A Playoff Team?May 19th, 2013
With the revamped Bucs defensive backfield, the Bucs should have their strongest team since the flirtation with the playoffs in 2010, and quite possibly the Bucs could have their best team since Chucky roamed the sidelines and cursed at everyone.
Some national football types are smitten.
Saturday, beat writer eye-RAH! Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune noted some think the Bucs are a playoff team because of a suddenly stacked roster, so he said on “The End Zone,” co-hosted by Howard Balzer and Zig Fracassi, heard exclusively on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
eye-RAH! Kaufman: There are a lot of Bucs fans down here thinking that this is a playoff team. And you know what? I’m not so sure they are wrong right now.
Howard Balzer: Well the thing was Ira, last year, at whatever point of the season it was, they were in position to at least be there in the playoff hunt and then, I think, they lost five in a row and the bottom just fell out and then [Josh] Freeman had a couple of bad games, a couple of four-interception games and all of a sudden the season ended badly. Obviously, they showed something there that first half of the season to get themselves into that [playoff hunt] and now they just have to be able to finish and be consistent the whole season.
Kaufman: No question. Greg Schiano had his share, guys, of growing pains in Year 1 after 11 years in the college circuit at Rutgers. They were missing two Pro Bowl guards. They have nine players guys – nine! – on this roster that have made the Pro Bowl. Now, one of them is [wide receiver] Steve Smith from the Giants and he is probably not going to make an impact this year but the others, Carl Nicks, David Joseph, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, Gerald McCoy, [Dashon] Goldson, [Darrelle] Revis. There is talent here guys.
There is talent but Joe’s not talking playoffs. Not yet. Why? Just look at the NFC landscape.
The conference is as top-heavy and loaded as Joe can remember in this century. Only six teams qualify for the playoffs; four division winners and two wild cards.
San Francisco, Green Bay, Seattle, New York, Atlanta, Minnesota, Washington and New Orleans are teams Joe believes will be the strongest in the conference. Yes, the Bucs beat Minnesota last year, but it was the Vikings, not the Bucs, who played in January.
Then throw in a few teams with enough talent to challenge for a playoff spot, like Chicago, Dallas and Detroit (which has dangerous weapons), and it’s easy to see how the Bucs could be vastly improved but watching playoff games on the couch.
On paper, the Bucs sure are improved. But to expect a playoff berth, Joe isn’t going there. That’s too much of a leap to predict with the NFC so packed with strong teams.