The 2019 NFL season is here.
Long-time fans and followers know that the days leading up to the first game of the year are usually filled with optimism, high expectations, and excitement as everyone gears up to cheer on their favorite team.
One of the better aspects of the NFL is the fact that there are fans everywhere. There is no hyperbole involved in that statement. There is always a good chance of running in to a fellow fan or just publicly witnessing someone rep their team in some fashion.
That applies with fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even though it’s a small-market team, there are plenty of fans dispersed throughout the country - and the world. They may not be easy to find, but trust me, they are there.
So, I thought it would be a good idea to seek them out and get their thoughts and/or expectations on the upcoming season. I was not disappointed. Fans from all over the country - and the world - wrote in to offer up their voice and opinion on the Bucs.
There will be representatives from the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, and West (the five main regions of the United States) as well as some from different countries.
Before we begin, I want to give a big shoutout to everyone who helped me in this endeavor. I can’t wait to do it again at the end of the year and in the future.
Our first representative is @ant_caccia4 from New Jersey:
“Do not adjust your TV, rub your eyes or otherwise lose your attention Bucs fans. If you do, youll miss the only time our Tampa Bay Buccaneers will wear their red jerseys the entire season. Football is back, and the NFL’s annual pre-season darlings are days away from hosting San Francisco. Regardless of the tough, bizarre schedule ahead of them, there is optimism the Buccaneers will take a step forward this season under Kaptain Kangol, Bruce Arians. Although pre-season football has become a watered down, glorified game of flag, we as fans witnessed the foundation for what these Buccaneers want to establish themselves as.
The first noticeable difference in this team is the coaching. My goodness. When Bruce Arians was brought on board, a lot of die hard fans were just as excited he brought Todd Bowles with him. Although he finished in New York with a 24-240 (.375) record as the Jets HC, the Jets defense was always tough, fast, and aggressive under his watch. I’m looking towards a step forward in the game of the second year guys like Carlton Davis, MJ Stewart and Jordan whitehead who all seem to be playing more instinctively in our new man-press scheme. VH3 seems to be closer and closer to bringing that swagger he has during practice to Sundays.
I also love the addition of Deone Bucannon. Aside from erasing the horrible memories of Conte wearing #23, Bucannon has been used as a swiss army knife, do-it-all type player for this Bucs squad; lining up every where from ILB, S and Nickle Corner in situations. His knowledge and play-making skills are welcomed additions to this new, young Bucs defense.
As excited as you can be for this Buccaneers defense, multiply that by five and that’s how worried you have to be about this offensive line. If you told me that this collection of starters is the 4th highest paid IN THE LEAGUE, I’d tell you to ask for a refund. Jameis Winston may not live to see that $100 million-dollar extension if the Buccaneers don’t figure out a way to fix this glaring hole. They all seem to be overwhelmed and aren’t communicating at the LOS to ensure they’re on the same page. This is an area where our depth is razor thin, and if Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich want to push the ball downfield, #3 needs time to let those routes develop. Nothing else will matter for our offense: the running back battle, Jameis’ make-or-break year, and neither will our incredible pass-catchers if something doesn’t change.
Speaking of those incredible pass catchers, lets pump their tires here. I wish some of these guys could play guard so they can all make the team. Already a fantasy football darling, Chris Godwin is on the verge of being the next WR star. Along with Godwin and M1K3, I love the element Breshad Perriman gives us. Its clear that there is still a ton of gas left in his tank and his legs are fresh.
Is there anyone more loved in Tampa right now than Tanner Hudson? This man is having the preseason of his life making incredible catch after catch in critical spots. I see Hudson’s skill set similar to that of a poor-man’s Cam Brate, and although Brate is a good player, his cap hit of $7 million is far too rich for my taste. If Hudson can make this Bucs team, I think it would set him up well to eventually be the #2 behind OJ.
I don’t know what to make of this running back battle. In what will most likely ultimately be a time share, neither guy has really distanced himself over the summer. Peyton and ROJO have both had plays this preseason where they show you some abilities but it is never consistent enough. I am taking a wait and see approach for these two guys who struggle to create their own yards behind an offensive line struggling to win their battles.
I saved the most important piece for last. Jameis Winston. All off season we believed that Bruce Arians was the guy to come in and turn on the light switch for the very talented, and super frustrating quarterback. I like what I have seen so far from JW. The one thing I really enjoyed this summer watching him is his awareness. I LOVE the emphasis he’s put on keeping two hands on the ball when he’s flushed out of the pocket or has to improvise. How many times have we seen him get hit from behind and fumble it away? I saw it in the 1st quarter scramble against the Steelers. He had to get on the move and run for a couple yards. Two hands on the football. I saw it again last night several times when he had to take off and run, two hands on the football. Its in his passing decisions too. He seems much more content with throwing it into the stands or in the dirt when the play isn’t there. He isn’t throwing it into double or triple coverage to try and get yards. The growth in that department has been outstanding. This coaching staff must be drilling those messages into his head that sometimes the best play, is the one you don’t make. If Jameis can cut down on those turnovers, the Buccaneers will find themselves in situations to win a lot more games this year.
