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
So it’s been a few days since the Bucs lost to the Rams on Thursday night. But I’m just now able to offer some commentary on the game, so here goes:
Without question, the top order of business in the offseason for Tampa Bay should be revamping the secondary. Simply put, it is awful. I am sick and tired of seeing the Buccaneers make ho-hum quarterbacks look like superstars. On Thursday night, it was Case Keenum who looked like Tom Brady. This season, the Bucs are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete about 70% of their passes. On Thursday, Keenum completed 82%. This is Case Kennum we’re talking about!
Tampa Bay was penalized nine times. In other words, it was a typical night for the most undisciplined team in football.
Don’t be fooled by the Bucs gaining over 500 yards of total offense. Most of that came in the fourth quarter, when St. Louis had a big lead. If you like fantasy football, then okay. I don’t play it, nor do I care about it.
I can’t finish this article without mentioning those uniforms. Apparently this is something the NFL has been doing in the Thursday night games (it goes to show how much I watch these matchups.) But I like my football without ketchup and mustard, thank you very much.
On to Chicago…
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images
It was nice to at least dream about the possibility of going to the playoffs, if only for a couple of weeks.
Then Sunday happened.
For a little while, the Bucs had me and the rest of the fans believing. After starting 2-4, they won four of their next six to get back to .500. But they haven’t been able to get over that hump. It’s been three years since Tampa Bay has had more wins than losses at any point in a season.
And in case you didn’t know, the Bucs are once again the most penalized team in the NFL. They’ve moved one flag ahead of Buffalo in the number of penalized accepted (125.)
So there will be no playoffs for the Bucs this year. Sure, they’re mathematically still alive. But realistically – forget about it.
I have no idea which Tampa Bay team is going to show up on Thursday night against the Rams. As an aside: with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, I am not a fan of these Thursday night games at all. I will go on the record saying that, whether the Bucs win or lose, not to mention my work schedule doesn’t allow me to watch such games.
A note to my readers: because of the Thursday night game – and my aforementioned work schedule – I probably won’t get around to posting anything about the Bucs/Rams contest until the weekend. But I’ll give y’all some quality reading material at some point long after we know the final result.