FAB 4. Bucs’ 2018 Schedule Presents Challenges

The Buccaneers’ 2017 campaign was a season full of hype and a season full of disaster as the team did not live up to expectations and finished 5-11 when most expected Tampa Bay to make the playoffs. What will the 2018 season have in store?

Well, the release of the 2018 regular season schedule offers a glimpse of what could be for the Bucs. Depending on what the NFL determines in its investigation of quarterback Jameis Winston, 2018 could be quite challenging for Tampa Bay.

Here is the Bucs’ 2018 schedule, followed by my analysis.

Week 1 – Bucs at Saints – Sept. 9
Week 2 – Bucs vs. Eagles – Sept. 16
Week 3 – Bucs vs. Steelers – Sept. 24 – Monday Night Game
Week 4 – Bucs at Bears – Sept. 30
Week 5 – BYE WEEK – Oct. 7
Week 6 – Bucs at Falcons – Oct. 14
Week 7 – Bucs vs. Browns – Oct. 21
Week 8 – Bucs at Bengals – Oct. 28
Week 9 – Bucs at Panthers – Nov. 4
Week 10 – Bucs vs. Redskins – Nov. 11
Week 11 – Bucs at Giants – Nov. 18
Week 12 – Bucs vs. 49ers – Nov. 25
Week 13 – Bucs vs. Panthers – Dec. 2
Week 14 – Bucs vs. Saints – Dec. 9
Week 15 – Bucs at Ravens – Dec. 16
Week 16 – Bucs at Cowboys – Dec. 23
Week 17 – Bucs vs. Falcons – Dec. 30

Bucs LT Donovan Smith, QB Jameis Winston and RT Demar Dotson – Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs LT Donovan Smith, QB Jameis Winston and RT Demar Dotson – Photo by: Getty Images

• The Bucs better hope that Winston evades a two- or four-game suspension from the league for alleged inappropriate sexual conduct stemming from a reported incident back in 2016 involving a female Uber driver. Tampa Bay starts the 2018 season at New Orleans and then travels home to face defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia before a home game against Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football.

All three teams – the Saints, Eagles and Steelers – made it to at least the divisional round of the playoffs last year. Although backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was 2-1 as a starter last year, his wins came against the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins, and both of those teams finished with a losing record.

Whether it’s Penn State’s Saquon Barkley or a running back in the second round, the Bucs need to draft a stud ballcarrier to help Fitzpatrick weather the storm in case Winston gets suspended. Even if he avoids a suspension, having a much improved running game with an upgrade at running back to help Winston is mandatory this year, especially to have a chance at geting off to a hot start.

• It’s nice that the Bucs get another Monday Night Game at home. Tampa Bay had two primetime home games in 2017 and lost on Thursday Night Football to New England and on Monday Night Football to Atlanta. Both were close losses that went down to the wire in the fourth quarter. The Bucs have suffered three consecutive losses in prime time, dating back to the 2016 season when they lost at Dallas to the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. The last primetime victory for the Bucs came in Carolina on Monday Night Football in 2016 when Roberto Aguayo kicked the game-winner in the fourth quarter.

Bucs MLB Kwon Alexander - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Bucs MLB Kwon Alexander – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

• In a scheduling quirk, the Bucs play the Bears for the fifth year in a row. It almost seems like old times for the former NFC Central foes. Tampa Bay travels to Chicago in Week 4 to play right before the team’s bye, which is in Week 5.

After losing to Chicago in 2014, 21-13, and again in 2015, 26-21 during the Lovie Smith era, Tampa Bay has pasted the Bears in the last two meetings. The Bucs waxed the Bears, 36-10, in 2016, and drubbed them, 29-7, in the season opener last year. Tampa Bay will try to make it three wins in a row over Chicago with a victory in the Windy City.

• Speaking of Chicago, the Bears (5-11) are one of four teams the Bucs are playing that have Top 10 picks in the draft due to double-digit losing seasons. The Browns (0-16), the Giants (3-13) and the 49ers (6-10) are the other teams. But don’t count any of these teams as easy wins.

The Bucs barely beat the Giants last year on a last-second field goal by Nick Folk, 25-24, and the 49ers ended the 2017 campaign with five straight wins behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was acquired mid-season in a trade with New England. In fact, San Francisco finished 6-1 down the stretch and was one of the league’s hottest teams at the end of the season.

