Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Three straight road games: Bucs face rare challenge

Much of the initial concern from the postponement of the Bucs' season opener due to Hurricane Irma is that it forces the Bucs and Dolphins to play 16 games in a row because their Week 11 bye was shifted to this week in the move.

But for the Bucs, moving the game in Miami sets up a rare and difficult challenge: three straight road games starting in mid-November, and all against 2016 playoff teams: at Miami, at Atlanta and at Green Bay. Both the Bucs history and recent NFL play show that the odds of coming out of a three-game, three-week road trip with more than one win from those games are at best 20 percent.

There's an unusually high number of NFL teams with three straight games away from home in 2017 — 10 now including the Bucs, as many as in the previous three seasons combined. But over those past three seasons, the 10 NFL teams facing three straight road games came out of that stretch with more than one win just once. Eight of the teams went 1-2 in those games, and a ninth (the 2015 Jaguars) went 0-3. The only real winner under such circumstances was the 2014 Bengals, who went 3-0, including a win against a 2-14 Bucs team.

Even good teams struggle with the challenge of three straight road games — last year's Packers, who made the NFC Championship Game, went 1-2, losing at the Titans and Redskins to fall to 4-6 before winning their last six games to make the playoffs. The 2014 Broncos, who went 12-4, took half their losses durinng a three-game road trip with losses at the Patriots and Raiders. The combined record of those 10 NFL teams making three-game road trips from 2014-16 was 11-19 in those games.

It's even rarer in Bucs history — Tampa Bay has played three straight road games just 10 times in its 41-year history, and just twice in the last 20 seasons. The 2005 Bucs went 2-1 in such a stretch, winning at New Orleans and Carolina before taking a 28-0 shutout at the Patriots on the way to the playoffs. In 2014, the Bucs opened a three-game road trip with a 56-14 loss to the Falcons (and Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith) before bouncing back with a win at Pittsburgh on the way to a 2-14 record.

Only twice in Bucs history has the team posted a winning record in a three-game, three-week road trip — that 2005 team, as well as 1979, when a Bucs team headed to the playoffs had three straight road games all decided by a field goal or less. They won 12-10 at the Vikings, lost 17-14 at the Falcons and won 16-14 at the Lions, needing every win to edge the Bears in tiebreaker to win a division title. Overall, the 10 Bucs teams to play a three-game, three-week road trip have gone a combined 9-21 in those games.

The Bucs aren't alone with this obstacle ahead of them — the Dolphins, having seen their home opener postponed, will now open the season playing in Los Angeles, New York and London, England, on three consecutive weekends, and while the London game is technically a home game, it presents all the logistical challenges of a road game, with added jetlag to boot.

Other teams the Bucs will battle for playoff spots have similar stretches — the Falcons go to the Patriots, Jets and Panthers in Weeks 7-9, the Vikings go to the Lions, Falcons and Panthers in Weeks 12-14 and the Eagles go to the Seahawks, Rams and Giants in Weeks 13-15.

I couldn't find full data for teams with three straight road games, but a 2011 ESPN story tracked 110 teams that had such stretches from 1990-2010 — nine of them went 3-0, 30 of them went 2-1, but 53 of them went 1-2 and 18 went 0-3.

Comments
Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

The NFL will suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston three games without pay to start the regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expect...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

TAMPA — The news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start this season likely means the Bucs will have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in at quarterback for the first three games of the regular season.Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Trade him. Waive him. Cut him.Whatever.Just get rid of him.Jameis Winston should never play another game for the Tampa Bay Bucs.Plain and simple, he's a bad guy and the Bucs should have nothing more to do with him.He already will miss the first three...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Three-game suspension looms for Bucs QB Jameis Winston

Three-game suspension looms for Bucs QB Jameis Winston

TAMPA — The Bucs will open the upcoming season without the face of their franchise, as quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended three games by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.Winston, 24, was accused of groping a ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Rick Stroud isn't buying an ESPN radio report that any suspension levied against Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston by the NFL would stem from Winston's failure to report an alleged incident between him and a female Ub...
Published: 06/21/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Rick Stroud talks about when we will know about a possible Jameis Winston suspension and why DeSean Jackson hasn't been more productive with the Bucs on today's podcast.Plus, who might the Rays trade next? Will the Lightning make any b...
Published: 06/21/18
Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Published: 06/20/18
Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Just to preface this, the NFL Network's annual countdown of the league's top 100 players is a made-for-TV deal, good for summer offseason conversation but not carrying any huge amount of real significance.Having said that, it's worth noting that for ...
Published: 06/19/18
Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Will Gholston is painfully honest about a 2017 season that wasn't anything close to what he wanted it to be. Ask him about last year, and there are no parentheses in his world to soften what he remembers here."I just played (crappy), completely. That...
Published: 06/18/18
Ex-Bucs WR Lawrence Dawsey worked with team during OTAs

Ex-Bucs WR Lawrence Dawsey worked with team during OTAs

The Bucs had four extra coaches during organized team activities last month as part of the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, including former Tampa Bay receiver Lawrence Dawsey.Dawsey, 50, played for the Bucs from 1991-95, finishing his time ...
Published: 06/18/18