Nothing hurts a franchise more than to have high hopes turn into a major disappointment.
That was the Buccaneers' record in 2014. New GM. New coach. With stars like Lavonte David, Gerald McCoy, Mike Evans, and Mike Glennon, some insiders thought the Buccaneers could have had a fighting chance at attaining a .500 record last year. But it didn't happen.
Glennon was supplanted as starter most of the year by Josh McCown, who played for Lovie Smith in Chicago. He finished with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2014, with a 70.5 QB rating. It wasn't terrible, but it definitely was not great. In truth, Tampa should have given Glennon the starting quarterback job after he had a solid 2013, but Smith obviously wanted his own guy in there.
It didn't work.
The offense was terrible last year, ranking fourth worst in the NFL in points scored. Not only was their passing game tepid, but their running game was just not there. Injuries to Doug Martin and inexperience factored into a lot of the Buccaneers running game.
It also didn't help that offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford suffered heart problems and was basically non-existent. Marcus Arroyo stepped in, but he couldn't help the team from sliding into a mud of mediocrity. The defense also didn't help matters, giving up 410 points, not exactly harking back to the days of Sapp, Brooks and Rice.
However, 2015 is a season filled with expectation. No one is saying that Tampa will win the NFC South or make the playoffs, but there is some hope that this team can win 8-9 games.
Lovie Smith is probably hoping for a turnaround as well.
There hasn't been calls for his head just yet, but if the Buccaneers finish 3-13 or 4-12, there will be armchair quarterbacks out there asking what went wrong and who's to blame. I personally think that the Bucs will be better this year, as they have made changes to their defense, and the addition of Winston has some fans romanticizing about their team this year.
If the Bucs are to win down the road, they need to keep a coach for more than two years, Building this team through the draft and picking up quality role players is the way to go. It seems like the Buccaneers are in the right direction.
Smith is a really good coach who can do wonders when he has a terrific defense. In 2006, he took the Chicago Bears all the way to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman.
If Winston plays well, and the defense can hold up their end, there's no reason why the Buccaneers can make an improvement. There is a lot of positive hype and vibe surrounding these young Bucs.
Now, they just have to go out there and play up to the hype.