5 Bucs On A Hot Seat

August 25th, 2023

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The regular-season opener is almost upon us as the Bucs prepare for Justin Jefferson and the Vikings.

There’s always pressure heading into a new year, but not everyone feels the same heat. Here are the five Bucs facing the most scrutiny in 2023:


Todd Bowles

This is a final opportunity for Bowles to prove he can make the transition from stellar defensive coordinator to a successful head coach. Bowles is both savvy and realistic. Nobody would characterize him as naive. He knows a fifth consecutive losing season on the NFL sidelines will likely lead to his dismissal.

Since 2016, Bowles is saddled with a 22-43 record at the helm of the Jets and Bucs. As you can tell from the accompanying chart, the main issue has been a drab, unproductive attack.

Season                 NFL scoring rank

2016 Jets                  30th
2017 Jets                   24th
2018 Jets                   23rd
2022 Bucs                 25th

Teams coached by Bowles in that span averaged only 18.8 points per game. That’s not going to get it done in a league that consistently encourages scoring by instituting annual rule changes designed to aid the passing game.

If Bowles can win at least nine games with a younger roster and without Tom Brady, you’d think ownership would be inclined to bring him back in 2024.

Vegas oddsmakers don’t believe Bowles can pull it off.


Baker Mayfield

When you bounce around from franchise to franchise, a narrative forms that you’re not the guy. That’s the story line Mayfield tries to reverse as he assumes the starting job heading into Minneapolis.

The path is wide open for Mayfield to reclaim his stature as a young quarterback on the rise — established when he guided the 2020 Browns to 11 wins and an impressive postseason run. Since then, injuries and interceptions have diminished his reputation markedly around the league.

He’s on a one-year deal at a cheap price and he can’t complain about his primary targets at wide receiver. If Mayfield plays well, he can resurrect a one-promising career. If Mayfield flames out, Kyle Trask will replace him under center and Mayfield’s pro career will be six feet under.


Late in the 2020 championship season, White reigned as Tampa Bay’s most impactful defensive player. He was outstanding in the playoffs after posting nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss in the regular season.

Devin White

But during the subsequent two years, White has a combined nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss. That dropoff is a concern, especially since Tampa Bay’s tackling woes have emerged as a major concern for Bowles. Months after requesting a trade, White appears to have his mind right in anticipation of a standout season.

Should White elevate his game, he’ll likely be rewarded with the long-term extension he pines for. Otherwise, he’ll enter the 2024 offseason as an unrestricted free agent, sure to generate substantial interest. If the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 draft doesn’t receive a second contract offer from Tampa Bay, Jason Licht and his scouts will have some explaining to do.


Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

Buc fans are tired of the word “potential” when it comes to a third-year player still trying to establish himself as an edge rusher. Four sacks a year isn’t good enough, especially when you consider JTS has yet to force a fumble or recover one in 34 games.

He played on 75 percent of the defensive snaps last year, so JTS can’t say this coaching staff hasn’t given him enough opportunities to shine. With rookie YaYa Diaby standing in his shadow, it’s time for Tryon-Shoyinka to break out as a consistent pass rusher who can finish.

Another nondescript season could spell the end of his career at One Buc Place, even though he’s technically on the books through 2024.


The Bucs are placing a lot of responsibility across White’s shoulder pads. He’s the unquestioned No. 1 back — until he proves that he isn’t.

White caught 50 of the 57 passes Brady sent his way as a rookie, displaying the same reliable hands he flashed at Arizona State. But White averaged only 3.7 yards per carry for the league’s worst rushing attack and ran for only one score.

With undrafted rookie Sean Tucker turning heads behind him, White needs to hit the ground running in September. This is his chance to squeeze some juice into a punchless ground game and provide new play-caller Dave Canales with the offensive balance he and Bowles crave.

34 Responses to “5 Bucs On A Hot Seat”

  1. I Say I Say I Says:

    Logan Hall deserves an honorable mention at least too. And Luke Goedeke.

  2. Crazyhorse54 Says:

    Doing the same thing in the same way expecting different results is a definition of insanity. If he hasn’t learned after 5 seasons, it is doubtful he will produce a winner this season

  3. Upstate NY BUC Says:

    On cue Ira, no doubt about your choices… good article!

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I would trade out Logan Hall for Devin White…..White has proven he can play, Hall hasn’t…….White in a contract year…..he performs , he gets paid….he doesn’t perform….he’s likely gone.

  5. PewterStiffArm Says:

    Excellent article as usual Ira. I think we will surprise some people in this league, one win at a time. Minnesota, for whatever reason seems like an upset.

  6. BuxfaninTX Says:

    I miss the old Tampa Tribune days….

  7. David Says:

    Top 4, definitely.
    I would not jump on any RB until we see the O-Line. I’d be more inclined to out Goedeke and Hainsey on the list because last year was not good at all.

