By Austin Payne
This game has more relevancy than some this up-coming week, being as we have several teams who are now in what we might consider tanking mode. The Colts and Bucs game isn’t exactly of interest due to playoff potentialities or because they’re great teams, but more so because of the players involved and the storylines surrounding them.
The Indianapolis Colts, currently sitting at a bland 6-6, have an outside shot of playoff contention at this point with the wildcard spots being held onto firmly by Buffalo and surprisingly, Pittsburg. at the moment. Regardless of whether or not the Colts squeak into the playoffs just for fun and to try and ruin a better team’s year, the reality of the situation is still the same. They’re not the same without Andrew Luck. Because of this, we have the Jacoby Brissett storylines coming into play. Should the Colts commit to him long term? Should they see what a team might offer for him? Brissett was signed to a very reasonable contract in the offseason, and though the interest would not be astronomical, it would still be there.
Brissett is a rather moot point for the Colts at this point, not being too much of a positive or a negative on the team’s overall future. The real question is, what does this team have to build around going forward? With a few young studs on defense, maybe Marlon Mack, and a TY Hilton who’s somewhat wasting his prime, where do you go from here? While I do believe they have a competent front office in place for once, the right decisions still have to be made in a shrewd manner about the future, otherwise they will remain a .500 football team.
Paradoxically, the Bucs are actually in the same situation, being at somewhat of a crossroads regarding their future. Can Arians revive Winston and somehow manage his turnover problem? Was using that high draft pick on Ronald Jones a waste? Is OJ Howard a bust, or just going through a rough first few years? There are very few known commodities on this team at the moment, and I can count them on one hand. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, and Shaquil Barrett. While Barrett and Godwin are enjoying breakout years, Mike Evans and Lavonte David are already known and developed players.
So who do you keep, who do you trade, who do you cut? Jameis has been too up and down to confidently entrust your future to him, so do you draft a couple quarterbacks this year? It’s shocking to say Winston has been in the league for five years now, but it’s still true, and it’s hard to suggest he hasn’t shown us his true colors by now.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, both teams have some larger existential and macro perspective questions to answer about the future of the franchise. If I had to place a bet on which one has more playoff victories within the next decade, my money would definitely be on the Colts and their front office, over a somewhat tumultuous situation in Tampa.