To get a feel for preparations for the season from the Buccaneers perspective, I got together with Leo Howell of The Pewter Plank for a Q&A:
1. How would you assess the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do through the draft and free agency?
I think the Buccaneers did a B+ job of addressing needs, as only depth on the defensive line seems to be lacking, as well as a playmaker at tight end. Otherwise, the team seems well built to improve upon a 7-9 record with the additions of All-Pro defensive backs and some nice role players at other positions. The draft was used well to bring in players for the future at multiple positions, as well as address a need at nose tackle.
2. Which Rookie are you most excited to see play in 2013 and why?
For me, it’s William Gholston, defensive end out of Michigan State. Johnthan Banks is going to be a reliable player with some upside, and I feel like I know what to expect from him. I have no idea what to expect from Gholston. He has such a wide range of possible outcomes, it’s crazy. I am excited to see him hit the field.
3. What is the biggest question that still needs to be answered heading into training camp?
Who is going to play the third linebacker spot? Quincy Black suffered a career threatening injury last season and was let go, so the Bucs are without a strongside linebacker. There are no fewer than four guys who could win this job, so it will be interesting to see how it shapes up.
4. What are your expectations for the team in 2013?
I think an improvement upon 7-9 is the expectation, with 9+ wins being the benchmark for “success” and a playoff victory being the lofty goal. The schedule is a bit tough on paper, so the Bucs can’t afford any mistakes.
5. Right here, right now, are you marking down the game against the Lions as a win, loss or toss-up?
It has to be a win. The Bucs don’t have that many sure-fire winnable games, so they’re going to have to focus on the Lions and ensure they get a win out of this matchup. I think that a healthy Darrelle Revis proves to be kryptonite for Megatron, and there’s no way the Lions can get a running game going against the Bucs’ D.
For more on the Buccaneers, head to The Pewter Plank.