NFC South Preview- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Since their Super Bowl victory in the 2002 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not been in championship form in the years since. With new QBs coming into former head coach Jon Gruden’s rotation every year or two and injuries, and inconsistencies led to the ultimate price: their jobs. Gruden was fired after a 9-3 start and a lead on the NFC South turned into a 9-7 finish and missing the playoffs after losing all four games in December. The Buccaneers also lost defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who left to become the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Volunteers led by his son, Lane. The Buccaneers have turned to Raheem Morris as their new head coach, and with a complete overhaul of the coaching staff and new players, this looks like a rebuilding period in Tampa.

The Buccaneers drafted QB Josh Freeman with the 18th pick in the NFL Draft this year, but unless he shines in the preseason, he will not be the starter, as they want to sit him out and let him learn the game. They made a big acquisition in Kellen Winslow from Cleveland, and picked up Derrick Ward from the NY Giants in free agency. Expect a QB battle between Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown for the starting job. Luke has his best chance to be a NFL Quarterback, and Leftwich is trying to get a starting job again for the first time since Jacksonville. The firing of Jeff Jagodzinski as offensive coordinator and moving Greg Olson from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator shows that they are making the right moves, and it was good to make this move before the opening kickoff on Sept. 13th.

Defensively, new defensive coordinator Jim Bates will be doing less Tampa 2 with the secondary doing most of the work, and working more with blitzing out of the 4-3. With Linebacker Barrett Ruud leading the way for the younger Buccaneers, replacing longtime Linebacker Derrick Brooks. Ruud is a leader by example, and will be a great replacement for years to come. Expect him to be flying around the field making tackles and impact on the blitz. This defense is young and will make mistakes but should get better over time and the course of the season.

The Bucs are rebuilding and this season will be a transition into the Morris era, and so far they have made the right moves personnel wise. As the players learn their coach and vice-versa, it will get better. Just don’t expect success in Tampa Bay this season as this team gets a whole new identity.

  1. I am looking forward to the regular season play of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I just finished watching the last preseason game against the Houston Texans. Knowing that there are players on the team trying to make the 53 man roster. The coaching staff had a good look at Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson today. Although I would have to give the edge to Josh Johnson for the Houston game. I have to say he did a nice job connecting with the recievers tonight. The question for tonight is – Who will make up the 53 man roster for the Bucs this 2009-2010 NFL Season?

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