Week 15 of the NFL season gave us two wins for the state NFL teams with the Bucs and the Jags both victorious on the road. College teams were focusing on recruiting and preparing for bowl games. This week Florida Atlantic and Florida international play on Saturday with UCF playing next Monday. Heading into week 16 and bowl season, this is how our state rankings look:
Florida Gators- The Gators maintain our top spot and are fully locked into the Orange Bowl and recruiting right now. The Gators currently have the number 7 class nationally according to 24/7 Sports, but that only puts them at 5th in the stacked SEC.
As for Orange Bowl opponent Virginia, the Gators game planning will revolve around stopping QB Bryce Perkins. Perkins is the engine for the offense, and if he is slowed down, so is the entire unit. On offense, passing has been the name of the game for the Gators look for Dan Mullen to scheme up some creative plays to get the ball into his receivers’ hands quickly. Now, Florida waits for the confirmation Wednesday on recruits, too.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs are red hot right now. After winning in Detroit, they now have a 4-game winning streak for the first time in four season with the Houston Texans coming to town. QB Jameis Winston continues to put up video game-like numbers throwing for an NFL record of over 450 yards in two straight games.
This week will be tougher though with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Scotty Miller due to hamstring injuries, all potentially missing the game. If Winston can find a way to carve up the Texans secondary with all backup receivers, he will likely make himself some serious money this offseason.
Florida Atlantic Owls- FAU has had an eventful past two weeks. The Owls won the Conference USA title but lost head coach Lane Kiffin to the Ole Miss. They then hired former USF and FSU head coach Willy Taggart. Now, the Owls focus will shift to their bowl game being played in their own stadium this weekend against SMU. The Mustangs have one of the most dangerous offenses in America that not a lot of people know about.
Led by Texas transfer Shane Buechele, this offense is prolific. The Owls will need to match them point for point in this potential shootout.
UCF Knights- The Knights will be preparing for their bowl game in Tampa with Marshall coming up next Monday. It is important for them to get to double-digit wins to continue the upward trajectory of the program. This game will also be important to get dome guys reps that will be playing bigger roles next season.
With it almost certain that Gabe Davis won’t play, as he’s leaving for the draft, that opens up a new spot for someone to claim at receiver. UCF has to be careful of the letdown of playing in a lesser bowl.
Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags appear in our rankings, as they got back in the win column over the weekend by coming back and defeating the Oakland Raiders in the final seconds. And, they were able to spoil the last home game for the Raiders in the city of Oakland. It was a battle of field goals until the final 5 minutes of the fourth quarter.
QB Gardner Minshew was able to connect with Chris Conley twice in the last 5 minutes with the game-winning score coming with 31 seconds left. Next, the Jags will head to Atlanta to face a Falcons team that just shocked one of the NFL’s best in the 49ners.
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.
Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.
Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,
Arians on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:
“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”
“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option?
The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.
After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”
While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.
Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.
The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:
“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”
As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.
This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,
The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.
NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.
It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.
The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.
Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.
So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.