Buccaneers: A very high ceiling with a very low floor
The Buccaneers are a team that could be “boom or bust”, with a high ceiling but just as low of a floor.
On paper the Buccaneers are set to have a huge season. Jameis Winston already was improving and now he has a vast array of weapons at his disposal. DeSean Jackson will be a game changer for Mike Evans and company. O.J. Howard will combine with the already underrated Cameron Brate for quite the threat down the seam. The defense has another year with Mike Smith to get even better than it was last year, and for a time last year they allowed 12 points per game.
But the games aren’t played on paper, are they? No, they are played on the field. Things can happen between the white lines that negatively impact predictions and teams that are set to be good. Injuries happen. Players develop slower than anticipated. Backward steps are taken in development.
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Whatever the reason is, things happen and they don’t turn out as expected. It is where the “any given Sunday” expression comes from.
In sports we talk a lot about the “floor” and “ceiling” for a particular player. What does their best season look like, statistically? How about their worst? How big is the gap between the two?
The same discussion can be had about the teams themselves. How good, or bad, can they be? Elliot Harrison of NFL.com took on that very question. He wrote an article looking at the floor and ceiling for each team in the NFC.
For the Bucs, we are basically talking about a sunken floor and a ceiling you will need a big ladder to reach:
"Ceiling: 13-3. Jameis Winston takes home league MVP, throwing for 4,600 yards and 35 touchdowns and cutting down on the dumb throws. Meanwhile, Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander all make the Pro Bowl. Vernon Hargreaves takes a big step forward.Floor: 6-10. I cringe even putting this record down for Tampa Bay. But in this worst-case scenario, the offensive line falters, causing a RB-by-committee to tiptoe to the hole. DeSean Jackson slows down while O.J. Howard does not start his career as hoped. Dirk Koetter’s offense fails to take the whole game off Winston’s back.Tipping point: Doug Martin. Do we see the 2012/2015 Martin, or the version from the in-between years?"
This gives us the simple message that the Bucs are unpredictable, or at least hard to predict. With this much talent, the team could very well be “boom or bust”. They could all hit big like we expect and we watch a very special season. Or it could fall apart and the season could go down the proverbial bowl just as quickly.
If we are looking a ceiling and floor based on the talent, Harrison’s records are fair. This team does carry the talent to go 13-3. But if the Bucs get some injuries on defense, and maybe DeSean Jackson isn’t what he once was? If he starts acting up in the locker room, which has happened in the past, the Bucs could drop down towards or even past that 6-10 prediction.
My disagreement comes in the tipping point. To me it isn’t Martin, it’s Jameis Winston. As I always say, the numbers don’t lie. He did increase his touchdowns from year one to year two, but he also increased his interceptions. If that trend continues in year three, 13-3 will become very unlikely. If Winston goes backward with his decisions, 6-10 might be the least of their problems.
But to me, he is the key. They went 9-7 last year without Martin so that shows they can survive, and even thrive without him. To end their playoff drought, Winston must be on his “A” game at all times. No more stupid mistakes, please.
Next: Bucs stat shot vs. the Browns
What do you think, Bucs fans? How good, or bad could this team be? Sound off in the comments.