The annual rankings are compiled by ESPN Staff Writer, Bill Barnwell. He has the Bucs at #14. Let’s find out his reasoning for the rank, and see if it makes any sense. Barnwell dives right into the Bucs perceived weak spot on offense, which of course would be the running back position. Peyton Barber and ROJO aren’t striking fear into the prognosticator’s hearts.
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
In 2018 Barber finished only 129 yards shy of a grand. Those yards coming within an offense that it seemed the running game was an afterthought. It’s also fair to say that not many of those yards came within the Red Zone, as their ranking in that offensive stat was horrible. To believe though that Barber’s numbers would not improve this year with a new offensive scheme is hard to swallow. The only way that I could believe his numbers would fall, would be the addition of ROJO to the mix.
It’s All Preseason Prognostication
It’s early yet in the 2019 preseason, but so far, Jones is getting rave reviews from coaches and teammates. A lot of the problems that Jones suffered from last year have been characterized as mental breakdowns. The prior coaching staff was short on teaching ability, which would include preparing a rookie for the big difference in College and NFL competition. Some players don’t need as much help when coming into the league, others do. It is what it is, it’s not a putdown. This offseason with a new staff, and a new attitude. Jones appears to be fitting in, and not sticking out as a weakness. The reasons that pressed Licht and company to draft him in the 2nd round last year are being realized in early practices this year. So after saying all that, It’s still an unknown what ROJO will add to the mix this year. Barnwell can’t be wronged for counting the Bucs running game as pretty bad. He is judging them on their productivity, not their potential. With the addition of Andre Ellington, as a change of pace back and receiver out of the backfield, that should help the unit as a whole as well.
An Important Factor Not Included
What Barnwell doesn’t do in his rankings, is factor-in Coaching staffs, Schemes, and past effectiveness of the same. In the Bucs case, those factors should be huge. When a team goes from Dirk Koetter to Bruce Arians, It’s hard to believe that this didn’t come into play when ranking offensive weaponry. While, it is a ranking of Arsenals, which are players. The system and coaching that the arsenals perform under should be considered. Also, Barnwell’s 2018 preseason ranking of the Bucs Offense was #10, four spots better than this year. With the quick rise of the Browns offensive personnel, I can see why they are being ranked ahead of the Bucs this season. Barnwell states that if the Running game of the Bucs was even average, their ranking would be top 5, so he does love our receivers and tight ends.
Jagged Little Pill, and Pancakes
To believe though that the Bucs will fall 4 spots with the addition of Arians is a pill a little too jagged for me to swallow. I just cannot fathom Tampa’s Arsenal to be overall less productive than last year. The most important stat of an offense and the bottom line is scoring touchdowns. I just don’t see that number going down under Arians. I see the overall production of Tampa’s skill position players going up, not down. Red Zone efficiency should go way up, which is why I predict their actual ranking to be in the top ten somewhere, maybe around 5-6, especially if O.J. can stay healthy. The play of Jameis Winston under Arians and Leftwich should also be better in 2019, which is just straight butter topping the offensive pancakes, on your Dale Mabry plate. I’m hungry, Go Bucs!!