2010 NFL Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into 2009 in rebuilding mode. The 2010 season should be expected to stay the same. However, after an 0-7 start a season ago, Raheem Morris turned to his first round pick, Josh Freeman, and the team did end up 3-6 en route to a 3-13 mark.
Now Freeman will be under center for the whole season. How much will he have improved from only nine games? One thing that the Buccaneers have going for them: Since 2002, the NFC South cellar dweller has made the playoffs the next season, with six of the past seven seasons winning the division. Okay, so maybe the Buccaneers won't win the division, but Atlanta went 4-12 in 2007, and made the playoffs in 2008. Something to think about while we put the Buccaneers under the scope.
- 2009 Record: 3-13 (4th, NFC South, missed playoffs)
- Key Additions: RG Keydrick Vincent (Carolina Panthers) SS Sean Jones (Philadelphia Eagles)
- Key Departures: WR Antonio Bryant (Cincinnati Bengals), DT Chris Hovan (St. Louis Rams), FS Will Allen (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Offense: As stated before, this is Josh Freeman's team. Despite throwing 18 interceptions, Freeman statistically had a better season than his fellow 2009 1st round draftees, Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez. He has been working at team headquarters ever since the season ended and is focused on winning. If he can carry that work ethic on to the field at game speed, the Buccaneers may just be a surprise. He has a backup who has played, Josh Johnson, who went 0-3 as a starter. Rudy Carpenter is listed third as he was on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad last year. The Buccaneers did sign rookie Jevan Snead of Ole Miss, who went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Carnell Williams is back and he will not be recovering from knee surgery, as he has done for the past two seasons. He had a decent 2009 season after missing two straight years of injuries to his knee, going for 823 yards and four touchdowns. The biggest bust of free agency a season ago, Derrick Ward, needs to show he is worth the $17M contract he signed in the off-season. Earnest Graham was effective as a tailback, but he has moved to fullback this season. How bad were the Buccaneers rushing attack? No back had a gain for more than 38 yards in 16 games in 2009. They need to rush better to take the pressure off of Freeman.Continued on the next page