10 ways for the Bucs to achieve 10 wins

by Gary Shelton on August 5, 2018 · 4 comments

in general

Jameis Winston has to come back strong./STEVEN MUNCIE

Jameis Winston has to come back strong./STEVEN MUNCIE

Sunday, 2 a.m.

Ten shortcuts to have a chance at 10 victories by the Tampa Bay Bucs.

1. The Bucs have to survive that killer first three weeks of the season. That means that Ryan Fitzpatrick has to steal one, maybe two victories while playing in place of Jameis Winston. That won't be easy with the Saints, Eagles and Steelers right off the bat. An 0-3 start would be a step toward trouble.

2. Ronald Jones II has to be an impact running back starting early in the season. His total yards won't be nearly as important if his average per carry is above 4.0. But he has to be a  difference maker, which Doug Martin was not.

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Jason Pierre-Paul has to provide pressure./STEVEN MUNCIE

Jason Pierre-Paul has to provide pressure./STEVEN MUNCIE

3. The defensive line has to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. That won't be easy; the Bucs were last in the league in sacks last year. But if Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry can provide pressure from the edges, and if Gerald McCoy and Vita Vea are solid in the middle, the Bucs should be much better on defense.

4.  Chandler Catanzaro has to be the long-sought answer at placekicker. After suffering through Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk, it's about time. Catanzaro can miss a long one or two, but he has to be deadly from 40 yards in.

5. The much-criticized offensive line has to make you see what Tampa Bay coaches see, not what critics see. For years, analysts have disparaged the line, particularly Donovan Smith. But the line -- injured much of preseason camp -- has to be difference-makers, especially new center Ryan Jensen.

6. The secondary cannot play chase. Remember the number that Julio Jones did on the Bucs a year ago? That can't happen with the kiddie corps -- rookies Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart and second-year safety Justin Evans. Playing cornerback in the NFL is more than giving up a 40-yard play and then making the tackle. It's making a play on the ball.

7. This year, the Bucs have to get more explosive plays from wide receiver  DeSean Jackson. It was hard last year, because there was no threat of a running game to draw the safeties. This year, with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard, the Bucs have to play like this is a strength.

8. Jameis Winston has to come back without rust. Winston is suspended for the first three games, and whatever you think of his actions, the Bucs are still counting on him. He has to lessen his turnovers and star in the team's fourth quarters.

9. The linebackers have to continue to pursue and tackle. If anything, a better defensive line should help out both Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David.

10. The team has to be relatively injury free. Bad teams always talk about how beaten up they are, which is true. It's a game of attrition.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS August 6, 2018 at 9:08 am

Lots of IFs there! I think # 1, #6 and #9 ,might be the most important. If the defense can get up to the level of play that helped get the Bucs to the Super Bowl, then an average or even below average offense could win more games. A strong defense wins championships! The Bucs proved it once and they may do it again!

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Gary Shelton August 6, 2018 at 9:40 am

The 2002 defense was the best in the league. The 2017 Bucs defense was the worst in the league. A lot of ground to make up. I think this defense is three miles and a half from being anywhere close to Brooks, Sapp, Lynch, Barber and company.

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Larry Beller August 5, 2018 at 7:20 am

What if only #4 & #9 actually happen? Then what?

#10 is the one that you often hear people say around here at the start of the season. But it almost never happens. This is the NFL, Injuries happen in practice. Any team that doesn’t have good depth is in for a long season.

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Gary Shelton August 5, 2018 at 11:56 am

If the kicker is good, the world ends. Just blows up.

Instead of injuries, I should have said “key injuries.” To the quarterback, the running back, the lines.

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