The Tampa Bay Buccaneers believe they'll win a lot of games this season, even if outside analysts aren't all that optimistic. In an interview with Buccaneers.com's Scott Smith, Lovie Smith emphasized the optimism for this season and explained why he thinks they'll have a much-improved team this year.
"I'm just looking position, each position, based on that and what we had last year compared to what we have now, I think we've made improvements throughout," Lovie Smith said. "And for us, just the second year defensively in our system, know a lot more. And then from watching how we've grown as an offense, Dirk Koetter's done a great job coming in, installing a system that guys believe in. So those are the reasons why."
I'm not sure the team is actually better at every position, though. Most are better, but the running back position is exactly the same, the tight ends haven't changed, and whether safety and defensive end look better now is pretty debatable, too. Overall, though, the roster does look better than last year -- mostly at quarterback.
But the biggest reason I'd expect a big improvement this year are Lovie Smith's second and third point: the addition of an offensive coordinator, as long as he actually coaches the season, should make the offense better immediately. There were a lot of rumblings that Jeff Tedford's absence was devastating for the team last year, hindering game planning, install and coaching in general, and there were even some suggestions that Josh McCown was acting as a de facto offensive coordinator. That should not be an issue this year.
The second year in the defensive system hasn't been emphasized much, but it should be a major factor in the Bucs' improvement. They have the personnel for a very good defense, provided the defensive ends can at least be middling at taking down quarterbacks. You could tell that the Bucs were getting better week after week as they became more comfortable in the defensive scheme last year, which should carry over to this year. The Bucs reinforced that effect by signing a few defensive free agents coming from similar defensive systems.