Written by: Drew Pogones
Let’s face it, we were all let down by the much-anticipated NFL trading deadline on Tuesday afternoon. There were plenty of big name, game-changing players that were rumored to be on the move before the 4pm deadline. Several that would have benefited a handful of teams (including the Bucs). The majority of them stayed with their respective teams. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Buccaneers received many inquiries for O.J. Howard but were not “blown away” by any of the them.
So what does this unpopular decision from Bruce Arians and the front office mean for the Buccaneers? It means that Arians was not about to risk the future for a rental player that would just be a band aid. With that being said, here are some of the things I would expect to see during the second half of this underperforming and most likely, non-playoff season.
It is obvious to see that the coaching performance has not been consistent. We have seen questionable play calling in game defining moments. We have also seen the coaching staff holding on to hope with players that have been underwhelming (cough, cough… Perriman, Wilson, Dare, etc.). We have also seen a lack of enforcing accountability to players when they are constantly making mistakes. Arians has been around the block and I would expect him to address these areas of concern and end 2019 strong.
Adjustment of Personnel
I have a hard time watching this secondary getting torched week in and week out. With this being said, I would expect the rest of 2019 to be a year of evaluation of our young players. Todd Bowles needs the chance to throw the young defensive backs into the fire. Lets see what they can bring to the table.
I would expect a significant bump in playing time for Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean while moving Vernon Hargreaves to the nickel spot if not the bench. Due to the season long injury of Justin Evans, I would expect Mike Edwards to continue to have heavy minutes at safety. Last but not least, I, emplore Arians to let go of his commitment to Peyton Barber and hand over the baton to Ronald Jones for the rest of the year.
This is a hot take for many fans and it has really divided the fan base into two types – Winston supporters (if we had an OL, if we had a defense, if we had this and that, etc.) and Winston haters (sick of interceptions, boneheaded fumbles, staying in the pocket too long and just turnovers in general). I will be the first to admit that I have gone from supporting him to giving up on him to trying find out what the real problem is.
Regardless of which side you are on, Winston will be the quarterback for the rest of the 2019 season. Arians and the Buccaneers invested heavily in Winston (picking up his 5th year option) and personally taking the opportunity to use his “QB whisperer” experience to turn him into a franchise QB. Arians will take the last half of the year to see what Winston has. For those pushing for Griffin to play – I am sorry but you most likely will only see him if Winston gets hurt.
So as the second half of the season begins, be ready to expect some personnel changes (mostly in the secondary) along with an emphasis on “no risk-it, no biscuit” mentality from Arians.
As it stands, the Bucs are most likely going to miss the postseason yet again so they might as well evaluate the young players they have and open up the playbook on both sides of the ball. Arians is not the type of coach to enter the “tank mode” like the Dolphins or Bengals. So he will definitely want to finish the year strong. If you’re looking for something to look forward to next year it will be: a top 10 draft pick, plenty of cap space (~$80,000,000), a full year of experience for the players under a new coaching scheme yet again, and a new captain for our ship at QB for 2020.
Photo credit: CBS Sports