Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2012 Team Needs
After a 10-6 season in 2010 with the youngest team in football, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers figured to stay put in free agency and focus on signing their own free agents to keep that young core intact. Unfortunately, 2011 saw a disappointing 4-12 performance which included a 10 game skid to end the season.
“Team Needs” is an understatement: the Bucs have massive holes all across their depth chart that need to be addressed between now and September if the Bucs want to end the rebuilding stage and finally land in the postseason. Here are some of those dire needs that need to be accounted for in order for that next step to be taken:
Running Back— LeGarrette Blount has been serviceable the last two years in Tampa, but there’s a lot Blount CAN’T do. Blount can’t rush 25+ times a game (has averaged about fifteen carries per game in his career). He can’t pick up short yardage which defies logic considering his size. He is vastly inexperienced at catching balls out of the backfield. He can’t seem to pick up protection schemes. And he’s not going to beat a defender to the sideline every time.
With that said, the Bucs need a change-of-pace back whether it’s someone who is more of a speedy compliment to Blount, someone who is more versatile and can block and/or receive well, or someone who is a short-yardage specialist. When the Bucs lost RB Earnest Graham to injury last season, they greatly suffered – and failed to win a game as well – because Blount is simply too one-dimensional and can’t be an every-down, multidimensional workhorse of a running back. That needs to change to make the 2012 Bucs’ offense more explosive and complete now that they’ve added other offensive pieces such as Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks to their arsenal.
Right Tackle— With the addition of All-Pro Guard Carl Nicks, the Bucs now have three Pro-Bowl offensive lineman up front (Donald Penn and Davin Joseph the other two). Unfortunately, the Bucs won’t be truly dominant in the trenches unless they address the right tackle position, currently held by Jeremy Trueblood. Trueblood is inconsistent, slow, and penalty-inclined to name a few of his poor attributes. If the Bucs can solidify the right edge, they can truly establish a dominant rushing and passing attack thanks to a week-after-week, lopsided advantage they would have in the trenches offensively.
Outside Linebacker— The Buccaneers ranked last in rushing defense in 2011 in large part due to an abysmal linebacker corps. After five years with the team, OLB Quincy Black has continued to fail in standing out and proving he belongs in the defensive starting lineup. The Bucs also lost LB Geno Hayes to free agency, leaving an either larger void that their backup LBs aren’t capable of effectively filling.
The Bucs could instead pick up a middle linebacker and move last year’s rookie MLB Mason Foster outside, which is more-so his natural position. That was the plan when the Bucs targeted free agent linebacker Curtis Lofton, but Lofton chose to play for the Saints instead, leaving a continued glaring need in the Bucs’ second level that needs to be addressed desperately.
Secondary— Aqib Talib’s trial has been moved to June 25th, so his fate for 2012 is still uncertain at this point. CB Eric Wright was signed in free agency, but that won’t be nearly enough of an addition to cure the 31 points per game on average allowed by this defense. LSU CB Morris Claiborne would be an excellent addition via the draft, but the Bucs must address the safety position as well. There has been rumors that Ronde Barber may be moving to Safety, but there still needs to be a new face to compliment Tanard Jackson and provide depth to a weak secondary unit .