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    • michael89156

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      litch_zpsc66183ec.pngWorst to First? The Buccaneers Believe ItForget about rebuilding or taking it slow. Tampa Bay's new general manager Jason Licht says his team is ready to win now. Can coach Lovie Smith, QB Josh McCown and company really compete for an NFC South division title in 2014?SI.comGreg A. BedardJune 14  2014First-year general managers generally say the same things. They express optimism that the losing franchise they took over can rebound. In the next breath, they acknowledge the reality that the team doesn’t quite measure up yet. Jason Licht, the first-time GM of the Buccaneers, doesn’t have that air about him. He’s a realist. The 43-year-old has been around the NFL block, working the past 18 years in the scouting and personnel departments of the Panthers, Patriots (twice), Eagles and Cardinals. Licht knows talent, and he sees it in the Buccaneers. “I think we’re going to compete,” Licht says, walking off the field after the team’s final practice before summer break. “No, I know we’re going to compete, for the division this year.” In many ways, that isn’t an outlandish statement. The NFC South, where Tampa Bay resides, hasn’t been overly dominating. Going into next season, the Saints (11-5 last season) appear to have the strongest team, and the Panthers (12-4) aren’t far behind though they were hit hard by departures. The Falcons (4-12 a year after being in the NFC Championship Game) hope to prove that last season was an aberration. But really, why can’t the Buccaneers, coming off a 4-12 campaign that resulted in the firing of coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, compete for the division title this season? Take one look at the Bucs’ defensive depth chart, and remember that former Bears coach Lovie Smith is running things after a year off, and a competitive Tampa Bay team is very much in the realm of possibility. “Absolutely, I sleep comfortable at night,” Licht said. “I know this is going to be a very solid defense. Not just from the players we have, but who we have coaching it. I couldn’t be more impressed with the staff that we have and the players, and adding (former Titans cornerback) Alterraun Verner to the mix. We have a lot of talent.” If there’s anything that keeps Licht awake at night, it’s the offensive line. He’s very confident in left tackle Anthony Collins (free agent from the Bengals), center Evan Dietrich-Smith (Packers) and right tackle Demar Dotson. It’s the two guard spots that need tending. Left guard Carl Nicks, a former All-Pro with the Saints, played just two games last season because of a toe injury and a recurring MRSA infection. He’s not expected back until training camp. At right guard, there will be several players competing for time. “We have three offensive linemen that I think could play for any team, both tackles and the center are players that I love,” Licht said. “It needs to jell inside at guard. It’s going to be a competition in there (at right guard). And not knowing if Carl is going to be healthy and what his status is, we have to prepare for all scenarios.” The Buccaneers are also a bit short of proven weapons to catch the ball from quarterback Josh McCown. Outside of Vincent Jackson and tight end Tim Wright, the Bucs are largely unproven. They’ll need top draft picks Mike Evans (receiver) and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins (tight end) to get up to speed quickly at positions where rookies notoriously struggle. The Bucs are hoping offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford will be able to acclimate the rookies quickly after his long stint as Cal’s head coach. “You can see that happening on the field,” Licht said of Tedford’s ability to relate to the young players. “I’ve been very impressed with his attention to detail but also his creativity and how to get the right fits out there and the matchups out there. He’s just real creative. He reminds me of (former Patriots offensive coordinator and current Texans coach) Bill O’Brien, kind of his approach and his attention to detail and he’s just a football guy through and through. I know why Lovie hired him. Lovie spent a whole year going through various scenarios who he was going to hire at each position. (Tedford’s) got no agenda, he’s just a football guy and very creative and very smart.” While the Bucs spent a lot of money on free agents like Verner, Collins and end Michael Johnson, they feel the most impact will come from adding McCown at quarterback. He is providing the type of team-wide leadership that the Bucs have missed since, arguably, Derrick Brooks retired after the ’08 season. Licht didn’t know McCown well, but after he was hired, Smith basically mandated that team sign the 34-year-old journeyman. “Lovie talked about it since day one when I was hired about Josh and how Josh was the type of person we needed in this locker room and on this team for the very reasons you’re talking about,” Licht said. “Of course I believe what Lovie said and trust him, but to see it firsthand within the first days that we actually signed him … the guy is just special. He lives, breathes and eats football. Somehow, he just has a way to capture the entire team. They all love this guy. He’s really one of the most special leaders I think I’ve ever been around.” That’s high praise coming from Licht, who was around Tom Brady in New England for years. “And I say it meaning it too,” Licht said. Licht also believes that the Bucs’ turnaround will be immediate, and not gradual. “Honestly, I feel really good,” said Licht, who raved about his relationship with Smith. “I feel a lot better than I anticipated feeling when I first took the job. If I had a crystal ball and ask what’s this going to look like in June, am I going to be stressed out all summer? It’s so much better than I ever anticipated. I hate to sound cliché but we felt like we addressed most of the needs. There’s more work to be done, no question. But, yeah, I feel really good about where we are.”

