The Buccaneers certainly had their struggles in 2016. However, for the team and its fans, those struggles will lead to a brighter 2017.
The rumblings and ongoing concerns among many fans and media circles of the Buccaneers’ true progress throughout the 2016 season is warranted. There was lots of joy and excitement that was spreading for good reason – especially during their five-game winning streak. But losing two of their final three games and missing the playoffs has raised some eyebrows.
Tampa Bay’s offense was partly to blame. Their inability to punch it in inside the 20-yard line was disappointing and resulted in losses. They had no running game, the offensive line had multiple problems, and the playcalling was questionable. Their inconsistent play – even during their streak – left many wondering how this can be fixed.
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The bright spot in all that was Buccaneeers quarterback Jameis Winston throwing 19 of his 28 touchdowns inside the 20-yard line with no interceptions – tied seventh in the league in that category per Pro Football Reference.
Defensively, the Buccaneers improved as the season progressed. After a rough start that could have penciled in at least two additional wins, the defense showed great improvement. Great performances by cornerback Brent Grimes and safety Keith Tandy assisted in that success.
While the pass rush was less than appealing, it still had promising play from defensive ends Robert Ayers and rookie Noah Spence. Struggles came from the interior of the line and despite Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy matching his tackles totals from last year, he finished with his lowest sack total since 2012. Still, his presence is felt as offenses have to account for him.
There are signs the Bucs can achieve more success in 2017. It can easily be attained with some additions on both sides of the ball. The good news is, with their success this past season, free agents can be more enticed to sign in Tampa Bay. Add a few more draft pieces and we could be talking about the team’s first playoff birth since 2007.