NFL Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Home: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Florida

Owner: Malcolm Glazer
Head Coach: Raheem Morris
Offensive Coordinator: Greg Olson
Defensive Coordinator: Raheem Morris
Special Teams Coach: Richard Bisaccia

Schedule:

Sunday, September 12: Vs. Cleveland Browns
Sunday, September 19: @ Carolina Panthers
Sunday, September 26: Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
BYE WEEK
Sunday, October 10: @ Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, October 17: Vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, October 24: Vs. St. Louis Rams
Sunday, October 31: @ Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, November 7: @ Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, November 14: Vs. Carolina Panthers
Sunday, November 21: @ San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, November 28: @ Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, December 5: Vs. Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, December 12: @ Washington Redskins
Sunday, December 19: Vs. Detroit Lions
Sunday, December 26: Vs. Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, January 2: @ New Orleans Saints

Projected Offensive Starters

Left Tackle: Donald Penn
Left Guard: Jeremy Zuttah
Center: Jeff Faine
Right Guard: Davin Joseph
Right Tackle: Jeremy Trueblood
Wide Receiver 1: Michael Clayton
Wide Receiver 2: Reggie Brown
Tight End: Kellen Winslow
Fullback: Ernest Graham
Running Back: Cadillac Williams
Quarterback: Josh Freeman

Projected Defensive Starters (Base 4-3 Defense)

Left Defensive End: Tim Crowder
Left Defensive Tackle: Gerald McCoy
Right Defensive Tackle: Brian Price
Right Defensive End: Stylez G. White
Weakside Linebacker: Geno Hayes
Middle Linebacker: Barrett Ruud
Strongside Linebacker: Quincy Black
Left Cornerback: Aqib Talib
Strong Safety: Sabby Piscitelli
Free Safety: Tanard Jackson
Right Cornerback: Ronde Barber

Projected Special Teams Starters
Kicker (FG and KO): Connor Barth
Punter: Sam Paulescu
Long Snapper: Andrew Economos
Holder: Sam Palescu
Kickoff Returner: Clifton Smith
Punt Returner: Clifton Smith

Key Offseason Pick-Ups

Honestly, I could not see a single offseason signing that merited much of anything. This team is rebuilding yet it appears as if they forgot to start rebuilding before the 2010 season began.

Rookie Watch

There are literally only two of the Tampa Bay Buccaneer picks that even remotely get my interest. The first is obviously DT Gerald McCoy out of Oklahoma. Here is a kid that is a pure beast and should honestly jump right into the starter’s spot by the time the regular season rolls around. LB Barrett Ruud may be the unofficial leader of the defense, but look for McCoy to take over that title in just a season or two. For being an almost 300-pound defensive tackle, McCoy has a lot of agility and is very quick. He gets off the ball fast and can overpower just about anyone put in front of him. Look for McCoy to make an immediate impact.

One other pick jumps out at me and that’s WR Arrelious Benn out of Illinois. Benn won’t start immediately, but a good training camp could put him in the number three slot early on. The thing is that Benn will probably be starting before the season is over because newly acquire Reggie Brown is a bit of an underachiever and Michael Clayton just defines the word “lackluster.” I hate to say that about any LSU product, but it’s true. Clayton starts out as the number one receiver on the Bucs, but another poor season could see him on the outs and Benn move up.

Season Expectations

I’m sorry, but there is just not much positive to talk about when it comes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My feeling is that they are not going to follow suit with the history of the NFC South and do the “curse in reverse.” Most times we see the last place team in that division rise to the top the very next season, but with the Falcons and Saints lurking around…it’s just not going to happen. Not only that, but the Bucs simply don’t have the talent to even contend yet. This franchise is in a huge rebuilding mode and will be for another couple years, but they are getting off on the right foot so that’s a really good sign.

Raheem Morris is a great coach with a fantastic future ahead of him. He’s got himself a young quarterback in Josh Freeman that will become the face of this franchise in no time. Freeman got to step in last year and brought the team only three wins, but that was after Byron Leftwich and Josh Johnson started the team out at 0-7. Sadly, he doesn’t have that good a corps of wide receivers to throw to but maybe Benn can come about quicker than expected. At least Freeman can take pride in knowing he has a decent offensive line and a double-headed monster at running back in the “come back kid” Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward. If they can get the running game going then it will open up better chances for Freeman to actually complete some passes.

The defense isn’t bad and has a lot of experience and some pretty good young talent (see: Gerald McCoy). Problem is that Ruud can’t do it alone and Ronde Barber is really getting up there in years. Yeah, he still brings it but how much longer can he really go? Then again, he could surprise us all and be this year’s Darren Sharper. Piscitelli and Talib help keep the secondary strong, but there’s just not much else out there that will help the defense contend with the explosive offenses of teams like the Saints, Falcons, and Cardinals.

Tampa Bay will continue to rebuild even though I think they’ll improve a little bit on the 3-13 season last year that put them in last place in the NFC South. The chance is there to go up, but not much at all meaning that this team is going to visit the cellar for a second straight season. At least we can all hope they break out the creamsicle uniforms for another season. Those things were so ugly back in the day, but now they’re quite awesome for some reason.

Record Prediction: 5-10

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