After finishing the 2016 season with the NFL’s 18th ranked scoring offense and the league’s 18th ranked offense in total yards, there was a sense of disappointment in Tampa Bay.
Missing the playoffs by just one game didn’t help the mood either.
Just one year earlier the Bucs offense, led by then offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter had set franchise records for offensive production and things were expected to be even better with quarterback Jameis Winston entering his second year. But in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, running back Doug Martin, who just one year earlier was the NFL’s second-leading rusher, suffered a hamstring injury and the wheels slowly began falling off of the Bucs offense.
Wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Cecil Shorts were lost to injury, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was released early in the season following a DUI charge and a number of other offensive players saw at least part of their season cut short.
Bucs WR DeSean Jackson – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
This offseason the Buccaneers front office and coaching staff took a look at what could help them get back on track and scoring more points, and the one thing that became abundantly clear – besides trying to stay healthy – was a need for speed.
Enter free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson. While no spring chicken, the top free agent receiver on the market still managed to lead the NFL in yards per reception in 2016 (17.9) and posted over 1,000 yards receiving in 2016.
The Bucs then went into the NFL Draft last month, landing tight end O.J. Howard and also former Penn State standout wide receiver Chris Goodwin. An offense that less than six months ago was one of the slowest in the NFL, is now one of the fastest, and the Bucs offseason moves have caught the attention of some national writers.
NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling is the latest to point out how much better the Bucs offense can be in 2017. Wesseling recently released his Top 10 offenses for 2017 and it was no surprise that the New England Patriots were No. 1. But with all of the additions, Wesseling has the Bucs as his Top 10 offense.
A couple wild cards that could also help propel the Bucs back in the Top 10, or even further, is a healthy J.R. Sweezy added to the mix on the offensive line, and also the return – and hopeful rebound – of Martin.
Just like last season, the Bucs offense could easily be derailed by serious injuries. If Winston, Mike Evans or Howard were to be lost for the season, it could spell disaster for the Bucs. Even a major offensive line injury would stunt things significantly. But if the Bucs can somehow avoid the injury bug in 2017, Wesseling’s Top 10 ranking may be accurate.
In fact he may have even shortchanged their potential.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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