After two wins in a row, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers find themselves in first place in the NFC South as they hit their bye week.
Early season struggles
The Bucs got off to a rocky start this season, starting 3-5 in their first eight games. After winning their first two, the Bucs dropped four out of their next five.
With many players dealing with injuries, the team wasn’t able to create a cohesive unit on the field.
One position group that was seriously banged up was the offensive line. Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen went down with a knee injury during preseason that has sidelined him all year. In addition to losing Jensen, guard Aaron Stinnie went down with a season-ending knee injury before the season began.
Because Tampa Bay was already down two offensive linemen before their first game, it took some time for the new offensive linemen to adjust to a Tom Brady led offense. In some games early in the season, Brady let his frustrations be known on the sideline with outbursts directed toward his offensive line.
Albeit being through tough love, the young linemen appreciate someone as legendary as Brady offering advice and motivation.
Bucs center Robert Hainsey, on Tom Brady's sideline rant to offensive line Sunday: "I love that from him. I know we all love that from him. It might look weird on TV, but that's football. That's what you want from great teammates and great leaders, and he's the best there is."
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) October 19, 2022
Bucs finding their stride
After their tough start to the season, the Bucs have been able to get back on track in recent weeks. Back to back wins against the Rams and the Seahawks have brought the Buccaneers back to .500 on the season.
Fortunately for the Bucs, the rest of the teams in their division are in rebuild mode. Therefore, 5-5 is good enough to put them at first place in the NFC South. However, the Bucs cannot get comfortable as the Atlanta Falcons sit only one game behind them at 4-6.
Checking in on the NFC South… pic.twitter.com/32Nh2bHWDT
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 13, 2022
A Look Ahead
Following their bye week, the schedule ramps up for the Bucs. In their final seven games, three of them are against divisional opponents, including a Monday night date with the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 5.
In addition to their divisional matchups, the Bucs also face off against the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in week 15.
Historically, the end of the season is where Tom Brady plays his best football. In the month of December, Brady has posted a 69-17 record over his career.