Yardbarker Horiz

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Week 15 vs. 2010 Season

Fresh off a win against the Seahawks where the Buccaneers showed a running game and bend-not-break defense may not be the time to look toward next season, but we have to get started.  So much to research!  So first, some groundwork, in the form of two predictions and two statements along the lines of what do we know, for sure, right now?

Prediction:  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Will Win More Games in 2010 than in 2009
OK, so that's not something I know, for sure, right now.  It sure sounds bold, doesn't it?  I encourage you to join me in my optimism because with the results from Week 15 in the books, the 2010 opposition is determined.  Here are the teams the Buccaneers will play in 2010:

New Orleans (twice)
Atlanta (twice)
Carolina (twice)
Arizona
San Francisco
Seattle
St. Louis
Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Baltimore
Cleveland
Detroit
Washington

I believe, home or away, next year's team (actually, this year's also) stacks up favorably against Detroit, Washington, St Louis, Seattle, and Cleveland.  Granted, all these teams will have some top-flight draft choices joining their rosters, but I believe Tampa Bay has the strongest core to build on.  Depending on how the draft falls and free agents move I may not be scared by San Francisco, Carolina (twice) and Atlanta (twice) either.  The Buccaneers will undoubtedly still be young next year.  So, for now, I'll call "the floor" five wins next year.  And thus, my "bold" prediction.

The Buccaneers Will Draft No Lower Than Sixth in 2010
With two games remaining Tampa Bay can finish with no more than four wins.  A quick look at the overall league standings shows the best four wins can get is tied with the Washington Redskins for fifth-lowest win total.  The Redskins have played St Louis, Detroit, Kansas City, Carolina, and Tampa Bay this year, so the Bucs would "win" the opponent strength tiebreaker and draft after Washington.

Underclassmen and the Draft
We know that January 15th is the deadline for underclassmen to declare, and with three picks in the first two rounds, it's a major event for the Buccaneers this coming offseason.  Some have already thrown their hat into the ring while others are still ponding their options.   General Manager Mark Dominik has already indicated his belief that there will be a strong push of underclassmen coming to the NFL for this draft due to the prospect of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) containing a structured rookie salary schedule (old link, but a good rundown of the pros and cons).  If a lot of talented underclassmen declare then the best move for Tampa Bay could be to trade down -- a position I'll revisit after the full list of underclassmen declare. 

Raheem will be back
OK, again, I don't know this for sure.  But it would extremely disruptive to change coaches after 16 games, plus the players have not quit on him, plus there are flashes that his vision for this team is correct.  Last offseason, the front office was able to secure more talent to help the offense than help the defense.  If they can reverse that focus this offseason Coach Morris will have more and better tools to work with on defense -- and the defense has been improving.  Besides, having a coach for only one season would make the Buccaneers no better than the Redskins or Raiders, and we all know we're better than that!

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