The most important game of the season for the Buccaneers takes place Sunday afternoon in Atlanta against the NFC South-leading Falcons.
Sounds a little dramatic for the worst division in football, but hey, gotta keep things interesting, even if we are talking about the 5-7 Bucs playing the 6-6 Falcons.
Regardless, with a victory Sunday afternoon, the Bucs can make a huge statement in their quest to three-peat as divisional title winners, as well as put themselves in a great place to control their own destiny for the rest of the season.
A loss Sunday could deal one final blow to the Bucs’ chances to return to the playoffs for a likely first-round exit.
Maybe it’d help their draft positioning by doing this, but for most of us I think it’d be safe to say Bucs fans would rather get to watch this mess of a team try to compete with the Dallas Cowboys in a Wild Card game for a second consecutive year.
I believe the Bucs have it in them to take home a road victory, 21-17, and make a genuine run at the division title, but in the bigger picture here is how this impacts Tampa Bay’s decision making moving forward, more specifically, with head coach Todd Bowles.
Chris Godwin had zero receptions last week against the Panthers, and Bowles’ explanation for the wideout’s production (or lack thereof) was… less than satisfactory for CG14’s wife, Mariah Godwin, who took to Instagram to defender her husband.
“_mrstwelve,” as she’s known on Instagram, claimed that the Bucs were “blatantly lying,” in regards to Bowles’ statements saying that the veteran receiver was “a little nicked up” when asked about Godwin’s usage.
The snap counts have disputed Bowles’ claims that the Bucs were “subbing him out a lot” (he had 52 snaps Sunday, right in line with his average for the season), painting Bowles’ explanations as a pretty dim and dishonest picture.
Now, what does this all have to do with Bowles’ job security? Truthfully and in all likelihood, not much, although it is telling that Godwin’s wife took to Instagram Thursday morning to continue her defense of her husband, mentioning her dislike of “seeing Chris work so hard, even through injuries, & it be said that he was essentially only working part-time. that just wasn’t true so it was frustrating to see.”
And in her defense, she’s not wrong. Godwin has dealt with some injuries in the past (who in the NFL hasn’t), but he’s been incredibly durable, not missing a single game this season and playing at least 12 games every year throughout his career to this point.
Plus, Bowles was either woefully misinformed and speaking out of turn at a press conference (seems more likely), or simply just lying (not nearly as likely).
I try not to put much thought or meaning into what coaches say at press conferences, “sideline demeanor,” or those silly little locker room videos the teams post on social media, especially in the context of job security, but for a supposed “player’s coach” to be caught in the middle of something like this while his team is going through a second consecutive season of underperforming and failing to meet expectations… yeesh.
I don’t think the Buccaneers move on from Bowles after this season concludes (a move I disagree with), much less during it (a move I at least understand), but his seat will be absolutely scorching next season, especially if the Bucs fail to make the playoffs in one of the worst divisions I’ve seen in a long time.
The coaching market this offseason will be contentious, with a lot of really attractive landing spots (Tampa Bay unfortunately not really being one of them), so it’s conceivable that the Bucs are thinking about his replacement and not loving what they see this offseason. I get it. Don’t bring in a coach to be a lame duck for one season while you decide who you actually want to bring in for your team’s future.
So maybe from a logistical standpoint the Buccaneers wouldn’t be wrong to keep Bowles for another season. I just hope they know what they’re doing and have a plan revolving around building and retooling this roster with some young talent to surround a franchise quarterback, instead of just blindly trading up for a guy in the first round and setting him up for failure with a roster void of a lot of real talent.
Regardless, it’s a Bucs life. We’ll just have to see.