Opposite Sideline: Many Buccaneers playing for next year
The lowdown on the Green Bay Packers' next opponent from a beat writer who covers the team.
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has made it clear this week that with his team sitting at six losses on the season, the path forward to a possible playoff push begins with getting to 10 wins. The only way to do that is for his team to take care of business one week at a time for the next five weeks, starting with this Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field when the Packers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
To get the scoop on where this Buccaneers team stands, we spoke with beat writer Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. You can see our conversation in the video above and read his answers to more of our questions in the text below.
1. How much of a distraction, if at all, has the NFL's investigation into Jameis Winston's alleged groping of a female Uber driver been to this team since the news broke?
I don't think it's been a major distraction for the rest of the team — for Winston, I'd think it's something he has to deal with, but I don't know that it impacts the rest of the locker room. It probably helped lessen that impact that this all came down while he was injured, not playing, not in regular interaction with the media.
2. How has this Buccaneers team become so opportunistic on defense? Is it residual from their days under Lovie Smith, whose teams always gave the Packers trouble by creating turnovers?
The Bucs constantly preach the importance of takeaways — when they win that battle, it's a huge step toward winning on the scoreboard. Dirk Koetter will always say it's the single most important stat when it comes to correlation to winning. Lovie Smith put similar importance on it — it's something the defense does well, but it sometimes masks other glaring issues, like their struggles getting off the field on third down this season.
3. Tampa Bay was a trendy pick to make the playoffs this past offseason. With that goal an increasing unlikelihood, what is this Bucs team playing for?
The Bucs are all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention — at this point, it starts with playing for jobs, whether it's solidifying yourself as a starter or just trying to avoid being cut in the offseason. The coach and general manager are fighting for their jobs as well — if the team can get some kind of positive momentum in these last five games, it's less likely it will go through the major transition of a head coach or GM change. That's important for everyone involved.