There’s a lot on the line this Sunday for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it goes well beyond a playoff spot. After crashing out of a four-game winning streak last week, it seems as though jobs are on the line as the Bucs head to Carolina for a pivotal Week 18 showdown.
It’s a perfect embodiment of how this season has gone. Tampa Bay feels equal distance away from winning a third-straight NFC South title and hosting a playoff game as it does firing its head coach. Fans have long speculated about Todd Bowles’ job status, with the 1-6 slump in the middle of the season putting him squarely on the hot seat while the recent turnaround seems to have cooled the heat a bit.
Everything could come down to Sunday — the division and whether or not Bowles earns the right to come back next season.
For their part, the Glazers have remained mum on the matter as has general manager Jason Licht. That’s not terribly surprising, as the Bucs tend to hold their cards close to the chest but that did’t stop ESPN’s Ada Schefter from snooping around to try and get a better sense of where things stand heading into the final game of the regular season.
Adam Schefter gives update on Todd Bowles job status ahead of Week 18
On Saturday Schefter gave an update on some of the biggest coaching situations around the league and what might happen next. For what it’s worth, all three other NFC South teams were mentioned as were the Dallas Cowboys, but let’s not pretend like we care about any of those over the one in Tampa Bay.
There’s a notion that Bowles is coaching for his job on Sunday but there’s also a belief that he might need to win more than just the division to avoid being fired. Schefter seems to throw water on the latter, stating that a win over the Panthers and a third-straight division title would ‘likely’ be enough.
“A win Sunday over the last-place Panthers likely would take care of that, but a loss would open it up to speculation considering the Buccaneers would have closed out their season with two straight losses -- one at home in a flat performance against the Saints, the next on the road in what is expected to be a quiet, empty stadium in Carolina,” Schefter reported.
Buccaneers insider Rick Stroud also suggested that win over Carolina might be enough for Bowles to save his job.
Given how much the locker room remained bought-in on Bowles leadership despite the slump is something that could make the difference. While most teams quit in that situation, Bowles turned thing around to win four straight games and never seemed to lose the locker room.
That’s important, but it’s not everything.
Wile Schefter and Stroud both believe a win in Carolina would be enough, historically the Glazers like to see progress from year-to-year. That would put extra pressure on a win in the Wild Card round, which means we’re likely going to be having this conversation again next weekend assuming the Bucs season doesn’t end on Sunday.
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