The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are staring down the prospect of another underwhelming campaign and the possibility of a rebuild for the franchise.
Jameis Winston’s suspension at the start of the season will deprive the Buccaneers of their starting quarterback for the opening three games of the term.
Winston’s play on the field has not blown the NFL away, and his conduct off the field could leave his position for the long term in Tampa Bay in jeopardy.
There’s talent on the offensive side of the ball, but the fortunes of the team will rest in the hands of Winston. Unless he can stage an improvement from his three previous seasons, then the Buccaneers will miss the playoffs for the 11th term on the bounce.
The defense is stacked with talent, but will need to come together as a unit. Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry have quality in the front seven, while Vita Vea adds extra force alongside McCoy in the middle of the line.
There are slight questions marks over some areas of the team, including the coaching. Dirk Koetter has not been convincing in his first two years as head coach and should the team get off to a poor start, he may not get the opportunity to see out his third campaign.
The success of Tampa Bay’s season rests on the shoulders of Winston. He has been suspended by the NFL for conduct detrimental to the league following an off-the-field incident. Winston came into the NFL with questions regarding his character. The 24-year-old has done nothing to dispel those notions, culminating in his three-game ban. During his three-year tenure Winston has not excelled on the field.
He has had his moments, but the consistency has not been there from the quarterback. Last term Winston threw 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as the Buccaneers limped to a 5-11 campaign. The quarterback needs to lead from the front in the coming campaign, improving the level of his performances. He owes the Buccaneers a brilliant season following his poor behaviour. Another underwhelming term could give Tampa Bay pause for thought whether to offer the 24-year-old a long-term deal.
There will be no excuse for Winston if he fails to thrive. He has one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. Mike Evans might be the best wideout in the NFL. The 24-year-old has the size and speed on the outside to torment opposing defenders. Evans has recorded over 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons in the league, although 2017 proved to be a down year for the receiver.
DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin are also on hand to provide a threat downfield, while OJ Howard and Cameron Brate could be the best tight end tandem in the league. There’s a good mix of big bodies and speed in the Buccaneers’ offense for Winston to utilise.
Ronald Jones was selected in the second round of the 2018 Draft. He should provide an immediate upgrade at the running back position that struggled last season. Adding a threat out of the backfield should ease the pressure on Winston to perform. However, the crux of the season will fall on the shoulders of the quarterback.
The talent is there for the Buccaneers on defense. There’s quality at all three levels so once again there’s no excuse for the coaching staff. It’s one of the reasons why Koetter and his staff are under so much pressure to perform this term. McCoy is one of the best defenders in the NFL in the middle of the line.
He’s equally adept at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer. The 29-year-old has been a model of consistency and health since entering the NFL in 2010. Vea should allow the veteran to take a few snaps off after being drafted in the first round of the 2018 Draft. He is in the same mould as McCoy, consuming space inside the line, along with boasting the ability to provide push.
David and Alexander will clean up anything that gets through the line. Both are athletic linebackers with proven talent to run sideline-to-sideline, while also have the power to attack behind the line of scrimmage. David was named a second-team All-Pro for the past two campaigns. He is in the tier behind Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly in terms of the NFL hierarchy, although the 28-year-old’s health and consistency makes more valuable than ever to the Buccaneers.
Adding Curry to the pass—rush was a good move to make in the off-season. The defensive end was part of the Philadelphia Eagles roster that won Super Bowl LII. With Pierre-Paul, Noah Spence and William Gholston, there’s a solid depth to the unit to provide constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
It will be vital to cover the holes in the back end, despite the presence of Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves. The safety position lacks depth, although the drafting of Justin Evans could resolve the issue. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith needs a good season to salvage his reputation.
Count the Buccaneers out of the race to win the Super Bowl this season. They’re in arguably the most competitive division in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons are all better teams and have far superior coaching. If they catch lightning in a bottle they could win the NFC South, but only take the punt for value at odds of +1200 with BetOnline.
They’re not going to qualify for the post-season, therefore take the odds of -600 with TopBet. The Bucs won five matches last term, expect a similar campaign so back them to on the under at 6.5 at -150 with 888Sport. That sort of season will not be enough to save Koetter, take him to be the first coach fired at odds of +400 with BetOnline.
Evans had a down year last season, and although Winston has his flaws, the wideout is still capable of leading the NFL in receiving yards. Back him to bounce back at odds of +1776 with Bookmaker. Evans has been consistent for the Bucs throughout his career. Take him to record over 1,100 yards at odds of -115 , and over six touchdowns at -115 with BetOnline.
Jones could see a lot of the ball in the backfield. As a result, take him to be a candidate for offensive rookie of the year at +3300 with BetOnline. Vea will be a force in the middle of the line for the Bucs, odds of +2500 are good ones for him to win defensive rookie of the year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers To Miss Playoffs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers To Win Under 6.5 Matches
Dirk Koetter To Be First NFL Head Coach Fired In 2018 Season
Mike Evans To Lead The NFL In Receiving Yards
Mike Evans To Record Over 1,100 Receiving Yards
Mike Evans To Record Over Six Touchdowns
Ronald Jones To Be Offensive Rookie Of The Year
Vita Vea To Be Defensive Rookie Of The Year