Bucs wanting to get into the groove builds on winning
At 8-8, the Bucs look to finish their regular season above .500 heading into Week 18 against the Falcons. They will also try to stay in the rhythm they were in and enter the playoff winners of their past three games. The team faces a dilemma common to many playoff teams; do they play their starters and if so how many?
There are pros and cons of playing and resting. By playing, the starters remain ready to play and do not rust. Resting gives them a much-needed breather after a long season and many backups get meaningful reps for the first time since pre-season. When asked how he will handle this, Bucs head coach Todd Bowles mentioned the team’s plans to at least play them some, knowing that the team still has more work to do.
“We can get better at a lot of things, so now I plan to play them,” said Bowles. “We’ll see as the week goes on, but we can get better at a lot of things we need to work on, and we don’t have to go off the gas.”
If anything has been the case in 16 games, it’s that the Bucs have to be better than them. Their biggest margins of victory were in weeks 1 and 2; 16 over the Cowboys and 10 over the Saints. Since then, instead of getting into a groove, the team has struggled against easier opponents on paper and barely fallen, thanks to quarterback Tom Brady’s late-game magic.
If the team hopes to get through the month of January, playing against their starters and letting them build on the momentum of the last two games is essential. They cannot afford to take the Falcons lightly as they have rarely won convincingly in 2022.
The start of 2023 has shown that they can still put points on the board, but they are still only 25e for 18.5 per game. That is the lowest of any team that has already secured a spot in the playoffs. Next highest are the Ravens with 20.9, followed by the Chargers with 22.7. Using the same logic of teams tied prior to Sunday, the Bucs are just 1-4 against playoff teams. The regular season may be coming to an end, but the team can still start their journey to the Super Bowl at the right time.
Bucs RB White: “We’re trying to get into a groove and get going at the right time”
Much of Wednesday’s mention in practice was about how many guys will play on Sunday. For Bucs rookie running back Rachaad White, he sees it as the guys still wanting to go play and “get in at the right time:”
#Bucs RB Rachaad White speaks this week about the team’s approach and the importance of playing:
“We’re trying to get into a groove and get going at the right time.” pic.twitter.com/MOP5clzgjd
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) January 4, 2023
He added: “I believe it’s important to stay in the groove right now. That’s kind of my way of thinking, I’m a young man, but I want to play. I never coach [Bowles]… it takes a lot for the coach to try and put me down. Especially being young, things like that, I just want to keep going.
“That’s the main thing, and just seeing your teammates, seeing TB, ‘Yeah,’ everyone wants to play, anytime they can. It means a lot, just staying in a groove. You go into that bye week, you come back and try to knock that rust off, we just try to get going and stay positive at the right time and we feel like this is it.
Bucs HC Bowles: “Winning assist period”
Winning helps many things, including team morale. The Bucs enter in encouraging fashion as Week 18 winners of two consecutive games. After not playing his best game against the Cardinals, quarterback Tom Brady still helped lead the team back to a 19–16 victory by Christmas. If there was anything to show in this match, it was the team’s resilience and determination to keep fighting.
A week later, the bout started to click, especially with the Tom BradyMichael Evans tandem looks more like it should. In the 30-24 win to clinch the NFC South, the team looked more like the contenders seen in recent seasons.
“It will boost morale,” Bowles said of winning Sunday to make it three in a row. “Winning helps period whether it be playoffs or the regular season. You want to win every game you play. Obviously we lost some tough ones, we had some tough ones that we won. But winning the last two like we did, that builds the morale more, and you want to start on a high note.
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