As the season close last season i think as a Bucs fans we've all had losing season and struggles in our franchise history. But, nothing lke what we all went through as fans whether you were sitting in Raymond James or just watching the t.v at home. It was probably one of the most disappointing season in our history. Coming off a 2012 where we had so much promising things happen with the signing of head coach Greg Schiano and the new direction changing to culture from the happy go lucky locker room that Raheem Morris seemed to be having. Most will say that the change was needed after dropping 10 straight to finish out the season.
Well here comes Greg Schiano the hard nose toes on the line coach from Rutgers. Yeah I said it Rutgers! Came in and seemed to change the attitude right away. he got ride of the guys who seem to be the locker room cancers in the other regime. Cutting Kellen Winslow, Tanard Jackson and Trading away Aqib Talib. and bringing in guys who would be in his eyes on board with the program he was coming in with. Drafting guys like Doug Martan, Lavonte David just to name a few. Bringing in FA Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson to give Freeman more help on offense. At first things seem to be going okay. they started out the season up and down and offense was struggling. defense would show some flashes but not putting it all together. Josh Freeman had his questions whether he was a franchise QB or not. Vincent Jackson making plays all over the field. Doug Martian showing why he was selected in the 1st rd of the 2012 draft. Freeman caught fire half was through the season and went on a tear where he was easily playing like a top QB. Won 5 straight games and everything was going great. Then they hit a funk. losing 5 out of thier last 6 to finish out the season. Leaving us to expect a great 2013 season.
Going into "2013" season this was the yr. Freeman was gonna break out and finally we would have an offense that can win games instead of the defense bailing them out. Most of the starters from the previous season and another yr in the same system was gonna benefit everyone. But there was still some questions. Secondary was suspect the yr before so GM Mark Dominik went out and traded our 1st rd pick to get Darrell Revis from The Jets and Sign the hard hitting safety from 49ers in Dashon Goldson. They also Drafted some additions including QB Mike Glennon with the 3rd rd pick. That raised some question into how confident Schiano was in Freeman who was coming into a contract yr with the Bucs. Most thought that he was just taking care of the backup role but you dont draft backup QBs that high so the speculation started and it seemed that Freemans days were number. Then you start hearing rumors of things in Freemans camp going on but Schiano kept reassuring that Josh was his starter. Once the season started it was time to see what our team had worked hard toward in training camp. I personally had doubts because the starters didn't play much in pre season games and you just knew they wern't prepared. Freeman bearley took any snaps While Mike Glennon seemed to be the guy he was Grooming to be the starter because he took 70% of the snaps But coach said he would be ready.
Lets Flash to the 1st game of the season where we looked like the Bad New Bears couldn't line up correctly, couldn't get a snap count. Multiple off sides penalties, a safety, delays of game penalties and that was just the first series of the game. As i'm watching this i look at my wife and she just says WTF! this didn't look good at all. Struggles all game long and ironically we still had a chance to win it late. We lost and was lucky to be that close but the Jets were just as bad. With a little Help from poor execution, play calling and several personal fouls penalties a last second FG beats us. Next game wasn't any better at home against the Saints. Offense struggled again but the Defense came to play and put together what was one of the best performances we had seen i a long time. Down by two pts late in the fourth quarter Freeman and the offense manages to drive the field late to get a fg to put us up by a pt with a little over a minute in the game. But with poor coaching decisions we lose that game also. Then go to NE and get shut out and the wheels fell off. Josh Freeman was demoted for Mike Glennon. The MRSA scrared in the team Facility, Rumors flying all over the place about the current state of the Bucs. It was pretty accurate that the season was lost. We knew Josh had a short leash. Glennon was loved by Schiano because he was his HS recruit at Rutgers. The schedule wasn't getting any easier at all and now we got a rookie QB wasn't looking good. now i have to admit Mike showed some flashed of having good throws but he just wasnt ready. even though he finished the season with 19tds & 9ints i though he was average at best. By the end of the season we had seen 0-8. got embarrased on Thursday Night Football at Home. Players and coaches making the same mistakes over and over. Fire Schiano chants and signs during the home games. Fans were in an outrage over the current state of the Bucs. We were hoping the Glazers were paying attention and plotting on making a change at the end of the season. A new direction was needed.
