Bucs running back Doug Martin said at a press conference this week that he and his teammates have very high hopes for this season. Martin also hinted that a playoffs-or-bust mentality was beginning to permeate the locker room, making this one a make-or-break year for the team.
"With what we did last year, we did fall short and we couldn't make the playoffs, but just being close gives everybody confidence that we can get there," Martin said. "With the draft moves that we made and the guys that we have, I know and everybody else knows and that we have a good chance this year."
Years of stockpiling young talent in the draft could certainly begin to produce playoff berth results for the Bucs this season. Tampa, who shored up some major offensive positions in the two drafts prior to this year, was able to go the more defensive route in 2016, getting help at defensive end, cornerback and linebacker in the process.
The team is much more well-rounded now, and while there are still some weaknesses at linebacker depth, it is definitely in a much better position to get a postseason shot in 2016. Doug Martin has been with the Bucs since 2012 and has been through coaching changes, roster shifts and the grind of multiple full seasons, so for him to say that the locker room's hopes are high going into training camp is certainly a good thing to hear.
With the drafting of Jameis Winston in 2015, the team's culture is starting to change, and Martin is witnessing it firsthand. According to him, the mentality of the Bucs now is absolutely nothing short of winning, and with a very tough schedule approaching in 2016, they're going to need every ounce of that if they are to make it into the playoffs. A tough schedule awaits the team, and they'll have to beat some very good franchises in order to come out with a berth, but if the talent they've acquired over the past three years continues to yield improvements, the sky's the limit.