The dawn of a new season always brings expectations and predictions.
Here at Bucs Nation, we are all about both items. We expect what we predict and we predict what we expect.
Now that I’ve blown your mind, let’s take a look at what we expect from the Bucs in 2019.
1. Jameis Winston passing touchdowns - 25.5
Bailey: Over. Winston has had some nice weapons around him for the last couple of years, but he hasn’t had a coach like Bruce Arians yet. I’m of the belief that Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will have a huge impact on the offense, and I think part of that impact will be improving red zone efficiency. Correcting those issues — maybe as a result of more action for running backs in the passing game — will help Winston’s numbers. He had 19 passing scores in 11 games last year. If he stays healthy, I think he hits the over this year.
David: Over. From 1998-2000, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw for at least 26 touchdowns every season. In 2002 the Cleveland Browns threw 27 pasting scores. From 2007-2011 Ben Roethlisberger threw 25 or more touchdowns twice. From 2013-2017 Carson Palmer threw 25 or more touchdowns twice. All of these happened when Bruce Arians was either the quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or head coach. 47% of the time, coach Arians’ quarterbacks throw for 25 or more touchdowns. In his previous two spots taking over with experienced quarterbacks (Pittsburgh and Arizona), Roethlisberger threw 32 while Palmer through 24. Winston is more Roethlisberger than he is Palmer, so give me the over.
Evan: Under. God, this one is tough.
This number has a bit to do with both Winston and the overall offense. I think Winston will be much more risk-averse this year, which will in turn bring his touchdown numbers down a bit. I also think the offensive line will limit a lot of scoring opportunities for the offense, which will also bring his numbers down.
Winston takes a big step forward in terms of his play on the field (decision-making, patience, reading defenses, etc), but I’m not so sure his numbers will reflect that.
Gil: Over. I do think that the new Buccaneers offense under Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich will have Winston focusing more on the short field with some shots down the field — the opposite of what the previous offensive scheme had him focusing on. That’ll allow for higher percentage plays as well as more efficiency moving the ball up and down the field. That’ll result to even more red zone opportunities for Winston and give Leftwich the ability to be more flexible and creative in his playcalling.
James: Over. Winston has gone over 25.5 just once in his career, back in 2016 when the Buccaneers finished 9-7. Under Bruce Arians, the Bucs are certainly expected to perform better than they did under Koetter, despite the potential early growing pains. With an offensive arsenal with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, and Cam Brate - plus high hopes for newcomers Breshad Perriman and Scotty Miller - the Bucs should have an explosive offense that I believe will result in a career high for touchdowns for one Jameis Winston.
Jon: Over. He’ll get the opportunities, and hopefully this offense gives him the red zone options to choose from. Which is more than we can say for the last offense.
Kyle: Over. The creativity inside the 20 this season should be much improved and as a result, this offense should score more frequently... and easily, than in years past. The prime benifactor in that will be Jameis.
2. Ronald Jones total scrimmage yards - 700
Bailey: Under, but not by a lot. I do think Jones is in for a big rebound year, but Tampa Bay’s backfield is crowded. Peyton Barber will get his touches and with the emergence of Dare Ogunbowale, the coaching staff would be wise to get him involved too. Jones will still get his share of carries, which I think he’ll make the most of. It seems like he’s improved as a pass-catcher as well, which should help. But I’m thinking somewhere around 500 rushing yards and 150-175 receiving yards. If this was all-purpose yards, I’d say over. T.J. Logan might take over kick return duties, but I still expect to see Jones back there a good amount.
David: Under. Ronald Jones looks improved, but he’s not a three-down back yet, by any means. Peyton Barber is still the primary back, and with Dare Ogunbowale coming on strong, I’d put money on Rojo losing snaps to him more than I would on Rojo taking snaps from Barber. As a return man, Jones has potential, so if we change this to all-purpose yards, then he might get the over.
Evan: Over. Jones looks to be on a mission this year and this coaching staff is finding ways to get him involved in the offense. If he can get better at pass pro, then he will certainly see more playing time as the season progresses, which will only help his numbers. It’s not unrealistic to expect a 400 rushing yard/300 receiving yard season here.
Gil: Under. I just haven’t seen enough of RoJo to warrant this as an over. Now, do I think he has the ability to obtain that goal? Sure. But his rookie campaign wasn’t anything to have much optimism over. I do think he will be more active in this new scheme. I just do not know the level of his effectiveness in it.
James: Under. The backfield could be a solid one, but it’s also a committee. If Peyton Barber is the primary guy and Dare Ogunbowale gets his opportunities, there just aren’t enough yards to go around for the three of them to garner the confidence that RoJo could hit over 700. I expect Ronald Jones to have a much better season, but not that good.