After the season. Glazers didn't wait that long to make thier decision. They fired Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik including the whole Staff! They wanted a whole new look and when i say a "New Look" i mean it. Bringing in a familiar face in Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht to man the ship including a change in the Uniforms also! Which looks sweet! Lovie is a great coach with respect all around the NFL and because he was a part of the building blocks on former coach Tony Dungys staff. He wanted to be here and the Glazers wanted him also so it was a perfect match. Lovie didn't waste any time reshaping the roster. He started with the offensive line cutting G Davin Joseph, T Donald Penn and also trading away C Jermey Zuttah to the Ravens. Cutting CB Darrell Revis to gain money under the cap to restructure roster and Trading WR Mike Williams to the Bills. Signing QB Josh McCown, G/C Evan Deitrict Smith, DE Micheal Johnson, CB Alterruean Verner, Resigning G Jevon Meridith, DT Clinton McDonald and OT Anthony Collins just to name a few. Also going into the Draft and Getting WR Mike Evans Texas A&M 1st rd, TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins Washinton 2nd Rd, West Virgina RB Charles Sims 3rd rd and Wyoming WR Robbert Herron 6th rd. With the additions to the team along with what we currently have on the roster.
We should expect to be much improved this yr. Offensive Coordinator Jeff Tedford from the college ranks where he was a very cool head coach and OC. Tedford coach guys like QB Aarron Rogers and WR Deshawn Jackson while he was at Cal. Bringing in DC Leslie Frasier who is a well respected coach around the NFL. while he was head coach for the Vikings he always had a great Defense. Two very Critical moves for OC and DC and he seem to get them right. Tedford will bring a more of a west coast style of offense. get the ball out of the QB hands and let the playmakers make the plays. Speed in space is what we keep hearing. That sounds good to Bucs Fans because we've never really had a whole lot of speed on the Offensive side of the ball when it comes down to game breaking ability. Jeff Demps being the fastest on the team or in the NFL for that matter should add some explosion to the team, Robbert Herron rookie out of Wyoming should provide a lot of speed also. Wr looked to be a position we lacked speed in but coming into the new season looks to be a position of strength now and thats a good thing.
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Fraizer is a great coach. Always has one of the top defenses when it comes down to getting after the passer every yr. It doesn't help to have Jared Allen either but every great defense has a anchor right? Coming from Vikings where he coached for some yr now to Tampa Bay with Lovie Smith they plan to go to a base Tampa 2 defense where We thrived for yrs and seem to be perfect for the personnel that we currently have now. Lets start up from on the DL where you have DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Clinton Mcdonald, Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy and FA Micheal Johnson from Cincy. I would say that looks like a good front four right. It's all about pressure! Tampa 2 get up field and get the QB. No more stunts and hula hoops like we did under Schiano. This scheme should work to our advantage and i'm sure Lovie cant wait to turn the dogs loose! LB in the scheme needs speed and the ability to cover deep downfield and be great tacklers also. we got WLB Lavonte David whos coming off of a ALL_PRO season and looking like the clone of another great Hall Of Fame LB Derrick Brooks. I like Mason foster in the middle and think that this defense suits him perfect. He played all 3 spots in college at Washington good with the Tampa 2 scheme. He's good in space and great at sidelinde to sideline pursuit. So i think we have two very good LB. Secondary wise it couldn't be better. 2nd yr player Jonathan Banks will be better and is a big body CB that can play man and also play zone. Most impotantly step up and make the tackle. Alterreaun Verner CB FA from Titans. his known to be a great zone corner that plays very aggresive. The Pro Bowl CB is young and will be a huge player in Lovie scheme. He's not Revis but there won't be a drop off either. I like Mark Barron and Goldson at the safties both can hit coming down in the box but the one thing i think they both need to improve in is converage. While they wont be ask to play as much Man to Man as they were before they still need to be ready when called upon because while Lovie plays Tampa 2 he does als oplay a lot of man to man coverages also. I think the defense will be a top 15 defense for sure. top 10 if everything gets squared away early and thry can pick up the scheme. There will be growing pains with this defense. It may sound like its easy to pick up but ask Sapp and Brooks they've said many times that it takes yrs to master.
I like what Lovie has done to the team and the roster moves that he's made to improve the roster. This is the first yr that im actually excited to watch the preseason games because there so many new things going on. Players to watch and see what our offense actually looks like. We may struggle early in the season but as it goes along i expect it go get better and better..... say it with me TAMPA!!!!!......BAY!!!!!!!!