2016 Buccaneers: Season in Review

The Buccaneers’ season has been over for a week now, so it’s time form some final thoughts on the 2016 team. Arguably, I should’ve done this several days ago, but a new work schedule has something to do with that.

Dirk Koetter was promoted to head coach from offensive coordinator during the offseason. He finished his first season with a 9-7 record, the first Bucs team to have a winning season since 2010. I like the fact that he will always tell you exactly how he feels. He did make some questionable decisions in some games, and the Bucs had a knack for burning timeouts early in games, though that seemed to improve as the season went on.

Second-year QB Jameis Winston had a good season as a whole. He threw for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also had 18 INT’s, including six in the final three games. The Bucs had to win two of those three to get into the playoffs, but were only victorious in the finale against the Panthers. He made a lot of plays that make you say ‘wow’ – both good and bad.

The running game was a disappointment. First, you had Doug Martin. He started off slow, got hurt, came back, but never was the same. Then he was benched (or so we thought at the time) in the critical second-to-last game against New Orleans. A few days later, he revealed he had been suspended for violating the league’s drug’s policy, and would be seeking treatment for addiction. Jacquizz Rodgers did look promising when he was in there, however, averaging 4.3 yards a carry. The play of the offensive line didn’t help the running game, either.

Defensively, I’d call it a mixed bag. When Tampa Bay won five in a row to get into playoff contention, the defense looked like it was among the best in the league. But those five games aside, they gave up too many big plays in the passing game, which is one of the things that cost Lovie Smith his job. The Bucs ranked 23rd in the league in total defense, which is based on total yards allowed. That’s not good enough to become a playoff contender. I didn’t hear Lavonte David’s name nearly enough this year. One of his few shining moments came in San Diego: a pick-six that helped in the win over the Chargers.

And how can I not talk about the rookie kicker, Roberto Aguayo. He was an adventure every time he came out on the field. He made just 71% of his field goals (22-for-31) and missed two extra points. There was a stretch late in the season where he made nine straight FG’s, but then his last two in the final game were a miss, and a block. He did not have any competition for his job in 2016. That will definitely change next season.

So how did I feel about the season overall? I was pleased. The Bucs have gone from 2-14, to 6-10, to 9-7 in the past three years. There were the impressive victories over the Chiefs and Seahawks, and the ugly defeat against the Rams in the home opener.

But it’s always nice when they win the game that I fly down to see in person. Next year’s goal: playoffs or bust.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Bucs Go 9-7: First Winning Season Since 2010

There will be no playoffs in Tampa this year.  But at least the Buccaneers won more games than they lost.  We haven’t been able to say that in six years.

The Bucs edged the Panthers in the season finale on Sunday, 17-16.  The game wasn’t decided until the Bucs prevented Carolina from getting a two-point conversion with 17 seconds left.

It’s always nice to beat Cam Newton, isn’t it?  Yes, it is.

This game was all about the defense.  It was the defense that intercepted Newton three times, including Brent Grimes’ pick-six that put gave the Bucs the lead for the first time.  The other two came from Keith Tandy, who really played very well down the stretch.

It was the defense that sacked Newton three times.

It was also the defense that allowed the Panthers to tie the game in the closing seconds, but came up with the big play when Ron Rivera decided to go for two and the win (by the way, I applaud Rivera for going for it; he had nothing to lose in that situation.)

Jameis Winston struggled for much of the day, but his TD pass to Mike Evans broke a 10-10 tie late in the fourth quarter.  Winston is the first player in NFL history to start his career with consecutive 4,000-yard seasons.  He also set a franchise record with 28 touchdown passes.  But he also threw a pick and lost a fumble, and overthrew a lot of receivers.  In the end, I guess you could say he did just enough to get the win.

While Mike Evans gets all the headlines for the receivers – and rightfully so – let’s give some props to Adam Humprhies: 10 catches for 94 yards.

Robert Aguayo was an adventure yet again.  Of his three field goal attempts, he made the first, missed the second, and had the third one blocked.  GM Jason Licht is going to have to make a decision about Aguayo’s future.  My gut tells me it won’t happen in the offseason, but he just didn’t perform as well as any kicker should, let alone a second-round draft pick.

It’s been a fun season, Bucs fans.  In my next column (whenever I get some free time) I’ll put a bow on the 2016 Bucs with the best and worst of the past four months.

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers