Bucs MLB Kwon Alexander could have Tampa Bay pointed towards the playoffs in 2016 – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Tampa Bay kicks off its 41st season of Buccaneers football on Sunday when it travels to Atlanta to face the Falcons for a 1:00 p.m. start at the Georgia Dome. PewterReport.com polled its writers and predicts a 9-7 season record for the Bucs in 2016.
Find out who has the Bucs going to playoffs this year and who has them failing to achieve a winning record due to Tampa Bay’s daunting 2016 schedule.
Scott Reynolds’ Pewter Prediction For Bucs’ 2016 Record: 10-6
The Buccaneers underachieved the last two years under head coach Lovie Smith, losing winnable games against teams with rookie, backup or just plain questionable quarterbacks. Tampa Bay lost to the likes of Derek Anderson (twice), Austin Davis, rookie Teddy Bridgewater and Bryan Hoyer in 2014, and rookie Marcus Mariota, Ryan Mallett, 40-year old Matt Hasselbeck, Case Keenum and made a star – and the “You Like That?” catch phrase – out of Kirk Cousins.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston scores a TD at Carolina – Photo by: Getty Images
With a better defensive scheme and play against those quarterbacks and better clock and game management alone, the Bucs could have at least 6-10 instead of 2-14 in 2014, and at least 8-8 instead of 6-10 last year. I believe the Bucs have a better defensive scheme and better defensive players, and I believe that new head coach Dirk Koetter will be a much better game day manager than Smith ever was.
While the schedule is more difficult on paper in 2016 with six games against 2015 playoff teams – Arizona, Denver, Carolina (twice), Kansas City and Seattle, the Bucs are better this year, too. I think 10-6 is achievable and a wild card playoff berth is likely if the Bucs can stay healthy. The fact that Tampa Bay heads into the regular season without any major injuries in the preseason is encouraging.
The NFL is full of twists and turns each year as some teams that are projected to do well end up failing – largely due to injuries at key positions – while there are some teams that wind up being surprise playoff contenders. I think Tampa Bay falls into the category of surprise teams. The Bucs are a year ahead of schedule thanks to the continuity that Koetter brings on offense, and the acquisition of veteran defensive coordinator Mike Smith, whose aggressive scheme fits Tampa Bay’s personnel and should generate more sacks and more interceptions in 2016.
There is a chance that the Bucs could be facing rookie quarterbacks Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch, both first-round picks, at home in Week 3 and Week 4 if St. Louis and Denver stumble out of the gate. Tampa Bay also will likely face less than stellar passers in San Francisco’s Blaine Gabbert and Dallas rookie Dak Prescott later in the season if Tony Romo’s back injury lingers.
The key to the Bucs’ 2016 season will be to win those four games, sweep either the Saints or Falcons, while splitting the other series, and finally getting a win against the Panthers, who have swept Tampa Bay the last three years. If the Bucs remain healthy there are 10 wins there for the taking with an improved Winston at the helm of Koetter’s offense. I’ll break down those 10 Buccaneers victories in Friday’s SR’s Fab 5.
Mark Cook’s Pewter Prediction For Bucs’ 2016 Record: 9-7
Like every one does this time of year, we all look at Tampa Bay’s schedule and pick wins and losses. The problem with that is, nearly every team wins games against teams it shouldn’t, but also loses to teams that fans and the media feel it shouldn’t. The difference between the 2015 Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns isn’t as far apart as many would assume. The worst teams in the league are still filled with elite athletes.
Luck, injuries, and the system, all play a part in how teams either succeed or fail. But maybe the biggest single factor for a team to become respectable is having solid quarterback play.
Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The 2002 Ravens will tell you that winning a Super Bowl is possible without an elite QB (Trent Dilfer), but more times than not, to even get in the playoffs, teams need good play from the guy on offense who touches the ball every snap. The Bucs have that now in Jameis Winston, and didn’t have it with Josh McCown, Josh Freeman or even Mike Glennon. Winston brings stability, leadership, talent, and most importantly hope for the Bucs franchise.