The deep ball accuracy has to improve. Immediately. It has been constant struggle of his throughout his career. He has all the weapons and arm talent he could ask for to thrive in this system, but he needs to figure out his timing to complete those shots. If he does, this team will once again find itself in the top 5 of most offensive team statistics.” - @ant_caccia4
@DumbThumbz is a Bucs fan in the Pittsburgh area and wanted to weigh in on the topic:
“My 2019 outlook on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is somewhat promising. With the addition of Bruce Arians, I’m hopeful he can steer the team in the right direction. After looking at our schedule, I think a record of 10-6 or 9-7 is realistic. I think Arians changes the culture and ultimately brings more accountability to the Bucs. Hopefully that translates into more wins.
This is ultimately the make or break year for Jameis Winston. However, in my opinion, the offensive line is what makes or breaks Jameis Winston. So far his escapability has been phenomenal this preseason. He makes negative looking plays turn into positive yardage. I want Jameis to succeed in the worst way. I hope Arians can reel him in and eliminate the bonehead mistakes we all became accustomed to see him make over the years. If he sucks this year, it’s time to move on.
I want Marpet, Jensen and Cappa to succeed just because their flowing locks look awesome as an interior offensive line unit. Donovan Smith is a serviceable left tackle at best and Demar Dotson is one of the more underrated right tackles in the league however he is getting older. Alex Cappa is the wildcard for me. The preseason game against the Browns scared me but the preseason game against the Steelers gave me some optimism.
Peyton Barber is a backup on mostly every other NFL team. I have yet to see anything from Jones that excites me. The Bucs RBs are blah and that’s all I have to say about them. They are without question the weakest link on the Buccaneers. I’m hoping Licht somehow acquires Melvin Gordon for a grilled cheese sandwich but it’s never going to happen.
Without question, the Bucs’ strongest link is their receiving group. The WRs and TEs are top tier. Evans and Godwin along with Howard and Brate give Winston plenty of options this year. Perriman isn’t Desean Jackson but I think he can provide similar services to was DJax did for the Bucs, minus the poor attitude DJax had.
I really love Todd Bowles’ type of attacking defense aside from it being a 3-4. I’ve always been a 4-3 type of guy but I’m open to new ideas and schemes and I’m just a guy from Pittsburgh so why should Todd Bowles care about what I think?
I was super happy when the Bucs picked Devin White this past year during the draft. I think David and White have the ability to be the best inside 3-4 linebackers in the NFL on paper. On the field is another story but I’m optimistic Whites LSU play will translate over to the Bucs. Nassib, JPP (when healthy) and Barrett should be able to provide a serviceable pass rush but this is dependent on the play calling and execution. I don’t think the Bucs will have a Chicago Bears type of pass rush, but I think it can be decent this year.
I think the Buccaneers back end is a nice mix of ball hawk zone play and aggressive run defensive play. I’d like to see all three guys get some time in Todd Bowles defense this year and I think they will. I think we upgraded a decent bit from last years secondary. I’m not certain but I’m optimistic.
Matt Gay has a hammer of a leg. I feel fairly confident in saying he’s no Roberto Aguayo. Thank goodness. - @DumbThumbz
Danny Maples, a fan from Arizona, is first up for the Southwest region:
“I have been a Buccaneers fan out here in Arizona since about 1998. They have disappointed me a lot more than they have made me happy. The best thing that I can say about the team this year is there is a “different” optimism. They have signed a lot of good free agents over the years and only a few panned out. I feel like the FA’s that were signed this year, are different than they have signed in the past. There were no splash signings or big contracts. There were great under the radar talents that fit the system and are here on one-year deals. I feel like this coaching staff knows what they are doing. It just feels different.
I am most definitely looking at Godwin for a big year. Very easily, the Bucs could have three 1,000-yard receivers with him, Evans, and Howard. The player on the bubble for me is Bobo Wilson. I don’t know if they keep 5 or 6 receivers, but Watson is number 4 and Scotty Miller has to be 5. They don’t give up on the guy they drafted. Bobo has done well in the pass game and plays special teams. I think he should be on this team.” - Danny Maples
Branon Leonard (@branonleonard) is up next. He is from Arizona, too:
“It has been a couple days since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Cleveland Browns so I have had some time to reflect and let what I feel sink in. I did not want to get overly excited about everything that has happened in preseason thus far, so with that I’ll say I don’t feel confident in our o-line at all, I’m sure all of Bucs Nation feels the same as I do when I say it was horrendous. If the o-line is not fixed by Week 1 then we are in for a rude awakening against the 49ers front seven. But as easy as it is to focus on the bad - which has been the trend for quite some time with the Buccaneers - I am hopeful when I say I expect the Buccaneers to squeak into the playoffs. I’m usually that one fan that says “16-0 any given Sunday!” but this season my expectations are fair and can be a reality.
