Here we go again
So it is that time of the year again? The London Olympics have come and gone in a haze of British success and excitment, BBC One is once again showing "Homes Under The Hammer" and "DIY SOS" instead of the 3rd qualifying round of the Women's Water Polo. I am now an expert in Handball, Dressage and Modern Pentathlon...go on ask me anything...
But now it's time for everyone's favourite way to spend a Sunday night. It's time for Buccaneer football to make a return to our lives. The excitement, the despair and, of course, the eternal belief that this year we will be better. Last year, on paper, was potentially a breakout year for a lot of the Buccaneers young talent like Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and great things were expected of rookie sensations Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount.
Truth be told things never even got off the ground. Raheem Morris' coaching style of being buddies rather than a coach paid the dividends you would expect. He was hurt by the annual injuries to McCoy and Price and Blount and Williams were well scouted by other teams and so, largely ineffective. Eventually "Rah" was a dead man walking and when that season ended he was shown the door...and rightly so.
This off season has been a whirlwind. We were linked to most coaches in the US and all but took on a man called Chip, before he thought better of it. Then we settled on Greg Schiano. I love this appointment. Schiano is the anti-Morris, no more chest bumps, high fives and laughing and joking with players. Coach Schiano is here for business and this group of players know it.
Gone are the bad boys, no more bad attitudes, you think you're bigger than the Bucs? Well you're not...goodbye. Schiano knew what he wanted to make this season's Tampa Bay team. We're going to run the ball and we're going to take our shots downfield. The one problem was the Bucs didn't have the key players to do this, so they went shopping. The most active team in Free Agency, and certainly the most successful the Buccaneers have acquired genuine grade A talent.
Through the draft the Bucs have added some hungry young talent to compliment their existing young stars. Clayborn, McCoy and Foster have all been given help that, if they can stay fit (cough Gerald cough) they can excel. Backfield help arrived in the small, muscular form of the single greatest nickname in the history of football, "The Muscle Hamster"!
So where do we stand? We have a potentially elite Quarterback. He's big, he's mobile, he's tough and he's got an arm like a cannon. We've got a big bruiser, little speedster backfield that look like that can potentially be a great one-two punch. After a bit of mixing and matching we have potentially a top 5 Offensive Line. At receiver we have a genuine top 5 talent, and potential for others to progress to the upper echelons of NFL receivers.
On the Defensive side of the ball we have a potentially dominant D-Line with a young hungry set of linebackers just waiting to hit people. Old Father Barber is now a safety and potentially has a nice partnership with top draft pick Mark Barron. If Aqib Talib can stay out of jail, custody, trouble etc then his cornerback partnership with Eric Wright is again potentially a top 5 tandem. There is that word again potential.
That is what the Bucs are this year potential. Potentially we are play off contenders, even in the hardest division in football. Potentially we are this year's surprise breakout team. With top young talent and highly paid Free Agents people expect now from the Buccaneers.
We've spent the money, we've drafted well for 3-4 years and now is the time for the Pewter Pirates to step up and perform. Potential is great, but this year fans want something to cheer about. Coach Schiano won't stand for anything less than the best in all facets of the game and I believe that will drive this years Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be the best we've seen in a long time.