As the sting of Monday night’s loss to the Eagles wears off, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are focusing in on how to avoid similar embarrassment in an even bigger game this Sunday.
Going up against Philly on national television is indeed a big moment, but the Bucs-Saints game in Week 4 is one that could have an even bigger impact moving forward. If Tampa Bay wins, it would send them into their bye week 3-1 and with control of the NFC South.
A loss would raise very legitimate questions about where this season is going for the Bucs.
Beyond the implications on the division, a win over the Saints just hits different. It’s a rivalry that has only intensified over recent years and this year’s first edition is already shaping up to be a tough matchup for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay already has two key players on the injury report, without whom the tall task of beating the Saints gets even harder.
Latest Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis injury update ahead of Week 4
Carlton Davis hasn’t played since the Week 1 win over Minnesota and Dean has been getting more and more banged up as the season continues. Dean left Monday’s loss multiple times which highlighted serious depth issues that Tampa Bay is trying to address in the lead up to Sunday.
William Jackson was brought in for a workout on Wednesday but it’s unclear whether he’ll be signed and available on Sunday. It’s also unclear if Davis or Dean will play, and head coach Todd Bowles isn’t ready to make a true declaration this early in the week.
“Jamel is iffy, we’ll have to see how he feels at the end of the week. Carlton says he’s feeling better, but until I see him run I’ll decline to comment on it,” Bowles said although he hinted as some positive progression. “Right now everyone is in play [for Sunday].”
That’s not exactly encouraging but it’s also not a sign that the Bucs are worried about being without their top two corners on Sunday. Just the thought of being without Davis and Dean against a hated rival like the Saints — who are a pretty good team — is a nightmare scenario.
Something that was painfully clear on Monday was how unstainable the depth is at cornerback for the Bucs. As soon has guys started dropping like flies the secondary stood no chance against Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown, and it’s the type of situation that Jameis Winston could pick apart with Chris Olave and Michael Thomas.