The dust has settled on the 2017 NFL season, so let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at some of the Bucs most memorable moments from this past season.
Rookie Wide Receiver Chris Godwin’s performance over weeks 16 and 17. It took some time, but over the last couple weeks of the season Godwin really started to find some good chemistry with Tampa’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston. Godwin logged 10 receptions on 18 targets for a total of 209 yards. He also added the game winning score in the season finale against the Saints.
Rookie Safety Justin Evans finishes second among rookies with 3 interceptions. The 2nd Round pick stepped in and made a name for himself. He finished tied for the team lead in picks and finished third on the team in passes defended behind only veterans Brent Grimes and Chris Conte.
Rookie Tight End O.J. Howard shows he was worth the 1st round pick. Early on it looked like Howard was having a tough time adjusting the speed of the NFL. Over the first five weeks of the season, Howard had a total of five catches. Despite missing the final two weeks of the season, Howard finished the season with six touchdown receptions. This tied him with fellow Tight End, Cameron Brate for the team lead.
The Bucs’ Ring of Honor welcomed Jon Gruden. In a down season for Tampa, this was perhaps the highlight of season for a lot of Bucs fans. Gruden still holds a special place in the heart of Tampa residence. He brought the team their only Super Bowl title back in 2002, so it’s understandable. Hell, had Koetter not been retained, Gruden was the popular choice to replace him. The Oakland Raiders subsequently hired Gruden. It was still a special moment none-the-less.
Jameis Winston just completed his third NFL season and he continues to make costly and mind-numbing mistakes. Since Winston entered the league in 2015, he has thrown a total of 44 interceptions and has turned the ball over a total of 59 times in 45 career games. Winston has also lost 15 fumbles, which are also the most of any player during that span. Next season is going to be a critical one for Winston. If he continues to turn the ball over is Tampa going to pick up his fifth year option and commit to him long term?
The Bucs lack of a running game hurts the offense. Defenses will continue to key in on the passing game as the rushing attack, or lack thereof, doesn’t scare them. The Buccaneers finished 27th in league with just under 1,500 yards. Their yards per attempt were also 27th in the league, coming in at 3.7 yards per carry. I think it’s pretty clear at this point that neither Doug Martin, nor Peyton Barber are the answer at Running Back. Too bad Penn State’s Saquon Barkley won’t be available to them in the draft. Barkley is a game-changer and Tampa would have to make a major move to move up and get him in the draft.
Throughout the season, Winston showed little to no chemistry with Wide Receiver, DeSean Jackson. It was considered a big win for the Bucs last offseason when Jackson signed a 3 year, $33.5 million deal. Tampa thought they were getting somebody that could stretch the field and take the top off the defense. The pairing of Jackson and Mike Evans seemed like a match made in heaven. Winston consistently missed Jackson on the deep ball. Whether this is solely on Winston, or Jackson we don’t know, but it’s clear the chemistry just wasn’t there. Jackson finished the season with just 50 receptions, 668 yards and three scores. Hopefully this offseason they will work on their timing and develop a stronger relationship and bond.
Tampa came into this season with high expectations and needless to say they came nowhere close to living up to them. In 2016 the team finished 9-7 by winning 7 of their final nine. The Bucs looked to be on the verge of some very good things. Instead, they imploded. Two different times this past season they went on five game losing streaks. The Bucs were frustratingly close to winning quite a few of those games too. The fact of the matter is that good teams find ways to win close games and the Bucs in 2017 were not a very good team.
The 2017 season got off to an ugly start for the Buccaneers. Week 1 was a scheduled meeting between the Bucs and Dolphins. Hurricane Irma had different plans, however. Irma forced the game to be rescheduled to Week 11. Luckily both teams shared the same bye week. The Bucs were now forced to play for 16 straight weeks. Could this have contributed to their struggles this season? It’s possible, but unlikely.
Tampa’s first half offense in Weeks 5 through 10 was atrocious. Not only could they not get the ball in the end zone, but they couldn’t even get it through the uprights. During those six weeks of dreadfulness, the Bucs managed to score a total of 19 points. Tampa, during that span was shut out twice. With the amount of offensive weapons at their disposal, there is absolutely no excuse for such offensive ineptitude. If the Bucs want to be more competitive in 2018, scoring early and often will play a big part in that.
Mike Evans had what was one of the most bush league plays of the year on Saints rookie Corner Back and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Marshon Lattimore. Granted, Evans may have been just trying to stand up for what was going on between his quarterback and Lattimore, but there is no room in the game for cheap shots like the one that was delivered. It was just an ugly look in the middle of one of their five game losing streaks. Evans did end up serving a one game suspension for the hit and he later apologized to Lattimore for his actions.
Late in the season coaching rumors began to swirl. Head Coach, Dirk Koetter was unsure of his future, he even admitted that the speculation about his safety was a personal distraction. Per ESPN, Koetter was quoted as saying “It’s your life, it’s your life. It’s what you do. So just flip it around. Of course it is. But we all as players and coaches, we’re paid to do a job, and you try to do it to the best of our ability. That’s all you can do.“ Koetter finished 9-7 in his first season as head coach and dealt with a lot of injuries this past season. The Glazers announced Koetter would return in 2018, so let’s just pump the brakes a little bit and see what he can do in his third year with a healthy roster.
These are just some of takeaways from this season. Free agency and the draft are right around the corner, so let’s hope that the Bucs right the ship this offseason and build towards a better future.
Got some of your own good, bad and ugly from the season? Let’s hear them below!
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