Preview: Buccaneers hungry to turns things around Sunday against visiting Washington
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) —DeSean Jackson's frustration grows by the loss.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have dropped five of six games following a 2-0 start, and the veteran receiver doesn't want anyone to buy the notion that all it'll take to make him happy is to catch more passes Sunday against the Washington Redskins.
The Bucs (3-5) haven't made the playoffs since 2007, and the only way to change that trend is to start winning.
Jackson, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in 2017 after spending the previous three seasons with the Redskins, thinks he can make a difference. He fielded questions this week for the first time since he reportedly asked to be traded last month.
"Whatever them conversations were, they were between us," Jackson, when asked if he approached general manager Jason Licht before the Oct. 30 NFL trade deadline.
"It's over and done with now, and I'm looking forward," the five-time 1,000-yard receiver added. "We've got eight games left to continue to try our best to get in the playoffs and win here."
The 11th-year pro has rebounded from a subpar debut with Tampa Bay a year ago to average 22.4 yards per reception in 2018.
But since beginning the season with consecutive 100-yard performances, that included TD catches of 58 and 75 yards in victories over New Orleans and Philadelphia, the 31-year-old's production has curtailed.
Through eight games, Jackson has 28 catches for 626 yards and four touchdowns, including a 60-yard scoring reception against Cincinnati that gave him the most TDs of 60-plus yards (24) in NFL history.
At the risk of sounding selfish, Jackson concedes he would like to be more involved in the offense. He began his career in Philadelphia, where he had three 1,000-yard seasons in six years. He had two in three seasons with the Redskins.
"It's just knowing what's in this locker room, knowing the players we have all across the board. ... That's been more of the frustration for me," Jackson said. "It's not individual. It's more (about) accomplishing what we all want to accomplish."
The NFC East-leading Redskins (5-3) are coming off a lopsided loss to Atlanta that snapped a three-game winning streak.
Bouncing back on the road doesn't figure to be easy after losing three starters — receiver Paul Richardson and guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao — to season-ending injuries against the Falcons.
Alex Smith is coming off throwing for a season-best 306 yards last week, and coach Jay Gruden is counting on leading rusher Adrian Peterson's skill and experience to help him to adjust to changes of the offensive line and continue to be productive.
"He just goes through his reads like he normally would. It doesn't matter who's blocking for him — at guard, center, tackle, tight end, fullback ... or receiver," Gruden said. "He's just going to go through his progressions and make his cuts and do what he does."
Some things to know about the Redskins and Buccaneers:
NICE TO MEET YOU
After placing Scherff and Lauvao on injured reserve Monday because they need season-ending surgeries, and with left tackle Trent Williams recovering from an operation on his right thumb, the Redskins are putting together a makeshift offensive line. They signed three unemployed linemen — tackle Austin Howard, along with guards Jonathan Cooper and Luke Bowanko — and at least one is expected to start Sunday.
"The big thing, I think, is on the road, crowd noise, against a good D-line," Smith said. "I think those things, all the calls, all the communication that has to take place — run, pass, third down — all the different looks, the thousands and thousands of reps that we've had — you try to condense into a few days to get ready."
Ryan Fitzpatrick will make his sixth start of the season at quarterback for the Bucs, who benched Jameis Winston after a road loss to Cincinnati two weeks ago. Tampa Bay has been outscored 103-27 in the first half of Fitzpatrick's past three starts — all losses.
Like Smith, Fitzpatrick is in his 14th season. Smith was the first pick in the 2005 draft. Fitzpatrick was a seventh-round pick, No. 250 overall.
"He was 249 picks before I was," Fitzpatrick said, "but we're both still here."
CAN PETERSON BOUNCE BACK?
Peterson entered this week fifth in the league in rushing with 604 yards at age 33, but he is coming off a poor game: He only ran nine times for 17 yards in the loss to Atlanta. Things might not be easy with a reconstructed O-line.
"I always say: The play looked great in practice when you draw it up and you run through it at practice. But when you've got guys coming at 100 mph, things change," Peterson said.
NO COMEBACKS YET
The Redskins have not managed to win a game in which they've trailed this season. And during Gruden's 4½ years in Washington, the team only has 15 come-from-behind victories; only five clubs have fewer in that span.
"That's something that we have got to do a better job of," Gruden said.