Grading The Bucs

January 1st, 2020

It’s a good thing Joe isn’t a high school history teacher. Joe would struggle with a student who worked hard, did serious research, but had too many inconsistencies on his term paper.

Grading the Bucs is a hard one. Guess one could say no playoffs means an “F” and Joe understands that line of thinking.

Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report tried to look at the big picture and he sees a “C” grade for the Bucs and their veteran coach, Bucco Bruce Arians.

In his season review, Moton makes a helluva good point.

If it can add a proven dual-threat running back and develop its defense into a solid group, Tampa Bay could make a move up the ladder in the NFC South.

This is spot on for a few reasons.

The Bucs conned themselves into believing they had a running attack. Well, they did have a running attack. Just not one that could be banked on. One could argue the Bucs choked away two wins by trying to play ground-and-pound in the second half with a lead, did nothing at all offensively and allowed an opponent to get back in the game and win it.

Even if Jameis Winston comes back the Bucs need a top-shelf running back. If he doesn’t come back, you better believe the Bucs will need a running back. Badly.

Luckily, the draft is stocked heavily with running backs this year. But can the Bucs look themselves in the mirror and be honest with themselves and say, “Dammit, we need to get a stud running back and to hell if he can block so long as he can run.”

First, the Bucs must admit they have a problem. Recent drafts suggest they cannot or won’t come to grips with this.

As for Joe grading the Bucs? It’s tough. Yeah, the team made a lot of headway defensively but in the process sacrificed the first half of the season hoping Vernon Hargreaves could turn around his career. When that blew up in their faces, they had to turn to rookies who, early in the season, were not yet ready to carry the mail.

A veteran corner signed in the offseason to step in for Hargreaves while he was struggling and loafing might have meant a win or two. Shame on the Bucs for not doing that!

Offensively, it’s hard to argue with success. But as good of a season as Jameis had (with the positive stats), he fully melted down at home in the final two weeks of the season.

While the Bucs made strides, and there is actually hope in Tampa Bay now, Joe will give the Bucs a “C-” grade for the season.

Positive steps were made but there were also plenty of errors to drag the team down.

36 Responses to “Grading The Bucs”

  1. Buc believer Says:

    Yup DEFINITELY an F because no playoffs

  2. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    honestly one prediction I don’t like I was correct on was Winston was being bailed out by his two top 5 WR’s that seems to be the case in those last two weeks. he did good against the lions but it’s the lions. they have the worst pass defense in football.

    Honestly defense keep getting better. get another running back at not too great of an expense without sacrificing other positions (for all your moaning about Darelle Henderson thank GOD we traded down) and get someone to play QB with a replacement in the wings for Dotson. get a safety and retool OJ Howard we can make it.

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    The Bucs went into the 2019 season with a new coaching staff, several very high-priced veterans, a bunch of players on 1-year rental AND a bunch of rookies & 1st year players. We stayed relatively healthy but still went 7-9 on the season, going 2-4 in a division that was as weak as it’s been in years.

    We now have LOTS of starting positions that we need to refill because we have numerous UFAs, to include our starting QB (Winston), RB (Barber), RT (Dotson), 1 DE (JPP), 1 DT/DE (Suh), 2 OLB (Barrett & Nassib). And oh ya, also replace MULTIPLE depth players like Perriman, Minter, Allen, Adams, Ryan Smith to name but a few. So sure, let’s go with a ‘C’ … as we watch 12 other teams compete in the playoffs (5 of whom we played AND lost to all 5 … 6 times).

    And yet, 2019 is water under the bridge. Bucs have numerous critical personnel decisions ahead, BUT there’s good news in there (I think). For one, we have a good core to build on. For another, IF Bucs’ management makes the right decisions, we have a CHANCE to actually make the playoffs for the next couple years IMO. I for one am hoping that Bruce Arians is brutally honest about each player’s PERFORMANCE & POTENTIAL, in addition to how well his offense, defense & S/Ts did as UNITS this year. Exciting times ahead.

  4. BigHog Says:

    Come on back FAMOUS ….continue to grind in the off season, 2020 will be yours for the taking!! GO BUCS!!!

