Dirk Koetter’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a vogue pick to reach the playoffs in 2017. What does the team need to do to bounce back from a disappointing year?
Following a 1-3 start in 2016, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their act together and won eight of their final 12 games. That stretch included impressive victories over the playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks. The club’s 9-7 finish meant the franchise’s first winning campaign since 2010. However, Dirk Koetter’s club fell short of the playoffs, somewhere the team has not been since 2007.
Unfortunately, it remained that way following a highly-disappointing showing this past year. After winning two of their first three contests, the Bucs fell hard. A 3-10 finish saw them not only drop to 5-11, they were the only team in the NFC South not to post a winning record OR reach the playoffs.
So now the team looks to rebound in a big way. And if they choose to be big spenders, general manager Jason Licht has ample salary-cap room (via Spotrac) at his disposal. What might the Buccaneers do when March 14 rolls around? Here are a few suggestions.
5. Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals
We are now three years into the career of 2015 first overall pick Jameis Winston. He’s played and started 45 games, hit on 60.8 percent of his passes and thrown for 69 scores. There have also been 44 interceptions and 15 lost fumbles. The talented performer is the offensive leader of his team but he remains a bit of a work in progress. Simply put, 59 total turnovers in 45 games is a little cause for concern.
This past season, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick served as Winston’s backup and because the young signal-caller got a little banged up, the journeyman quarterback wound up starting three games. All told, Fitzpatrick wound up playing in a total of six games and hit on 58.9 percent of his throws and more than twice as many TD passes (7) as interceptions (3).
However, the 35-year-old hurler is slated for free agency. Will the team bring him back or will he head elsewhere? Regardless, the Buccaneers may want to kick the tires on Drew Stanton, who spent the past four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He wound up making a total of 13 starts under head coach Bruce Arians and while the numbers weren’t overly impressive, he offers another learning experience for the 24-year-old Winston.