When you combine that with a second year in a franchise record-setting offense, the Bucs should be as good if not even better than 2015. Now add in Mike Smith as the team’s defensive coordinator, along with an influx of talent on that side of the ball, and it should equal considerable improvement.
While on paper the schedule does look tougher than last season, no one knows what happens if Russell Wilson goes down for Seattle, or Denver’s Von Miller is out with an injury when Denver comes to town. The Buccaneers managed six wins in 2015, a four-game improvement over the previous season and another four-game jump could happen in 2016.
The Bucs will need to stay relatively healthy and not suffer any key injuries to star players like Winston, Mike Evans, Gerald McCoy or Lavonte David, but if they can do that, then a three-win jump should be attainable in 2016 with the playoffs within reach next year.
Zach Shapiro’s Pewter Prediction For Bucs’ 2016 Record: 9-7
For a young team trying to turn the corner and become a playoff contender, I believe early momentum is key for the Buccaneers in 2016. The first quarter of the season could make the difference between a 10-6 or 6-10 year.
To that assessment, I believe Tampa Bay will finish with a 9-7 record in 2016. With victories over the Falcons in Week 1 and Rams in Week 3, the Bucs will be poised to build on a 2-2 first quarter and finish with a winning record, second place in the NFC South behind Carolina.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The talent is certainly there; it’s about experience now. Under Dirk Koetter, there is reason to believe that last year’s fifth-ranked offense should take the next step in Year 2.
Jameis Winston, who developed quickly as a rookie, has shown an even greater command of Koetter’s system, while his arsenal of weapons – led by Mike Evans and Doug Martin – have looked like the best version of themselves in the offseason. Not to mention the offensive line is going into its second year as a unit.
Tampa Bay appeared to have improved its defense over the offseason, too. Coordinator Mike Smith has drawn praise for his “multiple” scheme, designed to fit players’ skill-set. The secondary, last year’s weakest unit, added a top free agent in Brent Grimes and a first-round pick in Vernon Hargreaves III.
And a once-inconsistent defensive line, one that also signed a key player in defensive end Robert Ayers and drafted another early in Noah Spence, registered a league-most 16 sacks in the preseason. There seemed to be contributions from everyone along the four-man front and a strong pass rush will set the tone on defense.
The Bucs’ schedule, consisting of the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers twice, is not exactly favorable. But if the dress rehearsal in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, and the development of a strong 2015 rookie class, is any indication, then Tampa Bay is primed for playoff contention in 2016.
Eric Horchy’s Pewter Prediction For Bucs’ 2016 Record: 8-8
The playoffs might still be out of reach in 2016, but expect Tampa Bay to be in the mix until the end and finish with a non-losing record for the first time since 2010. An 8-8 record seems attainable this year with playmaking quarterback Jameis Winston entering his second season.
Coaching changes can mean pumping the breaks on expectations for at least a year or two, but this feels like a different situation by promoting from within. The Bucs flirted with the postseason last year by entering December at 6-6, but a four-game skid to end the season led to the dismissal of Lovie Smith and the promotion of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
If the Bucs are able to not only reach, but crack, .500 for the first time since 2010’s Raheem Morris-led 10-6 squad, they’ll have to do it against what’s projected to be a pretty tough schedule. Having a couple cupcakes to start the season doesn’t happen often for NFL teams, and Tampa Bay will have to have its game tightened up right off the bat.
The Bucs drew a Week 6 bye and the five games that precede it – at Atlanta, at Arizona, home against St. Louis and Denver and a Monday night road trip to Carolina – will make starting out fast incredibly challenging.
Fans won’t need to wait long to see if the Bucs intend to make a serious playoff push. Where that will be most evident is the games against the Cardinals, Broncos and Panthers. Even if this five-game, pre-bye week stretch doesn’t go well for Koetter and the Bucs in the standings, these are the games that will show how ready Tampa Bay is to challenge other playoff contenders.