Jon: Under. If it wasn’t for his pass blocking Jones would be RB1. But he’s not, and Barber is a solid workhorse back. Jones needs to get his carries from shotgun and touches out in space. While I think he’ll rip off some big plays, I’m just not sure the volume will be there for 700. I do think it’ll be close, though.
Kyle: Over. I’m going on a limb a bit here but I have little to no doubt that Jones in the better runner of the two. If he can prove early on this season that he won’t fumble the football and can put together a few explosive runs, he will get the lions share of the early down work as the season progresses.
3. Chris Godwin receiving yards - 1,000
Bailey: Over. It’s 12 SZN.
David: Over. What Bailey said.
Evan: Over. CGod has easily been the most consistent player on offense during the preseason and there is no reason to think this won’t bleed into the regular season.
Gil: Under. Go ahead and feed me to the dogs. But this is the way that I see it. Evans will naturally get the bulk of the targets. After that, the options are limitless for Winston. It’s not that Godwin doesn’t have the chance of getting to the 1,000-yard mark. It’s just that we will see the ball spread around by Winston under a more controlled offense.
James: Over. My bold prediction on the Locked On Bucs podcast was that the Buccaneers would have three players hit the over 1,000 yard mark. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard. Godwin is about to emerge as a top 20 receiver in this league and he will do so by dominating opposing defenses with his prolific route running ability and the best contested catch rate of any wide receiver drafted in his class. As Bailey said, it’s #12SZN
Jon: Over. I’ve been on the Godwin hype train since day 1, and he was quietly a top-30 receiver last season. I don’t really think Dirk Koetter used Godwin to his strengths, but he did help make him a more well-rounded receiver. I think the staff under Arians will continue that development. He may never be a true No. 1 receiver, but Godwin can play.
Kyle: Under. Godwin will have a good season but this is going to be O.J. Howard’s year to explode if healthy. I expect Godwin to be very close to that 1,000 yard season but ultimately I feel he falls just short.
4. Devin White total tackles - 97.5
Bailey: Under. I think White is going to have a very good rookie year, but I don’t think we should expect 98-plus tackles just yet. The first-rounder will be productive in Todd Bowles’ defense, a scheme he likened to the one he played in under Dave Aranda at LSU. Despite that, he will still need some time to translate what he did with the Tigers to the NFL. Plus, I think Lavonte David’s presence in the middle will lead to more tackles for him, taking some away from White. I know it might not necessarily work like that, but the point is, the rookie will finish a shade under 98 tackles in year one.
David: Under. Since becoming a full-time NFL defensive coordinator in 2013 and then head coach in 2015, Todd Bowles’ defenses have had more than one player reach 98 tackles once, and that just came in 2017 when Avery Williamson and Jamal Adams each had 100+ tackles. Linebackers do lead in tackles for Bowles’ defenses more often than not, but if only one of them is getting to 98, then I’m putting my money on Lavonte David who has had more than 98 tackles in six of his seven seasons having to start his pursuit on one side of the field. Now that he’s in the middle, his instincts and tackling skills will get used even better, which puts me under on Devin White.
Evan: Over. White is going to fly around in this defense and is going to make plays all over the field. I expect a big year from the fifth overall pick.
Gil: Under. I just think we need to pump the brakes a bit. Let him get acclimated to the NFL level, first. Plus, as David pointed out, this new defense under Bowles may not be calling for all that.
James: Under. While he will be in defensive rookie of the year consideration, the 100 tackle mark is a little out of his grasp in my opinion. He’s going to be asked to drop a lot into coverage as well as blitz the quarterback. These factors will take away his ability to be around the ball on an every down basis, thus cutting into his tackle numbers.
Jon: Under. It just takes rookies time to acclimate. He’ll get his share of big plays — like timed blitzes into the backfield — but he’ll also make some mistakes, especially in coverage. Give him a year or two to let this staff develop his game and he should always be around the football.
Kyle: Over. White’s athleticism will put him in position to make a ton of plays. He will have his fair share of Kwon type misses but the fact is, this defense is going to rely heavily on him and David to clean up the mess up front.
5. Team interceptions - 12.5
Bailey: Over. Watching this secondary in training camp and the preseason has me drinking the Kool-Aid. The regular season is a different animal, sure. But these young guys in the secondary will be flying around this season, and they’ll be flying around with confidence because they haven’t been given a reason to not have confidence yet. Todd Bowles’ defense will create more pressure than we’re used to seeing, which will lead to more turnovers. They’ll hit the over.
