SI's bold prediction for the Bucs in 2024 is a giant shot at Todd Bowles

It's also a reminder that even as things change they stay the same.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages
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The new league year is set to start in about a month, which means the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hard at work trying to plot a course that repeats the success last year brought.

It also means that it's way-too-early prediction time.

Things are vastly different than they were for the Bucs this time last year. Tom Brady had just retired, veterans were asking to be released to chase rings elsewhere, and the front office had a $55 million salary cap knot to untangle.

Rather than dig a deeper hole, like we've seen the Saints do for years, the Bucs took their medicine and now enter this offseason without any dead money carrying over and almost $40 million cap space.

Despite how different -- and positive -- things are, it seems experts are stuck in the past.

MMQB thinks Bucs will be hiring a new head coach in 2024

SI's Conor Orr ran through one bold prediction for each team, which included mostly positive outlooks with things like the Jets trading for Davante Adams, the Browns pursuing a backup quarterback, and the Commanders landing Caleb Williams.

For the Bucs, Orr thinks the bold thing that will happen next season is Todd Bowles losing his job.

"There were folks in the coaching world discussing the idea that Tampa Bay could be looking to pivot if the team got stale under Todd Bowles in 2023 before the Buccaneers went on a run, made the playoffs and knocked out the Eagles in the first round (not to mention giving the Lions a handful the following week). This year, with a pair of big-named coaches sitting out in Mike Vrabel and Belichick, both with Patriots ties like Jason Licht, the Buccaneers will need to play well early to acquire the finesse necessary to avoid people pointing this out."

Conor Orr, MMQB

Hard eyeroll at this, although Orr does have a point.

Orr is getting in on the ground floor of an easy prediction, but it's not hard to see Bowles back on the hot seat if things get bumpy again next season. He was able to coach the team out of a 1-6 midseason slump to win a third-straight NFC South title, but things will need to go a lot smoother in order to fend off the coaching rumors.

Fans were already out on Bowles before the turnaround and some refused to give him credit even after things got back on track. The optics of having two impressive coaching candidates on the market with ties to Jason Licht didn't help, and it's going to make jumping all over Bowles even easier for those who already want to.

Rather than be about Bowles and his future, this speaks more to how even after an impressive season the national media is quick to fall back on counting the Bucs out. By making this a bold prediction, it's really saying that Tampa Bay won't build on its success and will fall back the way everyone thought they would this season.

There are legit questions that need to be answered this offseason, with both Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans needing new deals and an offensive line that must be rebuilt. It's the old Rodney Dangerfield line, though, as no matter how much the Bucs subverted expectations last year they just can't get any respect.

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