“Vulnerable” Bucs

May 21st, 2024

Defending the NFC South.

OK, Joe has to give veteran NFL.com reporter Judy Battista (friend of Ira Kaufman) credit. She didn’t copy/paste what most national NFL reporters have done this offseason bemoaning how the Bucs are supposed to replace Shaq Barrett and Devin White.

So good for Judy for being original!

While she typed yesterday that the Bucs are vulnerable to being dethroned as NFC South kings, she explained why using sound logic, not guesswork.

Battista believes the Bucs had a good offseason keeping their own but didn’t upgrade. That’s fair. Meanwhile, Battista typed, the slimy Saints and Dixie Chicks were right there with the Bucs and the Dixie Chicks made the biggest upgrade at the game’s most important position.

While Battista didn’t say the Bucs will lose their title as division champs, she did type why and how the Dixie Chicks could pose a big problem for the Bucs.

This ranking should not be read as concern about the Bucs’ offseason… … Rather, it’s a reflection of the NFC South, which the Bucs won in 2023 with a 9-8 record, edging out the Saints, who had the same record. The biggest difference from the offseason should come in Atlanta, where the Falcons signed Kirk Cousins, then drafted Michael Penix. The Falcons finished just two games behind the Bucs and Saints last season, and you have to assume that Cousins is good for at least two wins more than Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke were.

Joe believes these are fair points, much more so than the predictable/typical, “Oh, woe is the Bucs without Barrett and White.”

Joe could also counter that if new Bucs offensive coordinator Liam Coen is as good as his hype, he should get the offense to score more points. That alone ought to be worth two wins as well.

18 Responses to ““Vulnerable” Bucs”

  1. CallTheSaltTruck Says:

    But… why do we have to assume that Cousins is two games better? Cousins is a 36 year-old coming off an Achilles tear. Further, when talking about people who were lost, how about the Falcons defense? They kept the Falcons in games despite Ridder last year, but this year they’ve lost BOTH their sack leaders (6.5 each), from a team that already had issues getting to the opposing team QB. Their draft choices to replace those holes didn’t get as much scrutiny as the Penix pick, but several commentators I’ve seen believe the Falcons didn’t draft well in the later rounds.

    Further, they have a new offensive AND defensive Coordinator, meaning the veterans will be learning a new scheme right along with the rookies. We’ve seen up close how in the modern NFL, it takes until about half-way into a season for a new scheme to fully set in- offensive and defensive schemes are just that complicated now.

    With the hardest part of the Falcons schedule coming in the first half, there is a high likelyhood they find themselves under the gun early, with fans unhappy that Cousins is not the upgrade they thought (whether due to injury or not) and start calling for Penix- which would only compound their problems.

    At the end of the day, there are a LOT of reasons to be skeptical of the Falcons keeping up with the Bucs, who by contrast hit their stride in the second half last year, and were a much better team at the end than they were during their skid in the middle part of the season. Baker now knows the receivers, and Cohen was brought in specifically because his scheme isn’t much different than what Canales ran, allowing the offense to pick up quickly.

    Saying the Bucs didn’t improve is also wrong. Ryan Leaf allowed a PERFECT passer rating last year as one of our two safeties. Let me repeat that- A PERFECT PASSER RATING over a whole season. Whitehead replacing him is an enormous upgrade. Our losses of Shaq, White, and even Carlton Davis, are very replaceable with people we already have, never mind the rookies we drafted.

    Overall, I think there’s way too much optimism in the media that Cousins is going to turn the Falcons into some kind of offensive dynamo out of the gate, while ignoring the very real strides taken by the Bucs in the offseason.

    But that’s just me. I was mystified by the early pessimism on the Bucs last year and made a hefty sum betting on them to take the division again. I look forward to repeating this year.

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    CallTheSaltTruck … Excellent detailed analysis; spot on! I’m convinced that it’ll come down to the wire once again, but be between the Bucs & the Falcons this year. Division record will be the difference-maker IMO, and whichever team goes 4-2 or better in the division will take the crown. Bucs have done that the last 4 years straight (and we’ve won the NFC South 4 years straight), while the Falcons were 3-3 last year, then 2-4 in 2022 & 2021 and 1-5 in 2020.