The Bucs could be favored in all four of these games, but don’t expect the team to necessarily go 4-0. If it does, that could be the sign of a winning season in Tampa Bay, however.

• The Bucs only have two home games in the span of six weeks from Week 3 when Tampa Bay hosts Pittsburgh until Week 10 when the Bucs return home to play Washington. Tampa Bay travels to Chicago, has a bye week, travels to Atlanta, returns home to host the Browns and then has back-to-back road games at Cincinnati and at Carolina. That’s an odd quirk.

• Tampa Bay could have a pair of cold weather games this year. The Bucs travel to New York to face the Giants on November 25, and then head back up north to Baltimore to play the Ravens on December 16.

• December will likely decide the NFC South division – that is if the Bucs are still relevant heading into the final month of the season. Last year they weren’t. Tampa Bay’s last three home games are against division opponents.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott & Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott & Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

The team hosts Carolina on December 2 and New Orleans a week later on December 9. The Bucs wrap up the 2018 season with a home game against Atlanta on December 30. Tampa Bay went winless in the division last year until upsetting the NFC South champion Saints in the season finale at home, 31-24.

• One last schedule item. Two years a late season Tampa Bay game at Dallas was flexed for Sunday Night Football. The Bucs wound up losing that game, 26-20, and a shot at the playoffs as a result.

Tampa Bay may get a shot at revenge again on Sunday Night Football in Dallas late in the season as the two teams are scheduled to play on December 23. If the Cowboys and Bucs are in playoff contention late in the season, that game will surely be earmarked for flexing to Sunday Night Football on NBC.

• And speaking of nationally televised games, the Bucs will not have a Thursday Night Football game this year, which is good news as most of the players I’ve spoken with abhor the idea of playing on a short week – even if a bye week follows the game.

1
2
3
4
5
Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
0 0 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
40 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pete Wood
2 years ago

I hope we get Nelson. If Denver is shopping around the number five pick, I just don’t see the Bucs trading down. Could happen, but unlikely. I like James and Vea. Hope Bucs pick James. Most of the mocks I’ve seen show Vea going a bit later and I really don’t want to overpay for him. Still, if he’s the best player, what choice do Bucs have? He sure won’t be around in the second. I wish we got change when we overpaid. If Vea is really a fourteen pick, the NFL should give us an extra mid round pick.… Read more »

Eric Fiegehen
2 years ago
Reply to  Pete Wood

I think we should draft Nelson if he’s there at no. 7, but I would feel better about trading down a few spots to 12, if Buffalo’s game for a trade. We’ve got some glaring holes to fill on defense, as well as drafting a RB for the offense. The question in my mind comes down to this – does the offense get better by adding a potential All-Pro guard at no. 7, or drafting a really good RB at either 7 or later in the first or up high in the 2nd? Adding Quenton does make Tampa’s offensive line… Read more »

LordCornelius
2 years ago

It seems like the Bucs have interviewed a ton of candidates pegged as mid to late 1st rounders for them not considering a trade back. If the big 3 / 3 QBs go top 6; we could easily drop to 12 and land a Vea/James/Ward/Fitzpatrick considering Roquan Smith and/or Edmunds are extremely likely matches to the teams picking 8-10. Not as high on Fitzpatrick but I’d imagine he’s a great fit for a lot of teams picking 8-11. I’d expect him and at least 1 LB to go there; meaning we’d have a pick of Vea/James/Ward. Derwin James + a… Read more »

Eric Fiegehen
2 years ago
Reply to  LordCornelius

I agree, but I think James is gone before 12. Also, based on what I keep reading and hearing about Mike Smith’s defense, we would probably be better off drafting Josh Jackson than Ward for a bigger body that would probably play zone D better. If going man-to-man more often, then yeah Ward all the way.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
surferdudes
2 years ago

Watch what you wish for Kwon. If we get Nelson I hear that dog gets to the second level, and mauls linebackers! You might have to run from that dog in practice! I see the Giants drafting Josh Rosen, here’s why. Eli isn’t getting any younger, and hasn’t done much for the Giants since they won their last S.B.. Couple that with the fact, the Giants won’t be picking that high next year, and the Q.B. class is weak. They can still get one of the top guards, running backs, or others at the top of the second round. Why… Read more »

