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Friday September 5, 2008 10:51 pm

NFL Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers




Posted by Kevin Moore Categories: NFL,

Derrick Brooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
2007 RECORD: 9-7

Overview: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only team to finish above .500 in the NFC South. After a tough loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Bucs go into the ‘08 season with the hopes of repeating as division champs (a feat that has not been done is six seasons).  The ‘07 campaign saw the group of savvy veterans overachieve. They went 9-7, with a beat up backfield and one playmaker in the aerial attack.

Offense: The Bucs offense was an average squad. They ranked 18th in points, scoring 334 points. The ground attack was fueled by Cadillac Williams until he was injured. But they did not lose much with Earnest Graham.  Graham will be thrust back into that position because Cadillac is having engine problems.  After tearing his patellar tendon, Williams was placed on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. With a backfield featuring Graham, Warrick Dunn, and Michael Bennett, the ground game may be tough.  The passing game is not that spectacular either. As head coach Jon Gruden plays musical chairs with his quarterbacks, Jeff Garcia will return as the starter.  In case he is unable to fulfill his duties as a starter, Luke McCown and Brian Griese are back-ups. The issue with the passing game lies less with the quarterback than it does with their receivers.  Their receiving duo is Joey Galloway, who will be 37 years old and Ike Hillard, who is 32. After the geriatric receivers they have a talented yet hardly used tight end in Alex Smith. They did sign Antonio Bryant who missed all of last season and only caught 40 passes in ‘06.

Defense: The defense was ranked second in the league. They were first against the pass. The question is can this unit reproduce what they did in ‘07. I think they can.  This season they will have a healthy Cato June, who may be slowed by his injury and still adjusting to playing on grass.  And Barret Rudd looks to continue his stellar play. However, the questions may be with the anchor, Derrick Brooks - how much is left in the tank? Can his body handle his physical play for a 14th season?

Rookies: For offensive help the Bucs used a draft pick on Dexter Jackson. Who? Dexter Jackson, a wide receiver from Appalachian State, whose collegiate career high is 33 receptions in one season. (That Michigan victory is the gift that keeps on giving). On defense, the secondary is bolstered with the drafting of Aqib Talib. The rookie out of Florida State, Geno Hayes looks like he may have a promising career ahead of him and could be the heir apparent, for the eventual retirement of Derrick Brooks.
Prediction: The Bucs shocked many when they won the NFC South last season. Their ascension was due in large part to a weak division, which will not be there this season. The other three squads have improved, while I don’t see any improvement in Tampa. I cannot see them repeating as division champs. They will go 6-10, as the age of their most important personnel will surely catch up to them.

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