Buccaneers: What Does Week 10 Really Mean for the Season?

The Buccaneers head into week 10 with a 3-5 record against the lowly Chicago Bears. A team that was once at the top of the division is now tied for third and by the looks, on their way to the basement of the NFC South. Will this Sunday’s home game give the Bucs the redemption they need?

At the beginning of this season, the Buccaneers were talked about as being one of the dark horse teams to make the playoffs. Coming off a year that had a top five offense, the team looked to revamp themselves and show the league they are becoming the real deal. Week one against the Falcons, they did just that. A road win in the NFL is nothing easy, especially one against a division opponent, but the Bucs proved they had the team to do it. Jameis Winston threw for 281 yards and four touchdowns and justified that Jason Licht made the right decision back in 2015.

So what has happened to this team since then? Blame it on one thing or the next… but there is no escaping injuries in the NFL. Not only did they lose their bell-cow running back, but they also lost the offensive center piece. Doug Martin, one of top rushers in 2015 unfortunately suffered a hamstring injury week two versus the Arizona Cardinals and the team has not been the same since.

Once considered to be one of the top backfields in the NFL, is now considered to be one of the worst. The loss of Doug Martin was shortly followed by the injury of the backup Charles Sims after his stagnant running campaign against the Rams and Broncos.

The Bucs had to look to the streets and they were lucky enough to find an old friend of Dirk Koetter’s, Jacquizz Rodgers. His heroic efforts Carolina and San Francisco gave the spark the Bucs need to keep their season alive, but unfortunately once again the injury bug struck. Veteran receiver Vincent Jackson suffered a torn ACL and was placed on injured reserve. The Bucs management made a gusty call to ignore the glaring lack of talent at the wide receiver in the off-season and paid the price. Relying on youngsters with little to no experience in the NFL and a veteran receiver who has seen his better days has made them look foolish.

After a hard-fought loss at home against Oakland, once again the Bucs began to question who they are. The Raiders managed to rack up a league record amount of penalties and still the Bucs were unable to seal the deal. To add insult to injury (literally), the spark we had with Rodgers was put out due to a late game foot sprain. The following week against the Falcons the Bucs looked again like the one-dimensional team they were back in weeks 2-4. Another prime time blowout loss has left the Bucs in the state of emergency we were all worried about.

After the game, Gerald McCoy had this to say

“We’ve got to take these three days off and evaluate ourselves, do some soul searching individually,” McCoy said. “It’s not about pointing fingers and saying, ‘It’s this or it’s that.’ Everybody has to look at themselves and see what they can do better to bring to this team. So the next few days really need to be a break. We don’t need to rest. We need to reload. We’ve just got to uh – something has to give, something has to change.”

Take this quote how you like, but it seems as if the Bucs (or at least McCoy) believe this team has more to give.
So what does week 10 really mean for the Bucs? The Chicago Bears come to the Den of Depression… or Raymond James Stadium, looking to get their third win of the season. Two weeks ago the prediction may have been for the Bucs to win this game outright, but now it is not so certain. First of all, the Bucs seem to be unable to win at home, due to their terrible record of 3-14 since 2014.
With no wins at home this season the Bucs are hoping finally get rid of that goose egg… but which Bucs team will show up? Right now Winston continues to force the ball to Mike Evans every pass attempt he can, and unless Doug Martin makes his much-needed return, it may be a one-dimensional offense once again.
And what about the defense? Are they going to continue to struggle against the pass? The safety tandem we have right now is nightmarish and it has caused an immense amount of issues for the team. Let us not forget to mention how towards the beginning of the year the Bucs had one of the best run defenses in the league… and yet that has dipped as well.
The Bears currently are sitting on one of the youngest running back stables in the NFL. Rookie Jordan Howard has proved that he is a force to be reckoned with. His combination of speed and power has given teams headaches. To stop him will be no easy task for the banged up front seven. When Howard is not given the rock, the world knows Jay Cutler will be looking for Alshon Jeffery. His size already gives him the advantage against the Bucs corners, but can rookie Vernon Hargreaves once again show up to the challenge?

The Bears may have two wins, but this will not be an easy game for the depleted Bucs. In all honesty, this could be the game that determines whether the Bucs can salvage what is considered a respectable season.

What do you say Buc fans? If you like what I’ve had to say or want to talk, find me on Twitter. Go Bucs.

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