Only five winning seasons since winning the Super Bowl in 2002. Back to back 5-11 seasons after finishing 9-7 on the brink of a wild-card berth with a young promising franchise quarterback and talent all around him. That same young franchise QB suspended for three games in 2018 after an alleged groping incident questioning his character and production on the field.
Pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul could miss part of the season or maybe never play another snap in the NFL, Gerald McCoy and the team are at odds, the toughest division in the NFL and six consecutive weeks without a game at Raymond James Stadium. These talking points may cause you to think all hope is, but not so fast.
I am not going to pretend I know the Bucs knowledgeably like most fans do, this is an outsider’s perspective looking at the Buccaneers from a different view. I have no horse in the race, but the future is still bright in Tampa Bay.
Young franchise QB Jameis Winston is still only 25 years old. Suspended for three games in 2018, Winston threw 18 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. In 2017, Winston threw 18 touchdowns and was intercepted 11 times. From those numbers it seems Winston may have taken a step back but that isn’t the case. Winston has good numbers in two important categories, completion percentage and passer rating. In 2017, Winston completed 63.8 percent of his passes and improved in 2018 at 64.6 percent. He had a QB rating of 92.2 in 2017 and took a small step back with a 90.2 rating in 2018. Keep in mind Winston posted these positive numbers after dealing with a failed coach in Dirk Koetter and legal scrutiny after the alleged groping the last two seasons and the alleged rape throughout his young career.
You never want your franchise QB being wrapped up in these kinds of allegations but remember he was never convicted of any of these allegations.
The Buccaneers have a lot to be excited about, there is a new era in Tampa Bay. Dirk Koetter is gone and offensive genius Bruce Arians is now at the helm. Arians has a winning record in the NFL at 59-35-1. He accomplished a lot with an aging Carson Palmer in Arizona, so imagine what he can accomplish with a young Winston and Mike Evans.
The only questions for me are at running back and defensive line. Is Peyton Barber going to be enough at the running back position? The Buccaneers finished as one of the worst running teams in the NFL last season at 29th in the league. How is Winston supposed to be productive with a terrible running attack, the answer is he isn’t, but Arians should correct those numbers. Barber is capable but he cannot carry the load himself. Arians brought in Andre Ellington who was a capable back catching passes out of the back field in Arizona when he coached there, and Ronald Jones should see improvement in his second year as the game is starting to slow down for him.
The defensive is a worry heading into the 2019 season, but the Buccaneers drafted a very capable Devin White to replace Kwon Alexander. White has similar sideline to sideline speed as Alexander, but White is better in coverage and that is a need for a linebacker in 2019. With the losses of JPP for part of if not all of the upcoming season and possibly Gerald McCoy too, in hindsight should the Buccaneers have drafted Josh Allen instead of Devin White?
There will be plenty of bumps in the road for the 2019 Buccaneers as they play most of their schedule on the road, but the future is bright with a new coach and a young cast of players. Tampa Bay did not make these moves for 2019 but two to three years in the future when they could become perennial playoff contenders.
Written by: Ricky E Hester
Ricky Hester graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Media Production from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. Hester has worked with the Associated Press covering WSU men’s basketball and football as a journalist. Hester also worked at KUGR with his own show called Sports Take at WSU during his time there.