Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2009 NFL Projection:
The Tampa Buccaneers are a team in transition.
Gruden was fired, which we think was crazy to begin with.
He was a dynamite coach.
The Buccaneers promoted Raheem Morris to head coach (now the youngest head coach in the league).
Making for further headlines, the Buccaneers dismissed offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski just 10 days
before the season is set to begin.
Quarterbacks coach Greg Olson replaces him.
Tampa's new leadership wants to make the team younger. That's why they parted ways with
Jeff Garcia, Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway, Warrick Dunn, Ike Hilliard, and Cato June.
also released kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring) in favor of free agent signing Mike Nugent.
That's a head scratcher for sure given Bryant's successful track record.
Also, QB Luke McCown was traded to Jacksonville.
Key acquisitions by Tampa Bay include RB Derrick Ward, TE Kellen Winslow, and yes, QB Byron Leftwich.
Leftwich has a strong arm but lacks mobility. He can be effective if given time. And the Buccaneers
do have a solid offensive line headed by center Jeff Faine and right guard Davin Joseph.
If Leftwich is unable to get the ball downfield to TE Winslow and WR Antonio Bryant who broke out last season with Jeff Garcia at the helm,
then he will surely be pulled quickly in favor of first round draft pick QB Josh Freeman from Kansas State.
Of course Bryant is coming off surgery to repair a torn meniscus. There's no guarantee he will be the same player as last season.
At any rate, the strength of the Buccaneers offense projects to be their running game, thanks to a solid
offensive line and great depth at running back with Ward, Graham, Askew, and of course Carnell Williams
On defense the Buccaneers expect big things out of young, fast linebackers
Quincy Black and Geno Hayes.
They'll have their work cut out for them as the Buccaneers don't have the ideal personnel
on their defensive line to play their new scheme requiring a straight on approach as opposed to lining
up in the gaps.
Tampa figures to be solid at cornerback with Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib.
But the 'Bucs are woefully thin at safety-- no thanks to Tanard Jackson's 4 game suspension.
The versatile Jermaine Phillips will likely switch from linebacker in Jackson's absence.
Tampa Bay plays one of the stiffest schedules in the league this season. They could potentially
be (1-6) by their bye week (through no fault of Byron Leftwich), which would certainly be reason enough to
start Josh Freeman the rest of the way (not likely to result in many wins).
Check out Tampa's first 7 games before their bye.
Tampa is strong at offensive line and running back. However, they are weak at quarterback, and potentially
weak at receiver given Antonio Bryant's status.
The Buccaneers' new coaching staff has already hit some bumps. And their new defensive scheme may not fit
their players' strengths.
With a super stiff schedule in 2009, it's not easy to locate many wins on their schedule.
Overall we are projecting the 'Bucs for a dismal (2-14), a slight upgrade from our opening preseason projection.
We think Tampa is likely switch quarterbacks early in the season which probably makes them less competitive
in the short term.
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