Can the Bucs make another run?

by Gary Shelton on November 3, 2021

in general

Brady is coming off a turnover-plagued game./TIM WIRT

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

The sky is falling. I know, I know.

There are dark clouds on the horizon, and giant chasms have opened in the earth's surface. The oceans have turned to mud, and locusts are eating your lawn. Soon, dragons may arrive.

It is always this way when a talented team comes out second in a football game. It seems as if the world is ending, and there is nothing but liver for dinner. The Bucs have dared to play awfully -- darn them -- and we cannot figure out what to make of it.

Then there is this: The Bucs are in great position to make another second-half run.

Perhaps you remember. Three-quarters of the way through last season, we were dealing in pestilence. The Bucs were 7-5, and their play was less than their expectations.

And then they caught fire and swept through the playoffs and won the Super Bowl.

Just a thought, but maybe they can do it again.

Yeah, yeah. It isn't the time for thoughts of rainbows and unicorns. There is no forgiving the miserable way the Bucs played on Sunday, losing to a backup quarterback after coming from behind to take the lead. You can criticize every unit on the Bucs' team, from the secondary to the wide receivers to the offensive line to the defensive line to the quarterback, and you would be right.

But, here at the halfway point, perhaps it is worth a look beyond the failings and into the rest of the schedule.

To sum up, there are the Bills, who are darned good, and there are the Saints, who have everything but a quarterback (depending on whether they pay attention to Philip Rivers waving his arms or not). After that, there is bupkus.

Right. It's the NFL, of course, and Washington can be a hard place to play (ask Washington) and the Jets' game will be cold, and the Colts are testy. On the other hand, the nine teams the Bucs will play have won a total of 30 games so far (barely more than three wins a team).

Hey, no one is arguing that the Bucs need to get healthier -- and better. The pass rush has been a disappointment. The secondary has been aching. There aren't nearly enough splash plays. And admit it or not, this team needs Antonio Bryant's quickness.

So take a glance at the road ahead:

Nov. 13 -- at Washington: In Washgngton, the talk is how much worse this 2-6 feels than the team that started 2-6 last year. Granted, Taylor Heinicke gave the Bucs some headaches in the playoffs last year, but the Redskins' defense seemed to be for real then. Now, they do not.

Nov. 22 -- (Monday night) New York Giants. Lets face it. The Giants, as bad as they usually are, seem to give the Bucs fits. Also, Tom Brady. But this year's Giants are 2-6 and on their way to miserable.

Nov. 26 -- at Indianapolis. The question is whether you believe in Carson Wentz. Much of the league does not. Oh, the Colts aren't dreadful, but they shouldn't be able to keep pace with the Bucs unless Wentz is very good.

Dec. 5 -- at Atlanta. Don't forget, the Bucs led only 28-25 before two pick-sixes by Mike Edwards. Still, the Bucs will have a big talent edge.

Dec. 12 -- Buffalo. The Bills are a fine football team, tough and explosive. True, the Bucs are home, but if there is a game you need to be wary of, it's this one.

Dec. 19 -- Saints. The Bucs gets another shot at the Saints. This time, maybe they can stop the 15-yard penalties.

Dec. 26 -- Carolina. The Bucs will get their first look at Sam Darnold and how he has changed the Panthers. So far, Carolina is 4-4, so the jury is still out. Still, a team has to win at home.

Jan. 2/ New York Jets. The cold wins swiil in New York in January. But Tom Brady has thrown in the cold before.

Jan 9. at Carolina. The teams will feel awfully familiar after two games in three weeks. But by this time, the Bucs should be getting ready for the playoffs.

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