With the first 53-Man roster announced, let’s take a look at the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and forecast where they’re the weakest.
Nobody likes to come at something through a negative lense - well, almost nobody - and I’m definitely someone who prefers to write happy stories about victories and the like.
But there are always holes to fill in the NFL and the Bucs are no different. In recent years as its turned out, they’ve had more than others in fact.
So, here are the weaknesses on this team as I see them.
1. Offensive Tackles
There are three offensive tackles on the roster. Donovan Smith, Demar Dotson and Leonard Wester.
Smith was looking like an improved left tackle before his injury this pre-season. When he returns, the team will surely welcome him back.
Dotson is ready to go for the regular season and will provide a solid anchor on the right side as he’s paired with a new running partner on the right for the second-straight campaign.
Beyond them, Wester is the lone remaining tackle. Calling him a serviceable back-up is about as excited as I’m willing to get.
If the Buccaneers lose Wester, there’s a long line of guards who are athletic enough to kick out if needed. Some have played well in the few opportunities they’ve had, but the lack of true tackles is a lack of depth which could seriously hinder the team should they need to dip into the pool in 2018.
Guards playing tackle is fun in the pre-season and great when they do well. Relying on one for the duration of a season or for any significant stretch is another thing completely.
This isn’t a paragraph bashing Chris Conte, so if you came for that, you can skip this area.
As weaknesses go, this isn’t the worst one to have. Essentially, the Bucs have a lot of young and inexperienced talent.
Justin Evans and Chris Conte are the starters. Conte, the much maligned veteran will carry the same chip on his shoulder he’s had since arriving to Tampa Bay, which is a good thing.
Evans has flashed some excellent talent, but is still young and will be relied on to show growth if the team is going to push for a playoff spot.
Beyond those two, we have Isaiah Johnson and Jordan Whitehead.
The first, a 25-year old with four games to his NFL credit and four tackles to go with them.
He’s certainly going to be relied on as a special teams contributor, but given the shallow pool of defensive backs, he could certainly find his way onto the field sooner rather than later.
Whitehead is the rookie from Pittsburgh who happens to be related to Darrelle Revis.
He was showing a lot of positive ability before getting injured in the pre-season, and the team wisely drew back on his participation.
I’m actually really happy about this group and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do on the field.
However, from an objective point of view, it’s hard to say it’s a good thing rolling into the season with no more than a year’s experience residing within 75% of your safety group.
No decision is an easy one, but cutting Josh Robinson had to be one of the hardest ones. For one, punt coverage has been one of the few consistent bright spots on the team for the last couple of years.
I know, it’s kind of sad to look upon punt coverage so lovingly, but we have what we have.
Bryan Anger is still with the team, as is Ryan Smith. Both have been equally critical to the performance of the unit. The problem with both Smith and Robinson has been what they do outside of punt coverage. Without getting too rude about it, they have done nothing.
Why cut Robinson over Smith? Likely, it’s as youth and altheticism thing. Smith is much younger and has the better set of raw athletic ability. Doesn’t make it easier, but it makes it understandable.
I expect Isaiah Johnson to get first crack at replacing Robinson on speacial teams with Jordan Whitehead, M.J. Stewart and De’Vante Harris also being obvious potential replacements.
Still, if the punt coverage team falters and talents like Ted Ginn Jr., Darren Sproles, Ryan Switzer, and Tarik Cohen - just to name the first four return men the punt team could face - a lot of attention will be paid to this move if one of those guys gets loose.
Where is the biggest weakness on the roster?
This poll is closed
Other (Please Comment)
These are my weaknesses for the initial 53. I stayed away from the back-up quarterback situation just because I wanted to get beyond the obvious. However, this doesn’t mean there weren’t other candidates to crack the Top-3.
What are you thoughts, and where do you see the biggest holes?