The Seahawks and Buccaneers both head to Munich this week to face off in the first NFL regular-season game played in Germany. To learn more about this week’s opponent, we reached out to buccaneers.com senior reporter and editor Scott Smith.
The Bucs won in crazy fashion on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak. Just how important was that one, not just in terms of the standings but what it can do for the team’s morale/confidence?
Smith: I think it was critical, particularly because of the way it ended. After the two most successful consecutive seasons in franchise history, these Buccaneers had come to expect some certain outcomes – the passing game would be explosive, the defense would stop the run, the turnovers would come in bunches, and so would the points – but those cornerstones just haven’t been there for most of this season. But a Tom Brady miracle comeback for a last-minute win?! Now that’s something we recognize! I think it gives the team some hope that some other hallmarks of the past two seasons can be recaptured as well. And, at the simplest level, 4-5 and a tie for first in the division (with a tiebreaker in hand), looks a lot better than 3-6 with a four-game losing streak. The 10-hour flight to Munich will surely be a lot more comfortable coming off a win that has the Bucs right back in the driver’s seat in the division. All of that said, the Bucs were one 60-yard, 35-second drive from remaining in the “darkness,” as Todd Bowles put it. This team knows it still has significant issues to correct, from a stuck-in-neutral rushing attack to a sudden inability to create turnovers to persistent red zone stalls.
Expectations were high for Tampa Bay coming into the season—the presence of Tom Brady tends to do that for teams—what issues have contributed to the slow start, particularly on offense?
Smith: It’s funny, because everyone analyzing the team during its struggles wants to find some strategic reasons for the offensive downturn – unimaginative play-calling, running too much, running too little, not throwing downfield – when the root cause is the oldest story in the book: personnel turnover. After winning Super Bowl LV, the 2021 Buccaneers famously ‘kept the gang together,’ pulling out all the stops to bring back every starter and virtually every contributor for another run. The Bucs weren’t able to capture a second straight title, but the offense was as explosive as ever. In fact, it improved from 2020 to 2021 in most categories,…