I’m really looking forward to watching our veteran corner, VHIII, especially after his season-ending injury last year. There will be a lot of eyes on him this season and I think that he’ll succeed under the microscope. Look for him to make some splash plays this season.” - Branon Leonard
Sean Lovegrove (@seanlovegrove1), a fan from the Nashville, TN area wrote in for the Southeast:
“My name is Sean and I’m from just outside Nashville. Titans territory. My outlook on the 2019 season is….cloudy. I come into every season excited, no matter what the national opinion of our team is. I’m an optimist about the team I love, but this season I’m just not sure what to expect. I know I expect the offense to put up a lot of yards (and hopefully points). I look at the weapons this team has and I question how anyone could possibly think they’ll only win 3, 4 or even 5 games. Then I watch a couple of preseason games and see the offensive line single-handedly sabotaging multiple drives, think about what could happen if Jameis regresses and look at the schedule and all of a sudden I need a stiff drink.
I’m more excited about the Buccaneer’s stable of backs than I’ve been in a couple of years with Peyton Barber being dependable as always and Ronald Jones not only looking like an NFL RB but also looking like he knows he has to perform well this season. You can see every time he touches the ball that he’s giving his all to try to break tackles to make a play, something he never did last season. I’m also excited about Jameis Winston’s prospects this season, despite an up-and-down preseason for the fifth-year QB. I think this offense will suit him well. I really believe this staff will mold this offense around his strengths in a way that the previous regime never did. I’d be crazy to not mention that Jameis also has a fantastic group of pass catchers to buttress him in 2019. My expectations for that group is for Chris Godwin to explode and become another WR1, for Breshad Perriman to be the reliable pass catcher that DJax never was (and hopefully a better deep threat, too), for Mike Evans to keep doing what he does, and for both OJ Howard and Cam Brate to have big seasons. The only thing that can hold this offense back, in my eyes, is the offensive line. They’re too well paid and they have too many high draft picks to be performing the way they have been. I’m especially nervous about Alex Cappa (after seeing him look like a human turnstile multiple times against Cleveland), but I’m also concerned that Demar Dotson may finally start to show his age.
For the first time in at least half a decade, I’m more excited about the defense than the offense. Though the games don’t count yet, this Todd Bowles’ D has my hopes up. The pass rush has been creative, consistent and fun to watch. They may not always get home but they’re not letting the opposing QB get comfortable. Linebacker looks like the deepest spot on the team and I can’t wait to see Lavonte David and his young protégé Devin White making plays from sideline to sideline. Then there’s the secondary. Even with three more high draft picks added to the scrum this year I was petrified about what would happen when they actually got out there on the field. However I’ve been pleasantly very surprised by how aggressive they’ve been and how almost no catch has gone uncontested. I’m just happy to see DBs challenging WRs and not just letting them catch the ball and then be forced to make a tackle to prevent a big play.
This team has me so confused. If they put everything together and the offensive line isn’t the sieve I’m afraid it’ll be, then I could see this team winning 8, 9 or maybe even 10 games. On the other hand if things don’t come together the way we all hope they will, or if there are a rash of injuries this team could win 5-7 games. Let’s not even talk about the asinine schedule the Bucs face this year, which even the 2007 Patriots would balk at. In the end my hype level is as high as ever coming into 2019 but I have no idea how many games this team is going to win. A Wild Card berth wouldn’t shock me and neither would another top 5 pick. I guess that’s why this team is so darned interesting this year. Fingers crossed…” - Sean Lovegrove
Nick from Tampa Bay served up some local thoughts:
“There was more news about my Bucs this year than ever with podcasts and variety in opinions, but it has been one of the most brutal and difficult offseasons ever because of media comparisons to the past two seasons. There should be no comparison between Dirk Koetter and Bruce Arians, but for some reason writers come across as know-it-alls and fans feel like they have to be shown something in the preseason. There’s not much benefit in showing your cards early on.
The o-line looked soft and I am hoping for a trade because who on the waiver wire is going to realistically be better than what we have? I hope the o-line isn’t our undoing this season but I always wait until Week 1 to judge. I trust BA more than any writer’s opinion and he’s not going to continue to play guys like Cappa who cant cut and risk his reputation like Dirk. I think the biggest worry is the pass rush. Spence is invisible and listed ahead of Barrett for some reason and Nassib is just another guy. Plus, JPP’s return is a pipe dream knowing the season could be over by the time he’s in game shape. Still, a competent quarterback could overcome a lot of these issues. I wouldn’t like to franchise Winston, either. He needs to prove that he’s the guy or move on.” - Nick from Tampa Bay
Jonathan Schellhorn is another Tampa local who wanted to share his thoughts:
“First and foremost, I like to mention that I have been a Bucs fans since the Creamsicle days of ole. I, like so many other Bucs fans, had to endure many heartbreaking and sometimes downright embarrassing seasons. I honestly feel that this season will be no different if we cannot get our o-line and running game in check. Jameis was sacked five in the preseason game against the Browns and God knows how many times he was hurried out the pocket and forced to try to make something out of nothing. Our o-line cannot run block to save their lives and whenever our offense manages to make a decent run play or pass it nearly always gets called back for holding penalties. Our running back stable is average at best and lacks the talent to make defensive coordinators respect our backfield. Until we have an offensive line that can give our QB time to throw and open up lanes for our RBs this team will not make it to 8-8. Regardless of the enormous amount of respect I have for Bucco Bruce Arians and his coaching ability, I honestly don’t believe we will have a winning season this year with the limited amount of talent in key positions. Our o-line is a glaring problem and our d-line is one injury away from disaster. Our backs have gotten better from what I have seen but they are still blowing coverages and letting their man get open. Arians also inherited a terrible cap situation, which hasn’t made things any easier. I would say we would be lucky with this years schedule to get six wins. Hopefully I’m way off.” - Jonathan Schellhorn
And you know we can’t do a fan article without someone repping Tallahassee! @JEMicklos is here to let us in on what’s going on in his head:
“Where do I start with my favorite Yucks? I could point out that we extended our GM to an additional five years even though he’s been dreadful. How about this wonderful schedule that the NFL made sure to apologize for but not rectify? No, lets talk about this roster.
