For the first time in some time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are legit and anticipation for this upcoming season is VERY high.


In fact, it’s so high that HBO, and the NFL, chose the Bucs to be the subject of their hit series “Hard Knocks”.


Hard Knocks is an HBO television series that follows and films a specific NFL franchise during the rigors of training camp. It gives you an inside, all-access look into how the team is run, who the key players are, which ones are on the verge of getting cut or making the team and any huge storyline that the team carries with them throughout the preseason.


Hard Knocks allows you to see players, and the game, like you’ve never seen them before.


With this spotlight comes an immense amount of pressure because just any team doesn’t get picked. Teams with a lot of buzz and potential get picked to be showcased in this light, but the pressure and media presence they receive from it is far from light.


The Bucs finished 9-7 last season which was good for 2nd in the NFC South, but not good enough to make the playoffs. However, great strides were made in the right direction for a team that had seemed to lose its direction since winning the Super Bowl all the way back in 2002.


Last season, they found a spark behind the play of QB Jameis Winston and WR Mike Evans, who really established himself last season as one of the league’s best wideouts. The defense also stepped up and proved to be a nightmare to face for opposing offenses led by All- Pro Defensive End Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.


Despite these sparks plugs that were found on both sides of the ball, the Bucs experienced the definition of a rollercoaster season.


After winning on opening day, they would struggle the rest of the month of September and early October losing three games in a row. Their October 10th matchup versus the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football, started a little two games win streak that was then followed by a two-game losing streak to end October and start November.


Their season highlight spanned from November 13 to December 11 where they went undefeated, botching their first five game winning streak since their Super Bowl season and putting them in a real position to contend for the playoffs. However, with two straight losses right after that, a win versus the Panthers on the last game of the season wasn’t enough to push them through to the postseason.


Despite the missed playoff chance, a young Bucs team had proven that it could play with the big dogs and be a force in the NFC and the NFL.



Now, a year later, and a year more experienced, the Bucs looked to be primed and ready to make that push for the playoffs.


With a key addition like Desean Jackson and the return of All-Pro running back Doug Martin, they are predicted, and now really expected, to do so.


But if Hard Knocks gives us any indication, that road to the postseason will be long and hard, just like the dog days of August are for training camp.


The increased spotlight on the franchise is good press for revenue and marketability, but the pressure that it heaps on these teams that participate in it are enormous. When a team is featured on Hard Knocks, the fans, and other players in the league, develop opinions and get to know players in a big way.


Targets are then put on the backs of these players, and the team, and their successes and failures are documented even more heavily than before. The maximum exposure that is given to the public can either make you or break you as a team.


From the looks of it though, within the first three episodes of the series so far, they look like a team that will invite the pressure and shine when it’s time to do so.


Do you think the Bucs will make the playoffs this year? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.