Dman
2 years ago
Reply to  surferdudes

Agree Giants take a QB for exactly the reasons you lay out. This is a QB league and if Rosen is there they’d be crazy not to take him. Ely’s has a good run.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
seanbassak
2 years ago

Great stuff Scott. As far as the draft coverage will you guys be tipping picks before they happen? I want to watch but I genuinely want to be surprised when Goodell announces the pick, that’s why I stay off Twitter during the draft haha. Thanks!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
gcolerick
2 years ago

Another great Fab 5! My two cents on our selection at number 7. I think Barkley is one of those special guys that only come around once a decade or more so if he is there you can’t pass on him….he won’t be there. With that being said, I have always maintained football games are won and loss in the trenches. If we take James, I believe he will be the pro bowl player you want with a high draft pick like this but I truly think the team will be better served with Nelson or Vea. One last thing…..loved… Read more »

Eric Fiegehen
2 years ago
Reply to  gcolerick

I like the idea of picking a mauler, for either the OL or DL, at no.7. We had problems all season long at the goal line, and if either or both are addressed adequately next week, it could make all the difference in close games.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Buc-Up
2 years ago

Thought?
https://247sports.com/college/florida-state/Bolt/Florida-State-Seminoles-football-safety-Derwin-James-reportedly-declines-personal-workout-Tampa-Bay-Buccaneers-117517644?utm_source=247Sports%20Newsletter&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_campaign=180420_091504_Florida%20State%20Seminoles&utm_content=Link&liveconnect=91-AA-5D-31-27-A9-31-D5-98-0A-2B-87-FB-46-21-2C180420_091504FloridaStateSeminoles

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BadgerW4
2 years ago
Reply to  Buc-Up

Saw that, too, only on the NBC PFT page. Personally, I don’t want anyone on my team that refuses to work out for me, and I can’t imagine for a second Licht is all too happy about such a selfish attitude. I would be incredibly disappointed if we took James at 7, and I felt that way BEFORE I heard about this.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Sneedy16
2 years ago
Reply to  BadgerW4

You can’t be disappointed in a player when it was his agent who told him not to. He wanted to, but given that a player already blew out his knee at a private workout already why take the chance. His athletic ability isn’t in question anyway, it’s his mental part. He’s an athletic freak we just need to see if he can handle the metal aspect of the game.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BadgerW4
2 years ago
Reply to  Sneedy16

Sure I can. Why take the chance? Okay… For that you would need some background (I’ll try to keep it short, I promise). I’m retired military who served with some elite units where you had to try out for those units (go through “selection”). People have DIED during these “try outs” (so to speak, of course). People have certainly gotten badly hurt and had their careers end. Still, if you really WANT to be part of that unit, it’s a risk you have to take, because they’re looking for team players–people focused SOLELY on being part of an elite team.… Read more »

cgmaster27
2 years ago
Reply to  Buc-Up

Yes he didnt work out. Its the same thing christian McCaffrey did last year. It was James’ agents recommendation after two players blew out their knees this year in private workouts. Just stood on his combine numbers.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BadgerW4
2 years ago
Reply to  cgmaster27

And McCaffrey turned out to be a pretty terrible #8 overall pick. I don’t care who recommends it. If you’re THAT fragile, you’re an injury waiting to happen.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
cgmaster27
2 years ago
Reply to  BadgerW4

And as i respect you for your service,and thank you for it, this isnt the military. If im an athlete who could gt injured and lose millions for what,a few shuttle drills? Your comparison isnt even renotely the same. One is fighting for your country, the other is playing a sport. And it has nothing to do with fragile, its called protecting an investment. Tell that to the two kids who lost millions because they blew their knees out. While mccaffery is an example,him doing bad last year had nothing to do with him skipping workouts so not sure how… Read more »

BadgerW4
2 years ago
Reply to  cgmaster27

Losing your life is worth a HELL of a lot more than a million dollars, and people DO die during selection (in fact, I believe it’s more common to die during selection than it is to be critically injured during a 2 or 3 hour pre-draft workout). They are both about trying out for teams–NFL teams for one, elite fighting units for the other. You can point out differences in any analogy. In this case it’s like saying the “men are like dogs in that they’ll screw anything” analogy is invalid because dogs have 4 legs and men only 2.… Read more »

Devasher
2 years ago
Reply to  cgmaster27

Like McCaffrey James sat out his bowl game too. Dalvin Cook “risked it” and played in his bowl game. When both were on the field last year it was no question who the better player was.

