The 2017 Season will be a season of firsts for the Jaguars, Buccaneers, and the Dolphins. The Jags will have their first full year under Doug Marrone. The Bucs will be coming off a winning season for the first time since 2010. The Phins will be coming off their first playoff appearance since 2008. But the question is which team needs the better season most?
At first glance, most would say it’s definitely not Jacksonville but it’s important not to judge a book by its cover. The Jags are in desperate need of national relevancy during the season for wins and not just for their off-season splurging. This organization hasn’t had a winning season nor a playoff appearance since 2007 and their only coach with a winning record was Tom Coughlin.
Bringing Coughlin plus Coach Marrone they will look to clean house and change the culture with the goal being to build a consistent winner in Jacksonville. That has already begun with adding the likes of Leonard Fournette, Cam Robinson and DeDe Westbrook in the draft and free agents Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye to help bolster their defense.
While they most likely won’t battle for a playoff spot like their state counterparts the season may still be more important for them to get off to a good start under a new regime to build a foundation for future success.
The Miami Dolphins made their presence known to the football world last year as more than just another team in the Patriots division. While they didn’t knock off the reigning champs they did sneak into a playoff spot and have a winning season for the first time in eight years. They bring back the same core team with a couple of additions like LB Lawrence Timmons, TE Julius Thomas, and first round pick Charles Harris.
Adam Gase made great use of his first season under the helm becoming the 20th coach to take a team to the playoffs in his first year there since 2006. With the Phins returning so much, there is a lot of pressure to make another trip back to the playoffs and maybe even beat the Patriots once or twice. It will be important for Gase and company not to take a step back after taking so many forward in 2016.
Last but certainly not least are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who have generated the most buzz of the three this offseason. Dirk Koetter became the Bucs fourth head coach since 2009 and it looks like he may have it locked up for a while. His offenses have been menacing to opposing defenses and his defense is starting to look like it can match it.
Jamies Winston is looking like he will buck the trend of the Bucs not having a franchise signal caller and he has the cast around him to run the league for years to come with WR’s Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and more. The problem that could arise for this young team is the expectations with HBO’s “Hard Knocks” coming to One Buc Place this season it will be important for the young team to stay focused. Koetter needs to keep the ship moving towards the playoffs and not sinking into last or anchoring down into third.
There is no right answer for who needs to have a better season between these State rivals. All three need to have improvements this year for their own unique reasons. While it will be interesting to see who comes out on top week 1 with the Bucs and Phins, that game won’t make or break the season nor will it tell us who the better team is.
At the end of the day, the season will be measured by who improved the most and made the biggest stride to a championship not who won an early season match up.