I'm sure a large percentage of buccaneer fans this year are very excited about the talent this year! Why wouldn't we? We had our problems in 2012 and for the most part they were answered in the offseason.
Problem 1: Secondary
The secondary was horrendous last year and was really tough to watch. It was so bad that we almost beat the NFL record for most passing yards allowed (C'MON MAN)! On the side note Dominick and Schiano reacted right away and acquired arguably one of the best free safeties in the game Dashon Goldson. They didn't stop there though, they continued to acquire talent and were able to get the best corner in the game Darrelle Revis. At this point as a fan we are excited, but Dominick did not stop there. He then took our 1st draft pick (Second Round) and chose Johnthan Banks giving Tampa a lot more depth at this position. Another huge part during this time is we restructured Wrights contract for a small amount and were able to keep him (I'm not a fan at all of Eric Wright and still don't why we signed him but Goldson said he will make sure hes ready for the season and I trust Dashon).
Problem 2: Defense Line
Everybody was pretty upset when we let Bennett go this year. Why wouldn't we? He was hands down our best lineman and then we let him hit free agency. Luckily it turns out he has some nagging injuries which will probably will affect him in the near future (which obviously we will not know about until a couple years down the road). Also, we lost Miller. Didn't seem like a huge loss but seemed worth the sign for getting his job done every week except just like Bennett he also had nagging injuries which are affecting him now. So what does that leave us with Da'quan Bowers who was supposed to be the number 1 pick a couple years ago and a healthy Clayborn coming back. Da'quan promises double digit sacks and Clayborn when healthy was a beast at the line recording 7 sacks as a rookie. Akeem Spence was also picked up in the draft, filling in the need for Roy Miller. Schiano praises this man a great amount and it seems he may be the strongest man on the team if not the whole NFL.
Problem 3: System
Year after year after year Freeman has constantly had a new system! After a year under his belt and actually breaking records for the franchise, Freeman has no more excuses. This is his moment to shine, there won't be anymore hesitation during the game and he has a chance to finally help the team reach its goal.
Problem 4: Not enough beef
In 2013 Tampa Bay's line is going to be huge!!! Davin Joseph, Carl Nicks, Gabe Carimi, and Tom Crabtree are the additions to this ground and pound football team. Can you imagine the push this offensive line will be doing? Also, don't be surprised if you will see Dotson and Carimi out on the field at the same time.
Problem 5: Competition
Schiano repeatedly has asked for competition in each positional group and that's exactly what he got. Each individual are competing and helping each other to get better day in and day out. Not only that but we have top core receivers playing against a strong secondary every day in practice which will only help us to get to that elite level.
So yes, we as Buc fans have a lot to be celebrating about and should be really excited about this year. Unfortunately I'm extremely worried because this whole year can still be a huge bust! Looking at the schedule this year, currently I feel we can defeat any team in the NFL (on paper). At the same time there are so many question marks for every positional group.
Question 1: Health
I honestly think we have the worst luck with these injuries year after year. Clayborn is coming off an injury so we have too see if he will be healthy, Da'quan has yet to play a full healthy season also having to start all year, Gerald Mccoy was finally healthy but who knows what this year brings. Lets continue the list to our offensive line Davin Joseph & Carl Nicks. Davin Joseph hasn't been healthy in a very long time and I remember last year media saying that Nicks injury won't be healed until mid season of 2013. On top of that we have Darrelle Revis who's injured and if he get re-injured we are basically screwed in the secondary.
Question 2: Dashon Goldson
Now I love this pick up but as I kept reading more about him some red flags kinda rose up. He has some issues in the pass defense and many people question his talent because of all of the talent surrounding him within the 49'ers. Should be interesting to see if he can play up to Buccaneers expectations.
Question 3: Darrelle Revis
Revis was the number one cornerback in the NFL hands down! But after the leg injury we won't know how he will return until the season starts. If he returns to the corner he always was then hallelujah, but if he doesn't or if he gets hurt our corners will once again struggle in this scheme.
Question 4: Coaching
I personally think that the coaching last year did a tremendous job! They got rid of the boys and kept all the Buccaneer men. They turned our linebacker group completely around (which I was very worried about a year ago). They protected and surround Freeman with talent allowing him to progress in a system which he set franchise records. The only thing I'm questioning is some of the coaching decisions during the game and the adjustments that weren't made. We didn't have the right personal for that scheme last year and I felt adjustments needed to be done but they continued to attach the same way. Also, another thing I felt affected the team was that they were too tired towards the second half of the season (which played a part to our losing streak).
Question 5: Josh Freeman
This has been a question every year for this franchise. Josh Freeman had a good year last year but he has to turn down those turnovers and become more consistent. He finally has a second year in the same system so it should be interesting too see if that helps him or is he really just an inconsistent football player.
There is plenty to be excited about this year and the talent level on this team can be in the category of the elite! We are no longer "youngery" but we are now hungry for the playoffs. It's a long season and who knows what can happen and who will step up down the road. Lets just hope that we don't have these season ending injuries anymore and that this team doesn't have anymore excuses. Just remember there are so many questions regarding this team, so don't get upset that we are being underrated because that's how it should be. The Bucs will prove it on the field in 2013.