  8. Jp09 Says:

    What about Licht? How much time does the SB win buy him. 4 head coaches and 3 winning seasons over 10 years. I like Licht but without a winning season this year I’d say he’s on the hot seat too.

  9. Brian Says:

    Licht is absolutely on the list. If we get the number 1 pick this season and team were a complete disaster. Which means we are more than a qb away. Licht will be out and the next gm can build a team around Caleb.

  10. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    “If the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 draft doesn’t receive a second contract offer from Tampa Bay, Jason Licht and his scouts will have some explaining to do.”

    Also, if he offers an 18-20 million contract to a guy who takes bad angles, can’t form tackle, can’t cover receivers, and gets bored, he’ll have some explaining to do.

  11. TonySoprano Says:

    Yeah it’s concerning how many on this list are Licht’s recent high draft picks. Throw in potential duds like Godeoeke, Trask, Hainsey and Hall, Licht’s draft resume lately is looking horrific. When you invest heavily in a specific position group and are still left with a bare cupboard, maybe it’s a sign the GM isn’t too rate.

  12. Joe Says:

    “If the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 draft doesn’t receive a second contract offer from Tampa Bay, Jason Licht and his scouts will have some explaining to do.”

    Yeah? Take Devin White off the Bucs, do they even make it to the Super Bowl in 2020?

    Real question ought to be how a guy who played Ray Lewis-like in the 2020 postseason cratered after that. More like “Todd Bowles and his assistants have some explaining to do.”

  13. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    Aww yes let’s put are season in the hands of 2 second year players sounds good what could go wrong

  14. HC Grover Says:

    Bowles is not a stellar DC. He gave 25 pts a game away and made blunder after blunder. He is even a worse HC. Loser from the git go. Out… get him out.

  15. HC Grover Says:

    The SB win was all Brady. Nothing but Brady.

  16. Duane Says:

    The Sage speaks and its the truth. Top of the list says it all. If you dont score points, you dont win. Keeping the other team from scoring not a great philosophy, is not a part of the game the way the rules are written, and isnt the product that the NFL is selling. ANY defensive player making over $10 million and isnt getting double digit sacks or multiple picks are on the hot seat. You dont rebuild a team on the defensive side-Its too expensive. It was always going to get sideways when the run ended. I cant see how Licht is to be blamed for having to roll with Bowles on the precipice of the new season last year. Joe makes a great point about Diva’s regression, so we can pin selections of him either because last time I checked, Todd Bowles is defensive guru responsible for getting those guys ready.

  17. Power Of Pewter Says:

    On the hot seat is 4/5 of the OLine, as how they play is how the season for the Bucs goes, and how Bowles’ job security goes. #2 would be the entire pass-rush, as the investment there of 3-1st round picks, a 2nd round pick, and a very highly paid free agent has thus far underperformed to expectations.

  18. Buc1987 Says:

    HC Grover I concur….yet some around here think the Bucs O is going to be better this season. Pishhhhh!

  19. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Y’all who are saying Jason Licht needs to be on the list is delusional. Haters

  20. captivajim Says:

    Hc Grover has said all that needs to be said !!

  21. captivajim Says:

    with Jensen out again, & Mason traded to Houston ; I’m not sure why we should be optimistic that this yrs O-Line will be better than ’22 ??? We have the same cast of guys who will be playing musical chairs again when someone gets hurt …

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    With a title of ‘Bucs on the Hot Seat’ I was expecting to see a list of at least 10 Ira. Probably: Todd Bowles, Baker Mayfield, Devin White, JTS, Rachaad White like you had, plus Logan Hall, Kyle Trask, Robert Hainsey, Luke Goedeke, … and Dave Canales. Their ‘starter jobs’ are on the line this year.

    Of course, several others have their careers on the line. Shaq would be one (since we have a potential out of his contract after this year), Davis (again, also have a potential out after this year), Jensen (same deal). Of course you could say a similar thing for any player who’s a free agent at the end of this season: LVD, ME13, Winfield, Wirfs, Gaines, Neal, McLaughlin, Feiler and a number of others.

    The Bucs currently have the 2nd LOWEST CAP $$$ allocated to active players: $178,127,819 (Rams are in 32nd place with $168 mil). We rank 31st in that stat because we also rank 32nd in Dead CAP: $75.3 mil (Rams are in 31st place with $72.2 mil). Our active CAP $$$ is so low because we slid a bunch of costs to future years … once again … so 2024 will be just as tight as 2023. Translation: We’ve got a LOT of guys, young & old, who are going to have to prove their worth to get a 2024 contract offer from the Bucs. That’s being on the hot seat.

  23. AL121976 Says:

    Vaughn should’ve been on this list

  24. Fred McNeil Says:

    DR, I was going to say something similar, but you summed up 90% of it with that excellent description of BUCS with much to prove. All years are pivotal to a degree, but when the whole darn team is on the hot seat. Like our team is…pivotal becomes existential. If we are in a position to draft Maye or Williams come December almost ALL these guys, except Wirfs and maybe…MAYBE…a few rookies are going to be let go or traded.

