We are just over three months into the 2017 fiscal year for the National Football League. It’s safe to say we have seen plenty of player movement via free agency and trades. And in late April, a total of 253 players were selected in the NFL draft. So as teams participate in mini-camps and OTAs, we figured it was a good time to have some fun looking (and learning) at the significant numbers – both in regards to the past and the present – for each of the 32 franchises. You can play catch-up by clicking here. Now it’s time to check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It’s not a dramatic jump from the previous season. But it was certainly a big factor during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 8-4 finish this past year following a 1-3 start. A team that finished 6-10 in ’15 amassed some respectable numbers in terms of yards allowed but forced only 23 turnovers. That trend continued into this past season when the Bucs totaled only a pair of takeaways during their 1-3 start.
However, Dirk Koetter’s crew (with a larger assist from Mike Smith’s defense) came up with 27 opponent’s miscues during the team’s 8-4 stretch to close the season. And a Tampa team that surrendered a combined 73 points in losses to the Oakland Raiders (30) and Atlanta Falcons (43) in Weeks 8-9 allowed a total of 137 points in the team’s last eight contests (6-2).
After only two seasons, quarterback Jameis Winston has certainly established himself as the heartbeat of this team. But the former Heisman Trophy winner and first overall pick in 2015 still needs to cut back on the mistakes. The Buccaneers committed 27 turnovers in 16 games this past season, all but three by their young signal-caller. A total of 10 of those miscues (8 interceptions, 2 lost fumbles) came in the team’s first four contests. Winston also threw just eight TD passes during the club’s 1-3 start.
But in winning eight of their final 12 games, the 23-year-old pro threw for 20 scores and gave up the football 14 times over that stretch. There was certainly improvement after a rough start, but Winston needs to cut back on these miscues.
Thank goodness for those aforementioned takeaways. That’s because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished 2016 both 22nd in the NFL against both the run and the pass and 23rd overall in total defense. Keep in mind that Koetter’s club have up more points (369) than it scored (354). And Mike Smith’s defensive unit allowed 39 offensive touchdowns.
But once again, look a little deeper and two-thirds of those offensive TDs (26) came in the club’s first eight games. That means the Bucs gave up just 13 offensive touchdowns during their 6-2 finish. There were free-agent additions such as defensive tackle Chris Baker (Washington Redskins) and safety J.J. Wilcox (Dallas Cowboys). Adding that pair to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Brent Grimes means some potentially big things for this unit.