The Bucs' route to a 3-5 record at the midway point has been rocky.
Two quarterback changes. Consecutive wins over the current NFC leaders and the defending Super Bowl champs. A harrowing home victory over a Browns team whose road losing streak has reached 25 games. Routinely falling three scores behind on the road in the first half.
This is a hard team to figure, or maybe not. Our Bucs coverage team looks back at its predictions that have proven correct:
Bucs have a top-flight offense
Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer @NFLStroud: When you look at all the weapons — Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Adam Humphries — I figured the Bucs offense would be tough to handle no matter who played quarterback. It was obvious in the preseason and it has come to pass. Only turnovers and penalties have stopped them all season.
The way it started
Mike Sherman, sports editor, @mikesherman: DeSean Jackson plays like DeSean Jackson again? Partial credit. Those first three games were something to see. Ronald Jones as the biggest letdown. Check, but he's a rookie and injured. I'm going to claim the prediction of a season-opening win at New Orleans as the Bucs' biggest victory as my best, and double down on it. It will mark the second time in three years the Bucs opened the season with a road win over a Super Bowl team (see Atlanta, 2016).
In Godwin I trust
Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: My preseason pick for "player on the rise," receiver Chris Godwin, a third-round draft pick in 2017. Godwin, who caught 34 passes and scored one touchdown in his rookie season, already has caught 30 passes and scored FOUR touchdowns. If he continues on this trajectory, he might prove to be the best mid-round pick of the Jason Licht era, which started in 2014.
Plenty of weapons
Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs/pro sports enterprise writer, @EddieintheYard:
I didn't think the Bucs' passing offense would be able to put up video game numbers like this, but you had to realize that with all the receiving weapons they have that they were going to be one of the best pass attacks in the league.
Tom Jones, columnist @tomwjones: I predicted a losing season because I just didn't think the defense would stop anyone. And it's even worse than I thought. Still, how could anyone not see that this defense was going to struggle? I know they've been injury-prone, particularly in the secondary. But every team has injuries. Not only didn't this team have depth, it didn't have good enough starters.
FitzMagic, sort of
Ernest Hooper, metro columnist, @hoop4you: In all honesty, I predicted Fitzpatrick would unseat Winston as sort of a lark. I did think he threw a better deep ball than Winston and showed more chemistry with WR DeSean Jackson. So the prediction looked prescient until the wheels came off against Pittsburgh. Now Fitzpatrick has supplanted Winston, but not quite how I anticipated.