There is a different feeling surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019, with the team hiring Bruce Arians as the head coach. The fans in Tampa Bay are hoping for a quick turnaround for the team like Arians brought to the Arizona Cardinals in 2013.
Similarly to the Buccaneers, the Cardinals were 5-11 in the year prior to Arians’ arrival to the franchise. Then, in his first season calling the shots, Arizona finished the 2013 season with a 10-6 record. The Cardinals missed the playoffs but would reach the postseason in the following two seasons.
As for Tampa Bay, the last time that they experienced the playoffs, Tobey Maguire was still Spider-Man. The year was 2007 and Jeff Garcia was throwing passes to Joey Galloway as the team won the NFC South with a 9-7 record.
This year, the Buccaneers are yearning to get a taste of the postseason for the first time in over a decade. Their journey to the playoffs begins in the preseason and the team has already taken part in two games.
Through two games, Tampa Bay has a 1-1 record and continues their preseason schedule against the new-look Cleveland Browns on Friday night. Here are three players to watch as the Buccaneers take the field in their third preseason game.
3. Devin White
Earlier this offseason, the Buccaneers lost Kwon Alexander in free agency to the San Francisco 49ers. As a result, Tampa Bay saw their inside linebacker position as a need in this year’s draft.
The Buccaneers held the fifth-overall pick and decided to select Devin White out of LSU. White will join Lavonte David to form an athletic duo in the middle of the defense.
Through two preseason games, we’ve seen minimal work from the rookie inside linebacker. White took a few snaps in the Buccaneers’ preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers but didn’t suit up against the Miami Dolphins last week.
Arians has said it will depend on how the game is going on how long he decides to deploy the starters. Therefore, we could witness White receive a fair amount of snaps with the starting defense on Friday against the Browns.
2. Chris Godwin
Besides Kwon Alexander, the Buccaneers also lost wide receiver Adam Humphries in free agency. In accordance with his departure, Chris Godwin is expected to see a larger share of the targets in the passing offense.
Last year, Godwin had a respectable stat-line with 59 receptions, 842 yards, and seven touchdowns. With that being said, the Penn State product did most of his damage as the third or fourth receiving option.
In 2019, Arians is anxious to unleash Godwin in the offense alongside Pro-Bowler Mike Evans. The third-year wide receiver got off to a fast start this preseason with a touchdown reception on his only drive in the preseason.
After sitting out last week against the Dolphins, we should see extensive time from Godwin in Week 3 of the preseason. Considering that Evans is already ruled out for Friday, expect to see quite a few passes go in Godwin’s direction.
1. Jameis Winston
This is an absolute make-or-break season for Jameis Winston with the Buccaneers. Winston is entering the final year of his rookie deal after the team picked up his fifth-year option in 2018.
With the arrival of Arians, Winston is expected to become a more polished starting quarterback this year. After two decent seasons, the Buccaneers quarterback has struggled to make improvements in his game over the past two seasons.
Last year, Winston shared the starting duties with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Altogether, both Fitzpatrick and Winston combined to lead the NFL in passing yards in 2018.
Now, Fitzpatrick is with the Miami Dolphins and the coaching staff has shown confidence in Winston to be the full-time starter this year.
The fifth-year quarterback will likely get a chance to play the first half as long as nothing unforeseen occurs on Friday night. Arians will hope to see good decision making from his hopeful franchise quarterback against the Browns.