Tampa Bay has a pretty abysmal record since their inception in 1976.
They have a 260-415-1 record over that time, well below .500. That said, they had a small purple patch in the early 2000s and even won the big the game in 2002.
Jon Gruden famously took them to the promised land in his first season, which was a fortunate payback for a trade that you rarely see for coaches.
It involved multiple 1st and 2nd round picks as well as millions of dollars in cash.
It paid off for that season, but nothing much since.
Over 16 seasons and four coaches later, Tampa has finished bottom of the NFC South most seasons since. That said, their tide seems to be turning a little.
What do you need to do to get this team back to the big game one more time?
BALANCED: Not the best, but not the worst
The Bucs are a run-of-the-mill team at 80 OVR. They have a stronger offense at 81 OVR, but definitely have some talent in their defense on 79 OVR.
The Bucs have a balanced roster but their only standout X-Factor Superstar is WR Mike Evans (91 OVR).
Alongside Evans, there are some decent players on offense. Opposite him is Star WR Chris Godwin (81 OVR). A very good OL has two Stars in LG Ali Marpet (88 OVR) and RT Demar Dotson (86 OVR). Finally, throwing the ball around they have Star QB Jameis Winston (76 OVR).
Their defense is on a par. Star MLB Lavonte David (90 OVR) leads this young defense, along with older Stars at DT Vita Vea (80 OVR) and Ndamukong Suh (85 OVR). Rookie MLB Devin White (74 OVR) has Superstar Hidden talent and one to watch out for.
So how can you improve this team to fight for a Lombardi trophy?
Tampa Bays Biggest needs
The big problems you should be looking to address are focused around all the left tackle and strong safety.
The OL is one of the better ones in the league. But despite being a scheme fit, LT Donovan Smith (67 OVR, 62 Run Block, 76 Pass Block) stands out as being a bit weak.
There are a few holes in this defense, but the most blatant one is SS MJ Stewart Jr (69 OVR, 67 Zone Cover, 67 Tackle). He is only a first-year player, but with Normal Dev, it's going to take a long time to get him to a decent level.
As there are problems throughout the team, it doesn't make sense to break the bank for a single big name. Therefore, the key is to find a player that has high upside but will be available for a sensible offer.
Jake Matthews, Left Tackle (80 OVR)
VERY SOLID: Matthews is affordable and young
Best Stats: Awareness (88), Lead Block (86), Strength (86), Impact Block (85), Pass Block (82), Run Block (80)
The Bucs is a team with patchy holes all over the roster. When it comes to improvements, draft picks will come in handy and therefore you don't want to trade everything away for one hero player.
That's where Matthews comes in. He's young, very talented and won't cost the earth. He's one of the best 'non elite' options.
He has decent strength (86) and very good awareness (88), but really it's his consistent blocking stats that make him good. He can do it all with Run Block (80), Pass Block (82) and Impact Block (85). Don't expect him to be perfect, but he will be very very good for a decent five seasons.
Jabrill Peppers, Strong Safety (84 OVR)
STUD: Another affordable young talent to change your team
Best Stats: Acceleration (93), Speed (90), Hit Power (87), Play Recognition (86), Man Cover (79), Zone Cover (78), Tackle (78)
Peppers is another that can identify as the top of the 'non elite' group. But at only 23 and with Star Dev, it won't be long until his overall is in the early 90s.
His Acceleration (93) and Speed (90) is standout and means he can cover the field with Play Recognition (86). His Man Cover (79) is very impressive for the position and means he can fill in as a nickel CB if needed for added versatility.
Free Agent Targets
These guys won’t cost you draft picks, but you’ll need some cap space to sign them which means making some tough decisions with your own impending free agents.
Eric Berry, Strong Safety (86 OVR)
HERO: Cancer survivor and NFL legend
Best Stats: Acceleration (89), Speed (89), Zone Cover (88), Play Recognition (87), Hit Power (86), Man Cover (81)
Berry was a dominant All-Pro safety a few years ago before suffering from Cancer. After a year out, he made a comeback and was just as good as before he left. His miracle story has left him without a team this season though and you can use that your benefit.
With fair acceleration (89) and speed (89), he won’t be a liability at the position. Zone cover (88) is absolutely elite and Berry is a lockdown Safety in passing coverage.
Jermey Parnell, Right Tackle (76 OVR)
SWITCHEROO: Finding a player to move position can be a better option
Best Stats: Strength (84), Awareness (84), Impact Block (81), Pass Block (80), Run Block (78), Lead Block (78)
Getting Parnell in and then changing his position to LT, or doing that with Star RT Dotson, will give this offense a much needed but simple boost.
Parnell is a strong (85), solid vet with good awareness (84). This matters on OL, and he’s still good in the running game with run block (78), pass block (80), lead block (78) and impact block (81).
Focusing on the OL will be important for replacing older players, particularly with Demar Dotson (86 OVR) being 33 and in decline. Also, try to replace RE Ndamukong Suh (85 OVR) who is 32 and on a big deal.
Finding some top talent at Safety and Cornerback on defense should help to turn what is a decent core, into something league-leading.
Take to the field
After that setup, it's time to strut your stuff under the lights.
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