Just asking: How good do you expect Bucs to be?

by Gary Shelton on June 19, 2018 · 6 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Will Winston be a positive or a negative...or both?/CARMEN MANDATO

Will Winston be a positive or a negative...or both?/CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 3 a.m.

In the upcoming football season, Sports Illustrated predicts great things for the Tampa Bay Bucs.

For instance, the publication thinks the Bucs will win a game.

And another one.

And tie one more.


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Forget the draft. Forget free agency. Forget the trades. This year, SI predicts, the Bucs will win exactly half (2 1/2) of the games they won a year ago. They will be, the prediction says, the second-worst team in the NFL, only a half-game behind the Buffalo Bills.


Of course, it should be mentioned that the NFL.com website says that the same Bucs will make the playoffs this year. They'll give you five reasons why, including Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and Cameron Brate , Ronald Jones II, the defense and the improved kicking.

So, double-whee.

The truth of it is that no one really seems to know just what the Bucs will do this season. They played a lot of one-score games last year with a lousy defense and an injured Winston and wobbly kicking, so you decide.

A couple of things: One, the easiest thing to predict in the NFL is that a team will finish in the neighborhood of what it did a year ago. So when most predictions have the Bucs between 6 1/2 wins (Las Vegas bookmakers, ESPN, etc) and 7 1/2 (Forbes), well, it's what you would expect from a national publication. (Bleacher Report suggests seven wins).

But Sports Illustrated? SI says the bottom falls out for the Bucs. Imagine how ugly a 2 win, one tie season would be The coaching staff probably gets blown up. The fans argue over whether Jameis Winston should continue at quarterback The defensive reinforcements are just the latest faces to line up.

The question remains, however.

How good will the Bucs be in 2018?

Imagine an orchestra where half of the performers are new. That's kind of the lot with the Bucs. How soon will Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry mesh. How good will Vita Vea be in his first season? Can Ronald Jones II become an every-down back. Can the Buc finally treat DeSean Jackson like he's a special player? When will Jameis Winston's turnovers cease? Can the offfensive line mesh? Can the corners cover? Are the safeties good enough.

And on and on it goes. The good teams deal in answers. This one seems to deal in questions.

Everywhere, it seems, the Bucs are picked for last in their division. Part of that is that New Orleans, Atlanta and Carolina are all pretty good. Overall, the Bucs have the NFL's fourth-toughest schedule (Detroit and New Orleans are one game tougher; Green Bay is two games tougher.)

But two wins?


If Pierre-Paul and Curry aren't too old, and if Carlton Davis and Jones II aren't too young, that seems like a low bar. The Bucs aren't a powerhouse, but they do have the look of an average team. Wishing for the playoffs doesn't seem like too much of a stretch.

Does it?



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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Kinning June 22, 2018 at 4:27 pm

After the Winston reports are we still as optimistic about this season? What happens if Ryan Fitzpatrick gets into a grove while Winston is out? Do we have the makings of a QB Controversy?


Gary Shelton June 22, 2018 at 4:30 pm

There is no way this turns into a quarterback controversy. None. Not if Fitzpatrick completes 50 passes in a row. It’s Winston’s team.

You can’t be as optimistic without your starting quarterback. Winston gave his team less of a chance by being suspended.


Bill MYERS June 19, 2018 at 8:24 am

Ok! The SI prediction sounds like fodder for the locker room cork board! Maybe they will get their motivation from being told how lousy they are expected to be this season. As an underdog team the Bucs should not disappoint anyone but the teams that underestimate them. So let’s surprise some folks this year! GO BUCS!


Gary Shelton June 19, 2018 at 8:36 am

Again, I like optimism. I think they’ll win more than two, but how many more do you really expect?

As far as the bulletin board, I’ve always thought it motivated a team for about one play. I remember, when I was a kid, the Rams beat the Giants 31-3. Deacon Jones said it was because of some things the Giants had said, and how angry the Rams were over it. A reporter asked “if it hadn’t have been for them talking, what would the score have been.” And Jones said “Oh, about 31-3.”


Larry Beller June 19, 2018 at 7:07 am

Every year it seems as though the media and a lot of fans in this town get caught up in how many new players the Bucs have brought in and start talking about how the Bucs will be a playoff contender. Of course everyone is bitterly disappointed when they don’t get there but the cycle starts over again with the next draft and new free agency signings. For me, I’m always hoping they will be better but not really expecting a whole lot. I think that’s the sane approach based on their history.

This team could be a little better but they do play in a tough division, may be without their QB who could get suspended by the league for a few games, and have basically the same mediocre coaching staff. So no I don’t see the playoffs happening this year. If they start winning some games early on let’s talk about the playoff possibilities then.


Gary Shelton June 19, 2018 at 8:30 am

Larry, I’ve often been surprised by the optimism in this town, too. I remember picking the team go go 7-9 one year, and then I read the online feedback, and fans had them winning twelve. I suppose optimism is better with pessimism (I’ve always prided myself on realism). Fans hunger fora team that matters. And the thing is, there have been a lot of years where the Bucs’ additions have been impressive (and not worked out).

Personally, I’ve not written that this team should be a playoff team. But I have written about the unit improvements where they expect to be better. They are, of course, the only pro football team in town. I’ll keep writing about them.

I was reading some reports around the league. People in Cleveland are pumped. People in Buffalo and with the Giants. That’s the thing about this league. Everyone makes minor tweaks and fans expect major changes.

I agree with you. I think seven or eight wins is about the ceiling. But the NFL.com called the playoffs. SI called two wins. We’ll see. The Bucs are usually around the lower prediction.

The formula for winning isn’t hard. It starts in the division. It’s hard to be a success otherwise. New England, for years, has been a great team because it can count on a lot of wins in the AFC East. The old Bears stepped all over the NFC Central in their heyday. I don’t see a team succeeding if it can’t win more than one or two games in its division.

But you know what? If a player says “I think this is the year we make the playoffs,” well, we’re all going to quote him. Again, optimism rules June in the NFL.


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