Five Reasons Why the Buccaneers Will Be a Playoff Contender Next Season

James Pearlman Contributor IJanuary 25, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 27:  Kicker Connor Barth #10 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates after kicking the winning field goal to defeat the New Orleans Saints 20-17 in overtime on December 27, 2009 at Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Okay, I know it is a far cry from the 2009 season, but I truly believe the Bucs can be a far better team next season and can even reach the playoffs.

Here are five reasons why the 2010 Buccaneers will be a different story.


1) Defense

In the first half of the season the Bucs defense was abysmal, getting walked over by mediocre offenses with half of our team seeming clueless. However, after Raheem Morris took over as DC, we experienced a huge turnaround and began to look like the Bucs of old.

We gave up an average of only 17 PPG, and we looked aggressive and confident, showing real promise for next season. If the defense can play to this standard next year, we will have at least a fighting chance in every game.


2) Josh Freeman

The rookie. 2010 season—no longer a rookie. That means no more stupid interceptions when needlessly forcing the ball into coverage, and certainly no more fumbling the ball at the line of scrimmage. We hope.

I know Freeman is still very much on an NFL learning curve, although if he progresses at a steady rate he will be able to take on more workload next year and should be the rock of this franchise for years to come.


3) 2010 Season Schedule

Next year the Bucs play the NFC West, AFC North, and NFC South as standard and the Redskins and Lions. This means as well as the former two teams, we also play the Rams, Browns, and Seahawks. We play all the other teams picking in the top seven apart from the Chiefs. Sound good?

In what is a reasonably easy schedule, the Bucs should aim to capitalize and outplay these weak teams (see Seattle game, week 15, 2009 season).


4) Raheem Morris

Okay, not much of a reason, but it cannot be denied that the team plays their hearts out for him. You saw the celebrations when we beat the Packers, and the heart showed against the Saints to try to save Raheem's job.

Ronde Barber threatened to retire if Raheem was fired after the season. Now that's commitment. I have a feeling that this team can accomplish some great things under Raheem, and I am looking forward to my Buccaneers giving 100 percent every snap next year for him.


5) The Draft

The Buccaneers have the third overall pick in this year's draft, which means we have the opportunity to draft a playmaker who can have an instant impact in the NFL, such as Gerald McCoy, who would instantly improve our run defense, or Eric Berry, who would make our secondary dangerous from week one of next season.

We also have two second round picks, which can be used to fill gaps in certain positions, such as wide receiver.

If the Bucs put our five picks in the top 100 to good use, we can have a solid inflow of young talent next year.


In conclusion, if the Bucs do what I know they are capable of next year, we can have a much improved season, and with some luck may even be in the playoffs come January.

Buccaneers fans, let the new decade begin...