The 2017 season didn’t go well, finishing 5-11. The 2018 season didn’t get any better, and after back-to-back seasons of 5-11, the Bucs made a move to let go of head coach Dirk Koetter. Current franchise quarterback Jameis Winston will be entering the final year of his contract and Bucs will need to decide to stick with him or move on. The front office hopes to keep him as he has shown he has the skills to compete, but Winston still needs to develop as a quarterback and as a leader. With Winston’s and the franchise’s future on the line this season, the Buccaneers, the front office hired Bruce Arians after his one year of retirement.
Arians has a proven track record of successful offenses and loves to throw downfield and throw often, something that could play to the strengths of the Bucs with the personnel and weapons they have. Arians has brought along Byron Leftwich to be the offensive coordinator. The two worked together in Arizona, and Leftwich will provide relatable experience for Winston. The defense will be in dire need of upgrades, but Arians brought along the former Jets coach, Todd Bowles, to be the defensive coordinator and help fix a defense that has been last in defensive efficiency according to DVOA for two straight seasons.
Super Bowl Odds: +6600
Odds to Win the NFC: +3300
Odds to Win the NFC South: 1450 (Bookmaker)
Season Win Total: 6.5
(lines Weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
|2||@ Carolina (TNF)||6||0.29|
|4||@ LA Rams||11||0.13|
|5||@ New Orleans||10.5||0.14|
Total Expected Wins: 5.93
Nothing too big this offseason for the Bucs. A new head coach, two new coordinators, and a bevy of players that have either left or arrived for the 2019 season…ok fine, they might have had the busiest offseason of any team. Key players that have left include linebacker and defensive team captain Kwon Alexander, DT Gerald McCoy, DE Vinny Curry, LB Adarius Taylor, CB Brent Grime, WR Adam Humphries, and backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. That a lot of snaps that need to be replaced, not to mention the loss of Fitzpatrick’s beard. Players joining Arians and the Bucs for 2019 include Ndamukong Suh, LB Shaquil Barett, and QB Blaine Gabbert
Considering they have had one of the league’s worst defenses for two straight seasons, it should come as no surprise that the Bucs took five straight defensive players. With the 5th overall pick, they drafted Devin White, the linebacker from LSU. White should start after Alexander’s departure and provide some much-needed athleticism to a weak linebacking corp. With their next three picks, their bolstered their secondary. Corner Sean Bunting (Central Michigan) and Safety Mike Edwards (Kentucky) may compete for starting roles, but all three additions will improve the secondary.
Despite their record, the offense finished 12 in offensive efficiency according to DVOA. However, they did not have a balanced attack, the offensive line didn’t give up an excessive amount of sacks, but on the ground, the Bucs only gained 3.92 yards per rush, 2nd worse in the league. On the flip side, their air attack was quick impressive, gaining 8.2 yards per attempt, 2nd best in the league. Winston still ranked middle of the pack in completion percentage and QB rating.
Arians will be looking to improve the accuracy and continue to develop the Bucs QB. Winston has the tools to be successful in this league with weapons like Mike Evans, Chirs Godwin, and OJ Howard; they can put up points on the board. They don’t need the run game to move the chains or score, but an improved season from 2018 draftee Ronald Jones would provide a welcome threat to this offense.
Despite ranking last in defensive efficiency in back-to-back seasons, the Bucs did have some areas of improvement. They went from worst to a little below average when it comes to 3rd down conversion percentage. They improved their sack numbers from 22 to 38…that’s about it. The 2018 Bucs defense allowed the 2nd most points (29 pts per game), the most yards per play (6.39), the best completion percentage (72%), the best QB Rating and the received the 3rd most penalties.
Todd Bowles will have some work to do to improve this unit, and with a lot of young players, the Bucs will be learning on the fly for much of the season. Bowles has worked under Arians before during the 2013 and 2014 season in Arizona as the defensive coordinator where he had seven pro bowl players across the two seasons. New coaches and new players sound great, but that is not a guarantee that the results will change.
Notes & Nuggets
Good news, they have a 4th place schedule. Bad news, they lose a home game and play in London week 6, and since they are playing in London for a home game, the Bucs don’t have a true home game for six straight weeks from week 4 through week 9. To make that stretch even more difficult, the Bucs may be a dog by a full touchdown in three of those five games. They have their bye week after the London trip, that will be a lot of travel in consecutive weeks with challenging opponents, which may provide an opportunity to oppose the Bucs on an individual game basis.
The expected win total is 5.93 and gives us some value to the under, and I’m going to keep it that way. There is an entirely new coaching staff in Tampa Bay this season and while I think Bowles Bowles will improve the defense, but with so much youth on this defense, I wouldn’t anticipate a significant shift in the results. They have a stretch of 6 straight weeks away from home, and they are likely to be dogs in 14 of 16 games, I’m going to take the under for a second consecutive year.