What’s the story?
The Bucs have a dynamic head coach (Schiano), a shiny new free agent (Revis), and a guy nicknamed “the muscle hamster” (Martin). What could go wrong? A few things, if last season is to judge. The Bucs have great potential but have yet to capitalize on that potential, most notably at the quarterback position. They need Josh Freeman to make the leap from good to great this year. (They also need to stop wearing the creamsicle throwbacks, especially since the Steelers have already announced their intention to don the vertigo suits again. Really, whose retinas can take that kind of abuse multiple times per season?)
Leader and commander:
Greg Schiano, who certainly made a splash early on in his first year as an NFL head coach in 2012. He’ll be looking to make more of an impact and less of a controversy in 2013 (although, for the record, I like his style).
New kid on the block:
Darrelle Revis, the shutdown corner who was ousted by the Jets in what still feels like one of the weirdest moves of the offseason. Why trade your best player at half-value? But the Jets loss is absolutely the Bucs gain. If Revis is anything like he was pre-injury, he’ll be a rock solid addition to Tampa’s defense.
Last year was…
…the same as it was for three other teams in the NFC South, but worse. The Bucs landed at the bottom of a three-way 7-9 tie and wound up fourth in the division due to having the highest number of in-division losses.
The Bucs are going to be as good as their starting quarterback, Josh Freeman, lets them be. Similarly, stars being stars – whether it’s Vincent Jackson on offense or Darrelle Revis on defense – will need to step up and play like stars for the Bucs to reach their full potential this year. Where’s the ceiling on that potential? The preseason power ranking projects it at 19, which makes sense given the fierce competition in the NFC. However, if the Bucs can get all of the pieces of the puzzle to fit together, they could certainly do battle with New Orleans for second place in the NFC South (in the more than likely event that the Falcons take first place unchallenged).