Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: A victory that helps align expectations of Bucs, fans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The conversation took place in the showers.

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and his teammates were cleaning up after Sunday's 19-17 hard-fought and — let's be honest — surprising victory over the Chiefs. Jameis turned to his buddies and said, "Man, this feels great."

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy looked at Winston and said, "But it's expected."

Winston thought about it for a second, then said: "He's right."

Okay, so maybe Winston and McCoy and the rest of the Bucs expected it, but no one else did. That's what makes the victory a statement win, a signature win — perhaps Tampa Bay's best since, well, can you remember one in recent memory?

Think about it. No way the Bucs were supposed to win this one.

In Kansas City? A hornet's nest of a place to play? Against a team that had won 17 of its past 19 regular-season games?

But not only did the Bucs win, they kicked the snot out of the Chiefs. Nothing fluky about it. Nothing that suggested they were lucky. This was a beatdown. The better team won. The only thing close was the score.

"It just means we can play with anybody," receiver Mike Evans said.

Almost as surprising as the Bucs pushing around the Chiefs is what the victory means. At 5-5, Tampa Bay is in the thick of the NFC South race, just a game behind the first-place Falcons. When the TV networks put up their playoff graphics, the Bucs will be listed among the wild-card hopefuls.

"If you want to make the playoffs, we knew we had to get this win," safety Chris Conte said. "We're trying to make the playoffs. We're trying to do everything we can. And we knew this game was integral to getting there."

Yeah, there's that word: playoffs. Don't laugh. They're a very real possibility.

The schedule, starting with the Seahawks on Sunday, won't be easy. The Cowboys are coming down the pike, too. But when the Bucs play as they did Sunday, you forget how bad they were against the Rams and Raiders, and realize how good they can be.

"We're jelling," safety Bradley McDougald said. "We're coming together one game at a time."

Everything was working Sunday.

Winston lit up a sturdy Chiefs defense for 331 yards passing in what might have been the best game of his career. Seven receivers caught passes. The third-down efficiency (11-of-16) was ridiculous.

Defensively, the Bucs smothered the Chiefs and came up with the key play of the game when Conte intercepted Alex Smith in the end zone and returned it 53 yards to midfield, setting up the Bucs' decisive scoring drive. Even Roberto Aguayo, with his four field goals and an extra point, was perfect.

You watch a game like this and you start to think the Bucs really have a shot to do something this season. Right, Dirk Koetter?

"That's up for you guys to say," Koetter said. "But (Sunday), we were a really good football team. We played well in all phases. … Shoot, I'm proud of these guys for the way they came in here."

You might say we've seen this movie before. Like last season. The Bucs were 6-6, the bottom dropped out, and they finished 6-10. But this team feels different. This team seems better.

"Definitely a big win," defensive end Robert Ayers said. "But we expect to win every time we go on the field."

There you have it. They expect to win. More performances like Sunday's and everyone else will start to expect it, too.

Comments
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions.The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 at...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Minkah FitzpatrickPosition: SafetyCollege: AlabamaHeight/Weight: 6-1, 201Draft projection: First roundWhy Fitzpatrick makes sense for the BucsOne of the Bucs' biggest needs is to improve their secondary. Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, arguably the best ...
Published: 04/17/18
Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

TAMPA — Jameis Winston is headed for a big pay day after this season, whether he gets a contract extension or not.The Bucs on Tuesday picked up the fifth-year option on Winston's rookie contract worth $20.9 million for 2019. The deal is not gua...
Published: 04/17/18
Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

As next week's NFL draft nears, Bucs fans might want to learn a little more about a potential target at No. 7: Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.The 6-foot-4, 347-pound monster moves very well for someone his size and could be an intriguing option...
Published: 04/17/18
DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

TAMPA — DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were finally on the same page.For the first day of the offseason workout program, anyway.Jackson, 31, is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 10-year career with 50 catches for only 668 yards and ...
Published: 04/16/18
Jameis Winston says he has still not been interviewed in NFL probe

Jameis Winston says he has still not been interviewed in NFL probe

TAMPA — Jameis Winston was excited to be back with his teammates at One Buc Place Monday beginning the first phase of  the off-season workout program."It means everything, because it's back to football," Winston said. "It's back to that te...
Published: 04/16/18
Bucs’ Ali Marpet ready for transition to left guard

Bucs’ Ali Marpet ready for transition to left guard

Ali Marpet is on the move again, but says not to worry about his transition to left guard — his fourth offensive line position in five years — for the 2018 season."Moving from right to left is less of a transition from guard to center," M...
Published: 04/16/18
Report: Bucs’ Demar Dotson to miss summer after knee surgery

Report: Bucs’ Demar Dotson to miss summer after knee surgery

Add offensive tackle to the positions where the Bucs have a question mark, less than two weeks before the NFL draft.Starting right tackle Demar Dotson, who missed the final five games of last season with a knee injury, had surgery this past week to r...
Published: 04/15/18