The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-2 and are on their bye week this week before facing the Atlanta Falcons in week 6. While many fans would have taken a 2-2 record going into the bye week, there’s a sour taste around the team after their play the last two weeks.
While the negatives are obvious, there are some things with this team to be positive about moving forward.
1.Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson
Currently, the Buccaneers have the best 1-2 punch in the NFL this season at the wide receiver position. Evans is ranked 6th with 426 yards receiving, while Jackson is ranked 7th with 424. No other team has two receivers ranked in the top 10 in that category. Since week one, Evans and Jackson have arguably been Tampa Bay’s most consistent players week in and week out. Jackson still has top notch speed at his position and Evans has been a man on a mission ever since training camp began. The return of Jameis Winston will bode well for these two moving forward and I expect both to easily exceed the 1,000 yard mark this season. In fact, both are on pace for 1,600 yards.
2. The return of Vita Vea and Beau Allen as well as Mitch Unrein.
The team will have to wait a few more weeks on Unrein, but all signs point to Vea and Allen returning after the bye week fully healthy and ready to go. All three being healthy will give the Buccaneers exactly what they envisioned back when training camp began in July. As the season goes on, Vea will only get better and will help free up other players on the defensive line. Since Allen went down in week 2, the run defense hasn’t been the same. He will improve that area for sure. We haven’t seen Unrein, but he is a veteran and will undoubtedly add another body to the defensive rotation.
3. The return of starter Kendell Beckwith.
Yeah, this is big and seems to have been forgotten amongst many of us. Beckwith was spectacular last year as a rookie, but the injury he sustained in the off season was unfortunate and has kept him out through the first 4 games. He is eligible to return week 7 against the Cleveland Browns and if he’s healthy, he needs to be inserted right away. The defense needs a spark and Beckwith is their best coverage linebacker and should help in that department.
4. Jason Pierre Paul is off to a hot start
Pierre Paul is on pace for a 16 sack season and has been the team’s best defensive lineman through four games, by far. With the return of Vita Vea, JPP is going to get even more one on one looks than he has early in the season and I expect him to take full advantage of those opportunities. At this current pace, JPP would be the first Buccaneers defensive end to reach 10+ sacks since Simeon Rice did it in 2005. JPP has been a much needed boosts to this defensive line and is just another shrewd move by general manager Jason Licht that has paid dividends for this Buccaneers football team.
5. Jameis Winston is officially BACK.
Don’t put any stock into last week. Winston was just average in Week 4, but the Bears knew every play would be a pass and it was easy for them to defend the Buccaneers in that case. Whether fans believe it or not, Winston is clearly the better quarterback than Fitzpatrick and will give this team a chance to win week in and week out. Everything on the offensive side of the ball is set up for him. He has all the weapons in the world, an improved offensive line and a play caller in Todd Monken who seems to have a good idea on what he’s doing. It’s all on Winston and people should expect Winston to rise to the challenge for the rest of the season.