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Monday, 19 January 2015

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2014 Final Report Card

2014 was nothing short of a disaster for the Buccaneers, many including myself predicted the Bucs to be the NFL’s most improved team and challenging for the NFC South crown. In reality they sucked and finished with a league’s worst 2 – 14 record. This article will look at all phases of the Bucs and rate how each performed. As you will see there was a consistent trend, the Bucs were poor in all phases of the game.

Coaching – F:

The appointment of Coach Lovie Smith was praised by many but things so far haven’t worked out as the Bucs fans and front office anticipated.  Although much better than his predecessor Greg Schiano, and without the media circus that followed Schiano for much of the 2013 season, Smith has failed to turn the Bucs into playoff contenders despite a roster filled with talent on both sides of the ball. He failed to bench quarterback Josh McCown despite it being evident he was not the man to lead the Bucs forward. Smith best hope for better fortune in 2015 or he could be the NFL’s first coaching casualty.  

Offence – E:

A successful offence starts with a superstar under centre and for the Bucs they lack even half a star. Brought in to be the starter following a successful season replacing injured Jay Cutler in which he threw 13 touchdowns and just one interception Josh McCown reverted back to his historically bad ways. In a season in which he had one of the league’s best wide receiver duos he struggled for consistency and threw 14 interceptions to just 11 TD’s.

As often quoted by the footballing gurus the ‘run opens up the pass’ and unfortunately for the Bucs they struggled to generate a consistent ground attack. In 2014 the Bucs ranked 29th in the NFL and Bucs running backs averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. Doug Martin looks a million miles away from the rookie who dazzled the NFL on his way to 1454 yards. During the 2014 campaign Martin averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. The lack of a running game can be accredited to a poor offensive line who struggled throughout the season giving up 52 sacks.

The highlight of the Bucs season was the performance of rookie wide receiver Mike Evans, he consistently terrorised opposing cornerbacks on his way to 1051 yards and a franchise record 12 TD’s. Quietly Vincent Jackson had his third straight 1000 yard season and the duo became the first in franchise history to both record 1000 yard seasons.

Defence – E:

2014 saw the Bucs struggle for consistency, in 50% of their games they gave up over 450 yards and were on the receiving end of two of the seasons most embarrassing beat downs 56-14 to the Atlanta Falcons and 48-15 at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.

Big free agency signing Michael Johnson struggled registering just four sacks in his first season with the Bucs. Johnson’s struggles reflected the Bucs defensive inabilities to pressurise the opposing quarterback, as a unit they registered just 36 sacks.

There is however room for optimism for Bucs fans as their defence possess the cornerstones to turn a struggling franchise around. Gerald McCoy, arguably the league’s best defensive tackle was once again a force, registered 8.5 sacks and 27 quarterback hurries on his way to his third straight pro bowl. Lavonte David is a tackling machine with 146 in 2014 (3rd in the NFL) Under Coach Smith’s leadership David should continue to develop and flourish as one of the league’s best line backers.

Special Teams – E:

Tampa’s special teams reiterated their lack of consistency, undrafted rookie Patrick Murray who beat out veteran place kicker Connor Barth was a pleasant surprise, making 20 out of 24 field goals. On the flip side punter Michael Koenen averaged just 40.4 yards per punt, the worst in the NFL. His poor performance directly resulted in the defensive struggles as they were constantly having to defend a short field.

It is hard to take any positives from the Bucs 2014 season, the highlight being a game winning drive against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  With possession of the first overall draft pick the Bucs could be in a position to turn their fortunes around, providing they take a franchise quarterback of course!  


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