3 Signs Tampa Bay Bucs will do good in 2018; 3 reasons they might not

The 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season will be my 40th consecutive year following the Bucs as a diehard Bucs fan. And while one year may have little effect on another in the grand scheme of things, history repeats itself, and trends can give a lot of information if you look for it.

Here are three reasons why the Bucs can become a winning, in the playoff race in December football team in 2018…

…and 3 signs they may not.

NEGATIVE FIRST: 3 signs Bucs not ready to do what it takes in 2018

CLEVELAND SOUTH: Going into 2017 the Rams (32) and Jaguars were two of four teams with worst record over the last decade combined. Now its the Bucs and Brows, as the other two made the playoffs leaving the Buffalo Bills as NFL team with greatest Playoff drought. (not to forget the Bucs have gone 10-6 {2010} and 9-7 {2016} and missed tiebreakers each year.
Draft Party? Bucs have history of Draft Hangovers

Tampa Bay has only one starter left from the draft only 4 years ago. At a

Kenny Bell, one example of poor drafting done at one Buc over time.

time when a player should be becoming an NFL stud on pro bowl breakout player, the Bucs only have Mike Evans to show for 2014 draft. Charles Simms is on the bubble each year. 2016’s top pick Vernon Hargraves on shaky ground, and Noah Spence will hopefully be a repeat of Gerald McCoy who ended his first two seasons on IR but healthy ever since. Neither is a starter, and kicker Aquayo is out of the NFL. Bucs hope Ryan Smith or 2017’s Justin Evans will pan out as future secondary stars. Bucs need to hope 2018 draft will be a repeat of 2016 where Rd 1-4 are stars/starters.

HOME SOUR HOME- Bucs dont win where they’re supposed to.

Tampa Bay was 4-4 last year in home games, and after starting 0-4 in 2016 they ended up 4-4  then too. Going back three years they were 3-4 in Koetter’s first year as OC. The NFL standard is to go 6-2 at home, and break even on the road, which will put you at 10-6. Of course before the last three years the Bucs were 0-8 (2014), 3-5 (2013), 3-5 (2012) so they’re heading in the right direction, barely.

THEY GOT THE RIGHT STUFF BABY… 3 signs that point to WINS in 2018

Overall, its a positive 4 year trend for Dirk Koetter

2-14 in 2014 gives Bucs the No.1  pick and they take the single biggest player pick up in the last decade.

6-10 in 2015 wasn’t enough to save Lovie Smith’s job, but it saved Dirk Koetter as Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach.

9-7 Tampa Bay finally does it, and behind leadership of Jameis Winston has a winning season, missing playoffs by tie breakers.

OF course we know last year the Bucs fell to 5-11, but franchise QB Winston
missed 5 games with injury, which could have been less as the idea he was returned too soon has been discussed. Rather than hype the numerous close games the Bucs lost, its more important to look at the reasons they lost them, and how they’ve addressed them… so far.

KICKING- Single handedly cost Bucs the Patriots game and chance to go 3-1.

DEFENSIVE LINE- Bucs haven’t had a double digit sacker since Simeon Rice. Noah Spence may be healthy, but Bucs went out and got an endless motor in Jean Pierre Paul, and perhaps new blood in the draft.

OFFENSIVE LINE- Considered their strength (the Bucs won games with 3 of 5 starters on IR) but with a STUD at Center, Marpet back at guard, the Bucs may go over the top with another  STUD at Guard in the draft from Notre Dame.

James Winston  trending right direction.

Even though he missed 5 games, Winston continues to brake franchise records, taking over the Bucs media guide one page at a time. Prior to 2017, 4 was the most 300 yard games a Bucs QB had in a season. Vinny Testaverde did it twice (88,89) so did Doug Williams (80,81). Brad Johnson was the most recent with 4 in 2003. But Winston set the Bucs franchise record with  6x 300yd games, in spite of only playing in 11 (or 10 really).

The fact that Winston is only 24 years old, and already OWNS the NFL record for most TDs before the age of 24, is enough for me call him the greatest Buccaneer QB since Doug Williams, and he will probably surpass him soon. Its more than ability, and yes he has a way to go still;

  • calm down the passion during games so he doesn’t lose his head and hurt the team.
  • increase accuracy on deep balls

Winston is not fake, he really lives and breathes NFL Football; he is the undisputed leader of this football team, and over the next few years, the Bucs will go how Jameis Winston goes.

BAD YEAR ALWAYS FOLLOWS THE BREAKOUT SEASON, and comes before the real deal!

Its very common in sports to see a team come out of nowhere and have a great season… only to fall the next year causing many to question the legitimacy to begin with! But the good teams, they get over that poor year, learn from it, and come out better than ever in the 3rd season.

This has happened to the Bucs not once, but twice in their franchise history.

WORST TO FIRST: The NFL knew no losers like the 76-78 Buccaneers. But in 1979 the Bucs started out 5-0 and won their first division championship. They went to the playoffs, and won their first playoff game against Philadelphia Eagles, going to the NFC championship game in only their 4th year of existence. The next year they went 5-10-1, and the defense was a shell of the ’79 team. Still, coach John McKay saw the NFL going to a passing league, and adjusted his defense accordingly. The Bucs went 9-7 in 1981 and won the NFC Central division championship for 2nd of 3 years, and Bucs went to the playoffs 3 of 4 seasons.

Drafted #1 and #2 in 1995, perhaps the best draft in Bucs history to date. Will 2015 be remembered that way too?

DUNGY RESTORES LOST ART: after 14 double digit losing seasons, the Bucs new ownership hired  Tony Dungy to coach the Bucs. Concentrating on fundamentals and overcoming years of losing mentality wasnt easy, but in the second season, first in new PEWTER uniforms, Tampa Bay started out 5-0 in 1997 (same numbers as 1979!) and went 10-6 and a wild card birth, including a HOME PLAYOFF WIN over Detroit Lions for the first time since that 1979 playoff win. But the next season the Bucs started 3-4 and ended up going 8-8, the worst record under Tony Dungy.  The following year however, the team came back with a vengeance: 1999 was the year the Bucs won 6 games in a row, won the Division for the first time since 1981, and went to the NFC Championship where they shocked the greatest offense the NFL had ever seen, the St. Louis Rams holding them to one TD, scored with only 4 minutes to go ending Bucs season.

Both times, the Bucs were a YOUNG team, and were not able to handle the pressure of the expectations. Not only brought on by the fans who expected not only the SAME, but better; but by the media who called the Bucs the next best thing.

Sound familiar? Last year the Bucs heard about how great they were going to be every time they tuned a radio or TV station in. HBO put them on Hard Knocks, and the talk was, the Bucs were going to continue from their 9-7 record and get even better.   Clearly, it was too much to handle for a young team still learning how to win; But last year when the Bucs cost themselves a win vs Caroina due to a stupid offsides penalty by a player laughing it up after the game, the Bucs found their leadership in the locker room. Is it enough to get the team focused back on winning?

The draft is coming up.