The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the daunting task to begin the preseason against the defending champion Baltimore Ravens. Last year the Buccaneers finished 7-9 and looked to turn over a new leaf in 2013. Out is retired corner Ronde Barber, and in is a new all pro cornerback by the name of Darrelle Revis. They made a big splash by trading away their first round pick, just days before the NFL Draft to acquire Revis Island.
They also made headlines during the Draft when they shocked everyone by taking a quarterback in the third round. Now granted, outside of Geno Smith and E.J Manuel every quarterback fell to the third round or later. What was surprising was the fact that they took N.C. State Quarterback Mike Glennon before the likes of Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib, both of whom were rumored to be first round or second round picks.
It seems everything is going well for Tampa so far, but there are still some questions needed to be answered before the start of the regular season.
5. Is Darrelle Revis healthy enough to contribute in 2013?
Revis is coming off a knee injury from last season and it is unknown whether Revis is fully healthy. The Buccaneers may not play Revis in the preseason so we probably won’t see him against Joe Flacco tonight but he should be ready for Week 1. Remember, Revis signed a hefty contract that comes with zero guaranteed money so I imagine Revis may get a pass this season if he looks a little off as you can say he is coming off a knee injury. Though going forward will be the key as the Bucs can cut him at any time if the knee starts to hurt his play and he doesn’t revert back to pro bowl form.
4. Will young defensive players step up and play major roles on defense?
Since 2010 the Buccaneers have drafted defensive players in the first round. Essentially they used their 2013 first round pick on a defensive player in Revis but got a proven commodity. They did use their second round pick on another corner, Johnthan Banks out of Mississippi State. Mark Barron, Adrian Clayborn, Gerald McCoy have been the last three first round picks, notice how they are all on defense. Barron played well as a rookie last year and should find himself having a big year with most teams trying to game plan around not throwing the ball to Revis. Clayborn and McCoy have been so so but have to step up this year if the Buccaneers are to make a run in the NFC South.
3. Can they compete with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints?
The NFC South has become the Atlanta and New Orleans show. Since 2009, they have been trading division titles with each other. The last time anyone else in the NFC South won the division was 2008 with the Carolina Panthers, and the Buccaneers last won the division in 2007. With new pieces in place, things are lined up for Tampa to finally take down the power houses in 2013 but there still may be one issue they must work out.
2. What will be the team’s identity be in 2013?
Schiano is an old school type of coach, which was why the Buccaneers traded back into the first round to grab Doug Martin. Yet they acquired Vincent Jackson from the San Diego Chargers in free agency, so are they a passing team or running team? It seems they are trying to have a mixture of both but the running game proved to be more successful. The running game may have to be the approach, and there is no better defensive line to put Doug Martin to the test then the Ravens.
1. Is Josh Freeman or Mike Glennon the answer at Quarterback?
This is the main question heading into 2013, and there is no way around it. Both New Orleans and Atlanta have stable quarterbacks which is the reason why they have been the teams to beat in the NFC South. When the Buccaneers shocked everyone by drafting Mike Glennon, the future of Josh Freeman came into question. He is in a contract year and Buccaneers’ General Manager Mark Dominik said they will not address his contract until after the season. It seems he does not have faith in Freeman and Glennon may have a great shot at impressing Dominik. The question becomes, what happens if Freeman and Glennon both fail? Luckily for Tampa the 2014 NFL Draft is very heavy at the quarterback position and Tampa could have a shot at starting over in 2014.
Mike Presley is a Division Leader for The Penalty Flag. He hosts “The Front Seven Podcast” on Youtube. Mike writes for the racing website www.hardcoreracefans.com during the NASCAR Season. Mike can be contacted on Twitter @mikepresley64 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.