Jun 212013
 

Darrelle Revis13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Head Coach: Greg Schiano
2012 Record: 7-9
2012 Offense: 389 points scored, 13th in points, 9th in yards (10th passing, 15th rushing)
2012 Defense: 394 points allowed, 23rd in points, 29th in yards (32nd passing, 1st rushing)

Key Additions
CB Darrelle Revis, S Dashon Goldson, WR Kevin Ogletree, DT Derek Landri, LB Jonathan Casillas, T Gabe Carimi, RB Brian Leonard, RB Jeff Demps, TE Tom Crabtree, TE Zach Miller, DT Andre Neblett, CB Michael Adams, CB Jonathan Banks, QB Mike Glennon, T Akeem Spence, DE William Gholston

Key Losses
S Ronde Barber, TE Dallas Clark, G Derek Hardman, DT Michael Bennett, DT Corey Irvin, DT Roy Miller, CB EJ Biggers, DB Brandon McDonald, T Jeremy Trueblood, WR Arrelious Benn, RB LeGarrette Blount, LB Quincy Black, RB DJ Ware

Why 2013 will be better
Lavonte David and Mason Foster lead a talented front seven on defense. With the best run defense and the worst passing defense in the league last season, it wasn’t hard to figure out where the Bucs would spend their energies in the off-season. Enter Revis and Goldson, who immediately improve a porous secondary by a lot, and who will serve as anchors for Eric Wright and Mark Barron. Adding Banks brings in depth with a ball-hawking corner. Suddenly a defensive liability looks much improved as long as Revis is healthy, and the Bucs defense promises to be one of the better units in the league. On offense, the line was riddled with injuries in 2012, yet still performed as a top ten offense. With a healthy and deep offensive line, Josh Freeman should have plenty of time to find favorite weapons Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Adding Ogletree is a solid move. Doug Martin had a fantastic rookie season, rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns, as well as catching 49 passes out of the backfield.

Why 2013 will be worse
Freeman has been a model of inconsistency so far in his NFL career, and this is a make or break season for him in Tampa. Glennon is arguably one of the best quarterbacks from a thin quarterback draft, but isn’t ready to take the team over just yet. So the Bucs will live and die this season on a signal-caller who is 11-20 as a starter over the past two seasons with 43 touchdown passes and 39 interceptions. With Dallas Clark gone, the Bucs are thin at tight end, where Luke Stocker is the best choice among few options. Otherwise, the Bucs have a deep roster and appear ready to compete.

Outlook
If we can assume that Josh Freeman simply serves as a neutral force, the Bucs appear prepared to challenge the Falcons and Saints in the NFC South. However, quarterback play is a significant predictor of team success, and the Bucs could go in either direction as a result. They ended 2012 losing five of their last six games, but have dramatically improved their pass defense, assuming Revis returns to a level close to what he played at with the Jets. If the offensive line stays healthy, this team should be in the hunt for a playoff spot. Their window appears to be anywhere from seven to ten wins, but I’ll set the over/under at nine.

Aug 312012
 

Pre-Season Game #4: Giants 6, Patriots 3

One could look at the Patriots’ pre-season and see causes for concern. The Patriots were a meager 1-3 this pre-season and their offense often looked like it was bogged down in a swamp. But the final pre-season game against the Giants, just like the rest of the pre-season, also served to help create high expectations for the 2012 season.

Summary

The Giants beat the Patriots 6-3 on a late field goal by Lawrence Tynes. The game featured 18 punts, so neither offense was exactly on fire. Eli Manning and the Giants starters made a brief appearance in the game, while most of the Patriots’ starters had the night off. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick seems to have harder roster decisions to make this year than in recent years, as the depth of the roster has bred tough competition this year. Ryan Mallett started the game and had an up and down night, finishing 8 of 15 for 40 yards. Running back Brandon Bolden led the Patriots with 15 carries for 59 yards while rookie running back Jeff Demps had six carries for 15 yards and three catches for 31 yards.The Patriots only earned 12 first downs. On defense, Mike Rivera had a strong night with 12 tackles. Linebacker Jermaine Cunningham accounted for two of the Patriots’ four sacks on the night. Rookie free agent Justin Francis had one and Trevor Scott had the other.

