The Bucs are coming off yet another rough season. They finished dead last in the worst division in the NFL in 2014 in Lovie Smith’s first season at the helm. So the Bucs have only one way to go, up.
How do they get there? First, they need to get the ball to Mike Evans. As a rookie, he had a strong campaign last year. He could be one of the elite wide receivers in the game soon. Who will be getting him the ball? It might be Jameis Winston, the number one draft pick in 2015. Will he be able to step in and make a difference? Possibly. He is very talented and does have the arm.
Graphic via fansided
Mike Glennon is apparently not the answer even though he has shown flashes where he looks very good. If the Bucs were still confident in his future they would not have drafted Winston. Look for Glennon to either be traded or released.
The Bucs had a dreadful offensive line last season which contributed greatly to the struggles on offense of both Glennon and Josh McCown and also running back Doug Martin. They allowed 52 sacks and also had the 29th ranked rushing offense in the league last year, sure signs of a bad O-line.
The Bucs drafted two offensive linemen in this year’s draft, Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet. Can two rookies starting on the offensive line and another starting at quarterback be a good sign? Probably not.
What the Bucs will need to do this season is improve from the start to the end. If they are playing better football in December than they were in September, that is all they can ask. The won-loss record is not going to be good.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bucs are already having a bad season. Cornerback C. J. Wilson’s football career ended on July 4th when he lost two fingers on his right hand in a fireworks accident.
One addition that could make the defense better is safety D.J. Swearinger, the Bucs got from the Houston Texans. Swearinger has a reputation for being a hard hitting safety. Some might say he is a bit on the dirty side.
Lovie Smith is a proven winner as a head coach. He took the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl and another NFC Championship Game. He will get this team to buy in at some point. Will it be sooner rather than later? That remains to be seen.
He has added Paul Spicer to the coaching staff for the upcoming season. Spicer was a crowd favorite as a player with the Jacksonville Jaguars in his playing days. He will be coaching the defensive line. If he can coach these guys up, then maybe the Bucs can improve on their 29th ranked defense of a year ago.
The Bucs were 2-14 a season ago. They won’t have to improve a whole lot. With Winston at quarterback that should just about be a lock. Just on his athletic ability alone, they should be able to beat some of the teams on their schedule. If the Falcons and Saints are as bad as last year, they should get a couple of wins right there. Then there are other beatable teams on the schedule such as Tennessee, Jacksonville, New York Giants, St. Louis and even Carolina.
I like the Bucs to improve a bit over last season. They are in their second year under Smith and Winston should be able to make some things happen out there even if there will be some growing pains. I see them finishing at 5-11 this season. They’ll get a win over the Falcons and one over the Saints. I see them pulling an upset over the Panthers and I think they can take a couple of games against the Jags, Titans, Redskins, Rams or Bears.
They key year for the Bucs will be 2016. That will be Winston’s second year and Evans third year. If they can get an offensive lineman between now and then in either free agency or via trade they might be a playoff contender by then. If they are still floundering around at 4-12 or worse and Winston doesn’t look as if he is going to be a good NFL starter, then Smith might be on the way out.
Graphic via thebiglead