After 2017 ended with a 5-11 record, it was clear that Tampa Bay would be under pressure to win this season or else. Up until the Jameis Winston suspension, it seemed like everything would be ok as long as the Bucs showed improvement and finished somewhere in the 7-9 win range.
But now, there is a feeling that it’s the postseason or else for the Bucs in 2018.
If the Bucs stumble, then we could be looking at another major rebuild in 2019 and beyond with pretty much all of the front office staff removed, Winston gone, and other key players as well.
This was discussed last week by BN’s Gil Arcia, so let’s take it a step further and talk about why each player is feeling the heat in 2018.
Jameis Winston - He must improve his play on the field as well as his decisions off the field if he wants to remain the franchise quarterback and 2018 will dictate what happens in the future.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - The veteran faces the toughest three-game opening stretch in NFL history and will be counted on to keep the Bucs’ season alive.
Ronald Jones II - One of the Bucs’ feature picks of the 2018 draft, Jones is under heavy pressure to lift one of the league’s worst running games in 2017.
Peyton Barber - Even though he came on toward the end of last season, it wasn’t enough to keep the Bucs from investing RoJo.
Jacquizz Rodgers - Can the vet keep up with all of the youth?
Charles Sims - He’s been on the decline since 2015 and signed a one-year deal back in April.
Mike Evans - Tampa Bay’s highest-paid player needs to prove that he is worth the contract he signed.
DeSean Jackson - It’ll be hard to justify Jackson’s salary next year if he has the same type of season as 2017.
Chris Godwin - The second-year player is expected to become a major factor on offense and avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump”.
Adam Humphries - With Godwin’s development, Hump is under pressure to show he can still make plays in this offense.
Donovan Smith - After a down season in 2017, there will be very close attention paid to the potential future left tackle for the Bucs.
Ali Marpet - Marpet is expected to continue his development on the line and a down season could affect his upcoming contract.
Ryan Jensen - When you’re the highest-paid player in the league at your position then there is always pressure to perform.
Caleb Benenoch - Can he take over for JR Sweezy at right guard?
Alex Cappa - Cappa is expected to continue the trend set by Marpet, but can he end up starting in his rookie season like Marpet did?
Demar Dotson - He is getting older and coming off a pretty bad injury in 2017.
Cameron Brate - Just like Evans, Brate will have to prove he’s worth his price tag as well as fight off Howard.
O.J. Howard - The former first-round pick should build off his rookie year and become one of the top tight ends in the league this season.