It’s that time of year again. When fans and analysts alike attempt to predict records, stats, and accomplishments for the upcoming season. I have gone on record to say that Donovan Smith will be a pro-bowler *spoiler alert* in this offense, but what about the rest of the team? Here are five bold Buccaneer takes for the upcoming season.
1: Jason Pierre-Paul Leads the Team in Sacks
This is not an indictment on Shaq Barrett, as I project him somewhere around 12.5 sacks in 2020. This take is much more about Jason Pierre-Paul, who was a monster in the back half of 2019.
In only eight starts, Pierre-Paul was able to notch eight and a half sacks. Over a full season, it would translate to 17, only two shy from Barrett’s 2019 total.
Coming into the season healthy, Pierre-Paul is primed to have a massive season. In fact, he has already been pointing to the league leader in sacks as a goal.
2. The Buccaneers Have a Top Five Defense
The Buccaneers have been historically bad defensively this decade. In the first ten games of 2019, it did not seem different. But something clicked after a loss to the New Orleans Saints. The passing defense finally came together and shut down the Atlanta Falcons for 22 points, and the Jacksonville Jaguars for 11.
Still, the Buccaneers rushing defense was the best in the league last season in terms of yards given up. Unfortunately, the last six games were not enough for a statistically sound passing defense, as Tampa Bay finished with 4,322 yards given up, or 29th in the league.
In 2020, the Buccaneers will be top five in both categories. To have a top five defense in both is incredibly difficult. Only four teams have finished in the top five within the same season, dating back to 2015. If the Bucs can pull this off, they will go far into the playoffs.
3. LeSean McCoy Finishes With 1,200 All-Purpose Yards
Don’t get me wrong, Ronald Jones II is still the main guy in the backfield. But Jason Licht didn’t sign LeSean McCoy to mentor Jones on the bench. McCoy will be heavily used in the passing game and has the most experience on the roster.
The only thing stopping him is an injury, or fumble issues. I will admit that McCoy’s running style is frustrating, as he hangs the ball out for a punch, but the numbers don’t say that it is a problem.
One concern was McCoy’s play last season in Kansas City. While he wasn’t bad, the Chiefs wanted him to takeover the starting role, and it just never happened. But he doesn’t have to be that guy in Tampa Bay.
4. Matt Gay Will Get Beat Out In Camp
Matt Gay has struggled in his first real offseason so far. After a lackluster 2019 season, Gay has not proved he can out kick Elliot Fry. At the time of writing this article, the Buccaneers have brought in Ryan Succop and Cody Parkey for a visit.
This does not bode well for Gay, and the coaching staff is getting impatient. I still think the odds are in his favor, but I would not be surprised if Gay were let loose for a veteran option.
5. Donovan Smith Makes the Pro-Bowl
I am on record with this take back in July, and I’m sticking to it. This offensive scheme will look drastically different in 2020 with Tom Brady. Jameis Winston was asked to take frequent deep shots, something Brady just won’t do on a regular basis.
Brady also has one of the fastest releases in the league, which will help the offensive line in a massive way. Donovan Smith has always been healthy, but his play has been mediocre at times. Next season will not be the same.