I’ll keep the quarterback talk short and simple. I don’t want to see Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Griffin in a non-garbage time situation this year. Give me all of Jameis. Play like 2000’s Farve. Yeah, he was frustrating, but it was fun.
I love Peyton Barber. I also understand the limitations of him and accept that. What I don’t love is Ronald Jones not looking like he belongs on the field.
We have six receivers but only five belong in the league. Evans is one of the best in the game. Godwin has continued to look fantastic and should be once again. Will always have a soft spot for Bobo. I am really intrigued in what the team will get out of Miller and Watson.
Considering we didn’t trade anyone, I think keeping four tight ends was the right decision. Look, I understand Hudson is everybody’s favorite after the preseason he had but let’s see if he can do the same thing in real game action. I trust Brate to continue to do his job and everybody knows how much Jameis loves targeting him. I still maintain Howard was the wrong pick, but he has played well so don’t regress. This might be the best unit on the team.
Can the offensive line be competent? I doubt it. Jensen and Marpet are both good players. Not worried about either one of them and realistically they are both top ten at their position. I’m not sure what to make of Dotson anymore. Just stay healthy. I really don’t want to see Beneoch, he’s awful. Alex Cappa could be an issue. Donovan Smith is a damn turnstile. You know it is bad when opposing defensive lineman celebrate him getting resigned.
Looking towards the defensive line, boy this is rough. The only bright spot is gone to a division rival. Suh will be a negative as his personal fouls will outnumber his pressures. Beau Allen is a backup player who must start because Vea can stay healthy. If he can stay healthy we’ll finally get to see what he can provide but bust territory has been entered. William Gholston is butt. Not having JPP sucks. He was great last year but with this new injury I’m not sure if that version of him will ever step on the field.
The only issue with moving to the 3-4 is that the personnel isn’t there for the outside backers. Nassib and Nelson are good 4-3 ends. I doubt their ability to be standup rush backers, but we’ll have to wait and see. I like both. Shaq Barrett is a backup level player that is starting out of necessity. Lavonte David is a stud. I fully expect Devin White to be a stud. I like Bucannon, Cichy, and Minter as depth up the middle. Would trust any of those three in live action. Would love to have Beckwith but I doubt he ever steps on a field again.
The safeties are going to be bad again. Whitehead I believe could be average. Justin Evans is bad. M.J. Stewart is two minutes away from getting cut. Ryan Smith isn’t good either. I’m willing to give Dean, Edwards, and Murphy-Bunting time but my expectations for Edwards and Murphy-Bunting are low. Carlton Davis looks to be our lone above average DB. VH3 is garbage and will continue to be garbage (#NeverGator).
Matt Gay you have given me hope. Please don’t ruin it.
- Floor: 2-14
- Ceiling: 7-9
- Prediction: 6-10
I would prefer this team tank, but I don’t trust Licht to not botch the draft so just keep trying to win. Another season of frustrated Buc fans who care too much. Y’all need to relax and accept that this franchise sold its soul for the Super Bowl. It was worth it. Now enjoy being the Suckaneers again. We’ll get some fun out of it.” - @JEMicklos
John Blackburn of Winter Haven, Florida joined in on the fun:
“I am a long-time season ticket holder (1976-2019).
My feelings are the team might play better at times on offense and defense. Winston has to protect the ball more and not force the play and take what is there. The defense will have its up and downs going to the 3-4 defense. But if they don’t get a pass rush it’s not going to be good.
My expectations are that they have to start strong and at least be .500 or better after the long road trip. Even though the NFL is calling the London game a home game, they did not do any favors for the Bucs with that schedule.” - John Blackburn
I know North Carolina is technically the “Mid-Atlantic”, but I went ahead and put Eric Caldwell in the Southeast region:
“The #1 storyline in Tampa during the offseason has been the marriage of Jameis Winston and Bruce Arians. The fan base is seemingly split on how Jameis will pan out under the Quarterback Whisperer. How will the #1 passing offense in 2018 fair under Bruce Almighty? We’re about to find out.
My attention, however, has been focused on the defense. I’m not as worried about our offense as the majority of Bucs fans seem to be. I find it hard to believe that the offense will regress substantially under Bruce and that’s what it would have to do for that side of the ball to fail. His reputation speaks for itself and I doubt a more balanced run game will tank this unit. Do we really believe a top-10 offense will play poorly with the addition of Bruce Arians at head coach?
