Not everyone is buying into the Bruce Arians hype

ESPN’s prediction for where Vegas will set the over/under for Bucs victories next season isn’t much different than this past year.
Jameis Winston prepares to throw a pass during a game against the 49ers in November in Tampa. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Jameis Winston prepares to throw a pass during a game against the 49ers in November in Tampa. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published Jan. 29, 2019|Updated Jan. 29, 2019

The Bucs seemed to cover all the bases with their hiring of Bruce Arians.

They found an experienced NFL coach with with a track record of success, including two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers. A quarterback guru with an established relationship with Jameis Winston who seems capable of getting the most out of the heretofore promising but inconsistent starter.

They secured the services of Todd Bowles, the most appealing defensive coordinator available.

And they guarded against concerns about Arians' age (66) and health by bringing in not only Bowles, who has head-coaching experience with the Jets, but also offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, whom Arians is grooming to be an NFL head coach someday.

So, things are about to change around here, right?

Not so fast.

In predicting where Vegas will set the over/under for victories for each NFL team next season, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell puts the Bucs at 6.5 (over +110, under -130), which would be just over a win better than this past season, when they finished 5-11.

Writes Barnwell:

"The perennial breakout pick will be among the favorites to take a step forward in 2019, given that the 5-11 Buccaneers went 3-6 in games decided by a touchdown or less and replaced Dirk Koetter with wise sage Bruce Arians, who went 29-12-1 in those same games with the Colts and Cardinals.

“The issues are, well, also perennial: Jameis Winston is unreliable on and off the field, the defense is coming off a horrific season, and the other three NFC South teams have a more plausible path to the postseason. Chances are that the Bucs will improve, but new coordinator Todd Bowles would need to turn around a woeful Bucs defense overnight to get Tampa into playoff consideration.”

Barnwell notes that he’s not projecting how the Bucs will finish in 2019. Rather, he’s trying to estimate where Vegas will set the average expectation for the team this spring. That number is meant to attract even amounts of money on either side of the bet.

He also acknowledges that rosters likely will change considerably between now and the start of the season, with free agency and the draft still to come.