Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Breaking down Bucs' 2017 schedule

TAMPA — The Bucs' 2017 schedule includes two high-profile games in prime time against last season's Super Bowl teams, with Tom Brady and the defending champion Patriots coming to Tampa on a Thursday in Week 5 and the Bucs hosting the Falcons in a huge Monday night showdown the week before Christmas.

The Bucs open their second season under coach Dirk Koetter on Sept. 10 at Miami. In all, Tampa Bay's schedule, announced Thursday, is unusually skewed, with home games bunched early and late in the year. Three of the first five games are at home, as are three of the last four, creating a tough stretch in the middle of the season with just two home games over 66 days.

The NFC South has sent its champion to the Super Bowl in each of the past two seasons, and if the Bucs are to challenge for the division title this year, they'll need a strong finish. They have three division games to finish the season: against Atlanta on Dec. 18, a Christmas Eve game at Carolina and a season finale at Raymond James Stadium on New Year's Eve against New Orleans.

The Bucs have no division games until Week 9, with all six in the final nine games.

The biggest challenges? Jameis Winston will face a pair of quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl wins in five days: The Giants and Eli Manning come to Tampa on Oct. 1, and the Patriots and Brady follow on Oct. 5, with a national audience on CBS. What immediately follows is a run of three road games in four weeks, going to Arizona and Buffalo, then home against the Panthers and back on the road to New Orleans for a lap around the country in 22 days.

The Bucs will face seven playoff teams from 2016, four of them in four straight weeks starting in late November: at the Falcons, at the Packers, versus Lions and versus Falcons.

The schedule has some favors for the Bucs. They get their bye week far later than in recent years, in Week 11, giving them an extra week to prepare for a crucial game at Atlanta. They have three extra days to prepare before their longest road trip of the year, to Arizona, where they lost 40-7 last season.

A week after they play at Atlanta, the Bucs will likely face chilly weather as they go to Green Bay to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Dec. 3. How cold might that be? Green Bay had a home game on Dec. 4 last season, and it was 32 degrees at kickoff. The Bucs are 1-10 in Green Bay when the temperature is 48 degrees or lower.

The other potential cold-weather game is at Buffalo, where the Bucs have played just once in their 41 years. But the weather should be a milder on Oct. 22.

Want a reunion? Former Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, who left as a free agent this offseason, gets a homecoming fast. His new team, the Bears, are Tampa Bay's first home game, in Week 2.

The schedule doesn't have the larger national platform many had thought the Bucs might have. They have just one Monday night game and no Sunday night games (some games later in the season can be flexed to prime time), and in all, 12 of their 16 games have 1 p.m. kickoffs, which draw smaller audiences that later-afternoon games.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Comments
Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

TAMPA — There's always a lot of attention on the rookie class this time of year, rightfully so. There's a reason the Bucs focused on defense, and DT Vita Vea, CBs M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis and S Justin Whitehead all look like they could have ...
Published: 06/16/18
Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Times wiresVISTA, Calif. – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was jailed without bail Friday after pleading not guilty to nine counts of kidnapping, rape and other charges.If convicted on all counts, Winslow, 34, could face...
Published: 06/15/18
Bucs still don’t know when Jameis Winston will throw another pass that matters

Bucs still don’t know when Jameis Winston will throw another pass that matters

TAMPA — The last pass thrown by Jameis Winston in a regular-season game was his best. The perfectly arced, 39-yard strike to Chris Godwin for a touchdown with nine seconds left gave the Bucs a 31-24 win over New Orleans at Raymond James Stadium...
Published: 06/15/18
Bucs busy on next Ray-Jay renovation with East Stadium Club

Bucs busy on next Ray-Jay renovation with East Stadium Club

The first Bucs home game of the 2018 season is still three months off, but the franchise is busy getting Raymond James Stadium ready with the fourth phase of its $160 million renovation, highlighted by a new East Stadium Club.Construction continues t...
Published: 06/15/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

The Bucs wrap up minicamp as Gerald McCoy sounds off on the team getting help for him, defensive line coach Brentson Buckner yelling at the veteran defensive tackle and advice for the young players who now have five weeks off before training camp.Plu...
Published: 06/15/18
Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

TAMPA — On the last day of minicamp, DT Gerald McCoy made it clear that the new additions to the defensive line are what the entire team needed, not just himself."It's not about me. It's about the team," McCoy said of the addition of five new l...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

TAMPA — This week's three-day minicamp was the final push in the Bucs' offseason, with about six weeks now until the team reconvenes in late July for training camp and the real preamble to the 2018 season.So what, if anything, can be gleaned fr...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

TAMPA — The Bucs wrapped up a three-day minicamp on Thursday.“I’m going on vacation,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said.The next time we see the Bucs will be in five weeks. Just around the corner. That’s when, official...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Times wiresSAN DIEGO – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was arrested Thursday on suspicion of multiple sex-crimes-related charges, including two counts of rape, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.The departmen...
Published: 06/14/18
Sealed and delivered: Bucs RB Ronald Jones signs rookie contract

Sealed and delivered: Bucs RB Ronald Jones signs rookie contract

The Bucs' 2018 draft class is now all in the fold, with running back Ronald Jones, second-rounder from USC, signing his rookie deal Thursday.Jones, who won't turn 21 until August after the Bucs go to training camp, was the last of Tampa Bay's eight d...
Published: 06/14/18