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 182

      Worst to first would not surprise me at all. A poll on another site had voters believing playoffs at 54%……slightly over half. Even at this early stage, people are confident and enjoying the transition. The coaching staff alone should account for 4 more wins than last year. The upgrades in personnel are almost a guarantee of a winning season IMO. McCown brings a team first attitude that Tom Brady has never been known for. That’s an advantage that few teams have. McCown has a future in coaching in the NFL. I believe the Bucs will be feared and respected for years to come. The leadership is there, and a solid foundation of talent is there to build on. This team does not need Tom Brady to win games at this level. I expect there will be a flood of quality free agents wanting to join this roster in 2015. These guys are having fun.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 1385

      Sparky, couldn’t agree more. I’m not saying the Bucs will win the division, but they are going to be in that conversation in December. This team is really down to only one weakness, albeit a big one, the guard positions. But I honestly think we might have some players there that could surprise.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 2847

          Yep; Lovie apparently has done his homework very well. Love the enthusiasm and focus of his assistants! This will translate onto the type of players they are getting…  And I am very pleased they chose Licht at GM; I liked him from his first media appearance here. A straight-forward no BS football guy! It's often said O'linemen are the smartest of football players, and that's what he was at Nebraska...

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 905

      After being burned for the past decade by the preseason hype, pardon me if I’m not buying it right this second. I’m going to be pessimistic until proven otherwise. If McCown is so great, why has it taken 10+ years to win a starting spot? If the O-Line falters like it did last year the running game is going to struggle. How quickly will this defense gel in the we schemes? That is going to be crucial to this years success or failure. Only time will tell. I’m in a wait and see mode right now.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 1312

      After being burned for the past decade by the preseason hype, pardon me if I'm not buying it right this second. I'm going to be pessimistic until proven otherwise. If McCown is so great, why has it taken 10+ years to win a starting spot? If the O-Line falters like it did last year the running game is going to struggle. How quickly will this defense gel in the we schemes? That is going to be crucial to this years success or failure. Only time will tell. I'm in a wait and see mode right now.

      Cool for you.. There is no way in hell I could look forward to a season of Football with that kind of perspective. Heres to hoping they prove you as wrong as possible. Cheers

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 2847

          If we are to compete for the division this year, how we start is crucial, IMO. How we start definitely hinges on how well we gel on offense, defense, and STs. I absolutely expect us to improve as the season progresses, but a bad start could take us out of the running. I’m sure Lovie knew this when he brought McCown on board. McCown’s leadership could get us thru the early games when we probably will struggle to gel the most.     From what I've read, McCown didn't really take the mental side of football seriously until he was out of the NFL and took a job as a High School coach. Now charged with getting his younger guys ready for games, he began studying the game in much more detail. Next he took that mindset with him on his journey back into the NFL, and reaped the benefits last season. And not having played all that much in the NFL, he's still got the body of a younger NFL player...

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 1385

      After being burned for the past decade by the preseason hype, pardon me if I'm not buying it right this second. I'm going to be pessimistic until proven otherwise. If McCown is so great, why has it taken 10+ years to win a starting spot? If the O-Line falters like it did last year the running game is going to struggle. How quickly will this defense gel in the we schemes? That is going to be crucial to this years success or failure. Only time will tell. I'm in a wait and see mode right now.

