Since our last game, a loss to the Falcons that left us at 3-13, Bucs fans have been looking for that next piece of hope. It's been a dreary winter here, and the lack of movement in the free agency market has made it even tougher to look ahead. That could all change within the next 7 days. The first bit of information that could give us a glimmer of hope happens on Tuesday, April 20th. That's the day the NFL releases the 2010 schedule. This used to be a day when I would quickly scan the release for any Sunday or Monday night games (national TV) or any home afternoon games (4 PM kickoff = more tailgating). This year, I can't see us getting any prime time games, so I won't even bother to check.
When the schedule was released last year, the overwhelming thought was "Oh crap". With a difficult schedule on paper, and one that turned out to be just as tough on the field, we knew the Bucs were in for a rough go. This year, we know who we are facing, we just don't know when. While we still have to play 16 games over 17 weeks, lets hope that we catch a favorable schedule with no 3 straight weeks of away games, or a brutal opening stretch like we had in 2009.
The other opportunity, and most obvious chance for hope and turnaround is the draft, which as of this posting is 7 days, 5 hours and 30 minutes away. I don't have any brilliant analysis to offer up, but more a word of caution and patience. The first round pick, we have all come to a majority consensus of order, possibilities and desire for which player should be called by Goodell at #3. After that, as we venture into the 2nd round and beyond, we all have our hometown heroes, our own mock studs, and players we want the Bucs to grab. Remember, there will be players on the board who have high name value or through our own analysis we've deemed to be the next big thing, but lets let the draft take its course. Inevitably we can look back in 5 years and find a player or three that we could've had that we didn't take ala Tom Brady. Unless we do something like take a quarterback in the 2nd and 3rd round, the players will get the benefit of the doubt.
The past drafts are what they are. We can't go back and redo 2001-2009, so lets move forward. With a boatload of early picks, the optimist in me says this will be the start of our turnaround. The pessimist in me, well I can't type what he is thinking. I look forward to seeing what we all are hearing moving closer to the draft. With that being said, let me pose a question to all the faithful Buc Em readers, actually two questions. How long do you think it takes to fairly evaluate a draft class and what type of impact do you expect to see from the 2009 and 2010 draft class?