Tampa Bay Bucs 2009 Quick Hits

July 29, 2009 by

Why the Bucs might finish with the worst record in the NFC.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Predicted: 4th

2008: 9-7 (3rd NFC South)

Head Coach: Raheem Morris (1st year)

Roster Quick View (*new veteran, **rookie)

Offense (coordinator: Jeff Jagodzinski)

QB: Byron Leftwich*

You could mow a small lawn in the amount of time it takes for him to wind up and release the football. Strictly a placeholder if he starts.

QB: Josh Freeman

When does the future begin? Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were both 23-year-old rookies with senior season experience. This guy’s 21 and came out after his junior year.

RB: Earnest Graham

Consummate team player who can be great in a tandem backfield.

RB: Derrick Ward*

Very similar running style to Graham. Rushed for 1,025 yards as a backup with the Giants last season.

FB: B.J. Askew

Smart, dependable veteran who can stick his lead blocks and occasionally handle the ball.

WR: Antonio Bryant

Slapped with a $9 million franchise tag after posting career-highs in receptions (83), yards (1,248) and touchdowns (seven). Superb route-runner who can also go deep.

WR: Michael Clayton

It’s wishful thinking when the new staff claims that a change in systems can restore the sixth-year pro’s confidence.

WR: Sammie Stroughter**

Seventh-round rookie who turned heads during minicamps. Undersized but infuses the slot with speed.

TE: Kellen Winslow*

When healthy, an ultra-crisp route runner with soft hands. Hotheadedness didn’t discourage Bucs from guaranteeing him a TE-high $20 million.

TE: Jerramy Stevens

Low-character underachiever who sticks around because of first-rate raw tools.

LT: Donald Penn

Outplays his natural abilities. Does a good job of compensating for subpar recovery speed with strength and consistent technique.

LG: Jeremy Zuttah

Second-year pro flashes intriguing all-around skills when he’s able to dictate the action. No promises, but certainly worth developing.

C: Jeff Faine

Nasty fighter who does one heck of a job playing a “survivor’s” brand of football.

RG: Davin Joseph

Tremendous run-blocker in tight quarters. Pro Bowls await the 25-year-old.

RT: Jeremy Trueblood

Has drastically improved after learning to mask his limitations. Takes a shrewd approach to his one-on-one matchups.

6 OL: Arron Sears

Started his first two NFL seasons, but his career is now in question after reported battles with post-concussion syndrome.

Defense (coordinator: Jim Bates)

LDE: Jimmy Wilkerson

Seventh-year veteran who moves okay but is best served in the back end of a rotation.

DT: Chris Hovan

A nonstop motor can’t erase the fact that his style of play is ill-fitted for this blocker-occupying scheme.

DT: Ryan Sims

Wasn’t right for the Tampa Two system. Coaches hope that his 315-pound girth will make him a viable anchor against the run.

RDE: Gaines Adams

Very good all-around quickness, but he needs to develop a much larger repertoire of pass-rush moves.

3 DE: Kyle Moore**

Fourth-round pick who can play inside or outside.

3 DT: Roy Miller**

Squatty run-stuffing specialist who thought he should have been drafted higher than Round Three.

SLB: Quincy Black

Speedy 227-pounder who spent his first two seasons on special teams. If he doesn’t perform, Geno Hayes or Angelo Crowell will get a shot.

MLB: Barrett Ruud

Doesn’t play with elite speed but is a highly productive tackler nonetheless. Must adjust to a new system in his contract year.

WLB: Jermaine Phillips

Can be a playmaker when his forearms aren’t broken. Replaced iconic S John Lynch in ’04 and now takes over for legendary WLB Derrick Brooks in ’09.

4 LB: Angelo Crowell*

Spent part of the offseason rehabbing from the knee injury that wiped out his entire ’08 campaign. Can he regain his speed?

CB: Aqib Talib

A perfect fit for the new bump-and-run scheme. Coaches think the second-year gem can lead the league in interceptions.

CB: Ronde Barber

Thirty-four and no longer a zone defender? This could be the beginning of a very swift end.

NB: Torrie Cox

A symbol of this secondary’s lack of depth.

SS: Sabby Piscitelli

Needs to improve his awareness in order to play with more assertiveness. Skill set should be there––he wasn’t an ’07 second-round draft pick for nothing.

FS: Tanard Jackson

Fast, agile athlete who, under the right circumstances, can make plays anywhere on the field.

6 DB: Will Allen

Offers good starting experience but little playmaking prowess.

Special Teams

K: Matt Bryant

Booted three game-winners last season, but coaches are concerned about his kickoff power and 20 percent success rate from beyond 49 yards.

P: Josh Bidwell

One of the NFL’s best placement punters.

RS: Clifton Smith

Undrafted rookie last season who earned a well-deserved trip to Hawaii.

