I love Football Outsiders' statistical system. It's surprisingly accurate, and objective: there are no subjective biases in favor of certain teams, which are always in place with people - even if they aren't aware of those biases. That's just how the human mind works. So, it's always a good time when the Outsiders publish their yearly projections for the season. Last year, they correctly predicted a big slump for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This season they're predicting a slight improvement, to seven wins. That's not a bad number, though it would be slightly disappointed given the investments made this season, the talent already in place, and the obvious fact that the Bucs aren't rebuilding: they want to win now.
That's not the most disappointing part of this projection, however. The most disappointing part would be the ranking of the defense: the second-worst ranking in the NFL. The Bucs actually had a pretty decent defense the first five or so games of the 2011 season, before the 10-game losing streak started. And then that 10-game losing streak started, and everything collapsed. I would expect a big uptick in the defense over last year simply on the basis of added talent and, most importantly, the fact that they're not likely to just give up the way they did late last season. Outsiders projects the offense to be mediocre, with a 15th ranking, which would represent a significant jump over last year, at least.
Football Outsiders projects a modest improvement this year. But the Bucs would not and should not be satisfied with a modest improvement, given the way the team collapsed last year. I'm not expecting some sort of miracle season, but if the defense does that poorly, and the offense doesn't rise above mediocre, then the Bucs will have a lot of work to do next offseason.