No… you can’t have the name of my drug dealer. Not that I’m on any for making this prediction, which isn’t much of a stretch for me for the people who know me; a winning season is an annual ritual prediction for me even before running this site. But this time, I’m going to tell you why its really going to happen..so when it does, the word FLUKE wont be used.
In order to understand why the Bucs are about to turn the corner, you have to realize this team was devoid of any talent just three to four years ago. This was a product of firing/having 4 head coaches in 7 seasons, and each coach rid the team of the previous leader’s players/talent to put in his own, only to repeat over and over. This process is the most responsible for bad franchises staying bad, and good teams like Packers, Steelers and Patriots continuing to stockpile wins and good players. (See bottom)
In 2014 the Bucs began RE-stocking this team, and they did so by drafting ALL OFFENSE.
In 2015 the Bucs drafted…ALL OFFENSE. (one defensive player was drafted here, Kwon Alexander).
Two drafts of Offensive Talent brought in the core of the offense in Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, Ali Marpet, and Donovan Smith.
Finally the Bucs drafted defense, but their defensive Head Coach was fired before he could get a defensive draft. New defensive coordinator Mike Smith couldn’t find use for 2016s top pick Vernon Hargreaves, and Noah Spence was seriously injured missing last season, and cornerback Ryan Smith is only finally starting to compete as a starter. Of course another high draft pick here was wasted on Roberto Aquayo although in hindsight it was probably worth the shot for the best kicker in NCAA History. Funny thing happened, the Bucs ran into good luck, and won 9 games behind a solid offense that balanced a powerful running game with Jameis TD throws. Hard Knocks was here…Expectations were high for 2017…
A bit Too high; Every major periodical was predicting the young Bucs to go 10-6 and make the playoffs. Problem was they didn’t know our Tampa Bay Buccaneers players were obviously too young in maturity to handle being a favorite, time and again the team looked like they were not prepared to play, as if they only needed to show up and they would be deemed the winner.
There were other other major differences between 2016’s winning season and last year:
NO LUCK: The injury bug which avoided Tampa Bay in Koetter’s rookie season, hit hard last year. Right off the back the Bucs two best players LB Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander were both out. Our best corner Brent Grimes missed 3 of 7 games, and the hopes that was hung on the Defensive line, never materialized. Noah Spence, Jaques Smith, Clinton MCDonald, William Gholston, and Robert Ayers all missed significant if not entire time from the D Line which applied virtually no pressure on Bucs opponents. As a result, the Bucs offense faced more pressure than expected, and did not produce similar results as the year before.
In 2016 the Bucs had the There was no running game, whether its the result of Ali Marpet being tried at Center (a position he never played), the play of JR Sweezy who was a shell of his former self who lost all his strength as a result of a back injury prior, All of which helped contribute to poor blocking for Winston which cost HIM several games. Of course it doesn’t fully explain the poor running effort as when Bucs lost three starters on the O line and produced better running effort from Payton Barber at the end of the season.
But while ‘not quitting’ is not the goal of a winning franchise, its the hopeful outcome of a team as opposed TO QUITTING! The Bucs simply lacked the depth to compete with the immense injury list that a more veteran team would be able to prepare against. None of which stopped Jameis Winston from setting several Bucs records, Mike Evans too.
So lets do it.. lets get into why these Bucs will win 10 or 11 games.
1) THE BUCS FINALLY HAVE DEPTH- In fact, Tampa Bay may be the single deepest team at WR than anyone else in the NFL; Adam Humphries is 4th! Those Starters at the end of 2016 on the Line, add depth to the starters. Marpet is back at Guard, and Sweezy is replaced by the ready Bennenoc. At center the Bucs have a nasty mean snapper,And Payton Barber is in a hot battle with rookie Ronald Jones. And even Winston who will miss three games is backed up by Fitzpatrick who went 2-1 last year. Thats on offense, finally the Bucs have some (SOME) depth on ….
