1. Recap the Bucs offseason for us. How would you grade their draft? their free agency?
The Bucs’ offseason has been very controversial among the fans, however I think they have done a superb job. The Bucs have re-signed every free agent they wanted to keep, while not over-spending on some over-rated talent. The Bucs are building from a core built around Josh Freeman, and will not break from this mold. The Bucs have no reason to break from this plan based on the success they saw in 2010.
2. Josh Freeman was one of the top QB’s in the 2010 season. How far will his progression go in 2011? Does he have the game to lift the Bucs to a NFC South title?
With Josh Freeman, the sky is the limit. When he came out of Kansas State, his big knock was that he didn’t have the head to harness his tools, and he is proving critics wrong. Not only has he shown drastic improvement, but he has also shown a desire to improve even further and take his team even further. If I am a coach of the Saints, Falcons, or Panthers, I would fear Josh Freeman for the next 10 years.
3. Is LeGarette Blount a one year wonder or is he the running back of the future in Tampa?
LeGarette Blount showed a lot of talent in his rookie season, but whether or not he is a long-term solution is yet to be seen. The career lifespan of a running back is short, and Blount’s style involves him taking a beating. I think this kid can be a stud for a 4-6 year span, but being a primary ballcarrier longer than that is close to impossible in today’s NFL.
4. What do you think of Raheem Morris as a head coach? Where would you put him in terms of the top coaches in the NFC?
Raheem Morris went from being cursed to practically being handed the keys to the city, all in a span of about 20 months. When Morris started his first season at 3-13, he was written off as a failure. Then, poof, 10-6 silenced all of his critics quickly. Additionally, Morris added quality press-conference one-liners such as “stats are for losers” and “the Bucs are the best team in the NFC” (writer’s note: at the time, the Bucs were tied for the best record in the NFC, and that is why Morris dropped this line). Now, he has the Bucs motivated as a team that is “youngry”, young and hungry. The guys LOVE LOVE LOVE to play for Rah. He gets 110% every snap of the ball. I don’t know what more you can ask for from a coach.
5. The starters won’t play much in the 2nd preseason game, so give us something you are watching out for in Thursday’s game?
I am watching the front 7 on defense. They looked solid in the first game against the Chiefs, but still showed some holes in the running game. Additionally, the Bucs biggest hole is at Middle Linebacker, so I am watching to see how Mason Foster and Tyrone McKenzie plug the holes. I would also love to see some more pressure from the Bucs young defensive linemen, such as Daquan Bowers, Adrian Clayborn, and Gerald McCoy. If the Bucs defensive front 7 can win the battle up front, I will be a happy pirate, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.
6. Prediction Time! Will the Bucs make the playoffs? If so, how far can this team go in 2011?
I see the Bucs winning a wildcard this year. I see teams such as the Giants and Saints having down-years, giving the Bucs an opportunity to succeed. However, watch out for the Bucs in 2012 and beyond. The team is built to contend starting then, and they will be very exciting to watch.