This Sunday the Buccaneers will close the book on the 2018 season and for the second consecutive year there is a good chance the Bucs will finish last in the NFC South.
Once the final gun has sounded on Sunday afternoon, the questions will begin to be asked about this 2018 Bucs football team.
How could a team that has such a prolific offense (third in overall offense at 414 YPG and the No. 1 passing offense in the league at 318 YPG) have such a poor record?
Jameis Winston and this passing attack is better than Drew Brees and the Saints, Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, and any other teamyou want to put in that sentence. That is really an incredible stat.
Another stat that is also incredible is the amount of turnovers that Winston is responsible for. Winston has 57 interceptions in his career and has fumbled the ball 38 times losing 18 of those fumbles. That 75 turnovers since 2015.
This season Winston has 13 picks and 7 fumbles losing 3 of those. Not a formula for winning a lot of football games.
Why have the Bucs had no running game for the second year in a row?
Three reasons. 1. Peyton Barber is not the back that Koetter and Licht thought he would be when given the opportunity to be an every down back. Perhaps Barber would have performed better had the OL done their part.
2. Ronald Jones right now has to be one of the biggest draft busts of all time in Bucs history next to Roberto Aguayo.
The Bucs were counting on Jones to be that change of pace back that Charles Sims had been for the Bucs in previous seasons and for whatever reason it never happened. Jones has Trent Richardson written all over him.
3. The OL has been a major disappointment. Let’s start with Ryan Jensen who leads the Bucs in penalties with 11 and has taken a lot of penalties at crucial times during the game that halted a Bucs drive.
The OL has been realatively healthy all season, so you can’t use injuries as an excuse. The run blocking has been abysmal all year and the pass blocking has been questionable at times.
Why has the defense played better under Mark Duffner than fired DC Mike Smith?
Smith’s scheme was complicated. Guys had to think too much about what they’re were doing instead of just reacting and making a football play. With the amount of young talent and inexperience on this defense as the injures mounted, it was a case of information overload.
Duffner has dumbed down the defense, simplified the schemes, and just let the guys play football. He is game planning to their strengths and what they do well. That is the one key difference. The defensive roster is pretty similar to what Smith had to work with after the third or fourth game as the injuries took their toll.
I think Duffner has done a great job. Smith had everyone healthy for the first game or two. Duffner has had to patch things together on an almost weekly basis.
If you look at the defensive stats of the Bucs, they do not impress you as they 30th overall in defense. But with Smith running the defense, the points allowed and the yards allowed were the worst I’ve ever seen. There has been substantial improvement with Duffner as DC.
The turnovers and the sacks have all been respectable under Duffner.
There is also the question of Dirk Koetter continuing as coach of the Bucs. Jason Licht remaining as GM. Jameis Winston and his status for 2019.
It should be quite an off-season at One Bucs Place.
Monday should start to provide insights as to what direction the Bucs will go in 2019.
Black Monday is fast approaching.