After a productive offseason, Bucs should compete in 2012

There’s reason to believe that the 2011 season was the true aberration for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – not 2010.

Behind the solid play of quarterback Josh Freeman, the Bucs won 10 games in 2010 only to transform into a laughingstock in 2011. Led by the usually cheap Malcolm Glazer, Tampa Bay kicked off the 2011 season by making punter Michael Koenen their prized free agent piece. The Glazers clearly assumed that they could win with the same roster they had in 2010 and the plan backfired in their faces.

First round pick Adrian Clayborn turned out to be a stud but the defense as a whole was horrific, finishing 21st in pass defense, 30th in overall defense and dead last in run defense. The Bucs also allowed 30.9 points per game, which was most by any team in the NFL.

The offense wasn’t much better, finishing 16th in passing yards per game, 30th in rushing and 21st overall. Their 17.9 points per game average was the sixth fewest by any team in the league.

But thanks to a successful offseason, the Bucs have bounced back.

It’s not known whether Greg Schiano will be a successful NFL head coach but there’s little doubt that he’ll bring toughness and discipline to a team that was lacking in each category last season. The Glazers also surprised by breaking out their checkbook in order to sign free agents Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright. The team’s most underrated move was bringing back defensive end Michael Bennett, who was solid in all facets of the game last season.

The Bucs’ draft was a success, too. Mark Barron is best when playing in the box but thanks to Nick Saban’s tutelage, he can hold his own in coverage as well. Trading back into the first round in order to select Boise State running back Doug Martin was also solid as he’ll force LeGarrette Blount to be a more rounded player if he hopes to get carries in Schiano’s offense. Linebacker Lavonte David was a first-round talent that the Bucs drafted in the second round, while sixth-round pick Keith Tandy is a physical cornerback who could push for playing time down the road.

Assuming the Saints re-sign Drew Brees, they’re still the class of the NFC South but the bounty scandal has left them without a head coach for the entire year, as well as several players for the first few weeks of the season. The Falcons will be good again but the Bucs always seem to give Atlanta trouble (especially in Tampa Bay) and the Panthers are a couple of defensive pieces shy from competing for a playoff spot.

Thus, the division is wide open this year. Granted, Jackson and Nicks have to stay motivated after signing long-term deals, Freeman has to bounce back from a rocky 2011 performance, and Schiano has to prove himself in the ultra-competitive NFL. But this is a team that has significantly upgraded their roster in just one offseason. So much so that they could contend for a division title this season.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

After losing out on Kelly, Bucs go back to college ranks and hire Rutgers’ Schiano

Lose out on one prominent college football head coach? No problem, just hire another.

Just days after Chip Kelly spurned them by deciding to stay at the University of Oregon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired Rutgers’ Greg Schiano to be their next head coach. He takes over for Raheem Morris, who was fired after a disastrous 2011 season in which the Bucs lost their final 10 games while stumbling to a 4-12 record.

The three finalists to take over as coach of the Bucs were apparently Panthers’ offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, fired Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, and Schiano. Just 45 years old, Schiano gained the respect of his peers and media members after impressively transforming Rutgers into a Big East power. Since 2001, the Scarlet Knights have gone to six bowl games, winning their last five. Schiano led them to a win in their most recent bowl game, a 27-13 victory over Iowa State in the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl.

What’s interesting is that Kelly and Schiano couldn’t be more different in terms of offensive philosophies. Oregon has had one of the most dynamic offenses in college football under Kelly, who runs a zone-read scheme that is unlike any system currently in the NFL. Schiano, meanwhile, has always run a “smashmouth,” run-first offense that uses a heavy dose of running back committees.

The contrast in styles makes you wonder whether or not the Bucs knew what they wanted in their next head coach. Did the Glazers just want to make a splash hire following their Morris tenure? Were they focused on a disciplinarian? Did they want to use the same blueprint as the 49ers, who obviously just had a ton of success following the hiring of former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh last year?

Schiano is a great football coach and appears to be less of a gamble than Kelly, whose offense may not have survived in the pros. But it’s odd that in the end, the Bucs’ top two choices had such contrasting styles (at least offensively).

Related Posts