NFL training camps are winding down and the preseason is in full force. What do we expect from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017?
It’s safe to say we’re not shy when it comes to getting you ready for the upcoming NFL season. Since March, we have strung together four different series in preparation for the fall. We have looked at all 32 teams’ most improved area. That was preceded by pieces on a club’s best offseason addition, some facts, figures and feats for each squad, as well as an up-and-coming player for each roster.
So call this one for the thumb. With the regular-season rapidly approaching, we’ll take a look at what we could expect from each team. Every team wants to win the Super Bowl. However, 31 teams will obviously be disappointed. So we have been taking a look at all 32 clubs (in original 2017 draft order) and doing a little analysis. You can play catch up right here. So what are we really expecting from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017?
It wasn’t long ago that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were seemingly rebuilding team via free agency and trades. Of course, we are also not that far removed from this franchise sporting a 2-14 record in 2014. Two years later and under the control of first-time NFL head coach Dirk Koetter, the Bucs orchestrated a 9-7 season thanks to eight wins in their final 12 games.
This offseason, the free-agent pickups of defensive tackle Chris Baker, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and safety J.J. Wilcox. The latter helps fortify a secondary that features cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves. Jackson will now pair with prolific Mike Evans and give Jameis Winston a solid tandem. And Baker will pair inside with Gerald McCoy as Mike Smith’s defensive unit looks to push the pocket. That makes life easier for emerging pass rusher Noah Spence, as well as play-making linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander.
Finally, the Bucs also added University of Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the 19th pick in the draft. He should help the team’s ground game (minus Doug Martin for the first 3 games due to suspension). And teamed with Cameron Brate, Winston should flourish in the offense’s two tight end sets.
Armed with some new weapons on the offensive side of the football, there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re Koetter and Winston this season. Jackson and Howard are big-play additions to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive unit on the verge of big things. Still, it’s the defense that needs to up its game this year and not just in terms of relying on takeaways. Baker should help make this club stauncher against the run and conversely tougher to throw against.
The NFC South has produced the last two conference champions and it would be bold to think the Bucs could make it three straight from the same division. At the very least, this club has improved enough to win at least one more game from a year ago. And that could mean Tampa’s first appearance in the NFL playoffs since 2007.