Over the next few months I will be going over the many reasons why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can win more games in 2018.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Jameis Winston is going to be suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. I have seen a lot of fans and media writing this team and this season off, but pump the brakes!
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers planned for this back in March, before the free agency period began, by re-signing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. This was a wise move by the Buccaneers and it gives them an insurance policy for the first three games of the season. All you have to do is believe in the Bucs.
Reason Two: Fitzmagic
Fitzpatrick is entering his fourteenth year in the NFL. He has played for several teams throughout his career. In 2015, he led the New York Jets to a 10-6 record and, in the last game of the season, faltered to the Buffalo Bills losing 22-17.This eliminated them from playoff contention.
The following year is a season that Fitzpatrick would most certainly like to forget as he only played in fourteen games and the Jets went 5-11. In February of 2017 he became a free agent and signed with the Buccaneers on a one year deal.
Fitzpatrick’s career as a Buccaneer
Fitzpatrick started three games for the Bucs and went 2-1. His most impressive game was a game in which he did not start, but came on in relief of the injured Jameis Winston. In that game versus the Arizona Cardinals, Fitzpatrick came in with the Bucs down 24-0. Fitzpatrick nearly engineered a comeback, but fell short.
What to expect this year
The first three games aren’t going to be a walk in the park. Right out of the gate, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to New Orleans to face a familiar opponent. The Saints, led by a future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, aren’t necessarily an easy win. The Saints were a surprising team last year and no one really expected them to win the NFC South.
Win the NFC South they did and they even got to the NFC championship game where they lost in the final seconds to the Minnesota Vikings on a bizarre play. The Bucs closed out the 2017 season with a win over the Saints who were, at that point in time, still fighting to win the division. Oh, and do you think Dirk Koetter has forgotten about the weird handshake at the end of that game?
The Superbowl Champs
The next game is a home game versus the defending Super Bowl Champions in the Philadelphia Eagles. As of right now, we do not know if quarterback Carson Wentz will be ready to play due to a knee injury he suffered last season.
A few former Eagles, Vinny Curry and Beau Allen, are sure to be playing with chips on their shoulders. Both were a vital part of the Eagles Superbowl run in 2017. Curry was released as a cap casualty. The Eagles asked him to take a pay cut and he wanted no part of it.
Beau Allen was a free agent and saw a better starting opportunity with the Buccaneers. The Eagles aren’t the same team they were in 2017. They had to release some key players to come under the salary cap for the 2018 season.
The big one: Monday Night Football
Are you ready for some Monday Night Football? While the game itself is important, it is also an important night due to the fact that the Bucs will be inducting Tony Dungy into the Ring of Honor. The Steelers have been a good team for a while now, but it seems their decline has begun.
The defense is not what it used to be and the Bucs will have an opportunity to go against some very young defensive backs, which will be good for Mike Evans and Desean Jackson. The Steelers will have some figuring out to do after releasing Todd Haley, their offensive coordinator.
Ben Roethlisberger plays better at home than he does on the road, which is good news for the Bucs. Roethlisberger doesn’t move in the pocket as well anymore and if the Bucs can get some pressure on him, he will make some errant throws.
What does it mean?
These first three games are not ideal, especially starting those three games without your number one quarterback. However, we should be thankful we have Fitzpatrick. The situation could be way worse a. In this scenario, you would want a veteran quarterback who has plenty of experience.
Fitzpatrick, like last year, won’t have to do much as he will just need to manage the game and make smart decisions with the football. If he can do that, paired up with the improved running game, there is no reason why this team can’t start off 2-1 or even 3-0 until Winston returns.
Worst case scenario he should be able to win one of those three games. General Manager Jason Licht has brought in plenty of talent over his tenure. These talents should be able to help carry the load along with Fitzpatrick.
Each year some unexpected teams will rise and some teams will fall. Each season writes its own story. Why can’t the Bucs be one of those teams? Why can’t the Bucs make the playoffs with this roster?
Do you believe in magic?
Feel free to follow me on twitter @TB_Bucs_4life or leave a comment below.
Christian Worthen has been a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 22 years. He currently is a contributor/writer for Full Press Coverage Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To see more of his work or the work by Full Press Coverage follow @FPC_Buccanners on Twitter.