By Richard Wehrle
The 2016 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season is upon us. There are many things that need to be answered before the season begins. The Bucs seemed to be a team on the rise as the season came to an end. They had a young quarterback and receiving core. They had a well-respected and established head coach in Lovie Smith. They had areas of their team that needed improvement and their 6-10 record is enough to tell you that. They are in a division, the NFC South, that has had many teams in recent years go from worst to first. Can they turn it around that much this year? Let’s take a look at a few things that have happened since the 2015-2016 season ended.
It is obvious that the Buccaneers have made some curious moves during the offseason. They started their offseason with a move that baffled many fans around the league when they fired second year head coach Lovie Smith after only two seasons. They then hired offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to fill the void. It was the obvious hire as he was helping to groom the quarterback of the future for Tampa Bay in Jameis Winston. We will see if Koetter has the chops to make it as a head coach in the National Football League. Another baffling move was made in the NFL Draft when the Buccaneers decided to draft a kicker, Roberto Aguayo, in the second round. He was the best college kicker in the draft but with so many holes on the team this decision may come back to haunt them. For this decision to pan out Aguayo better end up in the Hall of Fame at the end of his career. How much of an impact he will make is yet to be seen? The areas that needed the most attention seemed to be the red zone offense and overall defense, which we will discuss in a moment. Jameis Winston threw for over 4,000 yards in his rookie campaign with Mike Evans hauling in 74 receptions for over 1,200 yards. Doug Martin had a great season with over 1,400 yards rushing. They did not have issues moving the ball but they couldn’t seem to punch it in the end zone when it mattered most.
Along with the curious moves were made they made some pretty good ones as well. In the first round of the draft they selected corner Vernon Hargreaves from Florida. With their second pick they selected linebacker Noah Spence from Eastern Kentucky. These players were solid at the collegiate level and should add a spark to a defense that was in desperate need of one last year. The Bucs gave up the seventh most points in the NFL last season an area that definitely needs to be addressed if they have any aspirations of making the playoffs this season.
Did the Bucs do enough this year to go from worst to first? That remains to be seen. Their competition is just as tough as it was last year. It seems as though the other teams in the NFC South haven’t done anything that will make you think they will take huge steps backwards. With the parody that exists in this league year in and year out though nothing would surprise me. I would not be surprised if the Bucs win six games this year or ten. The truth is with a first year head coach and a young quarterback this may be another year of growing pains. Stay tuned we may be in for a wild ride!
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