Brandt: Bucs In Playoffs In 2014May 23rd, 2014
Joe can sense it from Bucs fans. He reads it on this here corner of the Interwebs. He hears it on sports radio. Bucs fans are in need of Zoloft.
Standards throughout the Tampa Bay area used to be Super Bowl or bust. Why, Team Glazer even jettisoned a popular coach who couldn’t get the Bucs to the Super Bowl despite multiple playoff appearances.
My, how things have changed. Joe is convinced some Bucs fans would be dancing in the streets if the team even got to a .500 record, if you can imagine.
Well, Gil Brandt has good news for this depressed, sullen lot. The longtime pro personnel wizard of the Dallas Cowboys and current media mogul typed a recent NFL.com column in which he states a belief the Bucs will play meaningful games in January for a change.
After a chaotic 2013 campaign, things are definitely looking up for the Bucs, who have a proven winner at head coach in Lovie Smith and a boatload of good players on the roster.
Tampa Bay had a great draft, highlighted by its first three selections; receiver Mike Evans, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and running back Charles Sims all should be able to contribute immediately. The Bucs also made solid free-agency additions, including cornerback Alterraun Verner and defensive lineman Michael Johnson, to a roster that already included standouts like Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David. The return of top-notch running back Doug Martin, who missed 10 games in 2013, will be a boon. The biggest question mark is the quarterback position, but veteran Josh McCown should be fine there. In short, this is a good team.
In Smith’s nine years coaching the Bears, Chicago had 310 takeaways — the most in the NFL during that span. That makes him a natural match for a Tampa Bay squad that posted a turnover differential of plus-10 last season, an excellent number augmented by 21 interceptions. In fact, Smith is really walking into an ideal situation, with expectations relatively low and talent levels sky-high. There’s a good chance we’ll see the Bucs competing this postseason, especially if the Carolina Panthers slip back to earth in the NFC South.
Joe buys into one of Brandt’s takes: the Bucs’ defense should be special. About the only thing Joe got right in the draft is when fans kept pestering him on Twitter about what defensive player to draft in the first two days of the draft, Joe responded, “Thinking the defense is about set.”
Of course, the key here is offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford. No one really knows what this offense will be and it has plenty of question marks, from potholes on the line to the quarterback, or how quickly a rookie receiver — four rookie pass catchers in all — can adapt to the NFL.
The fact the Bucs had such a fine turnover ratio last year and still lost 12 games just goes to show what a rotten offense they had. Rarely did they take full advantage of turnovers.