The Tampa Bay Buccaneers scuffled to a 5-11 mark last year, finishing in the NFC South cellar and missing the playoffs once again.
In fact, this team hasn’t played a postseason game since 2007, so this situation is pretty bleak, right?
But wait. There’s plenty of optimism for the 2018 season, with several pundits thinking this could be the year Tampa Bay finally returns to the playoffs.
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The reason? A solid offseason and good draft. Still, plenty of questions remain, like who will be the Bucs’ feature back?
Now that Doug Martin is gone, second round pick Ronald Jones currently tops the depth chart after a stellar junior campaign at USC last year. We know Jones can rack up the yardage, but he had issues with pass protection and wasn’t used much in the passing game. (Take a peek at the video below for an idea of what he looks like in slo-mo.) Heading into the season, consider Jones a midrange RB3, with upside as an RB2. Talk that the Bucs may sign Adrian Peterson would throw a bit of a kink in those plans.
Tampa Bay’s offense is very young, with an average of 26.2 (27th in the league) last year, so the growing pains were only natural. Expect improvements as this unit continues to mature. Better protection for franchise quarter Jameis Winston and an improved running game are the keys to help this offense reach its potential.
Winston missed three games last year, but continued to improve, and is poised for a bigger jump this year if he can stay healthy. Consider him a solid QB2 with the potential to be a QB1 by season’s end thanks to a loaded receiving corps that features Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. Second year receiver Chris Godwin, who pulled in 442 yards receiving in the second half, seems destined for a breakout this season. Consider Evans a decent WR1, Jackson as possible WR4 and Godwin as a matchup-based pick but also a serious sleeper.
The defense gets a boost from the Bucs’ first round pick, nose tackle Vita Vea, although there were plenty of questions about using a pick that high on a two-down player. Still, they traded down to get him, so wound up with three second round picks to help plug holes elsewhere. Vea is part of a major overhaul of the defense line — something that was needed after this team ranked dead last in yards allowed last year.
Jason Pierre-Paul, acquired in a trade with the Giants, and Vin Curry, signed as a free agent, will help beef up a poor pass rush which ranked dead last with 22 sacks.
Tampa Bay’s defense is still a work in progress, but won’t be the trainwreck it was last year.
The fact is if the Bucs don’t make the playoffs this year, General Manager Jason Licht and Head Coach Dirk Koetter will likely both be shown the door.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below how you think the Bucs will do this season and which players you’re targeting from them for your Fantasy teams.