The Buccaneers…Suddenly much more interesting…
Result: Missed Playoffs
2019 Regular season record: 7-9
2019 Scoring Offensive Rank: 3rd 28.6 PPG
2019 Scoring Defensive Rank: 29th 28.1 PPG
2020 Draft First Round Pick: 14
Coach: Bruce Arians
The Offseason Scenario:
Much has been made of Tampa Bay’s issues at quarterback in 2019. Franchise quarterback Jameis Winston led the league in both passing yards and interceptions, while squinting because he preferred to not wear his contacts on the field. He became the only quarterback in history to throw thirty touchdowns and thirty interceptions in the same season. So, a few things have happened here.
First, Winston got Lasik surgery to correct his vision. That’s great.
Secondly, he’s also no longer the quarterback of the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay went out and got this other guy in free agency. You may have heard of him. But here’s the thing…The Buccaneers were the third-ranked scoring offense in the league. Yes, Winston gave away some scoring opportunities by being sort of blind and/or careless with the ball, but they still scored more than every team in the league except Baltimore and San Francisco.
What does that tell us? Simple. The problem with Tampa Bay isn’t on offense. It’s on defense. If they want to get into the mix, they need to shore up that ghastly bad defense, especially the secondary, and fast. Otherwise, they’re headed for another losing season. GOAT or no GOAT.
Free Agent Frenzy:
I mean, I’m sure I don’t need to tell y’all this, but Tampa Bay brought in Tom Brady.
But, seriously though. What else have they done? Well, they brought back a few veterans on defense, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh, while letting WR Breshad Perriman and RB Peyton Barber hit the market. One player that Tampa Bay was never going to let slip away is Shaquil Barrett, who will be back after being designated with the franchise tag.
What did he do in 2019?
Not much. He just led the league with 19.5 sacks. But the strength of the Tampa Bay defense was along the front. They actually ranked first in the league in rush yards per game allowed…mostly because they were 30th in the league against the pass, allowing an absurd 270 yards per contest through the air. They’ll need to make some changes in the secondary to get better. They have some room to do it, too, with just under $25 million to spend under the salary cap.
Seriously Premature Draft Hunches:
Again, the Buccaneers will need to focus on the secondary, and perhaps bring in some young depth along the offensive line. We all know that OSU’s Jeffrey Okuduh will be off the board by the time Tampa Bay is on the clock at pick number 14, but there will still be a ton of talent available. Some folks would say that the next corners off the board should be C.J. Henderson or Kristian Fulton, but with Henderson’s inconsistent tackling and Fulton’s history of suspension (for tampering with an NCAA-mandated drug test), one name leaps to the top of my list: Trevon Diggs.
Name sound familiar?
It should. His big brother Stefon has been an elite receiver in the league for a few years with Minnesota. Diggs, the younger, has played both wide receiver and cornerback for the Crimson Tide, and already has NFL-ready size and speed. While it might be tempting to see if he can play both positions at the next level, Tampa Bay has a good stable of top-tier wide receivers, so if Diggs does come to Florida, it will be to slow down opposing receivers, not catch passes from TB12.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: AP Images