The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t even come close to making the NFL playoffs in 2019. They have some serious question marks entering the 2020 season. But there’s a reason for optimism in Tampa Bay. Here’s why they’re in a great position to surprise everyone with a great season next year.
The Buccaneers’ 2019 NFL season
The Bucs had a disappointing 2019 season, finishing 7-9. This was good for third in the NFC South. Other than New Orleans, the entire division was a dud. Both the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers joined the Bucs in failing to perform up to expectations.
The 2019 season was the Bucs’ first under new head coach Bruce Arians. With a history of being an offensive mastermind, he definitely helped the team improve. They went 5-11 in 2018 and finished last in the NFC South. The two-game improvement represents progress, even if it’s incremental. The Bucs scored 458 points in 2019, good for third in the league.
The amazingly talented Buccaneers roster
The Bucs have plenty of talent all over the roster — and it’s evident on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they have one of the best receiver duos in the NFL.
As some fantasy football experts predicted in the preseason, Chris Godwin had a breakout year. He caught 86 passes for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns. Standout receiver Mike Evans added 67 receptions for 1,157 yards with eight touchdowns in just 13 games played. The pair will be one of the NFL’s most volatile combinations in the passing game.
On defense, the Bucs also have some outstanding talent. Linebacker Shaquil Barrett collected a jaw-dropping 19.5 sacks last season, emerging as one of the NFL’s premier defensive weapons. Former New York Giant Jason Pierre-Paul added 8.5 sacks, too.
The Bucs roster is fairly loaded, but there’s one player who must bring it all together in 2020 if they want to fulfill their potential.
Why the Buccaneers have the makings of a great team next year
In today’s NFL, a team’s success largely depends on the strength of its quarterback. The passing game has become so integral to winning in modern football that teams need a well-functioning QB to be competitive. While the Buccaneers have serious questions at this position, the answer isn’t nearly as complicated as it seems.
The Bucs have a talented roster of players surrounding whoever plays quarterback. For the past few seasons, the QB has been Jameis Winston. However, the only consistent thing about Winston’s game has been his maddening inconsistency.
At times, he’s showed a proficiency for throwing the ball downfield. Other times, he’s a turnover machine. This is evidenced by his 2019 season in which he threw for over 30 touchdowns and over 30 interceptions, a first in NFL history.
Winston is a free agent and there have been whispers of his departure from the Bucs. But according to ESPN’s Trent Dilfer, the team should give him another chance: “I think you have to bring him back for Year 2 under Bruce Arians,” Dilfer stated. “… You’re not going to get anybody better for next year. Who are you going to get? Marcus Mariota?”
Dilfer has a point. The options at quarterback are limited unless the team undergoes a total rebuild with a rookie draft pick. Arians has worked wonders at almost every stop. There’s no reason he can’t tutor Winston successfully with more time.
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