The Buccaneers embark on the 2016 season with many new faces and with a lot of hope. We preview the season here, game by game, starting with the season opener.
The 2016 is approaching. Yes, we have training camp to get through first, but it’s coming. Dirk Koetter and the Buccaneers will be taking the field soon enough, and we will finally get to see what Jameis Winston looks like in his second year. Vincent Jackson is back on the outside, and the new pass rush is here. Week one can’t come soon enough.
With that, we move to the top offseason job, speculation. The roster hasn’t been finalized yet, we know that. However, the principal members of the team aren’t going to change. So, we begin to talk about how the 2016 season might materialize. This morning, we start a season preview series, looking at each game in a bit more detail.
Starting with week number one.
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The season opens with the Bucs taking on Mike Smith‘s former team, the Atlanta Falcons. Last year, the Bucs swept the Falcons, including a 23-20 OT win in Atlanta in week eight.
But that doesn’t mean that the game is going to be easy.
The history between these two teams has been nearly even, with the Bucs posting a 23-22 record lifetime against the Falcons. The two teams have split the last ten games.
Last year, the Falcons were 8-8, but four of the losses were by three points or less. If you add in the second Bucs’ win, five games were lost by four or less. With Matt Ryan at the helm, the Falcons are always tough. Though he is 31 years old, he is showing no signs of slowing down, completing 66.3% of his passes in 2015. Add Devonta Freeman and his 1,000 yard, 11 touchdown performance from 2015 and you have quite the attack.
Oh right, Julio Jones is still there too. To have a shot in this game, the new Bucs’ defensive backfield is going to have to step up. They handled Freeman well, holding him to a top performance of 88 yards. But can Grimes and company keep the passing attack down? That will be the question for the Tampa defense.
The Falcons defense was middle of the road last year, ranked 14th in the league against the run and 18th against the pass. Winston posted an 85+ passer rating in each of the games against Atlanta. The Bucs’ offense can move the football against the Atlanta defense.
Game one is a winnable game. If the defense can stand up and make a difference against Julio Jones, it should be a good afternoon for Tampa Bay. If not, it could be a long day.