Since free agency opened March 10, front offices around the league have been busy retooling rosters and preparing for the upcoming season. Here at CSNWashington.com, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the moves made by teams that appear on the Redskins’ 2015 schedule. Who’s gotten better? Who’s slipped a bit? Let’s take a closer look.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 7)
2014 record: 2-14.
Key additions: QB Jameis Winston (1st round pick/Florida State), DT Henry Melton (Cowboys), LB Bruce Carter (Cowboys), DE George Johnson (Lions), S Chris Conte (Bears), CB Sterling Moore (Cowboys), OT Donovan Smith (2nd round pick/Penn State), G Ali Marpet (2nd round pick/Hobart), TE Tim Wright (Patriots).
Key departures: QB Josh McCown (Browns), DE Michael Johnson (Bengals), LB Mason Foster (Bears), DE Adrian Clayborn (Falcons), S Dashon Goldson (Redskins), OT Oniel Cousins (unsigned), LB Dane Fletcher (Patriots), DL Da’Quan Bowers (unsigned) and OT Anthony Collins (unsigned).
Key move: Selecting Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick. If he can avoid the off-the-field pitfalls that plagued him at Florida State and improve his on-the-field decision-making, he’s got the potential to be a franchise quarterback.
What it all means for the Redskins: Before you go ahead and pencil in a ‘W’ because the Bucs are coming off a two-win season and have a rookie at quarterback, let me refresh your memory.
The last time these teams met—Nov. 16, 2014—the one-win Bucs came into FedEx Field and ripped the Redskins, 27-7. Josh McCown—Josh McCown!—connected with then rookie wide receiver Mike Evans seven times for 209 yards and two touchdowns, while the Bucs’ defense had, by far, its best day of the season, sacking Robert Griffin III six times.
The Bucs didn’t win another game in Lovie Smith’s forgettable first year as head coach.
Fast forward to 2015. The Redskins, on paper, appear to be a better team. They’ve got more talent up front on both sides of the ball thanks to the additions of DL Stephen Paea and OL Brandon Scherff, and more talent in the secondary with CB Chris Culliver and FS Dashon Goldson now in the fold.
But the Bucs should be improved, as well. The biggest reason? Even as a rookie, Winston is an improvement over McCown and Mike Glennon.
The keys for the Redskins in this matchup figure to be preventing the Bucs’ two 6-foot-5 receivers—Evans and Vincent Jackson—from roaming freely in the secondary as they did a year ago and making Winston uncomfortable. Winston is expected to have a rookie left tackle (Donovan Smith) watching his blind side and another rookie (Ali Marpet) at right guard.
Indeed, this late October matchup should give us a pretty good idea of just how far the Redskins’ defense has (or has not) come under first-year defensive coordinator Joe Barry.