Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Vincent Jackson helps boost Bucs to relevance

At 32, WR Vincent Jackson is entering the December of his career, but his goal was for the Bucs to play meaningful games in the final month of the season and, he hopes, earn a playoff spot. Turns out his wish could be granted.

At 6-6, the Bucs are one game behind Seattle (7-5) for the final NFC wild card and could draw within a half-game of Minnesota (8-5) by the time they leave St. Louis on Thursday.

"We've been working pretty hard throughout the year just to give ourselves an opportunity to get here, but it's definitely something now that we're aware of," Jackson said. "It's not something that we think is voodoo to talk about. It's right there, it's in front of us. It's our opportunity, we need to seize it. We continue to talk about seizing the opportunity."

The Bucs are expecting a near-sellout at Raymond James Stadium today. Not many will be rooting for the Saints, who are in last place in the NFC South and have the league's worst defense.

Before the season, coach Lovie Smith talked about being relevant again and putting a good product on the field. Check both boxes. The Bucs haven't made the playoffs since 2007, Jon Gruden's next-to-last season, and haven't had a winning season since 2010.

Now both seem possible if the Bucs can continue on a roll the final month of the season.

"We feel like our fans have been super throughout," Smith said. "I think if there's a bad product on the field, who wants to come and watch a bad product on the football field?

"We haven't played as well as we needed to early on. Now we are playing better. We know in order for us to really make a push we need our fans with us. Raymond James Stadium, we need to have a homefield advantage. At the end of the game this past week, when we really needed it the most, we heard them. To answer your question, we're excited that there's excitement about our football team and we are going to have a big crowd this week. I believe we will.

"If we just continue to take care of business each week, then later on we can talk about some of those things. It has to be tunnel vision for us."

FIRST AND JAMEIS: One of the benchmarks of good quarterback play is what you do in the red zone. Earlier in the season, the Bucs weren't cashing in. But rookie Jameis Winston has turned that around. He has 12 touchdown passes, no interceptions and five rushing TDs inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

"I just think the red zone is a reflection of Jameis overall," offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. "I think you could just take Jameis in the red zone, Jameis on third down, Jameis on decision-making. We've talked about that every week. He's had a very steady progression of his improvement throughout the year."

Bucs Vincent Jackson (83) walks off the field after scoring in the 4th qtr during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium Sunday afternoon in Tampa (10/04/15). JIM DAMASKE   |   Times 


Bucs Vincent Jackson (83) walks off the field after scoring in the 4th qtr during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium Sunday afternoon in Tampa (10/04/15). JIM DAMASKE | Times

Vincent Jackson helps boost Bucs to relevance 12/12/15 [Last modified: Saturday, December 12, 2015 9:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Nature Coast puts unbeaten streak on the line vs. IMG White

    Footballpreps

    BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast currently rides a 22-game regular-season win streak, but first-year football coach Cory Johns was not around for any of those wins. Neither was most of his coaching staff. This is an entirely new campaign with new obstacles ahead.

    Nature Coast offensive lineman Louis Miele (66) blocks a Sunlake defensive player during the Clash 4 Clayton football scrimmage and fundraiser at Springstead High School Spring Hill, Fla. on Saturday, August 12, 2017.
  2. Crosstown rivals Bloomingdale-Newsome kick off season

    Footballpreps

    LITHIA — In a week filled with area football rivalries, there is a game on the east side of Hillsborough County — Bloomingdale vs. Newsome — that has matured into a classic crosstown battle, complete with classic cliches.

    Bloomingdale wide receiver Ed Amos charges through a drill a few days before the big rivalry game against Newsome on Friday night.
  3. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined

    Bucs

    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Playoff ambitions evident in opener for Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch

    Footballpreps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A new football season in Pasco County begins Friday night, but this one promises to be like none before it — with more math than ever. A new playoff system emphasizes schedule strength, making non-district tilts particularly important.

    Wiregrass Ranch wide receiver Jordan Miner catches a pass in spring practice at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel on Monday, May 1, 2017.
  5. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues

    Bucs

    During a 20-minute team meeting Tuesday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter decided to turn the discussion to social issues and whether players are expected to stand for the national anthem.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]