9 With Something To Prove

June 25th, 2024

So many summer savings are flowing at Bill Currie Ford! That’s new and used vehicles, and don’t forget to ask GM Sean Sullivan for the Ira Kaufman discount. Pick-up, delivery and loaner vehicles are available for service appointments.


We’re less than a month away from the start of NFL training camp and the Buccaneers are feeling very good about themselves.

The Las Vegas pundits have pegged Tampa Bay for seven or eight wins, but the oddsmakers misjudged this franchise badly in 2023 as the Bucs exceeded expectations en route to a third consecutive division title.

Good overall health was a key factor, along with the resurrection of Baker Mayfield as a reliable quarterback who excelled at ball security.

When players gather at One Buc Place in late July, Todd Bowles will stress Job 1 — winning the NFC South and securing the guaranteed home playoff game that accompanies a division crown. He’ll talk about keeping giveaways and penalties to a minimum while playing physical football in the trenches.

And while veterans like Mike Evans, Lavonte David and Tristan Wirfs are established cornerstones, more than a few people in this organization have plenty to prove in the fall, starting with the head coach.

* Despite two NFC South titles and a lopsided playoff victory, Bowles has yet to win over the bulk of Buc Nation. Skeptics point out that Tampa Bay is 18-19 on his watch and a once-prolific attack has turned pedestrian. If Liam Coen can get this offense back on track, Bowles’ detractors won’t have much to carp about.

* Mayfield finished strong with two solid playoff performances. The Bucs couldn’t take the risk of losing him in free agency, so they ponied up the cash to keep him in Tampa. His up-and-down career suggests Mayfield still needs to assert himself as a long-term solution under center.

* When your ground game ranks No. 32 in a 32-team league for two years running, it’s safe to say Rachaad White has to find another level in terms of vision and hitting holes with authority. White’s a splendid target out of the backfield, but rookie Bucky Irving will steal some of his carries if White keeps averaging 3.6 yards per carry.

* Cody Mauch was a fixture at right guard as a rookie last season and didn’t appear overmatched on many occasions. Still, there’s ample room for growth and his level of play faltered down the stretch. Hitting the rookie wall is not uncommon, but Mauch needs to come to camp in better shape for the long grind of a pro season.

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

* Putting Joe Tryon-Shoyinka on notice sounds like a broken record for Buc fans. How could he not be motivated this season? Two months ago, the Bucs declined to exercise his fifth-year option, essentially telling JTS this is his last chance to stick around as an edge rusher.

* This also looks like a make-or-break year for Logan Hall, the 33rd overall pick of the 2022 draft. Despite playing more than half the defensive snaps last year while starting 13 games, Hall accounted for only a half-sack and two tackles for loss. If you failed to notice him in three career postseason games, you’re not alone.

* During K.J. Britt’s six starts last year, which included two playoff games, opponents averaged only 80 yards on the ground and 3.7 yards per carry. He has the look of an elite run stuffer, but Britt needs to work on his coverage skills and disrupt more plays behind the line of scrimmage. Can he hold up as a starter for 17 games? We’re about to find out.

* At the age of 25, Zyon McCollum is poised for a breakout season at cornerback opposite Jamel Dean. While there are no questions about his size and athleticism, McCollum is far from a finished product. Miscommunication issues remain a problem and he’s looking for his first NFL interception.

* Liam Coen: Handpicked by Bowles to replace Dave Canales, Coen is determined to restore some semblance of balance to an anemic attack. With two new starters (center, left guard) expected in the trenches, the 2024 Bucs crave more physicality and better red-zone efficiency. Let’s see if Coen can surpass the low bar set by this offense in the past two seasons.

17 Responses to “9 With Something To Prove”

  1. Bucsfan Says:

    Hopefully Diaby and Kancey can salve the wounds in Lichts rather fleshy midsection created by the outright misguided darts thrown at Tryon I Stinka and Hall.

  2. Dave Pear Says:

    Excellent takes, Sage.

    Thank you in particular for pointing out that Todd is 18-19 as Bucs head coach. Some prefer to forget the humiliating home playoff defeat to the Cowboys, a team that collapsed like the 2023 Eagles — except against Todd in the playoffs . With Tom Brady at QB, thus enduring the first and only losing season of his entire life.

    Some prefer not to count playoff games in a head coach’s record. Which is funny – most would agree playoff games are a little more important than regular games.

    Todd needs at least 10 wins, especially with this roster. 11 or 12 wins aren’t unreachable with this roster.