The Good

Mike Rivera looked solid in his bid to earn a roster spot. Jermaine Cunningham is finally starting to look like the player that the Patriots thought they drafted. Punter Zoltan Mesko was the best Patriot on the field, punting nine times and pinning the Giants inside their own 20 yard line on six occasions. Sebastian Vollmer was back and looked good in limited snaps.

The Bad

Nothing horrible really stood out. Mallett was inconsistent, but that’s about it.

Next Up

The Patriots will be back in action for the first game of the season on September 9 when they travel to Nashville to play the Tennessee Titans.

Aug 252012
 

I missed writing up the Monday game against the Eagles, and with three games in ten days I was tempted to collapse all of the games into one article, but needing a break from doing real work at home,I will pause to look at the games against both the Eagles and Buccaneers. Just one more game until the regular season!

Pre-Season Game #2: Eagles 27, Patriots 17

Summary

The Patriots chose to rest many starters tonight, knowing that the team would be playing three games in the span of just ten games. And while the Patriots lost the game, the nigh has to be considered a victory of the Patriots because the Patriots second team looked solid in hanging with the Eagles throughout the first half. Nick Foles was able to come in after Michael Vick was injured to engineer a comeback win for the Eagles, aided by Patriots’ blunders on special teams.

The Good

Ryan Mallett (10/25, 105, 1/0) wasn’t fantastic, but we was good, and certainly outplayed Brian Hoyer (5/17, 55, 0/0). The front seven was active on defense, and the secondary, while giving up one 40 yard pass to DeSean Jackson, is showing clear improvement over last season.

The Bad

As noted, Brian Hoyer did not look as good as Ryan Mallet, raising the possibility that Mallett could beat Hoyer for the backup position to Brady. If this happens, Hoyer may find himself traded or released given that his contract was tendered at the second round in the off-season. The offensive line looked improved from the first game, but Marcus Cannon is clearly a better guard than tackle. The Patriots can’t get Sebastian Vollmer quickly enough. Special teams were miserable against the Eagles, muffing two punts during the evening.

The Ugly

The ugly actually came from Michael Vick, who once again found a way to get taken out of the game early. Vick got hammered on the sixth offensive play by Jermaine Cunningham, hurting Vick’s ribs. While Nick Foles looks like a great backup for Vick, the Eagles will go as far as their starting quarterback will take them, and Vick has a history of getting pounded.

The Pleasant Surprise

Reserve tight end Alex Silvestro caught two passes tonight, including an 11 yard touchdown from Mallett.

Pre-Season Game #3: Buccaneers 30, Patriots 28

Summary

Don’t let the score fool you; the Patriots didn’t look nearly this good last night. The Patriots fell behind early and needed a late surge to make the final score respectable in their match-up against the Bucs.  Brady was sacked twice and threw a pick six to spot the Bucs early. The Patriots finally got rolling at the end of the first half, with a scoring drive aided by a defensive pass interference call and a 29 yard run by Stevan Ridley, who eventually scored on a one yard run. Brady engineered another touchdown drive in the third quarter, connecting on a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski before giving way to Ryan Mallet, who led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and appears to have supplanted Brian Hoyer as the primary backup to Brady.

The Good

Stevan Ridley appears to have claimed the primary running back spot, netting 87 yards on 16 carries. Shane Vereen only carried twice before needing to leave due to injury. Aaron Hernandez caught five passes, and Marquice Cole had a great night on special teams and appears primed to claim a roster spot.

The Bad

The offensive line was awful tonight, leading to solid hits on Brady and a strip sack. While Logan Mankins returned to the line, the entire line struggled, with the right side getting beat like a drum throughout the evening. This team is ready for Sebastian Vollmer to return, as Marcus Cannon continues to struggle at right tackle.

The Ugly

Bucs guard Davin Joseph was injured and is lost (likely) for the season with a broken kneecap.

The Pleasant Surprise

Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps saw his first action tonight and was impressive. He returned one kickoff for 23 yards and rushed the ball three times for 41 yards, including a long run of 29 yards. Nate Ebner joined Marquice Cole as a force on special teams.

Next Up

The Patriots will be back in action on Wednesday, August 29th when they travel to New Jersey to face the Giants.