Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Record: 3-13 | Offense: 28th | Defense: 27th
The retro orange and white uniforms worn for several games in 2009 were a reminder of how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played in the early years of their existence.
Several questionable front office and coaching change decisions resulted in a 3-13 record for the Buccaneers. Head coach Jon Gruden was shown the door in January and was replaced by the 33-year-old Raheem Morris. Offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski was replaced by quarterbacks coach Greg Olson before the start of the season. The Buccaneers also allowed defensive coordinator Jim Bates to run a scheme that did not fit their personnel.
First round pick Josh Freeman was named the starting quarterback after a 0-7 start to the season. Freeman showed flashes of potential and won three starts down the stretch. Tampa Bay needs to surround Freeman with offensive weapons if there is any hope for him becoming a franchise quarterback.
Positions of Need:
1. Defensive Tackle – Roy Miller showed promise in his limited action as a rookie, but the Buccaneers had the worst run defense in the league allowing 158.2 yards per game. It is rare that you can fill your biggest area of need with one of the best prospects in the draft. However, if St. Louis selects a quarterback with the first overall selection the Buccaneers will have their choice of either Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy.
2. Wide Receiver – It has been reported that Antonio Bryant will not return to Tampa Bay. The current depth chart is lacking any big-play options. Seventh round steal Sammie Stroughter could develop into a top slot receiver, but the Buccaneers still need to draft at least two receivers. Several excellent options could be available at the top of the second round: Demaryius Thomas, Arrelious Benn, or Damian Williams.
3. Cornerback – Ronde Barber is not getting any younger and they need to find a replacement to pair with Aqib Talib in the secondary. If Tampa Bay goes with a receiver in the second round, they will have to take a risk on a player like Perrish Cox later in the draft.
4. Safety – Tanard Jackson missed the first four games with a suspension and Sabby Piscitelli has been a huge disappointment. Chad Jones from LSU or Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle could be late round steals and eventually step into the starting lineup.
5. Defensive End – The Buccaneers lack the players to consistently put pressure on the quarterback, but there are far greater needs on the roster. Greg Hardy and George Selvie have slid down draft boards and could be options.
6. Running Back – Cadillac Williams made a miraculous recovery from tearing the patellar tendon in both knees in the last two seasons. They lack a game-breaker in the backfield rotation; Derrick Ward was a huge disappointment and needs to bounce back.
7. Quarterback – Josh Freeman is entrenched as the starting quarterback. Josh Johnson will back up Freeman, but the Buccaneers may be wise to trade Johnson to a team in need of a quarterback, like the Rams. Freeman could use a veteran mentor to help him learn the NFL game, and he would not have to look over his shoulder and wonder if Johnson could take his job.
General manager Mark Dominik will continue to rebuild the franchise through the draft. The Buccaneers are not expected to make any big splashes in free agency, but landing a blue chip player like Suh, McCoy or Eric Berry will be important for the future.
Tampa Bay should improve next season, but there are too many holes on the roster to become a playoff contender in 2010.