Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Optimism may never be quite as high as it is during the offseason and a couple decorated Tampa Bay Buccaneers aired their true hopes for 2016 Wednesday afternoon.
Speaking to reporters during a break in offseason workouts, running back Doug Martin and linebacker Lavonte David brought up the “P” word often during individual interview sessions.
“Every year that I’ve been here I feel like we were a playoff team but we never got a chance to put it all together,” David said. “But now, that’s in the past and things are different. I feel like we’ve got the guys in place to accomplish that. We’ve got a lot of talented players on this football team and it’s not just me that is hungry and eager to get there. It’s our young guys, too, going out and working hard every day, working their butts off, trying to learn as much as they can to get us to that level.”
Last year the Bucs flirted with their first postseason trip since 2007, carrying a 6-6 record into a Week 14 home game against New Orleans before dropping their final four and finishing 6-10. That was the team’s fifth straight sub-.500 campaign, going 23-57 over that stretch.
Professional seasons that end after Week 17 are all Martin and David know and both expressed their desires to change the narrative that Tampa Bay is an NFL afterthought.
Lavonte David – Photo: Mark Cook/PR
“We still have doubters,” David said. “Nobody believes in us. When they came out with the schedule, all the analysts put out wins and losses [predictions] and we were one of the teams who had more Ls than Ws. That’s like a slap in the face to the guys we have on this team. Everybody had that in the back of their minds.”
While Martin needed a little prodding to discuss what he aims to achieve on a personal level next year, it didn’t take much for him to expound upon his ultimate goals.
“What’s missing? A Super Bowl,” he said. “Going to the playoffs. We haven’t had a lot of wins in my time here and I want to win games and get to the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl and win it. So that’s the next thing on my list.
“That’s the reason why you play the game. You want to win, go to the playoffs and then go to the Super Bowl. If those aren’t your goals then you shouldn’t be playing. That’s definitely something we’re trying to get.”
When asked in an interview setting with the media about playoff potential, just about every player in the league is going to say he feels his team is capable of making a push. Since last year’s draft, Tampa Bay’s added individuals to its pool of talent recognized by those outside One Buccaneer Place and around the league.
David and Martin have both received All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections, quarterback Jameis Winston met or exceeded most expectations last year, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy made his fifth straight Pro Bowl appearance and Kwon Alexander – a fourth-round pick in 2015 – burst onto the scene after earning the starting job at middle linebacker.
The pieces are there, David believes, but racking up All-Pro honors and Player of the Week awards doesn’t mean anything if they’re not accompanied by wins.
“I’m very tired [of that],” he said. “Very tired. Yesterday in workouts I was screaming it to guys. It’s always in the back of my mind, but we just have to take care of what we need to take care of and that’s taking it one day at a time.
“We’ve got the pieces, we’ve got the guys that are getting individual accolades, but it’s a team effort. Getting the individual accolades is pretty good, but the big accolade is winning the Super Bowl. That’s the main thing. When you win the Super Bowl everybody gets recognized and that’s what we want.”
Yes, I believe we could make the playoffs with some luck and our players and coaches prepared to play and adjust to the game as it is being played.
I believe we can after Licht pulls in another great draft class, as he is fully capable of doing like last year. This would be a doable great draft: 1. Sheldon Rankins DT, 2. Emmanuel Ogbah DE & Germain Irfedi OT (2d pick trade for Glennon), 3. Miles Killebrew SS, 4. Jonathan Jones CB, 5. Cody Core WR, 6. Nick Kwiatkoski MLB & SLB backup and STs, 7. Joel Heath DT backup, and Undrafted Will Ratelle FB
As someone who has been negative on Bucs past seasons, I would be pretty disappointed if they do not finish 2nd in the division. Atlanta and New Orleans should both be picking in the top 10 next year.
Finishing 2nd in the division does guarantee a playoff spot but does narrow the field a lot.
Just saw that josh Norman became a free agent about an hour ago! There’s no reason we shouldn’t be flying this guy in to Tampa right now!! This would be an insane addition and yes, we have the money to spare!
Someone go to Licht House and wake Jason up Josh Norman is available and we have 60 mil in cap space which could be more if we cut A Verner
See! That’s what I’m talking about. If you would have taken the time to go to OTC (Over The Cap), you would would have seen that the Bucs have about 16mil in cap space. The Jags have 59mil. You have got to read before you post!!
Unless they relocate a bog chunk of players cap hits next year into signing bonuses, there isn’t a good chance we get Norman. Saw what you saw MAc and that is what he’s asking for per year so it won’t fly unfortunately.
In addition to that if you go to Spotrac you will see that the projected draft rookie pool is 6.5mil. Money has to be set aside for drafted players.
OTC (Over The Cap) Bucs cap space is $15,795,430. Spotrac projected draft pool is $6,541,855. Effective cap space is $9,253,575. Not to worry though, OTC 2017 projected Bucs cap space is $74,761,273.
Remember, Josh Norman is a 5th round pick. So is Richard Sherman. We should grow our own!!
Cap space is an issue, but I don’t want to leave the impression that it’s a game stopper. If the Bucs really want this guy, there are 100 ways to find the money to get this done.
The Buc have only made but one cut, Bruce Carter, since the FA began. There are a hand full of cuts that could be made to get the dollars. John Gruden mentioned Verner and there is DE George Johnson, Kourtnei Brown, and a host of minimum wage 400k-500K guys that aren’t going to make the cut. There could even draft the FSU kicker and cut both Murray and Barth.
So the issue is how bad do they want this guy who reportedly wants 16mil. They would be wise to investigate why Carolina pulled his tag. Un heard of for a top rated player!
Its “Jon” Gruden Not “John” and its “Ronde” not “Rhonde” Barber its puzzling to me how Buc Fans still mis spell the great names in our franchise, btw I “read” your post and caught your mistake ha
Getting to 9-7 would be a leap for this team. I am not saying we cannot do it, but the defense is really not very good. I think they are going to have to score big in the Draft and still may be at least one more year away.
Cut EDS, George Johnson, Verner and you probably free up around 10 mil in cap space and your almost there to signing Norman seems logical to me
Paying $16m per yr (with at least 2-3 yrs guaranteed) for a guy that will be 29 to start the season, and has had one very good year, in no way sounds like a Jason Licht move…at least not the new Jason Licht post Collins/Johnson…I’m not getting my hopes up on this one.
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