  3. Haleywood Says:

    CallTheSaltTruck Nice analysis! It doesn’t mention much about how the Bucs are also learning a new offense and their much more difficult slate of games, but some good reasons for optimism. I think the road is difficult for the Bucs this year, but that they should have more confidence in themselves than at this point last year as they beat a really good Philly team at a time when the were down and beatable, then went on the road and had a chance at the end against a great team in Detroit. The bottom line is if the Bucs want to make the playoffs and win the division they are going to have to beat teams in games they’re expected to lose while beating all the teams in the games they’re favored in. This must be the year they do that if they want a chance to get into the dance…

  4. heyjude Says:

    I like Cousins, nice guy, but he is still a wild card and the sports media keep pumping him as the 2nd coming of the goat. How many SB rings has he had? It’s tiring. Yes, they also drafted Penix, so their office must be worried too. My gut says that Penix will end up being the number one QB. We just don’t know for sure. Our Bucs have many strengths coming into the season. And we now have Coen. Optimistic about our season.

  5. bob in valrico Says:

    No Knock on Cousins because he has had a good career, but he also was blessed with excellent receivers with his former team. That may turn out to be a weakness. I am looking forward to see if our improved secondary can change the course of games in our favor.

  6. bob in valrico Says:

    Also think our other starting ILB’s need to be ready to be mentored by LVD .
    Devin White was less effective when he did not have big strong DT’s to eat up blocks and clear a path to QB for him. Cousins will probably rely heavily o Kyle Pitts and our other ILB’s need to also be ready in coverage.

  7. Dude Says:

    “No Knock on Cousins because he has had a good career, but he also was blessed with excellent receivers with his former team.”

    1-2 against the Bucs all time

  8. Richard Dickson Says:

    Even with a new coordinator, I’d say maintaining continuity among our offensive playmakers and improving the O-line is an upgrade in and of itself. Because another off-season of practice will only get Baker more in sync with his receivers.

  9. Pickgrin Says:

    The addition of Whitehead is going to make a big difference for our defense.

    The “losses” of Diva White and Shaq Barrett won’t.

    None of these talking heads seem to be calculating the improvement of all our good young players that Licht has drafted the last 3 years when making their prognostications.

    Hall, Goedeke, White, Otton, Camarda, McCollum, Kancey, Mauch, Diaby

    There’s 9 starters entering years 2 or 3 who all received a bunch of snaps and experience last year and will be improved players this year. At least a couple/few like Kancey and Mauch and McCollum and perhaps Diaby are likely to make big jumps in their ability to help this 2024 team win games.

    Add rookies Barton, Braswell, Tykee Smith, McMillan and Bucky Irving to that mix and the Bucs have a ton of young talent to develop and refine.

    The Bucs didn’t sign many outside free agents – but the improvement of all these young players plus the addition of an experienced and innovative offensive playcaller means the Bucs who nearly made it to the Conference Championship last year will almost certainly be a better team this year.

    Even with a tough, 1st place schedule – this 2024 Buccaneers team is highly likely to end up with at least 10 wins.

  10. WiscoJoe Says:

    We had the most snaps played by rookies last year. In theory, we should be a much better team this season just because of that alone. Why don’t people take that into account?

  11. Jerseybuc Says:

    That’s exactly everything I been saying to a fricken T!!!!

    Absolutely the truth of the matter

  12. stpetebucfan Says:


    I agree with the others here. Great post and well laid out and easy to read. Excellent job. Some here do not like long posts. If they’re thoughtful and laid out as well as yours I enjoy them.

    Pickgrin…I could just copy a line…”I agree with Pickgrin” and cut and past it all day long. LOL

  13. SlyPirate Says:


    The Bucs beat the defending NFCE Champs and a healthy Cousins (with JJ).

    Minnesota’s 2023 record with Cousins.

    Number of years, Atlanta’s OC Zac Robinson has as an OC. He’s never installed an offense or called plays.

    Raheem Morris’ record as a HC.

    Number of years since Atlanta has won the NFCS.

  14. Crickett Baker Says:

    “Pickgrin…I could just copy a line…”I agree with Pickgrin” and cut and paste it all day long.”

    Me, too.

  15. Hodad Says:

    That’s why they play the games.

  16. Jeffrey Becker Says:

    ryan leaf was a nice touch

  17. Daniel Hammond Says:

    Has nothing to do with this story but does anybody know if it’s true that Tristan works is not showing up for OTAs

  18. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Wrong, they upgraded on the O-line and absolutely with the OC. Coen isn’t going to have an 8 game learning curve. Pro-tip; he’s actually done play calling before! Plus IMO having a decent safety to pair with Winfield upgrades the DB’s. I sorta discount losing Mr 50%er starting CB who was in IR about half the time