Before we start previewing the match
we will all see against the Steelers, I want to re-visit this article. I threw it up a couple of weeks ago, but I quickly pulled it down after a barrage of articles.
We all know the Bucs have started a youth movement. They have released veteran after veteran for the last two years, stockpiled draft picks and have pursued younger players in free agency while ignoring several excellent but aged veterans. However, we have held onto a few veterans in hopes of igniting leadership on both sides of the ball. Jeff Faine and Carnell Williams lead the pack of veterans on offense, while Barrett Ruud, Sean Jones and Ronde Barbe add the experience to the defensive side.
With all of that being said, where do the Bucs rank amongst the youngest teams and should that make Buc fans temper their expectations of this season? Hit the jump to see some numbers you won't find anywhere else.
Team Ages from Oldest to Youngest (average age of team)
Cleveland Browns - Information not available **
31. Washington Redskins - 26.8
30. Oakland Raiders - 27.7
29. Pittsburgh Steelers 27.6
28. Detroit Lions - 27.1
27. Minnesota Vikings - 26.8
24. Arizona Cardinals - 26.6
24. San Diego Chargers - 26.6
24. San Fransisco 49ers - 26.6
22. New Orleans Saints - 26.5
22. Chicago Bears - 26.5
21. New York Jets - 26.4
18.New York Giants - 26.3
18. Cincinnati Bengals - 26.3
18. Atlanta Falcons - 26.3
16. Baltimore Ravens - 26.2
16. St. Louis Rams - 26.2
13. Tennessee Titans - 26.1
13. Denver Broncos - 26.1
13. Miami Dolphins - 26.1
11. New England Patriots - 26
11. Houston Texans - 26
10. Dallas Cowboys - 25.9
9. Buffalo Bills - 25.8
8. Seattle Seahawks - 25.7
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 25.5
5. Kansas City Chiefs - 25.5
5. Green Bay Packers - 25.5
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - 25.4
2. Carolina Panthers 25.4
2.Indianapolis Colts - 25.4
1. Philadelphia Eagles - 25.1
** Roster was not updated on FoxSports.Com
Age has nothing to do with expectations of a team. You may repeatedly hear "They are a young team," but in reality it doesn't matter. What DOES matter is the expectations of your quarterback. It defines the expectations of the team with only a few exceptions.
The Eagles, Seahawks and Panthers have mild expectations of success this season. They both have unproven but widely regarded as sufficient quarterbacks. Such is the expectations of the team. Good enough to potentially make the playoffs (maybe all but Seattle), but no further.
The Colts, Packers, Cowboys have high expectations. If they don't win the conference, it's probably not a successful year. They also have elite level quarterbacks. Tony Romo, Aaron Rogers and Peyton Manning are very talented quarterbacks, proven entities and leaders.
The Chiefs, Bucs, Bills and Jaguars are all the plankton of the ocean. Chiefs and Jaguars have very average quarterbacks AT BEST with little surrounding them. The Bills and Bucs have bad quarterbacks (or at least based on last years production levels). Again, as the quarterback goes so goes the team.
What do all ten of these teams have in common? They are the ten youngest teams in the NFL... proving that youth has little to do with expectations.
On the other end of the spectrum, experience does not make you a contender. Buried in the bottom ten of average age of NFL team you will find the Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals. While some are on the Oakland Raider bandwagon it is only because they play in the worst division in football. However, most would argue that their best chance is to break even, which is still a huge success. When a huge success is .500, I would say the expectations of your team are pretty low. Again, the quarterbacks highlight the teams expectations. Jason Campbell, while many (not I) believe it was a fault of the system, has had a disappointing career and has the reputation of 7 years of a terrible franchise weighing him down. Detroit Lions are in a similar boat as the Bucs and have a sophomore quarterback coming off a bad rookie season. Arizona Cardinals have Derek Anderson starting for them and Max Hall backing them up. Enough said.
Pittsburgh's title hopes rest on how the Steelers can manage without Ben Roethlisberger at the helm. Obviously any team relying on it's 3rd and 4th quarterbacks are going to have tempered expectations at the time but doesn't this also prove a point? The age of this squad is completely irrelevant in the discussion of winning a Super Bowl.
Also finding themselves as one of the 10 oldest squads in the the New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, San Fransisco 49ers and to some extent the Redskins and Chargers also all have title hopes. The point is getting redundant, but the quarterbacks are at the heart of their expectations...with one exception. The 49ers. The 49ers are one of two anomalies on this list. The other being the New York Jets. So what gives? Well, what are the Jets expectations built on? They are built on an ELITE defense and enough players on offense to compensate for Mark Sanchez. The only question mark keeping some to predict a Super Bowl title for them is Sanchez. If there was even an average quarterback, say Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco etc. leading this squad, there would be little hesitation in crowning them Champions in August. The 49ers are in a similar scenario. Their quarterback, Alex Smith, gave fans and media hope with his elevated play last season. As a guy who went from nearly cut to starting quarterback, Smith gave JUST enough to make them NFC West favorites. They too have a loaded defense and enough big playmakers surrounding him to give hope.
I would also argue that quarterback play is the reason for teams surprising the media and football fans and making the playoffs. Often quarterback play can vary from year to year. Just because a quarterback had a sub-par season the previous year, does not change the opportunity for increased productivity, effectiveness and stats. It does however justify a low expectation and perception of the team.
Outside of these two, you can name any team in the league name the quarterback and know exactly what to expect. Without looking at the rest of the roster. It's a quarterback driven league, not an experience driven league. So Bucs fans, youth is not an excuse. We are in good company.