Why The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Won’t Win The NFC South


There has been a lot of talk this offseason about the NFC South being wide open. With the retirement of Tom Brady, the sharks smell blood in the water and are ready to crown a new king of the south. There is some truth to this thought process.

Most people are writing off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who are reigning back to back division champions. With household names like Brady, Julio Jones, Akiem Hicks and Leonard Fournette gone, it’s proven to be too difficult for most to analyze this Bucs roster. As a result, it has become common to see Tampa Bay projected as one of the worst teams in the NFL next year.

In theory, this leaves the door open for the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. With no dominant team among this group there can be a case made for any of them. This also means that a case can be made against them.

In this series I have highlighted the teams in the NFC South and why each of them have a clear path to failure. Each team is flawed and whether it be the Panthers, Falcons or Saints any of these flaws could be the downfall of a given team. The Buccaneers are no exception to this.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs might be back to back defending NFC South champions, but this is a very different team than what we were expecting this time last year. Many big names from that championship team are gone, such as Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Rob Gronkowski. Of Course the biggest name that just retired is Tom Brady.

Keep in mind that Brady leaving isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The greatest quarterback to ever play the game looked like a shell of himself last season as Father Time finally caught up to the seven time Super Bowl champion. However, the plan to replace him is less than inspiring.

Baker Mayfield is penciled in to be the next starting quarterback of the Buccaneers. Yes, the same guy who is now on his fourth team in the last calendar year. There is a reason for that and it’s not because he’s really good.

Even when Mayfield was finding success and winning playoff games with the Browns. He was always fairly careless with the ball. Combine that with immaturity issues that divided a Browns locker room and it was only a matter of time until he was out of there. The Carolina Panthers learned that quickly after trading for him last season, but decided to cut him before the end of the year. Clearly Mayfield needs an ideal situation to really be serviceable at the NFL level.

Less Than Ideal Situation

While offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich clearly needed to go, the Buccaneers decided to replace him with an up and coming coach with limited play calling experience. And by little experience, I mean he hasn’t called plays above the middle school level. Wow, I even have more play calling experience than that!

I actually do believe that new offensive coordinator Dave Canales will do a good job with the Bucs. He’s a bright young mind and a breath of fresh air compared to his predecessor. But he has to prove that he has any type of feel for play calling and scheming up the best ways to attack opposing defenses.

This might be that much more challenging with an offensive line that has almost as many questions as Canales himself. Rookie Cody Mauch and second year player Luke Goedeke are the expected starters on the right side of the offensive line. Mauch played left tackle at North Dakota last season and Goedeke struggles to play guard as a rookie in the NFL.

On top of the inexperienced and unproven situation of the right side, Tristan Wirfs is flipping to left tackle and new starter Matt Feiler was brought in as the left guard. That’s four players in a new situation, and all five are learning a new offense as the Bucs install and outside zone running game.

If there’s one place you don’t want to be weak in the NFL it’s at quarterback and if there’s a second then it’s in the trenches. The Buccaneers have potential to be bad at both. And what’s worse, they have a rookie offensive coordinator who doesn’t have the experience to navigate it.


Credit Where Credit It Is Due


The one thing a Todd Bowles led team always has is a well coached defense. It also so happens that this Bucs defense is also very talented. This would be the foundation of any success the Buccaneers will find this year.

The Buccaneers ranked seventh in sacks last year and invested a first and third round pick in pass rushers and will be getting Shaq Barrett back after going down mid season with injury last year. This could make the Bucs one of the best pass rushing units in the NFL in 2023. 

They are also very strong on the back end with perhaps the best secondary and linebacking core in the NFL. Basically every starter in this group is in a conversation for being one of the ten best players at their position with names like Lavonte David, Antione Winfield Jr. and Jamel Dean leading the way. Overall, this might be a top five defense in the NFL.

Offensively, there is no denying the talent in the Bucs wide receiver room. Mike Evans is still in the prime of his Hall of Fame career and Chris Godwin will be fully healthy to start this season. Behind them is a rock solid Russell Gage and blazing fast rookie Trey Palmer. This should make Mayfield’s life much easier.


The Bucs will be a defensive minded football team with the pass catchers to make this a good offense. However, there are questions to be answered at quarterback, offensive coordinator and offensive line.

There is a chance that these three things all work out for the Buccaneers. After all, Canales was the quarterback coach behind the Geno Smith career revival last year. If the duo of Canales and Mayfield can have similar success, then the Bucs will be the team to beat in the NFC South.

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