By all accounts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored as big as possible this off-season, and the NFL Draft is still a month away. The massive top to bottom overhaul of the Bucs is one of the most impressive off-season transformations the NFL has seen in recent years – And a sight for sore eyes among the Tampa Bay faithful. Despite the enormous amount of momentum which has been generated by first year General Manager, Jason Licht & Co., five cracks remain in the hull of the ship at Raymond James Stadium
5. The Mike Williams Situation
It’s not as if Williams was a model citizen prior to 2013, but money has a way of amplifying a man’s problems. Williams, who signed a six year $40.25 million contract before last season, has been a headache to himself and the franchise ever since. In most recent news, Williams will enter a pre-trial intervention program in order to avoid in criminal consequences stemming from an incident last December. A week ago Williams was in the news for being stabbed by his brother. It’s safe to say Williams has had a rough year. Lovie Smith has made it abundantly clear that the former Syracuse stand out would need shape up or ship out, and the latter unfortunately, seems probable at this point in time.
4. Still Too Much “Potential” on the Defensive Line.
Two of the Bucs biggest Free Agency victories came in the form of DE Michael Johnson and DT Clinton McDonald. However these additions only partially bridge the gap between All-Pro DT Gerald McCoy and the rest of the unit. Da’Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn continue to underwhelm with their injuries and ineffectiveness. Johnson will immediately relegate Clayborn to the bench, but McDonald, a career back-up, will back up McCoy or possibly challenge for Akeem Spence’s starting job. Though the Free Agency moves look good on paper, The Bucs defensive line is going to have to gel quickly and stay healthy for Tampa Bay to have a shot in the NFC South.
3. Being weak at the Strong Side Linebacker position just sounds bad
Dekoda Watson now calls Jacksonville home and Jonathon Casillas is no K.J. Wright. Plus, most Bucs fans couldn’t pick Marvin Booker out of a lineup or tell you what number he wears. With that being said, picking up a Sam Linebacker in this year’s draft remains the Bucs best option. Preferably someone who can keep contain on Cam Newton and also track down Jimmy Graham in coverage. Though the strong side linebacker position has a less important role in Lovie Smith’s defense, The Panthers and Saints are on the schedule twice a year.
2. The Fresh Faces on the Offensive Line
Gone are stalwarts OT Donald Penn, OG Davin Joseph, and C/Swiss Army Knife Jeremy Zuttah. Replacing them are Free Agent gems C Evan Dietrich-Smith and OT Anthony Collins. Both are upgrades to their predecessors; however the right side of the offensive line is notably weak and will need some bolstering if keeping Josh McCown upright is on the agenda this year. There is also the “meshing” component to consider. The best offensive lines in football rely heavily on their cohesiveness, which takes time to build. The new look Bucs O-Line will need to mesh in a hurry.
1. …And the Starting Quarterback for your Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Josh McCown.
Congratulations to Josh McCown on 2013’s best Matt Flynn impression. McCown turned a five game audition in to a two year $10 Million contract. Honestly he deserves all the credit in the world for statistically having the best five game stretch of his career. In 2013 McCown threw 13 touchdowns and just one interception. That is only the second time in his career that McCown had more TD’s than picks in a season. The other, an 11 TD, 10 INT effort in 2004 for the 6-7 Cardinals. Unless McCown has suddenly figured out this NFL quarterbacking thing at 34 years old, Bucs fans can expect some regression. McCown being named the Bucs starter happened a good month before the draft. For most pundits, this move reeks of a stop gap measure. They believe McCown will simply fill the void until whenever Tampa’s new prized first round draft pick QB is properly groomed. But still, $10 Million for Josh McCown?