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Three Burning Questions: Week 16 Edition

The Bucs now find themselves at 6-8. What questions need to be answered for this team?

Cincinnati Bengals v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Buccaneers are now 6-8 after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in very disappointing fashion as it was the tale of two halves for Tampa Bay.

They travel to Arizona for a Christmas night showdown with the Cardinals but there are still plenty of questions with this team.

What is with Brady’s Turnovers?

Through the first 11 games of the season while Tom Brady was not as explosive as he was in previous years, he was really protecting the football well. Only throwing two interceptions and having the NFL’s best TD-INT ratio, but lately things have changed and not in a positive way. After protecting the ball so well, Brady has thrown four interceptions and two fumbles in his last three games.

It all came to a head on Sunday when he had four turnovers and each one was pretty much on him. It doesn’t really seem like he is pressing or trying to force things, but he just has not executed as good as he has in the past. The Bucs offense has already struggled so much this season and Brady’s recent turnover bug certainly won’t help. Hopefully he can get it fixed before it’s too late.

Why was the play calling so different in the second half?

I do not believe the coaching staff was fully at fault for the performance on Sunday. After all a lot of the mistakes were purely on execution, but one thing that was noticeable was the difference in offensive play calling between the first and second half was glaring. In the first half, there was a lot of pre snap motion, play action and being more efficient on first and second down. Once the third quarter hit though, those elements of the offense disappeared.

I really don’t have an exact answer as to why there was such a drastic change in play calling. Only Byron Leftwich knows that answer. The Bucs finally got something going on offense in the first half, but went away from what worked and the offense paid the price. Even though the execution is on the players, the coaching staff must put them in positions to succeed which they just have not done consistently this year and Sunday afternoon was a perfect example.

Are the Bucs going to make Trace McSorely look like a Pro Bowler?

The Bucs have been notorious for making backup quarterbacks look like all stars and have lost a number of games to backups over the years. This Sunday they will face Cardinals third stringer Trace McSorely as Colt McCoy is out with a concussion. Will the Bucs defense make McSorely look like a third stringer who is getting his first start of the year? I would like to say yes, but they have lost to guys like Kenny Pickett/Mitch Trubisky, P.J. Walker and Brock Purdy so it is tough to say with confidence that they will be able to contain McSorely but their playoff hopes may hinge on it.

The Bucs are in now or never mode. This Cardinals team is bad and they must find a way to rebound. A loss here would do a ton of damage to their chances of winning the division and quite frankly, would be pretty unacceptable, but not very surprising based on how this season has gone for Tampa Bay.