That is why I have been watching the defense. It’s fair to say the majority of Jameis’ career he has played with a weak run game, special teams, defense, and coaching unit. Those four factors are just impossible to overcome. Considering the fact Matt Gay looks like he may be our special teams savior already in his career and coaching has evidently been upgraded, that leaves the defense and run game to improve in order for our team and Jameis to succeed. Now it’s more difficult to judge run blocking and how a running back will perform at this juncture in this season than it is to evaluate the defense. There’s one stat that must be addressed when looking at the other side of the ball. In 10 drives for the starting defense, the opposing STARTERS have had 10 drives. In those 10 drives the defense has given up 0 touchdowns. WOW! They have still given up several field goals but keeping them out of the end zone is job #1.
You could watch any of the preseason games and tell quite easily that the defensive unit has improved. Mike Smith may have coached the worst in Bucs history and the switch to 3-4 and hiring of Todd Bowles has already paid dividends. Bruce had stated the defensive backs have been fixed within just a few practices of preseason and early returns indicate he is not lying. The linebackers are EVERYWHERE and these guys are getting their hands on the ball. Not to mention the pass rush has improved WITHOUT Vita Vea, JPP, and Lavonte David in the fold. Yea, arguably our three best players on that side of the ball.
We’ve reached a point in Jameis’ career where we need to make a long term decision fairly soon. Seeing as the defense may be middle of the pack or better and Matt Gay could be our next Gramatica, it limits the excuses fans would give to our young QB if he does stumble. Sprinkle in the emergence of Barber and Jones and there will be no excuses for the fifth year player loaded with weapons like Evans, Brate, Howard, and Godwin.
The only thing holding this team back from exceeding everyone’s expectations is the offensive line in my mind. They looked TERRIBLE in week three of preseason. The Browns weren’t letting these guys breath before they were reaching the QB. This has got to be fixed and I think it will. Remember this unit was not terrible last year, thus the #1 passing offense. Listen to Demar Dotson’s press conference when you get a chance. He is extremely confident they will rebound. I trust him and Bruce to get tweak things to get the ball rolling.
We’re almost there. We will get an idea of what the Bucs will do here in a couple of weeks when the clock matters. Jameis almost assuredly looks to have an improved defense, coaching staff, and kicker. I can’t imagine his rushing attack being as dreadful as it was last year. This will correlate to a step backwards in the passing attack, but a balance in the overall attack. I am a big, big fan of Jameis Winston and I am extremely confident he will succeed with a supporting cast, that he has not had.
While everyone has been looking at the QB’s performance alone, the smart ones have been looking at the team. If the team improves then the QB will improve. That’s football 101. Just be sure to give the defense, special teams, coaching staff, and running backs credit if we get there and not just our QB. It’s already too late to put responsibility on them for 2018, which most of you failed to do and instead attributed the failures to Jameis Winston. He doesn’t ever deserve all the credit or blame and that’s a lesson that our fans have taken too long to understand.
Bruce and Todd will teach you. They’ll also teach a dramatic improvement in our W/L column. 10-6 and a trip to the playoffs!” - Eric Caldwell
Mike Gleba (@Redmikebucs) is out of Michigan, but the Bucs are always on his mind:
“Looking at the next season of Buccaneers football is like holding a fork and looking at an electrical outlet thinking ‘maybe this time it will give me super powers.’ Just like nearly every other year this decade, the Bucs are trying to Make The Leap, Take The Next Step, Break Through, Turn The Corner, whichever cliche you want to use for ‘Try and end the playoff drought that has been going on since the Bush Administration’.
This is going to be an unusual season for me just trying to watch the Bucs. I just moved somewhere without cable and that means either posting up at a sports bar every Sunday or hunting for third-party streams online. And seeing how Reddit started cracking down on NBA streams, that’s not the sure thing it used to be.
Dirk KBruce Arians proves to be the spark that revitalizes Jameis Winston; getting him to connect on the deep ball with DeseaBreshad Perriman as well as cut down on the turnovers, (Winston got sacked 5 times vs Cleveland but didn’t fumble. Progress?) The offense could look like Kansas City South, which is likely the Team’s best formula for winning games. Unless Lovie Mike SmTodd Bowles can revitalize the pass rush and/or secondary. And it’d be nice if someone on the team could tackle Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey close to the line of scrimmage.
Maybe this will be the year the crop of defensive rookies turns the defense around. Maybe this will be the year the kicking game stops being a media talking point. Maybe this is the year all those offensive weapons elevate Winston to the upper echelons of quarterbacks. Maybe this time it will give me super powers.
And if not, maybe we can blame it on Deepwater Horizon.” - Mike Gleba (@Redmikebucs)
Gino Hernandez (@JustBucit_) wrote in from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and gave his thoughts toward 2019:
“Greetings everyone, my name is Gino Hernandez known as @JustBucit_ on twitter. I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I try my best to attend 2 Bucs road games a year as well as watching the other 14 On the Sunday ticket.
After watching this preseason I have mixed feelings in this group but I have faith in the staff that we have on hand compared to recent years and believe we will make a huge amount of progress because of them.
Our offense will be another top passing offense and I also think our run game will improve by just a tad as long as ROJO can step up his game from last season which shouldn’t be difficult. Ultimately our o-line will hold back this offense to its full potential but I think it can’t be any worse than last season because Cappa > Benenoch.
