Not that Bucs fans need to be reminded, but the 2015 season opened with a 42-14 home loss to the Tennessee Titans, who were also coming off of a 2-14 season the year before. To be fair, Tampa Bay bounced back in week two with a win in New Orleans, but that horrific week one performance isn’t something that should be repeated. Ever again.
That’s why the 2016 season opener, a divisional matchup in Atlanta, is so important. A lot of focus leading up to the game will be on the duo of former Falcons coaches that now lead the Bucs, Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith. However, the game is an opportunity for Tampa Bay to make an impression on its fans and the rest of the league.
This will be the first regular season look at a slimmed-down Jameis Winston, a Mike Evans that has a new sense of determination, and a revamped defense under the direction of Smith. There will be high expectations for Tampa Bay in this game, especially considering its sweep of Atlanta in 2015 with what, on paper, was a weaker and more inexperienced roster.
Week one is a chance for the team to prove that it is re-focused on bringing a winning culture back to Tampa Bay. A win would not only set the right tone for the rest of the season, but also for the five remaining NFC South matchups after it.
Next: October 2: vs Denver Broncos