On the eve of the opening of the 2nd annual Camp Morris, let’s look ahead to the regular season and see what the big questions are for the 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1. Will Donald Penn show up at camp so the O-line can resume gelling? This is a huge question because there is already some instability based on last year’s performance as a unit and the addition of Keydrick Vincent to push Jeremy Zuttah. The starting left tackle needs to be there as soon as possible.
2. In a return to the West Coast Offense, does the personnel fit the scheme? They really might want to put Clifton Smith and Derrick Ward in more often in this scheme to take advantage of each’s receiving ability. The newest acquisitions at wide receiver, Benn and Williams, should be able to bust out of tackles in the slant, a staple of the WCO.
3. Will the defenders do a better job of wrapping up? Residing in both New Orleans and Carolina, are quarterbacks, running backs and a few big-bodied receivers and tight ends you can ill afford to miss a sack opportunity with or allow to break out of a tackle. The run defense of Tampa Bay has been lacking ever since Monte Kiffin let the defense know he was leaving. They were tied for 26th in sacks last season, down from tied from 20th the year before. They did draft a pass-rushing defensive tackle in Gerald McCoy (and a second one in Brian Price) that could be a difference maker and open things up for other players. Bringing in Sean Jones to move Piscitelli off the field more often should limit big plays.
4. Can Raheem Morris instill discipline in a young team? Last season, there were costly turnovers in close games though the majority of Freeman’s INT’s were partly due to playing in a large hole. Additionally, they are adding some players with off-the-field baggage to a locker room that had to deal with Aqib Talib’s run-in with the law right before training camp last year. This discipline needs to extend down through the positional coaches. When you are dealing with what are considered Measurables Monsters in Josh Freeman, Talib, Mike Williams, Gerald McCoy, and Myron Lewis you don’t have to coax the occasional amazing out of them but rather train them to be consistent in route-running, blocking, recognition and timing.
5. Will “going green” work in the Bucs’ favor or continue be their undoing? The Bucs are headed by a an under-40 general manager, a second-year 33 year-old head coach, and a fifth-year offensive coordinator with a quarterback going into his first season as the declared starter, For the last six weeks of the season, the Bucs defense was 9th in scoring defense with 17.7 points allowed. The darker definition of the acronym NFL is “not for long”, and when the standard set by Gruden was a Super Bowl, fans are not going to sit around year after year and wait for them to be competitive. Before they were dismantled from the top down and replaced with young blood, the Bucs were competitive in the six seasons after their Super Bowl win. It’s fortunate that their first three picks are pretty pro-ready and are probably upgrades despite their lack of experience. I’m not big on chemistry in general, let alone when it involves the age of players. I do think that a younger motivational coach, particularly one who’s played, can sometimes identify with younger players better. Hopefully, Raheem can get his message across loudly.