Tampa, October 18, 2018– Fire the cannons! Huge weekend for the two B’s at home in Raymond James Stadium as the Buccaneers take on the Browns and the USF Bulls open their homecoming game facing off versus Connecticut. With QB Jameis Winston back on the active starting roster as man No.1 on the depth chart, comes another change. The Bucs are definitely staring some hardships in the face not just on offense; also plagued with injuries and discombobulation on the opposite side of the ball. Let’s delve into the good and bad in this organization’s 2-3 start this 2018 season.
Tampa recently fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith and promoted linebacker coach Mark Duffner as the new interim defensive coordinator. Mark is hoping to enforce a fiercer mentality; aspiring for something every team desires within defensive efforts- aggressiveness and physicality. How will he break down this generic task you ask? Mark wants to take an aggressive tactic on every (yes, every) play call.
Although players weren’t overjoyed at the news, they are open to change. Former Giants defensive end and current DE for Tampa, Jason Pierre-Paul shared some of his thoughts in an interview with the Bucs media- “We’ll see, I’m all for it… main goal is to make it to the playoffs.” Paul has proved his worth in his first year as a Buc, totaling 5 sacks on the season so far- leads the team certainly, as defensive TACKLE Gerald McCoy and DE Vinny Curry are the closest with 1.5 sacks. Jason ranks 10th among the league’s sack leaders (J.J. Watt at the top of the board with 7).
-Jameis Winston (who was the top fantasy QB this past week) has made his return- he brings the possibility to vamp up the struggling run game; both incorporating himself as a top team rusher and rallying the other young talent moving forward in tougher matchups.
–The Bucs were 4-3 in situational records when they scored first vs opponents last season and 3-0 when they were leading after the first half.
-In the air, the team ranks 5th in passing yards. Nearly both star wide receivers’ Mike Evans (33 rec for 484 yards) and DeSean Jackson (21 rec for 501 yards) have totaled 500 receiving yards. The passing game is still alive!
–Tampa’s defense is ranked 19th of 32 teams in total yards.
-Lack of rushing attack: Bucs come in at 31st on the ground, but with Winston back he should be able to create some spark.
HC Dirk Koetter on certain defensive players’ expectations- “I don’t really need to see anything. Your guys are your guys. Whoever you have, whoever you’ve got going, they’re going. That’s just the life in the NFL for every team that has injury issues. Whoever you’ve got up, they’re playing.”
OC Todd Monken on improvement of run game- “Had a couple explosive runs, but explosives are one half of it. The other was there was also a number of short-yardage runs and those are just as important. The toughest part is an explosive and three or four runs that are one and two yards and now your average looks the same, but your situation in terms of the chains is different…”
QB Jameis Winston- “I’m excited to get back out there in Ray Jay. It’s been a long time for me being in Ray Jay, so we’ve got to bring home a win for them. Last time we were there we were on Monday Night Football. Since then it’s been a month [since as a team we’ve been at Ray Jay]. It’s definitely going to be exciting to get out there and get the whole atmosphere with the fans.”
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor