If Bucs Clinch NFC South Sunday, How Many Starters Will Sit Last Two Games?

December 23rd, 2021


Interesting chatter about the Bucs and how they will attack the final three games of the season.

Earlier this week, the one and only Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on the channel that bears his name, SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio, was thinking the Bucs may want to bust their tails and try to sweep the final three games to avoid potentially playing San Francisco in the playoffs because the 49ers are hot as a firecracker.

Russo thought the Bucs may prefer hosting Philadelphia in the first round. But then there are the injuries. Can the Bucs afford to have banged up players beaten on more and left worthless in the playoffs?

Russo hosted crossword-puzzle-puzzled, Elon-Musk-peeved, Barstool-Sports-triggered, almond-milk-sipping, hot-dog-eating-contest-protesting, mock-draft-scowlingL.L.-Bean-wearingtennis fans’ advocate, Second Amendment abolitionistMike-Florio-arguingparrot-insensitivechewing-with-his-mouth-opensoup-gulpingCalifornia-train-romancinganti-football proliferationouthouse-admiringairline-nappingsteerage-flyingYogi Berra-worshipingurinal-picture-takingvideo-game-playingTaylor-Swift-listeningpickpocket-thwartingBucs-uniform-frowningAllie-LaForce-smittenBig-Ten-Network-hatingpedestrian-bumpingolive oil-lappingpopcorn-munchingcoffee-slurpingfried-chicken-eatingoatmeal-lovingcircle-jerking, craft-beer-chugging, cricket-watchingscone-loathingcollege football-naïvebaseball-box-score-readingNPR-honkfilthy-hotel-stayingfight-instigatingbarista-trainingBudweiser-tolerantbaseball-scorecard-keeping, pasta-feasting, vomit-dodging scrooge, Kay-Adams-following, Coors-Light-souring, pineapple-upside-down-cake-eating social activist and NFL insider Peter King of NBC Sports fame for his weekly spot.

There, the two discussed the potential battle plans for the Bucs to finish the season.

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo: Will [the Bucs] push the envelope to make sure they avoid a harder matchup in the first round like the 49ers? There is a huge difference in my eyes between San Francisco and Philly. What’s your take on that? Let me hear it.

Peter King: Look, Tampa is one of the most interesting stories going down the stretch of this season. Because, look, they have now lost the guy who has turned into Brady’s favorite receiver, Chris Godwin. And the numbers say it. In the two games before he got hurt, Brady threw to Godwin 32 times. That is more than Rice-to-Montana. That right now, when I look at it, is a gigantic loss. They are totally beat up at running back and wide receiver. And even though now, obviously, they are getting Antonio Brown back — and that could be a half-hour discussion — but they are getting Antonio Brown back and that is crucial for them in terms of being able to compete. But Chris, I understand what you are saying and I understand that you may not want to play a San Francisco versus, say, a Philadelphia. But I believe what Bruce Arians, Jason Licht, and I think that what the Bucs will do is what is best for the Bucs. If they are totally beat up entering Week 18 and they have a spot clinched up, in my opinion, they will err on the side of entering the playoffs as healthy as possible than worrying if you are going to play a lousy seventh-seed or a better five-seed let’s say.

Russo: And they have the advantage of having three games they should be able to win easy. And then they can take it easy.

King: You would think, but again, Carolina is an odd team. And playing Carolina twice [in three weeks], that’s a good defense, a top-10 defense. You saw how troubled Tampa was against New Orleans. You look at it and say, ‘Well, they ought to be able to go 3-0.’ But I think it really depends a lot on the health of this team.

Joe thinks health is most important. If the Bucs can get healthy, they should be able to take San Francisco, for example. And Joe agrees with Russo. The 49ers are playing good ball.

If the Bucs don’t have Mike Evans or Lavonte David or Playoff Lenny or Antoine Winfield, among others, for the playoffs, Joe thinks the Bucs may be in a world of trouble.

The way the defense is currently playing, if the Bucs can get healthy on offense, they have a puncher’s chance of getting back to the Super Bowl. Joe is still adamant the Packers will find a way to choke. They always do in the playoffs.

And yeah, King is right. The Bucs will dearly miss Godwin.

24 Responses to “If Bucs Clinch NFC South Sunday, How Many Starters Will Sit Last Two Games?”

  1. Medicated Pete Says:

    Sit everyone & Evans 1000yd goofy record comes to an end (50yds a game lol).

  2. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Sitting players and essentially throwing that last game usually doesn’t work. It’s backfired on several teams that did it.

  3. geno711 Says:

    I agree with Medicated Pete to sit players including Evans.

    We need Evans as much or more than anyone else for the playoffs.
    Evans is the Bucs most prolific scorer ever. Need him as healthy as possible for the playoffs.

    Cannot replace his HOF skill set.

  4. DG060 Says:

    Who cares what they do honestly. The football God’s have made it perfectly clear this Buccaneer team is going NOWHERE. The injuries have literally wiped out the season. They will be lucky to win one of the last 3 games. Right now I wouldn’t bet that they could beat the Jets much less compete for a SB.
    Brady needs to retire after the season. And so does Ariens for that matter. If u folks wanna watch them flounder the rest of the way knock yourself out.
    Us for weather fans will be on the golf course Sunday.
    I seen enough of this train wreck.

