Who can forget the Bucs starting the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB (Best beard ever!!) and winning their first three games? Life was good early on if you were a Bucs fan. But after a loss to the Bears in Week 4, the Bucs had another look at Jameis Winston and both QB’s would share time over the next few games. Later in the season, the Bucs would settle on Winston going forward.
Going into the 2019 season it’s a whole new coaching staff. Out at HC is Dirk Koetter and in comes Bruce Arians (wait didn’t he retire)? …yes, but he’s back. Most Rams fans will remember Arians from coaching the Cardinals from 2013-2017, (the hat, the glasses… you know the guy!) Arians has fine credentials as a coach in the NFL earning the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award twice, once in 2012 and again in 2014. Also new to the Bucs coaching staff this year is Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich. Leftwich joins the Bucs after a couple of years coaching in Arizona with Arians and Steve Wilks. Leftwich is only in his second year (and first full year) as a coordinator and will be looking to improve on his time in Arizona. At Defensive coordinator, the Bucs have also brought in a new face, former head coach of the Jets Todd Bowles. Bowles spent the last 4 seasons with the Jets and under Bowles, the Jets posted one of the best run defenses in the NFL, holding teams to just 4 yards a carry.
In my humble opinion, I feel that free agency was tough on the Bucs. The loss of players like Gerald McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Kwon Alexander and is a blow. You can see with the signings of Ndamukong Suh to a one year deal worth $9.25 million, and Deone Bucannon on another one year deal worth $2.5 million, that they are addressing some of those losses. I feel that DeSean Jackson is a big loss; the speedster was a good downfield threat, which was a good complement to their top WR, Mike Evans. Bringing in Breshad Perriman does add speed to the WR group and again it’s a one year deal worth $4 million… On to the draft and the Bucs landed Devin White at #5 overall. White was the beating heart of the LSU defense and I’m sure the Bucs are very excited to have him as he projects to be a real talent. With their second pick, the Bucs added some needed help in the secondary with DB Sean Bunting. Bunting doesn’t have a set position in the secondary and as I said earlier the Bucs could use help at Safety, but Bunting with his skill set could be best fitted to the outside. With their third pick in the draft, the Bucs takes CB Jamel Dean. Dean is a Corner with good movement skills and will again look to improve that secondary. The Bucs had an extra compensatory third-round pick from us Rams via a trade and took S Mike Edwards. Edwards is known for making plays on the ball and can play Safety or in the slot. In the 4th Round the Bucs took LB Anthony Nelson, in the 5th they selected K Matt Gay and in the last two rounds added WR Scott Miller and DT Terry Beckner Jr.
It’s safe to say that it’s a new era in Tampa with Bruce Arians and a number of new coaches in place. One of the big questions is going to be; how will QB Jameis Winston play under his new Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator? Could this be the system and support group that Winston has been waiting for? One thing is for sure, the Bucs are going to have to make a decision on Winston’s long term future with the team at the end of this season as he comes to the end of his rookie contract. Will Winston show enough promise in Arians’ system to make Tampa splash the cash on a new contract? Time will tell. Looking at the rest of that Tampa offense there is some real talent with the likes of the aforementioned Mike Evans. Evans has the size and strength to compete with any secondary and has some of the best hands in the league. Also, at WR Chris Godwin should continue to improve on last season’s 59 catches from the slot. In addition, WR Perriman is an interesting player with that straight line speed. And don’t sleep on Tampa’s running game either as the Bucs like what they have in running back Peyton Barber. Barber’s a guy that can get you the tough yards while Tampa will be hoping that last year’s second-round pick, Ronald Jones, can develop into the playmaker he was back at USC, giving Tampa a good one-two punch on the ground. At TE Tampa are strong, with O.J. Howard being one of the best young players at his position in the league.
On defense, the Bucs will be transitioning to a 3-4 defence under Bowles and on the defensive line, guys like Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea can be impact players. The Bucs also have Jason Pierre-Paul out with a neck injury at the moment and he is unlikely to return for some time yet. The Linebacker core got a big boost with the drafting of Devon White. White and Lavonte David have the potential to form one of the best inside linebacker duos in the league, and with Shaquil Barrett and Carl Nassib playing the edge, it could blossom into a strong unit. Onto the secondary and this is where Tampa had some problems last year. This year, outside corners Vernon Hargreaves and Carlton Davis are set to start, with Jordan Whitehead at SS and Justin Evans at FS. It will be interesting to see how Todd Bowles uses rookies Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean in his 3-4 system.
Well, all in all folks, interesting new times in Tampa and a team on the up?…. Only time will tell!
That’s my two cents on our week 4 opponent; hope you enjoyed and cheers for taking the time to read