JoeBucsFan Predicts An 8-8 FinishAugust 26th, 2013
Joe types this post with a heavy heart. While Joe will join every Bucs fan on opening day cheering for Tampa Bay to win every darn game, Joe only envisions the Bucs winning half their games in 2013.
The Bucs have eight Pro Bowl players 30 years old and younger — eight! — plus they have emerging stud talents like Lavonte David, Mark Barron and Mike Williams. There’s also plenty of guys with high ceilings, like franchise quarterback Josh Freeman and Adrian Clayborn.
However, the NFC is loaded with excellent football teams, loaded like it was decades ago. For example, Joe believes the Panthers are the slouch of the NFC South, but Carolina had a top-10-ranked defense last year, and they’ve got a dangerous offense. That’s an example of how deep the NFC is.
What about the St. Louis Rams? They beat the snot out of the Bucs in Tampa last season. Have the Bucs shown enough for Joe to believe they’ll beat the Rams in St. Louis in December, a game Joe will cover in person? No. Joe can’t predict the Bucs to win that game.
Joe looks at the Bucs schedule and sees the Bucs winning three games against the AFC East (Bills & Dolphins at home, and the Jets on the road). Joe also predicts the Bucs will split their division games and beat the Eagles and Cardinals in Tampa. That’s eight wins.
At the start of training camp, Joe was leaning toward the Bucs being a 9-7 team that would improve but not make the playoffs. After various preseason disappointments — Da’Quan Bowers and Carl Nicks come to mind — and inconsistency on offense and pass rushing, Joe fell back a half a notch to land at 8-8.
Factoring into Joe’s mind is Greg Schiano needing to prove himself as a game coach and it’s unknown whether the Schiano defense is a successful model in the NFL.
Also there’s the inconsistency of Freeman. It’s likely that what the Bucs got from Freeman last season is the quarterback they’ll get in 2013: inconsistent, up and down, and a guy who’s not at his best during high-pressure, late-season games, a middle-of-the-pack quarterback. Freeman is still good enough to lead a winning team, but again, the NFC is one nasty place.
The New Schiano Order is again counting on rookies in a big way, Johnthan Banks and Akeem Spence, as well as four key players coming off major surgery and injuries. There are just too many variables for Joe to believe the Bucs will become a winner.
Joe sees the New Schiano Order making incremental improvement this season, a step up to 8-8, with Schiano and rockstar general manager Mark Dominik returning in 2014.