2015 NFL Season Preview- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In 2014, the Glazer family hired former Buccaneers assistant Lovie Smith to be the team's new head coach and help turn the franchise around. But thanks to two offseason decisions by Smith, Tampa Bay sank further into mediocrity.
Smith hired former Cal coach Jeff Tedford to be the team's new offensive coordinator and brought in journeyman Josh McCown to be the team's starting quarterback. Tedford underwent heart surgery two weeks before the start of the season and went on an indefinite medical leave soon after. His replacement, Marcus Arroyo, was overmatched and had next to no experience as a play caller. McCown couldn't match the success he had in 2014 as he accounted for 18 turnovers and went 1-10 as a starter. But the biggest problem for the offense in 2014 had to be the offensive line. The line couldn't protect the quarterback and couldn't open up running lanes.
Defensively, the team wasn't anything spectacular. The team acquired defensive end Michael Johnson in free agency, but he was injury plagued and only recorded four sacks. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker LaVonte David were the only bright spots on defense as both players were named to the Pro Bowl.
Overall, the rookie class was impressive. Wide receiver Mike Evans set a team record with 12 touchdown catches and had over 1,000 yards receiving. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has the potential to be a reliable target but missed almost half the year due to injuries. Running back Charles Sims missed the first half of the year with an ankle injury, but showed flashes as both a runner and return man.
Buccaneers 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 25th
NFL Rank- 29th
NFL Rank- 28th
NFL Rank- 19th
NFL Rank- 30th
NFL Rank- 25th
Following the end of the 2-14 season, Jeff Tedford jumped ship to the Canadian Football League and Marcus Arroyo was fired. The team hired former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Lovie Smith has struggled with finding the right offensive coordinator and quarterback in the past. This is something he has to get right if he expects to stay around.
It will be interesting to see what the team will do with quarterback Mike Glennon and running back Doug Martin as both players have high trade value.
Notable Additions- TE Tim Wright, DT Henry Melton, LB Bruce Carter, CB Sterling Moore, S Chris Conte, S D.J. Swearinger, P Spencer Lanning
Notable Departures- QB Josh McCown, DE Michael Johnson, LB Mason Foster,
Mike Evans Rookie Highlights
2015 NFL Draft
Going into the 2015 NFL Draft, Tampa Bay held the first overall pick and had many positions they needed to address. Primarily at quarterback, offensive line, and middle linebacker.
Josh McCown wasn't the solution and Mike Glennon has failed to win over Lovie Smith. The team needs to start over with a new franchise quarterback. The team had he opportunity to get either of the top two quarterback prospects in Florida State's Jameis Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota. Winston was viewed as the most accurate quarterback in the draft and was praised for his ability to read defenses. The big issue with Winston is his off the field character issues, primarily a sexual assault charge and shoplifting incident. Mariota was seen as the best mobile quarterback as well as having the best overall skill set. The big concern on him is the fact he played in a simplified offense since high school and struggles with much of the basics of the position in a pro style game.
Apart from guard Logan Mankins, the Buds failed miserably at rebuilding their offensive line through free agency. They need to overhaul their line through the draft. With an abundance of offensive line talent in the draft, the team can have some great value in later rounds.
Mason Foster is now in Chicago after an injury filled 2014 season. The defense needs a force at middle linebacker in Lovie Smith's Tampa 2 defense. The team added Bruce Carter in free agency, but he is better suited as an outside linebacker.
The team ended up selecting Jameis Winston with the first overall pick. In addition to Winston, Tampa Bay also selected a pair of offensive lineman in the second round in Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith and Hobart guard Ali Marpet. Smith has the build to be an ideal offensive tackle but has to work on his hand technique if he wants to be successful at the pro level. Marpet's draft stock grew after strong performance Senior Bowl performance and Combine workout, but some experts still have concerns about his competition level as he played at a division III school.
Jameis Winston Highlights
What to Expect
Offensively, Jameis Winston makes this team better than last year. Tampa Bay drafted a quarterback that played in a pro style offense in college and only lost one game in his two years as a starter. Having a tough quarterback who can stand back in the pocket and chuck it to one of the team's 6'5" receivers makes this one offenses have to respect. As far as a running game, We'll have to wait and see what the team decides to do with Doug Martin.
Defensively, they're in the same position they were last year. They are going to get big production from Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, but the defense still lacks a true pass rusher and playmaker in the secondary. William Gholston and Akeem Spence need to step up if this defense is going to be a factor.
All things considered, I believe this team will definitely win more than two games this year, but don't expect them to be a playoff team right away. There are just two many missing pieces needed to be a true contender in the NFC South. If the team can find a consistent running game and pass rusher, they can be a tough opponent in the next few years.
Best record they can hope for: 6-10