NFL betting odds) was lessened by the debut of rookie quarterback Josh Freeman, who came into the lineup and showed great maturity at times. What the Bucs would like to do with him is support him with a strong running game, and there is the potential to do just that.
Between Cadillac Williams, Kareem Huggins and fullback Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay might be able to move the football on the ground, and if that kind of balance is indeed achieved, it might relieve some of the pressure not only from Freeman, but the talented rookie receivers the Bucs have brought on board this season – second-round pick Arrelious Benn and fourth-rounder Mike Williams. Sammie Stroughter has already proven to be a steal as a seventh-round draft pick last year and will start the season at flanker. They will join, among others, tight end Kellen Winslow, so Freeman will have quite a few talented targets that can help him develop.
The Buccaneers will have to get better effort and production from its defensive line. Tampa Bay allowed 4.8 yards a carry last season, which permitted too many teams to control the ball and control the clock as Tampa Bay’s run defense was ranked 32nd in the NFL. Rookies Gerald McCoy, the No. 3 overall pick, and second-round selection Brian Price were brought aboard to immediately address that need.
Morris has implemented his own version of the “Tampa 2” scheme this team had become known for when Monte Kiffin was the defensive coordinator, and they are hopeful for better results in 2010 after Jim Bates defense didn’t have the type of players needed to run that scheme. Morris' background has always been on the defensive side, but he had never served as a coordinator at the NFL before he was named as Tampa Bay’s head coach in 2009 outside of serving as defensive coordinator at Kansas State University in 2006.
Morris’ inexperienced showed in a lack of organization, as the team dismissed offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski before the start of the 2009 regular season, but Greg Olson has provided some competency and consistency as the team’s new play-caller.
With Freeman now firmly entrenched as the on-field leader, things ought to continue on a more orderly path as Tampa Bay continues to make progress, but for 2010, that might not be enough to keep the Buccaneers from another losing season.