In 2012 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended the season with a 7-9 record and a 4th place finish in the NFC South. Tampa was 3-3 in division games including an 0-2 record vs. the New Orleans Saints. The Buccaneers had the 9th ranked offense and the 29th ranked defense (both in yards) in 2012. Head coach Greg Schiano returns for his second season and starting quarterback Josh Freeman returns for his fifth season in Tampa.
Free agent acquisitions:
K - Nate Kaeding
LB - Jonathan Casillas
S - Dashon Goldson
TE - Tom Crabtree
WR - Kevin Ogletree
Acquired via trade:
CB - Darrelle Revis
Undrafted free agent signings (courtesy of Bucs Nation):
CB - Deveron Carr - Arizona St.
WR - Jerry Johnson - UCLA
TE - Evan Landi - South Florida
CB - Rashaan Melvin - Northern Illinois
WR - D.J. Monroe - Texas
LB - Willie Moseley - Buffalo
T - Brice Schwab - Arizona St.
RB - Akeem Shavers - Purdue
G - Adam Smith - Western Kentucky
CB - Branden Smith - Georgia
T - Nick Speller - UMass
T - Jason Weaver - Southern Miss.
WR - Tim Wright - Rutgers
CB - Jonthan Banks - Mississippi St. (Round 2)
QB - Mike Glennon - NC State (Round 3)
DT - Akeem Spence - Illinois (Round 4)
DE - William Gholston - Michigan St. (Round 4)
DE - Steven Means - Buffalo (Round 5)
RB - Mike James - Miami (Round 6)
Here's how ESPN graded the Bucs on their draft:
And here's how Bucs Nation viewed the Bucs draft:
At the end of any draft week, you look at your football team and hope you got a bit better. If you factor in Revis, the Bucs certainly took a step to competing in the NFC South for a division championship,
Did they do enough? At the very least, it appears they added to their depth - something every team needs in the war of attrition that is an NFL season. We'll see in about eight months if it was enough to end the Bucs' playoff drought.
It stands to reason that the Bucs would have selected CB Xavier Rhodes with the 13th pick in the draft. As it turns out though, trading that pick for the premier cornerback in the NFL is a pretty safe bet for Tampa. Tampa continued to bolster the NFL's worst passing defense in 2012 (yes, actually worse than the Saints) with their second round pick, CB Jonathan Banks.
Banks, who was predicted to go in the first round in many mock drafts, along with Revis should provide a substantial upgrade to the Bucs secondary. The Bucs now feature a secondary with Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron, and Jonathan Banks, they've clearly raised the stakes and expectations.
They're going to need the help since they have to face Steve Smith, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and the Saints gauntlet of dangerous weapons for six games every year. Tampa was stout against the run in 2012 and that should continue in 2013. Tampa added depth along the defensive line in the 4th and 5th rounds, so they should be able to keep a steady rotation of fresh defenders on the front line.
How this affects the Saints:
41-0. Yeah, that was the score the last time the Saints played the Bucs, a bright spot in a dark season. In fact, in 2012 the Saints swept the Bucs for the first time since 2006. Well, things likely won't be that easy in 2013. On paper the Bucs have a far more well rounded defense. The Saints will have to really utilize their vast array of weaponry to keep Tampa off balance.
The Bucs should continue to ride young RB Doug Martin as their offensive centerpiece. The Saints will also need to keep an eye out for Vincent Jackson deep downfield on the playaction. Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense should attempt to keep the Bucs offense in front of them and avoid the big play up top by keeping Martin in check.
The Bucs will look to beat teams with "old school" football. Run the ball, stop the run. But now they should avoid the gouging through the air. Hopefully Payton and Brees still have something for them in 2013. I believe they will, and the Saints will be the better team in 2013.