According to Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, a writer for USA Today, the Buccaneers’ offense will be one of the most explosive ones in 2019. He evaluated five teams poised to be an offensive force this season.
Besides Tampa Bay, he picked Cleveland, Kansas City, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Middlehurst-Schwartz’ analyzed, “As the NFL’s oldest head coaching hire at 66, Bruce Arians is no doubt an outlier. That label, however, extends beyond his age, as the former Cardinals coach’s downfield passing attack stands out in an era of dink-and-dunk offenses. He arrives in Tampa Bay with a fitting focal point in Jameis Winston, whose audacious approach is reflected by a league-leading average of 10.7 air yards per attempt since 2016, according to Next Gen Stats.
The Buccaneers already have proven they can generate long gains with ease, as they trailed only the Chiefs in pass plays of 20-plus yards (71) in 2018. But a league-worst 35 turnovers proved to be a significant stumbling block, as an offense that ranked third in yardage (415.5 per game) finished just 12th in scoring (24.8 points per game). Learning to be more discerning while still embracing Arians’ ‘no risk it, no biscuit’ philosophy could be the biggest challenge for Winston, whose 76 giveaways are tied for the most of any player since 2015.”
“Still, so long as wide receiver Chris Godwin and tight end O.J. Howard step up following the departures of DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay could unearth the staying power that eluded it in 2018”
The sky is the limit
Without a doubt, his prediction makes sense. If Arians and Winston gel, the sky is the limit for this offense in the near future. However, that is a big IF. If things do not work out with the new head coach and the talented signal caller, Tampa Bay could be in for a complete house-cleaning soon.
The departure of DeSean Jackson should not bother the Bucs much if Middlehurst-Schwartz’s forecast holds up. Admittedly, he is a great player, but he simply never seemed motivated with Tampa Bay. Losing Adam Humphries hurts worse. Someone else will have to step up as Winston’s security blanket. Nevertheless, the Buccaneers receiving corps should already get a huge boost by making Chris Godwin the clear-cut number two behind Mike Evans.
Can the defense defend?
Odds are, the Bucs offense will put up big numbers. Yet, will the defense be good enough to keep them in the game? Will the running game finally take at least some pressure off Winston’s shoulders? Will the defense be good enough to make sure Winston and the offense will not have to make miracles happen at the end of every game? These are the big questions that will yield critical results.