Road WarriorsApril 28th, 2014
In NFL circles, players, team representatives, coaches, suits, you name it, all talk about how much better it is to play at home.
Conventional NFL thought is that teams player better at home and, if you have a good home record, it will set up your team for a chance of a playoff berth.
Well, this season, it may be different.
“The Professor,” John Clayton of BSPN, believes the opposite may be true for Tampa Bay. Clayton believes the road schedule for the Bucs is cake and, therefore, the Bucs have a good shot of becoming what the Chiefs were last year: woeful to playoffs in one season.
Schedules are opportunities. Look back at the Kansas City Chiefs. Last year, they played a nondivision road schedule of teams that went 32-48 the previous season. I know that previous years’ records aren’t supposed to mean anything, but if you got to the extremes, you can make predictions. Based on the schedule, it was easy to forecast that the Chiefs could be an improved team. They were, going 11-5 and earning a wild-card berth.
Lovie Smith might find himself in a similar situation after taking the Bucs job. The teams on Tampa Bay’s nondivision road schedule went 30-50 in 2013. None [of those five] road games are against teams that had winning records last season (two of them, Pittsburgh and Chicago, finished .500).
Smith’s Bucs signed  unrestricted free agents. They revamped an overpaid, underachieving offensive line and added Michael Johnson as a pass-rusher. But the move to sign quarterback Josh McCown to be the starting quarterback tipped off the plan for the Bucs to try to get to .500 a year after going 4-12. At this stage of his career, McCown is considered more of a backup quarterback, but he’s a good backup. Elite quarterbacks can get a franchise to 12 or 13 wins. Good backups might get a team to eight wins.
The trick with what Clayton writes is the Bucs must also clean up their play at home.
It is interesting to read between Clayton’s lines. He doesn’t seem to be a Josh McCown kind of a guy and thinks only having a solid quarterback (aka “good backup”) may hinder the Bucs from having what could be a memorable season.
Time will only tell if McCown can lead the Bucs back to the playoffs or if he will only get the Bucs a meager eight wins.