The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the pre-season 3-1 and showed improvements in all three phases of the game.
This is a completely different Buccaneer team then the one that ended 2018. Bruce Arians and his staff have brought a much more aggressive philosophy offensively and especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Gone is the read and react defense that frustrated so many Buccaneer fans. In its place is a fast paced high energy defense that will pressure the quarterback and will blitz from anywhere on the filed at any time.
For three Buccaneers this is a very important year and it all starts with quarterback Jameis Winston. As Winston goes, so will the Buccaneer season.
Winston is on a one year deal and must dramatically cut down the turnovers if he is to get a second contract. That decision the Bucs make regarding that contract will set the Buccaneers up for success in the years to come, or could set them back years. It is that important of a decision.
That decision will cost the Bucs anywhere from $25-$30 million dollars a year.
Since Winston entered the league in 2015, winston has 76 turnovers which is the most of any quarterback in the league. How bad have the turnovers been for Winston? In 2018 the Bucs had 35 turnovers as a team and Winston had 17 of those turnovers playing in only 11 of his teams 16 games.
Bruce Arians said that the Bucs coaching position was the only one he considered because of Jameis Winston. Arians feels that the mistakes that Winston has made are correctable and is confidant that the new coaching staff will get Winston on the right path.
Arians has a good track record developing quarterbacks. He has worked with Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer throughout his career and a couple of those guys will be members of the Pro Football Hall of fame.
Running back Ronald Jones must also improve his game if he wants to be a Buccaneer long term. Jones struggled mightily in his rookie season of 2018 gaining just 44 yards on 23 carries.
Jones has looked good in training camp and at times has earned the praise of Arians, but was just so-so in the pre-season running behind one of the worst offensive lines in football.
The Bucs need Jones to have a breakout season both running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield to get this Bucs running game where it needs to be.
Defensive back Vernon Hargreaves is also on the watch list as his NFL career has been a disappointment so far compared to what we saw out of Hargreaves at Florida.
Hargreaves has just one career interception throughout his injury plagued NFL career and Arians is expecting more from Hargreaves this season.
The very first day of mini-camp, Arians sent Hargreaves a message saying he had to get his mind right to practice as Hargreaves was not on the practice field. That seemed to be much ado about nothing, as both parties downplayed the incident. There were no more issues with Hargreaves throughout training camp and he will be the starter at left corner to start the season.
Look for the Bucs to finish with an 8-8 record. Unfortunately in the tough NFC South that will get you a last place finish behind New Orleans and Carolina and Atlanta