Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS                                      

2013 Record: 4-12-0

Key Additions: QB Josh McCown; OL Anthony Collins; OL Evan Dietrich-Smith; DL Michael Johnson; DL Clint McDonald; TE Brandon Myers; CB Alterraun Verner.

Key Losses: CB Darrelle Revis; RB Brian Leonard; OL Davin Joseph; OL Jeremy Zuttah; OL Donald Penn.

HEAD COACH: Lovie Smith

Offense: Quarterback Mike Glennon (2,608 passing yards with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions) filled in admirably for the Buccaneers last year when the wheels came off the offense and former (starter) Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman was sent packing. This year the Bucs have Josh McCown (1,829 yards with a 67 percent completion rate and 13 TD with just one INT with Chicago) vying for the starting spot. Both of these quarterbacks have been backups but will get their chance to become the starter in 2014.
The running game has Doug Martin, who was sensational as a rookie in 2012 but was injured for most of last year and was limited to only six games, as he finished with 456 rushing yards (3.6 ypc average) and just one score. Mike James played sparingly (due to injuries as well) and ran for 295 yards and a 4.9 ypc average. The third runner for the Bucs could be either Bobby Rainey (532 yards, 3.9, five TD) or rookie Charles Sims (West Virginia).
Vincent Jackson is the top wide receiver, making 78 receptions for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago. Along with Jackson is Mike Evans (rookie from Texas A & M) as well as Tommy Streeter, Chris Owusu and Louis Murphy. The tight ends are Timothy Wright (54 receptions, 571 yards and five TD) along with Brandon Myers and rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington).
The line consists of center Evan Dietrich-Smith, guards Patrick Omameh and Carl Nicks and tackles Demar Dotson and Anthony Collins.

STATS - The Buccaneers had the worst offense in pro football last season, averaging just 277 yards per game. The rushing attack went for 101 yards per game (22nd) while the passing game averaged only 176 yards each game, which was dead last in the NFL. Not surprisingly, the Bucs averaged just 18 points per game, which ranked 30th overall. Opponents sacked Tampa Bay quarterbacks 47 times last year. The Bucs turned it over only 21 times with 12 interceptions and nine fumbles.

Defense: Gerald McCoy (9.5 QB sacks) and Akeem Spence play the tackles while the ends are Adrian Clayborn (5,5 sacks) and Michael Johnson in the 4-3 set. In reserve are Clinton McDonald, Da'Quan Bowers and William Gholston.
The linebackers are Mason Foster (three interceptions) in the middle while Lavonte David (six sacks and five interceptions) and Danny Lansanah man the outside spots. Dane Fletcher, Jonathan Casillas and Ka'Lial Glaud provide the depth at linebacker.
In the secondary, Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron play the safety positions along with corners Jonathan Banks (three picks) and Alterraun Verner. Adding some depth in this area are Major Wright, Keith Tandy (three INT), Mike Jenkins and Leonard Johnson.

STATS - Tampa Bay finished in the middle of the pack defensively a year ago, allowing 348 yards per game (17th) which included 238 passing yards (17th) and 110 rushing yards, which was 15th overall. Scoring defense was weaker as the Bucs gave up 24 points per game, which put them 21st in the NFL. The team did do well in the turnover category, getting 21 interceptions and ten fumble recoveries for a plus-10 on the turnover charts. Tampa Bay sacked opposing passers 35 times last season.

OUTLOOK: Playing in the NFC South, the Buccaneers finished last and need a shot in the arm and so they brought in some new personnel on defense as well as a new QB in Josh McCown to try and ignite a spark for the team.
New Head Coach Lovie Smith had some past success in Chicago and now would like to see his new team get off to a good start and compete with New Orleans, Carolina and Atlanta for the division title.
The offense must produce more and the running game definitely needs to improve as well as the anemic passing attack the Bucs showed last year. Less than 200 yards per game passing does not cut it in today's NFL.
The defense was decent last year and proved to be opportunistic with the turnovers, but the team needs to convert the turnovers into points on the scoreboard. McCown showed he can be a leader as he played very well in Chicago when Jay Cutler was out with injuries last year. The Bucs will need some of that from McCown and the offense this year if they want to improve.
The fact is the NFC is loaded and this team seems to be in transition with a new coaching staff and many questions needing to be answered once the 2014 season starts. Figure the Buccaneers to improve slightly and go 5-11 this season as they look to better days in the future.

Week 1- vs. Carolina
Week 2- vs. St. Louis
Week 3- at Atlanta
Week 4- at Pittsburgh
Week 5- at New Orleans
Week 6- vs. Baltimore
Week 7- BYE WEEK
Week 8- vs. Minnesota
Week 9- at Cleveland
Week 10- vs. Atlanta
Week 11- at Washington
Week 12- at Chicago
Week 13- vs. Cincinnati
Week 14- at Detroit
Week 15- at Carolina
Week 16- vs. Green Bay
Week 17- vs. New Orleans

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