Holy guacamole, Batman!
After months of waiting, the NFL and HBO FINALLY announced that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be featured on this season’s Hard Knocks, set to debut Tuesday, Aug. 8.
I previously wrote a blog about one story line to follow for all eight teams eligible for this season, and since the Bucs were chosen I’m going to dive into some more with them.
Okay, now that that’s out of our systems, let’s move on!
A Star in the Making
(Photo Credit: mmqb.si.com)
Jameis Winston came into the league as the number one overall pick in the 2015 draft and has become one the league’s biggest stars.
The third-year quarterback has played decent in his first two seasons throwing for a combined 50 touchdowns to 33 interceptions and an overall 85.2 quarterback rating.
However, the Bucs have gone from a league laughing stock to a league threat, going 6-10 in his rookie season and then 9-7 in 2016 – the team’s first winning season since 2008.
Winston has grown up since his college days, where he had run-ins with the law from rape allegations and theft, but has since become a team leader and one guys are willing to play for.
This season will hopefully go more into his lifestyle and how he turned things around once he went pro.
‘Running’ Back in the Saddle
(Photo Credit cbssports.com)
The man formerly known as Muscle Hamster, Doug Martin has been an anomaly since being drafted by the Bucs in 2012.
In his rookie year, he rushed for over 1,400 yards and scored 12 touchdowns (11 rushing, 1 receiving) en route to a Pro Bowl appearance. But, he only rushed for 950 yards and three touchdowns combined between 2013 and 2014 due to injuries and inconsistent play.
He revitalized himself in 2015 when he rushed for over 1,400 yards again and scored seven touchdowns (six rushing, one receiving) and earned Pro Bowl honors again. He crashed back down to Earth once more in 2016, playing in eight games and rushing for only three touchdowns, plus getting suspended for a PED violation.
Martin says he’s received treatment and he’s ready to roll. Keep the cameras on him, because I really like the guy and want to see what he has in store for a third comeback.
A Weakness Becoming a Strength
(Photo Credit: bostonherald.com)
There’s no doubt the Bucs’s defense in 2015 was a dumpster fire, and in 2016 the unit showed significant improvement.
With names such as Gerald McCoy, Vernon Hargreaves III, JJ Wilcox and Brent Grimes, the defense has all the talent necessary to ascend to one of the best units in the league.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith, former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, has done a decent job with this group. Let’s see what the man can do to make them take the next step.
(Photo Credit: thepewterplank.com)
One of the things that can make Hard Knocks entertaining is the personalities we see in players and in coaches.
Off the top of my head, guys like Rex Ryan, Bill O’Brien and Chad Johnson have made their respective seasons fun to watch.
Gerald McCoy appears to be that guy going into this season, and the addition of DeSean Jackson can give the team another charismatic guy.
(Photo Credit: fanragsports.com)
Other than those two, I can’t really find anyone else to take the spotlight. But, who knows? Maybe someone will surprise us.
Is Dirk Koetter A Good Coach?
(Photo Credit: keywordsuggest.org
Koetter was named head coach after the team released Lovie Smith following the 2015 season, and in year one he did well.
After serving as the team’s offensive coordinator, teams didn’t really have to do too much guessing on how to gameplan for the Bucs, and the team still finished 9-7 and was at one point on the cusp of making the playoffs.
While year one was nice, can Koetter find a way to make year two under his regime more successful?
The Falcons are the defending NFC Champions, the Carolina Panthers should be better and the New Orleans Saints are never to be counted out as long as they have Drew Brees.
Can Koetter bring a division title to Tampa Bay for the first time since 2007, which was three head coaches ago?
Kickers Are People, Too
(Photo Credit: pantherswire.usatoday.com)
When you think of training camp competitions you think of position battles such as quarterbacks, running backs, offensive linemen – but kickers?!
Well, it appears that’s where the major camp battle will be as last year’s second-round pick Roberto Aguayo was of no help to the team, making only 22 of 31 field goals and 32 of 34 extra points.
Koetter said he plans on bringing in competition for the second-year player, so we’ll see how this all plays out.
Will it Outdo its Predecessors?
Ah, yes, the age-old question of if this season will outdo the ones prior.
Well, as I mentioned in my blog on last year’s Hard Knocks preview for Los Angeles Rams, the 2015 Houston Texans and the 2010 New York Jets were the two best ones the series has done yet.
The Texans had Bill O’Brien’s foul mouth, Vince Wilfork in overalls, a somewhat interesting quarterback battle and J.J. Watt showing how much of a beast he truly is.
The Jets had Rex Ryan’s loud mouth, the storyline around Darrelle Revis’s camp holdout, McDonald’s cheeseburgers on the practice field, and the best line of all –
The Rams last year were disappointing as Jeff Fisher was monotone, Jared Goff was as interesting as a wet blanket and barely played in the preseason, and there were no personalities that stuck out to make it interesting – although William Hayes believing dinosaurs are fake and mermaids are real was kind of funny.
Otherwise, here are my quick reviews for all previous episodes
- 2001 Balitmore Ravens – Only watched it once, can’t give much of an opinion on it.
- 2002 Dallas Cowboys – Only watched it once, can’t give much of an opinion on it.
- 2007 Kansas City Chiefs – The quarterbacks battle made it interesting.
- 2008 Dallas Cowboys – Terrell Owens made the show bearable.
- 2009 Cincinnati Bengals – Marvin Lewis was good and Chad Johnson’s “Child please” will live on forever.
- 2010 New York Jets – Loved it! Best one in the series!
- 2012 Miami Dolphins – Started off okay, but once Chad Johnson was released it went downhill.
- 2013 Cincinnati Bengals – Not much different than the ’09 season, just no Chad Johnson and Carson Palmer.
- 2014 Atlanta Falcons – Terrible. Worst season the show has done. It’ll be hard to get worse than this one.
- 2015 Houston Texans – Loved it! Right up there with the Jets
- 2016 Los Angeles Rams – Not as bad as the Falcons, but pretty close.
Tuesday, Aug. 8 can’t get here soon enough! I can’t wait!