Ask Gary: Predicting the Bucs’ season

by Gary Shelton on September 16, 2017 · 3 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

What is your prediction for the Bucs this year? How many wins and do they make the playoffs?

Larry Beller

I don't know about you, Larry, but my barometer keeps shifting. During most of the off-season, I would have predicted 9-7. After looking more closely at the schedule, I was at 8-8. After the preseason, I'm at 7-9.  It's not that I'm wishy-washy, but I do think that's the range for this team.

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The talent is still miles better than what we saw in the preseason. But playing for 16 straight weeks won't help. A schedule with the Patriots, Packers and Falcons won't help.

If it helps, know this: I'm terrible at this prediction stuff. And there is this: The Bucs never really took a game and tried to simulate a real game. The only game that was close was Cleveland, and both starting receivers missed that game.

In a way, then, we really don't know what to expect from the Bucs. With the additions of DeSean Jackson, T.J. Ward, O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin, there is certainly no reason for the Bucs not to be as good as they were a year ago. My own feelings are the six  key players for the Bucs are Winston, Evans, Noah Spence, Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Ward. If they're all solid, the Bucs have a chance to be successful.

I think a lot of it depends on what kind of start the Bucs get off to. After Chicago, Minnesota is a good team, and the Giants are a dangerous team, and the Patriots are a wounded team. Can Tampa Bay manage a 2-2 start before getting Doug Martin back? We'll see.

Who has the advantage in the Bucs vs Bears game? Bucs for not having any tape out there for the Bears to look at? Or Bears for having played a game under their belt?

Nick Houllis

Like most of us, Nick, I can argue both sides of the debate. It's like those playoff games where the team that plays often is in better rhythm that the team that has the bye week. Right.

This time, however, I think the advantage goes to Chicago. The Bucs have a coach in his third year; they aren't going to beat the Bears with surprises. Chicago knows it has to pressure Winston into bad decisions, and it has to run and, every now and then, hit a big pass up the seam. To me, there was nothing bad about Chicago starting a week earlier except for the loss of Kevin White.

On the other hand, Nick, the game isn't just about that. There are some great advantages for the Bucs, too. They have the better quarterback. They have better receivers. Their defense is better. If they can watch their turnovers and stay away from penalties, they should win. They might sputter at times on offense -- they did throughout the preseason -- but it's a talent game. If the Bucs have any aspirations of the post-season, it has to beat teams like Chicago.

Yes, the Bears' running game can hurt you. But I'd be surprised if Mike Glennon can be successful if he has to throw it 40 times again. He isn't a 40-a-game guy. And as slow as he is, the Bucs' pass rush should be okay.

So let's say that, because it's in better synch, the Bears win the first half. I see the Bucs coming back and winning the game, and then we will all talk about how ugly the win was for a week. Does that sound about right?

How is this for fun? Chris Archer’s w-l career record within the AL East Division is 19-30.  Alex Cobb’s w-l career record within the AL East Division is 20-12.  If I am the Rays, I would much rather lose Archer than Cobb.  What do you think?

Scott Myers
I think you've touched on an age-old discussion: Would you rather have more natural ability (Archer) or more feisty competitiveness (Cobb)?
It's true. Few pitchers in baseball can do more with a pitch than Archer. He can make a hitter look foolish in his swings. But he doesn't have that ability to get the big out when the score is tied at two and there are two runners on base. I think perhaps he gets too cute and tries too much stuff.
Cobb is gritty, and I like that. Don't forget, too, that he should be much better next year as his arm bounces back from Tommy John surgery.
If you believe in stuff, in potential, then I think you take Archer. But if you believe in production, in fire, I think you take Cobb. I've never seen Cobb happy after a bad outing.
Now consider this. Although Archer has almost double the number of Cobb's strikeouts (235-119), Cobb has a lower ERA and a lower Whip. That tells you something about Cobb. He's getting more done with less.

I will say this: I think if Archer gets it together, he may make a team rue his loss more. But that's based upon potential, too.

I read an article about the new stadium plans for the Oakland A's. It said that MLB was tired of making payments to the team and that, according to the CBA signed last year, those payments from the league will end in 2021. Is this true for the Rays too? If so, it seems that could have major consequences.

Jim Willson

Jim, as I understand it, the A's revenue share (which has been as much as $34 million a year), will be reduced by 25 percent each of the next four years. That's a pretty hefty price tag, but evidently, baseball decided that the A's weren't using their situation to make it better. Baseball wants a new stadium badly.

Does that sound familiar to you? It should. Although the Rays weren't mentioned in the latest CBA agreement, it has the feel that if they will do this to Oakland, they'll probably do it in Tampa Bay.

Of course, it would help if we knew more about a potential stadium site. That won't cure all of the ills of the Rays, but if it doesn't help, well, what's the point?

The stadium situation around here is going to get pretty interesting pretty fast, and the impact on the CBA money is a big part of it. Will Tampa pay for the stadium? Can the team ever draw fans in Pinellas? Are we doomed to be last in fans and last in payroll?

It gets to be too much for some people, who would just rather not hear about it. The question remains the same, though: Would you vote for an increase to your taxes to build a new stadium for a team that operates like the Dollar Store?

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