Five big questions for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014

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Late June brings plenty of fireworks shopping, vacation time, lazy days at the pool, and NFL writers scrambling to find something to write about. Of course any news is usually bad news once players finish organized team activities and are left to their own offseason devices until training camp.

Until 2014 camp breaks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers let’s hope the next few weeks remain as boring as watching traffic down Dale Mabry. Perhaps even more frustrating than the boredom of NFL-less Sundays are the questions that remain unanswered until that first regular season kickoff commences. Here are few major questions and or story-lines that are sure keep Bucs fans up at night.

1. How bad will 2014 be?

It’s no secret the Bucs aren’t exactly one of the of top teams in the NFL. National respect isn’t something the current Tampa Bay roster possesses. Few can argue with the new coaching staff’s pedigree. Head coach Lovie Smith, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier are well respected in professional football circles.

Even with turning over half of the roster, there is little to guarantee a major 2014 breakthrough especially considering the competition in the NFC South. Besting a four win 2013 shouldn’t be a high-bar but how many more wins will there be?

2. What’s the deal at quarterback?

All signs point to Josh McCown as the 2014 starting signal-caller for the Bucs. Aside from the typical QB controversy conversation the more relevant line of discourse is how short of a leash will McCown have? Smith waffled on any definitive explanation of what he was doing with Mike Glennon until draft day where the new head coach declared the second-year player as the quarterback of the future. What does that mean?

Clearly Glennon isn’t the quarterback of the immediate future with McCown set to take over the starting gig. If the season goes south will Smith look to the younger passer to salvage the remaining schedule?

3. Will offensive guard be a major problem?

A healthy Carl Nicks will at least shore up the Bucs’ left side of the offensive line. That’s assuming Nicks can remain unscathed as he has struggled with a recurring toe injury during his tenure in Tampa Bay. There’s enough of a worry about the right side of the line with largely unproven commodities in Patrick Omameh, Jamon Meredith, and Andrew Miller. Oneil Cousins and Kadeem Edwards don’t give the warm and fuzzies either as starting options.

4. Will the defensive line be a strength?

On paper the Bucs’ have one of the best interior lineman in Gerald McCoy and a premier pass-rusher in free agent pick-up Michael Johnson. Fingers crossed McCoy can remain healthy like he did in 2013. When McCoy isn’t spending time recovering from injury he’s truly a dynamic defensive tackle. Will Adrian Clayborn benefit from having Johnson play on the opposite side of the rush? If so the Bucs might be able to bring a serious weapon to table opposite big-time arms in Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton.

5. Is there enough firepower on offense to compensate for a non-elite quarterback?

Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, Austin-Seferian Jenkins, Doug Martin, Tim Wright, Charles Sims, and Robert Herron all have size, explosiveness, or both. Those are just the examples that should be a lock to make the team. Give the Bucs’ front office credit for putting together a dangerous looking roster. Looks however can be deceiving when an NFL team lacks a big-time quarterback.

Until Tampa Bay rosters a dynamic passer the names surrounding can only do so much. How much can the Bucs’ improve from a dismal offensive 2013? McCown or Glennon will have to be at the top of their game to make any sort of playoff conversation possible. No matter who gets the most starts under center it definitely will not be a Manning, Brady, or Brees. A little help from the skill positions will be huge.

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