  25. Hodad Says:

    This team ends up .500, 9-8, 8-9, Bowles will certainly be back. No way that doesn’t happen. If the Bucs win 10 games with Baker he’ll be comeback player of the year, and Bowles will be coach of the year. Bucs win only 5, 6 games all bets are off. A lot can happen either way this year.

  26. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    Joe Says:
    “Take Devin White off the Bucs, do they even make it to the Super Bowl in 2020? Real question ought to be how a guy who played Ray Lewis-like in the 2020 postseason cratered after that.”

    I agree with you that he does have value. My point was just to not grossly over pay him. Guys who get top money at his position can cover as well as they play the run. Other than a short period of time in 2020, he’s proven to be a liability in coverage. The other flaws he kind of makes up for with speed and splash plays.

    I have supported trading him if he is going to be difficult to re-sign, but that window is closing fast.

  27. Rod Munch Says:

    Ronnie Brown > Sean Tucker

    Also I expect Rachaad White to have a massive year, unless Baker is even worse than I assume he is going to be and teams just totally ignore the pass and stack the line to stop the run. But I think even someone as awful as Mayfield should be smart enough to just toss the ball high and let Evans make plays, if so, that should keep the defense slightly honest. Oh, and I’m assuming the new OC isn’t as completely predictable as that dummy Leftwich. But, from preseason, I like the team is running a lot of playaction – that alone should help open up the run game.

    As for Devin White – the moron fans have jumped on the guy for one out of context clip from the Ravens game. They’re just idiots. White is an ALL-PRO player, but also needs to be used correctly. He’s the best interior pass rusher on the team, so creates havoc when he’s running towards the ball. But if Bowles is just going to sit back in zone, he’s going to run White out of town. Bowles has not run the same defense he ran in 2020, that defense was really aggressive. Injuries at corner caused the Bucs to have to run zone a lot more, and I got that, but last year, they seemingly ran even more zone than in 2021, and it’s just a complete waste of a guy like White, who isn’t good in that scheme. I’m afraid, without Arians there to force him to be more aggressive, we’re going to see an even softer defense this year. I hope I’m wrong on that.

  28. Defense Rules Says:

    Fred McNeil … ‘If we are in a position to draft Maye or Williams come December almost ALL these guys, except Wirfs and maybe…MAYBE…a few rookies are going to be let go or traded.’

    The problem with that scenario Fred is that IF it comes to pass, Maye’s or Williams’ fate will already be sealed BEFORE they ever take the first snap. Young QBs are destined to failure unless they have a respectable OLine blocking for them and some decent weapons to throw to & also support them in the running game.

    Rookie QBs & teams in transition also need quality coaching to develop them, and Lord only knows what we’d get if this entire coaching staff is fired. Everyone ASSUMES the next staff would be better, but that’s merely an ASSUMPTION not fact. Someone like Andy Reid isn’t magically gonna quit his Chiefs’ gig and sign on here to develop a struggling team still reeling from salary CAP issues & with few high-caliber veterans left in 2024.

  29. Joe in Michigan Says:

    HC Grover Says:
    August 25th, 2023 at 1:44 pm
    The SB win was all Brady. Nothing but Brady.
    Evidently you didn’t watch Super Bowl 55. Watch it and it’ll prove you wrong.

  30. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    Defense Rules Says:
    “Rookie QBs & teams in transition also need quality coaching to develop them, and Lord only knows what we’d get if this entire coaching staff is fired.”

    It has been nice having some coaches who know how to get the best out of young DB’s, in a league where it is increasingly difficult to play that position, what with the Goodell rules all geared toward protecting offensive players.

  31. garro Says:

    “If the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 draft doesn’t receive a second contract offer from Tampa Bay, Jason Licht and his scouts will have some explaining to do.”

    Ira you are the man! But you can’t pin Whites play on Licht. Simply because we all know that he has the ability to be that guy but just plain chooses not to. He has had one stretch of exceedingly stellar play… Since then he has been a liablity despite his inflated sack numbers.

    Go Bucs!

  32. Since76 Says:

    About licht being on the list. He brought in Mayfield. And these other FAs. Are they producing????? He was doing well seems to be slipping. Salary is hurting him though. So I would say give a a few more years.

  33. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Bowels averaging 18 points a game over 5 years is very telling and concerning. That seems to speak more to his philosophy than talent. Conservative approach leads to the exit sign.

  34. John McKay Says:

    Ira doing his best Cassandra impression. None of those choices are on the hot seat if the Bucs play well. If they don’t the whole team gets rebuilt. They’re starters! The real list is Vaughan, McCollum, JTS, Wolford, and Hall.