We are on the eve of training camp in Tampa, as the Buccaneer rookie and free agents will report to One Bucs place tomorrow. Veterans will report on Wednesday as the preparations of the 2018 season gets under way. The first workout with the rookies and veterans is scheduled for Thursday.
There are a ton of questions surrounding this Bucs team as training camp opens. More so than any other season in the last few years. There are questions about the coaching staff. Will they last the season? Will the defense be improved? How about the offense? What kind of improvement will we see with Jameis Winston missing the first three games of the season?
There are also some very intriguing battles that will take place for starting spots. Running back, DB, WR, and OL should get some good competition for starting spots.
Let’s start with the coach question. Dirk Koetter will last the season. The Glazers have never fired a coach mid-season and I don’t see that changing this season. This Bucs team would have to be a complete dumpster fire for the Glazers to even remotely think about dismissing Koetter at some point during the season.
The defense will be improved. When you add Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and Vita Vea to your DL, you can’t help but improve. Their will be more pressure applied to the opposing QB. The run defense will be better. The competition at corner between Vernon Hargreaves and the rookies Carlton Davis, and MJ Stewart should be intense.
Do not be surprised if Davis or Stewart beats out Hargreaves for the starting spot opposite Brent Grimes. Koetter was saying all the right things about Hargreaves as mini-camp ended, but Hargreaves will be on a short leash and those two rookies are hungry to earn playing time and make their mark.
The offense should be improved especially in the red zone and in the ability to run the ball. Ronald Jones brings a dynamic presence to the running game that has been missing for quite some time. The signing of Ryan Jensen and the moving of Ali Marpet to guard will be a big help to the running game.
Look for Chris Godwin to become the second receiver behind Mike Evans. DeSean Jackson had one of his worst seasons as a pro last season and Godwin really came on strong as the season ended and had a very good off-season. in addition OJ Howard should take a big leap forward his second season in the offense. I expect to see a lot better blocking and better production from Howard in the passing game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick should be treated as the starter in training camp and should see most of the reps as a starter. He should start the first two pre-season games and then play most of the third pre-season game as that will be his final tune-up before the season opener in New Orleans.
Winston should work with the second team throughout camp and be the second QB in the first three pre-season games. Winston should be the starter in game 4 before giving way to Ryan Griffin. As of now there are no plans to bring a seasoned QB into camp, so Fitzpatrick and Griffin will be one and two on the depth chart in Winston’s absence.