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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made some bold moves in free agency and the draft to give former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano everything he needs to succeed in the NFL.
Adding Dallas Clark, Vincent Jackson and rookie running back Doug Martin makes the offense a potentially potent unit. The key will be if quarterback Josh Freeman can recapture his 2010 form.
His completion percentage and yards per pass average were drastically reduced last season, and Freeman also hurled 22 interceptions. Jackson and Clark will help, as will the presence of Carl Nicks on the offensive line. However, the onus will still be on Freeman to show he can capitalise on the superior talent around him.
Still, no matter how the offense performs, it will be the defense that determines what kind of debut season Schiano experiences. The Buccaneers were last in the league in points and rushing yards allowed.
It will take more than their top draft pick, safety Mark Barron, to turn around this beleaguered unit. Schiano will likely run a more attack-minded scheme than the old Tampa-2, but he will need the defensive tackle rotation to stay healthy and somebody to prove capable of reaching double-digit sacks.
The Buccaneers face plenty of tough running games in 2012, including division rivals the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. Schiano has upgraded the talent base, but there are still too many question marks in key areas of the team for them to be winners right away.