Buccaneers Set To Take Major Step Forward After Addressing Needs
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers improved by three online sports betting wins in their first year under head coach Greg Schiano last season, going 7-9 after posting just four victories the season before. The Buccaneers then spent the offseason addressing their biggest issues including the league’s worst pass defense, that is expected to be dramatically better with the additions of Pro Bowl talents in cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson. Tampa Bay has committed to quarterback Josh Freeman for at least one more year, and their success will be tied to whether or not he can step up and be the franchise quarterback they believe he can be for a full season.
Freeman looked very good early on with a new cast of wide receivers that included Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, but he struggled as the year went on and made two many big mistakes in key situations. He is now entering the final year of his rookie contract, and both sides understand this is a make or break online sportsbook season. The presence of second-year running back Doug Martin will be huge, especially considering the offensive line will have Pro Bowl guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks back. Those two will help open holes for Martin while giving Freeman time to operate, and that can’t be underestimated. The Tampa Bay offense managed to crack the top-10 a year ago, and there is no reason to think they can’t be even better with more consistency this season.
The good news is the Buccaneers owned the best rushing defense in the NFL a year ago. The bad news is that the pass defense was the league’s worst. Tampa Bay addressed that problem by signing Goldson and trading a first-round pick for Revis, and that provides an immediate significant upgrade. Schiano s a former defensive backs coach and takes great pride in that area, so you know he took it personally when his secondary struggled a year ago. The front-seven should also be strong again with Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy leading a defensive line that also features Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers. 2012 second-round pick Lavonte David was a standout as a rookie a year ago, and he should thrive on the weak side next to Mason Foster and free agent-signing Anthony Casillas.
Kicker Connor Barth showed off his power by making six of his nine attempts from 50 yards or more a year ago, while Michael Koenen handled the kickoff and punting duties. The Buccaneers could use a spark in the return game, so look for second-year pro Michael Smith to get the chance to showcase his skills.
Tampa Bay did an excellent job of addressing its key needs in the sports betting offseason, and the acquisitions of Revis and Goldson on defense combined with the return of Nicks and Joseph on the offensive line will make this team that much better. The Buccaneers opened last year with a 6-4 record before losing five of their final six games, but the upgrades they have made should be good enough for at least three more wins in 2013 despite playing in a very tough NFC South division.
2013 PROJECTION: 10-6; 2nd in NFC South