and has the chance to become a statement win if Tampa Bay comes out victorious. This is a game to show the other 31 teams in the NFL that the Bucs are a team to be reckoned with this year.

The Bucs have played in two big match-ups this season and lost both. One being a “Game of the Week” against the three-time defending NFC South champions Saints (3-2) to open the season, and of course last Thursday night’s game against the Bears (4-1) in prime time on national television.

The entire Bucs organization wants to make a statement, but some really want to make a statement.

Quarterback Tom Brady really wants to make a statement.

Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Mike Evans
Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Mike Evans – Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

First of all, while he has passed on talking about anything having to do with New England and Bill Belichick since training camp and the regular season began, you know in his heart, Brady wants to show his former team and their fans he still has the talent and juice to go out and win another Lombardi Trophy. Brady is as competitive of a player as we’ve ever seen in Tampa Bay. He hates losing, and the opportunity to take a woeful franchise like the Bucs to the promised land would cement his legacy as the greatest quarterback to ever line up under center in the history of the league. Beating Aaron Rodgers head-to-head would be a statement win for Brady.

Lavonte David really wants to make a statement.

David has been flying under the national radar since being drafted in 2012. Every year the politics of the NFL have hindered David from becoming a household name. That, and playing for a team that disappoints year after year. Playing in big, meaningful games have been few and far between for David, and in the Saints and Bears games this season, while he played well, there were no stand-out, “Who the heck is this guy?” moments from No. 54. We’ve seen plenty of them here in Tampa Bay, but across the country most NFL fans couldn’t tell you a whole lot about the 30-year old David. With a majority of the nation tuned in on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. to watch the Brady-Rodgers match-up on Fox, this is an opportunity for David to make his statement.

Bruce Arians really wants to make a statement.

Arians has two Super Bowl rings, but none as a head coach. He has won everywhere he has been, but winning a title as the head coach is something that has eluded him. Does he still have it in him at age 68? Does he still have a magic touch with quarterbacks that earned him the moniker the “Quarterback Whisperer?” Can he turn a rag-tag organization that has seen 12 years fly by since the last time it was in the playoffs, and 18 years since the Bucs won the Super Bowl? A Super Bowl win – especially with the Buccaneers organization – would put him squarely in the middle of the Pro Football Hall of Fame discussion. Beating the Packers on Sunday would put the rest of the league on notice and make a statement around the NFL.

The Glazers really want to make a statement.

The Glazer family with Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Glazer family with Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

And lastly, the poor Glazers. Well, I suppose I should clarify – the poor billionaire Glazers. While financially wealthy, they’ve been below the poverty level in terms of NFL owner recognition for a long time. We can argue and point out all the mistakes ownership has made since that victorious night in San Diego following the 2002 season, but I firmly believe the Glazers love to win and want to win.

There is no joy in showing up in Boca Raton, or Phoenix, or Orlando at the NFL Annual Meetings coming off another sub-par, losing season. It stings them to lose despite being able to sit back and make proper airplanes out of $100 bills if they want to just for fun.

Plenty of others want to make a statement this Sunday against Green Bay. Linebacker Devin White wants to show the league he is one of the best young players in the NFL. Shaq Barrett wants to make a statement proving his 19.5 sacks in 2019 wasn’t a fluke. Ali Marpet wants to make a statement that a small school kid from upstate New York is one of the best in the NFL. Rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. would love to show off for his former NFL standout father with a statement performance.

Each player on this entire Tampa Bay roster has his own statement to make. But none will resonate louder than walking off the field with a 4-2 record just having beaten the undefeated Green Bay Packers and putting the rest of the league on notice that this is a different Bucs football team.

Cannon Blast

• Speaking of statements, when was the last time the Buccaneers had an opportunity to show the NFL and the nation they were for real? And in those games, how successful were they?

Not very.

Last year coming off an impressive performance by quarterback Jameis Winston with a win at Detroit the Buccaneers came back home to take on the Texans in a nationally-televised Saturday afternoon game.

What happened? The Buccaneers lost, 23-20, and fell to 7-8 on the season, seeing their slim playoff chances vanish.

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott – Photo by: Getty Images
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott – Photo by: Getty Images

In 2016, the Buccaneers traveled to Dallas for a Sunday night match-up on NBC with an 8-5 record and their playoff destiny in their own hands. Two wins in the last four weeks would have given the Bucs a 10-6 record and a playoff berth.

What happened? They laid an egg, losing 26-20 to the Cowboys.

The very next week, with their playoff possibilities still alive, the Bucs and Saints game in New Orleans was flexed to late afternoon to give them even more exposure. Tampa Bay had just beaten the Saints two weeks prior, holding Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense to just 11 points.

What happened? Brees put up 31 points and any hope to makes the playoffs were dashed for 2016.

There have been plenty of other chances for the Bucs to prove they were legit contenders over the last 12 seasons but more times than not they failed to capitalize and after getting the hope of of the NFL and Bucs fans, they fell back into their losing patterns.

Will Sunday be different? Fingers crossed, Bucs fans.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden - Photo by: Getty Images
Raiders coach Jon Gruden – Photo by: Getty Images

• Las Vegas can’t catch a break. First the city was supposed to host the annual NFL Draft last April, but then COVID-19 hit. Then the Raiders were set to debut their brand new $1.8 billion stadium to sold out crowds this year and now the news comes that the NFL Pro Bowl which was set to take place at Allegiant Stadium has now been cancelled by the league. Well, at least the Raiders beat the undefeated Chiefs on Sunday. That may prove to be an even bigger prize later this season if Las Vegas (2-2) gets into playoff contention.