- Mike Evans will be Mike Evans.
- Chris Godwin will see 1,000+
- Jameis will have 4,200 38TDs 13ints
- OJ Howard and Brate will combine for 12 TDs.
I am in love with the switch we made this offseason to Todd Bowles 3-4 scheme. I believe his style of defense fits our players a lot better than the previous system. I believe we ranked as the worst defense last year. And this year I believe we have the potential (if we stay healthy & get back Vea, David,JPP) to be a top-16 defense. The player I have been mostly impressed so far is Jordan Whitehead. I think he has grown a lot within the past season and I am excited to see how he plays in the area season. I don’t think our D will have the amount of sacks that the average fan wants, but ultimately I think we will create some pressure and stop the run. I do not want to sound like a hater but I have not been impressed by Devin White so far. I feel like he’s been very quiet but hopefully during the season he makes some noise. I will say I was on board drafting him but after the preseason I’m a little skeptical and kind of wish we would’ve maybe traded down and drafted Ed Oliver, Devin Bush. But fingers crossed he balls out this year.
- Team sacks: 45 (5 different players with 5+)
- Team turnovers: 25
Matt Gay only 2 missed xp and will hit a 60+ in a game. I believe our kicking woes are solved.
I believe we have a fast start to 3-0 before losing back to back games after that, but then win in London to go on our bye on a hot note. Finish the season at 10-6 and hopefully make the wild card and end our beautiful playoff drought.” - Gino Hernandez
Chris Schoenherr (@Christoballer1) put in his thoughts from San Diego, California:
“The majority of the national media predicts that this team will end the season with anywhere between two and five wins. Frankly, they’re dead wrong. While many people expect the Buccaneers to be worse based on the losses experienced in free agency, they don’t seem to be taking into account the upgrade at all levels of coaching. Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles have come to revive this sinking ship and have already completely revamped this team in ways that have left them unrecognizable when comparing to the Dirk Koetter days. This defense looks like it’s actually prepared to stop opposing offenses from scoring at will, which is something that was all too familiar when watching the Bucs of old. From an offensive standpoint, Jameis Winston is already showing signs that he is going to reduce the turnovers by tucking and running or taking sacks when there are zero other options available. While the sacks aren’t something to be desired, they are definitely much better than a turnover, especially in the red zone (which Jameis is known to do). You may be asking yourself, “Where’s the but?” Well, here it is. This offensive line is very shaky, the pass rush is still something that requires improvement, the secondary is still very unproven, and the schedule is BRUTAL. For these reasons, I expect the 2019 Buccaneers to win eight or nine games and prepare for a playoff push in 2020 after showing a top 25 defense, top 10 offense, and a kicker that can make kicks. Even when looking at it from an optimist’s point of view, a ten win team does not make the playoffs in the NFC south, period.
Now it’s time for the player expectations, and while I would love to go player by player, I can only choose a few. First, I’ll choose America’s most polarizing quarterback, Jameis Winston. I expect Jameis to throw for 4,000 or more yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 or less interceptions all because of the QB whisperer himself, Bruce Arians. We’ve all been saying it for years, if this man gets a decent defense and decent running game, he will look like a completely different player. With Todd Bowles vastly improving this defense and the run game showing flashes in the preseason, if Jameis does not perform better, then he’s not the guy going forward. My final expectation surrounds this team’s kicker (who is definitely Matt Gay by the way). I expect this kid to show off his big leg, make 80% of his kicks, and solidify this position for years to come.” - Chris Schoenherr (@Christoballer1)
Collin Haalboom (@itsboom5) is all the way up in Ontario, Canada, but that doesn’t stop him from cheering on the Bucs:
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t really disappointed as I watched the 2019 draft unfold. The NFL draft is an event I look forward to every single year - I am a draft addict and maybe the only Canadian who produces an NFL mock draft every… single… year. This is unfortunate in the grand scheme of things as I wouldn’t give a flying Roberto Aguayo kick about the draft if I was a Patriots fan. But I’m not a pats fan, I’m a Bucs fan… so the draft is *sadly an important event in my life, every year.
As much as I agree that our secondary was a major area of weakness, our offensive line needed to be addressed within the first 3 rounds of this past draft. The fact this aspect of our roster wasn’t addressed AT ALL throughout the entire draft was a massive disappointment. After the Buffalo Bills jumped us to select Cody Ford, I was heartbroken. I understand sticking to your board and always taking the best available player, but at some point you need to prioritize your team’s obvious areas of weakness. Our O-Line was an absolute disaster last season and there’s no denying the fact that we needed to add some depth on the right side, specifically. I have no impact on any aspect of our franchise construction however, so I need to move onwards and upwards and embrace the personnel we have in place. That’s what a true fan does, right?!
I am very much encouraged by the play of our young secondary throughout the pre-season. However, after spending a full years’ draft capital on this section of our defense, I would hope that we hit on enough to field an effective secondary. In other words, if our secondary ends up being good – I’m not going to credit Jason Licht with meticulous, efficient scouting. He chose to invest all of our valuable draft capital on 2 positions (both of which are in the defensive backfield). So I expect our secondary to be effective.
