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The aftermath: Week 16 – Tampa Bay/Arizona

Stylez White



Photo: Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19, Arizona Cardinals 16 (Dec. 25)

So here we are. Week 16, 7 wins 8 losses, siting on top of the NFC south! What a way to spend Christmas!!!

When I played, we had 16 games and by the end of the year I was very much “battle-tested.” I was torn between wanting to make the playoffs or just getting ready for the off season. It was cold.  Very cold when we played non-dome teams, and even cold in Tampa. Injuries kept piling on, and I’m not just talking about myself, I’m talking about the whole team.

Sunday evening’s game was as lackluster as it can get. I saw how the season catches up to you. The teams looked flat. That dynamic offense that looked like a Top 5 offense (easily) last year is far from the best this year. The Browns and the Jaguars are putting up more points, or for sure a better offense. Doesn’t make you feel good, does it? The Arizona Cardinals with a rookie QB versus Tom Brady the GOAT  … it did not turn out like we thought it would. Or, could be that we didn’t expect much from Brady going into the game. This isn’t the ideal situation to put yourself in as a team. You are not ascending, but at least you are finding some ways to win. Who cares if you are waiting to the last two minutes or overtime to do it? At least you’re getting it done. A win is a win.

As the defense, we are a prideful group. The Cardinals were 26 percent on 3rd down, and that’s enough to win the game. When I played defense we didn’t know what the percentage was going to be. All we knew was getting off on 3rd down every time is what we strove for. I know that 3 points is better than 7, and no points is a win. Me speaking on behalf of the defense: I don’t care what down and distance there is, we need to get off on 3rd down, and seeing us holding a team to less than 30 percent is a hell of a job.

Now, the flip side here is that the offense wants to make every 3rd down, or better, score on every play. So you can see there’s leeway there. Seventy percent or more seems to be a winning formula on offense. I have given L. Fournette crap for not producing much this year, but 20 carries, 72 yards and nine catches for 90 yards is a big game for him, which begs the question – where he was all year if he could produce like that?

We can blame coaching. Then I see missed tackles, bad angles and weak effort. Not making the right read, throwing interceptions, not knowing your route to run and, of course, dropping balls. Not hitting holes instead of dancing around. Holding, false starts, lining up wrong. The list goes on, and that’s why I know it’s not a coaching problem – it’s a players problem.

Predictable game plans don’t help. I know game management is a problem, and when to call plays is an art. It’s not as easy as it looks, and the other side is always adjusting as well. To me it’s a game of Chess, not Checkers. The good news is the Bucs are still in control this late in the season with a dismal football team. Despite a losing record, a lackluster offense and a beat-up defense, the Bucs are exactly where they need to be this late in the season: 1st in the NFC South and with a chance to clinch a playoff spot and win the division next week.

Crazy, right!?

Former defensive end Stylez White played for the Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears and Orlando Predators. He was on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense from 2007 to 2010.


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