The Buccaneers have come a long way. It obviously may not mean much, but as the enter Philadelphia to play the Eagles Sunday afternoon, they can end the day with an even record. And that’s pretty big deal.
With the emergence of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston as the team’s obvious leader, Tampa Bay rides waves of emotions with him under center. His play has improved and he has matured as a player despite just nine games into his career and a lack of offensive weapons. He’ll be tested in Philadelphia as he throws against an Eagles defense that has a knack for picking off opposing quarterbacks.
But it’s not all the rookie signal caller. The team will only go as far as their collaborative play takes them and it starts at the top. Head coach Lovie Smith appears to be changing his thought process personnel decisions which has resulted in better play from the secondary. The first part of the season was brutal as quarterbacks had their ways with Bucs corners. Now, with veteran Sterling Moore and rookie Jude Adjei-Barimah.
“We like [Sterling Moore] at the cornerback position, playing the ball,” Smith said earlier in the week. “He has good hands. That’s it, whether it’s man coverage, zone coverage, he’s done a pretty good job with it, as has Jude [Adjei–Barimah].”
On Sunday, the Bucs will face a 4-5 Philadelphia team that sits within a game of their division but will be without their starting quarterback and mediocre play from their offensive line. Tampa Bay may not be in contention for their division, but they are battling for that even record.
And with that even record, a final playoff spot can be within a game. Just like we wrote a few weeks back.