Bucs don’t rank high in position comparisons

by Gary Shelton on September 3, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Dirk Koetter has to overcome opponents./CARMEN MANDATO

Dirk Koetter has to overcome opponents./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 3 a.m.

Remember this. Write it down. Take a picture of the power ratings.

That way, if the Bucs do indeed have a turnaround season, you can remember the meager expectations they brought into the season with them.

Last place, okay? Chaos, right? Dysfunction, agreed? Mass firings and a franchise reset, yes? Riots and looting and forest fires and zombies and high gas prices.

Over here is doom, and over there is gloom. Pestilence on this side of the room, death on that side. Almost everyone, it seems, thinks the Bucs are going to finish fourth in the NFC South. Almost no one, it seems, thinks the Bucs are going to make the playoffs. Analysts even hate the Bucs' uniforms, although they think that other teams will trample all over them.

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For instance, the Sporting News did a power ranking. On it, New Orleans was the best team in the NFL. Atlanta was 10th. Carolina was 12th.

The Bucs? They were 32nd. Out of 32 teams. They are expected to be the bug on the windshield, a mere inconvenience to the other teams of the league.

So why are there such low opinions of the Bucs.

Let's look at it.

Quarterbacks: If you're ranking the quarterbacks of the NFC South, most would say that Drew Brees is the best. Followed by Matt Ryan. Followed by Cam Newton. It's a shame that Jameis Winston is suspended, but even if he weren't, do you see those ratings change?

Running back: Again, look at the numbers. Mark Ingram isn't anything dazzling, but he was the only 1,000-yard rusher in the division a year ago. Devonta Freeman  had 865. Christian McCaffrey did most of his damage through the air. And the Bucs' Payton Barber, splitting time with Doug Martin, had just 423.

Coaches: In 11 seasons, New Orleans' Sean Payton has won 105 games. In seven, Ron Rivera of Carolina has 64. Dan Quinn has 29 wins in three years for Atlanta. And Tampa Bay's Dirk Koetter has 14 wins in two years.

Wide Receivers: Atlanta's Julio Jones is the most dangerous receiver in the league. New Orleans Michael Thomas is underrated, and Carolina's Devin Funchess hd a good year. It's a good division for receivers, but the Bucs' Mike Evans probably ranks as second in the division behind Jones.

Defense: The Bucs were dead last in the NFL last year. Carolina was seventh, Atlanta ninth and New Orleans 17th. The Bucs are betting that signing free agents and drafting players with the defense in mind will help things. It had better.

Break it down by the unit? Where does the Bucs' offensive line rank? Where does the secondary? There aren't many units where the team is among the top two teams in the division.

So remember. If the Bucs do have a decent turnaround, it's going to be an uphill battle. When they say that no one expected success, well, no one did.

To win, the Bucs are going to have do all of the little things well. They'll have to protect the ball. They'll have to play well defensively. They'll have to run the ball and play field position and avoid penalties and get a few defensive touchdowns and be deadly with their placekicking.

It's a lot to ask.

It's a big mountain to climb.

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