TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Buccaneers may still be leading the division but in the locker room, that silver lining isn’t over-shadowing the fact that this team is (6-7) and coming off a 28-point loss.
Winning the NFC South is still of course the goal, but in order for them to see that across the finish line, they know they have to start playing better – starting on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“You can’t ride the roller coaster forever,” said Bucs’ safety Logan Ryan. “We’ve got to start going back up. The team we want to be is the team to beat Cincy and then we’ll take it from there. I think when you start looking at things from years past or looking at the length of the season or what’s in front of us or the division and all that stuff, you get away from what’s important now, and that’s beating Cincinnati.”
“Circumstance dictates that yes, we’re leading the division,” said Bucs’ center Robert Hainsey. “But at the end of the day, we have to play better football. If you watch the game, like I was saying, it’s not good enough. And if it’s not good enough, it’s not going to just get better because you think it should or because you’re first in your division. That’s not a carrot that’s hanging in front of us that we’re just hoping for. We need to step back to basics and improve every day.”
“A coach once told me that ‘if you can’t play good against the teams in your division you’re no good to us.'” said Bucs’ defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. “This was in my rookie year and it stuck with me to this point because it’s so true. All those games count for two. So it’s important to keep a lead in your division and you can’t discredit that, but we also know what kind of football we’re capable of playing.”
After the Bengals and the Cardinals games these next two weeks, the Bucs wrap-up the regular season with two final divisional games – hosting the Panthers and on the road against the Falcons.