It’s been years since the Bucs have been relevant, and yes I know every offseason fans and followers of the teams are optimistic. Yet here I am telling you 10-6 isn’t that far fetched.
Breaking the season down into four quarters as good Ol’ Lovie liked to do, I see the Buccaneers ending the first quarter of the season 3-1. I believe with a revamped defense and a ball securing high-scoring offense the Buccaneers come out swinging and landing punches early and often.
Jameis Winston opens the season with 350 yards through the air against the San Francisco 49ers while Barber grinds out 70+ yards on the ground. The new fast-moving defense of Todd Bowles only allows 10 points led by Carl Nassib’s 1.5 sacks. The defense batters Jimmy Garoppolo in week 1.
Week 2 the Bucs head north to the Carolinas to face the Panthers. Carolina is coming off a rough road loss to the Rams. Cam Newton suffered a minor setback in week one coming up lame after a blindside sack from former Packer stalwart Clay Mathews late in the 4th quarter.
The Buccaneers capitalize on the Panthers misfortune. With the injury to Newton rendering him essentially a pocket quarterback, the blitzing rookie linebacker tees off. Led by a ferociously aggressive defense, the Bucs squeak out an essential division road win. Ronald Jones has the first breakaway touchdown of his career as he slashes through the Panthers defense for a 63-yard touchdown run. Winston hooks up with Mike Evans and O.J. Howard early in the second half to capture and hold on to the lead. Defensively, rookie Devin White leads the way with 7.5 tackles, a forced fumble, and two tackles for loss. Even though the turnover bug stung the Bucs in this game as Winston threw two interceptions and Chris Godwin fumbled an early first down away, the Bucs defense rose to the occasion. Kicker Matt Gay nailed a 47-yard field goal to ice this one away with 1:22 left on the clock.
Week 3, Tampa Bay welcomes the New York Football Giants to Raymond James Stadium. Riding a 2-0 start to the 2019 campaign this is what most coaches would warn their players of being a “trap game”.
This game is a clash of offensive style. The Giants are forced to run the ball behind the swollen quads of Saquon Barkley. Coming into week 3 Barkley leads the league with 373 yards rushing and 500+ yards from scrimmage. Obviously, the key in week 3 is to shut down Barkley. The defense starts the game surrendering a field goal on the games opening drive as Barkley rushed for 36 of the drive 65 yards.
The Bucs offense starts the game struggling as it’s forced into three consecutive punts on their first drives of the game.
Carlton Davis’s second-quarter pick-six would start the scoring for the pewter-clad pirates and it busted open the dam as the Buccaneers offense seemed to score at-will after this turning point.
Winston throws four touchdowns to three different targets in Cameron Brate, Godwin, and Evans. Evans finished the game with 134 yards receiving as Winston exploited the secondary of the Giants throwing for 412 yards, four TDs, and zero INTs. Bucs route the Giants and send them packing.
Week 4. “Clash of the Titans?” This is the headline as the Bucs board the plane and head to Los Angeles to face the unbeaten Rams. Tampa Bay rides into Los Angeles battle-tested and confident ready to shock the world. Standing at 3-0, the Rams are no jobber and are on a tear as their defense has yet to let up a second-half touchdown. Quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams surgically shred the Bucs 3-4 defense scoring 31 points answering each and every one of the Winston led scoring drives. With a late field goal, the Rams hand Tampa their first loss of the season.
While the loss stings, Tampa heads into the second quarter of the season with a convincing 3-1 record.
Arians has a swagger back in the Bay area as you can feel the winds of change. Does that swagger stay with him the second quarter of the season?
Written by: Mike Sedoris