After the first five dates, Tampa Bay also has to make a pair of cross-country California trips (Week 7 in San Francisco and Week 13 in San Diego) in addition to dealing with Kansas City on the road and Seattle at home back-to-back in late November. The late season travel and a tougher schedule will net Tampa Bay a two-win improvement over last year, but will likely put the 8-8 Bucs’ postseason plans on hold for a year.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
I don’t see the offense around Winston being good enough for 9-7….but he might be better than I thought so who knows. If he is average we will be 5-11/6-10. If he is great we will be 8-8. And if he is amazing, who knows. But as of right now…I am thinking 6-10. (I believe he is going to be great by the way, maybe top 3 in a couple of years. Just not sure he will get there this year).
The offense around Winston not good enough for 9-7??? Right, we ONLY broke franchise records, had the 5th ranked offense, had the 2nd leading rusher (behind first ballot HOF AP), a 6’4 beast WR going into his 3rd year, where in a down year had 1,200 yds receiving, and an up and coming O-line that made all that happen… If a slightly improved version of THAT can’t get you to 9-7, IDK what can…
There is a good chance 8-8 is a playoff record. Only the West has 2 teams that should exceed that number.
Tougher schedule, Bucs head west, new coaching staff, new players on defense= 7-9. Next yr I predict playoffs if we can shore up that secondary esp the safeties
If they stay healthy 9 or 10 wins is fairly possible. We get some injuries and all bets off. Safety, WR, and DT depth is bad.
You’re probably right. At the start of every year I used to say “it all depends on injuries and turnovers”…went for something a little more fun this year below…
I am predicting on the high end 8 and 8. on the low end 5 and 7. I think we will be improved on Defense, but injuries will be key. If our starters stay healthy I think we see improvement. Bucs took some risks. Receiver position is a little puzzling. I thought it was going to be our strength this year, but now that preseason is done, It really didn’t seem like anyone emerged after Jackson and Evans. And with only 5 receivers, my fingers are crossed that Jackson can stay healthy. It would appear with 5 TE’s we are going to see a bit more of a power game on offense. Are we going to line up with two TE’s on most plays ? Our OL is going to have to really perform this year. If Winston stays healthy and doesn’t have to run for his life, we might inch into the play offs. But my guess is we are in the middle of the pack.
EEB’s bold predictions for the 2016 season:
1) Bucs go 10-6
2) and make the playoffs…and what the heck, win their first playoff game too
3) sweep both the Aints and the Failcons
4) ASJ emerges as a top-flight TE in the league
5) Bucs see their first double digit sacker in over a decade….and his name is
6) Robert Ayers
…and few more for around the league:
7) the Skins will be terrible…6 wins at best
8) the Eagles will be worse, saving the Skins from a last place finish in the East
9) the Broncos will be terrible…6 wins at best (due mainly to their “stars” new found interests in dancing and making commercials)…and oh ya, they’ll be starting a college back-up QB
9) Sam Bradford is not the answer….but really the Vikes were over-hyped anyway
10) Dak is also not the answer….neither is the Sanchize….sorry America’s team
11) sorry Carolina but it’s crash back to earth time…if not for the 4 games you get against the Aints and Failcons you might be in real trouble, but really you’ll just look much much worse than last year as your secondary (who is even in their secondary) gives up a lot of yards, week after week, and you once again try to pin the entire offense on Cam…that strategy has run its course and you have no alternative.
12) the race for the 1st over all pick will be hotly contested this year by the Browns, Eagles, Bears, Aints…
13) who am I kidding, the Browns have it locked up…sorry Cleveland
I cannot see them making it into the playoffs with so many coaching changes and the distance the Defense has to cover from its hideous outing last year. But I hope you are right. It has been a long time since we have been in the playoffs and it would do me good to see them there again soon. I cannot see Carolina crashing however. I think they still win the Division.
Maybe not , but who is gonna make the playoffs we know how this all works . Sure we have a tough schedule says the people . Why can’t we overcome adversity though and change for the better? I’m just saying .
