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Five questions: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

The Buccaneers have a lot to put behind them after 2013.

But after blowing out the front office, sterilizing the locker room for MRSA and a lot of big names off the payroll (namely Darrelle Revis), it’s a new day in Tampa Bay.

They even changed the uniforms, although that might be one case where new isn’t better.

But for all the turnover in Tampa, there’s at least reason for optimism, which is something that was lacking after two seasons gone awry under Greg Schiano.

1. How quickly can Lovie Smith reshape the team in his own image?

By all accounts, quickly.

The Bucs turned over a roster like few teams in the league this offseason, on both sides of the ball. But this is clearly a team built to Smith’s specifications, with playmakers on every level of the defense, and a quarterback and an offense designed to minimize mistakes.

He’s also giving them a shot of credibility, after the fiasco that was the Greg Schiano experiment.

2. About that quarterback, is this a short-term fix?

Josh McCown has bounced around the league a bit, and has never been able to make a job his own for more than a few weeks at a time.

But he’s also respected in the locker room, and is coming off a brilliant stint in Chicago in relief of an injured Jay Cutler.

Mike Glennon isn’t so bad that they don’t think he can be their guy in a few years, but he wasn’t so good last year that Smith was willing to commit to him. Watching this position develop will be interesting as the season goes on, and if McCown can hang onto what could be his last chance at a starting job.

3. Can they keep either quarterback on his feet?

That might be the biggest question about this Bucs roster.

The offensive line was a hot mess early in the preseason, and they still can’t be sure who the guards are.

They spent free agent money on Anthony Collins to play left tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith to play center, and Demar Dotson is solid and underrated at right tackle. The spots between them are the big question marks.

They moved one presumptive starter (Jamon Meredity) to tackle after a bad debut, and are still grading a couple of kids at the moment. The two guard spots are far from a finished product, and they’ll likely look to add there via cuts or trades.

4. How much will the offense matter?

Maybe not as much as you’d think.

The Bucs have a chance to have an old-Bucs-level defense, built around defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. He and linebacker Lavonte David give the Bucs a Sapp-Brooks-ish duo in the front seven, and there’s plenty of talent around them.

They’ll need to be great, but there’s a very real possibility that can happen, as Smith puts his imprint on a team with plenty of existing talent.

5. How much ground can they make up in a year?

It would probably be unfair to expect the Bucs to pull off the worst-to-first, but that’s happened often in the NFC South.

Improvement is almost certain, as they have a clear direction and a coach that inspires confidence rather than mutiny.

If they can straighten out the offensive line and run a little, there’s a real chance for them to make a big step.

But playing in a division with the Panthers, Saints and Falcons is going to make it hard to expect a playoff berth in Year One of this project.

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27 Responses to “Five questions: Tampa Bay Buccaneers”
  1. floratiotime says: Aug 21, 2014 9:42 AM

    Question 6 … what excuses will they use at the end of this season?

  2. GBwomenrhot says: Aug 21, 2014 9:43 AM

    Rex is our Quarterback….Doh!!!

  3. jjb0811 says: Aug 21, 2014 9:44 AM

    a couple more questions
    1. Why is a barley 500 coach considered an upgrade?
    2. Has Lovie learned that offense is a major part of the game?
    3. What position will they draft using their top 7 pick?

  4. bucrightoff says: Aug 21, 2014 9:53 AM

    All about the offensive line. If it’s good the Bucs can be 8-8 or better. If it’s terrible 5-11 awaits.

  5. milkmandanimal says: Aug 21, 2014 9:54 AM

    The guard position is a train wreck; it was lousy in the offseason and very little was done to address it in free agency or the draft. It appears the plan was to hope Carl Nicks magically got better, which obviously didn’t happen. That’s what is going to determine how this season goes; can anybody actually stop an inside pass rush in Tampa?

