Buccaneers: Worst to First in 2019?
Every year in the NFL, there’s a team that goes from worst to first seemingly overnight.
In 2019, why can’t it be the Bucs?
It’s not like the Buccaneers don’t already have a talented team. Holding the number one ranked passing offense last year and third most yards per game is no small feat. Mike Evans had his best year yet with 1,524 yards and eight touchdowns. The Bucs also had four wide receivers with over 750 receiving yards and 36 passing touchdowns between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston. With limited touches, Peyton Barber had nearly 900 yards, even while getting pummeled in the backfield due to a shaky offensive line.
Even on the “league-worst” defense, there’s insurmountable talent. Star linebacker Lavonte David had another 100+ tackles year, JPP broke the Bucs double-digit sack drought, and Vita Vea and Carl Nassib made themselves known to the football world. Realistically, the injury bug and poor coaching ruined 2018 for the Buccaneers when they lost multiple starting players to IR such as cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and Kwon Alexander.
Mike Smith’s inability to keep his corners anywhere near the line of scrimmage partnered with the puzzling decisions made by Dirk Koetter to not develop any of his rookies for most of the season had the Bucs somehow trending backward, even when they had improved their roster. The Buccaneers, for most of the season, seemed lost after the NFL bought right back into them and their hyper after trading for Giants DE JPP and banking on the Jameis to DeSean Jackson connection finally smoothing out.
Fast toward to today, and this is a new look Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The head coach is no longer carrying a big stick, he’s risking it for the biscuit. Players who obviously didn’t want to be here, such as DeSean Jackson and Brent Grimes, are no longer here and it’s been made clear if you’re not all in, you’re out. The entire coaching staff has been turned over. The Bucs didn’t “win” Free Agency on paper, but they may have with the talent they’ve brought in without breaking the bank. Those who were injured are back and healthy.
Even while unnoticed, the tides are slowly shifting in Tampa Bay. The pirate ship has a new captain and crew and with it, the ship seems to be in calm waters. Fans who swore they were done at the end of the season seem to be buying back in. National media is still on the fence, but maybe they too should dive right in.
Why not us?
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