Can the Buccaneers Build a Team Like the Panthers?
Have the Buccaneers found the model franchise, right in their division?
The Buccaneers get the “honor” of facing the defending NFC champions twice in 2016. Being right beside them in the NFC South, the Bucs have watched the Panthers grow into a team that posted an explosive offense and a solid defense which culminated in a 15-1 record in 2015. They have become a franchise worth following. And Dirk Koetter knows it:
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"“I told (general manager Jason Licht), they had one of their key free agents come back to them for less money,” Koetter explained, via the Tampa Bay Times. “That’s exactly as an organization you would want your guys to do. Right now Carolina has set the bar. You said it, it was a long time when no one could win (the NFC South) back to back and now they’ve won it three times in a row."
It makes sense. Every team wants to be the best, naturally. Every division has a team that is on top, and the rest of the teams are looking to knock that team off. Building your team in a similar mode is a sensible way to achieve that goal.
So, can they do it? Can the Bucs put together a team that is reminiscent of the Carolina Panthers? They absolutely can. In some ways, they are already doing just that.
We know that both teams are building around a young “franchise” quarterback. The Panthers have Cam Newton (sorry for mentioning his name), and the Bucs are sporting Jameis Winston. Not only are these two of the three quarterbacks to throw for 4,000 yards as rookies, but their rookie stats are remarkably similar:
- Winston: 312-535, 58.3% completion; 4, 402 yards, 22 touchdowns, 15 interceptions
- Newton: 310-517, 60% completion; 4,051 yards, 21 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
The numbers were virtually identical, and, to boot, the Bucs’ QB doesn’t complain to the media and walk out of press conferences when he isn’t happy. Can Winston work his way to the level of Newton? Sure, why not? As I said before, and has been written on these pages before, he has the correct attitude.
What about on the defensive side of the football? The two teams are built on leaders that were drafted the same year, Luke Kuechly and Lavonte David. Both have developed into leaders, and both put up strong seasons in their rookie years, David with 139 total tackles, and Kuechly with 165. Yes, I understand that Kuechly has been better, but David is a strong player in his own right, that often gets overshadowed being in the same division as Luke.
Building a team with a young quarterback and a stout tackler on defense is certainly a good place to start.
Next: Draft Profile: Keanu Neal
Now, we know the Bucs’ defense is not there yet. They don’t have the playmakers the Panthers do, like Josh Norman and Thomas Davis to name just a couple. But, what we know is that the Bucs are on the right track, and if they continue drafting the way they have, the sky is the limit for the franchise wearing the Pewter.