TAMPA – To say the Buccaneers are ready for some football might be an understatement. After the threat of Hurricane Irma forced the postponement of the projected season opener against the Dolphins last week, the Bucs may be over-ready for some football.
That’s not necessarily a good thing. As they head into what is now their season opener today against the Bears, there is some real concern within the organization that the Bucs may be so eager to finally get on the field and hit somebody that their technique and fundamentals may suffer.
Of course, there is also concern that in the wake of what has been a 22-day layoff for most of their starters and regulars, their technique and fundamentals will suffer anyway and that the day will be spent knocking off a lot of rust. Either way, football is finally back in Tampa and with that in mind, here’s a closer look at what this game means for the Bucs and what they need to do to win it.
Why it’s worth watching
Long before Irma came around and forced the NFL to hit the pause button on their season, the Bucs were fast becoming one of the darling teams of the NFL. Their vast array of offensive weapons has many believing they could be one of the top scoring teams in the league and that alone has made them one of the chic picks to make the playoffs. Thanks in part to the exposure they received on HBO’s Hard Knocks this year, there’s a cool factor to the Bucs that they haven’t had since they were Super Bowl champions. None of that has changed in the last week, but the Bucs have definitely been thrown for a loop as a result of the hurricane and the postponement of their game. Their ability to overcome that and win a winnable game against a beatable team will say a lot about whether all that pre-season hype was valid.
Key on: The Bears running game
A lot of the pre-game hype has centered around the return to Tampa of former Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, and rightfully so. Glennon, though, is not the Bucs biggest concern, because in order to win this game the Bucs will first have to stop the Bears running game. Glennon is a very competent quarterback, capable of doing a lot of good things, but he’s also the type who needs a lot of things around him to go well. More than anything he needs the running game to work well and with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in the lineup it can. It’s imperative that the Bucs play the run strong on early downs and force the Bears into third-and-long situations in which Glennon’s skill set is put to the test.
The Bucs 36-10 victory over the Bears in Week 10 last year sparked a dramatic turnaround for the Tampa Bay defense. A unit that allowed 29 points per game the first eight games of the season suddenly found its rhythm and proceeded to allow an average of just 17.1 points per game across the season’s final eight games. Along the way, the Bucs picked off a league-best 13 passes, allowed a league-low six touchdowns and limited opposing quarterbacks to a 72.9 passer, the second-lowest in the NFL. They also recorded 21 sacks those final eight games, the fifth most in the league over that span. Obvioulsy, the Bucs are hoping to pick up right where they left off.
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.
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