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Alex's 32 Teams in 32 Days: Team 31—Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 23:  A cheerleader of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entertains during play against the St. Louis Rams at Raymond James Stadium on September 23, 2007 in Tampa, Florida. The  Bucs won 24 - 3. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Alex JohnsonCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2009

2008 Record:  9-7

 

2008 Season Review

With just four games remaining in the ’08 season, the Buccaneers looked as if they’d cruise into the playoffs.  They were flying high in the NFC South and even had a shot at the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

But the Bucs fell apart.

Tampa Bay lost four straight and fell to third in the division and ultimately out of the playoff race. As a result of the embarrassing collapse, the Bucs fired head coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen.

Their replacements?

Raheem Morris was hired as head coach and Mark Dominik as the new GM. Morris will be head coaching for the first time in the NFL.

The ’08 defense was strong against the pass, ranking fourth in the league, but ranked 19th stopping the run and 10th in points allowed.

The offense was sub-par ranking 19th in points scored, 11th in pass yards, and 15th in rush yards.

 

Key Additions

QB Josh Freeman, QB Byron Leftwich, RB Derrick Ward, TE Kellen Winslow, LB Angelo Crowell, K Mike Nugent

 

Key Losses

LB Derrick Brooks, CB Phillip Buchanon, RB Warrick Dunn, WR Joey Galloway, QB Jeff Garcia, QB Brian Griese, DT Jovan Haye, DE Kevin Carter, LB Cato June, WR Ike Hilliard, TE Alex Smith, Head Coach Jon Gruden

 

2009 Preview

The 2009 Buccaneers are a new-look group.

With a new head coach and GM come new philosophies, schemes, and players.

Many veterans who had spent many years with the team are now out. 

Top receiver Joey Galloway is now in New England.  Can Antonio Bryant duplicate his ’08 season and continue to play at a high level?

Can the defense replace the lost veterans such as Derrick Brooks and Phillip Buchanon?

But perhaps the biggest question asked of Tampa is who will take over the quarterbacking duties?

With Jeff Garcia now in Oakland, will it be Byron Leftwich, Luke McCown, or rookie Josh Freeman tossing the pigskin for Tampa?

According to sources, Leftwich really struggled in the spring OTAs.  He had a tough time making decisions quickly and took a lot of sacks.

Heading into camp, McCown seems like the favorite to win the job.  He’s familiar with the offense, and the coaching staff knows what he brings to the table.

The defense will be primarily built around young guns such as linebacker Barrett Ruud and defensive end Gaines Adams. 

The secondary will be held down by veteran Ronde Barber and second year cornerback Aqib Talib.  Tanard Jackson and Sabby Piscitelli are expected to be the starting safeties.

One bright spot for the Bucs is their running game.  With Earnest Graham back from injury, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams possibly returning healthy, and the addition of Derrick Ward, the Tampa running game could possibly be one of the best in the NFL.  With that in mind, they could end up better than where I have them ranked.

The addition of tight end Kellen Winslow will also help whoever starts at quarterback.  Winslow has the abilities to stretch the field and is a great target for any quarterback at any spot on the field.

 

Bottom Line

The Bucs are rebuilding and starting fresh.  I don't see them collecting any more than five victories.

 

Previous Rankings

32. Detroit Lions

 

Be sure to check in tomorrow for the unveiling of team 30.  Team 30 is a team that has been to the playoffs multiple times in the last 5 seasons!  Stay tuned to find out who they are!

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