The 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers can do almost anything on the field but be successful. At 3-6 and with seven miserable games left in the year, the team has some serious questions to ask in deciding what there is left to play for.
To start, Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht will most assuredly be canned at the end of the season, so they’ll pretty much be talent evaluators from here on out. Aside from that, here’s a summary of who will stay and who will go and how the auditioning for 2019 will go down.
It’s no secret the position has come under high scrutiny and often gets too much credit for team wins and too much blame for losses. Is there anyone in this group left to salvage?
Jameis Winston in year four has largely been invisible, not only because his turnover issues are becoming more a liability than ever before, but because the success of his backup Ryan Fitzpatrick gave the offense an alternative to lead the team. Prior to his benching, Winston was on pace to keep up with up his annual season averages. With the team’s struggles continuing, it’s possible Winston may not see starting snaps again. But he is being seriously considered to start against the similarly struggling 1-7 New York Giants at the Meadowlands. Winston’s completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for 1,181 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He’s also fumbled the ball four times. You get what you get with Winston, not a lot of room to grow but the same benefits and mistakes.
Fitzpatrick has been the more productive of the two quarterbacks this season, but his execution is still grotesque with 67 percent of his passes completed for 2,199 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. He, too, has 4 fumbles. He’s the QB behind the most profoundly pathetic offensive stat of the 2018 season, over 400 passing yards and 3 points to show for it.
Call it what it is, but the only person who can make a case to have an opportunity at this point is Ryan Griffin. The Bucs need a miracle, and even Vinny Testaverde at his current age could be a choice since no one in that locker room has figured anything out.
It’s a take-it-or-leave-it at this point for this core. It’s hard to justify keeping anyone from this line, given what they haven’t done this year. Barber could go if Jones can get another chance to play for someone else. You can also say goodbye to Jacquizz Rodgers. Otherwise the unit is a wash.
Probably the most stable unit and most likely to be retained. DeSean Jackson will likely go elsewhere unless the new coaching staff really impresses him enough to stay, but he’s in his final years in the league and he’ll likely play for a winner. He’s playing for his next contract.
Cameron Brate could be viable trade bait for a team hungry for a tight end. Don’t be surprised if Brate ends up as a contender next season. OJ Howard is finally starting to live up to his first-round status.
I expect Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith to stay, and it’s a 50/50 chance for Demar Dotson to stay. Not shocked if they stayed at least in a depth role. Don’t be surprised to see an overhaul otherwise.
Gerald McCoy could be considered trade bait, and he’s not getting any younger, as valuable to the team as he’s been. Vea will definitely stay. 50/50 on Vinny Curry. Jason Pierre-Paul is a shoe-in to stay.
Starter Lavonte David will stay. Given Kwon Alexander’s injury, he could take the same or a reduced contract to improve his viability. Or he can test the market and hope other teams don’t hold his injury against him. Others will be question marks and interchangeable.
Whether it’s piss-poor coaching, lack of discipline, or something else, aside from the rookies, no one’s job’s safe. Who stays depends on the new system that will be implemented in 2019.
Punter Bryan Anger will retain his job.
Aside from these bold predictions, you can expect the Bucs to lose their remaining games. You may have some of the Bucs faithful still show up, but don’t be surprised to see more visitors invade Raymond James Stadium as the end of the season comes closer.
Playing for pride for the Bucs is not just beating a dead horse. It’s enough to fill a few stables. They’re playing for respect and a roster spot somewhere.