In 2017, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers conducted joint practices with the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to their pre-season match-up. The two teams will do so again this year, and there’s potential for the team to glean some very important information.
In the two-years before this one, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced the Jacksonville Jaguars in pre-season practices they were each young teams on the rise. Last year, the Bucs were the upstart team with playoff aspirations.
In fact, Peter King of Sports Illustrated (at the time) even predicted Tampa to win the NFC South and head into the post-season with the third-seed in the NFC and Coach of the Year Dirk Koetter.
The Jaguars on the other hand, were not predicted to do so well. In the same article King predicted greatness for the Bucs, none of the writers involved placed Jacksonville in the post-season.
By the time we made it to January 2018 the one team was at home and the other was challenging for the Super Bowl. And neither was predicted to be where they were.
So this year will be a bit different.
When Jacksonville and Tampa Bay meet again for joint practices one will be on a path of redemption trying to prove last year’s hype wasn’t displaced, and the new additions were just the right ones.
The other will be seeking a return trip to the AFC Championship game as they try to recapture their unexpected streak of success.
We all know it’s a copycat league. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers want what the Jacksonville Jaguars have: Championship aspirations.
Not the kind all teams have. Of course, every team shows up aiming for a Super Bowl. This is different, there’s a level of expectation which can motivate even veteran players to give just a little more. That’s what the Bucs want to cut and paste onto their own squad.
And herein lies what the Bucs can gain from these joint practices in 2018. Not schemes, not plays, but mentality.
I’m going to fall short of calling it a culture thing. But some may go ahead and label it as such.
There’s something a team like Jacksonville catches in a bottle when they take a laughing stock quarterback, pigeon-holed running back and depleted offense one step from the big game.
It’s more than just a defense. We can’t measure it. Call it, spirit, maybe.
A lot of people have given the credit to the arrival of Tom Coughlin, and he deserves all the accolades he’s received, maybe more.
But Coughlin doesn’t strap on cleats on Sunday, call plays, practice or workout with the team. What he’s done is installed an atmosphere.
One the entire team could buy in to. One he brought to New York when he was with the Giants which led to them defeating the previously unbeaten New England Patriots robbing Randy Moss of his first Super Bowl title.
It takes more than just hours in the sun to bring a roster of professional football players together, otherwise, every team would be a contender.
Talent alone won’t get the job done. Otherwise, no talent-laden roster would every underperform.
No. There’s something else which brings it all together. The Jaguars found it last year. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to get an up close and personal look when the two squads clash again this August.