It’s no secret that in order to win a Super Bowl a team needs to remain relatively healthy. Depth is depleted with each injury and cap space is sometimes lost with the need to sign other players to the team. The Buccaneers, through the first three weeks, have suffered the loss of some players. Both temporary and permanent. The concern is, can they win with what they have now?
Key Long-Term Losses
Ryan Jensen was the first long-term loss. A key piece at center in the Buccaneers’ offensive line. There however remains some hope he could return in the playoffs much like Vita Vea did. The Buccaneers just need to make it there first. Additionally, depth on the offensive line has also taken a hit beyond Jensen. Josh Wells and Aaron Stinnie are both currently on injured reserve. Though not starters they offer quality depth in a pinch.
Short Term Losses
At wide receiver The Buccaneers moved to sign Julio Jones in case Chris Godwin was unable to start the season. That has not worked out so well thus far. Jones has a potential torn PCL. With Godwin coming back and suffering a hamstring injury they both were out in week three. It’s yet to be seen if they will both return in week four. In their absence and Mike Evans suspension the offense looks abysmal.
Add Donovan Smith to the list of short term losses with his elbow extension. He came out of the game against Dallas with an injury and was unable to go in weeks tow and three. Hopefully he may be able to make a return in week four against the Chiefs.
The outlook for the second home game against the Chiefs looks in jeopardy with some of the individuals listed above in danger of missing another game. Nevertheless at this time the Buccaneers are early in the season. The first four games looks to be one of their hardest stretches. If Tampa can survive the first four weeks with a 2-2 outcome (already 2-1) they won’t be in too bad of a position.
The next three opponents (after the Chiefs) are the Falcons, Stealers, and Panthers. All teams that are struggling. Additionally, the only teams that seem formidable later in the season are the Ravens, Rams, Saints, 49ers, and Bengals. Some of those teams, 49ers and Bengals, specifically are struggling as well.
The Buccaneers can fight through these injuries and find themselves in the playoffs. How deep they can go will be disputable but it’s not something they can’t overcome at this time. The wide receivers can still get healthy and Smith will be back. To reiterate, the Buccaneers are not in panic mode yet but another long term injury to the offensive line or receiving corps could make the ship list heavily.
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