      I understand, been there myself. However, spring is made for the football optimist. Last year at this time I was optimistic as well because the Bucs had just come off a 7-9 season and the offense finished at #9 and we just picked up Revis. Thought for sure we'd be challenging for the division crown. However, as the OTA's eventually turned into training camp and then we saw nothing from the team in pre-season I became less optimistic. After the first couple of games, I had lost all my optimism and wanted Schiano fired. I don't regret feeling optimistic last year and I'm not going to allow last season's performance color my view for the team this season.This team WAS better than the 4-12 record that they showed. The team did play hard in almost every game and in more than a few, we could have won with better coaching. The misuse of personal was criminal. So I say buy into the hype, what does it really cost you? You have plenty of time to be disappointed, but at least until you get there you can feel good about the team. Think about how you'd feel if Schiano was still in charge for another year - if that didn't make you down right depressed, then having Smith in charge should make you feel almost giddy!

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 2847

          Some folk are traditionalists; they believe NOTHING is true unless they’ve already seen it happen. I do believe what I’ve seen is true, good or bad, but there is MORE to the picture than that. I believe what is unseen and unproven WILL become positive in time. WHY would I want to think it is negative? Never made sense to me…

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 10626

      Worst to first would not surprise me at all. A poll on another site had voters believing playoffs at 54%......slightly over half. Even at this early stage, people are confident and enjoying the transition. The coaching staff alone should account for 4 more wins than last year. The upgrades in personnel are almost a guarantee of a winning season IMO. McCown brings a team first attitude that Tom Brady has never been known for. That's an advantage that few teams have. McCown has a future in coaching in the NFL. I believe the Bucs will be feared and respected for years to come. The leadership is there, and a solid foundation of talent is there to build on. This team does not need Tom Brady to win games at this level. I expect there will be a flood of quality free agents wanting to join this roster in 2015. These guys are having fun.

      Good post Sparky.  About the only part I am not as optimistic about, is the QB position. I believe McCown can have a nice season, but after that, its a crapshoot. It would be a different story if he was 28 years old. But I think we will be lucky to get 1 or 2 good seasons out of him. Perhaps after the season, a decent QB will shake loose from the proverbial QB tree. Cousins? Pryer? A lot will change between now and next offseason. A few QB's will become available for whatever reason. A young QB could step up and make the vet available. Even Glennon could emerge, but I am not holding my breath on that one.But for now, I am going to enjoy the 2014 season. We can worry about the position next offseason.

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    • meadorsp

      Participant
      Post count: 200

      Forever the optimist, I’m a believer.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 739

      In football, I always have to see it to believe it

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 500

          If we are to compete for the division this year, how we start is crucial, IMO. How we start definitely hinges on how well we gel on offense, defense, and STs. I absolutely expect us to improve as the season progresses, but a bad start could take us out of the running. I'm sure Lovie knew this when he brought McCown on board. McCown's leadership could get us thru the early games when we probably will struggle to gel the most.     From what I've read, McCown didn't really take the mental side of football seriously until he was out of the NFL and took a job as a High School coach. Now charged with getting his younger guys ready for games, he began studying the game in much more detail. Next he took that mindset with him on his journey back into the NFL, and reaped the benefits last season. And not having played all that much in the NFL, he's still got the body of a younger NFL player...

      Bingo. There are PLENTY of examples of QBs who's light went on later in their career for whatever reason, and had a succesfull run of a few years after that. Also none of this means he has to be All-World, just smart and good enough to keep us in contention down the stretch. Count me amongst the optimists for this upcoming season, and perhaps even the next 2-3 seasons.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 4140

      After being burned for the past decade by the preseason hype, pardon me if I'm not buying it right this second. I'm going to be. ....…mistic until proven otherwise...

      As should most.  Been a long 11 years...  This time I am mistic too

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 401

      I’m optimistic for sure. Expect the Bucs to be much better. Schiano likely cost this team about 2-3 wins on the kind side. Bet on the Bucs in Vegas so will be celebrating another championship and cashing in as well if they win.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 10626

      Its a possibility.    I am not a big believer in Mike Smith and his team.  And I think Carolina takes a step back. They lost a lot of talent.  The Saints will be tough to beat. Great offense, and they have really improved their defense. Things could be worse though. If the Bucs were in the NFC West for example. That is one tough division.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 5572

      I just don’t see it for this year. I think next season will be our big push into the playoffs.