We have for sure playoff teams locked and loaded already in Arizona and Seattle . One of those wins the division and the other likely guaranteed a playoff spot as wildcard 1/2 spot . Gb has Rodgers , lacy , and jordy Nelson all healthy and in shape this year I suspect they clearly win the division no questions asked . Chicago is in th shitter probably has a good shot at the #1 pick and if not then Detroit certainly will get it and if not either of them well you already know they both are picking in the top 10 . Minnesota was gonna challenge them , but all hope was lost when Bridgewater got hurt and Bradford became their starter lol . Dallas lost all hope when they went with a rookie QB and a rookie RB . Relying on Hong guys at star positions in this league isn’t gonna get you far. I like both of them , but unlikely they make eachother better this year in the W-L section . Giants and Redskins will be a toss up like it is every year and one makes the playoffs as a wildcard pros boy and the other wins the division . Now someone in our division has too be the winner and all signs say Carolina . No guarantee , but it’s certainly likely . We have a shot too be the last team battling Seattle Arizona NYG Washington for a playoff spot . It’s totally realistic specially if we beat Arizona early & help Seattle make a push at winning the division.
“The difference between the 2015 Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns isn’t as far apart as many would assume. The worst teams in the league are still filled with elite athletes.”-Mark Cook
I couldn’t agree more. It’s what makes the NFL great. Go Bucs!
Remember the Browns took the Broncos to OT last year
jongruden, Dave Gettlenan, GM of the Panthers pretty much indicates he thinks paying safeties alot of money is a waste of capital. I don’t get that feeling from you.
I agree with Eric, 8-8 sounds right to me. But, if Smith gets the defense cooking who knows. With just a little better defense we could have been 8-8 or 9-7 last year.
Boomer on NFL on Showtime almost creamed his jeans about the Bucs.
NFL network put them 15 on the power rankings.
Be nice to see the Bucs actually make the PO’s though.
Be nice to see the Fins and the Jags make it also.
Florida is to great of a football state to have all our teams in the cellar.
I hope the Broncos beat the hell out of the Panthers tomorrow.
3 more days till I’m and Buc heaven.
This Falcons game IMO is the biggest game of the year. Winston is correct when he said that the Falcons want some payback. We need to come out strong and lay some wood on Matty and Julio. Let em know whats up!!
Every year there are surprise successes and surprise failures. This season will be no different, when at the end, we all will repeat the words of Dave Pear, “Whoda thunk it?” Bucs fans are always leaning a bit toward being pessimistic due to our years of disappointment. Every year we try to pick the wins and losses as Scott is planning for the next Fab-5. Most team’s fans will predict a victory over the “lowly Bucs” . The prognosticators will do the same, unwilling to risk looking foolish by picking the Bucs for more than an handful of wins. They will continue to beat the drum for the usual suspects in spite of Manning’s retirement, Romo’s version of back to back and Josh Norman’s defection. Even last night a NFL network mystic suggested that Mariota would fare better than Winston because “the Titans superior running game.” Guess Doug Martin’s and Charles Sims’ 2015 season is to be ignored. I think we all see the positive signs. Schedules, based on seasons past, mean little in my opinion. The Pewter Report scribes are probably right on the money. Somewhere between 8 and 10 wins. But, with Jameis and the seemingly fading defeatist attitude of the past decade, perhaps there is another Worst to First season ahead.
A lot of this Tampa teams 2016-2017 success is gonna lie on about 10-12 guys . Most of which need too stay healthy . These 10-12 guys are guys that have been hurt a lot in the past . Most of them are stars others role players . Here’s the 12 guys who must stay healthy and produce if Tampa wants too beat .500 this year .
1. GMC hurt every season damn near
A work horse , and constant pro bowl player
2. Jaquies Smith DE
Shown he has no problem getting too qbs when healthy & on the field
3. Daryl Smith OLB he’s old real old way too old too be playing old ha . Sadly he’s our starting OLB . Not really excited , can you tell?
He missed 2 weeks of preseason for an unknown reason . The reason is he has too damn old syndrome lol . I not only am hoping he gets hurt early on but I hope he don’t come back. He is old slow and out of shape for a 4-3 OLB .
