The Bye-Week came at the right moment for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Our staff here at Full Press Tampa Bay Buccaneers felt we had to look ahead after such a lifeless loss to the Chicago Bears, and predict what the next four games have in store for the Bucs.

So Marc and myself asked our writing staff the following question: What are your expectations for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter of the season? Here are their answers.

Jeffery Olsen – Contributing Writer

After the Bucs got off to a hot start in the first two games, they looked rocky at times in their third game, and absolutely terrible in the latest game against the Bears. So who are the “real” Bucs and what can we expect moving forward? Well, looking at the next quarter of the schedule, I believe we can get a pretty good idea of what’s to come based on what we’ve seen.
The next four games are at Atlanta, home against Cleveland, at Cincinnati, and at Carolina. To me, these are all very winnable games and I expect the Bucs to go 3-1 in this span. The challenge will be stopping the explosive Atlanta and Cincinnati offenses. Both have explosive play makers and the Bucs secondary has looked vulnerable all season. Protecting the quarterback against Cleveland and Carolina will be key against the more defensive heavy teams in this stretch.
Overall, I think the Bucs have the offense to gash all of these teams and are a better team than all four of these opponents. However, it all depends on if the Bucs can clean up the pass defense in the bye week. The game against the Falcons will be very telling, particularly regarding if the defense is improved enough to take this team where it wants to go.

Brian DeFeo – Contributing Writer

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-2 through four games and the next four seem easier than the first four. The Bucs take on two division foes at Atlanta and at Carolina, and then two AFC North opponents’, home against Cleveland and at Cincinnati. The Falcons have struggled mightily on defense so we could easily see another shoot out, especially with this defense. The Cleveland Browns haven’t won a road game in 500 years but look like much different team than the usual Browns.

The Bengals are a bit of a surprise this year with their wins in Indy and Atlanta, not to mention how they dominated the Ravens at home. Their lone loss is to the Panthers, whose lone loss is to Atlanta. All four of these games are winnable, but the Bucs could also easily lose all four. Division games are always a toss-up and they can’t take the Bengals or Browns lightly.

I predict the Bucs go 2-2 in the next four games, but I don’t know which games they’ll win. However, if this defense remains the same, then 0-4 is more likely. Jameis Winston is back so the offense should stay somewhat explosive, but they won’t be able to keep up if their defense surrenders 400 yards and 30 points a game. I would like to see drastic improvement on the defensive side of the ball, but my expectations are extremely low.

Evann Goitia – Producer of The Red Flag podcast and Contributing Writer

Over the course of the next four games, I expect the Buccaneers to go 2-2. Looking at the upcoming schedule, the Buccaneers face the Falcons, Browns, Bengals, and Panthers. These teams have a combined record of 7-7-1, which might not seem intimidating. However, five out of those seven wins are accounted for by the Bengals and the Panthers. The Buccaneers also play both the Bengals and the Panthers on the road, which adds to the difficulty of these games.
Defense

It is no secret that the Buccaneers are ranked second to last in the league in yards per game allowed with a total of 445.8. The defense currently ranks last in points per game allowed with a total of 34.8. In fact, this defense made a sub-par Mitchell Trubisky look like a first ballot Hall of Famer last week. Even in the two wins for the Buccaneers, the defense allowed 61 points. Without Ryan Fitzpatrick’s record start to the season, this Tampa Bay team could be 0-4.

Lack of a run game

Without a defense behind him and when considering the high-powered offenses upcoming, Tampa Bay will be forced to win shootouts. While Jameis Winston is certainly capable of winning shootouts, it will be hard to do when your starting running back is averaging three yards per attempt through his first 50 carries. The Buccaneers must establish a productive run game if they have a chance at winning more than two of the next four games.

Ben Wilson – Contributing Writer

My expectations of the second quarter of the season are pretty consistent with what we saw in the first quarter. The Bucs are an inconsistent football team and I think we will see that trend continue. The offense will continue to have games where they look dominant and I expect the defense to be abysmal. I see a few shootouts coming up, most likely against other bad defensive football teams. I also anticipate a couple more embarrassing losses ahead, not Chicago Bears embarrassing, but embarrassing none the less.

