Day 2 of “4 Downs to Success.” Today, I breakdown the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To view Friday's breakdown of the Buffalo Bills, click here.
1st Down: BUY INTO THE SYSTEM
There’s a reason why the Bucs brought Lovie Smith back to Tampa – this time as the head coach. His track record of turning good defenses into elite is evident, and his history with the organization from his days as the team’s linebacker coach, (1996-2000) is what laid the foundation for the Bucs to win their only Super Bowl in the 2002-03 season. Based on the defensive struggles since their last playoff appearance in 2007, bringing the Tampa 2 defense back to Tampa could be exactly what the Bucs need.
It’s up to the players now to make that choice whether they’re up for the challenge and also, more importantly being able to execute the defensive philosophy that Smith will incorporate in Tampa.
2nd Down: PLAYMAKING LINEBACKER
In addition to the defensive philosophy Smith brings to Tampa Bay, he also has a history of developing talented linebackers into elite playmakers. From Derrick Brooks to Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, just to name a few, the heart and soul of any Lovie Smith defense has been linebacker. Two players that fans should keep in mind are Mason Foster and Lavonte David. Foster lost seven pounds this off-season knowing perfectly-well that he’ll be asked to do more this season in coverage. David is a player that reminds me a lot of Brooks: tough, physical linebacker that has the ability to stop the run, but also the ability to drop into coverage and be a ball-hawk. Coming off his second 100 plus tackle season, in as many years, the chance to be coached by Smith, David has the potential to become the next big name linebacker in the NFL.
3rd Down: QB THAT CAN WIN NOW
Between switching quarterbacks four-games into the season last year and ranking 30th in the NFL for points scored, the void to find a consistent quarterback is a must. Going with the player who I have projected as their week one starter, Josh McCown will be asked to do one thing - bring a winning mentality to Tampa Bay. Smith has a lot of faith in McCown and wouldn't bring back one his Chicago guys over if he didn't think he was capable of leading this team. Look for any success the Bucs have this season by McCown taking control of this offense by making the players around him better and understanding how to win.
4th Down: ONE-TWO PUNCH
With the loss of Doug Martin last season due to injury, the Bucs turned to second year veteran, Bobby Rainey. With offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford reportedly stating that he plans to "alternate" his backfield this season, the pressure will be off Martin. Not only can this duo create nightmares for defensive coordinators by having to game plan for both, but also improve the passing game by forcing more defenders in the box. It's evident that Vincent Jackson has been a force his first two seasons in Tampa Bay, by snapping 15 touchdown passes and over 2500 yards of receiving. With the addition of Mike Evans, if Rainey and Martin can control the ground, the Bucs' offense should workout nicely.
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