All is not well with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as of late.
After winning six of their first seven games, they dropped two straight against the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Football Team.
There’s no way those losses should have happened because Tampa Bay had the better roster compared to Washington.
— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) November 17, 2021
But those two defeats highlight the reality that the road to their title defense will be bumpy.
Their claim to the NFC South isn’t as solid as before their bye week.
Worst, the injuries keep on piling up, and that’s not good news for a veteran-laden team.
The Buccaneers Need Everyone
Gone are the days when the Buccaneers could afford missing a player or two.
After all, they are one of the most talented teams in the NFL, and they could keep on performing at a high level even if someone’s out.
However, the massive number of injuries on their key players are coming back to haunt them.
Shaq Barrett when asked what needs to happen at the end to close out games: “We’ve got to put a fork in them.”
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) November 17, 2021
Both of them would be Tom Brady‘s primary targets when they reach the red zone or during two-minute drills.
Unfortunately, they did not play against the Saints, which limited Brady’s options.
That said, the New Orleans secondary covered his receivers very well to force a pick-six by P.J. Williams.
The Buccaneers had one final drive, but Brady couldn’t connect with Tyler Johnson.
The outcome might be different if they had Gronkowski and Brown in uniform.
Tom Brady & the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have thrown away all of my parlays 😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐
— patsperfect (@Patsperfect_) November 14, 2021
Likewise, the injury plague is affecting their defense as well, especially in the secondary.
Richard Sherman‘s absence worsened their rotation against Washington, helping the underdogs win.
As a result, Taylor Heinicke missed only six attempts and threw for 256 yards.
Tampa Bay’s depleted secondary helped Washington complete a 19-play, ten-minute drive that ended with an Antonio Gibson touchdown.
Not only did Antonio Gibson score two rushing touchdowns against the Buccaneers, who allowed two rushing scores combined over the past eight games, but Gibson reached a season-high rushing total of 24 carries.
The positive game script helped, but a good sign for Gibson. pic.twitter.com/LtxgLeexWG
— Corbin (@corbin_young21) November 14, 2021
That lengthy drive kept the Buccaneers’ offense on the sidelines, unable to mount a comeback.
Vita Vea hurt his knee at the end of that drive.
Luckily, he suffered only a bone bruise and a mild MCL sprain that will not force him to miss games.
Are Their Playoff Hopes In Jeopardy?
There’s still time left for the Buccaneers to bounce back.
However, having a patchwork roster is not helping their cause.
If anything, the loss against Washington provided a blueprint for other teams on how to defeat them.
The Buccaneers are not out of the woods yet because they will still face the Saints, the Buffalo Bills, and the Indianapolis Colts, which all have solid defensive units.
Looking to get back on track.#GoBucs
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 18, 2021
Then there’s the rejuvenated Carolina Panthers with the returning Cam Newton that they must face twice.
Fielding an incomplete roster will cause problems for the Buccaneers.
Now that every game is essential to clinch their playoff spot, it would be nice to have everyone back.
Unfortunately, they do not have control over the injuries their players are nursing.
The Buccaneers can only hope that they all get healthy before time runs out.