    The defense will be excellent. Gerald McCoy is just terrifyingly good at DT. Lavonte David didn’t make the Pro Bowl, but was named first-team All-Pro, which says something about how lost you can get in a smaller market like Tampa. David was a legitimate DPOY last year, on a team that managed only four wins with a coach who was, in all likelihood, MRSA in human form.

    I’d love a big turnaround, but the defense and just some offensive improvement makes this feel like about eight wins at best for me.

  6. gayforbrady says: Aug 21, 2014 9:55 AM

    Some more questions:

    Why did lovie trade Michael Williams?
    Why did lovie declare a starting QB without any competition?
    Why did lovie let the entire offensive line go and get nothing in return?
    Why won’t lovie bring in incognito?
    Why did lovie hire Leslie Fraser?

  7. pftisfulloftrolls says: Aug 21, 2014 10:09 AM

    1.Very
    2.Yes
    3.No
    4. They at least need to be confident,which is something Lovie struggles with
    5.Not much

  8. sportstalkprofessional says: Aug 21, 2014 10:26 AM

    They need to make the Boone trade happen. That would be a nice start!

  9. milkmandanimal says: Aug 21, 2014 10:26 AM

    -Mike Williams was traded because his level of production no longer matched his level of headache. There is a limit to the level of stupid you can have and stay with a team, particularly when one of your goals is clearly resetting the attitude of a team coming out of a couple of horrible seasons.

    -Because he likes old guys. Glennon has a lot of possibilities as a starter and I want to see what he can do, but he has obvious problems in not seeing plays develop fast enough and holding onto the ball too long. I’m OK with him getting another year of seasoning.

    -The offensive line was terrible. Davin Joseph had never recovered from his leg injury and was terrible last year. Donald Penn was marginal at best, and Anthony Collins should clearly be an upgrade. Losing Zuttah is the one painful one, but he was vastly overpaid for what he could do.

    -Richie Incognito is not worth it. If he played like Carl Nicks in his prime maybe somebody thinks about it, but he’s just an OK player. He’s not dominant or excellent, and thereby not worth it. He’s also basically Greg Schiano, except as a lineman instead of a coach. No.

    -I’m assuming Leslie Frazier will just run his defense the way he likes and stay out of the way. It’s like having an offensive-minded HC who hires an offensive coordinator; it’s basically just a guy to handle the little stuff. Leslie Frazier is to Lovie what Jim Sorgi was to Peyton Manning for years; the guy to hold the clipboard.

  10. ncphinsfan says: Aug 21, 2014 10:42 AM

    The Bucs are like my Dolphins. If the OLine can’t be fixed (better Guard play) they go 7-9. The rest of the team is pretty good. The Defense is stout, the RB’s have some depth and the Big WRs will make plays, but not with a QB running for his life, being sacked and having to make all throws from 3 step drops. Likewise, the Saints own this Division, Atlanta looks better than the lasts years freak drop-off and the Panthers still have 10 win talent. Sorry Bucs Fans… You will improve your record, but not your 4th place finish.

  11. lastdukestreetking says: Aug 21, 2014 10:47 AM

    Leslie Frazier – TB’s interim coach-in-waiting!

  12. peed1 says: Aug 21, 2014 10:49 AM

    Lighten up, Lovie is such a vast improvement.
    Give it time.

  13. runningoutofboundsisforgringos says: Aug 21, 2014 10:51 AM

    Can’t wait to read about how the Bucs do this year….’cos I sure won’t be able to actually watch them in those unis

  14. noleitup says: Aug 21, 2014 11:17 AM

    Man were gonna suck again. Has anyone else noticed that all the other first round receivers are outplaying mike evans at this point. I know its just preseason and our oline sucks but I mean c’mon man. The last big slow guy I can remember being dominant was keyshawn and that aint sayin much.

  15. southpaw2k says: Aug 21, 2014 11:18 AM

    Every year since 2003, there’s been a team who finished last in its division one year, and then rebounded the following season to win it outright. As bold and fairly crazy as it sounds, I think the Bucs will win the NFC South this season, edging out the Saints in the process.