    He sends the signals that he is changing. Let’s go Todd!


  3. Saskbucs Says:


  4. Saskbucs Says:

    Dammit, that was a test. My words are disappearing on me at times here. Ugh, I’m not typing it again. Bowles needs better game/clock management and tougher less conservative D when protecting a one score lead in the last 2 minutes. That’s what detractors want to see. 8-9 if we are healthy again is not good enough. We will have seen his ceiling and it’s time to move on.

    If we blamed him for the offense, there wouldn’t be so much vitriol tossed Leftwich and Canales way.

    I appreciate what Todd brings to the table and how the players love him but he is on the something to prove list because of a few things, not just the offense getting on track, although that could bail him out if he keeps misusing timeouts and his D isn’t up to par on any given Sunday.

  5. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Dave Pear: You refer to Coach Bowles as “Bowels” every other day…Is it because you’re too dumb to know how to spell his name, even after coaching for the Bucs the last 5 years? Or do you think it’s still funny after writing it 10,000 times? Either you’re in the 6th Grade or have the mentality of a 6th Grader.

  6. Crickett Baker Says:

    Pretty precise article, Ira. I I I enjoyed its truth.

  7. Larrd Says:

    I am pretty optimistic on all those counts. Mauch, Hall, McCollum, Britt and White are all young and improving more so than question marks, IMO. Baker needs to stay healthy and I moved on from Dhoyinka last year.

  8. Dave Pear Says:

    Hoe in Muschigan – I have an aggressive spellchecker that relies on AI to tweak names to a more accurate depiction of reality. Maybe you need to start doubling down on your doses of Midol. Meanwhile, facts is facts. (Lecture on grammar coming?)

  9. BucsFanSince1996 Says:

    When the Glazer’s and JL made a decision on whether to keep Bowles as HC or not I’m sure they took some things into considerations that most fans don’t.

    He didn’t get to choose his coaches in his first season with the Bucs and he’s not playing on a level playing field against other NFL head coaches with the hand he was dealt. The Bucs were in salary cap hell, limiting the amount of additional talent that could be brought in.

    I’m sure now that he’s in his third year as HC for the BUCs and he’s had a chance to bring in coaches and additional talent via the draft and free agency that the expectations will be higher. I’m sure the front office would like for him to succeed because his staff seems better than average at developing players.

  10. Let ‘em bake Says:

    Good stuff. I would add the hope Cade continues his upward trajectory a tight end.

  11. Marine Buc Says:

    I find it odd that Graham Barton is not on this list… Nor is Bredeson and Opeta.

    Our interior O-line was the worst in the NFL last season and Cody Mauch is the only one with something to prove?

    I don’t think so.

  12. Dave Pear Says:

    Marine – good point. But if Ira wrote an article entitled “Nineteen With Something to Prove” it would have been too long. But I agree with you.

  13. BucU Says:


  14. DayOnePaul Says:

    Bowles was a sub .500 head coach before he got this opportunity, and now that he’s in it, he’s guided a Super Bowl winning roster to a sub .500 record here. It’s not that we don’t like Bowles. He’s a good man. His players like him. The front office likes him. We simply aren’t sold that he can lead a team to the promise land. And if the Lavontes and the Evans and the Veas and the Godwins and the Wirfs are squandered with a HC who can’t get any team over the hump, what a terrible waste of our fandom time and our window. Todd, prove us wrong. That’s all.

  15. Dave Pear Says:

    DayOnePaul, your factual summary about Todd is accurate. There are those fans so defensive (no pun intended) about him that such analysis triggers the roses and cotton candy crowd.

    The good news is, he’s making changes as if he sees that scoring more points might be a good thing. At 25ppg, if he can’t win 10 games with this roster, he’ll be opening a series of sports fitness and mental health clinics in about 8 months.


  16. heyjude Says:

    Excellent synopsis!

    While coaches prepare the Bucs at the mini-camp trainings, I hope they diligently go over the new playing rules and other NFL guidelines that changed. There always seems to be confusion with any new playing rules on the field along with the refs too.

    I agree with BucsFanSince1996 and Dave Pear about our coach. I really respect him and so don’t the players and staff. This season will be his breakout year. Looking forward to it all!

  17. garro Says:

    Nailed it as usual Ira!

    Do Hall and JTS even make the roster out of camp? Do we promote Ramirez or Watts? Can Culpepper make it ahead of Hall? I doubt it with Bowles track record of waiting far too long on playing the better guys. Especially high draft pick guys.

    Go Bucs!