Bucs fans know this feeling all too well. Déjà vu is kicking in for the Buccaneers this week. All too many times, preseason hype is drowned-out by an early season beat down by the hands of an average team or a backup Quarterback.
Herm Edwards made a prediction that the Bucs would win the Super Bowl in Lovie’s first year. They went 2-14. Winston was supposed to destroy Mariota in Tampa but got blown out and embarrassed. His first pass was a pick six! After a convincing win against the soon-to-be Super Bowl contenders in the Falcons, Tampa got beat down by an average Cardinals team, losing several players in the process.
It happened again. The Vikings invaded the ship, dismantled the cannons, and burst our optimistic bubble all at the hands of Case Keenum, a rookie running back, and a dominant defense. No wonder our fan base is distraught. We were favorites to win that game and yet again were brought back down to earth. Buc Nation seems to believe that all is lost.
Let’s just slow down a minute though. Let’s address the facts. Brent Grimes, Kwon Alexander, and Chris Baker were all out. Three of our best defensive players on each level did not contribute. Injuries to Gerald McCoy, Noah Spence, Robert Ayers, Lavonte David, TJ Ward, and Vernon Hargreaves left us without nine of the defense’s best fighters. No team can win a game in that circumstance.
How about the timing of politics in the NFL? It was a strange week in football for a reason. Derek Carr and Matt Ryan played horribly. The team we destroyed in the Bears beat the Steelers. Patriots almost lost to a rookie. The panthers….well nevermind, they suck. I think it seems evident that the distraction was real this week, don’t you? In my opinion, it’s safe to say Mike Evans and Desean Jackson’s heads weren’t in the game. The domino effect on the rest of the team is real possibility. In fact, I think it was likely.
Now let’s consider the opposition. The Vikings have a very good defense. Diggs is not a pushover. Cook is in the running for Rookie of the Year. Xavier Rhodes is a top five Cornerback. (Just a side note, if you have the game recorded, review the tape. The Rhodes were NOT closed for Evans on Sunday.) Not to mention Minnesota plays very well at home, especially in their brand-new stadium.
Our fan base cannot jump to conclusions, just yet. I know we are conditioned for doom and gloom but the doctor may have ordered the perfect prescription for the Bucs…The New York Football Giants.
Let’s not take them for granted, however. Their roster is one of the most talented in all of sports on all phases of the team. Playmakers at receiver, a future Hall-of-Famer in Eli Manning, and talented ballers at each position on defense. They are in win-now mode.
But so are we….
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Giants have the worst run defense in the NFL. Their offensive line is essentially a wet paper towel. Oh yeah and in case you missed it, they have several injuries to key players as well. New York could be without their starting right tackle, two linebackers, their best pass-rusher in Oliver Vernon, and their best threat at running back in Shane Vareen. Throw in the locker room tension with Ben McAdoo, their 0-3 record, and the fact that Odell is still not 100% and the adversity is just as prevalent in New York.
Now about that injury report. In case you haven’t had the opportunity to review it, our defensive line practiced in full with Jack Smith returning! Brent Grimes was a full go! Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, although huge blows, were the only real issue to be concerned about and by the looks of Kendell Beckwith, the drop-off may not be significant. Don’t forget, our offense is almost fully healthy, with the exception of JR Sweezy who was notated to have a back injury but IN MY OPINION, may have just been a precaution. Things are looking a lot better on the injury front than may have first been perceived after Sunday’s demolition.
This is going to be a tough matchup. I tend to be realistic and I refuse to ever be overly optimistic in any circumstance. Especially with our history. However, a lot is invested in to Sunday. I have yet to see Jameis pitch two failures in a row. In fact, he has rebounded quite well in the past.
I think it’s safe to say that the Vikings outcome and panic associated with it is an overreaction. We have a great opportunity to right the ship this week against a vulnerable opponent. But we must not look past the Giants. We need to treat this game for what it is, a winless team, at home, during a highly-anticipated season. If we lose, things could get out of hand quickly with the defending Super Bowl Champions rolling in to town just four short days later. A 1-4 start is a real possibility. A win Sunday will change everything.
It’s too late to lament the loss in Minnesota but it’s too early to call the season a failure. Win and we will forget about the purple people eaters.
It’s time for Jameis to show off the talent he has worked on because let’s be real here, this game is on him in what should be a high-scoring affair.
It’s time to show the world.