Speaking of our secondary, I fear that Todd Bowles and Bucco Bruce don’t understand the natural ability that Justin Evans possesses. He was one of the few players I was able to get excited about last season when watching him fly around at full health. When healthy, he has proven to be a very serviceable starting FS in the NFL. As a young player, I feel like he could really excel under Todd Bowles’ tutelage. I hope he doesn’t get cut, or lost in the mix. Between him, Whitehead (who has looked exceptional of late), with Mike Edwards hopefully coming back healthy sooner than later, and Briscoe performing well – I feel like we actually have some Kardashian to work with. To clarify, that analogy refers to depth in the back end.
There have been subtle concerns raised about our first round pick not blowing up the pre-season but I couldn’t care less about how many “splash plays” Devin White has had during these dress rehearsals; I trust he will bring the heat on a consistent basis once the season begins. White was the undisputed, most dominant ILB in the SEC last season. He will be an extremely effective MLB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I have no concerns. He will be a pro bowler, and likely even an all-pro, eventually.
My biggest concern related to the 2019 Buccaneers is in the trenches. Both sides. If I had a magic wand and could magically improve one side of our line, it would be the offensive line. In regards to this section of our football team, I feel like we as fans find ways to seek out… and even force an optimistic perspective, every year, even though it may betray our true, objective eye test. Our offensive line is slow and unathletic. This is a problem. RG is a higher priority at this time than RT in my opinion.
I can handle a mish-mash defensive line. There’s some talent there. It’s unfortunate that JPP suffered a non-football injury (it would be unfortunate if he suffered it playing football as well, but seems that much more Buccaneer-esque that it happened off the field). I think we are (as a fanbase), underestimating the impact that these injuries will have on our effectiveness as a defensive unit to start the season.
Let’s focus on some positives though… Nacho might be a hidden gem. Nassib falls into the same category as he has overachieved since being claimed off waivers exactly a year ago. It seems like he’s only getting better. I am somehow still the only believer in William Gholsten’s ability to impact a football game. I feel like he is capable of knocking down a pass, and producing several QB pressures (maybe even a sack here and there) per game. The trenches are our weakness. Long story, short - if we had the offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys, I am convinced we would be a Superbowl contender THIS SEASON.
Ok. Now, let’s talk about the skill positions, shall we?! I believe that Jameis is poised for a very efficient season compared to those that he’s produced thus far in his career. God bless Mike Evans. It’s been a privilege and a blessing to watch him excel in the NFL. I love Mike Evans. My one-year old daughter loves Mike Evans. How can you not love Mike Evans? Furthermore… Chris Godwin. I’m very excited to watch him develop under Leftwich/Arians. I love the idea of him occupying that Larry Fitzgerald slot role that was so successful in Arizona.
I guess the fun part in discussing this season’s skill position players relates more to the back end of the roster than it does to the proven commodities. I love and respect Bobo Wilson’s consistency throughout this preseason, as well as the last few years. He’s steady. He cuts decisively. He has good hands. He isn’t scared of contact. He actually receives a punt with the intent of running forward (cough cough Scotty Miller). These are valuable traits for a WR5 to possess. With that said, I have a belief that Justin Watson has a much higher ceiling.
In terms of our backfield. The ideal scenario is that Ronald Jones quickly supplants Peyton Barber as the #1 back. I was mind boggled when we passed on Darrius Guice to draft Rojo last year. In fact, I was infuriated. I think Guice has 3 down, stud RB potential, whereas Rojo seems more of a Tevon Coleman, change of pace type of contributor. With that said, Rojo is our guy – so I’m all aboard. But he’s not going to flash his big play potential on the bench. He needs his opportunity to run with the #1’s. I would be a ‘poser’ of a Bucs fan though, if I didn’t acknowledge how explosive Dare has looked this preseason. Damn, I love this kid. He runs hard. He’s jukey as hell. One cut, change of direction, decisive, hard to tackle. He whistles well on the sidelines. I truly believe that Dare has the “it” factor, and overall ability, to perform very well in a primary role – should our other backs not produce.
Positionally, the last thing I must address is the TE spot. OJ is OJ. This season, I expect him to be a white bronco on the run. Let’s make him a focal point of our offense, especially in the red zone, and give this kid the chance to make a play as much as possible. Cameron Brate obviously has a very strong rapport with Jameis – that can’t be denied. However, his greatest attribute is his hands. He’s not even an average blocker. That’s why I think we should try to find a way to trade Brate , if it can provide us with a reasonable return (OL/draft picks). I’m not saying we NEED to trade him. I love having Cam’s reliable, safety valve TE receiving skills on the field. I’m saying, we should explore teams that need a reliable pass catcher at that position. Tanner Hudson could possibly replace Brate as a pass-catching specialist for a much cheaper rate.
In terms of our leadership. I couldn’t be more excited to have Bruce Arians leading our team. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little disappointed that he isn’t calling the offense. After all, that is his gift. With that said, I’m willing to trust his trust in Byron Leftwich. I just hope that if Byron struggles, Bruce is willing to take matters into this own hands. There is no 66-year old white man on this planet who can relate to, command and motivate young NFL players the way that Bucco Bruce can. He’s the reason Jason Licht’s contract got renewed.