4. Vincent Jackson he’s a damn workhorse has great hands and run routes perfect still till this day, but if he’s hurt than he’s not helping this team he’s hurting us and he commands a large salary and is a captain for this team . We need him for one last season . He could be the difference maker in a lot of games this year for us . His success could seriously change our future
5. Jr Sweezy idk if he will turn out too be anything good , but from what I hear is he’s mean , nasty and athletic . Sure he ha a back injury that’s fine and whatever as long as he’s playing by midseason . If he isn’t than don’t even bother with him bench him and cut him at the end of the year we need guys in football shape for sure by midseason we can’t have guys come in week 8 playing like crap . IR him save the roster spot find help elsewhere .
6. ASJ we all know how good he can be on the field , virtually everything thrown his way is perfection & pure success for this team. Don’t believe me just watch all of his film Ina TB uniform. His poor attitude and low work ethic may seriously ruin his career . A little less selfishness and rude attitude towards others with a hint of focus and maturity and he may just make himself a $100+ mill dollar man and a name on the HOF ballot by the time his careers over . Come on kid pull it together .
7. Demar Dotson he’s not my ideal OT , but he’s not bad and he’s certainly an upgrade over gosder I liked what gosder did for us last season for sure he put his all on the line for Winston and it worked he is a solid backup he looks like crap this year but I trust him over other backups . Now back too Dotson he’s big strong agile not fast and not slow . He just got resigned and not too some big fancy contract so I suspect if his play falls off he will be a backup . Odds are not this offseason , but the next he’s hitting the bench . Right now we need him too give us his 110 % commitment .
8. Charles sims he’s been hurt 1x since arriving in RB and it was a college injury he clearly recovered . However he is the Doug too Doug Martin he’s the Jameis too the Winston. He helps churn the butter and put it on the frying pan so we can get too cooking lol. He makes plays and really is a huge part of this teams offense . Would love seeing him stay healthy and continue too get in that end zone.
9. Kwon Alexander now he wasn’t hurt last year he might as well have been. Being suspended whether it’s an accident or not does not matter he was and it hurt this teams chance at playoffs last season because of it . It showed us how weak we were at LB with him off the field and guess what we didn’t get any stronger this offseason at that position . Could be a real big problem if he gets even a petty ankle injury too a petty concussion .
10. Ali marpet he’s a pro bowl G and really only the only current active G on the team . He’s way too valuable too go down with an injury. We have 6 OTs on this team and a lot of them are filling in at G . That’s not good . Swing tackles are great but that’s not what you want too happen when you open the regular season. Must get more younger Talented depth at G next season .
11. Mike Evans he hasn’t shown any injuries in TB yet but you never know . He’s a beast and is only getting better, sadly we only have Louis Murphy who really poses a threat for him or Evans as depth on the outside and he’s bit available until week 6 if not later . We have only 2 vertical weapons at WR Evans and Jackson . So yeah those 2 cannot get hurt and 1 of them is a FA after this year so a damn good one must be signed next year. I was thinking Alshonn Jeffery . Him Evans Winston yeah buddy !!! Resign Jackson too a small cheap deal for depth . Then we’re cooking with Crisco !!!!
12. LVD last but certainly not least . He hasn’t ever really had issues in the NFL . He always can bag for TB . I just want too see him healthy as possible if he’s 100% healthy than its not good enough I want him at 200% lol. We have absolutely not depth at OLB ever and he’s always in the field and that’s what worries me . He’s getting overworked and I hate it . Can’t stand it at all . Drives me bonkers . New HCs every year Judy using him more than helping him and that’s not okay. Next year we must get 2+ LB star talented LBs. 1 too start opposite of LVD and 1 too backup both OLB Positions primarily David . He needs a medium too help him grind through the years and overtake D Brooks career numbers . We all wanna see him get this . We know he’s had a knee issue a couple times .
Anyways guys that’s my 12 keys to success for TB . Most of which like I said was stay healthy . If we do than a 9-7 record and playoffs could be in reach . Everyone must play their part though including the HC . He must carry and lead this team too playoffs .
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