(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons are both licking their wounds and desperate for a win. Something has to give when the NFC South rivals collide Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
The Buccaneers are one of three winless (0-5) teams in the NFL (Giants, Jaguars) and have gone through more drama the past few weeks than the Kardashian clan. With the soap opera that surrounded former quarterback Josh Freeman to the latest MRSA infection, the Bucs have stumbled to last place in the NFC South.
But the Falcons are right there with Tampa Bay and have a 1-4 record, one year after going 13-3 and capturing the top seed in the conference. The Falcons were hoping that this year would be a memorable one, and it has for all the wrong reasons. New Orleans has taken over the division with a 5-1 record.
Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano could be on a short leash and believes his players are still motivated to turn these down times around.
"I think we have very strong leadership and I think the leadership will just keep us locked in; the coaches, myself, everybody," Schiano said Monday. "This is a group of men that are committed to each other, committed professionals, guys who love the game. I know our quarterbacks will be in here tomorrow grinding on the initial game plan and our coaches will do the same and we'll crank it up and go see if we can win in Atlanta."
The Bucs had an extra week of rest to get ready for the Philadelphia Eagles and dropped a 31-20 decision at Raymond James Stadium. It was a back-and-forth battle until the second half, when the Eagles had a 17-3 advantage and rolled to the victory behind backup quarterback Nick Foles, who passed for 296 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Eagles running back LeSean McCoy made Tampa Bay's stout run defense look mediocre with 116 yards on 25 carries.
Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson said Bucs' defensive back Darrelle Revis couldn't keep up with him and backed up his words with two scores and 64 yards on two receptions. Jackson had a 36-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter.
"Well, two good plays by a very good player," Schiano said of Jackson's scores. "We helped out on the deep one, the deep crossing route. We didn't exactly execute the way that we planned to execute on Darrelle's route. Sometimes you get one-on-one, good throw, good catch."
Revis had a forced fumble and recovery to go along with four tackles. He talked about the MRSA distraction leading up to Sunday's game and how it affected the plan.
"It was a big distraction because our minds were on starting fresh and getting back into football mode, but then we had to deal with this thing the whole week and it trickled into the game a little bit," Revis told the Tampa Tribune.
Schiano wouldn't talk about how he's trying to keep his players motivated, but did reveal the Buccaneers have to "keep it real." Whatever that means to Schiano and the Bucs, who have lost 10 of 11 games dating back to last season, will remain private. Still, Schiano has a plan to change course.
"The Knute Rockne stuff, there's a time and a place for it, but they're grown men who are busting their guts to win," Schiano said. "They're as disappointed as I am, and it's just our jobs as coaches to decipher and look at and then give them constructive feedback and then help them move forward. And that's what we're going to do."