TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-10)
OPEN CAMP: July 28, Tampa, Florida
LAST YEAR: Missed playoffs for eighth consecutive season, despite making strides on offense with 2015 No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston throwing for 4,042 yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Tripled victory total from previous year, but not enough to save job of coach Lovie Smith, who led team to 6-6 start before losing final four games. Ranked in top 10 offensively and defensively in same season for first time. But cycle of losing didn’t stop because team finished 20th in points scored and 26th in points allowed.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Rookies CB Vernon Hargreaves III, DE Noah Spence, K Roberto Aguayo; CB Brent Grimes, DE Robert Ayers, Jr., LB Daryl Smith, G J.R. Sweezy.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: G Logan Mankins, LBs Danny Lansanah and Bruce Carter, CB Sterling Moore, K Connor Barth.
CAMP NEEDS: With Lovie Smith out as coach, Bucs head in new direction on defense with Mike Smith, ex-Falcons head coach, taking over as coordinator. Figure to have at least three — maybe four — new starters on that side of ball, so installing new scheme and getting offseason acquisitions acclimated will be major priority.
EXPECTATIONS: Dirk Koetter was promoted from OC to coach, largely because of relationship with Winston and prospect of continued growth offensively. But unless defense takes significant steps forward, it’s difficult to envision playoff berth on horizon. And if long, frustrating postseason drought continues? Ownership has changed coaches four times since 2008, and past two choices — Smith and Greg Schiano —only got two seasons to get it right.
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