  5. Mr. Reality Says:

    For immediate needs, O line and RB are the priorities, while not losing sight over QB is a very high priority. I’m not worried about the QB position so much now because I know there will be a bridge/game manager in FA that will be reasonably priced, or Winston, who will in no uncertain terms come at a reasonable price if they keep him a year or so. There will likely be a QB worth drafting by round 2 who can be brought up. I am also confident that no one, especially not Winston or Barrett, gets any tag whatsoever. There is cap space and we know we want Barrett, and we know Winston isn’t worth the price of the tag and it is not a big deal if he threatens to walk. I’m actually comfortable at both S and CB, and we’ve blown too much money on FA DBs. I look at the mock drafts and see so many teams taking a OT or RB that the Bucs could get 3rd or 4th best…I don’t like it. If we don’t get 1st or 2nd choice, grab a QB 1st round as this draft is deep on those.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I agree with the C…….my prediction was 8-8 so we came close to that….totally blew 3 or 4 games……
    We are a sloppy, inconsistent football team….hopefully, we can clean that up.

    As for the Veteran CB……we simply don’t have the money for a good one….and we do need to draft a RB….because we don’t have the money to bring in a decent FA….

    We do have the money to resign most of our players but need to be very smart about our moves.

  7. Mr. Reality Says:

    Defense Rules, when it comes to veterans, potential in the player is much less important (WYSIWYG) than looking at past performance and current bang for the buck, especially short-term. I hope Arians looks at all of it too, but I hope he leaves his personal timeline/agenda out of the QB recommendation. I say “recommendation” because while he has great input, probably 49%, he doesn’t make the call on this one. How they manage to bring the fans back for the preseason and show promise will surely be tricky. Luckily, they’ve got $90M to spend and I like the indications that they want to keep the D intact. My biggest concern is overspending on any QB, especially Winston.

  8. Mr. Reality Says:

    They get a D. They did not do average, which is a C. They stunk. They failed for most of the season and got it up to a B with the defense in the last quarter or so, with an A- in receivers, but the QB play and was solid F throughout. They’d finish with an F if it was BA and company’s second year or later.

    Put it this way. Stripping out the past years and not putting coaching/GM change timeline to it, GMs and coaches get fired for the results the Bucs put up this year.

  9. Mr. Reality Says:

    ^^^QB play and run game, inextribably linked in some ways, were both an F throughout.

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    And….don’t you just love it…..the Cleveland Browns (darlings of the media 2019)

    Ended up with a worse record than the Bucs 6-10……fired their HC & GM….

    Still $uck…..

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Mr Reality … If you’re talking about the draft, then I probably agree with you that ‘OLine & RB are the priorities’. But if you’re including free agency in there, then we part ways. Our DLine is now non-existent with JPP, Suh, Allen, Barrett & Nassib all UFAs, along with several other defenders. Making sure that our defense continues in 2020 where it left off in 2019 is critical (we kinda saw that in the 1st half of this past season). HOPEFULLY BA & JL re-sign JPP, Suh, Barrett & Nassib as a minimum so that we don’t have to use more than 1 of our Top-3 draft picks on defense.

    Selecting a QB in the 1st Round scares me … because of what we end up NOT selecting. I prefer that we use our 1st 3 picks on the trenches & RB (1 Tackle, 1 DT/DE/OLB, 1 RB), then double back in the 4th round for another OLineman. We lack a starting RT right now AND depth; personally I’d rather build that through the draft than through FA.

    Agree with you about our Secondary, except that we need much better depth. Personally I have no issue with re-signing Ryan Smith & Adams, but that still leaves us 1 short at Safety (not counting on Justin Evans). A starter-capable veteran Safety back there would sure be nice.

  12. buc up Says:

    The Bucs won a SB with Brad Johnson. Not a great QB but smart, able to take a pounding and made plays when needed. Find another Brad Johnson and the Bucs are a lock for the playoffs next season.

  13. Mister Negative Nancy Says:

    You need talent to win, but you also have to have consistency in the NFL. To win the Super Bowl, you have to run off 3 or 4 straight wins, against good teams (not the Detroits).

