The 2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season is quickly approaching and with the offseason moves taken by the Bucs front office, there is a great amount of excitement in the air.
In this Fact or Fiction article, we will be taking a look at some of the big questions heading into the 2014 season
1. Tampa Bay could have a defender who leads the NFL in sacks – Fact.
It is very possible for the Bucs to have a defensive player who, at the end of the season, stands at the top of the list for most sacks.
With the acquisition of Michael Johnson in the offseason, the Bucs have a serious sack trio consisting of Johnson, Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy.
McCoy was tied for 25th place on the total sacks list in 2013 with 9.5 sacks, and in 2012 Johnson had 11.5 sacks. Johnson might have put up similar numbers last year in Cincinnati, but an injury to Geno Atkins made Johnson easier to contain.
The only duo that is scarier in the NFL than McCoy and Johnson would be Von Miller and Demarcus Ware of the Denver Broncos.
If McCoy and Johnson are both on top of their game, as well as David, there should be plenty of sacks to go around in Tampa.
2. Mike Evans will win rookie of the year – Fiction. As good as I think he will be for this team, I do not see Evans winning rookie of the year.
The weakest link in the Buccaneer offense this year looks to be at quarterback, where there are multiple questions surrounding if McCown or Glennon can get the job done. Depending on the week, Evans could be playing with Josh McCown or with Mike Glennon which could affect his performance.
If the quarterback is unable to get the ball to Evans, how is he going to win rookie of the year?
I will say that the best chance for Evans to win ROY is if McCown plays the same way he did in Chicago, when he filled in for the injured Jay Cutler in 2013, for all 16 games.
On a side note, since 1990, only four wide receivers have won rookie of the year. They include Carl Pickens (1992), Randy Moss (1998), Anquan Boldin (2003) and Percy Harvin (2009).
3. Doug Martin will rush for 1,400 yards again in 2014 – Fact. Martin had an outstanding rookie season in 2012, rushing for over 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns. He quickly became a fan favorite and a hot commodity in fantasy football. Then in the 2013 season, with high expectations, Martin was less than impressive as he accumulated only 456 yards and one touchdown through six games. He then suffered a torn labrum and was out for the rest of the season.
Now Martin is looking to redeem himself after he left many fans and fantasy owners disappointed in 2013.
The backfield in Tampa is very crowded with the addition of rookie Charles Sims, but Martin is still the go to running back. Tampa has also brought in offensive linemen to help with the blocking issue that Tampa has had a problem with over the past few years. So barring a major injury, Martin will be back to his rookie season form.
4. Bucs will sweep an NFC South opponent – Fact. There is only one NFC South team that the Bucs will have a chance at sweeping this year, and I think everyone knows who that is.
The Carolina Panthers are going to be the last place team in the NFC South in 2014. It is crazy to think after they made the playoffs in 2013, but with the deportation of their top receivers, Cam Newton is going to have a rough time getting the offense going.
In 2013, the Panthers’ running game was very unimpressive (not including Newton) and the only thing that really kept them in the game was the big passing plays and the Panthers’ defense.
Now that Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell are gone, the Panthers’ passing game and the running game are both going to be unimpressive and Newton will be running (literally) for his life. Not even the defense will be able to save their season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be able to sweep the Panthers to at least finish third in the division.
5. Bucs will win the NFC South – Fiction. This one is the biggest stretch of all and unless a lot of injuries occur to big name players (mainly Drew Brees and Mat Ryan) this one is not going to happen.
The New Orleans Saints are the favorite to win the NFC South, and are always dangerous when Brees is calling the shots. The Saints have the greatest chance of winning the division and making a run in the playoffs.
The Falcons had a terrible season last year after injuries hampered their receiving corps and Steven Jackson was a huge bust. The Falcons really need Julio Jones and Rodney White to stay healthy this year if they want a shot at taking the division away from the Saints.
Even though they are heading in the right direction, Tampa will finish third again this year simply because they are still getting accustomed with each other. The Bucs have made outstanding moves and in the coming years will be a force to be reckoned with, but with a new coach, new quarterback, new players on defense and a new wide receiver, it will take some time getting use to playing alongside one another.