Bruce Arians comes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the same intentions he had with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013: to turn around an organization that is yearning to see some success after some down years.
When Arians joined the Cardinals in 2013, the team was coming off a season in which they went 5-11. Then, Arians arrived and the team immediately improved to 10-6 and made the playoffs the following two seasons.
Arians didn’t do it all by himself; he brought in Carson Palmer to lead the offense under center and had Todd Bowles working his magic as the defensive coordinator. Now, Bowles is reunited with Arians in Tampa Bay in hopes of changing the culture.
Arians greets a Buccaneers team that went 5-11 last season. This time, he inherits Jameis Winston as the quarterback and plans on helping him reach his potential in 2019.
Buccaneers fans have waited 11 years to witness their beloved team in the playoffs. Fans are hoping for similar success as the Cardinals had with Arians. For that to be possible, there are several areas of concern that need to be addressed in 2019.
3. The Rushing Attack
Under Dirk Koetter in 2018, the Buccaneers surprisingly had one of the best passing offenses in the NFL. The team used both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston under center, which allowed them to have the number one-ranked passing offense in the NFL.
Combined, Winston and Fitzpatrick threw for 5,125 yards and 36 touchdowns. The interceptions thrown by both quarterbacks led the league, though, with 26.
Despite the passing offense thriving for the most part, the rushing attack of the Buccaneers was nearly nonexistent in 2018. Tampa Bay was ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing last season, led by Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Ronald Jones.
This season, the team is expected to start Barber again, but the team is hoping to see more from Jones, its second-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft. Nonetheless, it’s tough to be confident in a backfield that features Barber as their number one option.
If the offense wants to reach its full potential under Arians, the rushing attack has to be much better in 2019.
2. The Secondary
On paper, the Buccaneers might have the worst secondary in the entire NFL. Vernon Hargreaves hasn’t lived up to his draft selection yet and the rest of the guys are unknowns.
Currently, Tampa Bay’s secondary consists of Hargreaves, Carlton Davis, Justin Evans, and Jordan Whitehead. The casual football fan wouldn’t be able to name more than two guys in the Buccaneers’ secondary right now.
Last season, the Buccaneers ranked 26th in the NFL against the pass. Furthermore, the Buccaneers were one of seven teams in the NFL to have single-digit interceptions.
With Bowles calling the defense, hopefully he can get everybody on the same page in the secondary. If not, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan are going to carve up the secondary six times this season.
1. Jameis Winston
The Buccaneers used the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on Jameis Winston, who had a decent rookie season in 2015 with 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Since then, Winston has failed to develop his game as a quarterback and has gotten worse since his rookie season. The potential is still there, but he has been unable to show it in the past few seasons.
This offseason, Tampa Bay picked up Winston’s fifth-year option to give him this season to prove himself worthy of being the starter past 2019. Arians will be tasked with working with the Buccaneers’ signal-caller in hopes he can propel Winston to franchise-quarterback status.
Turnovers have been the glaring issue for Winston over the years; that will need to be cleaned up this year. With an improved Winston under center, the Buccaneers could make a leap forward in 2019.