All offeseason long Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans have heard nothing but negative things spewed about their team.
For Peter King dubbing them the second-worst team in the league to most pundits predicting they’ll be picking at the top of next year’s NFL Draft, fans have lost count of the number of ways the team has been counted out.
Oh, did you know the Bucs don’t have a head coach? Todd Bowles has been fired more times than this offseason than years he’s been in the league.
All of this is to say no corner of the national media can be turned without running into someone hysterically laughing at the Bucs. Not everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid, though. Former NFL GM Rick Spielman has been beating the drum about the Bucs being a surprise team everyone is sleeping on, while ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler defended the team’s talent being disrespected.
Now another ESPN writer is going against the grain and admitting that the Buccaneers indeed have talent on their roster.
ESPN ranks Buccaneers offense ahead of Chiefs
In his latest offseason thought exercise, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell put together a power ranking of NFL teams based on offensive arsenals. Keep in mind that he’s taking into account skill position players only, and north who the quarterback is.
With that in mind, Barnwell thinks the Buccaneers have better weapons on offense than what Patrick Mahomes has in Kansas City.
Objectively this seems a little insane when taking it at face value. The idea that the Buccaneers have a better offense than the Chiefs is a bit perplexing considering fans in Tampa Bay would happily switch places with fans in Kansas City. Then again, it’s not the first time the Bucs have pulled a surprise victory out over the Chiefs.
While there’s a fair amount of shock value to seeing the ranking, the Bucs have dropped significantly in each of the last three rankings, coming in at No. 1 back in 2021 and No. 5 last season.
So a ranking of No. 18 is actually a nose dive from where the team was over the last few seasons. The question then becomes whether it’s more of an insult to the Chiefs that they’re ranked even lower than a Bucs team sinking like a rock in these rankings.
It’s actually not that surprising that the Bucs are ranked slightly higher than the Chiefs. Remember, this is a ranking of skill position players without factoring in who the quarterback is. Take Mahomes away from the Chiefs and some of the guys he makes into stars might not have the sort of success they otherwise experience.
Look no further than Kadarius Toney, who was a bust with the New York Giants but became a stud once he teamed up with Mahomes. This is the sort of impact we’ve seen Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have over the years, where they take a bunch of dudes and make them better.
The flip side of that is imagining what Mahomes with the Bucs skill position players would look like. A selling point in bringing Brady to Tampa Bay was giving him and arsenal with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, which we promptly went out and won a Super Bowl with.
Mahomes isn’t coming to Tampa Bay, but it circles us back to how important it is for the Bucs to find the right quarterback. The weapons are very clearly here, even if they seem to be more dulled than in years past, but all it takes is the right guy to take the team over the top.