Of course it did. Have you seen this schedule? After a home game against the New York Giants on Sept. 22, the Bucs won’t play another game at Raymond James Stadium until Nov. 10, when they host the Arizona Cardinals. That’s a span of six weeks between home games.
Tampa Bay goes to Los Angeles and then New Orleans, which is a brutal two-game stretch to begin with.
But it gets worse??? After that trip to face the Saints, the Bucs head to London for a “home” game with the Panthers. After a bye, the team then heads to Tennessee before wrapping up the ludicrous stretch in Seattle. For those counting at home, that’s two West Coast trips and a visit to London within a six-week period. Even the NFL’s schedule-maker said he would like a do-over when it comes to what was put in place for the Bucs.
The latest to weigh in on this scheduling disaster are some of the men who will actually be facing the stretch this fall. After the first day of voluntary mini camp on Tuesday, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, in typical Jameis Winston fashion, downplayed the fact that the team will be away from its home stadium for six consecutive weeks:
“We are going to play ball. Like I said, we get a great opportunity to go out there and showcase our ability. We don’t care. It doesn’t matter if we are in the Walmart parking lot. We’ve got to play, that is our job.”
New head coach Bruce Arians, on the other hand, had a little bit more of a reaction to the schedule:
“Play ‘em when they’re scheduled. Am I happy about it? Hell no. I think it’s ridiculous. I voiced my opinion to the people in New York, and any time they come out with a redo... It is what it is. We gotta play ‘em, you know, and thank God we have a good sports science program to help me on travel and practice times and gauging how tired is our football team coming back before we go to Seattle. Those things are going to be very, very important in that stretch.”
Just last year, Tampa Bay opened the season with an extremely tough stretch, opening with a game in New Orleans before coming home for games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Bucs played all of those games without Winston and got out to a 2-1 start. Of course, that was just a tough three weeks in terms of opponents. There were two home games in that stretch.
This year’s schedule is a whole new level of getting the short end of the stick. But there’s nothing to be done at this point. As Coach Arians said, the Bucs will just have to “play ‘em when they’re scheduled.”