2) DEFENSE WILL RETURN TO TAMPA BAY FINALLY- and the reason is Jason Licht used free agency to once again bolster the defensive line, nothing new to the Bucs under Licht, but rather than one or two players, the Bucs went out and got 5 of the expected 8 deep starters they now have on the Defensive line including Jason Piere Paul. Two from the Eagles just helped Philly bolster their D line to 8 deep which proved too much for Tom Brady and co.; Want an indicator how the Bucs are doing? See how many Sacks the Bucs are getting a few weeks into the season. Oh and Bucs DL coach Brentson Buckner may be more animated than Rod Marinelli.
3) JAMEIS WINSTON WILL PLAY THIS SEASON LIKE A MAN POSSESED, an elite QB for 2018-
Rather a distraction, this Bucs team was visibly tight last season during the losing season, there is a definite team bond going on with the Bucs on both sides of the ball, nowhere is that more apparent that at the QB position. As fans, we have one of two opinions: The haters want him gone because this presents them with the excuse to, and supporters have his back because he’s the best bet for Bucs to win this season or the next few. But the players dont face this dilemma; the players are all NFL players with whom they could each fall into a situation where that uber incident could happen to them: Get too drunk, stumble around, black out and not know what you did, then have the NFL suspend them. This isn’t a BUC thing, this is an NFL thing. Anyone who thinks the Bucs will split because of this does not know or follow football. This is a fraternity of Union workers, the Pittsburgh steelers got behind Roethlisberger, the Cowboys got behind Elliot… heck Ray Rice even had support until the video came out and it became poison to do so.
The Bucs, and more importantly, Jameis Winston, will rally as a team behind EACH OTHER, IF ANYTHING, it will feed the Bucs fire, not quell it.
4) The schedule is a tough one… LAST YEAR> How many times do you need to be told, this is the NFL.. teams dont stay the same. You either move up, or you fall down. Only a small handful stay the same. Dont be shocked if the Bucs are 2-1 when Winston comes off suspension.
5) Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE… Is predicting the Bucs to tail dive. Which brings me to the best advice I can give anyone whose into NFL news, for Fantasy; dont listen to national media. Forget those experts on Sirius, you can’t trust them because there is too much information out there, these national people can’t keep up with every team, so they look at a team l ike the Bucs, and go with whats called Recency Bias; Bucs defense sucked last year, so its going to suck now. Offense sucked last year, Koetter is not a good coach, but they forget the year before last, everything clicked, and these same people picked the Bucs to WIN last year and got it all wrong.
Follow the local beat writers on twitter, the big media only follow the big teams, so when it comes to us, they dont know whats going on, so they just make stuff from last year seem relevant. Why Ive heard Koetter on list for in season firings, even though the Glazers dont do that. They dont know about the Bucs D line Free Agents, or their new coach. They dont know the big picture with Jameis, they hear all the negativity, so they repeat it.
Hmmm so do local Bucs fans.
Actually every time the Bucs had a consistent winning era, there was a dud season the year after the breakout one. In 1979 Bucs went from 0-26 and 5-11, to 10-6. But in 1980 they returned to 5-10-1 before spending the next two seasons on top of the NFL Central. In 1997 Tony Dungy's Bucs went 10-6 and ended 14 years of double digit losing, but 1998 was a BLAH 8-8, the ONLY non winning season for Tony Dungy's career (other than his rookie one). Coming back in 1999, Bucs went 11-5 and several more years of dominating football. And as we know the Bucs havnt made playoffs in 11 years now, one winning season since then in 2016 when Dirk Koetter and crew went to 9-7.
COACHING CHANGE; IN with the new, OUT with the old!
COACH: Out GRUDEN IN Raheem Morris PLAYERS: Out Derrick Brooks, Matt Bryant, Ike Hilliard, Joey Galloway, Jeff Garcia, Warrick Dunn, Kevin Carter, Cato June,