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Buccaneers biggest obstacle will be the NFC South

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a good team, believe it or not, but their defense may not allow them to do much with their talented players.

Brian Blanco

Another day, another meaningless ranking. This time, Pro Football Talk came to the Bucs in their countdown from number 32 to number 1, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came in at number 26.

Yeah, yeah, number 26 is low. Disrespect. Much improved. Blah blah blah. The rankings don't interest me as much as the analysis, which somehow always seems to be a lot more optimistic than said ranking would suggest. That's the case in this article too, with Gantt pointing out the improved coaching staff and the defensive talent as positives, and quarterback and offensive line as question marks. All fair and good. Nothing we haven't said before.

Schiano was overmatched in the pro game, and his lack of any kind of interpersonal skills made it worse. You can only play the Bill Belichick tough-guy act if you win, and Schiano never did.

Smith doesn't have an act, he's simply a good coach. That's enough to make the Bucs better in a hurry.

Which is a pretty good point. Dashon Goldson recently pointed out that many players had "issues with coach Schiano", and that was far from the only time this has happened. If anything, we shouldn't see the massive amounts of drama we've seen over the past two years. That alone should help the Bucs win a few games.

More than that, Lovie Smith is universally seen as a very good coach. That isn't spin. That's not fanspeak. Aside from a certain bitter Bears fans, no one will complain about his qualities as a head coach, or as a defensive coach. That's kind of a new feeling: Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano were viewed very skeptically, with reason, and Jon Gruden received increasing amounts of skepticism as his tenure continued.

Not so Lovie Smith. Even when he was fired, people were shocked. He'd just finished a 10-6 season with a top-tier defense, only having been kept out of the playoffs due to an injury to Jay Cutler. There were few suggestions that he just wasn't a good coach.

The biggest issue for the Buccaneers may not be anything internal, but their division. The Bucs have the worst quarterback in the division. The Carolina Panthers had one of the best defenses in the NFL last year. The Atlanta Falcons should see a healthy Julio Jones return, and reinforced both of their lines. The New Orleans Saints had both a quality offense and defense last season.

This season won't be easy.