    WR: have both talent and consistency
    RB’s: not enough talent
    QB: talent but no consistency
    OL: not sure

    DL: have both
    LB’s: have both
    Secondary: low on talent, although improving

    Kicking: talent but no consistency

    So 3, maybe 4 out of a possible 8.

  14. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    I agree…………the bucs are “c” grade

    There are plenty of “good” to go along with the “bad”

    Here’s the saddest part of this lost season:

    The QUARTERBACK – single-handling – lost two games for the bucs

    THE KICKER – single-handling – lost two games for the bucs

    …………..and the bucs could’ve made the wildcard playoffs if it weren’t for Jameis and Gay.

    Yes……this is a team game, but Grandpa Smurf (Arians) knows this all too well that players do lose games for teams ……….i.e him calling out the secondary for being soft, specifically VHGIII.

  15. Anglican Says:

    I wonder if the reason we don’t have a run game is not because of the players, but because of coaching

  16. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    Me. Reality, please put the bottle down an go to bed sir.

  17. Bob in Valrico Says:

    IMO,BA made a humongous mistake by not having a quality backup . There is little evidence that Jameis was held accountable for bad play. At least Koetter had the guts to pull him when his play was spiraling downward. Somehow you have to get the message to a player that his play is hurting the team . Jameis plays much better with a lead. When we were behind or tied Jameis threw 25 of his 30 INT’s,
    Jameis has done well in the last 4 minutes of the first half with Quick scores, but he didn’t capitalize by adding a TD on his first drive of the third quarter . Jameis only had 4 TD’s in the third quarter of all his games passing .Second halfs of games he produced only 10 TD’s and had 13 INT’s

  18. Jonzey Says:

    We need to sign our Defensive free agency players first keep them all, sign JW on a 1 year prove it deal 25 million with 5 million bonuses no more than 15 interceptions, 32 touchdowns, and take team to playoff. Send Dotson packing get a OT in the first, runningback in the second, OT/C in the third

  19. Jonzey Says:

    Gay disappointed me in the end of the season he missed to many field goals and extra points. Last game was wrapped up but he missed 3 field goals in a row. That would put us out of reach to loose that game. JW did his job

  20. geno711 Says:

    Who is Maurice Moton?
    How many and much of the Buc’s games did he watch?
    Why do we care about his grade?

    P.S. His Bio:
    Maurice Moton covers all New York / New Jersey area sports teams, both collegiate and professional, for Empire Writes Back as an editor. He also covers the entire NFL landscape for NFL Spin Zone as a columnist and co-hosts a sports PODCAST, the Mike and Moe Show.

    Although I may agree or disagree with guys on this site, at least I know the games have been watched.

  21. SB Says:

    It is hard to develop any consistency at the Run Game when we are constantly playing from behind from our QB constantly giving the other team the ball

  22. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Tampabucsbro – Jameis made Perriman look like Jerry Rice the last three games. Jameis averaged 331 yards per game without those two recievers. Yes, typically when you lose two pro bowl recievers production will drop off a bit. He still produced with a WR that had been a bust at all previous stops and 5th round 2nd year WR out of Penn. This is where you guys aren’t being rational fans and are just hating on the guy. You think Nick Foles or Case Keenum are going to throw for 330 yards per game with the #3 and #5 WRs on the team as their only targets? Your prediction was far from correct. He got Brate a big payday even though he was out of Harvard and undrafted. He got Hump paid by TN, where he went and did very little for them. Yes, Jameis throws picks, but he also can sling the ball around and makes recievers look good too. You guys with the negative narrative just refuse to give him any credit. One more year is definitely warranted. He is a huge reason this offense is top 5.

  23. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Barber and Jones combined this year for 1194 rushing yards and 424 receiving yards. That’s a total of 1618 yards.

    While it is not great, t is acceptable. And I don’t know why people don’t get that Arians does not want a true running game. That;s not how his offense works.

  24. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    However, I understand Joe wanting a premiere RB. I’ve been here long enough that nearly every year he wants one. LOL

  25. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Well he isn’t wrong Bonzai. Apparently you didn’t follow AZ when Arians was there. David Johnson lit it up when Arians was there.

