The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been very unusual this season. They were seen as a team that was expected to jump from just another NFC team to possibly a contender to run deep into the playoffs. Tampa Bay has failed to reach those expectations as their record indicates. Tampa Bay has some glaring problems and multiple key injuries. Can they actually come back from this embarrassing start to their season? Or should they take what they can get this season and gear up for another attempt at a playoff run next year?
What went wrong?
Tampa Bay had a positive start to their season with a 2-1 record through their first three games. They seemed to have survived Doug Martin’s four game suspension. But their running game didn’t get much better once he came back in Week 5 as they’ve failed to rush for 100 yards as a team since he came back. Neither Doug Martin nor fellow running back Jacquizz Rodgers have been able to average 4.0 yards per carry and Tampa Bay as a team has a mere three rushing touchdowns, that’s a problem.
Due to the extreme lack of a running game, Tampa Bay has been forced to rely too heavily on QB Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay has 279 pass attempts for 2,068 yards, both good for 2nd in the NFL. But without a running game to rely on to gain decent yardage, opponents have played Tampa Bay for the pass more often, leading Tampa Bay to throw eight interceptions, which ranks 25th in the NFL. They cannot continue to have such high passing numbers unless their running game improves drastically.
Injuries have also played a large role in affecting Tampa Bay’s unfortunate season. Multiple injuries in their secondary and even to their QB Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay’s defense has also been subpar this season, ranking 24th in points allowed, 29th in yards allowed, 30th in pass yards allowed, and 17th in rush yards allowed. They will definitely need to get more quality out of their defense and getting healthy will absolutely help their defense.
What can they do?
Tampa Bay’s season is dependent on the legs of Doug Martin, he will either make or break them. Outside of the top five or so QB’s in the league, nobody can simply abandon the run and just pass every game. Tampa Bay’s next three games are at New Orleans, at home against the Jets, and at Miami to make-up their Week 1 game that was postponed due to Hurricane Irma. Tampa Bay knows what they have in Martin, and they’ll just have to hope that he gets back to form soon if they hope to make ground in the under-performing NFC South.
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