The second half of the NFL season has arrived, and the Seattle Seahawks are guaranteed to still be in first place heading into their Week 11 bye, regardless of the outcome of the first ever regular season NFL game played in Germany. While in Munich the Hawks will be facing off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady.
When Seattle takes the field for the first game of the NFL quadrupleheader Sunday, it will be yet another stop on the Geno Smith revenge tour. Sort of. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles was the head coach of the New York Jets, most notably in 2015, which is when Smith was famously sucker punched by a teammate and suffered a broken jaw.
In any case, joining Field Gulls to preview the matchup is Gil Arcia of Bucs Nation, so without wasting any time here are the questions he was kind enough to answer in spite of Tropical Storm Nicole passing over Tampa this week.
1. So far the Bucs have underperformed the expectations of most pundits and analysts for 2022. Seahawks fans watched that happen in Arizona when Bruce Arians left, so how much of this season is a result of the departure of Arians versus everything else the Bucs have dealt with (injuries, the Brady drama, etc).
I think it’s not so much the departure of Arians, because he is still around the team, on the practice fields, in the press box, etc. He may not be hands-on nor coaching, but he left everything in place when he stepped aside. He’s just the biggest thing visibly missing from the overall picture.
The problem is his emphasis on accountability is no longer present. He held and forced players to hold each other accountable. There are a lot of mental errors and a lack of effort it seems at times that you just wouldn’t see on Arians’ watch.
2. The defense for the Bucs is top five in points allowed, just like it was last season, but the offense has cratered from second in the league in scoring to 25th. Is Brady washed? Is it injuries? Something else?
It’s been a weird offensive season thus far, to say the least. The main core of the offense is still in Tampa Bay like Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, etc. Many have tried to point to the offensive line injuries being the root of the problems so far but it’s much deeper than that. The team has struggled to move the ball offensively because routes and throws are just not really going beyond the sticks. A lot of design plays have been wide receiver screens because of the lack of a run game. But that shouldn’t be an excuse to not push the ball, and they haven’t even been trying to do so. However, there may be some kind of hope on the horizon as pass plays this past week against the Rams were a bit more down the field as opposed to the infuriating screens or throws out to the flat.
3. Seahawks fans know all the big names for the Bucs, but what is a name or two they may not currently be familiar with who could make a significant impact on the game that they should learn ahead of Sunday?
Rookie running back Rachaad White is seeing more and more playing time as of late, and moved the ball well against the Rams when Fournette wasn’t able to. In fact, White was even taking all the snaps out of the backfield during a crucial point of the game this past week. He has great running ability to cut back inside when needed and has become reliable on passing situations. He’s even surprisingly very good in blitz pickup. The staff has raved about him since camp, and you can see why.
4. In spite of all the struggles, the Bucs are in first place in a division that is not exactly filled with a bunch of competitive teams. What is the sentiment among fans about potentially winning the NFC South and being the best of a bunch of less than stellar football teams? Seahawks fans were ecstatic to make the playoffs at 7-9 in 2010, especially after back to back seasons of double digit losses, but the Bucs have enjoyed a run of success in recent years so it would be understandable if that were not the same.
I will say this, the Buccaneers have no business being in discussion for a division title nor the playoffs. Their play — primarily offensively — doesn’t warrant any discussion for a playoff-caliber team. But with that said, in the same breath they are lucky the NFC South is bad this season. Perhaps Tampa Bay has a chance to turn things around now as they get players back defensively and they saw this past Sunday what spreading the ball around can do. Their 4-5 record can turn into a 10-7 with a division title and get into the playoffs. Their remaining games are somewhat favorable for them if they build off of what they did against the Rams with their bye week still coming up. I just wouldn’t recommend any fan to hold their breath on success until they can prove to put a good run of good football together and that just hasn’t happened.
5. What’s your prediction for this game? Will it be a high-scoring affair, or another defensive struggle where fans should bet the under?
If I were a fan putting something in on this game, I’d take the Seahawks and the under. Tampa Bay’s offense hasn’t done enough for me to say yes they will get 20-plus points easily. I can see the game finishing somewhere around the score of 23-14 in favor of Seattle.
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