Looking around the NFL landscape before training camps start to open, there seems to be more competitive teams than ever before. I believe this is partially due to how old quarterbacks like Brees, Brady, Rivers, and Roethlisberger continue to play at a high level. There is low turnover at the top, and there are also plenty of promising young guns looking to take the league by storm of the league in the next few years. Therefore, I find that there are not too many teams who find themselves ‘hopeless’ entering 2018.
I will accept that teams like the Browns, Bills, or Cardinals may not have a great shot at making the playoffs, but I don’t necessarily think this makes them hopeless. All three have rookie quarterbacks and newer coaches that fans can watch grow and become better as the season goes on. When I talk hopeless, I’m talking teams who have bleak short-term outlooks compounded with no clear path towards the future. There is only one team that I believe truly fits this bill. and they are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I genuinely don’t see how any Tampa fan could be optimistic about this team’s future. Just one year ago, the Bucs were the nation’s darling, ready to break their decade long playoff drought and compete for the crown in the rough and tough NFC South. They were the subject of the HBO yearly series ‘HardKnocks’, and Jameis was going to have his breakout year. They had signed Chris Baker and DeSean Jackson in free agency who would put the team over the hump.
None of that happened.
The team fell flat on their faces and finished 5-11. They never fixed their place-kicking woes, Jameis still was not protective of the football, and continued having injury issues. The team suffered from bad coaching with Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith, playing sloppy, penalty ridden football that showed a lack of attention to detail. Chris Baker got cut after the season, and now DeSean Jackson is getting paid $11 Million a year to get 600 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Yucks are officially back people, and they probably never left.
In 2018, not much has changed on the personnel side other than the d-line, all the coaches are back, and now Jameis Winston, your 1st overall pick, the face of your franchise, is suspended the first three games of the season for groping a female uber driver. 3 games against the Steelers, Eagles, and Saints, the hardest 3 game stretch any NFL team has ever had in the Super Bowl era based on previous season winning percentage.
It seems to me that 2018 is a lost cause for the Yucks, and the firing of Dirk Koetter and Jason “I’ll draft Aguayo round 2” Licht is imminent. At the quarterback position, Winston is talented and puts up numbers but it hasn’t translated into wins, and the off the field issues have remained since Florida State. His 5th year option is worth $20 Million, a contract the Yucks front office will have to think long and hard about picking up.
As a whole, the roster generally lacks talent. Brent Grimes is a good corner but his plateau could be coming any day now as he ages, and Vernon Hargreaves has underperformed his draft position. The offensive line has its issues, and it will be on 2nd round rookie Ronald Jones to fix the run game.
The Tampa Bay Yucks are as hopeless a team as the NFL had to offer. I don’t see the playoff drought ending anytime soon.