While we’re usually focused on the immediate future, it’s always nice to look a little farther ahead as well. That’s exactly what ESPN did for the entire NFL, predicting where each team would rank over the next three seasons.
ESPN ranked the Bucs 17th overall, and second in the NFC South over the next three years. Mike Sando explained what could change as the Bucs move forward.
The Buccaneers are on their fourth head coach of the past six seasons after employing only two (Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy) over the previous 13. Ownership's recent willingness to change abruptly in the absence of immediate success threatens long-term stability. Instability at quarterback was a common theme through the recent changes. Jameis Winston can be an antidote to that, giving the Buccaneers an improved shot at future success.
A shot at future success is not quite what the Bucs are hoping for. They want success, and they want it quickly — preferably guaranteed. I’m not too worried about instability, at least at quarterback. Head coach firings are always an option, but the likelihood of that happening has gotten a little smaller — I’d expect the Glazers to be particularly unwilling to move on too quickly, now that they have a head coach/quarterback pair who seem to work well together.
More than that, though, the Bucs are positioned to take a few big steps in the immediate future. They have a franchise quarterback, a head coach who works well with him and talented players across the roster including a lot of young ones. The biggest question is still pass rush, but Noah Spence has the talent to be a very important player in that role. Whether that will be enough to turn the Bucs into more than just another middle-of-the-pack team remains to be seen, but I’m certainly hopeful.