It's been an offseason of uncertainty for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but one common thread through it all has been how down the national pundits are on the team.
Things started with Peter King dubbing Tampa Bay the second-worst team in the league and it just progressively got worse from there. The Bucs are already being tabbed as a team in the running for Caleb Williams, Todd Bowles has fake-fired more times than we can count, and Mike Evans has never been more popular in weird trade proposals.
Rarely have we heard a positive thing said about the Bucs, although it has happened.
Former GM Rick Spielman spent time at Bucs camp and came away impressed with what he saw, and ESPN's Jeremy Fowler was dumbfounded over how a roster with as much talent as Tampa Bay has is being trashed so easily.
Add Chris Simms to the list of national talking heads who aren't afraid to admit the Bucs might be better than people expect. In a recent episode of his podcast, Simms picked the over/under for each NFC South team and ended up saying something nice about Tampa Bay.
Chris Simms 'it's not crazy' to imagine Bucs starting out 3-1
Talking about how the Bucs are talented enough to catch some people by surprise, Simms outlined how a 3-1 start to the season for Tampa Bay isn't the craziest thing in the world to imagine.
"Could I see them beating the Vikings and the Bears in a tough close football game, where they play through their defense, and maybe the Saints too? It's not crazy, none of those teams are world beaters," Simms said. "Could I see Todd Bowles having a really good gameplan and stopping Justin Fields and that offense, and they win the game 17-13? Definitely, no doubt about it. That's where you start to see the angle of success for them."
To be clear, Simms picked the Bucs to go under the projected 6.5 win total that was floated as part of the discussion. So while he said something positive about the Bucs, he paid the penance of balancing it out with a negative take.
Simms didn't hammer the under, though, and co-host Ahmed Fareed actually took the over on how many games the Bucs will win. Most of this was based on how the talent level the team has seems to be right on the cusp of being able to outweigh the things holding the team back, such as questionable offensive line play and uncertainty about the run game.
These are admittedly major questions, and are far more valid than lazily pointing at Baker Mayfield and shrugging when asked why the Bucs might not be good this year. Folks are still down on the Bucs, but it's clear that not everyone is and the group think tide might slowly be turning as Week 1 approaches.