FreshTake Sports NFL Team Previews: Tampa Bay

Freshtakesports NFL Team Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Every year, I pick a team that has made very notable moves in the offseason and “jump on the bandwagon” because I’m excited to see what they do in the upcoming year. This year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is that team.

The Buccaneers have gone further than just adding a couple players to help the team after a 4-12 season last year. The Buccaneers have hired a new General Manager in Jason Licht and a new Head Coach in Lovie Smith with the hope of giving Tampa Bay its first winning season since 2008. The Bucs even will go into the 2014 season with brand new uniforms.

Lovie Smith has been in a coach in Tampa before. Smith was the linebackers coach for the Bucs under the legendary Tony Dungy from 1996 to 2001. During this time he and Dungy created what would eventually become known as the infamous “Tampa 2” defensive scheme. Smith was able to build this scheme around players like Hall of Famers DT Warren Sapp and LB Derrick Brooks and likely future HOFers S John Lynch and CB Ronde Barber.

NFL analysts are already comparing current Buccaneers defensive players DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David to Sapp and Brooks respectively. The Buccaneers brought in DE Michael Johnson from the Cincinnati Bengals to play on the opposite from rising star DE Adrian Clayborn. Young standout S Mark Barron will also be getting some help in the secondary this upcoming season with the Buccaneers signing S Dashon Goldson from the San Francisco 49ers and CBs Alterraun Verner from the Tennessee Titans and Mike Jenkins from the Oakland Raiders in free agency. With that many key players on a the defense being coached by Lovie Smith, who was also responsible for the monumental success of the Chicago Bears in the mid-to-late 2000s.

Speaking of Smith in Chicago, his run there was marked by strong defenses and middle-of-the-road at best offenses. That’s how I would describe this Tampa Bay offense. A group that ranked dead last in passing and receiving last year as well as in the bottom five in rushing isn’t exactly a favorite to set the league on fire in 2014.

Tampa Bay does have a couple of offensive stars in WR Vincent Jackson and RB Doug Martin, the latter will be looking to rebound from a season-shortening injury. The Bucs drafted WR Mike Evans from Texas A&M and signed TE Brandon Myers from the New York Giants.

Lovie Smith’s quarterback in his successful years in Chicago was a man named Rex Grossman whose only job was to not mess up, which he did fairly often. Lovie Smith’s quarterback in Tampa Bay is a man named Josh McCown whose only job will be to not mess up. McCown comes from Chicago where he had three big targets in WR Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey and TE Martellus Bennett to Tampa where he will have two big targets in Jackson and Evans.

The rest of the NFC South teams are high powered offenses with big arm quarterbacks. A team like Tampa who will undoubtedly have a strong defensive presence could wreak havoc. The Bucs will also face the teams in the AFC North and NFC North (which will see an exciting homecoming of Lovie to Chi-town) along with games against the St. Louis Rams and the Washington Professional Football Team.

A lot of people will overlook this team in preseason previews and predictions and that’s part of what makes them a likely success story. Almost every year there’s a team that comes out of nowhere and surprises us. If I was a betting man, I’d put some money down that the Buccaneers will be that team.

-Editor

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