Give me the player, not the playa’.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Horse
2 years ago

I’ve got a different opinion about all 3 QB’s going before Spot 7 because some aren’t worthy of being picked in the Top 10 of the draft. We still have a chance to trade down. I really have no clue who we will actually draft at spot 7. Right now I’m more concerned as to back up since we don’t know when Spence, Beckwith, Swazzy, Dotson, playing status. Might have to consider trading down in second round pick for another draft pick. Our schedule looks tough. Have we ever had a Bye in the 2nd half of the season? Rate… Read more »

FLBoy84
2 years ago
Reply to  Horse

Had a Wk14 Bye when they first started in 1990, as well as Wk10 Bye’s in 1995, 2002, 2007 and 2008. Other than that it’s always been between Wks 2-8.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
blind melon
2 years ago

Looking towards the next 2 years of drafting, only a few high quality QB’s will emerge IMO. This really is the year of the QB. 2019 is full of quality OT and DE’s. I would not be surprised if NYG takes a QB as they don’t expect to be drafting this high again (Gettlemen arrogance). I could see 4 or 5 in the top 10. Not that the value is necessarily there – but I’d project that at least 1 team is coming up into the top 10 to select a QB on draft night. Bucs should be good –… Read more »

macabee
2 years ago

There’s going to be some draft night top ten trades. The Colts GM Ballard and the Broncos GM Elway have openly announced their pick is for sale. I agree that the Bucs will not trade down. Will not have to – the goods are likely to be there at #7. It is a QB seller’s market – high demand chasing too few goods. QB needy teams have seen the QB outlook for 2019 and it’s bleak. The Bucs just need to be patient and occupy the cat bird seat. At his pre-draft presser, GM Jason Licht said “There are enough… Read more »

scubog
2 years ago
Reply to  macabee

Totally agree with you my friend. Like every year, I’m over the endless Mock Drafts that mean absolutely nothing. As you said, if we stick at # 7 we’ll get a good player who will also fill a need. I’m more interested in what we do on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Might be in a position to trade down that high second rounder to recoup the third rounder. Always fun.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
e
e
2 years ago

Scott, I don’t believe that you can definitively state that the Bucs won’t trade back from #7. We’ll have to see how everything plays out. Would love to see Nelson there at 7. I wonder if Meathead is going to be scouring LSU’s LBs this year with Beckwith’s injury? Finally, I haven’t seen anyone around here that the Bucs have a chance to make the playoffs, after the schedule release. C’mon, man! This is the NFL; anything can happen. Finally, I’m good with Kwon is King; Somebody needs to step. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »

Eric Fiegehen
2 years ago

Great Fab 5 Scott, as usual.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Dman
2 years ago

Good Fab Five, Scott.

Hey, what happened to “Thumbs Up”, “Thumbs Down”?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
CreamTeam29
2 years ago

Vea would be devastating. He’s massively overrated and not at an immediate impact position. Honestly, Mo Hurst is going to be a much, much better NFL DL. He’s a better pass rusher by a mile and was PFF’s top graded run stopper as a DL. Look at the best defensive tackles in the league, Atkins and Donald. Both “undersized” short, quick twitch disruptive DTs dominate the league today. Not arguing to draft him at 7, but taking the draft’s second best DT at 7 would be awful. Derwin James would be a little disappointing too. There have been 3 Safeties… Read more »

FLBoy84
2 years ago

This really seems to be one of the more unpredictable drafts in recent memory, which makes it all the more interesting imo. Whether the Bucs stay at #7 or trade up/down, confident we’ll come out of the draft with solid picks from this draft class. Wouldn’t be surprised if Licht uses a 2019 pick or two to maneuver around the board as well.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
FLBoy84
2 years ago

