Analyzing The NFC South - Tampa Bay Buccaneers Edition

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2. Drafting Mike Williams — Last season, the Bucs had absolutely no playmakers at wide receiver. 

Antonio Bryant was injured for most of the season. 

Michael Clayton is a guy who showed plenty of potential in his rookie season, but failed to build upon it.

Their leading receiver was a tight end: Kellen Winslow with 77 cathes for 884 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Mike Williams, the Bucs fourth round draft pick, has a first round skill set in terms of athleticism and ability to catch the football.  However, with off-the-field troubles and a questionable work ethic, his stock fell, allowing Tampa Bay to select him relatively late in the draft.

Early reports of Williams in Bucs minicamp suggest that Williams is better than Arrelious Benn, the other wide-receiver that Tampa Bay drafted in an earlier round. 

He has reportedly made some tough grabs in blanket coverage off of great balls thrown from Josh Freeman. 

By giving Freeman some weapons to throw to, the Buccaneers are putting their franchise quarterback in the best position to succeed. 

With all the young talent around the second year pro from Kansas State, he will be able to blossom into a much better quarterback. 

Nov 21, 2009; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive tackle Brian Price (92) forces a fumble by Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Samson Szakacsy (10) at the Rose Bowl. UCLA defeated Arizona State 23-13. Photo via Newscom

3. Drafting Brian Price — Price, a former UCLA star, slipped out of the first round, where he was projected to go somewhere in the early 20′s. 

His size indicates that he will play nose tackle beside Gerald McCoy. His ability to eat up space and take on multiple blockers will allow Gerald McCoy to make the tackles for loss and disrupt the timing in the backfield.

Price probably will not put up amazing statistics or get great pass rush against opposing offensive lines. 

However, what he will do is eat up space allowing linebackers and other lineman to make plays on the ball.

All teams need a good nose tackle in order to dominate in the trenches, and the Bucs have gotten what they need in Brian Price.

DENVER - OCTOBER 05: Defensive end Elvis Dumervil #92 of the Denver Broncos gets blocked by Donald Penn #70 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during NFL action on October 5, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Buccaneers 16-13. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

 4. Donald Penn’s holdout — Donald Penn, the Buccaneers starting left tackle, has refused to sign is RFA tender in the hopes of a long-term deal.

The Bucs are currently playing hardball with him, offering him less money than he feels that he deserves.  Because of the potential lockout in 2011, owners are being cautious with how they are paying players.  

Penn, however, needs all the reps with the offensive line that he can get.  He is young and needs to gel with the rest of the line to protect the team’s new franchise quarterback, Josh Freeman. Along with that, he will need to continue to excel at run-blocking. 

Tampa Bay finally has Cadillac Williams completely healthy; and you should expect Greg Olson to utilize him to protect his young quarterback.  In order for this offense to succeed, Penn and the Bucs need to settle their differences and reach an agreement.

They don’t need something to stunt the development of Freeman.  This could potentially do that.  

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 29: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons is injured on this sack by Tim Crowder #96 and Stylez White #91 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Georgia Dome on November 29, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

5. The failure to acquire a defensive end — Last season, the Bucs used Stylez White and Jimmy Wilkerson as their two starting defensive end.

While White is one of the more underrated players in the NFL, Wilkerson tore his ACL against the Saints in week 16 after accumulating 6 sacks. 

He then went on to sign with the Saints this off-season and looks to be the primary backup to Alex Brown.

Now, there is a gaping hole at left-defensive-end for the Bucs as they failed to draft a defensive end until the seventh round, wow.

They are hoping that the two defensive tackles they acquired, along with more solid play from the secondary with the addition of Myron Lewis, will boost the pass rush and improve the defense. 

As stated before, the NFL has become a passing league.  As a result, potent pass rushers are at a premium in order to slow down the likes of Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady.

I predict that the Bucs will be vastly improved in 2010, winning up to 7 or 8 games.  With a good core in place, expect to see the Bucs in playoff contention two years from now.

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Tags: Brian Price Donald Penn Gerald McCoy Mike Williams New Orleans Saints Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Jeremy Lambert

    This review of the Bucs is the best assessment I have read. Their achilles heel will be the defensive end position. Someone will have to step up for them if they have any hopes of the Tampa 2 to be the force it once was. Thanks for the good review of this team. However, the NFC South is notorious for the worst to first exchange. I don’t think this will happen, but this is the NFL and anything can happen.

    • Keith Null

      Everyone seems to think the Saints will have a dramatic fall out from their success last season.


      The Saints have returned virtaully their entire championship roster, have the best offense in the NFL and will be improved on the defensive side of the ball going into the second year under Gregg Williams system.

      The free agent additons Alex Brown, Jimmy Wilkerson and Clint Ingram will

      There is just no way that they are not once again favorites to win the NFC South. Admitedly the Falcons played us close last year and righ now stand as the biggest threat to the Saints in the South. Tampa just doesnt have the firepower to contend with the Saints offense.

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