Tuesday, August 11, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
2008 RECORD: 9-7
(3rd in NFC South)
HEAD COACH: Raheem Morris
Key Additions: RB Derrick Ward (FA/Giants) TE Kellen Winslow, Jr. (trade/Browns) QB Byron Leftwich (FA/Steelers) LB Angelo Crowell (FA) PK Mike Nugent (FA/Jets)
Key Losses: TE Alex Smith (trade/Patriots) WR Joey Galloway (FA/Patriots) LB Cato June (FA/Texans) LB Derrick Brooks(FA) QB Jeff Garcia (FA/Raiders) CB Phillip Buchanon (FA/Lions) WR Ike Hilliard (FA) RB Warrick Dunn (FA)
Offense: The Buccaneers went through a lot of changes in the off-season and it appears Luke McCown will get the job as starting quarterback.
Also in camp in 2009 is Brian Griese (1,073 yards passing with five TDs and seven INT in '08), Byron Leftwich, Pittsburgh's backup QB last season and rookie Josh Freeman, the Bucs' first-round pick from Kansas State.
Last season's leading rusher, Warrick Dunn, is gone but, Derrick Ward (1,025 yards and 5.6 ypc average) comes over from the New York Giants to assume the starting position at halfback.
Ernest Graham (injured last year) will battle Ward for the starting spot. B.J. Askew is the fullback and his backup is Byron Storer. Jameel Cook is also available in the backfield.
Michael Clayton and Antonio Bryant are the wide receivers and Kellen Winslow, Jr. will be the Tight End.
Bryant led the team in receiving last season with 83 catches for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns. Winslow, acquired in a trade from Cleveland, made 43 catches and scored three TDs. Clayton had 38 grabs for 484 yards with a touchdown in 2008. Backups include Dexter Jackson, Maurice Stovall and TE Jerramy Stevens, who had 38 catches and two TDs a year ago.
The offensive line consists of tackles Jeremy Trueblood, Donald Penn, guards Arron Sears and Davin Joseph and center Jeff Faine.
Defense: Tampa Bay's defense was fair last season, finishing ninth overall (306 yards allowed per game), fourth against the pass (187 yards allowed) and 19th in rushing, allowing 119 yards per game.
Up front are tackles Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims and ends Jimmy Wilkerson and Gaines Adams. Stylez White, Dre Moore and Greg Peterson are ready to fill in when needed. Angelo Crowell, Jermaine Phillips and Barrett Ruud are the linebackers.
The secondary had 22 interceptions in '08 (tied for third in NFL) and cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib led the way with four picks each. Tanard Jackson and Sabby Piscitelli are the safeties.
This is still a physical defense that likes to get after people and will keep Tampa Bay in the game.
OUTLOOK: With all the changes looming for 2009, including a new Head Coach in Raheem Morris, who takes over for Jon Gruden, the Buccaneers have a lot to prove after just missing out on the playoffs last season.
Quarterback Jeff Garcia headed west to Oakland and McCown will likely be the starting QB for the Bucs.
The offense wasn't bad in 2008, but it did not exactly strike fear into opponents either. The team scored 361 points in '08, but were 30th overall in the Red Zone, scoring touchdowns just 39 percent of the time they were there.
The receiving corps is good and the running game should be bolstered by the addition of Ward and a healthy Ernest Graham in '09.
The defense can do better against the run, especially playing in the NFC South, where Atlanta and Carolina, two teams that love to run the football, dwell. Tampa Bay needs to get after the quarterback a little more often as well. They had only 29 sacks a year ago as Gaines Adams led the team with six.
If Tampa Bay can mesh all the newcomers (and rookies) with some of the hold overs from the Gruden-era, this team can have success. No doubt, there are a lot of questions facing the team as the season approaches.
This could be a team that sneaks up on people much the same way as Atlanta and Miami did in 2008. But there are a lot of questions entering the 2009 season.
Whether or not the Bucs can answer them remains to be seen. A 6-10 finish would send them back to the NFC South cellar and that is more likely to happen than a big surprise in the NFC South.
Week 1- vs. Dallas (Sept. 13)
Week 2- at Buffalo (Sept. 20)
Week 3- vs. NY Giants (Sept. 27)
Week 4- at Washington (Oct. 4)
Week 5- at Philadelphia (Oct. 11)
Week 6- vs. Carolina (Oct. 18)
Week 7- vs. New England (in London, Oct. 25)
Week 8- BYE WEEK
Week 9- vs. Green Bay (Nov. 8)
Week 10- at Miami (Nov. 15)
Week 11- vs. New Orleans (Nov. 22)
Week 12- at Atlanta (Nov. 29)
Week 13- at Carolina (Dec. 6)
Week 14- vs. NY Jets (Dec. 13)
Week 15- at Seattle (Dec. 20)
Week 16- at New Orleans (Dec. 27)
Week 17- vs. Atlanta (Jan. 3)