TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
2015 Record: 6-10-0
Head Coach: Dirk Koetter
New Faces for 2016 - CB Brent Grimes, LB Daryl Smith, DL Robert Ayers
OFFENSE: Entering his second season, Jameis Winston (4,042 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, including six rushing TD) is the starting quarterback. The backup is Mike Glennon.
Doug Martin had his best season since 2012, going for 1,402 rushing yards (4.9 ypc average) and scored six touchdowns. He leads the running attack while Charles Sims (529 yards, 4.9 ypc) is the primary backup. Sims also caught 51 passes out of the backfield, including four touchdowns.
The wide receivers have Mike Evans (74, 1,206 yards and three TD) and Vincent Jackson (33, 543, three TD in 10 games). Adam Humphries (27, 260, one TD) and Kenny Bell are also in the mix. The tight end is Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who had 21 catches for 338 yards and four touchdowns.
DEFENSE: Roberts Ayers (9 1/2 QB sacks with the NY Giants in 2015) and either rookie Noah Spence (Eastern Kentucky) or Jacquies Smith (seven QB sacks) will play the end spots in the 4-3 set. The tackles will be Gerald McCoy (8 1/2 sacks) and Clinton McDonald. Howard Jones (five sacks), George Johnson, William Gholston and Noah Spence will spell the starters.
The linebacking unit has Kwon Alexander (two interceptions) in the middle along with Daryl Smith (three sacks) and Lavonte David (three INT) on the outside. Also on hand are Josh Keyes, Jeremiah George and (rookie from Oklahoma) Devante Bond.
The secondary features cornerbacks Brent Grimes, who will team with either Johnathan Banks or rookie Vernon Hargreaves (Florida). Grimes had four interceptions with Miami a year ago.
The safeties are Chris Conte (two picks) and Bradley McDougald. Alterraun Verner, Keith Tandy and rookie Ryan Smith (N. Carolina Central) will provide backup.
OUTLOOK: After five consecutive losing seasons, the Buccaneers are ready to make a move upward and new Head Coach Dirk Koetter feels confident about quarterback Jameis Winston and the offense taking the next steps forward to make it happen.
The offense has talent and is diverse as Doug Martin leads the ground attack after finishing second in the NFL in rushing last season. The passing game should only get better as Winston begins his second season.
The defense finished tenth overall last year, giving up 340 yards per game and was strong against the run, allowing just over 100 yards per game (11th in NFL). However, too many big plays happened against the Bucs as they allowed 26 points per game, which ranked near the bottom of the league. The secondary must improve as the team had just eleven interceptions last year.
The NFC South has Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans and the Bucs split their six division games last season. If they want to make a move upward in 2016, they must play more consistently on both sides of the ball. The team is hoping the free-agent signings on defense will provide improvement there.
A lot rests on the shoulders (and legs) of Winston and Martin on offense while the defense has to get better against the pass and not give up so many big plays. The Bucs only had four one-score losses a year ago while giving up 30-plus points six times.
Fearless forecast - 6-10 this year
2016 TEAM SCHEDULE
Week 1 - at Atlanta
Week 2 - at Arizona
Week 3 - vs. Los Angeles
Week 4 - vs. Denver
Week 5 - at Carolina
Week 6 - BYE
Week 7 - at San Francisco
Week 8 - vs. Oakland
Week 9 - vs. Atlanta
Week 10 - vs. Chicago
Week 11 - at Kansas City
Week 12 - vs. Seattle
Week 13 - at San Diego
Week 14 - vs. New Orleans
Week 15 - at Dallas
Week 16 - at New Orleans
Week 17 - vs. Carolina