Do you want to see the most pessimistic prediction for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so far this offseason? No? Well, okay, then you can stop reading. For everyone else, there's Pro Football Focus and their prediction that the Bucs will go 5-11 this year. Yes, an actual step backwards from last season.
The Buccaneers were tied for the third-worst record in the NFC in 2015. While they made some improvements to the roster, it might not be enough to concoct a playoff run. On defense, they added Robert Ayers at defensive end and Brent Grimes at cornerback, but both are in their early 30s and potentially past their prime. They doubled up at those positions with defensive end Noah Spence and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III in the draft. The Bucs need all four to make an impact for the defense to be even above average. On offense, their only big change was moving from Logan Mankins to J.R. Sweezy at left guard. The Buccaneers have the skill players to put a successful attack on the field, but the O-line will likely hold them back.
The offensive line will be fascinating to watch this year. Independent analysts really don't like the Bucs' line, either the individual players or the overall performance. And they may have a point: the only player who truly, consistently impressed last year was Ali Marpet. Everyone else struggled, though Demar Dotson barely played. But the line also wasn't a real problem: it was good enough to win, and good enough to consistently produce, even when it was a little leaky.
I'm not sure why everyone is so obsessed with the Bucs' offensive line, though. Because let's be real: teams can easily win Super Bowls with relatively sub-par lines. In fact, J.R. Sweezy was a starter on the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl-winning and Super Bowl-losing teams. If he's going to keep the Bucs from succeeding, he certainly didn't keep Seattle from doing so.
That's not a plea to ignore the offensive line by any means. It's certainly important, but quality players and offensive design can compensate for and hide a lot of deficiencies. The Bucs may have to do that this year, but that doesn't really need to be a problem. Doug Martin and Charles Sims are more than capable of producing behind decent lines, and while Jameis Winston can be affected by pressure, he's also very good at getting rid of the ball and avoiding sacks.
In all, I genuinely don't see much reason for this pessimistic prediction. Sure, it could happen, especially if some unfortunate injuries strike, some players don't develop, and others decline more quickly than generally expected, but a lot would have to go wrong for the Bucs to genuinely be that bad.