The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off a miserable 2-14 campaign in what was a disappointing first year for head coach Lovie Smith. There were talks of Tampa Bay being a surprise contender in 2014, but the talent level simply wasn’t there.

The lone bright spot from last year, is the Buccaneers landed the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, which they used to take Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay believes Winston is future star, as he has all the talent you look for in a franchise quarterback. The big question is whether or not Winston has the make-up mentally of an elite signal caller.

2015 will be the beginning of new era in Tampa Bay and one that Buccaneer fans are hoping that will lead to another Super Bowl title. However, this season figures to be a struggle with a rookie quarterback and a defense that lacks talent.

Last Season
NFC South
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
4th
2-14
7-9
2-6
5-3
5-11
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
30th
25th
-8
17.3
25.6
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Jameis Winston (QB), Donovan Smith (OT), Ali Marpet (C), Kwon Alexander (OLB), Kenny Bell (WR), Kaelin Clay (WR), Joey Iosefa (FB)
Additions
Henry Melton (DT), Bruce Carter (OLB), Chris Conte (FS), Sterling Moore (DB), Emmanuel Ogbuehi (DB), George Johnson (DE)
Losses
Dashon Goldson (SS), Mason Foster (MLB), Adrian Clayborn (DE), Michael Johnson (DE), Da’Quan Bowers (DE), Anthony Collins (OT), Lawrence Sidbury (DE)
2015 Schedule & Odds
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 Titans -3 0.59
2 @ Saints +6.5 0.28
3 @ Texans +6.5 0.28
4 Panthers +2.5 0.45
5 Jaguars -3.5 0.64
6 BYE
7 @ Redskins +4 0.34
8 @ Falcons +5.5 0.31
9 Giants +2 0.47
10 Cowboys +4.5 0.33
11 @ Eagles +8.5 0.20
12 @ Colts +9.5 0.18
13 Falcons +1 0.49
14 Saints +2.5 0.45
15 @ Rams +8 0.21
16 Bears +1.5 0.47
17 @ Panthers +6.5 0.28
Estimated Wins: 5.97
Roster Breakdown

Last year the Buccaneers relied on Josh McCown and Mike Glennon at quarterback. Neither played well and as a result Tampa Bay finished 30th in total offense (292.0 ypg) and 29th in scoring (17.3 ppg). Even with the rookie mistakes that are bound to happen with Winston under center, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he put up better numbers than McCown and Glennon.

The offense will also be transitioning under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who comes over from the Atlanta Falcons. Koetter figures to implement a big part of the offense that excelled in Atlanta with Matt Ryan and their talented 1-2 punch at wide receiver. The two focal points of Koetter’s offense in Tampa Bay will be 2nd-year wide out Mike Evans and veteran Vincent Jackson, who combined for 138 receptions and 2,053 yards with below-average quarterback play. Koetter also figures to get more out of promising 2nd-year tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Atlanta wasn’t known for having much of a running game it’s unclear how much of one the Buccaneers will have. The hope is that Doug Martin can return to his rookie form in what will be a contract year. They also are expected to get Charles Sims more involved.

The big question mark is the offense line. Tampa Bay did a nice job addressing the weakness by using both of their 2nd round picks on left tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet. Both are expected to start right away. While it’s a good step in the right direction, that inexperience will show as rookies.

Smith is trying to piece together the right players for his Tampa 2 scheme, but still has a long way to go. Last year the Buccaneers ranked 25th in total defense (368.9 ypg) and 25th in scoring defense (25.6 ppg). While they added the likes of linebacker Bruce Carter, defensive tackle Henry Melton, defensive end George Johnson and safety Chris Conte, those aren’t the kind of upgrades that will get this unit playing at a high enough level to win the majority of their games.

The defensive line parted ways with defensive ends Adrian Clayborn, Michael Johnson and Da’Quan Bowers, which will have Johnson stepping in and starting right away. Jacquies Smith projects as the other starter at end, while former All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy returns to anchor the middle. Clinton McDonald, Melton and Akeem Spence will compete for the other tackle spot.

Carter figures to step in and start right away at middle linebacker and will be joined by star weak-side linebacker Lavonte David. Danny Lansanah is the other projected starting linebacker by default, as the other other option is 4th round rookie Kwon Alexaner.

The secondary features one of the more under the radar corners in Alterraun Verner, but upgrades could have been used at each of the other 3 spots. Bradley McDougald did show some promising signs at strong safety, but I have major concerns at free safety and the other corner spot.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl L
5.5
70 to 1
200 to 1
Odds Courtesty of 5Dimes
Projections

I just don’t see Winston playing at a high enough level as a rookie to get this team out of the basement of the NFC South. One of Winston’s flaws out of college is he tries to force too many passes and throws way too many interceptions. It’s not going to get any easier in the NFL and his likely struggles with taking care of the football will keep this team from making strides.

That’s not to say I don’t think Winston will put up some big numbers. Given the lack of a running game and defense that figures to be one of the worst in the league, Winston is going to get more than his fair share of opportunities to rack up bunch of yards and touchdowns with his talent receiving corps.

My biggest concern with Tampa Bay is their defense, which they didn’t get a chance to address in the draft with such big needs at quarterback and the offensive line. Unless you have an elite offense, which I don’t think is going to be the case with a rookie quarterback and two rookies starting on the offensive line, your chances of finishing above .500 are very slim with a defense as bad as what the Buccaneers figure to send out to the field. I have Tampa Bay going 5-11 and just under their win total of 5.5.

NFC South Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
4th
1-5
5-11
UNDER 5.5
Buccaneers 10-Year Recap
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 2 14 Smith 7
2013 4 12 Schiano 7.5
2012 7 9 Schiano 6
2011 4 12 Morris 8
2010 10 6 Morris 6
2009 3 13 Morris 6.5
2008 9 7 Gruden 8
2007 9 7 Lost WC Gruden 7
2006 4 12 Gruden 8
2005 11 5 Lost WC Gruden 7

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith
ThePewterPlank.com

OVER 5.5 Wins – The whole rookie quarterback situation is a huge reason why this number is so low. No one wants to trust Jameis Winston. Fortunately, I think the Tampa defense is strong enough in 2015 to make up for any rookie mistakes. On top of that, I think Winston surprises quite a few people with his play. Essentially, the combination of the upgraded defense, paired with a group of talented offensive weapons such as Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson makes for a great bet. The 5.5 number is just too low for Tampa.

Nick Houllis

Nick Houllis
BucsTop.com

Lovie Smith told us he could win 8 games with great defense alone, 2 more with great special teams. Well the Bucs defense should be a good one in 2015 but not great yet, as only one draft pick in the last two years has been used on that side of the football.

So lets say this year the Bucs defense can win 4 games for the team, and the special teams will win one game, there is Five wins right there. No matter when, the Bucs offense will be improved at some point in the season from last years team which won one game itself. I’m saying the Bucs can win 3-4 games with the Bucs offense, so look for an 8-8 season which would be a 6 game turnaround heading into 2016 when a playoff team is going to be expected by Bucs fans.

When you consider the NFC South was won by a sub-.500 team, and no team really improved themselves, its possible 8-8 wins a team a home playoff game. What a learning experience that would be for Jameis Winston!

Jake Hamar

Jake Hamar
BucsNation.com

OVER 5.5 Wins – I think the Bucs will win between 6-8 games this year. They have a promising young quarterback in Winston & some good receiving threats in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. They also have some defensive talent in LaVonte David and Gerald McCoy. Their offensive line, however, is new and unproven. That’s one of the big red flags.

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