A True Must-Win Sunday

September 11th, 2017

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays.


This is one they simply must have.

In the long wake of Hurricane Irma, the Buccaneers don’t have much to time to refocus. Players are scrambling to return to the Bay area and Dirk Koetter’s cherished practice time has taken a direct hit.

Still, this team is healthy and the Bears are lousy. Those are the factors that count as the Bucs prepare for a season opener like no other in the franchise’s 42-year history.

Tampa Bay needs to avoid its traditional slow start and build confidence throughout September. Even with last season’s riveting Week 1 win at Atlanta, the Bucs couldn’t avoid another 1-3 getaway.

In the past five years, the Bucs have opened 1-3 on four occasions. Just to break the monotony, they threw in an 0-4 start in 2013, Greg Schiano’s second and final season on the sidelines.

Hard to believe, but the Bucs have hit the quarter-pole with a cumulative 4-16 mark since Raheem Morris departed the premises.

But that’s not the only reason this Chicago matchup is so critical in setting a tone.

Rancid Home Cooking

NFL clubs rely on home sweet home to generate momentum. Go 6-2 at home and 4-4 on the road and you are in the thick of the playoff chase.

Not so in Tampa, where the Bucs are 13-27 in home games and 15-25 on the road since 2012. That’s nuts. That’s absurd. That’s embarrassing.

The only NFL club with fewer home wins during that span is Jacksonville, which is 11-29 at EverBank Field. I don’t know a single Buc fan who would ever want to be linked to the hapless Jaguars in any manner.

How bad have the Bucs been at home? Think about it — they have fewer home wins since 2012 than the Cleveland Browns.

No wonder Koetter has embraced the Stick Carriers, hoping their enthusiasm can build a real home-field advantage. He’s tired of seeing out-of-town jerseys at Raymond James Stadium, but the Bucs have to do their part by winning.

The length and extent of this home misery is stunning.

Tampa Bay has gone eight consecutive seasons without posting a winning record at home. The franchise record streak for home misery is 10 years (1985-1994), a span which encompasses four head coaches and an era of national disdain orchestrated by Johnny Carson.

Yes, home cooking has been rancid around these parts for far too long. And with the Giants and Patriots rolling into town in early October, this Chicago matchup is critical.

NFC South Anomaly

Irma has come and gone, so Buc supporters are in desperate need of something to feel good about. And while an opening-day loss would hardly be deemed a fatal blow, the potential consequences could be profound heading into Minnesota.

Establishing yourself as a home-field power has been a constant Koetter theme for the past 18 months. The time for talk is over.

In the past five years, the Panthers are 26-14 at home, followed by the Saints (23-17) and Falcons (22-18). Add it all up and that’s a 59 percent success rate for Tampa Bay’s division rivals.

Time to join the club, fellas. Don’t just poke the Bears … kick ’em.

8 Responses to “A True Must-Win Sunday”

  1. mike n Says:

    no way we can afford to lose this game to glennon and the weaponless bears.

  2. bucs_365 Says:

    It’s not a must win any more than any other game 1 is a must win. Jeezus Kreiste, overreact much? Should we win? Yes. If we don’t, it’s on to game 2 and then that becomes a must win. Every game is a must win. When every game is a must win, then none of them are. There’s worse things than starting 0-1 coming off a screwed up 2 week stretch. Certainly would be a disappointment if they lost, of course, but there’s 15 more games ferkreissake!

  3. darin Says:

    Bucs 365
    I hardly completely agree with people on here. Im with you tho. Of course we wana ein, must win no. N with pats and giants coming up? I watched all 3 of these teams play this weekend. Chicago is hardly great. They looked better than the giants n not far off pats. Granted its 1 week but thats what i saw. Each week is different. Bears had falcons beat until the receivers decided they didnt wana win. Falcons won nfc last time i checked. Anyway bears did ok but who knows they could turn the ball over 5 times this week. Thats why they play the games n we watch. Never know. But must win its not. They could lose their first 5 n reel off 11. We just wont know until we know. I know who ill be rooting for tho. N fans show up and turn the place into a home field advantage for crying out loud!! Go Bucs

  4. darin Says:

    I just read that the bears lost kevin white to ir. Down their 2 best receivers. Bunch of castoffs left. Not a must win but a should win. Stop the run, dont turn the ball over n itll be hard to lose. Thats if they get to game plan this week ;)Go Bucs

  5. Reach87 Says:

    Fully believe the Bucs are better than the Bears but they actually look good. Can’t sleep on them. Key will be situational football and seizing and maintaining the momentum. Offense, Defense, special teams and play-calling.

  6. SB Says:

    I love the last line Ira. I live in Bear country up here in Montana and they are actually a daily worry. Buddy of mine and I were watching a Black bear with his head in a garbage can eating and I dared him to scare the bear. He said “Sh!t for $100 I will go kick that thing in his ass”. I quickly obliged with the Cnote and he did Exactly what he said he would. Kicked the bear in his arse, the bear Freaked out with his head in the garbage can, ran Straight into the house brick wall and knocked himself out inside the Garbage can. True story.

  7. Rob in Land O Lakes Says:

    Chicago’s defense and running game looked pretty good. We absolutely cannot sleepwalk through the first half. Put your boot on their throat early and make Mike Glennon try to beat you.

  8. firethecannons Says:

    As many weapons on offense we have — it is the defense that will bring this win home. Our linebackers all healthy, Gerald McCoy, Gholston, Ayers and N. Spence all healthy, Brent Grimes and even Hargreaves, all healthy, Conte and Tandy and TJ Ward–they all cant wait to knock down big bird. Honestly–we will win, I want to see the offense operate smoothly–hoping Winston can keep from throwing any interceptions.