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Breaking Down the Bucs’ Offense

Steve Shoup

By Guest Writer Steve Garfunkel:

dougmartin

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers possessed six total picks in the 2014 NFL Draft. All of them were used to draft a player on the offensive side of the ball. They were also a team that finished at the bottom of the NFC South last season, tied with the Atlanta Falcons with a 4-12 record. Looking to make a transformation, the Bucs have since unveiled brand new uniforms and declared a new era of football by making some personnel changes. They brought in new GM Jason Licht, new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford from Cal, and new head coach Lovie Smith.

Smith seems poised to lead a strong defense, led by linebacker Lavonte David, who will look to continue his remarkable play from his first two seasons in the NFL. However, even with his defensive background, there seems to be a clear focus on offense approaching his first season in Florida. Tampa Bay’s crop of offensive rookies should add to a new look offense in 2014 that may even help them complete the turnaround that they’re looking for to compete for an NFC South title this year. Here’s a breakdown of what Tampa Bay’s 2014 offense will look like.

Quarterback: The Bucs finally let go of the struggling Josh Freeman last year, after believing him to be their future franchise quarterback. Rookie Mike Glennon elevated to the starting role and performed admirably for a team that was struggling. However, it’s new veteran free agent signing Josh McCown, who appears to be the favorite to take the snaps under center in 2014. Lovie Smith is familiar with McCown from their days together in Chicago and McCown did perform well while filling in for an injured Jay Cutler last season. He appeared in 8 total games while throwing for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns and just 1 interception.

Running Back: It will certainly be crowded here. Doug Martin will return to the starting role after his season was cut short last year due to a torn labrum. In his rookie year in 2012, Martin broke out with 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’ll look to rebound from his injury as the Bucs’ primary back. There’s a lot of depth behind him though with Bobby Rainey and Mike James, who both filled in for Martin after he went down. Rainey contributed a solid performance and rushed for 532 yards and 5 touchdowns, including a long 80 yard score against the Bills in Week 14.  James was a rookie who only racked up 295 yards in limited action. Although, 158 of those yards came in one very memorable game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9. Meanwhile, one of the Bucs’ 6 offensive rookies, Charles Sims, brings more youthful talent to the position and provides some pass-catching ability as well. Sims totaled 2,108 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in his 4 year collegiate career at both Houston and West Virginia. Lastly, Jeff Demps is a bit of a wildcard who was acquired by the team in a trade in April of 2013. Demps still seems to be an experimental project who is a former Olympic track sprinter. It will be interesting to see how the carries will be distributed for this backfield, but it may be the deepest and all-around most talented in the league.

Wide Receiver: Star receiver Vincent Jackson has thrived in his first 2 seasons after coming over from San Diego. He’s racked up 2,608 yards and 15 touchdowns in that span. Now he will be joined by another offensive rookie Mike Evans, who was Tampa Bay’s first round pick. Evans was the primary target for his former Heisman trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. Coming into the draft he actually drew a lot of comparisons to his now teammate Jackson, considering their almost identical size. Jackson stands at 6’5” and 230 pounds and Evans is 6’5” and 225 pounds. Jackson and Evans will offer some big targets for McCown to throw to. The receiver spots behind the primary two seem to be up for grabs and will be determined during training camp. The Bucs also drafted Robert Herron out of Wyoming in the 6th round of the draft. He’s only 5’9” but is an explosive, speedy weapon that could possibly complement the larger, more physical Jackson and Evans.

Tight End: Yet another Tampa Bay draft pick was used to bring in Austin Seferian-Jenkins from Washington in the 2nd round. ASJ had a very productive career as a Husky, averaging 7 touchdowns a season during his three year career in the NCAA. He should be able to act as an additional big target for McCown measuring at 6’6”, 276 pounds. He’ll be paired with newcomer Brandon Myers, who was signed as a free agent in March. Timothy Wright also started to see some time as the primary tight end last season but may now attempt to move to wideout to help contribute.

Offensive Line: The Bucs main weakness on offense in 2014 may end up being in the trenches. There should be confidence in left tackle Anthony Collins, who is a free agent coming in from the Cincinnati Bengals. At the center position, former Packer Evan Dietrich-Smith, has proven to be reliable. Right tackle also shouldn’t be a major worry with Demar Dotson.  It’s the two guard spots that could be a potential issue. At left guard, Carl Nicks has had trouble staying healthy and played in just 2 games last year because of toe injury and MRSA. He’s expected to be healthy by training camp but still remains a question mark. The right guard spot will be competed for and with no real standout starter at the position, it may become a liability. The success of this promising 2014 Buccaneers offensive unit may end up hinging on the performance of the spots in between the center and the tackles.

 

 



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