We're beyond the halfway point of the NFL season, and things are starting to look back up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A rough four game losing streak threw an otherwise fantastic start to the season out of whack. Following a 3-1 start, the Bucs controlled the NFC South until they coughed it up while failing to win a game between the bye week and last Sunday.
It was a four game skid, one that saw the Bucs lose winnable games in the most frustrating ways. One glimmer of hope that things might not be as bad as they seemed was how Tampa Bay wasn't getting blown out, the team was just shooting itself in the foot.
Tampa Bay lost on game-winning drives to both Atlanta and Houston, and was inches away from a Hail Mary victory over Buffalo. Even the loss to Detroit looked worse in the end than it did during the game, as one or two plays going the other way change the outcome.
It was all frustrating to watch, but hardly gave the impression that the Bucs were as cooked as some were implying. Tristan Wirfs reiterated as much while making an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show this week when talking about the Bucs playoff chances.
Tristan Wirfs sends a message to the rest of the NFC South
Wirfs talked about how despite the Bucs recent struggles the team is still very much in the thick of the NFC South playoff race.
"The division is kind of up for grabs, so it's just being on top of the details, being on top of the little things, and locking in this third quarter of the season," Wirfs said.
That's not exactly a run-through-walls statement, but Wirfs doesn't give those. It's the fact that the playoffs are front of mind for the Bucs that stands out and that the team's leader is sending a message speaks volumes.
Despite a four-game losing streak and getting written off yet again, the Bucs haven't lost focus. This is not a team that is tanking or thinking about a high draft pick, it has its eyes on the division crown and another trip to the playoffs.
Wirfs also set the record straight about any sort of criticism that has been directed at Baker Mayfield this season. Things haven't been perfect on the field, but Wirfs wants it to be known that Baker's
"It's been awesome from the moment we first met. I think we've got a great relationship and being able to hang out outside of the facility as well," Wirfs said. "The passion that Bake brings every day to the facility, it's incredible."
He doesn't say much, but when Wirfs speaks it's always worth listening. Hopefully the rest of the teams in the NFC South are paying attention, because it's clear the Bucs aren't going anywhere without a fight.