Friday, November 24, 2017
Sports

Bucs-Jets: What to do with the final eight Bucs games

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — Know what might be the most sobering part of the Bucs’ disappointing season?

We’re only halfway through it.

Doesn’t it feel like the Bucs already have played like 14 games?

Ugh. Eight more games to go.

While Bucs players are saying all the things they are supposed to say — one game at a time, we can still get back into this thing, we’re not giving up — it is hard, if not full-blown impossible, to see this season ending in anything other than a 10th straight season of missing the playoffs.

So what’s the point of the second half of the season? What do we have to look forward to? How can we choke down what is left?

Well, I’m here to lend some help. Here’s some stuff to watch for in the second half.

Stink for Saquon

Good gosh, it’s incredibly depressing to be talking about next year’s draft only halfway through the season. Draft talk is equivalent to waving the white flag.

But there is a silver lining.

If the draft was held today, the Bucs would have the fourth pick. They clearly need a pass rusher, and it’s never a bad idea to draft an offensive lineman. And, it might be a bad idea ever to draft a running back that high. Then again, the Bucs could have a crack at the most exciting player in college football: Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

So, go ahead, Bucs. Feel free to tank. It’s Barkley or bust. Stink for Saquon.

Ring of Honor

I tell you what, man. (That’s a Jon Gruden imitation there.) The Dec. 18 Monday Night Football game at Raymond James against the Falcons could get really awkward but incredibly delicious, too.

That night, Gruden goes into the Bucs’ Ring of Honor. And, by that night, the Bucs could be swirling down the toilet with only three or four victories. If that’s the case, everybody in the stadium will be thinking whether the only Bucs coach ever to win a Super Bowl should be the next Bucs head coach.

Let’s be frank: Current coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht are fighting for their jobs in the second half.

Speaking of Jameis …

How the Bucs perform over the next two weeks will go a long way in determining whether or not quarterback Jameis Winston should play much more the rest of the season with a bum shoulder. If they lose the next two and fall to 2-8, there’s no need to rush him back, and if he sits out the rest of the season, so what?

If the Bucs win their next two games and move to 4-6, then maybe Winston comes back sooner rather than later. (Although, that would have meant Ryan Fitzpatrick led them to back-to-back victories.)

What if Bucs go 1-1? Well, if we’re looking at this honestly, they aren’t playing for a playoff spot this season and Winston’s shoulder should take priority over everything else.

Who’s going to quit?

Always interesting to see which players give less than 100 percent when there’s little left to play for the rest of the way. The players insist that hasn’t happened yet.

"I don’t sense that at all,’’ Winston said.

But, at some point, are guys going to dive headfirst into piles for a loose football when a game’s outcome means nothing?

Finally …

Hey, it’s still football. Would you rather watch that or do yard work?

After all, bad football is better than no football at all.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones.

Comments
Lightning recalls Cory Conacher from Syracuse

Lightning recalls Cory Conacher from Syracuse

The Lightning recalled forward Cory Conacher from AHL Syracuse on Friday for tonight's game against the Capitals.GM Steve Yzerman said that with a couple players dealing with minor injuries, Conacher's callup provides some depth so that the team coul...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Report: Florida Gators moving on from Chip Kelly

Report: Florida Gators moving on from Chip Kelly

The Florida Gators are out of the Chip Kelly sweepstakes, according to a report Friday afternoon from Yahoo! Sports.Pat Forde is reporting that UF has moved on from Kelly. This matches what I was told earlier in the week – UF wouldn't wait on K...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Florida-Florida State: What’s really riding on Saturday’s game

Florida-Florida State: What’s really riding on Saturday’s game

GAINESVILLE — If misery loves company, at least the Gators and Seminoles have each other.That’s about the only positive in the least appealing Florida-Florida State showdown in decades. Both enter Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at 4-6 — the first time each...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

PITTSBURGH — Miami’s perfect season is over. The Hurricanes can only hope their shot at a spot in the College Football Playoff isn’t gone too. Freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as Pittsburgh stunned the s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Eye on Julio Jones, new stadium

Cannon Fodder podcast: Eye on Julio Jones, new stadium

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman is back for one more Bucs-Falcons preview podcast, looking at Julio Jones’ rank among the all-time Bucs’ opponents, the new stadium in Atlanta, our story on game balls and much more. Listen below: ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Stamkos: Teams adjusting to hot top line

Stamkos: Teams adjusting to hot top line

Nobody thought the Lightning's hot top line was going to keep up its historic pace all season.Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov have a combined 90 points through the first 21 games, which is just over four points per game."The...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

The Bucs face the defending NFC champion in its new home Sunday in Atlanta.Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s predictions for Tampa Bay’s 1 p.m. game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:MATTY ICE-FOLLIESRick Stroud, @NFLStroud: T...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs’ Will Gholston glad to return from ‘knee-buckling’ neck injury

Bucs’ Will Gholston glad to return from ‘knee-buckling’ neck injury

Bucs defensive end Will Gholston will make a healthy return Sunday in Atlanta after missing two games with a neck injury, and he's thankful and relieved not to have to deal with anything more severe."It was knee-buckling," Gholston said. "I was stand...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Round 3 playoff predictions

Round 3 playoff predictions

Region finalsClass 7ANo. 3 Plant (11-1) at No. 1 Lakeland (10-0)Rodney Page: Lakeland 23-21. Probably the best playoff matchup of the six area games remaining. The Panthers narrowly escaped last week and playing at perennial power Lakeland might be t...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Captain’s Corner: Switching to bottom fishing for grouper, snapper

With water temperatures falling, offshore anglers soon will have less species to target. Migratory species such as cobia, kingfish and Spanish mackerel will be migrating south for the winter. Most offshore captains will switch to bottom fishing for g...
Updated: 15 minutes ago