TAMPA – Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter is fighting a losing battle. Fearful that it will go to his player’s heads, he would really like to temper all the enthusiasm everyone seems to have for what could be one of the most exciting young teams in the league in 2017. There’s just no stopping that wave, though.
The latest hyperbolic utterance comes from the NFL Network, where late last week one of the co-hosts of “Good Morning Football,’’ Kyle Brandt, picked the rise of the Buccaneers – not the reigning NFC Champion Falcons attempt to get back to and actually win the Super Bowl – as the top story line in the NFC South heading into the 2017 season.
Pretty remarkable, though Brandt quickly turns the topic a bit as he literally wonders out loud if the Bucs can indeed live up to all the hype. He points out several factors, including the uncertainty regarding Doug Martin’s future, the fact the Bucs are having to hold a kicking competition and the strength of the division, as areas that could trip the Bucs up.
At the end of the day, though, Brandt says he believes the Bucs are up to the challenge that awaits them, and he’s certainly not alone. The Bucs are like this year’s Raiders. They’re the team that everyone seems to believe is ready to break their years-long playoff drought and get back to the postseason, which is why so many are so hyped up about them.
The fear, of course, is that the Bucs will only prove to be this year’s Jaguars. You may remember that right along with the Raiders, the Jaguars last year were also considered to be one of the hot young teams on the rise. All they did, though, was fall well short of even the lowest expectations and blow the team up.
And that is Koetter’s fear. He’s been around the league long enough to know that what a team has on paper means very little. So while this version of the Bucs may be one most talented in franchise history, there’s a good chance that this growing wave of excitement could break and result in one ugly wipeout.
Until it does, though, Bucs fans have good reason to ride the wave. After all, it’s been years since anyone has really talked about the Bucs in this fashion.