The Buccaneers were fairly close to making the playoffs last season, and that’s something that couldn’t have been said, for quite some time. Fingers can be pointed in every direction as reasons why Tampa didn’t make it to the postseason. However, I believe a good 95% of those reasons, had been addressed this offseason.
It began with a complete washing of the Buccaneers coaching staff and in turn a re-write of Tampa’s defensive scheme. Koetter’s offense more or less has remained, with the exception that Koetter has all the say so now. Mike Smith’s defensive schemes, will give Tampa a new flexible look, and should bring us back to being known as a team whose defense should be thoroughly respected, even feared.
Tampa went out and picked up everyone they needed to fill the holes in pass rush and the secondary, even if some fans believe it still lacks a certain level of tuning up. The addition of Brent Grimes, to the secondary and the drafting of Vernon Hargreaves, along with the improvement of Altteraun Verner, should put Tampa’s secondary into a position of being, not only relevant but dominant. The safety position is one that many fans screamed needed to be addressed. However, it is in my personal-professional (if you will) opinion, that the safety position was the only secondary position that has worked well the past few seasons.
The pass rush last season, wasn’t horrible, it just wasn’t enough, and I wouldn’t blame any specific player because, in my belief, it had to do more with injuries and lack of personnel. That is something that seems to be a non-issue this season. The Bucs picked up Daryl Smith, Robert Ayers, and drafted Noah Spence, and these moves should automatically add speed and skill to the pass rush.
Our linebackers are fierce, and in my eyes, are groomed to be the best linebackers in football. It’s been a long time since Bucs fans could say that we have the best defense around. I believe that is about to change. Not only, am I excited for this year’s defense, but the players and coaches are excited, as well. You can almost hear the hum of the electricity that surrounds this Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.
The Buccaneers offense last year seemed to be a glimpse into the future, and no one can be displeased with what they saw. Finally looking like Tampa has found a franchise quarterback, at least one that will be given the chance, Jameis Winston excelled in Koetter’s offense, almost like it was created solely for his passing abilities. Doug Martin and Charles Sims proved to be the best running back duo in football, last year as Martin came in second for rushing and Sims led all backups in receiving yards.
Mike Evans caught a ton of criticism for dropping passes last year, but he did also catch a ton of footballs. He may not have had double-digit touchdown receptions, but he did have over 1,200 yards receiving, and that was a step up from his rookie season, so the idea of a sophomore slump is invalid. V-Jax, Louis Murphy, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, missed a bunch of games last season, and Kenny Bell, had missed the entire season. But they are all back, although Murphy is still recovering from his hangover. I’m only kidding. While those players were away last year, other players stepped up. Adam Humphries stepped in place of Murphy, and will compete for the third slot this year, and Donteea Dye showed some serious speed on the field, but his hands were something that left little to be desired. Cameron Brate got some playing time last year in ASJ’s absence and instantly became a fan favorite. Brate is now considered as being the man who may just take ASJ’s starting role. I like Brate, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen.
With all the things going right for Tampa this year, I do not believe we will be fairly close to making it to the postseason, I believe we are a shoe-in. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we can compete with any team in the league, nor any reason to believe we can’t beat any team in the league. So with that being said, let’s hurry up and get this season started, I’m ready to see this new Buccaneers team get out there and dominate everyone that crosses their path.