I hate the fact that, at times, I feel compelled to second guess any article I do that reflects on the team in a poor light. I’ve never let it stop me, though, If I felt it to be a true and honest take on whatever situation is at hand. The situation at hand is the Buccaneers playing a pretty darn good Colts’ team that is surging behind the legs of Jonathan Taylor. Taylor so far has rushed for 1,122 yards on 193 carries for an average of 5.8 yards a clip. Add to that 13 touchdowns, and any back in the league — save maybe one, two tops— would love to put up those kinds of numbers for an entire season. Taylor still has six more games to pad those numbers. If he stays healthy and plays up to his average per game rushing output, he should be able to finish the season around the 1,750-yard mark and 17-22 touchdowns. These types of numbers are Derrick Henryesque, and that’s quite impressive. In my opinion, he is the League MVP for this season.
Keep penalties down.
Our last two losses have come from teams that made the running game their game plan against us. Oh, sure; those teams threw the ball, but the number of runs against a team that’s supposed to be in the top three against the run was high for both. This Colts’ team’s play-action is for real, and it’s going to slow us down a bit at times. The Bucs must stop the big play and avoid stupid penalties in this one.
Make-or-Break? Nah, not yet.
I don’t like to call any game a make-or-break affair. The rest of the schedule is soft — More on that later. If nothing else, it will be a major, and I can’t emphasize the word major; enough — a barometer as to what our playoff chances look like at this point in the season. We’re about to hit the backstretch in this 32 horse race. Will the Buccaneers dig in and play with purpose? I think what the Bucs were able to do last season — pulling their rear end out the fire at the last minute and coming out of the gates following the Week 13 Bye Week and winning out the rest of the way is unrealistic; this season. Situations that go the right way like that are very few and far between. That’s why it’s so impressive in the first place. In all fairness, after the Colts, there is only one more team, the Buffalo Bills, that has what I believe has a high level of talent left on the schedule. Will the Buccaneers slip up against Carolina, once or maybe twice? Could the team possibly get caught off guard against the Falcons or the Saints again? Hopefully, the answer to that is no.
Will they step up and take care of business?
At this point, it’s clear that there are only three truly great teams on the Buccaneers schedule: Dallas in the home opener, the Rams, and the Bills. So far, the Bucs are one and one against those three, with the Buffalo Bills heading to Tampa; two weeks from Sunday. The Indianapolis Colts are a team on the cusp of being great, and on the rise, much like the New England Patriots — who almost took down the Buccaneers before their surge began. This game in Indianapolis will gauge where the Buccaneers are in this late stage of the season. Theoretically, we should have only one loss. The last two losses were letdown games where the Bucs played poorly. So this coming game is vital. If the Buccaneers were to lose this game and fall to 7-4, then lose to the Bills and any one team in the NFC South, you are looking at 11-6 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers would likely still be in the playoffs for winning the division, but in what kind of shape after losing to three more teams? this game against the Colts is not a make-or-break game, nor a live-and-die one, but it will say so much as to where the Bucs are at mentally. And that’s half the battle, moving forward.