First Up: Peter King of Sports Illustrated.
Mr. King took the Severely Negative Opinion that the Bucs will finish no better than 29th in the League. He squarely places that opinion on the shoulders of QB Jameis Winston. Based on Winston’s tendency to turn the ball over, King points to this: Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich with Jameis Winston. I like that a lot, mostly because of the drama. I have no idea what direction the Bucs’ offense will take, but I do know one thing: Winston will throw deep early and often. The biggest job for Arians, aside from trying to U-turn a foundering franchise, is the care and fixing of Winston, who couldn’t cure his interception bug in four seasons of Dirk Koetter’s tutelage. In fact, the only quarterback in the NFL since 2015 (minimum 1,500 attempts) to average more than a 3 percent interception rate is Winston—58 picks in 1,922 attempts, for a pick rate of 3.02 percent. Which means that for every 100 passes Winston has thrown as a pro, just over three have been intercepted. (Hat-tip to Pro Football Reference for the play-index device that allows that stat to be figured out.) So you see the need for new teaching voicing in Winston’s ear – Peter King.
My unbiased take on King’s take:
I find it absolutely absurd that with the huge coaching upgrade from Koetter to Arians, (knowing Arians has worked very well with young QBs in the past), in addition to the highly rated draft the Bucs had this offseason, that King believes the Bucs could finish worse than they did in 2018. For the record, I do not expect the Bucs to set the world on fire, or even to make the playoffs, but I do expect a better team than what played in 2018. There was no mention of the schedule being the cause, Just Winston’s problems. (The Bucs have finished better than 29th in every season with Winston behind center). The Bucs were also decimated with injuries, especially on Defense last year, and still finished better than 29th. So how Mr. King believes that with a healthy, revamped Defense as well as the other changes I already mentioned that the Bucs will do so poorly, is completely beyond me. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinion. When that opinion is not backed up with facts, and what should pass as common sense, I count it as nothing more than bias (almost sounds like a bit of a hater) for whatever reason. I stand firmly behind this opinion.
Next up: Kyle Brandt of NFL Network
Mr. Brandt begins with the arrival of Bruce Arians in Tampa, and what a huge plus this is. He points out that when Arians arrived in the Desert in Arizona to take over the woeful Cardinals they had been 5-11 the previous year. In his first year with the team, he finished 10-6, and that being with a QB, Carson Palmer that had experienced no level of success. Brandt speaks of how Mike Evans is the most underrated player in the entire NFL that the Bucs will be throwing deep a lot and will find some success in doing so. He doesn’t assign the Bucs a win-loss count, or final rank among the league’s 32 teams. He does, though say that the Bucs will turn heads, and finish better than they were in 2018. He also alludes to the addition of Devin White and his impact for the Defense.
My take on Brandt’s take:
Brandt’s take is much more down to earth, and reasonable for the additions and moves the Bucs have made so far this off-season. He clearly seems to be more unbiased, and reasonable than Mr. King. Keep in mind, all of this is pure speculation by all involved in the prediction process. King’s, Brandt’s, and my opinions, along with a buck fifty will get you a Hot Coffee in all 50 states. So take them as you will. Go Bucs!!!!!!!!