Mon, 27 Jun 2022

2022 Buccaneers Schedule Roundtable: One Thing to Change

Buccaneers
17 May 2022, 19:26 GMT+10

Tampa Bay BuccaneersAs we continue to dissect the recently-released NFL schedule, Amy, Brianna and Scott turn a critical eye to the schedule-makers and make their cases for one alteration each to the Buccaneers' 2022 slateby Brianna Dix, Amy Schwartz & Scott Smith

In one sense, the annual reveal of the NFL schedule, while highly anticipated every year, doesn't really change anything. Each team has known for months who their opponents would be during the upcoming regular season. All of those games were going to have to be played at some point or another and the order might not really matter much.

In another sense, though, the schedule drop is packed with new information, which is why it is always so highly anticipated. Players and coaches want to know who they will be focusing on first, when their longest trips would be, in which week their bye will fall and much more. Sometimes the answers are very pleasing; for instance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a Week 11 bye this year and later byes are usually considered preferable. Sometimes the answers are not so pleasing; for instance, the occasional run of three straight road games can look daunting in advance.

Today, we're concerned with that latter category - things we don't necessarily love about the Buccaneers' 2022 schedule. Overall, there is quite a bit to like, and we'll get into that on Tuesday, but the task today for me, Staff Writer/Reporter Brianna Dix and Digital Contributor Amy Schwartz is to pinpoint one thing we could change if we could.

Here's the Roundtable schedule for the week:

Friday, May 13: What is your most anticipated game on the Bucs' 2022 schedule?

Monday, May 16: What is one thing you would change about the Bucs' schedule if you had the power?

Tuesday, May 17: What one thing would you most like to thank the NFL schedule makers for this year?

Wednesday, May 18: What is the toughest stretch of games on this year's schedule?

Thursday, May 19: Who is the top rookie the Buccaneers will face on their 2022 schedule.

What cannot change is the list of opponents and where the games will be played. We're playing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs whether we like it or not (I like it!), and that game will be in Tampa. What we can change, hypothetically, are the things the schedule makers could change during their admittedly difficult process of putting the whole thing together. That would be dates, times, prime-time assignments, bye weeks and game order. And we need to be specific; "move every game to 1:00 p.m." is not an acceptable answer.

In order to get a wider variety of responses, we have establish the rule that picks cannot be duplicated by the three of us. That potentially makes the order of responses important, so we will rotate that order in each post. Brianna went first on Friday, so she drops to the bottom of the list while Amy gets the first pick and I go second.

So, what's the one thing you would change about the Buccaneers' 2022 schedule?

Amy Schwartz: Spread the Weeks 1-4 Opponents Throughout the Season

The Bucs will need to bring their A-game early this season with several heavy hitters to kickoff the season. While doable, I believe sprinkling in key competitors - Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes later in the season would've been beneficial for the team to have time to hit their stride.

New Head Coach Todd Bowles and the Bucs will begin their season on the road and face three 2021 playoff teams in a four-week stretch. The biggest upside to the competition will be opening the season in Tampa against Aaron Rodgers. As Bucs fans know, Rodgers has a bad record of playing in Tampa, including two games with over three interceptions.

I would have liked to see a more balanced start to the schedule but these first four weeks may be some of the most exciting games of the season. The Bucs will have back-to-back rematches of the 2020 NFC Championship and Super Bowl LV in Raymond James Stadium which could be the biggest tests of the season. Assuming the Bucs could face any of their first four opponents in the playoffs, I like the chances the Bucs have to size up the competition early and take a strong start into the season.

Scott Smith: Flip the Games in Weeks Five and Seven

What I'd really like to change is somehow making it so the Bucs don't have to play in the Superdome. I hate that place. But that's against the rules so I'll go for what I think is a reasonable and fairly minor alteration to the schedule: I just want to flip the games in Weeks Five and Seven.

It's fair to say that the opening quarter of the season is probably the toughest stretch on the Bucs' 2022 schedule in terms of consecutive tough opponents...and in fact Amy just aptly made that case above. And in terms of travel, the game in Munich will probably be the most taxing one on the players and coaches, but it comes after a home game and is followed by a bye week, so that's about all you could ask for to make it easier.

To me, the worst stretch of the season in terms of travel is Weeks Six to Eight. After playing three straight games at home the Bucs have to hit the road to Pittsburgh and Carolina on consecutive Sundays. Those aren't terribly long trips and they are both 1:00 p.m. games, but it's still two weeks of travel that are immediately followed by the short week that comes with playing on Thursday night.

The Bucs' Week Eight assignment is on Thursday, October 27 against the Baltimore Ravens. It's at home, but it's just four days after the Bucs completed that two-week road swing. If I could be allowed to simply switch the games scheduled for Weeks Five and Seven we would end up with a bit more of balanced home-road lineup plus a home game before the Thursday-nighter.

With the trip to Carolina now in Week Seven, you no longer have three straight home games, which was a little weird to begin with. Now it's a trip to Carolina that follows the Green Bay/Kansas City gauntlet, followed by the trip to Pittsburgh. That's still the same two-game road swing as before, but in reverse order, and now you have the home game against the Falcons right before the short week. I believe this would make it easier for the Buccaneers to be prepared to chase Lamar Jackson all over the grass.

Brianna Dix: Flip Weeks Nine and 13

This schedule is a gauntlet any way you look at it, with tough playoff-caliber opponents sprinkled throughout the schedule. Sure, having to face the Cowboys, the Packers and the Chiefs in the first four weeks of the season is a brutal stretch as Amy and Scott pointed out. However, once you begin trying to move those around, then you end up with divisional games too close together or another tough grouping elsewhere. Balance is the goal but more often than not, an elusive reality on the schedule release. So, instead I have adjusted one of the prime-time slots.

I have elected to switch Week Nine and Week 13 so that the rematch against the Los Angeles Rams will be a Monday night game at 8:15 ET. Then, the second game against their division rival, Saints would slide up to Week Nine at 4:25 ET. That would give the Buccaneers essentially a mini-bye to prepare for the NFC South opponent, coming off the Thursday night game against the Ravens on Oct. 27. Initially looking at the schedule, I was shocked the revenge game against the Rams, one of the greatest marquee matchups on the entire schedule, was not during prime-time. A 2022 season opener with the Bucs and their newfound nemesis, the Rams, is a matchup that would certainly spark ratings and clicks. The last time the two clubs met, Los Angeles ended the Bucs road to a Super Bowl repeat. Sean McVay's crew has become a matchup problem, giving Tampa Bay fits in recent years. I like the Bucs coming out in Week 13 on Monday Night Football, proving they are a force to be reckoned with in 2022.

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