TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Excitement is swirling in Tampa Bay this August as they gear up for a season that has upside for a change. The Buccaneers finished last year at a very pedestrian 7-9. This is a team that, since winning the Super Bowl in 2002, has had very little success otherwise. Head Coach Greg Schiano is now entering his second year as head coach of the Bucs and is hoping to take his team to a new level. It seems that the talent is beginning to formulate in Tampa, however it may take some time for this talent to result in anything too positive.
Quarterback Josh Freeman had a very up-and-down year in 2012, showing glimpses of greatness — and glimpses of a frustrated shot caller trying to catch his breath. The Bucs are waiting for their first-round pick to show his worth in 2013, and are putting some pressure on him in the form of third-round pick Mike Glennon, who, barring a sub-par preseason showing, is giving Freeman a run for his money. Freeman should retain the starting role, but now has to remain in winning form if he is to keep his job in this contract year. One can’t forget the machine at running back, Doug Martin. When Martin is hot, which seems to be often, the Tampa Bay offense becomes a force. This takes pressure off of Freeman, and allows players like Vincent Jackson, Kevin Ogletree and Mike Williams to get downfield. But this offense relies on Freeman continuing his development into a sturdy starting-caliber quarterback. It may not be in the near future, but he is showing signs of being an adept threat at some point down the road.
The Buccaneers made some very good improvements on the defensive end of the ball. The name that is most notably seen on the depth chart is Darrelle Revis from the New York Jets. He suffered a torn ACL last season and is hoping to have a huge comeback year, proving that he isn’t a liability. They also drafted Johnathan Banks, the dominant corner from Mississippi State and recipient of the Jim Thorpe award. He is probably going to play a big role for Tampa Bay when they slide into nickle and dime packages. The Bucs’ rushing defense was amazing for them last year, only allowing two rushers to gain more than 100 yards in a game. If this holds true for 2013, with the addition of a renewed pass defense, the Buccaneers’ defense could again be dangerous.
The Buccaneers are a team with a great upside and potential, but I do not see that paying off in 2013 because their division is very strong at the moment. I see them finishing with a record of 5-11. This means that Freeman will probably be let go, as this is the last year in his contract. 2013 is not the year for the Bucs, as fans should be looking into 2014 for more success. This team has a very bright future, but either needs to make an astounding run in the south or wait for the Falcons, Saints, and Panthers to fall off, which is unlikely to happen soon.