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    • dzejms

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      Post count: 981

      The Bucs have gone from worst to worst the last 5 years.  I think this year they go from worst to mediocre.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 8983

      I like the way the OL has been built.Guys who have actually earned it, or just have a great work ethic in general. None of this silver spoon-fed crap with guys who don't even come close to the money they're getting. Nicks the obvious exception, but he will go soon enough too.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 11506

      I like the way the OL has been built.Guys who have actually earned it, or just have a great work ethic in general. None of this silver spoon-fed crap with guys who don't even come close to the money they're getting. Nicks the obvious exception, but he will go soon enough too.

      Yep . Can't wait.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 182

      Worst to first would not surprise me at all. A poll on another site had voters believing playoffs at 54%......slightly over half. Even at this early stage, people are confident and enjoying the transition. The coaching staff alone should account for 4 more wins than last year. The upgrades in personnel are almost a guarantee of a winning season IMO. McCown brings a team first attitude that Tom Brady has never been known for. That's an advantage that few teams have. McCown has a future in coaching in the NFL. I believe the Bucs will be feared and respected for years to come. The leadership is there, and a solid foundation of talent is there to build on. This team does not need Tom Brady to win games at this level. I expect there will be a flood of quality free agents wanting to join this roster in 2015. These guys are having fun.

      Good post Sparky.  About the only part I am not as optimistic about, is the QB position. I believe McCown can have a nice season, but after that, its a crapshoot. It would be a different story if he was 28 years old. But I think we will be lucky to get 1 or 2 good seasons out of him. Perhaps after the season, a decent QB will shake loose from the proverbial QB tree. Cousins? Pryer? A lot will change between now and next offseason. A few QB's will become available for whatever reason. A young QB could step up and make the vet available. Even Glennon could emerge, but I am not holding my breath on that one.But for now, I am going to enjoy the 2014 season. We can worry about the position next offseason.

      Tedford has a reputation for getting more out of his QBs than the coaches who took them in the NFL. I believe he will get the most out of McCown and Glennon. This offense has size and speed never seen in Tampa before, and McCown has the experience to make the best use of these players. We have weapons and we have Tedford. I know there will be hiccups and there will be injuries, but the leadership is in place to overcome it. The Bucs have been known for great defenses and inept offenses. This team has talent on both sides of the ball and coaches who know how to use it. I believe they can win with a mediocre QB and McCown and Gennon will prove to be something better than mediocre.The Bucs were competitive last year in most of their games. Every aspect of the team has been upgraded............coaching, schemes, and talent level. They will compete and be at the very least, respectable. Given another year or two of drafts and free agency, they will dominate. Maybe they could bring Schiano back as a scout.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 10626

      Worst to first would not surprise me at all. A poll on another site had voters believing playoffs at 54%......slightly over half. Even at this early stage, people are confident and enjoying the transition. The coaching staff alone should account for 4 more wins than last year. The upgrades in personnel are almost a guarantee of a winning season IMO. McCown brings a team first attitude that Tom Brady has never been known for. That's an advantage that few teams have. McCown has a future in coaching in the NFL. I believe the Bucs will be feared and respected for years to come. The leadership is there, and a solid foundation of talent is there to build on. This team does not need Tom Brady to win games at this level. I expect there will be a flood of quality free agents wanting to join this roster in 2015. These guys are having fun.

      Good post Sparky.  About the only part I am not as optimistic about, is the QB position. I believe McCown can have a nice season, but after that, its a crapshoot. It would be a different story if he was 28 years old. But I think we will be lucky to get 1 or 2 good seasons out of him. Perhaps after the season, a decent QB will shake loose from the proverbial QB tree. Cousins? Pryer? A lot will change between now and next offseason. A few QB's will become available for whatever reason. A young QB could step up and make the vet available. Even Glennon could emerge, but I am not holding my breath on that one.But for now, I am going to enjoy the 2014 season. We can worry about the position next offseason.