• I wonder if former Bucs head coach and now Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will dump all his team issued clothing off to an Atlanta area thrift store when he is let go after this season like he did in Tampa when the Glazers fired him? This was such a funny story, and one that a lot of fans might have missed. To read more about it, click this link.

Last Laugh

Wow, poor Josh Norman. But seriously, can we now stop mentioning my man Chris Conte against the Steelers now?

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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fredster

It’s not like Greenbay is this juggernaut that’s beaten the best teams in the NFL. They beat 3 garbage teams and beat the Saints. We are at home with 10 days rest. We stop the run and Packers are predicated on running first. If Bucs can’t win this game imo they aren’t a serious playoff team IMO. Pewter did good job of showing how we have choked every time it is a big match up. Now is time to stop the stupid penalties, play aggressive press coverage and blitz, attack the Packers secondary early and often. Jones run like you… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by fredster
Horse

Fredster; I agree with you. This game is about the character of the team now and future. Time is now to show they overcome shooting themselves in the foot when has been the Bucs for many years. A win here would surely make up for the blunder against the Bears.

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BucNnole

The “cannon blast” section should be bulletin board material for our guys. It pissed me off just reading it and it should piss them off too. Let’s get a damn win this weekend… GO BUCS!

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Pete Wood

Poor Las Vegas? Poor billionaires? We should all have their run of bad luck.

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FLNative

Speaking of Devin White, it’s time that he start to assert himself like he did and the end of last year. I don’t recall seeing any splash plays outside of a tackle or two behind the line of scrimmage.

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eaustinyoung

DBs need to press the receivers, LBs need to cover the middle for short throws/runs. And the D line needs to work on the QB and RB. Limit penalties and the #2 defense starts to shine.

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Horse

What about the Safeties? I believe they are a bigger problem.

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eaustinyoung

Winfield will be fine. Whitehead I’m not sold on. Licht missed his chance to pick up 4-5 different FA safeties over the years so I’ve come to not expect the safeties to steal games.

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twspin

Very pivotal game for us. We need to complete the halfway mark with at least 5 wins to stand a chance. Our Defense will have to play lights out and bring the intensity. Rodgers is not like our statue of Liberty Brady. He can run and is even better with his throws outside of the pocket. The Key to this game is not Brady. Its our defense. Don’t think Rodgers has not studied our slow reacting secondary, he will be ready. We have to play inspired ball. Ruck up Bucs! Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »

ScottC543

It HAS BEEN way too long since we kicked ass in a nationally televised game. I long for those days.

Please, guys, FOCUS. Do your jobs as best you can every single play. We have the talent. Let’s start putting it to good use.

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eaustinyoung

I fondly remember when the Bucs D was must-watch, electric prime time football.

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PatrioticChief

So far the Packers have the better QB and the better coaching. As evidenced by the Patriots, who had the better QB/better coaching in every game for years, its a tough combination to beat. I’d love to see the Bucs make a statement here but it’s going to require them playing at a level we simply have not seen yet. I’ve got the game marked as an L but there is no denying it would be a huge testament to the ceiling of the team if they came out and won. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

Naplesfan

This game is must win if the Bucs want to be a contender for the Super Bowl. To be the best you must beat the best. Right now the Packers are considered the best team in the NFC, with the Seahawks being right behind them. Our loss to the Bears knocked us down quite a bit in the NFC pecking order, even though it was extremely close. At the end of the day and the end of the season, close doesn’t count – only Ws and Ls. If the Bucs don’t win this game, I think we end up with… Read more »

eaustinyoung

Agreed. If they win this, 11-5 or 10-6 looks good. If they lose, 8-8 or 9-7.

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matador

I’m less sure than Naples and eaustin this is a must win game. With fits and starts I expect the Bucs to gradually get better as the year plays out. Saying we need to beat the team that could represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in the first half of a year with a new QB and no preseason seems an overreach to me. As to poor Las Vegas, Gruden has invested more draft picks into the lines at the beginning of his tenure than JBL has in six years. They are in much better shape than we are.… Read more »

bucballer

My concern is at the DT position. Vea put on injured reserve. The rookie DT is on the injury list. What efforts have the Bucs made to replenish talent at this position? Signing DT Free Agents? Maybe I missed it. Have we added talent to the position to make up for Vea loss and DT draft pick being injured?

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bucballer

A down vote for asking a question? Ur an asswipe for even taking the time to hit the down arrow!

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eaustinyoung

Lol I think people just do it because they don’t like the subject matter, not what you’re saying or asking. And I’m sure some do it just to troll. Don’t sweat it.

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Naplesfan

Lotsa asswipe commenters here at PR. They can’t help it – they’re asswipes.

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matador

Licht values skill positions the way Fantasy Football players do and does not understand the need for quality and depth on the lines. It should be pretty clear by now. TB is certainly coming to understand it.

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Crazyhorse54

If the Bucs can’t beat the Saints and the Bears, they won’t beat the Packers. Instead of improving week to week, they are getting worse. Can’t close the deal.

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eaustinyoung

Carolina has a top 10 offense right now. Bucs trounced them. Bucs also mounted a massive comeback against a team that almost beat KC and NO (Chargers).

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Crazyhorse54

Almost only counts in horse shoes.

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Dave

It’s amazing how people still put so much stock into losing week 1. No matter what, the Bucs were never going to win week 1, especially on the road to a Saints team, returning essentially their ENTIRE team and coaching staff from the previous year. Brady had a new team, new pass catchers, new playbook, new play calls, new verbiage, new OLine, new defense, and ZERO games to possibly get in sync or recognize the tendencies of his pass catchers or OLine. Anyone, and I do mean ANYONE that actually expected the Bucs to win week 1, was completely delusional.… Read more »