TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, Lovie Smith, used to refer to the months of November and December as the “beginning” of the football season. With the 2016 version of the Bucs sitting at 7-5, in possession of the NFC’s 2nd Wild Card spot, the phrase finally makes sense. The Bucs beat the San Diego Chargers 28-21 on Sunday for their fourth consecutive victory.
In Monday’s exclusive ‘Kotter’s Korner’ interview, Bucs head coach, Dirk Koetter did not shy away from his team’s position, nor the possibilities that lie ahead. However, “meaningful” football in December still requires focus. And wins.
“I’m going to tell our guys this week,” Koetter said. “New Orleans is two games behind us with two games still to play and also one against Atlanta.” The message? The Bucs can lose their playoff potential as quickly as they gained their place in the standings. The Bucs are tied with the Atlanta Falcons, atop the NFC South, but lose out on the first tie-breaker for a division title: division record. Atlanta is 4-1 in the division, Tampa Bay, 3-1. The same goes for the Wild Card as the Bucs sit one game behind the New York Giants for the first spot. The Washington Redskins are a game back for the second spot.
Nothing is assured, especially with another week of roster scrambling, due to injuries. Wide Receivers Cecil Shorts III (knee) and Adam Humphries (concussion) left Sunday’s game, forcing others to step up. Receiver, Freddie Martino, responded with 4 receptions for 56 yards, in easily his biggest role of the season.