Let's face it. There is immense pressure on Jameis Winston to deliver the goods this year.
Some compare him to Ben Roethlisberger, and while I do see similarities in his game, it will be up to Jameis to keep his head up, even if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't win right away. He has a winning pedigree, and the size to withstand any punishment the opponent's defensive line might throw at him.
A quarterback is only as good as the offensive line and receivers he is given. The offensive line is iffy at best. It's still pretty much a new line. Logan Mankins returns at guard for Tampa Bay, and hopes to rekindle some of the magic he had while with he was with the New England Patriots. Evan Smith returns for his second season with the Bucs, and is a solid presence at the center position. The rest of the Buccaneers offensive unit will have to learn quickly how to protect Winston from the best tackles and linebackers that the NFL has to offer.
|Tampa Bay Receiving-2014|
On the bright side, Winston has some nice weapons in terms of receivers. Mike Evans had a pretty solid year in 2014, grabbing over 1,000 yards receiving with 12 touchdowns. And he did it with the less than stellar play of quarterback Josh McCown. If healthy, this kid could be one of the great ones. There's no reason he can't get between 1,200-1,400 yards receiving this year.
Don't forget that Winston has the always dangerous Vincent Jackson as another option. Some say Jackson had an off year in 2014, but having 70 receptions for just over 1,000 yards is not too shabby. McCown's shaky play, mixed in with the fact that Tampa had an inexperienced Offensive Coordinator running things last year, made Bucs' fans wonder if the team could have done better things if Jeff Tedford didn't suffer health problems.
In 2015, the Buccaneers will have a new offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, whose calling card has been the passing game. He did it in his college days at Boise State, Arizona State, and did a pretty good job with Matt Ryan over the past few years in Atlanta.
Jackson is happy that the Bucs were able to grab Koetter.
"Dirk is having some fun moving me around and playing me in multiple places, and it's been fun for me too," Jackson told the Tampa Tribune. "It's fun to play inside in the slot, and outside, to be able to stretch the field and cross the field."
Koetter's system seems like it will benefit the receiving corps this year. Anything can be an improvement than what Tampa Bay has had to play with for the last 2-3 years.
Louis Murphy had a serviceable year in Tampa last year, grabbing 31 receptions for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. He could have been a productive receiver for the Buccaneers in 2015, but Friday, Lovie Smith announced that Murphy will be out indefinitely with an ankle injury.
Tampa also has Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who the Bucs are counting on to be their tight end for the next couple of years. However, 2014 was not a high point for Jenkins, as he missed seven games due to back and ankle injuries. Despite missing time, Jenkins hopes to make 2015 his break out year.
"The back feels great," Jenkins told NBC Sports earlier this year. "I just really needed to let my body rest."
Are the Buccaneers ready to contend for a playoff spot or at least compete for .500 in 2015? Too early to tell. One of their main goals is to make Jameis Winston feel comfortable at his position and surround him with the weapons he needs to score touchdowns. Do the Buccaneers have those tools?