The lack of love for the Buccaneers from the national media continued this weekend as ProFootballTalk.com continued to release its power rankings. To the surprise of many, Tampa Bay was ranked as the 24th best team in the NFL. What does PewterReport.com think of this ranking? Find out in this Pewter Report Reacts article.
The lack of respect from the national media for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued over the weekend as ProFootballTalk.com continued to release its annual Power Rankings.
Despite an offseason in which the 7-9 Buccaneers made their biggest weakness – the secondary – arguably one of their biggest strengths, PFT.com only had the Buccaneers ranked as the league’s 24th-best team, just ahead of the Carolina Panthers and a spot behind the Miami Dolphins.
PFT.com had this to say regarding Tampa Bay’s offseason and ranking.The Buccaneers are a team that it’s hard to find a consensus on this offseason.
On one hand, they aggressively addressed their biggest weakness from last year. At the same time, they’ve left the biggest question for the future of any franchise dangling awkwardly.
So as much as you want to like their chances based on adding legitimate stars such as Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson everything they’re doing this year will hinge on the performance of quarterback Josh Freeman.
If they get Good Freeman, there’s no reason to think they can’t be a playoff team.
If they get Bad Freeman, they could sink, and be forced to start over with a new quarterback at a time when many of the other pieces are well in place, and match the style of their second-year coach, Greg Schiano.
That is a fair assessment as everyone in Tampa Bay – and nationally – know a big part of this season’s final record will fall on the shoulders of Freeman’s fifth year.
PFT went on to talk about the Buccaneers strengths.The Bucs have the capability to be both balanced and explosive on offense.
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson averaged 19.2 yards per catch last year, and running back Doug Martin was nothing short of a revelation, with more than 1,900 yards from scrimmage.
Once they get Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph back on the field, it should help create more opportunities for Martin.
But the most unlikely strength, considering they were last in the league in pass defense last year, is the secondary.
Making a trade with the Jets for Revis and signing former 49ers standout Goldson to yet another free agent splash deal should solidify things, and help second-year safety Mark Barron grow into the player he appeared close to turning into at times last year. They went from a disaster to good enough that there wasn’t room for Ronde Barber, so the improvement is clear.
Their opinions of Doug Martin and Tampa Bay's strong and balance offense are hard to argue with. The former Boise Sate star began the season looking exactly what he was – a rookie. Then after an average start through the first four games, Martin burst onto the national scene with 1,454 yards rushing, setting a Bucs rookie record. As mentioned, the return of Nicks and Joseph should only aid Martin in, at the very least, hitting close to the same numbers as last season. PFT did give the Bucs props to the secondary shakeup and mentioned that it could turn into an unlikely strength.
The staff at PFT.com finally summed up their rankings.The Bucs have done a good job of putting parts in place around Freeman to make it easier to succeed, specifically by giving him a second year with offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. That kind of stability is necessary for him to develop confidence.
At the same time, there are enough questions up front to make you wonder whether the big expenditures in the back will help.
As good as Revis is, if quarterbacks are never pressured, opponents will find cornerback Eric Wright’s guy more easily.
They’ve done an admirable job of addressing needs, but it’s still unclear if they’ve built on a stable foundation.
Pewter Report's Reaction:
PFT.com got a lot of things right in their ranking. Are there question marks? Of course, but why are the Bucs ranked No. 24 this year when they didn't finish that low in the final standings last year after going 7-9 – and this is a team that's supposed to be improved with some solid offseason acquisitions?
First of all, a lot is based on a team’s reputation. The Buccaneers are 11-21 over the last two seasons, and while they did in fact show improvement in 2012, they still finished under .500.
Are the Bucs the 24th best team in the NFL? Basing it on last season, and the number of questions still surrounding the team (Revis’ injury, Da'Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn stepping up and Freeman needing more consistency) it is pretty easy to see how PFT.com could come up with the position. But not many Buccaneers fans agree with the ranking, and most certainly no one inside One Buc Place believes that.
How do they Bucs rank lower than the Kansas City Chiefs, a team the Bucs manhandled last season? Because Alex Smith is now the quarterback and Andy Reid will patrol the sideline? And the Detroit Lions, who were a disastrous 4-12 in 2012?
The Pewter Report staff in no way believes the Buccaneers are the 24th best team in the NFL. We aren’t saying they are Top 10 material just yet, but being in the bottom third of the NFL is a bit far-fetched in our minds.
Looking at the nine games the Bucs lost last season, just one was out of reach by the fourth quarter (41-0 loss to New Orleans). And in at least three losses it was the defense who couldn’t close things out, struggling with a historically bad secondary. By adding arguably this generation's best cornerback in Revis, a Pro Bowl safety in Goldson and the players entering Year Two in the head coach Greg Schiano’s system, it adds up to much better success in 2013.
And even if Freeman has the exact same numbers and inconsistencies as last year, just the improvement in the secondary makes this a .500 ball club at the very least.
There are questions marks, as pointed out by PFT.com, but there have been enough upgrades –just in the secondary alone – to warrant a much better ranking than No. 24. While things could go south with a few key injuries, that is the case for any NFL team. Where would the Ravens have been last season had quarterback Joe Flacco or linebacker Ray Lewis went down?
But just looking at the overall talent on the roster, it is hard for PewterReport.com to believe the Bucs are the 24th-best team in the NFL as ProFootballTalk.com would suggest.
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