With just five games in the books on Tampa Bay’s 2013 season, it’s too early to call Sunday’s Week 7 trip to Atlanta to face the Falcons a must-win for the Buccaneers. But no coach in the NFL could use a win right now more than Greg Schiano.
The Buccaneers sit at 0-5 and are one of three remaining winless teams in the NFL. But while the 0-6 New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars salivate over the possibility of their first wins too, winning for Tampa Bay would bring much soothing to a franchise that’s seen enough misery—both on and off the field—this season to last for some time.
Just this year Tampa Bay has dealt with scandal in the form of accusations against its head coach on both vote rigging and release of private information charges. It’s dealt with the aftershocks of a feud between head coach and quarterback that involved the player being asked to watch a game from a private suite and skip a team meeting that ultimately led to Josh Freeman’s release from the team.
The Buccaneers’ team facility has been scrubbed twice by a specialized company to rid One Buc Place of a highly contagious strain of bacteria known as MRSA, but still three players have been stricken with the staph infection and the league and the players’ union is working together to address the problem.
Those are just a few of the off-the-field issues that have plagued the franchise.
On the field, the Buccaneers have lost three games by a field goal or less, two on the final play of the game. Cries are being heard, in places like Sports Illustrated, that new cornerback Darrelle Revis is being misused in zone coverage, and according to Jenna Laine of SportsTalkFlorida, defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan called out fans in Tampa for criticizing the team’s play-calling.
What I want to invite them to do is join us. I get here about 5:20 [a.m.] every single morning, and they’re more than welcome to hang around here until about 11:00 [p.m.] for the first four nights of the week and they can help us put the whole game plan together.
We’ve got all the free cokes you want in the building and we’ll be happy to take those suggestions on how we can better use Darrelle. Trust me when I tell you we painstakingly game-plan how best to use all of our personnel not just Darrelle.
It’s been a hot mess with the Buccaneers this season, and oh yeah, by the way, Tampa Bay is starting a rookie quarterback in Mike Glennon and asking the kid to learn as he goes and please turn this franchise around.
The Falcons had Super Bowl aspirations prior to the season, but injuries and offensive inefficiencies and injuries and injuries have punished this team and saddled it with a 1-4 record. Would beating a 1-4 team like the Falcons really be that big of a deal to the Bucs?
Who will win on Sunday?
The answer to that question is almost as crazy as the thought of these two teams—teams that had enough talent where both should have won at least 10 games this season—combining for just one win through six weeks of the 2013 season.
Yes. A wholehearted, resounding yes. Tampa Bay beating Atlanta would be a monumentally good first step to calming things down for Schiano and the Buccaneers. It’d be even better if Tampa Bay kicked the crap out of Atlanta in the Georgia Dome.
While no one likes a bully or kicking someone while they’re down (insert your favorite Schiano/victory formation joke here), nothing should be taken away from the Buccaneers for going for the jugular in Atlanta against a team that’s lost so many starting players from its Week 1 roster.
Should the Tampa Bay defense take it easy on Atlanta’s receiving corps because no one outside the Peach State has any clue who the backups are that are replacing wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones (both out with injuries)? No.
Because Atlanta may start two undrafted rookies at linebacker Sunday, should a potential win by Tampa Bay be considered any less of a win? Not a chance. The Buccaneers are in dire need of a victory and this fanbase should embrace any W that gets put in the standings.
A win helps Schiano start to mend the chasm in Tampa Bay’s locker room. A win would give the Bucs’ rookie passer some much-needed confidence. A win would even calm the angry hoard outside One Buc Place, a bitter and impassioned fanbase that might forget everything that’s happened over the last few months if Schiano could just string some wins together.
Winning is all that matters in the NFL. No one cares if you’re likeable if you win (see: Bill Belichick). No one cares if you rule with an iron fist if you’re putting wins on the board.
It all starts with win No. 1 of the season and no one will care if the Falcons are a depleted franchise now. Tampa Bay just needs that first victory.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.