Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It's Showtime for the Veteran Leadership

J.J. RodriguezContributor IIAugust 22, 2012

Vincent Jackson (83) has shown what it takes to be a professional.
Vincent Jackson (83) has shown what it takes to be a professional.Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The regime has changed, as have the schemes and philosophies. Also gone are the bloated egos and shrugged shoulders of uncertainty. All of this will undoubtedly help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the season progresses.

But if the Bucs have any hope of rebounding from their miserable 4-12 season of a year ago, they'll have to rely on something bigger than the new guy wearing the headset on the sideline.

This year's Bucs have several advantages over last year's team, but arguably none bigger than the luxury of veteran leadership.

The front office did right by targeting key veteran players such as receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks, cornerback Eric Wright and tight end Dallas Clark during the offseason, while systematically ridding the team of the malcontents and hey-look-at-me players.

And while the money spent to bring in the aforementioned is mind-numbing to say the least, it won't be worth a hill of beans if the results on the scoreboard don't change.

In other words, it's time for those veterans to step up and lead this team forward.

Yes, Jackson is said to have taken to a mentoring-type role with his fellow receivers, as has Clark with the tight ends.

Which is all good and well, but how this (still) young team responds to the beatdown it endured last Friday at the hands of the Titans will speak volumes to how the veterans on this team handle their responsibilities as leaders.

Will the offensive line respond and provide better protection and bigger running lanes? Has Jackson pulled aside a few of his teammates and made a few suggestions? The same goes for Wright and Clark.

You see, the Bucs lacked any semblance of leadership last season, so when times were tough and the wheels started to come off, there was nary a soul worthy enough to right the ship and prevent it from sinking.

Oh, and I fully realize veteran Ronde Barber was on that very team, but clearly anything he may have said to his teammates made zero difference to stave off their destruction, which isn't a knock on Barber but rather a statement that one veteran voice of clarity wasn't enough to fix anything. 

That is where the front office decision to bring in the above-mentioned players can make a world of difference.

Chances are, those guys have done it, fought through it and overcome it.

They've all endured the heartache of defeat and lived to tell about it. Two of them (Nicks and Clark) have also reveled in Super Bowl glory.

Don't get me wrong, the additions of Jackson, Nicks, Wright and Clark aren't an automatic ticket to Disney World by any stretch.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done and several loose ends that need to be tied.

Josh Freeman still has to figure it out, and Gerald McCoy still has to show he can play a full season. Oh, and Mason Foster and Mark Barron still have to learn the game.

So while the Bucs are not guaranteed success because they spent boatloads of money on veteran leadership, they are a heck of a lot closer than they were without it.

And that's something you can take to the bank.

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