      Tedford has a reputation for getting more out of his QBs than the coaches who took them in the NFL. I believe he will get the most out of McCown and Glennon. This offense has size and speed never seen in Tampa before, and McCown has the experience to make the best use of these players. We have weapons and we have Tedford. I know there will be hiccups and there will be injuries, but the leadership is in place to overcome it. The Bucs have been known for great defenses and inept offenses. This team has talent on both sides of the ball and coaches who know how to use it. I believe they can win with a mediocre QB and McCown and Gennon will prove to be something better than mediocre.The Bucs were competitive last year in most of their games. Every aspect of the team has been upgraded............coaching, schemes, and talent level. They will compete and be at the very least, respectable. Given another year or two of drafts and free agency, they will dominate. Maybe they could bring Schiano back as a scout.

      I hear ya Spark, I agree Tedford will get the most out of the QB position.  But my point was, how long is that going to last? 1 year, maybe 2?McCown is going to be 35 in a few weeks. So, even if he balls at a high level, he is not a long term solution.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 5572

      I just don’t think this year is our year. I don’t believe in McCown or Glennon. Tedford might be a great coach, but you can’t polish a turd.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 2847

          The only division team we’re clearly behind is New Orleans. We do need to be able to block reasonably well for our offense to function. McCown’s age may not be the issue many think, as he’s actually played in very few NFL games. Not a lot of wear and tear.Making it as a top wildcard to qualify for the Playoffs will be tough...

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 182

      Worst to first would not surprise me at all. A poll on another site had voters believing playoffs at 54%......slightly over half. Even at this early stage, people are confident and enjoying the transition. The coaching staff alone should account for 4 more wins than last year. The upgrades in personnel are almost a guarantee of a winning season IMO. McCown brings a team first attitude that Tom Brady has never been known for. That's an advantage that few teams have. McCown has a future in coaching in the NFL. I believe the Bucs will be feared and respected for years to come. The leadership is there, and a solid foundation of talent is there to build on. This team does not need Tom Brady to win games at this level. I expect there will be a flood of quality free agents wanting to join this roster in 2015. These guys are having fun.

      Good post Sparky.  About the only part I am not as optimistic about, is the QB position. I believe McCown can have a nice season, but after that, its a crapshoot. It would be a different story if he was 28 years old. But I think we will be lucky to get 1 or 2 good seasons out of him. Perhaps after the season, a decent QB will shake loose from the proverbial QB tree. Cousins? Pryer? A lot will change between now and next offseason. A few QB's will become available for whatever reason. A young QB could step up and make the vet available. Even Glennon could emerge, but I am not holding my breath on that one.But for now, I am going to enjoy the 2014 season. We can worry about the position next offseason.

      Tedford has a reputation for getting more out of his QBs than the coaches who took them in the NFL. I believe he will get the most out of McCown and Glennon. This offense has size and speed never seen in Tampa before, and McCown has the experience to make the best use of these players. We have weapons and we have Tedford. I know there will be hiccups and there will be injuries, but the leadership is in place to overcome it. The Bucs have been known for great defenses and inept offenses. This team has talent on both sides of the ball and coaches who know how to use it. I believe they can win with a mediocre QB and McCown and Gennon will prove to be something better than mediocre.The Bucs were competitive last year in most of their games. Every aspect of the team has been upgraded............coaching, schemes, and talent level. They will compete and be at the very least, respectable. Given another year or two of drafts and free agency, they will dominate. Maybe they could bring Schiano back as a scout.

      I hear ya Spark, I agree Tedford will get the most out of the QB position.  But my point was, how long is that going to last? 1 year, maybe 2?McCown is going to be 35 in a few weeks. So, even if he balls at a high level, he is not a long term solution.

      A year or two may be all  the Bucs need from him if Glennon continues to improve. Tedford is the key. He's made so many guys look NFL ready. I believe he will get the most out of whoever he has to work with. Also, it is possible McCown could play for several  years since he's had so little wear and tear. It just appears to me that the pieces are finally falling into place for this franchise. The balance of talent between the offense and the defense combined with a competent coaching staff, bodes well for the future. I'm confident the Bucs will be competitive this year and dominating soon after, with or without McCown and Glennon. I trust Lovie.

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