What it means: The Bucs are 4-2 and in second place in the NFC South, only one game behind the Atlanta Falcons in the win column and one game ahead of the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the loss column. Say what you want about the quality of the opponents the Bucs have beaten, but they already have won one more game than they did all of last season. Fans were ready to run general manager Mark Dominik and coach Raheem Morris out of town when they gutted the team last year and, at times, looked like they were clueless last season. It’s starting to look like Dominik and Morris had a plan and knew what they were doing.
Hindsight: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. For the first time in franchise history, the Buccaneers have a quarterback who can go out and win games on his own. That’s Josh Freeman. He’s in his second season and first full year as a starter and he’s already showing a knack for pulling out games at the last second. He did it again against the Rams, throwing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Cadillac Williams with 10 seconds remaining. In the past, guys like Doug Williams and Trent Dilfer made some occasional late-game plays after Tampa Bay’s defense kept the Bucs close all game. But Freeman’s doing it on a regular basis and he’s the one keeping the Bucs in games. It always seemed like there was a law in Tampa Bay that, if the Bucs were going to win, they had to do it with strong defense and a game manager at quarterback. With Freeman, the law has changed.
Best personnel move: With running back Williams struggling, the Bucs gave undrafted rookie LaGarrette Blount 11 carries. He gave them 72 yards and had a 46-yard run negated by a penalty.
What’s next: The Bucs are going to have to make two West Coast trips in the next four weeks. But the good news is those trips are to Arizona next week and San Francisco on Nov. 21. At least on the surface, those games look entirely winnable and so does a Nov. 14 home game with Carolina.