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    Would love to say I’m optimistic that the Bucs can get healthy for the playoffs, but we’re so beaten up that’s virtually impossible. Yes, even if we’re willing to play nothing but backups and accept 3 straight losses. We simply don’t have enough players in the various position groups NOT to play most of our starters.

    Beyond that though, Tom Brady WILL play, and he needs to be protected & supported. Other than that, he’d get beaten up too.

    And I agree with King; Panthers are a Top-10 defense. And as a division rival, they’ll be out to beat the crap out of us, just like New Orleans did. Odds are instead of getting healthier, we’ll lose even more players. Chances of repeating are looking dimmer & dimmer now that we’ve lost Godwin & have so many other starters out until at least the start of the playoffs. Bummer.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Play healthy players….sit injured players….play every game to win….the seeding makes a difference….after the first round…..we need all the home games we can get….and if the top seed loses…then we take their place.

    We can win these games with AB, TJ, Rojo & Gronk……as long as our defense holds up.

  7. Thomas Edrington Says:

    Tom Brady will dearly miss Godwin, one of the two receivers he really trusts along with Gronk…..

  8. Ed Says:

    You play every week to win because going into the playoffs on a losing streak is, well, its losing and football is momentum. You want to go into your opening game confident. Since the Colts game the Bucs have looked anything but confident.

    When the playoff picture is cemented and the Bucs can’t improve in seeding, then its time to rest starters. You do have to get the backups more reps and make them play like starters because you really don’t know if you will be able to depend on Fournette or Evans to be ready to go in that first game. You could be looking at Perriman as your number 2 so as many reps as he can get with Brady and targets is important.

    This is where coaching becomes critical because you have different players and you have to adapt to their strengths and adjust what you do to what they do best.

  9. Bird Says:

    Dont forget AB used to be bradys favorite target.
    AB knows how to sit in those open pockets

    Why not run a little gronk in the slot where he is matched against db. Where he can block too. Have oj and brate play TE

    Get creative. This playcalling is soooo predictable but arians will not do a thing

  10. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I agree, San Francisco is very hot right now, and they play the type of defense we struggle against.

  11. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Panthers are no where near as physical as the Skanks on defense.

  12. Cobraboy Says:

    I cannot recall any time when “resting starters” was a winning strategery.

    The Bucs won’t be the first team to limp into the playoffs.

    The key to success last season was great health. It’s unfortunate the injury bug caught up with the team this season.

    Losing Godwin is a serious blow.

  13. Bobby M. Says:

    IMO….if they’re healthy, they’ll play up until the last week, by then we’ll know where we stand. Those guys have various performance bonuses that they desire. I think Brady wants to put his name in as many spots as possible in the Bucs record books. For now I think the focus is this Sunday in which anyone healthy will play.

  14. Craig Says:

    Stomp Carolina, then let backups, including Trask, play the Jets. That way they can be somewhere close to speed if they are needed in the playoffs.

    The last game, starters again stomp the Panthers. It would be a good way to end the era at home. We all know that next season is going to look different.

  15. Bucsfanman Says:

    We weren’t 100% healthy going into the playoffs last year either.
    Personally, I think it’s a mistake to rest players beyond parts of a game that are out of hand already.
    I still have confidence in this team and the players that are healthy or becoming healthy enough to win.

  16. ModHairKen Says:

    It does not have to be all or nothing. Lighten their loads.

  17. ModHairKen Says:

    Play Johnson, Darden, Vaughn, Tryon, etc.

  18. Onetrickpony Says:

    RIP Vincent Jackson

  19. Francisco Guzman Says:

    It would be stupid but it wouldn’t surprise me with this coaching staff. You wanna build some chemistry with this new look offense right now.

  20. Ed Says:

    I think its time to change punt returners, put Scotty Miller back there. Darden is too apprehensive. He is always slipping and sliding. Miller is just gonna catch it and run forward. Darden is always running towards the sidelines.

    In passing game, agree that the other tight ends need to be used. Every tight end on the team needs to be on the field. Forget what OJ Howard has done this season. He is a big body and a mismatch. He doesn’t run good routes but he is so damn big if him and Gronk are both out on a pattern, one of them can get the ball. Don’t lean on Gronk as much as they have. He only has the legs for 4 or 5 great plays a game. Brate is fine against zone but won’t win any one on one battles, he is too slow. Put Gronk and Howard in and overload the right side with them and let Wirfs and Cappa run block. See if the Panthers can stop the trucks.

  21. Jmarkbuc Says:


    Miller may be the only one worse than Darden.

  22. captivajim Says:

    if we win sunday; i would rest Brady , AB , Gronk , & ME plus Oline.. Let Garbert/Trask play with Miller, Darden, Vaghn

    we match up better against 49ers than aints or Rams

  23. unbelievable Says:

    Wait are we suddenly celebrating “the way the defense is play right now” because they held a glorified tight end and 2 backup OTs to just 9 points?

    Gimme a break.

  24. David Says:

    Health at this point is the most important thing. They’re going to get one home game and it is very unlikely they get another after that so they need to get after it and rest starters.