I look for the Bucs to beat Atlanta and Cincinnati. Both the Falcons and Bengals struggle defensively. I anticipate both of these games being shootouts. I think the Bucs will make a bigger commitment to running the ball after the bye week. This should help open up the offense a little more, and they will win both of these games against poor defenses. Carolina and Cleveland present bigger challenges. These two teams have good defenses, which present a much tougher match-up. Neither team has a particularly scary offense, but at this point, I wouldn’t count on the Bucs to stop a high school offense. Tampa Bay will lose these two games.

The second quarter will end as the first did. We will have more questions than answers about this team and will still be waiting for the defense to stop somebody. With a 2-2 record in the second quarter this team will firmly established as just an average team.

Rod Thurman – Contributing Writer

I expect Jameis Winston to give this team hope and show Bucs fans why he’s their quarterback of the future. He should have very productive performances against the Falcon’s, Brown’s, and Bengal’s defenses.
And, If the Bucs offense can rely on any sort of rushing attack, they can start the the second quarter of the season 3-0. Panthers look like the Bucs toughest opponent next quarter, especially being a road game. I think all Bucs fans will be satisfied with a 5-3 overall record after the next the four games.
I do realize the Bucs success will be very limited if they continue to play defense at the rate that they displayed throughout the first four games. They’re on pace to be a historically bad defense, but I expect them to take wholesale changes after the bye week. Look for them to play more man defenses aided with man pressures to give the rookies in their secondary a chance to be successful.

Chris Worthen – Contributing Writer

The Bucs have surprised the nation as many had pegged them to start 0-4. In fact, Steve Smith said the Bucs wouldn’t win a game until week 7. Goes to show what the “experts” know. If you know me and have read my articles, I had high hopes for the Bucs this season and I still do. Every team has holes and how you overcome those holes is by masking your weaknesses with your strengths. The Bucs seemed to get away with the first two weeks and even week three against the Steelers. This team’s identity is passing the ball.

If the Bucs want to be playoff contenders, they need to evaluate these two things:

1. The pass defense has not gotten better since 2017 even with bringing in new players via free agency, trade or draft. I don’t know if it’s scheme, play calling, or players just don’t get it, but Mike Smith and the coaching staff need to evaluate this every second of their bye week. It’s unacceptable for the defense to consistently give up 400 yards a game.

Simplifying the scheme and using easier terms hasn’t helped the Bucs defense. Here’s a thought, quarters coverage doesn’t work in today’s NFL. It’s not only on the coaches, it’s on the players to the lead the defense to do whatever it takes to make sure the entire defense is on the same page in the same hymnal. Accountability will be key.

2. Where has the run offense been? The Bucs do not have one rushing touchdown by a running back this season. The offense needs to be more committed to running the ball early and often, and not just when they have a three score lead.

Marc Magana – Managing Editor

The Buccaneers stumbled into the bye week after complete implosion in Chicago. As they move forward, the Buccaneers look to rebound the week after the bye against the Falcons. The quarter after returning from the bye, the Bucs face three out of four games on the road. With the Buccaneers struggling on the defensive side of the ball, unless something in their performance changes drastically (not likely), they will have a tough time in their next few games.

The offense has shown the ability to put points on the board, but the defense seems vulnerable against the pass. The Browns and the Panthers are beatable, but can they pull out a win versus the Bengals or Falcons? I see the Bucs beating the Browns and Panthers in that four game stretch to remain at .500 at 4-4. Heading into the third quarter of the season, that’s not a bad record to have. A win against either the Falcons or Bengals would just be icing on the cake.

Philip Schwegler – Managing Editor

What a wild start to the 2018 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! At one point I considered this team as the one to beat out of the NFC, but as every September goes for the Bucs, they let me down.

Historically, the Buccaneers have been horrible in the September month of football. Seven straight years have seen the Bucs take a beating and heading into either a bye or the next quarter of play having more questions than answers.

Is all hope lost for the rest of the season?

Hell no!

Tampa sitting at 2-2 is a whole lot better then most media members predicted they be. The Bucs have shown what they can do on offense, and there have been flashes of what the defense can be. Losing Vernon Hargreaves, Chris Conte, and even Mitch Unrein early effected the Bucs defense. Although Tampa’s defense is very, very young in it’s backfield, the Bucs can pull together wins against Atlanta and against Baker Mayfield and the Browns.

Cinncinati and Carolina will be tricky, but games against a division rivals have a different feel to them. The Buccaneers will do just fine in their second quarter of play going 3-1 even with so many question marks on defense. Big wins against Carolina and Atlanta will highlight Tampa’s October.

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