Can the Buccaneers repeat in the South?

11 08 2008

At 37 years old, Joey Galloway is still the Bucs main weapon on offense.

At 37 years old, Joey Galloway is still the Bucs main weapon on offense.

by Michael Gill

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will try to do something this season that no other team in the NFC South has ever done – repeat as division champions. 

If they are to win the division, according to Buccaneers beat reporter Scott Reynolds from www.pewterreport.com they could learn as early as week one.  “They play New Orleans on opening weekend, if they can steal a win there, they can get in the driver’s seat.”

The Bucs will again rely on a strong running game.  Earnest Graham came out-of-nowhere to rush for 898 yards along with 10 touchdowns.  That output earned him a nice new three-year, $10.5-million deal.  “This is Graham’s job now,” said Reynolds. 

 He will be spelled by former Buc Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett.  “They have a plethora of running backs and can pound it at you,” Reynolds added.  The wild-card could be former first-round pick Cadillac Williams, who just hasn’t been able to stay on the field.  “He still hasn’t practiced, and won’t play in the preseason,” said Reynolds.

The running game will be the teams strength, but quarterback Jeff Garcia will need to be efficient and effective again to lead the Bucs back to the playoffs.  Garcia had a nice season in 2007, but isn’t a happy camper entering training camp.  “Everyone seems happy here but Garcia,” said Reynolds.  “But that said he is still the starting quarterback.”  Garcia wants more money after leading the team to the playoffs and isn’t happy that the team was flirting with Brett Favre for most of this month.

Regardless of who plays quarterback, the receiving core needs work.  The team will again roll out Michael Clayton on one side of the field.  Clayton has been quite a story, in his rookie season, he looked like he was going to be a hall-of-fame caliber wide out.  Since then, Clayton has been one of the most inconsistent players in the league, dropping pass-after-pass, becoming less-and-less a part of the offense.  “The team needs Clayton to come around,” emphasized Reynolds.  

Opposite Clayotn is veteran Joey Galloway, the former first-round pick had his third straight 1,000 yard campaign and scored six touchdowns in 2007.  “Galloway will be 37 (years old) and is still the fastest Buccaneer, if they lose him, they are in trouble,” explained Reynolds.

On defense, Tampa will depend on their strong secondary, led by safety Jermaine Phillips and cornerback Ronde Barber.  Plus, they added cornerback Aqib Talib, who they picked in the first round of the draft.  Cato June leads the line-backing core, but Reynolds stressed that the defensive line will need to help with the pass rush.  The pass rush will be lead by Gaines Adams and Derrick Brooks who is not the defensive force he once was.

After wining the division in 2007, expectations are high in western Florida says Reynolds.  “This is a playoff team, no doubt.”

That remains to be seen and I just don’t see it.  This has always been a team built around defense and execution on offense. There is to much age on offense and not enough play-makers up front on defense to repeat as division champs.  If they are going to repeat this season, they are going to not only beat the Saints in week one, but again on November 30th just to stay in the conversation – not likely.

Next up : Jacksonville Jaguars

This is a series called “2-A-Days” that will preview two teams per day every day this month, where Mike Gill will interview a beat writer or radio personality who covers the team on “The Mike Gill Show” on ESPN Radio 1450 , weekdays from 3-6pm

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2 responses

14 08 2008
Michael DeLuca

I agree with you. Saints will win this division. Vilma and Shockey will put them over the top. Being $40 million under the cap and not bringing in a single noteworthy free agent is inexcusable. I’d be livid if I were a Bucs fan.

14 08 2008
Kenny

Yeah, this team is to vanilla. Garcia is 38 and Galloway 37 and they are your best two offensvie players is horrible. Graham is a flash in the pan.

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