Ask Gary: Can the Bucs reach the playoffs?

by Gary Shelton on September 10, 2016 · 1 comment

in College Sports in Florida, Florida State University, general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Rays, University of Florida

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Saturday, 6 a.m.

So it’s crystal ball time. How many wins are you predicting for the Bucs this year and will they make the playoffs?

Larry Beller

It's possible. I think the Bucs have two-three more wins worth of talent on their roster. But they play a much tougher schedule. They're also  very thin. They can't afford a lot injuries.

I see this as an 8-8 team that will finish just out of the playoffs. Maybe it's that things have to be proven to me. It's been far too long since the Bucs did any damage in the playoffs. Heck, it's been a long time since the Bucs even made the playoffs.

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I think a lot of whether the Bucs make it or not depends on how they do in their division. That was the secret of the old Bears. They'd go 5-1 or 6-2 every year and then play .500 the rest of the way. It was good enough for the playoffs.

Can the Bucs sweep Atlanta again? Can they get New Orleans.

Can the Bucs reach the playoffs? Sure, they can. But a lot of things have to happen just right. They have to win a game or two that no one expects them to win.

Are they ready yet? I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think they're quite there.

Some people think that one of the reasons that the Tampa Bay Bucs beat the Oakland Raiders by such a wide margin (48-21) in the 2003 Super Bowl was because John Gruden was the head coach of Oakland the year before, and thus had "inside knowledge" about their "operations."  How much will "inside knowledge" help Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith when they play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday?

Scott Myers
I thought Gruden did contribute to the Super Bowl win. But there was a difference. Gruden had coached the Raiders only one year before, and Oakland was committed to running the same offense. Gruden didn't just run that offense; he invented it. The Raiders played right into Gruden's hands.
But Koetter and Smith have been gone two years, and the Falcons aren't really married to what they ran while in Atlanta.  I think there may be some tendencies that are the same. But I think this game will be won if the Bucs can cover Julio Jones, or if the Falcons can stop Doug Martin.
Hey, everyone gets credit when you win. So we laid in on thick with Gruden. But don't forget, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks and Simeon Rice and Brad Johnson had a lot to do with winning, too.
I remember talking to Raider writers that week, and they had the impression that the Bucs wouldn't be able to cover the Raider receivers. They did.
Rank the college football coaches in the state of Florida, overall abilities including recruiting skills, etc.
Jim Willson
Tough question, Jim. It's a good state for college football, isn't it? Not as good as it was when Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier were around, but I'd say it's as good as any state. Maybe Michigan comes close.
I'll start off with Jimbo Fisher. He has a national title and a playoff appearance. That makes him the measuring stick.
After that, I'm going to go with Miami's Mark Richt in a close race over Jim McElwain. Richt has just recruited at a high level for so long now. There are those who would chide his on-the-field coaching, but he's a good leader.
I'd go with McElwain next, and soon, I expect him to pass Richt. I'm pretty impressed with the job he's done over his year and one game.

I would give Willie Taggart the No. 4 spot. He's done a very good job recruiting, and he's turned the Bulls around. This is a crucial year for him, however.

Fifth? Is it too soon to rank Scott Frost of UCF? He's going to be good for the Knights.
Sixth? I'd go with FIU's Ron Turner with FAU's  Charlie Partridge seventh. I know there are other programs such as FAMU and Bethune-Cookman, but that's the bulk of them.
 If you were G.M. of the Rays, what moves would you make in the off season to try to make the team relevant again?
Jim Willson
I don't know if the Rays have the funds to re-invent themselves completely. I think the Rays are going to be in a situation where they're counting on a lot of bounceback years.
I think the Rays could use one more thumper. I think they could use another arm. But with this team's budget, I'm not sure you're going to get those.
It isn't a quick fix, is it? That's the thing that 162 games shows you. You don't finish where you do because of a fluke. The Rays may be better next year -- the pitching should be decent early, and the batting order -- but I wouldn't look for a banner to be hung,
Who has the better season??
       Goff Or Wentz or Lynch?
        Winston or Mariota?
        Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez?
        Dirk Koetter or Gus Bradley?
Jim Willson
I think Wentz has the better rookie season, simply because it's his job. The Rams are bringing Goff along slowly, and he may well have the better career. But in all the measurable, yards and touchdows, I think Wentz will win.
I still think Winston has more tools, and better teammates, than Mariota.
I think Bradford has a chance to play. The Vikings gave up a first- and a fourth-round draft pick for him. Sanchez will only play if things go badly for Dallas.
I found  your Koetter-Bradley comparison fascinating.  I think it will be close, and I'm not sure Jacksonville isn't a bit closer to reaching the playoffs. I'm going to go with Koetter. I may feel differently after the first month, however.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rick Martin September 11, 2016 at 11:10 am

So I open my Sunday Tampa Bay Times and head to the sports page and what I do see plastered on the front page? A huge picture of Florida Gators. Not a USF Bulls player, not the Bucs’ players for their first game, not a Rays player. So when writers like Tom Jones and Rick Stroud, both of the Times criticize area college football fans for not supporting the Bulls, Tampa biggest football program, remember this sort of thing. I’m relatively new to the area and have noticed that USF has always taken a backseat to U of F, FSU, and U of Miami in the Time’s coverage. BTW, Bulls won last night and are 2-0.


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