Now that the NFL season has kicked off and a few games have been played, it’s a good opportunity for fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to see how the team is shaping up for this campaign as there is hope for an improvement on last year’s 5-11 record and to end a 12-year playoff run drought. Indeed, if things do go much better, many Bucs fans will be looking at how to bet on Super Bowl online in anticipation of making it through to the biggest game in the NFL.
It won’t be an easy task though with the NFC South division looking wide-open this year with no clear front-runner with Drew Brees out for the early part of the season. The good news is that Tampa Bay is on top of the division right now in first place. An upset win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 made up for an opening-day loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Atlanta and New Orleans are also at 1-1 with Carolina winless at 0-2.
The burning question for all Bucs followers is, how can they build on a solid start to make the playoffs this time around?
Keep the defense firing
One really bright spot for the Bucs so far has been the performance of their defensive unit. The Bucs have only given up one touchdown in two games, which is a solid accomplishment. Tampa Bay is holding opponents to 304 yards per game, which is a big improvement over last year. Much credit has to go to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, whose blitz-based game plan seems to get the most from his players. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton certainly saw how effective it was in the last game. While there will be bigger tests ahead for this unit, if it can stay in this form, then a playoff spot is possible.
This is an obvious point and one that all NFL teams need to achieve if they are to have a playoff run. Nevertheless, it is as true for the Bucs as any other team. Keeping their key players healthy will make or break their season overall. Without Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh and Shaq Barrett, for example, the outstanding defensive unit would lose much of its aggressive swagger and effectiveness. The same is true for other areas in the team, where players such as wide receiver Chris Godwin, who leads the passing game.
Change tactics if needed
Although the blitz tactics of Bowles may be working well at the moment, one has to wonder if Tampa Bay will continue to blitz for the whole season. As teams get used to this way of playing, they will adjust to it, which may make blitzing less effective. This could well be the case with the better teams and QBs, who they have to face still. Will the Bucs be able to change tactics to remain effective if needed and continue winning? Only time will tell if this is required. It is also fair to say that the Bucs offense has not caught fire yet, and getting wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end O.J. Howard going remains a priority heading into Week 3’s game against the New York Giants.
Get those who are not performing to play better
While there are some early season stars who have done well, there are some players who need to step up to the mark. This will become even more pressing as the season rolls on and the possibilities of injuries piling up. The Bucs will need all their players to play a role if a playoff spot is to be acquired in a tough division. In addition to Evans and Howard, wide receiver Breshad Perriman also needs to step up. He might be fast, but he seems to have trouble catching the football right now. Rookie inside linebacker Devin White is another who must shake off a lackluster preseason and make some splash plays when he recovers from his knee injury.
Could this be the Bucs’ year for a playoff spot?
To say that Bucs fans have waited a while now for a playoff berth is an understatement. Twelve years is a long time for a team with such a proud history, and this means that making it there during the current campaign is essential with Bruce Arians at the helm. A win against the Giants in Week 3 would go a long way towards making a postseason run.