Projected Record: 6-10
NFC South Rank: 4th
Josh Freeman is in a contract year and the coaches do not have confidence in him. Not exactly a recipe for success for a team that spent a boatload of money to improve their squad. This spending included star cornerback Darrelle Revis, stud safety Dashon Goldson as well as drafting Johnathan Banks. These three will be in charge of improving a Bucs defense that ranked dead last in passing defense in 2012. The Bucs already have a stout rush defense that only allowed 82.5 rushing yards per game last year. And despite all of these improvements, I still don’t see the Bucs making it past the .500 mark this season.
Skill Position Players and Defense:
Doug Martin set the NFL world on fire last year rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 TDs and reminded fans of a younger Ray Rice. Martin is also a passing threat out of the backfield, catching for 472 yards and one touchdown. Martin will be a key part of the future for whoever plays quarterback. The Buccaneers also have Vincent Jackson, who thrived in his first year in Tampa, accumulating 1,384 yards while averaging over 19.2 yards per catch which was best in NFL. Mike Williams proved to be a viable #2 receiver catching 63 balls for 996 yards and nine scores. He too, signed a big money deal this offseason worth 42.5 million dollars over 6 years. The two combined for one of the most potent duos in the NFL but the performance of a receiver always relies on the dependability of his quarterback and Freeman has had some consistency issues. The Bucs defense will probably finish the year in the top 10 in both passing and rushing. The defensive line is young and swallows up running backs and make offenses one dimensional. Revis, recovering from a torn ACL will immediately be put to the fire dealing with the likes of Julio Jones, Roddy White, Marques Colston and Steve Smith. But Revis is one of the best in the NFL and will be up to the challenge. The Bucs are talented but they have significant weaknesses that will hold them back.
QB and Pass Rush:
The Buccaneers stripped Josh Freeman of his captaincy this year and Greg Schiano didn’t exactly give Freeman a vote of confidence when asked why. Former teammate Ronde Barber was quoted as saying Freeman is “prone to mistakes”. I personally don’t see why the Buccaneers are giving up so quickly on Freeman, who has great size and arm strength. But when there is doubt about a starting quarterback, the team cannot focus and often leads to bad seasons. If Glennon ends up playing this season, Josh Freeman better start looking for a new home. The most baffling part of the Buccaneers evaluation of Freeman is his age as he is only 25 years old with plenty of room to grow. The other major weakness for Tampa Bay is the pass rush, ranking 29th in sacks last year. In a division with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton pass rush is crucial to the overall success of a defense.
@New York Jets-W: Geno Smith is starting for the Jets and Revis returns to NYC. A match-up made in heaven for the motivated Revis. Welcome to Revis Island, Geno Smith
vs New Orleans-L: The Bucs can’t get to Drew Brees and eventually Brees figures Revis out and the Saints win
@ New England-L: Josh Freeman can’t keep up with Tom Brady and the Bucs struggle to deal with all of the Patriot weapons
vs Arizona-W: Put Larry Fitzgerald on Revis island and who else do the Cardinals have? Not much. Tampa has more weapons to throw to.
vs Philadelphia-W: The read option won’t fool Greg Schiano and the Eagles will have trouble stopping Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin.
@ Atlanta-L: Matt Ryan just has too many options to throw to and should spread the Bucs out and win the game.
vs Carolina-W: The Buccaneers rebound as Cam struggles to score against the pass defense. The Panthers can’t get the ball to Steve Smith or Greg Olsen, making it hard for any receivers to get open.
@ Seattle- L: And this is where the streak ends as Seattle puts a hurting on Josh Freeman, holding him to a mere 100 yards passing. Vincent Jackson is also checked by All-pro Richard Sherman and cannot help Freeman at all.
vs Miami- L: In a rare turn of events, Darrelle Revis gets burned by the speedy Mike Wallace for a touchdown and the potent Miami pass rush sacks Josh Freeman at least seven times.
vs Atlanta- L: Josh Freeman’s up and down season continues and Greg Schiano decides to put Mike Glennon in the game. He doesn’t help much and the Falcons blow out Tampa.
@ Detroit-L: Glennon gets his first NFL start against a nasty Detroit pass rush and Glennon struggles to adjust to the constant pressure, throwing for 3 INTs. In an epic matchup of Megatron vs Revis Island, Megatron wins, scoring 2TDs.
@ Carolina-L: The Bucs flip-flop again and revert back to Freeman, after Glennon’s less than impressive start and the Bucs still lose. The horrible season continues.
vs Buffalo-W: Tampa finally gets a win over EJ Manuel and the Bills as Revis locks down Stevie Johnson for only 3 catches.
vs San Francisco-L: Colin Kaepernick spreads out the secondary for over 250 yards and then adds another 100 on the ground as Freeman again struggles against a tough San Fran D.
@ St. Louis- W: Besides Tavon Austin, the Rams don’t have too many weapons to fear and Sam Bradford is just not good, so the Bucs pull this one out.
@ New Orleans- L: Brees outplays Freeman and despite the Muscle Hamster’s big game, the Saints beat Tampa to close out a tumultuous season for the Buccaneers
The Bucs have lots of individual talent, but they are missing crucial pieces from being a true threat in the NFC South.