With the NFL regular season long over and the playoffs almost finished now seems like the perfect time to review the season team by team starting with the worst team of 2014 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Record : 2-14
4th in the NFC South
Round 1 Pick 7 – Mike Evans WR
Round 2 Pick 38 – Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE
Round 3 Pick 69 – Charles Sims RB
Round 5 Pick 143 – Kadeem Edwards G
Round 5 Pick 149 – Kevin Pamphile OT
Round 6 Pick 185 – Robert Herron WR
After the draft things looked pretty good for Tampa Bay. By drafting Mike Evans, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Charles Sims with their first three picks the Buccaneers looked
to have given the offense a much needed injection of talent (this author graded the draft a B+).
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Evans was the only one who lived up to that grade. Sefarian-Jenkins flashed talent but spent much of his time on the treatment table and despite being well thought of Sims was unable to unseat Doug Martin and become the number one running back. Edwards saw his season ended by an ankle injury, Herron seemed unable to catch the ball but at least Pamphile suggested he could have an NFL future with some decent performances towards the end of the season.
Overall, it is too early to declare the 2014 draft class a bust and in many ways that is all anyone can hope for.
Veteran signings: AWFUL
The best signings were Clinton McDonald and Michael Johnson, who contributed five and four sacks sacks respectively, and looked to be creating a good partnership with fellow lineman McCoy. Still nine sacks for $55.75 million isn't great.
Outside of Johnson and McDonald though things got worse. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, tackle Anthony Collins and guard Logan Mankins were brought in to improve the line. They completely failed to this as the line allowed 52 sacks and run blocked with all the skill of a thin pillow. Josh McCown was brought in to be the long term answer at QB and, to put it mildly, struggled. McCown was benched for Mike Glennon before then winning his spot back and guiding Tampa Bay to a season closing run of six straight defeats.
Best Player: Mike Evans
There weren't many smiles amongst Tampa Bay fans this season but what smiles there were were thanks to rookie wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans finished the season with 1,051 yards, 12 touchdowns, 20 plays of more than 20 yards and four plays of
more than 40 yards.
When Evans was drafted as the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft the hope was that his 6'5'' 231 pound frame would make him a match up nightmare for opposition defenses and in his rookie season this has proven to be the case.
Worst Player : Doug Martin
Expectations weren't that high but it is fair to say that Martin limboed under them with room to spare. 108, essentially meaningless, yards in the last game of the season against the Saints increased his season total to 494 yards. Before that last game Martin had 386 yards in 10 games.
The offensive line will take some of the blame but Martin was still awful. Somehow it didn't happen in this season but 2015 will surely be the year that Martin is cut and Charles Sims becomes the number one back.
Season Grade : E-
Other than Mike Evans the 2014 has been a complete and utter debacle for Tampa Bay.
Hope for the future? : SOME
Tampa Bay are a bad side but they aren't beyond hope. Some of the building blocks of a good side are present.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL deserving to be talked about in the same breath as J.J. Watt, Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams. Similarly, wide receiver Mike Evans looks to be the reason why Manziel looked so good in college. Add in the presence of a number one overall pick in the 2015 draft and there is reason for cautious optimism.
On the other hand the NFC South is not going to be as weak as it was again. The Saints, Falcons and Panthers are all going to improve. Even if the Buccaneers also improve they could easily find that the gap between themselves and the rest of the
division has increased.