More Opportunity = More Pressure

February 22nd, 2020

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Playoff beauty rests in the eye of the beholder.

If, as expected, NFL owners insist on an expanded postseason field in 2020, Bruce Arians likes his odds.

Why not? Instead of six NFC teams out of 16 qualifying for the playoffs (37.5 percent), that number would jump to 44 percent if a seventh team is added in each conference.

That’s the good news for Arians and a franchise that hasn’t played a meaningful January game since the end of the 2007 season. The flip side is that more will be expected by Buc owners and Buc Nation, should the playoff field grow.

When almost half the clubs in each conference qualify for the postseason, excuses are harder to come by. Instead of 9 or 10 wins being the usual requirement, teams who flirt with the .500 mark are suddenly looking golden.

For instance, if an expanded playoff field had been introduced in 2019, the 9-7 Rams and the 8-8 Steelers would have earned wild-card berths.

In 2018, the 8-7-1 Steelers and 9-6-1 Vikings would have been in as No. 7 playoff seeds.

Bruce Arians will feel more heat under a new NFL labor agreement, writes Ira Kaufman.

So what does that mean for the Bucs, mired in the NFC’s longest playoff drought at 12 years?

Last December, Tampa Bay was eliminated in Week 14, despite improving to 6-7 with a 38-35 victory against the Colts. A Minnesota win that weekend placed the Vikings out of Tampa Bay’s reach for that final NFC wild-card slot, so the last three games featured no playoff juice for Buc fans.

But had there been a seventh NFC playoff berth, the Bucs would have been two games behind the 8-5 Rams with three weeks remaining. Difficult, but not impossible.

The following week, while the Bucs were trouncing the Lions to reach 7-7 with a 4-game winning streak, the Rams were humbled by the Cowboys, dropping to 8-6. That dynamic scenario could have added 10,000 butts in the seats at Raymond James Stadium to greet the Texans.

When Arians went on “The Rich Eisen Show” last summer, he talked about the importance of January football.

“Playoffs, you’ve got to get into the tournament to win the Super Bowl,” he said. “Nothing else will be acceptable. If you go into the season trying to get better, that’s not me. We’re here to win and win now.”

We can assume the same goals apply this fall, probably even more so because Arians has had more than a year to evaluate his roster.

If the playoff field expands and the Bucs are again eliminated from the postseason in Week 14, Arians is likely to drive off from One Buc Place in his golf cart. His departure would be a mutual decision with ownership and not many Buc fans would feel compelled to block his path to the parking lot.

Homegrown Heat

More playoff berths creates more opportunity — and more pressure. Given the struggles of the Falcons and Panthers, another losing season in Tampa would undoubtedly spark major changes.

You can start with the head coach and general manager and work your way down.

“We’re in a tough division,” Arians said, “but you’ve got to get into the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl.”

That February 2021 game just happens to be right here in Tampa. But before the Bucs can even think about representing the NFC in the league’s showcase event, they’ve got to represent, period.

A seventh playoff qualifier in each conference would surely raise the interest around Tampa Bay. It would also raise the stakes for a 2-time Coach of the Year trying to find his way back home in January.

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14 Responses to “More Opportunity = More Pressure”

  1. El Buco Realisto Says:

    “Nothing else will be acceptable. If you go into the season trying to get better, that’s not me. We’re here to win and win now.”

    So how long the “win now” ole stale biscuit, to start winning????????????? I know the sheep have forgot most of the mountain of BS that ole stale biscuit laid out last year, with an apparent NO ACCOUNTABILITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And speaking of ole stale biscuit and interviews, the ole stale biscuit has been extremely quiet this offseason!!!!!!!!!!!! Word on the street is that he has lost confidence, in the roster and his appearant quick fixes!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bruce Arrogance loves the camera more than She-mc93!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bad omens for the sheep indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hope that the lowered bar of playoffs does not delay the search for the new GM, when the Bucs are 4-8 but still “mathematically still in the race”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    go bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Tye Says:

    multiple turnovers a game will not get a team there and SURELY won’t get you to the NFC Championship so the road to the Bucs winning season begins with:
    who they start at QB 2020!

