A preview of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead of the 2018 season.
Check back every day for a new 2018 team preview in this year’s NFL power rankings countdown.
Up first is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Keegan’s highest rated player: Gerald McCoy, defensive lineman
Biggest strength: Defensive line
Biggest weakness: Offensive line
Best offseason move: Drafting Ronald Jones
Worst offseason move: Not improving the offensive line
Game to circle on calendar: Week 4, at Chicago
Breakout candidate: O.J. Howard, tight end
Key players in contract years: Jacquizz Rodgers, Adam Humphries, Donavan Smith, Ali Marpet, Kwon Alexander and Brent Grimes
This team will get off to a bad start offensively as they will be without Jameis Winston for the first three weeks of the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid backup quarterback, but I doubt he will be able to beat the likes of Drew Brees, Carson Wentz and Ben Roethlisberger to start the season. This offense won’t pose much of a threat for opposing defenses, even when Winston gets back.
Running the ball will be paramount this year, and Ronald Jones will help that cause. He is a sleeper offensive rookie of the year candidate. Unfortunately, Jones won’t get much help from his mediocre offensive line. This team has some talent at the receiver and tight end positions with names like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate, and O.J. Howard.
Tampa Bay has a solid defensive line which features three established veterans and a promising rookie in Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry and Vita Vea. This is by far the biggest strength for this Tampa Bay team, and I believe this defensive line will do a solid job in stopping the run. The rest of the front seven is a little sketchy with Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander as the only other difference-makers in the front seven.
Tampa Bay’s secondary is in desperate need of help. Vernon Hargreaves still has some potential, but he has yet to show that he can be an everyday shutdown corner. Brent Grimes is past his prime. Chris Conte has some positive traits, but he’s an average safety at best. This secondary will have a difficult time stopping the likes of Drew Brees and Carson Wentz.
Coaching staff/front office preview
Dirk Koetter will likely be on the hot seat at the end of the season. He will need to show that Tampa Bay can improve from its mediocre 2017 season if he wants to keep his job. Mike Smith is a solid defensive coordinator, and could get some looks for another head coaching job if he can help mold this defense into something more than a mediocre mess in 2018.
Tampa Bay has an experienced general manager in Jason Licht; Buccaneers fans should be confident in him. So far, the biggest mistake of his tenure has been passing on Marcus Mariota, but he’s mostly been a reliable GM for this team.
Overall outlook for 2018
This roster looks like a dumpster fire headed into the season, and the Buccaneers should be looking for a new quarterback in the 2019 offseason if Jameis Winston plays anything like he did last year. This team has a strong chance of starting out 0-3, and they are the only team in the NFC South that is in need of a franchise quarterback.