Just like they did in the 2015-2016 season, the Bucs will close the 2016-2017 season with a game against the Carolina Panthers. The season finale will be especially important if Tampa Bay is contending for a playoff spot.
Even if a playoff spot isn’t on the line, emphasis needs to be placed on the season’s final stretch and final game. After starting 6-6 last year, the Bucs fell apart in the final four games, finishing the year at 6-10. Had they won at least two of those games, would Lovie Smith have gotten another year in Tampa?
The Tampa Bay defense was bad in 2015. They were especially bad in the last four games, allowing 24, 31, 26 and 38 points. Week 15’s Thursday Night Football game in St. Louis was an embarrassment for the Bucs defense, as was the season finale in Carolina. If the team wants fans to buy into the idea that times in Tampa are changing, a stronger finish to the season is in order.
The Bucs need to rid themselves of the trends that have become prevalent in the last few years. In the season finale, as well as the four aforementioned games, Tampa Bay has an opportunity to change perceptions of fans, media and most importantly, the rest of the NFL.