    Will they even give themselves a fighting chance or remain ‘Status Quo’ and continue to be led to Lose.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Kickers, QBs, Defense losing games…….’

    It at least appears that our coaching and player selection has improved……For the first time in years, I’m not expecting a wholesale change in the roster…….our FA & Draft Class for 2019 was good… more year of that and we should be in the playoffs.

  4. Sport Says:

    Agreed Ira! I’d rank the people with the most pressure as follows:

    JW. (If he’s still on the roster)
    Jason Licht and his entire staff (they won’t survive another coaching change)
    Matt Gay
    Special Teams Coach

    Everyone else is way down the list.

    In BA I Trust!

  5. Pick6King Says:

    It would take 20 to 26 playoff spots for Jamoist to even have a chance at making the playoffs. He’s a total bust. Move on already.

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Obviously Ira you’re assuming that the new CBA gets approved quickly (I’m not as optimistic that’ll be the case). With a new 17-game schedule, it’ll probably take at least a 10-7 and more likely a 11-6 record to make the playoffs. Assuming that we re-sign our defensive 4 FAs, sign a decent QB (Jameis or whoever), have another good draft and pick up a couple of quality FAs before that, the Bucs SHOULD have a decent chance of making the playoffs this year.

    I’ve long believed that once a team gets into the playoffs, anything can happen. It’s essentially a new season at that point. However, MOMENTUM is important IMO. A team that goes into the playoffs with 2 closing losses that included 8 TOs probably won’t go very far. TURNOVERS ARE KILLERS, especially in the playoffs when you’re playing the best teams in the league. PENALTIES ARE ALSO KILLERS. Unfortunately, the 2019 Bucs led the league in BOTH areas, and BOTH come down to poor discipline IMO. Those two areas need to be improved dramatically in 2020 IF we expect to do much this year.

  7. NPRSageBoy. Says:

    Six or seven teams making the playoffs doesn’t really matter if you can’t win at home and turn the ball over like a chicken in a rotisserie

    Gotta clean it up significantly this year or tear it down and start over

    Pretty straightforward actually; win and you’re in, lose and go home

    Peace, out

  8. Gman’sBucs Says:

    I kinda feel this is a millennial thing. EVERYONE GETS A TROPHY!!

  9. Honest question Says:

    I wonder if Ira writes for the Kansas City Star as well?

  10. BigMacAttack Says:

    The goal is attainable if they come to the realization that The Bucs CANNOT AFFORD Jameis and his outrageous demands. They can do it with a good smart QB and not a Great QB. But they must have a solid Top 10 defense, a good solid offensive line, 2 good running backs and receivers who can get open (and catch lol). They have almost everything needed except a QB, RB and a RT. A great safety will help. The Ravens won the Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer a marginal QB. This tells you all you need to know. You can’t pay Jameis big money or you’re throwing away your chances to win.

  11. Mike Johnson Says:

    Thanks Big Macc attack. We did not win our 1st SB with a great QB. Bucs went wrong when they tried to..copy everybody else by going strictly offensive. Look where thats gotten us. We won our SB with a Great defense and an average offense. A QB just needs to be steady and smart with the ball. Not one of you here can say when Jameis goes back to throw, you almost don;t have a panic attack. Because we all know, when the game is on the line….Here it comes.

  12. BigMacAttack Says:

    The point is that there are lots of options and the team is close to being built.

  13. NOLES Says:

    I think Bruce has done a nice job w this crappy team. If JW was decent in the TO margin and we could kick, they would have been a playoff team. Not bad for his first year. Lets see what happens in year 2 but I have been pleased w him thus far.

  14. Hodad Says:

    I don’t care if they go to 17 games, but don’t change the playoff system. I even like the division winner getting home field over a wild card team. These players are at their physical limits already. Playing more games will degrade the product.