Every year, ESPN ranks the NFL teams by how they're projected to do over the following three years. Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came in eighteenth place, which seemed a little low at the time. This year, they've come in seventeenth place -- despite improvements across the board. A little odd, no?
ESPN gave the Buccaneers a 74.43 out of 100, good for just 17th on the list. 17th, despite the massive amount of talent on defense, on offense (except at offensive line), the huge jump in head coach quality and that niggling quarterback issue.
The overview: Earlier in the offseason, Bill Polian said the Buccaneers' efforts in free agency this year ranked among the best he's ever seen. It was a little odd, then, to see Tampa Bay's overall ranking here improve by only one spot. That includes no change in the ranking for non-QB roster and a one-spot gain in the front office. A four-spot gain in coaching also seems underwhelming for a team that replaced Greg Schiano with Lovie Smith. The Bucs' only significant gain in the rankings shows up in a move from 16th to fifth in drafting. The team used every one of its 2014 selections for offense, led by receiver Mike Evans, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and running back Charles Sims, all in the first 70 overall selections. Kiper gave the Buccaneers a B-plus grade for their draft and noted that much will hinge on whether the team was correct in going with Josh McCown and Mike Glennon at QB instead of drafting one early. --Mike Sando
Regardless of whether or not the Buccaneers are correct in going with Josh McCown, it's clear that McCown is not the quarterback of the future. He's too old and, really, not good enough to be considered the future of the franchise at the position. And while the Bucs have publicly stated that Mike Glennon is their quarterback of the future, he's far from a sure thing, either. So, a low rating for the quarterback position going forward is reasonable.
In fact, most of the scores overall are fairly reasonable, although the 7.4 for the roster overall is on the lowside. The contrast is more with last year, when apparently the Buccaneers were massively overrated. Though that should be placed in perspective, too: they scored just 58.96 at the time, and every single score was significantly lower. And the score that nets the Buccaneers the 17th place in this year's rankings, would have gotten them the 8th ranking last year.
Grade inflation, what's that?
If the Bucs find a quarterback, these rankings will go way up. Whether that quarterback comes in the guise off quality play from Josh McCown, a surprise Mike Glennon takeover or another new addition in coming years, we're back in traditional Tampa Bay territory(TM): really really awesome, if only they had a long-term quarterback.