As the Bucs are in the middle of mini-camp in preparation for the 2017 season there are three things specifically that come to mind.
The defense will be much improved in 2017. Mike Smith was able to give the defense the entire playbook this spring instead of bits and pieces as was the case last year. At the beginning of OTA’s Smith said that this year the group came into advanced calculus vs. basic math last year. That is how far advanced this defense is compared to last years group.
Everyone has been in this system for one year now and every one has a better understanding of what their role is and where they need to be every play. This is only going to make the defense better. The Bucs also picked up DL Chris Baker from the Redskins in free agency as well as DB J.J. Wilcox from the Cowboys. In the draft the Bucs picked up LB Kendall Beckwith from LSU a former teammate of Kwon Alexander. Beckwith is expected to challenge for a starting LB spot.
Everyone is back and healthy on the DL. Noah Spence is the player to watch and I am expecting him to be the most improved player on defense for the Bucs this season.
Offensively. look out. I am really high on the ability this team has on offense. How Vegas can handicap this team for only 5-6 wins is beyond me. Coach Koetter said this past week that WR Desean Jackson brings a speed element to the offense that has not been seen on this team in a long time. With Jackson , Mike Evans and TE O.J. Howard lined up, that is a big 3 headed monster that will be a challenge for any opposing defense.
All indicators are pointing in the right direction for RB Doug Martin. He will not be available for regular season duty until October as he fulfill his suspension for drug use, but he is in great shape, has been focused, nad has brought a great attitude to the OTA’s. The Bucs will count on Jacquizz Rodgers to carry the load in Martin’s absence, although Koetter did say he may go with a RB by committe.
I am going out on a limb here, but I think Roberto Aguayo’s days are numbered in Tampa. Nick Folk was brought in to provide some competition at the kicking spot and has performed well so far. I think the pressure of the competition will get to Aguayo and Folk will be the Bucs kicker on opening day.
The Bucs this week solidified their back-up QB position by signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to a contract. Fitzpatrick most recently with the Jets brings a wealth of experience to the position. An 11 year veteran, his best season was in 2015 when he passed for 31 TD’s and threw just 15 INT’s. For his career he has completed 60 percent of his passes. He has thrown 166 TD’s and been picked off 133 times.