Roster Needs: Glaring Holes Or Bad Coaching
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers season, after a blinding 2-0 start against the New Orleans Saints and the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles came to a screeching halt as they went on two 4 game losing skids, TWICE in the season. The Bucs never won more than two games in a row.
The Buccaneers had one of the most prolific offenses to date, starting with back to back to back 400 passing yard performances by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had four on the season. Mike Evans had a personal best 1,524-yards, which broke Mark Carrier’s single-season record, and 8 touchdowns. The Buccaneers also had four receivers with 750+ yards; Humphries, Godwin, Evans, and Jackson. The Dynamic Duo OJ Howard and Cameron Brate combined for 854-yards and eleven TDs.
OJ Howard was having a breakout sophomore season with 565-yards and 5 touchdowns before an ankle injury sustained in the second half, against the New York Giants. The injury would send him to IR.
Red Zone extraordinaire, Cam Brate, took over where he left off last season and had 289-yards and 6 TDs, which he did all on with a torn labrum. He had his torn Labrum repaired this week.
Peyton Barber, with limited touches, still amounted 871 rushing yards and 5 TDs.
Jameis Winston’s season was a roller coaster, as he sat out the first three games due to suspension over an alleged “Uber” incident that happened in 2016. Later after his return, he was then was benched for having thrown 10 INTs in four games. Jameis would turn his season around after having a chance to redeem himself after a poor performance by Fitz against the Giants. Jameis Winston came into that game and nearly led the team to a remarkable comeback with 4 straight TD drives. Jameis would finish the second half of his season with only 4 INTs through eight games.
Not everything was humming on the offense, however, as Bucs fans watched, week after week Jameis Winston running for his life. The run game proved to be all, but nonexistent as the offensive line failed to hold its own, particularly Caleb Benenoch and Demar Dotson. Individual player performances on the line caused the Bucs to have the 31st ranked offensive line in the NFL and helped attribute to the nonexistent run game.
Improving the o-line would help establish the run game, which would take a massive amount of pressure off of Jameis Winston, and open up the playbook for longer developing plays utilizing the offensive threats the Bucs possess.
The defense is a trickier situation.
Injuries and Mike Smith had this defense ranked in the bottom of the barrel for a second straight year. At one point, the Buccaneers were allowing 400+ yards per game to opposing offenses. The Bucs also had the worst Red Zone defense in the NFL. Once Mike Smith was fired, the defense responded well to Mark Duffner, but still, the defense gave up too many big plays.
The defense was without some of its key players, Chris Conte, VH3, Kwon Alexander, Justin Evans, Carlton Davis, MJ Stewart, Gerald McCoy, Beau Allen, and Vinny Curry all missed at least one game this season, with three of them going to IR.
Earlier this offseason, we learned that Brent Grimes was unhappy being “underpaid to cover the opposing team’s best receivers.” So along with injuries, the Bucs will need to focus on the secondary to find Grime’s replacement, as well as depth at both safety and cornerback, even with those who have been injured, will be returning.
If Kwon Alexander is not re-signed, LB may also be a glaring need. Kwon Alexander, Kendell Beckwith, and Kevin Minter all ended up on IR and left the Bucs thin at the position. To make matters even worse, there are rumors that star DE Gerald McCoy may be let go due to a $13mil cap hit. Beau Allen and Vinny Curry may also be done in Tampa due to the emergence of Vita Vea and Carl Nassib. If McCoy is let go, the 5th pick in this year’s draft may get a little more interesting.
Another position that should be looking into, is the placekicker.
The Buccaneers, for the most part, have not had issues when it comes to the punter, but it is apparent that Brian Anger’s yardage punting the ball has gone down considerably. The Bucs look like they have found their kicker of the future in Cairo Santos and even with a few misses, he’s been consistent since being signed.
The Buccaneers we need to focus on special teams, as well as they, had Jacquizz Rodgers returning kickoffs for most of the season, until putting the much faster Bobo Wilson back there in the hopes that he would help get better starting field position. The Bucs need to win the field position battle to help their high-powered offense and help keep the defense off the field.
From afar, the Bucs roster may have looked more incomplete than complete, but with a few changes, this five and 11 team could flip the script.