Expectations are high for the Buccaneers. A similar feeling hovered over the bay area last offseason but the team fell flat and well short of expectations in 2017.
Fortunately, unlike previous offseasons, the Bucs made positive changes to the trenches this year. So if there is any hope that Tampa Bay truly fulfills those expectations, it’ll be because of three names ESPN feels will be important in 2018.
In their list of 99 players, coaches, and themes that will define 2018, quarterback Jameis Winston (19th), rookie running back Ronald Jones II (30th), and head coach Dirk Koetter (76th) will define the Bucs success in 2018.
On Winston listed as a young quarterback who can make the jump:
It was a disappointing season all around in Tampa Bay. Winston tried to play through injuries and ended up missing three games. But the way he played when he returned from injury -- 317 yards per game, 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in five December games -- offered hope that this could be the big breakout year the Buccaneers were hoping 2017 would be.
On Jones being a rookie with most fantasy potential:
Sensing a theme here? Tampa Bay was 27th in the league in rushing last season -- one spot behind the Giants and four behind the Seahawks. Jones might not project as an every-down back right away, and it’s on the coaching staff to find the right spots to deploy him, but he has explosive, big-play ability.
On Koetter being on the hot seat:
Ownership tends to keep the seat warm in Tampa Bay even for successful coaches. Koetter is coming off a 5-11 season that dropped his two-year mark to 14-18. Another losing season would probably doom him.
ESPN listed thoughts on teams individually as well, noting that the Bucs 9-7 record two seasons ago earned Koetter another year. It’ll take a collective effort for the staff to come back for a fourth year and it’ll also take more than just Jones and Winston for the team to have any success in 2018.