Bucs Most Improved TeamJune 17th, 2012
The unofficial “dead period” in the NFL calendar, from the end of the final minicamp to the start of training camp, offers time for reflection on each team, much like spring training does baseball.
How have teams improved or taken steps back? This question was posed to a bevy of NFL.com writers recently and Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout who is best known for his thoughtful NFL takes on Twitter under the moniker of @MoveTheSticks, believes the Bucs were the most improved team over the past few months.
The one team that has improved the most this offseason is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a disastrous 2011 season, they have made several impactful moves to improve their squad.
First of all, they hired a very discipline-oriented head coach in Greg Schiano. Then they were extremely aggressive in free agency, bringing in premier players like WR Vincent Jackson and OG Carl Nicks. Finally, they hit a home run in April’s draft. Safety Mark Barron and RB Doug Martin are both instant-impact players who will provide upgrades on both sides of the ball.
The NFC South is one of the NFL’s toughest divisions, but the Bucs are now in position to compete for a playoff spot.
Are the Bucs an improved team? Joe has no doubt. It doesn’t take a whole lot to improve on a woeful 4-12 debacle.
Are the Bucs improved enough to make a run at a playoff berth? Whew, Joe’s not so sure about that. Aside from possibly the NFC North, no division is tougher than the top-heavy NFC South (please spare Joe about the annually overrated and horribly over-hyped NFC East).
For the Bucs to make the playoffs, the team will likely have to leapfrog Carolina with an improved defense, an already stout running attack, and Cam Newton, who appears to be a total stud of a quarterback.
For the Bucs to improve enough to play in January, the defense has to be strong and quarterback Josh Freeman must somehow reverse his awful 22-interception season last year.