Sunday, September 04, 2011
The preseason is over and the heckling of my team up here in the Great White North is continuing. Apparently most Vikings fans cannot figure out that the preseason records mean nothing. I haven't watched every snap of the preseason, although I did watch each and every horrible minute of the Pats-Bucs preseason game. I have formed some opinions about the 2011 version of the Buccaneers and what could be a return to the postseason.
1. Josh Freeman is the second best Quarterback in the NFC South. He is better than Matt Ryan and is closing the gap on Drew Brees. He is the key for this football team. He has embraced the leadership role on this team and is looking like he could be a stud quarterback for the next decade. Josh Johnson is an athletic backup who doesn't have the experience, but does have the raw tools to be a quality backup. We kept those two QBs for the 53 man roster. Look for a veteran backup to be signed in the next couple of days.
2. The defensive line, once the weakness of the entire team is starting to look like it's going to gel into a strength. The starting front four of Bennett, Clayborn, Miller, and McCoy, along with reserves Bowers and Okam are starting to impress me with their play in the preseason. I would replace Miller with Okam in the starting lineup, because Okam is a space eating run stuffer, but that is just me. Expect the Defensive line to get between 35 to 40 sacks for the season.
3. Yet again, almost all of the draft class was good enough to make the 53 man roster. Only a fifth round and seventh round draft pick were not able to hang around on the Bucs roster. The fifth rounder, safety, Ahmed Black injured his ankle in the 1st preseason game and could not make it back to practice, so there is still a possibility for him to make it onto the practice roster this year to evaluate him. Mark Dominic and Raheem Morris both deserve lots of credit for the drafting over the past couple of years. There are young starters all over the Bucs roster that are at the most in their 3rd year of pro football. The youth might make some mistakes, but they also have enthusiasm and the physical tools to overcome those mistakes.
4. Watch the O-line improve over last year. They are finally all healthy at the same time. There are 9 O linemen on the roster and that is a great number because after the past 2 years, they all have versatility to play different spots, and that includes the starters besides Jeff Faine. Resigning road grater Davin Joseph to a long term deal will make him happy and a productive guard. This offensive line is set to do some great things if they can stay healthy.
5. Pray that the starters at the skill positions on offense don't get hurt. The reason that I say this is because the backups are inexperienced. Here are the backups for the skill positions besides QB:
RB: Kreig Lumpkin, Allen Bradford
TE: Luke Stocker
WR: Sammie Strougher, Dezmon Briscoe
Anybody know where these people went to college? Anybody heard of them before if you aren't a Bucs fan? Probably not. They have skills, but are inexperienced. A veteran or two would be nice to fans if we knew that they could still play.
My prediction? 10-6. This year, all the so-called experts out there in TV land will be able to name a win by the Bucs that makes a statement. We will be in the fight for the division, but will fall short to the Saints. I do believe that the Bucs will make the playoffs as a wildcard but will be eliminated in the Wild-Card round of the playoffs. That and Raheem Morris will be voted as the NFL Coach of the Year.