Tampa Bay Buccaneers must solve prime-time problems to realize Super Bowl dreams

With the scoreboard reading 38-3 after a humiliating loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told what he described as a “pissed off” locker room that everyone needed to “look in the mirror.”

The Buccaneers came up empty once again on national television, and this time, it meant being swept by a divisional opponent, knocking the Bucs out of first place in the NFC South.

“[It] really couldn’t have gotten much worse than the Sunday night game — that was rock bottom,” tight end Cameron Brate said. “Nothing worked. Everyone played terribly.”

But it wasn’t just Sunday night. The Bucs are 7-3 for the first time since 2010, but they’re 1-2 in prime-time games, rare commodities until this year. Those games have become both a gift and a curse, thanks to Tom Brady being the quarterback, and something the Bucs will have to overcome if they want to reach the postseason and secure a seventh championship for Brady.

“We have stunk in those games,” Arians said.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale3

On the one hand, prime-time games provide rare national exposure for players such as Lavonte David, who is arguably one of the best inside linebackers in the league the past eight seasons but has reached the Pro Bowl only once. On the other hand, the Bucs have played lousy in their prime-time games, averaging 15.67 points and giving up 27 points per game this season, compared to scoring 35.57 and giving up 20.71 in 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET games.

This week, Arians overhauled the team’s practice schedule in preparation for Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Rams (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday Night Football on ESPN). First, he gave his players Wednesday off to rest after treating it as a bonus practice before the team’s first Monday night game. Then the Bucs had their normal 11:25 a.m. practice Thursday, followed by a 7:30 p.m. practice Friday at Raymond James Stadium and a Saturday night practice at the facility.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“We’ve got to try something because we’ve had really, really poor starts in night ballgames,” said Arians, who will also have the Bucs do some work Monday morning in hopes of getting off to a better start. “What we’re trying to do now is practice at night so that we know when to rev it up.”

Brate added, “Obviously, we have a night game coming up this week, and if things go the way that we think, where we’re playing playoff games, then we’re gonna be on that stage definitely more often toward the end of the year as well, so it’s something that we’ve gotta kind of figure out.”