Free agency is over, the 2017 NFL draft is over, and the offseason is in full swing. The perfect time to create some completely meaningless lists about which team is good, and which team is bad. Power rankings, in other words.
I kid, of course. They’re not entirely meaningless: they represent a consensus, third-party view of teams’ qualities, and there’s always some value in them. Not that they’re perfect, but they’re a weak indication.
All that said, ESPN’s Dan Graziano ranked the Bucs a disappointing fourteenth.
It was as if the Bucs and the Titans were having a contest to see who could gather more weapons for their third-year star quarterback. Jameis Winston picked up DeSean Jackson in free agency and O.J. Howard in the draft's first round. Not bad. What Mariota still has over Winston is someone to take his handoffs.
Hopefully, the Bucs’ committee approach to the running game will suffice to compensate for the lack of a real star—or perhaps Doug Martin will have one of his good years. Who knows?
Fourteenth is disappointing, but not really unrealistic. The Bucs would like to be ranked higher—they were one win removed from the playoffs—but actually getting there is going to be hard, especially givne the division they’re still in.
I’m optimistic, though. Mostly because I expect Jameis Winston to take some big steps, aided by the addition of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard to an offense that was at times sluggish last season. The Bucs’ defense could be a bit of an issue, depending on how quickly Justin Evans adjusts and the edge rush comes together.
If the Bucs are ranked fourteenth at the end of the season, though, they might have a problem. Because playoffs are definitely the goal this season.