Early Breaks To Celebrate

May 17th, 2024


There’s a lot to like about the Buc schedule.

Those who like to play the disrespect card have to admit that slating four night games is a clear indication the league considers Tampa Bay a worthy prime-time franchise, two years after Tom Brady skipped town.

We already knew the Bucs would be playing the NFL’s final four teams from 2023 — the Chiefs, the 49ers, the Ravens and the Lions. No surprises there. You win the division, you pay a price. But a deeper dive into the schedule reveals a soft underbelly that can be taken advantage of if the Bucs play up to their capabilities.

Let’s start with the bye week. Instead of resting up in Week 5, when players are still relatively fresh, the bye falls on Week 11 this season. If you could choose the perfect bye week heading into a season, you might very well choose Week 11. That’s a favorable time to heal up and recharge for the stretch run.

So far, so good.

Let’s look at the season opener.

Washington is coming to town Sept. 8 for a late-afternoon matchup as the Dan Quinn era begins in the nation’s capital. The Commanders were 4-13 last season for a reason, ranking 25th in scoring and dead last in scoring defense.

Quinn will try to turn things around with Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels under center. The second overall pick in the draft appears to have a bright future in the pros. Barring injury, Daniels figures to start Week 1 and recent history suggests his first NFL game won’t be successful.

The Bucs are getting a break catching Daniels at such an early stage. How so? Glad you asked.

Here are the quarterbacks drafted in the opening round from 2021-23: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Mac Jones, Kenny Pickett, Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson.

Guess what they have in common? They each lost as a rookie in their NFL debut as a starter. That’s right, 0-9.

There’s no reason to believe Daniels will reverse that trend, especially with the filthy disguises Todd Bowles intends to throw at him.

The Bucs are favored because they are at home and they have a superior roster. Facing Daniels in Week 1 is far more preferable to seeing him in Week 15 (vs. Saints) or Week 17 (vs. Falcons).
The Bucs may also get an early look at Denver rookie Bo Nix while he’s still learning Sean Payton’s playbook in Week 3. Advantage, Tampa Bay.

Thursday night road games are always tricky and the Oct. 3 matchup at Atlanta looks like a difficult test. But at least the Bucs will be coming off a home game and the travel time to Atlanta is minimal. Tampa Bay also gets extra time to prepare for the Oct. 13 divisional road game against the Saints.

Cold weather shouldn’t be a problem. The Bucs head to Charlotte on Dec. 1, but the Panthers played two December home games last season … 47 degrees and 67 degrees at kickoff. No big deal.

On paper, closing the regular season with two division games at home should be a plus. That could backfire because Buc fans remember how the Saints came to Tampa last season in Week 17 and whipped the Bucs soundly.

While there are no guarantees, you’d like to finish off the year in your home stadium if possible.

The challenges for a fourth consecutive NFC South title remain formidable, but the Bucs could have done a lot worse when the 2024 schedule was released.

They control their own destiny, beginning with a rookie quarterback in the season opener.

Ira Kaufman Fires Off Sage Schedule Wisdom, Takes A Fresh Look At The Bucs’ Pass Rush & More

20 Responses to “Early Breaks To Celebrate”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    Ira … ‘They (the Bucs) control their own destiny, beginning with a rookie quarterback in the season opener.’

    Loved the optimism Sage. Judging from last season’s records, our season opener at home against the commanders is one that we SHOULD win. Still, I’m confident that Todd Bowles will pound it into each player’s head … ‘Take NOTHING for granted’.

  2. Mark Says:

    This is a “no excuses” schedule. No European commitments, only one West coast trip, manageable short weeks, an ideal bye placement.

    Dominate the teams they should beat – NOx2, CARx2, NY, DEN, LV, WAS – and hold their own against the legitimately good teams like SF, KC, BAL, and DET. Sweep ATL. Beat Dallas (frauds).

    The Bucs have to be improve significantly and rise to the challenge. If they don’t, it calls the coaching and the entire strategy into question.

  3. Dave Pear Says:

    If there’s a coach who can give a rookie QB a win in his first game as a pro, , it’s pretty clear the Bucs have that guy.

  4. JimBobBuc Says:

    Great insights Ira. (I hope you are recovering well !) The Bucs need to start fast over the first 6 games I have them going 5-1 with a loss in Detroit but with a road win at Atlanta. I felt the Bucs generally played well on the road, especially in the division, last year.

  5. Bucben61 Says:

    Hats off to Ira excellent take and couldn’t agree more.

  6. garro Says:

    Nailed it as usual Ira!

    Love the young QBs but we have a hard time with those as history tells us.

    Not sure what teams are doing to prep or game plan with the young guns but Todd needs to figure it out.

    Hope we learned from last year. We must not have the let downs. Saints, Falcons, and Titans beat us last year with lessor teams. Not sure that was coaching, players or a combination. It was ugly.

    Go Bucs!

