As the Buccaneers enter the eleventh week of the NFL season, the question has shifted from whether or not the Buccaneers can win to whether or not their opponents screw up enough to let them. The only win Tampa Bay has right now was against Pittsburgh, and you can pretty much give Pittsburgh the credit thanks to all of the first downs the Buccaneers got from penalties committed by the Steelers. This way of thinking fits right in with the week eleven road matchup against the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins are coming off of a bye week at 3-6, but it’s difficult to give much credit with those three wins. The only respectable win the Redskins have was against the Dallas Cowboys, but an injury to Tony Romo certainly assisted the Cowboys’ vintage last second failure. Washington has also managed wins against Jacksonville and Tennessee. Anyone impressed by that? No? Well no one is going to be that impressed with the outcome of the Buccaneers and Redskins game if the Bucs continue to apathetically get their teeth kicked in on a weekly basis.
The Redskins are hopeful coming off the bye as they have their main man “RGIII and Out” at the helm. I’ve never cared for Griffin, and his return isn’t going to mean near as much as Washington is hoping it will. The Buccaneers are 1-1 in road games outside of the NFC South, which sounds more realistic than focusing on them being 1-8 on the season. The Redskins are no doubt looking to start in a better direction with their franchise name back at the helm. The way this season has looked, the only more favorable opponent would probably be the Oakland Raiders.
This all seems positive for the Redskins, but it sets the stage for the Buccaneers to be a textbook buzzkill and try to earn back a small shred of dignity. With a few less penalties, the Buccaneers defense has a very good chance at containing or even neutralizing Washington’s ground and air attack. Griffin is going to try and capitalize on his versatility, and the ability of players not wearing numbers 93 and 54 on their jerseys to adjust will be critical.
David can be trusted to sneeze double digit tackles, but creating turnovers will be essential. The Redskins have thrown 11 interceptions so far this season while the Buccaneers have only managed six in the first nine games. These are things that are very doable and almost expected to a certain extent, but it all boils down to the offense’s ability to finish the game. The Buccaneers know how to take early leads occasionally, but they’re not very good at taking them back at the end of games.
Last week saw some great promise from young players, but those players also made critical mistakes. The biggest threat at tight end, rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins, made a huge touchdown catch to give the Bucs a 17-16 lead over the Falcons. He also gave the Falcons good field position to quickly take back to the lead by using the ball to celebrate Captain Morgan style to earn an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Likewise, Charles Sims made plays in his debut but also had a costly fumble.
While the Redskins secondary has been fairly solid at holding quarterbacks to low yardage, they haven’t been able to create turnovers from it. This sort of “good, but not good enough” outcome is exactly what’s happening in Tampa Bay right now. Josh McCown should benefit from a less interception-hungry defense, but if he makes mistakes and doubles the Redskins’ season total for interceptions… As I’ve said before, set sail for fail. Not even Mike Evans can save this team single handedly.
With less penalties and this foreign concept known as playing up to your potential, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have every possible opportunity to leave Washington 2-8. Last week, I said that the Atlanta game was completely up to the Buccaneers. I said that they could beat them if they chose to. No matter how many tears Josh McCown sheds, they’re still 1-8 going into week eleven. If the Buccaneers don’t shape up, their record is at the mercy of their opponents mistakes. If the Buccaneers start showing their emotion during games rather than after, it’s (technically) still possible to win this trainwreck of a division known as the NFC South. Are the Buccaneers going to try to? Or will they wait and see if their opponents let them? Spoiler Alert: Option Two doesn’t end well.
Prediction: 23-20, Bucs win
Disclaimer: Note the score. Prediction has to do with faith in Patrick Murray, not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.