Before I write about the "My" 2009 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, my article is purely perception with a little reality mixed in for affects.
Being here in Iraq, I can only go off the reports that the local Tampa sports websites, national sports journalists and friends who have attended training camp, have expressed to me of their concerns about the players, coaches and organization.
I have been on the Bucs bandwagon since 1976 and have no intention of abandoning it now. After going through a horrendous final four games of last season, an offseason full of firings and hirings, and a preseason that left more questions than answers, I ask the question "is perception reality for the 2009 Tampa Bay Buccaneers?"
Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway, Jeff Garcia, Warrick Dunn, Ike Hillard, Brian Griese and Jon Gruden had to be replaced with younger, albeit less experienced, more athletic players, and coaches to take this team in a new direction. Okay, what's the direction? That's where perception kicks in.
The addition of Hayes and Black at the linebacker position, Zuttah, Winslow and Ward on offense and the drafting of Stroughter, Miller and Moore have injected a foundation of youth that has long been needed since their Superbowl season of 2002-2003.
Before the firing of Coach Jags, I was thinking that the Bucs did not want to show too much of their hand on th offensive side of the ball. That's what Gruden did when he drafted Carnell Williams, who played all of maybe five series in the preseason before he rushed to become the Bucs first NFL Rookie of the Year.
The perception is that the 2009 Buccaneers have more offensive firepower that will grace Raymond James Stadium September 13th against the Cowboys, for the first time in their history. If the likes of Winslow, Graham, Williams, Smith, Bryant, Clayton, Ward and Stevens can stay healthy for an entire season, we should average 24-30 points per game.
The defensive line, coming into the preseason, has been a concern since December 2008. The one pre-season game I was able to watch here in Iraq was the Bucs vs Dolphins. Prior to that contest the defense held the Titans starting running backs to 13 yards and the Jaguars MJD and Dolphins Brown and Williams did not fair any better.
The reality is that the Bucs have enough money to get the State of Florida out of debt, to use on players to fill in gaps at quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. Opposing teams are going to look at the preseason defensive back coverage and target a more downfield passing attack to move the ball.
Vince Young, David Garrard, Chad Pennington and Rex Grossman tourched our DB's for a season's worth of yardage. What's going to happen when we face the likes of Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb, Drew Brees and Tom Brady? Seems like toast will be served for lunch every Sunday during the season at 1300hrs.
Reality is that Freeman is not ready. Brandon Marshall, Anquan Bolden, Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn are or could be available for a price that most teams are willing to pay with draft picks and the Bucs are over 30 million dollars under the salary cap.
The offensive coordinator, who we were led to believe will have this team more vertical with all their weapons, have been fired. We have a starting quarterback who is slow afoot with no touch pass and the Bucs have the fifth toughest schedule in the NFL this season.
The Bucs broke even against the NFC South last year going 3-3. The perception is that this can be a possibility as well this year. Another perception is that the Bills, Jets and yes, even the Dolphins, Redskins and Seahawks are winnable games.
The reality is that if they play like the first team offense and defense, we will see some close games won or lost because of their experience, or lack thereof which may make for another offseason of discontent and Buc fans heading down to nearby Miami to watch another Superbowl in their state without being represented by the Bay area.
A record of 7-9 or 8-8 could be a perception or a reality.