The Buccaneers are in a position to make a run at a playoff berth in 2016. If they fail, blame can be placed everywhere, starting right at the top.
The Buccaneers enter their third season with Jason Licht as the general manager. The team has moved forward each season, with two wins in 201, followed by six in 2015. Key additions have been made, like drafting Vernon Hargreaves, drafting Noah Spence, and signing Brent Grimes. The Bucs are looking to make the next step in 2016 and make a run back to the playoffs.
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Can they do it? James Yarcho is right, the upcoming season is vital. Adam Schein of NFL.com believes that the Bucs’ are a sleeper team, and former coach Jon Gruden thinks they are a playoff team. I have given you five reasons the Bucs will make a playoff run. Now to take it one step further.
If they don’t make a run, blame starts right at the top, and that means Jason Licht. Let me explain.
Following the firing of Jon Gruden, the Bucs saw Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano as their subsequent two head coaches. They both lasted two years, which we are not judging since they weren’t on Licht. Lovie Smith is hired, and brings on Jason Licht as the general manager. The former Super Bowl coach, despite improving the team from 2-14 to 6-10, also lasted only two years, giving way to offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
Stability is not what has come with the new general manager, at least not yet. After a four game improvement, he could have left the status quo. Dirk Koetter would be working with Jameis Winston, either as the offensive coordinator or the head coach? A move was not essential. Removing Smith after two years was a gutsy call. It won’t look good for Licht if the team takes a step backwards.
The wide receiver position is still a bit shaky. Yes, Vincent Jackson is returning for another year. But, he is 33 years old, and his numbers have declined since 2012. Everyone is excited about the return of “V Jax”, but there is no guarantee that he is going to be the same. The position could have been addressed in the draft, even in the later rounds, but instead, the Bucs are left with the likes of Louis Murphy and Adam Humphries. Humphries had a nice year last year, but isn’t going to take away a lot of attention from Mike Evans, and neither is Louis Murphy. The depth chart is questionable.
The offensive line is a question. Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith are back, and poised to take that next step in 2016. But, have they really replaced Logan Mankins? With J.R. Sweezy they technically have, but ability wise, they absolutely have not. When you look at the film, Sweezy often looks the part of a turnstile more than of an offensive lineman. Licht only drafted one lineman, who looks good, but may still be a project. The line may take a step back, and if it does, that’s on Licht.
The cornerbacks are small. There, I said it. You heard me say it many times leading up to the draft, and I still don’t like it. The receivers of this league, and this division, are tall. Julio Jones is 6’4″ tall, and newly acquired Mohamed Sanu stands at 6’2″. Kelvin Benjamin stands at 6’5″ tall. The Bucs’ current roster sports only one cornerback taller than 5’11”.
Heart and competitive fire do a lot of good, don’t get me wrong. But the most fired up Vernon Hargreaves, standing at 5’10”, is going to be in a huge mismatch with Julio Jones. There are no two ways about it. The group has more ability, but it is small, and has an excellent chance of being exploited. This too is on our general manager.
If the Bucs take a step backward, there will be a lot of blame to go around. It will start at the top with our young general manager, Jason Licht.