What began as a season with so much promise quickly came spiraling out of control starting with the 48-10 loss in Chicago and on Sunday the Bucs slowly glided back to earth with barely a whimper as they closed out the season with a lose to the Falcons in typical Buccaneer style 34-32.
It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around the fact the Bucs finished with the 3rd best offense in the NFL and yet finished with the 5th worst record in the league at 5-11.
Not one time this seson did we see a complete game from the Bucs where the offense, defense and special teams all played well in a Buccaneer win.
It was always a case of the offense played well, but two field goals were missed, or the defense played well but the offense could not put the ball in the end zone. The Bucs generated over 500 yards of offense in a 16-3 lose to the Redskins. Think about that 500 yards of offense and 3 points.
There were hits and misses on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, Mike Evans had a record breaking season as he set the single season Bucs record for receiving yards which was held by Mark Carrier. Evans continues to be one of the top 5 receivers in the league and it is an absolute disgrace that he did not make the Pro Bowl. He was definitely the offensive MVP of the Bucs this season.
Cairo Santos came in mid-season and seemed to settle down the kicking game. When Santos went out for a PAT or FG you felt pretty good that he was going to make it. Santos was a perfect 17/17 on EXP’s and 9/12 in FG’s. He missed 2 from 40-49 yards and one over 50 yards.
Jameis Winston once his suspension was served I thought was a better player. He was more composed, did not play as reckless as he had in prior seasons and really made an effort to make better decisions with the football.
It will be exciting to see what a new coach and a new voice will do for Winston’s game. The 2019 season will be a make or break season for Winston in Tampa. I don’t believe he is that far away from turning the corner.
Ronald Jones had be to the biggest disappointment offensively as he could not stay in the lineup. Just over 40 yards rushing and 7 catches with 1 TD is not the kind of production you expect from your 2nd round pick. Jones is quickly becoming the Trent Richardson of the 2018 draft and if he cannot improve his game it will be another huge blemish on the resume of Jason Licht.
DeSean Jackson. A guy that was bought in only when he was getting a lot of touches offensively and the yards and TD’s were adding up. Jackson asked to be traded, fell asleep in team meetings, was late for team meetings, had run-ins with Koetter and teammates.
Jackson was a huge distraction that this team didn’t need this season. Good riddance. Take your $10 million and go play somewhere else. You are not the type of team player we need in Tampa.
The OL play was a huge disappointment. The run blocking left a lot to be desired and the pass blocking at times was just down right atrocious. A lack of discipline haunted the line all season led by Ryan Jensen‘s 11 penalties. He did bring some attitude to the OL, but his lack of discipline for a former Pro Bowl Center was alarming.
Defensively not a lot to like although the defense got much better after Mark Duffner took over for the fired Mike Smith.
Jason Pierre Paul is my vote for defensive MVP. He led the Bucs with 12.5 sacks and played through 7 different injuries all season. JPP was on the field for over 80% of the defensive snaps. A true leader on and off the field. The Bucs need more leaders like JPP.
Andrew Adams was a great find by Jason Licht. in 13 games Adams led the Bucs with 4 picks and you could make a case that he was the most consistent player in the Bucs secondary. Would like to see him back in 2019 with a bigger role as the Bucs will look to part ways with Brent Grimes.
Mitch Unrein and Vinny Curry were two of the DL acquisitions by Jason Licht that just didn’t work out. Unrein was injured most of the season and even with all the injuries on the DL, Curry really didn’t make the impact that was expected. We need much better from Curry in 2019.
The Bucs from a distance look like they are miles away from contending. When you get up close and take a better look at the players on this roster, you realize they are not that far away.
In order to compete in 2019, Licht will have to have a better draft than he did in 2018.
He will need to continue to shore up the defense through free agency and will have to fill some spots on the OL.
The Bucs need to stay healthy. They have been snake bitten with injuries the last 2 seasons and you then realize how thin the depth is on the roster on some positions.
—The Bucs officially interviewed KC OC Eric Bieniemy in Kansas City today. Next up is Minnesota DC George Edwards. There is also a rumor that Brian Kelly the Notre Dame coach is interested in the coaching position.
However long it takes I just hope that Licht takes his time and we finally get the man that can put this Bucs team over the top.