NFL 2014 Preview – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After two unsuccessful and volatile seasons under head coach Greg Schiano, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to go in a different direction this offseason.  Enter Lovie Smith, the former Chicago coach who once led the Bears to an NFC title.  Smith has already placed his imprint on the organization, making several notable roster changes.

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After two unsuccessful and volatile seasons under head coach Greg Schiano, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to go in a different direction this offseason.  Enter Lovie Smith, the former Chicago coach who once led the Bears to an NFC title.  Smith has already placed his imprint on the organization, making several notable roster changes.

First and foremost, Smith revamped the team’s offensive line.  The Bucs signed left tackle Anthony Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith in the offseason.  With the failed Carl Nicks situation, Tampa Bay capped its offseason activity by trading for Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins from the Patriots.  Mankins is a crucial addition and will hopefully gel quickly with his new teammates.

At quarterback, Tampa Bay signed former Bears backup Josh McCown after his career year filling in for Jay Cutler last season.  McCown has won the starting job over second-year player Mike Glennon.

McCown will have plenty of talent surrounding him.  Wide receiver Vincent Jackson is joined by top 10 pick Mike Evans.  Jackson and Evans are both tremendous deep threats, and this offense will likely stretch the field.

Doug Martin is back at running back after an injury-plagued 2013 campaign.  Martin will get the bulk of the carries, but backups Mike James and rookie Charles Sims will shoulder some of the load.

Smith’s calling card is defense however, and this team has plenty of talent on that side of the ball.  All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is the anchor.  Free agent signee Michael Johnson, Adrian Clayborn, Da’Quan Bowers and Clinton McDonald will surround McCoy on the defensive line.

Lavonte David leads the linebacker group.  David had 145 tackles, seven sacks and five interceptions last season and will play a huge role in Smith’s defense.

The Bucs’ secondary should be a strength, even despite releasing corner Darrelle Revis.  Tampa Bay signed Alterraun Verner to replace Revis.  The team also signed Mike Jenkins and also has second-year corner Johnthan Banks.  At safety, Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron form a feared combination.

Tampa Bay currently stands at 66-1 to win the Super Bowl and 33-1 to win the NFC.  The Bucs are projected to have the 19th most difficult schedule (.484 opponents’ win percentage).