It’s that time of year; everyone sits around and talks about how they have a “dark horse” Super Bowl pick, or they think some guy is on the verge of a “breakout” season. Blah, blah, blah.
Time for me to join them, but only to guess how the Bucs are going to do this season, both in record and division finish.
I have the Bucs going 5-12 and finishing third in the NFC South, with the Panthers finishing in the cellar.
I know, a bit harsh considering the Buccaneers are coming off consecutive division titles and a Super Bowl only three years ago, but if you look at this roster from a really broad perspective, there’s just not enough there.
Sure, they have the familiar big names like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Vita Vea, Tristan Wirfs, etc., but the depth is grotesque. It’s a roster that features six undrafted rookies and a myriad of other lower-tier veterans that have a track record as substantial and meaningful as the NFL’s commitment to player safety.
The Bucs have been relatively fortunate so far in the preseason health-wise, with center Ryan Jensen and receiver Russell Gage being the only starters to officially out for the season, but injuries will pop up on a weekly basis.
Tampa Bay’s secondary is the biggest culprit of the depth being horrendous, but even the offensive line and the receiver room are seemingly one injury away from going to full-on disaster mode.
I know their schedule and division may both seem easy, but this is a talent-deprived team we’re talking about here with the Bucs. They have no easy games where they are the clear favorite, and that will likely be the case throughout the year.
The offense lacks stability at any position, from QB to the Mike Evans contract situation to Tristan Wirfs being the only bonafide offensive line starter entering this season.
The defense has a bit less to worry about, but if anyone in the secondary misses any substantial amount of time, the Bucs could be getting torched on a weekly basis, especially with a pass rush that leaves a lot to be desired depending on how linebacker Shaq Barrett bounces back from his season-ending Achilles injury from last season.
It’s not going to be an easy season to watch here in Tampa, but luckily brighter days will be ahead. With another rough season on its way, Todd Bowles could very well be on his way out, and with high draft picks comes the possibility of drafting the next member of the Bucs Ring of Honor. Hell, Deion Sanders’ son Shedeur looks like he’s going to be a really good QB, and he’ll be draft eligible in 2025.
So even if the Bucs aren’t bad enough to get Caleb Williams, maybe they’ll be bad enough next year to get Shedeur Sanders to lead the Bucs to success moving forward.
Or they’ll be stuck in NFL purgatory and continue to be slightly below average, much like the Atlanta Falcons.
You’ve got Carter’s prediction, let’s hear yours!