Week 1 of the NFL season is here, fantasy drafts are completed, and weekly football gatherings are planned. Yet according to quite a few in the football world, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are doomed to fail in 2019.
Armchair GMs who never put out their torches for Jason Licht, those who wanted more than anything to land that stud running back that could be obtained in free agency or trade. Those who wanted serious movement on the offensive line and the national pundits have already considered the Bucs’ season lost.
Not All Doom and Gloom
While it’s easy to predict another double-digit loss season, the Bucs do have things going for them this season. First, Todd Bowles’ first year with his past two organizations has been successes. His first year with the Cardinals it ranked sixth in yards surrendered, seventh in points allowed and sixth in takeaways. The Cardinals were no. 1 against the rush allowing the fewest yards and third least amount of rushing touchdowns. While not as impressive in pass defense, they did rank fifth in team interceptions.
In Bowles’ first year as head coach of the New York Jets in 2015, the unit was fourth in pass defense, ninth in points allowed and third in takeaways. They were stout against the rush finishing second in yards surrendered and first in TDs allowed. They also finished fifth in the league in interceptions.
Remember the aggressive and speedy defenses Tony Dungy afforded the Buccaneers during the Tampa 2 days? There’s a good chance we will get to see that kind of punishing play. The type that was sorely missing during the Dirk Koetter years when Mike Smith was running the defense giving up the chunks of yardage. The 2017 team gave up the most yards while the 2018 unit surrendered the second-most points.
Both Arians and Bowles have shown some success with the NFC and greater success in the AFC. You’ll see the team battle more fiercely especially on defense with Devin White anchoring the core of stout linebackers. One that includes LaVonte David and Carl Nassib. As soon as Vita Vea gets to full strength, they’ll be a force with the addition of Suh. Sure it’s expected they’ll give up some big plays, but as long as they can get the takeaways and stop the run, the team will always be in it.
As far as the offense goes, you have to go in with a clean slate with Arians and offensive coordinator Bryon Leftwich. Teams typically run vanilla offenses in the preseason. We’ll start seeing how they’ll play to Jameis Winston’s strengths. Winston can rely on Mike Evans as Carson Palmer leaned on Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, but there are also prime secondary targets with the emergence of Chris Godwin and natural athletic abilities of OJ Howard. If they can help with his reads, then he won’t force as many throws.
While some are predicting a failed first season for Arians and the Buccaneers, many are prediction the team to hover around .500, which realistically is a safe prediction, but the defense will be the Bucs’ rock at least for this season. The offense will simply improve with smarter play and better ball security. The 2019 Bucs could take the league by storm.