I think we go 9-7. I’m trusting that we find a way to add some talent to our offensive line. I can’t see Jason Licht not finding a way to get creative, and prioritize this necessity as teams finalize their 53 man rosters.” - Collin Haalboom
Yep, you are reading this right! The Bucs’ tentacles reach all the way to Japan! John Allaire (Bucs Fan in Japan/@johnallaire128) was kind enough to give his thoughts on the upcoming season:
“With Bruce Arians coming in, and the Bucs *finally* getting their first choice of a head coach since Gruden, and I’m not sure that even counts since he was acquired via trade, I had a renewed confidence in the fact that were not going to totally suck yet again this year. We finished last season with the number one passing offense in the league, we have established super star offensive talents, and I count myself among those optimists that still believe in Jameis Winston to lead this franchise. All we needed was some better situational coaching, better red zone play calling, and most importantly any semblance of a defense and special teams. With these changes being made, I truly expected us to be in contention for a wild card come December.
Well, fast forward to the conclusion of the preseason and I still feel pretty excited, but admittedly for very different reasons than I expected to. Our defense has looked not just better, but good! Not only that, but for the first time since Matt Bryant I have confidence in our kicker, rookie Matt Gay. I have to say the thing that impressed me the most was the amount of contested catches and plays made on the ball by our secondary. There simple weren’t many blown coverages and wide open explosive plays to be had against our defense, and in my opinion it really speaks to how poorly used our players were in Mike Smith’s seemingly ancient and basic scheme.
What may be most intriguing about how impressive our starting unit looked through the first three weeks of the preseason wasn’t the players out on the field, but the guys who weren’t. We looked good without arguably our three best defensive players in JPP, Lavonte David and Vita Vea. By all accounts, Vita Vea was the standout of training camp before tweaking his knee, and I am hoping and watching for that dominance to carry over into the regular season. Ironically, perhaps the most interesting lesser known player I’ll be keeping an eye on got his opportunity due to Vea’s absence. I think any Bucs fan should be excited about how Nacho, or Rakeem Nunez-Roches, has looked in this new, attacking scheme from DC Todd Bowles.
Now on the other side of the ball, I don’t quite know what to think anymore. The offense was supposed to be our strength, and if you told me a month ago that RoJo would look like a whole new player and Dare would be looking like an RB3 who is ready to push for RB2 or even RB1 snaps, I would have assumed that were about to field the type of offense that ends up top-5 league-wide. But somehow that just doesn’t feel like the case. I think Winston has done exactly what he needed to do this preseason, which was not try to be a superhero in meaningless August contests and limit the turnovers. For my money, I say he managed to do exactly that while still showcasing the chemistry between him and Godwin as well as OJ Howard. And this makes no mention of Mike Evans, who didn’t play many snaps but frankly doesn’t need too. We all know what a beast we have in #13.
So if the backfield looks improved, Winston looked solid and our skill players on the outside are electric, why the uncertainty? Well, to address the elephant in room- it’s the hogs upfront. Our starting offensive line was just that in weeks 2 and 3 of the preseason- offensive. It was hard to even watch at times. The 5 sacks Winston took in a single half against an admittedly talented Cleveland defensive line were a red flag quite unlike the giant pirate flags adorning Ray Jay. It looked like a potential Achilles’ heel for this team. If they play even half as bad as they looked in that third preseason game, not only is it hard to imagine making it to the playoffs this year, but it’s hard to envision even getting to a .500 record. It could also make it incredibly difficult to evaluate Winston as the the team tries to decide what to do with him going forward. Equally troubling in that game against the Browns was the lack of willingness to make adjustments away from the 5-7 step drop, slowly developing play calls in spite of Winston having next to no time to operate on most snaps. All I can hope is that the preseason was a mirage in this aspect, and that once the team starts actually game planning for opponents the protections will be more effective.
TE Tanner Hudson certainly made an impression on us all, with some truly astounding catches and league leading production throughout the entire preseason. It’s hard not to draw parallels to a young Cam Brate. Perhaps most interesting to watch and see in my mind is if Hudson will in fact be the same type of player for us and make Brate an expendable asset that may have value in a trade. I love Cam Brate, but you have to wonder how long we will be able to pay for both him and OJ Howard with so many question marks at other roster spots.
Overall, I think this will end up being a good season for our Buccaneers. I still believe we can make the playoffs so long as our O-Line doesn’t get Winston injured and provided Jamies can manage the turnovers. Our defense only needs to be middle of the pack to be a major improvement over last season, and after watching this team’s scrimmages this month I flat out expect them to be league median at a minimum. This fanbase deserves some success, and under BA I hope we will finally see the kind of turn around we have all been waiting for. More significantly, I don’t just hope, but believe we can really see it happen in 2019. #GoBucs!” - John Allaire
Wheeeeeew. That was fun!
Again, thanks to everyone who helped out with this. Not only was it a lot of fun to meet everyone involved, but it was awesome to read their perspectives/expectations on what to expect this year.
I will certainly do an end-of-the-year “what did you think of the season” piece, so I will be looking for more opinions such as these. Be sure to keep your eye out for that one late on!