Offseason Quick Glance

Draft

RD PK (OVR) NAME POS SCHOOL

1 17 (17) Josh Freeman QB Kansas St

3 17 (81) Roy Miller DT Texas

4 17 (117) Kyle Moore DE USC

5 19 (155) Xavier Fulton OT Illinois

7 8 (217) E.J. Biggers CB W Michigan

7 24 (233) Sammy Stroughter WR Oregon St

KEY PLAYERS ACQUIRED

LB Angelo Crowell: UFA Bills; $3M/1 yr.

LB Niko Koutouvides: FA Broncos; terms unknown.

QB Byron Leftwich: UFA Steelers; $7.5M/2 yrs; $3.5M RB 2010.

K Mike Nugent: UFA Jets; 1 yr, terms unknown.

RB Derrick Ward: UFA Giants; $14M/5 yrs, guarantees unknown.

TE Kellen Winslow (trade Browns).

KEY PLAYERS LOST

LB Derrick Brooks (released).

CB Phillip Buchanon: UFA Lions; $8.5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.

DE Kevin Carter

RB Warrick Dunn (released).

WR Joey Galloway (released).

QB Jeff Garcia: UFA Raiders; terms unknown.

QB Brian Griese (released).

DT Jovan Haye: UFA Titans; $16M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.

WR Ike Hilliard (released).

LB Cato June (released).

TE Alex Smith (traded Patriots).

Analysis

In case the release of veterans like Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway, Warrick Dunn, Ike Hilliard, Brian Griese and Jeff Garcia didn’t tip you off, just know that the Bucs’ new regime––led by head coach Raheem Morris and first-year GM Mark Dominik––is aiming for a younger club and fresh approach.

The Bucs haven’t yet found all the right players for new schemes on both sides of the ball. Defensive coordinator Jim Bates’s system relies on big, meaty defensive tackles. The only man who fit this bill was Jovan Haye––and he signed with Tennessee. Thus, the development of 310-pound third-round rookie Roy Miller is of utmost importance.

Bates also relies on speedy linebackers. Newcomer Angelo Crowell fits the bill, but he must prove he can bounce back from a severe ’08 knee injury.

Offensively, Derrick Ward is an excellent addition to the rushing attack. Slapping the franchise tag on volatile yet dominant WR Antonio Bryant was brilliant, and trading a second-round pick for athletic Kellen Winslow gives Tampa Bay the major receiving TE that they had once hoped, vainly, that Alex Smith could be.

Most daunting of all is the quarterback situation. First-rounder Josh Freeman is a favorite of Raheem Morris. But most experts agree that Freeman will need a season or two of grooming. Byron Leftwich would be the likely interim answer. However, there’s a reason the slow-motioned veteran remained a free agent for as long as he did.


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    Comments

    5 Responses to “Tampa Bay Bucs 2009 Quick Hits”
    • Mike Neilson says:

      I do disagree with your quarterback projections (Leftwich looked awful in mini-camps, McCown will be the starter), but great job.

      “This could be the beginning of a very swift end.” Ha, so true. If he can’t stick with receivers, Bates will have no problem benching him or demoting him to Nickel Back.

    • Mike Neilson says:

      I would also add that Xavier Fulton adds some depth. If by chance one of our OL can’t keep up with the zone scheme, Fulton is a versatile quick OL that is a huge need on our depth chart. My concern is with Trueblood. Inconsistency may really hinder his ability to learn zone blocking. Jags is a great coach though so we’ll see.

    • Earl from Iraq says:

      I liked Elbert Mack instead of Torrie Cox. I believe this team will surprise some people. The offense is a defensive coordinators nightmare. (I can’t believe I’m saying that about the Bucs!) Stevens 6’7″, Winslow 6’5″, Clayton 6’4″, Bryant 6’2″, Ward Graham, Williams and Smith in the backfield. An All-Pro tackle, nasty center, effective second year tackle and a guy who allowed 3 sacks all year at left tackle. We may see some red zone scores.

      I see the linebackers being quicker than the 2008 Brooks and June and some ball hawks in the secondary. Yes, including Barber (He tied for the team lead in interceptions last year and went to the Pro Bowl as selected by his peers). Don’t sleep on these Bucs!

    • Mike Neilson says:

      Mack seems to have a bit of an edge early on in Training Camp. He is making plays, Cox is not.

      Also, Quincy Black looks real dangerous in Training Camp. The only problem with Barber being a “ball-hawk” is that he is going to be on an island by himself. He has no safety over the top (as a base defense) and he is going to have to play a conservative style of coverage.

    • Kelvin says:

      CB Kyle Arrington has looked very good in pre-season. I think he has surprise a lot of people with his cover skills and making plays on the ball. Hope he makes the 53…..

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