So what does an NFL team do when they enter a season full of promise and end up losing their last 10 games? Clean house. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done that, dumping their coaching staff and installing Greg Schiano, former Rutgers coach, to take over and right the ship. Schiano is known for keeping a rigid schedule and maintaining control over every aspect of his program. To help ensure the transition into the pros Tampa Bay added former NFL Head Coach Butch Davis to avoid any pitfalls.
Bringing in new blood on the coaching staff was just the beginning. The Buccaneers used free agency to beef up their offensive line with Carl Nicks, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, and signed wide receiver Vincent Jackson from the Chargers. Both moves designed to get more out of quarterback Josh Freeman who struggled in 2011 with 22 interceptions after being extremely careful with the ball in 2010. Naturally Freeman will be learning a new system under coordinator Mike Sullivan, a system that uses a strong running game to create opportunities in the passing game. With Jackson out there as a threat, opportunities should increase for Mike Williams and new Tight End Dallas Clark. That fundamental running game will depend on LeGarrette Blount finding a handle on the ball and the development of Doug Martin, an all around athlete who can carry the ball and has very good hands coming out of the backfield.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended up near the bottom in defense last season, a lot of that failure coming from injuries. Da’Quan Bowers is out for 2012 so things aren’t starting off well, but Gerald McCoy looks to be healthy for a change and needs to stay that way. The return of Brian Price is also a good sign. The biggest addition to the Bucs defense may come in the form of rookie Mark Barron out of Alabama, a killer instinct safety, and second round pick Lavonte David at linebacker. The youngsters will have to learn quickly though as they face the potent offenses of the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers in the NFC South.