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Giants 2017 Schedule Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Improving Tampa Bay team a challenge for Giants

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Minicamp
Jameis Winston
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants’ Week 4 clash on the road vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is an early-season game that could end up with major playoff implications. That’s because if the Giants need a wild-card berth to reach the playoffs it seems likely that the up-and-coming Buccaneers are one of the teams they will be competing with to earn a spot.

Let’s take a look at Tampa Bay as we continue our look at the Giants’ 2017 opponents.

2016 Bucs

Record: 9-7
NFC South: 2nd
Offense: No. 18 in points and yards
Defense: No. 15 in points allowed, No. 23 in yards allowed

Roster Moves

Key Additions

WR DeSean Jackson, DT Chris Baker, S J.J. Wilcox, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

Key Losses

S Bradley McDougald, QB Mike Glennon, WR Vincent Jackson, WR Russell Shepard

2017 NFL Draft

  • Round 1 (No. 19) — TE O.J. Howard
  • Round 2 (No. 50) — S Justin Evans
  • Round 3 (No. 84) — WR Chris Godwin
  • Round 3 (No. 107) — LN Kendall Beckwith
  • Round5 (No. 162) — RB Jeremy McNichols
  • Round 7 (No. 223) — NT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu

Biggest Storyline Heading Into Training Camp

Will Roberto Aguayo get unseated by Nick Folk? Yes, kickers are the biggest storyline. Also Hard Knocks. — Bucs Nation

Under-The-Radar Storyline Heading Into Training Camp

Safety: Justin Evans, J.J. Wilcox, Chris Conte and Keith Tandy could all earn a starting job, so which two will come out on top?

Three Questions About The Bucs

Ed: What is your favorite thing about what the Bucs accomplished this offseason?

Sander: They managed not to use their second-round pick on a kicker. Realistically, though, I loved that they somehow managed to get O.J. Howard without trading up for him. He was widely projected to go close to the No. 10 pick, and would definitely have been worth that pick -- he's one of the most talented all-around tight end prospects I've seen. He's also a great fit for Dirk Koetter's offense, and will give them a lot of scheme versatility. You may not see that impact immediately, but in the long term Howard's going to be very important.

Ed: What is the one things the Bucs did not do this offseason that might haunt them?

Sander: Probably their failure to really upgrade their safeties. The Bucs have had issues at that position for years, and now have a group of players who are all limited in their own, special ways. Combined with an uncertain pass rush, that could lead to a lot of ugly, big plays given up by the defense.

Ed: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the upcoming season?

Sander: I'm pretty optimistic, though perhaps not as optimistic as some. I think the Bucs will finally make the playoffs this year for the first time in a decade--the natural progression of a few young players, most notably Jameis Winston, as well as the addition of DeSean Jackson should see to that. I don't think they'll make it easily, though, nor do I think they have the talent to do much damage once they get into the postseason.

Final Thoughts

Tampa Bay is one of the more interesting teams on the Giants’ schedule. The Bucs went from two wins in 2015, to six in 2015 and made a run at a playoff spot last season, ending up 9-7.

On offense, they have a young franchise quarterback in Winston, a second-year head a star wide receiver of their own in Mike Evans, and Giant-killer DeSean Jackson. They also have Howard, the guy who many Giants’ fans were drooling over prior to the draft.

On defense, they have second-year corner Vernon Hargreaves, Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Noah Spence and former Giant Robert Ayers.

The Bucs’ training camp placekicking competition between second-year man Roberto Aguayo and veteran Nick Folk is one for the Giants to keep an eye on. Obviously, they can only keep one and right now the Giants have only untested Aldrick Rosas. There remains a good possibility the Giants will look to add a veteran kicker, should one they really like become available.