Also, while I wholeheartedly agree with Kwon’s take that player accountability has to be a focus this year (should have already been imo), can’t fathom why this staff hasn’t already had that in place. Understand Koetter seems to more of a player’s coach than a disciplinarian, but believe you need to have a disciplined squad that does their job to have long-term success. Hopefully Koetter is able to find that balance.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Wausa
2 years ago

If the Bucs stay at #7 I would be happy with either Derwin James or Quenton Nelson.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
rocky
2 years ago

Earlier i saw Ward as early as 5 to the Broncos…Would we really take Ward with the problems we have at corner?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Spartan01
2 years ago

Even if Buffalo trades up above us, there may still be an opportunity for a QB to slip to us allowing for a possible trade with either Miami or Arizona…but only make the deal for an additional 2nd and 3rd rounder.

1st – CB Jaire Alexander
2nd – RB Ronald Jones
2nd – S Kyzir Whte
3rd – EDGE Josh Sweat
4th – CB Holton Hill
5th – DT Deadrin Senat
6th – RB Jordan Wilkins
6th – G Cole Madison
7th – OT Greg Senat

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
NCBuc
2 years ago
Reply to  Spartan01

I agree with the trade rationale and possibly the first pick but I don’t think they take Jones and I don’t think Sweat makes it to the 3rd round.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Spartan01
2 years ago
Reply to  NCBuc

What about Kerryon Johnson? He’s a guy I’ve been very high on. I have him below Barkley, Guice, and slightly below Jones, but slightly above Chubb, and have dropped Michel and Penny further down due to Pass-Pro/Ball Security issues. Would love to get Kerryon with the second 2nd round pick we get in a trade down. Would be a great 3 down back and would compliment Barber’s game as well. Having a third COP/Receiving guy like Ito Smith [6th round?] (who ran a 4.45 – 40, slower than only Hines and Saquon) would be very good. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb… Read more »

Darin
2 years ago

Ive gone back and looked at all Lichts drafts. I was never expecting him to trade back. He might try to trade up. He doesnt value each draft slot like he should. He needs some cold ones or some sedatives during the draft. Id love for him to actually get more lottery tickets not less one of these years. Lets not think they wont trade back just because Elway came out and said that tho. Id bet every gm in every draft picking top 5 has said that. Denver might be taking a qb for all we know. If someone… Read more »

inspecto
2 years ago

I like Quenton @ 7 all day for years to come.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Borkdog
2 years ago

Just saw Brian Billick’s Mock for Bucs, Tremaine Edwards! Like it if Big 3 not dropping to #7. He passed on Nelson to pick Edwards, not sure would agree, but good football mind, makes u think about Edwards as real option to be a Buc at 7. Don’t think most would pic a LB with our current group, but LB is QB of the Defense, and think of him as hybrid/edge rusher, and may force more of a 3-4 base defense, rather than current 4-3. Edwards, David on edge with Beckwith and Alexander in middle, aint a bad group! Maybe… Read more »

Bucsfan1983
2 years ago

If Barkley or B Chubb are not there at 7, it has to be Derwin James as the pick. It’s all about fixing the defense. We need a defensive player who will make an impact from day one, and someone who has Pro Bowl potential.
I’m drooling about having two vocal leaders on the defense like Alexander and James. They will be the most vocal players on the defense and both will not only hold themselves accountable, but also their teammates. Both those guys are straight dogs.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Bern
2 years ago

Trade down no matter what. unless Barkley falls. I think he is the only player that can make the bucs a playoff team this year. Otherwise we need more picks, the seventh best player does not make us a playoff team, like barkley could. we have to many holes. Even if a QB does not fall. somebody is going to fall even if Denver trades down some top five pick will fall. We have to adjust our asking price as the top 6 picks play out. Now is the time to make the playoffs. Or we go thru another coaching… Read more »

Devasher
2 years ago

“I hate to lose more than I love to win” is a Jimmy Conners quote who was one of the greatest tennis players of all-time. That said, I’m sure Roberto Aguayo hated to lose and miss kicks as well. It takes a little more than just a dislike of losing, but I agree you want someone with that ‘Warren Sapp’ mentality on your team. Give me the guy who not only gives it his all, is willing to play anyone anywhere. Don’t give me the player that takes his agents advice and sits out as many bowl games, drills or… Read more »