  7. Bucben61 Says:

    Day Date Opponent Time Network
    Sun. Sept. 8 WASHINGTON 4:25 PM FOX…..win
    Sun. Sept. 15 at Detroit 1:00 PM FOX…..loss
    Sun. Sept. 22 DENVER 1:00 PM FOX…..win
    Sun. Sept. 29 PHILADELPHIA 1:00 PM FOX…..loss
    Thurs. Oct. 3 at Atlanta 8:15 PM Prime Video…..loss
    Sun. Oct. 13 at New Orleans 1:00 PM FOX…loss
    Mon. Oct. 21 BALTIMORE 8:15 PM ESPN…..win
    Sun. Oct. 27 ATLANTA 1:00 PM FOX…..win
    Mon. Nov. 4 at Kansas City 8:15 PM ESPN…..loss
    Sun. Nov. 10 SAN FRANCISCO 1:00 PM FOX…..loss
    — bye week —
    Sun. Nov. 24 at N.Y. Giants 1:00 PM CBS…..win
    Sun. Dec. 1 at Carolina 4:05 PM FOX…..win
    Sun. Dec. 8 LAS VEGAS 1:00 PM CBS…..win
    Sun. Dec. 15 at L.A. Chargers 4:25 PM FOX….win
    Sun. Dec. 22 at Dallas 8:20 PM NBC…..loss
    Sun. Dec. 29 CAROLINA 1:00 PM CBS…..win
    TBD Jan. 4/5 NEW ORLEANS TBD TBD…..win


  8. D Cone Says:

    Bucs are not the only team in the Division will a ton of soft games after week 10.
    Atlanta’s schedule is top heavy also. Fall behind a game or two and it’s going to be hard to catch them.

    With two games vs the the Panthers where one was decided by a field goal and the second where the team didn’t get in the end zone the Bucs better not fall asleep. Canales will surely be able to get more offense out of them to go along with their stout defense even if Burns is in New York.

  9. It's Corn Says:

    Just looking at the schedule now, I think they go 10-7, including a significant winning streak to end the season.

  10. Bucben61 Says:

    Could end up 12-5

    Toss up with Philly and niners are traveling east for 1pm kickoff !!!

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We need to win at least 4 division games…….split with Atl & NO…..sweep Carolina.

    I think our defense remains solid and out offense improves with help in the interior oline…..3wr & RB….

  12. Capt.Tim Says:

    “Football is a game of blocking and tackling.” Vince Lombardi.

    Our offensive line.
    Wirfs and Goedeke are both starting their 2nd seaon at Their tackle positions.
    I think they will play great.
    Right Guard Cody Mauch. We are all asuming he will be much improved. I hope so. He was really bad last year. I think he will be better. Fingers crossed.

    Center Graham Barton. I actually hope they play him at Left Guard. This guy is gonna be great. But hes a rookie. Rookies are always bad. He’ll still be better than Hainsey, but he will struggle.

    Left Guard- a mystery. Opeta couldnt start for the eagles, a backup. Ben Bredesen-let walk from the Giants-who had a horrible line. Willalways struggle due to VERY short arms. A backup. Elijah Cohen ? One Rookie is bad, 2 are a disaster.
    We need a Left Guard. We played a backup last year. Are we gonna play a back up again this year?

    Sooo, our interior line right now would be a 1st year guy, a rookie,and a backup.
    And still an improvement over last year.

    Yeah,Im concerned. We need to sign a good Vet guard.
    Fingers crossed

  13. heyjude Says:

    Excellent perspective! Fully agree.

  14. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Surely Bowles will fair better against Jayden Daniels than Lovie Smith did against Marcus Mariota.

  15. SlyPirate Says:

    Don’t just look at our schedule …

    This is an 11 win schedule. That post-bye schedule is a cake walk into the playoffs.
    NFCS Championship x4 is a lock.

    Brutal start! 6 of the first 8 are playoff teams. That’s brutal with a new HC, OC, DC, and QB. 2 Bucs wins and their playoff hopes are shot by midseason.

  16. Buc1987 Says:

    When Baker regresses….

  17. Fred McNeil Says:

    I count minimum 10 wins. Max 11.

  18. BillyBucco Says:

    Saying a max of 11 games is pure speculation based on LAST YEARS results.
    We can win 11 games against JUST non playoff teams from last year.
    So you are basically saying we will lose against ALL the teams that were better LAST YEAR.
    IF, we get over the Detroit hump, the sky is the limit.
    IF not, Philly becomes a must win almost, so we will KNOW a lot about what this team is made of by week 4.
    IF, they are truly GOOD, then they CAN beat anybody on ANY GIVEN SUNDAY.
    IF, they are truly GOOD, then we at least split the hard 6 games at 3-3.
    Combine that with a 9-2 record against non playoff teams and you are already at 12.
    Saying MAX is 11 is not realistic in MAY.

  19. Bobby Says:

    Ira Brady tore his mcl or some significant injury to him but played the entire 2021 season through that injury remember?? Don’t agree with your injury comments in your podcast.

  20. Mark Says:

    The Bucs have a history of making rookie QBs look like HoF nominees.