TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not concerned with math or the standings. Until they are officially out of the NFC playoff race, they are going to treat each game like a postseason contest. The Bucs have a chance to keep their playoff hopes alive this afternoon when they face the Indianapolis Colts at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs have won three of their last four games and posted consecutive victories for the first time in 2019 with a 28-11 win last week over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
One injury concern that hit the Bucs late week was the loss of kickoff/punt returner T.J. Logan, who was listed on Friday’s injury report with a hand injury. Logan is out of today’s game after accumulating nearly 400 yards this season returning kicks and punts.
Here are three things to watch today:
Can the offense keep clicking?
Quarterback Jameis Winston may have seen his streak of 300-yard passing games come to an end last week but he is performing at his highest level of the season. Winston is benefitting from the offense becoming more efficient and mixing run and pass on its own terms rather than forcing a passing game to attempt to come from behind.
The best sign of Winston running the show was the way he spread the ball around to different targets, not just wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Winston helped wide receiver Breshad Perriman achieve a career-high day with 87 receiving yards.
Jones wants out of the doghouse.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians called Ronald Jones his starting running back for weeks and intends to give Jones the first snaps on offense again today. Jones will not take his assignment for granted.
Last week against the Jaguars, Jones missed a block on a play that was a game plan change inserted during the week. The result was a hit on Winston was hit and fumbled the ball. Jones found a place on the bench as running back Peyton Barber enjoyed the workload, scoring two touchdowns.
Jones has performed the best for the Bucs this season, averaging 3.5 yards per carry in six games and has balanced games early with powerful double-digit gains on runs. No doubt, he learned a lesson in concentration and will get a shot at redemption against the Colts.
No stopping Devin White.
The Bucs defense is finally enjoying the fruits of first round draft pick Devin White. After battling back from a week two MCL sprain, White has worked back to the level of play that makes him one of the promising rookies in the NFL. Last week against the Jaguars. White intercepted a pass and picked up a fumble, returning it for a touchdown. For his recent efforts, White was named the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month, the third player in Bucs history to do so.
White’s speed and quick reaction will be key in stopping the Colts running game, ranked fourth in the NFL, at just under 1,700 yards on the ground. The Colts are benefitting from the electric play of running back Marlon Mack. The former USF star is ranked 10th in the league in rushing despite missing two games this season.