Tampa Bay Buccaneers season preview

Last years record: 4-12 (last place in division)
Coach: Jon Gruden

Key Addition: Jeff Garcia, even in his mid 30’s, has proven he can be a quarterback who can win games. The only problem is his consistency as with the 49ers and Eagles he played at a pro bowl level.The Lions and Browns were a total different story as he was a walking turnover. Gruden is good with quarterbacks so expect Garcia to have a solid year.

Key Loss:The Bucs didn’t have that many off-season losses as they readdressed problem areas with younger and more athletic players.

Draft: This draft might not look that great for the Bucs on paper, but it could end up becoming a very solid class. Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams is very explosive off the edge and the first rounder should start this year. Tennessee tackle Arron Sears is a massive player who is a future starter and is good value in the second round. Oregon State safety Sabby Piscitelli is a good athlete but is very cocky and is worth a shot in developing as a 3rd rounder. 4th round New Mexico linebacker Quincy Black is also a project as of now as he is a good athlete but his skills are very raw. The sleeper of the draft is 7th round Alabama running back Kenneth Darby who could make the team as a no.3 back but should become a solid backup for Cadillac Williams.

Offense: The offenses problem last year was at quarterback as Chris Simms ruptured his spleen and was out for the year. He was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski who played ok for a rookie but isn’t starter material as of now. Gradkowski should remain on the team as Gruden really likes him. Cadillac Williams hardly played like his rookie of the year campaign in 2005. Williams had less then 800 yards last year but this year he should be healthy and the team has more of a passing threat. The receivers weren’t great last year as Joey Galloway was the only player with more then 60 receptions. Even in his mid 30’s, Galloway is still a burner and should get around 1000 yards this year with 7 touchdowns. Michael Clayton has underachieved since his rookie season and could be replaced as a starter this year. Maurice Stovall should take over the role as he is a huge target with reliable hands and will be a great help in the red zone. The offensive line wasn’t that great last year but they got good performances out of young players Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood. The team was 28th in rushing last year but look for them to rise to the middle of the pack this year.

Defense: The defense is good but is hardly the defense it was just a few years ago. Simeon Rice has slowed down and might not be the double digit sack player he was. Derrick Brooks is he remains one of the best linebackers in the league as he is a great competitor and tackling machine. Cato June should improve the team speed at linebacker and make a big impact in the Cover 2 scheme. The corners are aging as Ronde Barber might not have the speed to cover receivers deep and Brian Kelly is a solid number 2 but is also getting up in age. Jermaine Phillips was a good surprise last year as he had over 100 tackles at the safety position and should build on that this year.

Fantasy Studs: Joey Galloway WR: Galloway should have an even better season as now he will actually have reliable play at quarterback. He should be a low no.2 receiver or a high no.3.
Cadillac Williams RB: Williams should also have a better year as teams won’t put 8 in the box considering an improved passing attack. If his touchdown numbers improve, he should be used as a low no.2 back possibly no.3.

Prediction: The Bucs are hardly the team that won the Super Bowl 5 years ago. They’re younger at some key positions and they have the makings of a sleeper team in a weak NFC. The season all depends on the play of Garcia and how he makes the offense run. My prediction is 7-9 and 3rd place in the division.

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