Carlton Davis must be looking at a different Buccaneers team than we are

Carlton Davis III, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Carlton Davis III, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

Carlton Davis is hyping up this year’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers more than anyone ever should.

We’ll have what Carlton Davis is having…

Although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a playoff team each of the last three seasons, everybody and their brother is expecting a massive regression out of the two-time reigning NFC South champions. This has everything to do with Tom Brady retiring and the Buccaneers replacing him with … Baker Mayfield. Still, Davis is oh so very bullish on this team. Does he even realize yet?

Here is what Davis told Tyler Dunne of Go Long about his expectations for the 2023 Buccaneers.

"“We’re about to do it to ‘em. Anybody who feels we’ve lost Tom — and lost something — is going to be in for a rude awakening. A rude awakening. Tom was a great addition for us, but obviously it’s a team sport. Obviously, you need components to be successful. We still have those components. And I’m only getting better. We’re going to wreck s**t. Like, wreck s**t. Interceptions. Turnovers. Plays will be made. I will say. Plays. Will. Be. Made.”"

The only saving grace for the downtrending Buccaneers are that they play in the awful NFC South. Unfortunately, there are reasons to be higher on Tampa Bay’s three division rivals in the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints over the Buccaneers. Keep in mind that Tampa Bay only won the division with a dismal 8-9 record and looked horrible in the NFC playoffs.

Yes, Tampa Bay can three-peat in the division, but it would say more about the division than them.

Carlton Davis is overzealous when it comes to the 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I could be totally wrong here, but I have the Buccaneers as a last-place finisher this year. Mayfield is a fine, low-end starting quarterback, but I’m not sure if Todd Bowles is a good head coach. He is an outstanding defensive coordinator, but he will be two years removed from being essentially the understudy to the iconic Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay. I expect for that to hold the Buccaneers back.

If we were to look across the division, the Saints have the best quarterback in Derek Carr. While I have reservations about Dennis Allen as a head coach too, New Orleans has been the most well-run franchise in-division for some time. I go back and forth when it comes to the Saints winning the division. What is not debatable is they should be a popular pick to host a home playoff game.

If we were to turn our attention over to the Carolina Panthers, they have a lot of upside this season. They may have made the best head-coaching hire of the offseason in getting their former starting quarterback Frank Reich after a disastrous ending for him in Indianapolis. Their defense was excellent down the stretch. If Bryce Young can play larger than his size, then they can win big.

And for my Atlanta Falcons, the Dirty Birds have arguably the best weapons in the division. While I am a believer in Arthur Smith, what even the most casual of NFL fans realize is his team has a strong identity, which is running the football. If Desmond Ridder grows from his limited action last year and play up to his Cincinnati Bearcats potential, Atlanta may be on the verge of being decent.

Overall, Tampa Bay is the only team in the division that is clearly on the downtick. Furthermore, there are plenty of reasons for optimism is Atlanta, Charlotte and New Orleans over Tampa on the football field right now. Remember, the NFL is a league defined by parity. Whatever goes up must come down … eventually. Davis is an excellent player, but his Buccaneers are circling the drain now.

If Tampa Bay were playing in another division, the Buccaneers would have no shot at the playoffs.

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