My impression on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is that we really don't know what to expect from them in 2014. With the second largest deviation in rankings from our staff, we've got a couple who think the Bucs are a borderline playoff team and a few others have them ranked near the bottom. Most of us, however, ranked them right around where they ended up. They improve in 2014, but still have a ways to go.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013 Record: 4-12)
After a disasterous start to the 2013 season, the 0-8 Buccaneers rallied to win four of their final eight games of the season. The disaster came from the monumental fall of Josh Freeman who had such promise as a rookie, but has tanked so badly that he was just released by the New York Giants after failing to impress for a backups backup position.
Key Losses: Darrelle Revis, Gabe Carimi, Adam Hayward, Ted Larsen
Key Acquisitions: Evan Dietrich-Smith, Michael Johnson, Alterraun Verner, Josh McCown, Clinton McDonald, Anthony Collins, Dane Fletcher, Mike Jenkins
This team still have some holes to fill and the reason I personally didn't rank them any higher is because their holes are in an area where games are typically won and lost. The biggest area of need is along the offensive line and I am not convinced a couple of fifth round picks will do the trick here in 2014. Aside from that, they also need defensive end help and linebacker help. Not good when you are playing offensive juggernauts like the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons twice a year, and then throw in a mobile quarterback like Cam Newton and you got yourself a fourth place team.
Sadly, the Buccaneers schedule also has them pitted against the NFC North, so you can include offensively talented teams like the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions into the mix and you got yourself an uphill battle. However, this team has improved, especially on the offensive side of the ball and somehow, I think they scratch and claw their way to seven wins in 2014.
Projected Record: 7-9
Kyle: I think they’re healthier this year, and if they learn to win those close games early in the season they could bounce back. Four of their eight losses in their 0-8 run last year were by three points or less.
Jon: I didn’t want to rank the Buccaneers at the bottom of the NFL, but I didn’t know where else to rank them. I can’t get past their quarterback situation. McCown may give Tampa Bay “the best chance to win,” but that’s still a slim chance.
Jacob: The Bucs were quietly one of the best teams in the NFL during free agency. The addition of Verner replaces a misused Revis for cheaper, while Michael Johnson, Major Wright, Mike Jenkins, and Dane Fletcher all upgrade a defense that was already strong. Josh McCown is an upgrade on Mike Glennon, and the Bucs now have three legitimate targets with the draft choices of Mike Evans and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins joining Vincent Jackson in the receiving corps. The Bucs will surprise people, and will challenge the Panthers and Falcons for second place in a very tough division. 8-10 wins.
Topher: Upgrade at coach and quarterback? Check. Upgrade at WR? Check. RB healthy? Check. Dominant defense? Check. Yea this team could be the 2013 Chiefs again, they have a decent schedule, already beat up on their much better divisional rivals, and are a very talented team. I mean they won 4 games despite having diseased ridden lockers and the worst coach in the NFL last year. They are still the worst team in the division but they also play in the 2nd toughest division in the NFL. Won’t make the playoffs or maybe top 8-8 but they are significantly better than last year in every way.
Laurie: No quarterback = no dice. Despite McCown’s addition, too hard to tell if he can do enough with Mike Evans. Bucs still won’t be able to move up in their division (except maybe over Carolina), but they’re not making the playoffs.
Pete: I don’t like the Bucs. Too many question marks. Lets see them start 2014 better than 2013 (0-8 start) before we start ranking them higher.