  26. down in the dirt doug Says:

    Perhaps this year Licht and BA will pay attention to the advise given on JBF by many of our caring fans.Also Ira is correct—-put jameis on a one or two tear prove it contract–he has not earned a fat payday yet.

  27. MadMax Says:

    I dont have a grade but I have this….the Bucs got rid of two 1st round picks on D (McCoy and VHIII), drafted and signed a few free agents and BOOM! D is so much better.

    Now we have a 1st rounder (1st overall) whose time has also come to an end here. And we will be better for moving on just like with the previous two. The losing culture is finally going to turn into a winning culture.

  28. Craig Says:


    Too much of a Keystone Kops look. There was absolutely nothing polished with the Bucs this season. There was also so much bull about evaluating Jameis in his audition season to star as the 100 million dollar man.

    Lastly, there were no playoffs again. The next to the longest streak of not getting to the playoffs is not a thing of beauty.

  29. scot pederson Says:

    I give them a C- because the defense played lights out with the leading Sackster in Barrett and JPP doing very well along with a much improved secondary.

    Sure the offense lit it up for a lot of points but America’s Turnover Machine gave almost as many points away with his Pick 6 throws and so many other Turnovers that resulted in points for the other team.

    The owners you would think would look at the declining attendance and be alarmed. Dropped from 54,000 per game in 2018 to 50,000 per game in 2019, barely above the Bengals in % of Seats filled. Shared TV revenues are just 1 component of their income, but declining Ticket sales, Concession sales also means declining revenues from Apparel sales and other Merchandise sold away from the Stadium.

    Wake up Glazers!!!

  30. rrsrq Says:

    Running the ball when you are up and the defense know that you are running is usually not about the RB, it’s about the offensive line imposing its will and changing the line of scrimmage. Difficult for any running back when you can’t get started because you have to dodge your linemen being pushed back into the backfield. That’s what our front seven did, they changed the line of scrimmage so teams had difficulty running on us. We lost nine games and not one time did a team run the clock out on us by running the ball

  31. Brandon Says:

    A veteran corner signed in the offseason to step in for Hargreaves while he was struggling and loafing might have meant a win or two. Shame on the Bucs for not doing that!

    What’s your fascination with veteran players taking up roster space and valuable reps from young players? So…. suppose we signed a vet CB… at whose expense? Should we have cur Carlton Davis… or maybe SMB…. MJ Stewart had played well in TC and PS. Ryan Smirh wasn’t on the roster. If anything, Hargreaves should have been cut or shipped out and his reps given to a young CB. This secondary played awesome the last half of the season WITHOUT a vet CB.

  32. firethecannons Says:


    The cardinals will desperately attempt to pawn him off on us–he is out of steam and has demonstrated a serious lack of effort this year, unable to generate any serious yardage and Arizona desperately wants to dump him on us Bucs, they talk about it every night on the radio–no other team will take him except Arians Bucs.We should not be the dumping ground for the rest of the league!, even if they pay a part of his contract–it was years ago that he was a 1 year wonder.

  33. firethecannons Says:

    sorry Joe–I assumed you were thinking about david johnson when you said:
    Moton makes a helluva good point.

    If it can add a proven dual-threat running back and develop its defense into a solid group, Tampa Bay could make a move up the ladder in the NFC South.

    running back in the draft or derrick henry is solution

  34. Mike Johnson Says:

    The grade is quite simple. The Bucs finished 7-9. That says You..had a losing season. The Bucs are Losers..Period. And have been for several yrs. Until they can get to 8-8 orand beyond that, Losers is their title. End of conversation. Now, all of yas can air freshen this with whatever toppings you desire. But manure is what it is.

  35. Buczilla Says:

    Good article and C- sounds about right.

  36. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I do not disagree with Joe’s grade because as he pointed out there is more than one way to look at the season.

    All my life I’ve obsessed on IMPROVEMENT as much simple success. Am I getting better or worse…nothing is ever static.

    Based on my prejudice I’d give the Bucs a B+. They found the makings of a really really good defense. But we need to resign those front seven and be thankful that this RAPIDLY improving kiddie corps in the defensive backfield are still making peanuts.