Key Additions: Bruce Arians, Todd Bowles, Shaq Barrett, Deone Bucannon, Breshard Perriman, Earl Watford, Devin White, Sean Bunting, Mike Edwards
Key Departures: Kwon Alexander, Vinny Curry, Ryan Fitzpatrick, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries, Andrew Adams, Adarius Taylor
Key Returns: Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, Chris Godwin, Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones II
|Week 1||Sept. 8th 4:25 PM ET||vs. San Francisco 49ers (FOX)|
|Week 2||Sept. 12nd 8:20 PM ET||@ Carolina Panthers (NFLN)|
|Week 3||Sept. 22nd 4:05 PM ET||vs. New York Giants (FOX)|
|Week 4||Sept. 29th 4:05 PM ET||@ Los Angeles Rams (FOX)|
|Week 5||Oct. 6th 1:00 PM ET||@ New Orleans Saints (FOX)|
|Week 6||Oct. 13th 9:30 PM ET||vs. Carolina Panthers (NFLN)|
|Week 7||Bye Week|
|Week 8||Oct. 27th 1:00 PM ET||@ Tennessee Titans (FOX)|
|Week 9||Nov. 3rd 4:05 PM ET||@ Seattle Seahawks (FOX)|
|Week 10||Nov. 10th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Arizona Cardinals (FOX)|
|Week 11||Nov. 17th 1:00 PM ET||vs. New Orleans Saints (FOX)|
|Week 12||Nov. 24th 1:00 PM ET||@ Atlanta Falcons (FOX)|
|Week 13||Dec. 1st 1:00 PM ET||@ Jacksonville Jaguars (FOX)|
|Week 14||Dec. 8th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Indianapolis Colts (CBS)|
|Week 15||Dec. 15th 1:00 PM ET||@ Detroit Lions (FOX)|
|Week 16||Dec. 22nd TBD||vs. Houston Texans (CBS)|
|Week 17||Dec. 29th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Atlanta Falcons (FOX)|
* Game in London
The 2018 campaign was disappointing for the Buccaneers as they finished 5-11. The team regressed and turned into an exhibition of dysfunction. That led to the offseason hiring of new head coach Bruce Arians as well as new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. The hiring of Arians could signal a last chance for Winston who failed to improve from his 2017 season. Arians already has an established relationship with Winston and is an offensive mind to maximize both Winston and the Tampa offense as a whole. Following Arians to Tampa is Byron Leftwich who had a similar skill set to Winston while playing in the NFL himself. In addition to the offensive changes, Todd Bowles comes on to revamp the defensive side of the ball, and he will be tasked with turning around a unit that finished ranked 27th in the league for total defense.
The draft helped the defense, especially with choosing Devin White from LSU with their first pick. Free agent signee Deone Buchannon and returning inside linebacker Lavonte David brings a lot of athleticism to that core. With the middle of the line occupied by Vita Vea, opposing offenses will see a lot of these defenders making their way to the quarterback. Also, the team revamped their defensive secondary with the drafting of Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean. With those picks and returning starters, the Bucs should be able to slide into a more fitting inside/slot coverage role and upgrade a unit that was 26th in passing defense last season.
Offensively, DeSean Jackson departed, which ends a tenure in Tampa where he never really meshed with Winston. Speedster Breshad Perriman comes in, which will open the field for Mike Evans as well as provide a deep threat for Winston’s arm and Arians offense. Also returning as an offensive weapon for Winston, is Chris Godwin who will certainly look to improve on his stat line of 59 Rec/842 yds/7 TD performance from 2018. Also, Ryan Fitzpatrick departed in free agency to in-state rival Miami, so there’s no security blanket any more.
The Bucs will certainly look to improve on the train wreck of a season the 2018 campaign was. They will be a fun team to watch as they compete in one of the more difficult divisions in the league, but a truly stacked conference where good records might be left watching the playoffs from home. The season will pose the usual challenges from divisional rivals of New Orleans, Atlanta, and Carolina. Also, the 2019 schedule brings the 49ers to Tampa as well as a road trip to the defending NFC Champs, Los Angeles Rams in the first month of the season. Also, the Bucs play in London against the Panthers ahead of their bye week.
Overall, although the Bucs should see an improvement from last year, I don’t see them making the leaps needed to overtake the Saints and possibly push the Falcons for second in the division. I do however believe they will compete and be one of the most improved teams in the NFC. Whichever way this season plays out, Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are at a make or break year. Is this the year that Jameis Winston realizes his potential that made him the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, or will the Bucs head in another direction?