  16. sactogary says: Aug 21, 2014 11:37 AM

    The defense will be very solid. They just need to bring in a quarterback who can conduct an impressive ground game and pull off comebacks in close finishes.

  17. mpcny says: Aug 21, 2014 11:37 AM

    Sign Richie incognito and Andre Gurode to back up the inside of the line and take over for anyone who fails.

    they are both better than the starters even at the age they are at.

  18. 6ball says: Aug 21, 2014 11:43 AM

    .
    The Bucs roster is both ill conceived and horrendous. Unless they’re playing Minnesota at home, I’m not sure they can win a game.
    .

  19. JC De La Torre says: Aug 21, 2014 12:13 PM

    The Bucs bashing by these homers is hilarious. The Bucs guard situation will work itself out. They got better from Pre-season wk1 to wk2 and this week will be a great test with the awesome Bill front seven.

    They’ll be very good on defense and solid in special teams. Offensively, we’ve only seen 20% of Tedford’s playbook and I think the no-huddle fast tempo will help them hide the guards a bit more.

    Looking at the NFC South, the Saints are the cream of the crop, no doubt but the defense isn’t looking as solid as it was last season. Atlanta is still terrible on defense and on their offensive line. If Matty Ice survives the season it’s a win for them. Carolina has their own offensive line issues and dumped their entire wide receiving core. Plus Cam is still recovering from ankle surgery and isn’t moving around like Cam typically does. They’ll need him to be great or that offense will average 10 points a game. Carolina’s Front Seven is the best in the league…but that secondary…

    The Bucs can compete in the division. How far they go is dependent on how quickly they can jell. 10 wins max, I think they’ll end up in the 8-8, 9-7 range.

  20. gofor2with3pointlead says: Aug 21, 2014 12:23 PM

    Talk about ill conceived, going after a malcontent like Incognito when you just purged your roster the likes of William and Revis.

  21. snookau says: Aug 21, 2014 3:06 PM

    Weren’t the Falcons in last place in 2013?

    They drafted before the Bucs.

  22. gofor2with3pointlead says: Aug 21, 2014 3:31 PM

    TO BREAK A TIE WITHIN A DIVISION
    If, at the end of the regular season, two or more clubs in the same division finish with identical won-lost-tied percentages, the following steps will be taken until a champion is determined.
    Two Clubs
    1.Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
    2.Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
    3.Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
    4.Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
    5.Strength of victory.
    6.Strength of schedule.
    7.Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
    8.Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
    9.Best net points in common games.
    10.Best net points in all games.
    11.Best net touchdowns in all games.
    12.Coin toss

  23. gofor2with3pointlead says: Aug 21, 2014 3:33 PM

    Tie breaking procedure for selection meeting

    1. Clubs not participating in the playoffs shall select in the first through 20th positions in reverse standings order.
    2. The Super Bowl winner is last and Super Bowl loser is next-to-last.
    3. The losers of the Conference Championship games shall select 29th and 30th based on won-lost-tied percentage.
    4. The losers of the Divisional playoff games shall select 25th through 28th based on won-lost-tied percentage.
    5. The losers of the Wild Card games shall select 21st through 24th based on won-lost-tied percentage.

  24. swampcannons says: Aug 21, 2014 4:23 PM

    .
    Nope, the two dots don’t make your statement any less ignorant or asinine. Worry about your own team Pats homer.
    .

  25. petedutcherjr says: Aug 21, 2014 5:25 PM

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Bucs oline came together and they ended up owning the conference?

    They have the talent on defense. They have the talent on offense (except oline so far).

    If the Bucs oline does come together, look out league.

  26. evansvc says: Aug 21, 2014 10:25 PM

    Get Vince Young out of retirement…. He can help….

  27. silkyjohnson937 says: Aug 22, 2014 6:22 AM

    I could write this article for you guys. Five questions:

    1). Left Tackle.

    2). Left Guard.

    3). Center.

    4). Right Guard.

    5). Right Tackle.

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