David: Over. Todd Bowles’ defenses in New York had 13 interceptions each of the last two seasons. There’s no Jamal Adams on this Buccaneers roster, but in totality, I believe this defensive unit is better than the one he had with the Jets.
Evan: Over. This secondary has been aggressive as hell during training camp and the preseason. As long as they stay healthy, I see no reason why this number can’t be reached.
Gil: Over. But I am EXTREMELY optimistic about this defense under Bowles. In recent years, I have been confident in the Buccaneers’ offense to reach some Top 10 marks while losing all hope in the defense. I am flipping it this time around. I am more concerned about the offense due to it being a new system. While the defense is under a new system as well, this scheme suits the current players more.
James: Over. The Bucs spent a lot of draft capital on the defense and they preached all of the picks’ abilities to be playmakers. It’s a high risk, high reward situation so although the Buccaneers will have some great takeaway numbers, they’ll also be susceptible to the big plays when they miss.
Jon: Under. I think the secondary is already much better, but they still lack elite top end talent. And, as I always say, turnovers are largely a function of luck. Sure, the Bucs’ defenders being in better position in coverage should lead to more defended passes and in turn more interceptions, but it’s impossible for me to claim they can hit a certain target. Still, if even a bad secondary like the one in 2016 can hit an insanely high interception ratio for even four weeks, another defense can too. It’s just unlikely.
Kyle: Over. The talent level is great in the backfield but the group is young and energetic. Couple that with the creativity Bowles uses to cause confusion and the interceptions will be there for the taking.
6. Points allowed per game (defense) - 23.5
Bailey: Over, but not by much. I think the defense will be miles better than what it has been in recent years, but there will probably be some growing pains in year one. Plus, playing New Orleans and Atlanta twice, plus Los Angeles, Seattle and Houston? The Bucs are probably gonna have to win some high-scoring games.
David: Over. Playing in the NFC South is hard. Every team has an offense which can string together long scoring drives, or strike with a homerun on the first play. I don’t think the Bucs defense will surrender 30 points per game, but they’ll likely land somewhere between 24 and 27 points per game.
Evan: Over. Even though the Bucs seem to be getting healthy on defense, 23.5 points per game would’ve had them in the middle of the pack margin-wise last year. Bowles will improve this defense, but I’m not sure if it will be a mid-level type defense by year’s end.
Gil: Under. Read my take on the interceptions part. #Optimism
James: Over. The defense will be improved, not a proof of miracles. They’ll create turnovers, they’ll create chaos for opposing quarterbacks, and hopefully they’ll get late game stops that the previous few defenses couldn’t.
Jon: Over. The game has changed, and it will start to look like the college game where allowing just 30 points against an elite offense is an elite day for the defense. If you’re bad, you’ll give up 40+. I think the Bucs will be better on defense, but the unit lacks the game-changing talent on either the defensive line or the secondary to be elite in today’s game.
Kyle: Over. As Jon mentioned above, the game is just different now. Much like baseball, offensive numbers create excitement and in a division like the NFC South, there’s plenty of excitement to go around. For this defense, that means points will be scored against them.
7. Ndamukong Suh total sacks - 4.5
Bailey: Over. The Bucs will create a ton of pressure and Suh will reap at least some of the benefits. He might be past his prime, but he’ll hit five at least.
David: Over. He’ll have five by the bye week.
Evan: Under. Suh is more of guy that will free up the other defenders around him. Vea is where the pass rush will come from up front.
Gil: Ugh... man, I don’t know. I think that the blitzes from the linebackers will worry the opposing offensive lines. That will allow for more one-on-ones for the Bucs defensive line. But it can also work the opposite way. Suh may just eat up blocks to free up those backers rushing in. So if I’m a betting man, I’ll cash out. I say push. Lol...
James: Over. The chaotic blitz schemes Todd Bowles comes up with will create one-on-one opportunities for Suh as well as Vea once he returns. Look for both guys to hit the five to six sack number.
Jon: Under. Suh isn’t what he once was, but he is still very good at creating pressure. He’s only gotten less than 4.5 sacks once in his career, although he’s gotten exactly that many in each of the last two seasons. This defense will be about bringing pressure from everywhere, and Suh’s role may be to make sure other players get 1v1s or come free. Between the opportunities for sacks being spread to most everyone and Suh continuing to age, not sure he gets there.
Kyle: Under. Suh will not be deployed in the same manner that Gerald McCoy was here in Tampa and that will mean a different purpose for the man in the middle. Suh hasn’t been the pass rusher McCoy was in recent years and that’ll be just fine so long as he brings the presence needed against the rush.