ESPN’s Mike Clay has projected the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2018 season.
Mike Clay is an NFL and Fantasy Football analyst at ESPN and spends a lot of time going through algorithms and formulas to project player and team stats. Last year, Clay and I got into a twitter debate that grew into a segment on his SiriusXM show where I was a guest and debated with him some more on what I believed were projections that were far too low for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that had improved on paper far too much.
Not only that, but Clay projected the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East. Some of us chalked it up to being a homer.
Spoiler alert: I was wrong and Clay was almost dead on.
On Wednesday, Clay released some early projections for the Buccaneers’ 2018 season and they aren’t nearly as good as we would’ve hoped;
Clay has Jameis Winston going over 4,500 yards with 27 touchdowns, Ronald Jones being the team’s leading rusher with just under 1,000 yards, and Mike Evans going over 1,100 yards with nine touchdowns.
He also has the Buccaneers going 7-9 and finishing last in the NFC South yet again.
I’m not going to bash Clay for his projections. I’m not going to be irate that someone views this team as the worst in the division behind the Panthers, Saints, and Falcons. I’m not going to spend my time arguing why this is wrong and that is wrong, etc.
Why? Because the Buccaneers haven’t earned it.
We can be excited about the season. About the changes to the roster. The complete overhaul of the defensive line. At the end of the day, it’s all conjecture. My opinion, your opinion – they’re no more valuable than Clay’s. This team has done nothing on a playing field to warrant any praise or any wild predictions of postseason glory.
That doesn’t mean they won’t.
It simply means that we’re at a crossroads. Was the talent in 2016 overachieving? Was the 2017 a talented team that just didn’t live up to the hype or that caught a bunch of bad breaks? We aren’t really sure what this team is right now.
Jason Licht has loaded this team with talent. Will the talent fit the schemes laid out by Dirk Koetter and his staff? Can Koetter and his staff mold their schemes around the talent Licht has laid out for them?
Simply put – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can not afford to allow these projections to come to fruition. If they do, we have to start looking at this as a coaching problem, not a talent problem.
If the Buccaneers finish the way Clay projects them to, we’re looking at another coaching staff overhaul heading into Jameis Winston’s contract year, dealing with a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive system, and contract decisions for Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Kwon Alexander.