Yardbarker Horiz

Monday, July 19, 2010

Expectations for 2010

A quick look at the expectations for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is in order as everyone gets ready for camp to open on August 31st.  For the record, I expect the team to press for an 8-8 season this year, but six wins with this level of youth would also be a very good season.

Gary Shelton (tampabay.com) is more blatant about his lack of confidence in the upcoming season. His article parrots an article from earlier in the summer by Pat Kirwan (NFL.com).  In the article, both guys believe youth is the downfall of this team.  And while growing pains will happen, I have already offered clear proof of how much youth can contribute to a successful season (case in point: Roy Miller). Miller, who was a rookie defensive tackle last year, had an outstanding season which went completely unnoticed by most, completely disproving the points of Shelton and Kirwan.  With two more rookie defensive tackles coming in this year, having Miller as a mentor is solid gold.  I mean, I get it -- the Buccaneers are too young to win the Superbowl this year.  Duh.  So were the Jets last year but they had a pretty good season anyhow.

At this point, the ESPN "Group Think" has the Bucs rated 30th in the NFL.  They, however, have been distracted by baseball and World Cup soccer so their rankings have not been reconsidered since the end of the 2009 season.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports rated the Buccaneers 28th on May 7th.  He has not shuffled the order since the end of 2009 but has added comments.  While he believes "they are at least a year away" he also admits "I do like the way they are building this team."

BleacherReport has the Buccaneers at 27th and will probably lower that number to match ESPN once they realize it's different.  Why do they rate Tampa Bay at 27?  Because Tampa Bay did not draft a defensive end in the second round of the 2010 draft.  Wow.  Are we supposed to be impressed with that "outstanding analysis"?  Did they miss the drafting of Kyle Moore in 2009 and the emergence of waiver-wire free agent Tim Crowder last season?  Perhaps a longer look at the depth chart would serve them well -- or even a first look.  Stowaway regulars have seen the real analysis and can see right through this "ranking" as a meaningless placeholder until someone tells them what to think.  Seriously, if you are going to blog about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you should have some pride.  The players have been sweating bullets for months yet you wipe away everything because you mis-predicted the draft?  The players deserve better than that.  A lot better.  Perhaps they will pay more attention next year.

Fox Sports did offseason rankings way, way back on February 11th.  Fox finished the season with the 3-13 Buccaneers at 27th, ahead of the 4-12 Redskins, 4-12 Chiefs, and 5-11 Seahawks, among others. Obviously they liked where the team was heading during the second half of the season.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated had the Buccaneers ranked 30th on May 16th, 2010, -- he really likes the draft picks but feels the team is far too young this year to move up the ratings.

NFL.com writer Pat Kirwin also has produced a team-by-team ranking.  His was last published on June 7th, 2010.  He rates the teams into five tiers of six teams each.  The Buccaneers are in the bottom tier, but Kirwin says "The Bucs are headed in the right direction and should be tougher in the second half of the season".

Finally, NFL.com writer Steve Wyche released an actual preseason team-by-team review on June 17th, 2010.  He placed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 22nd after a 28th place ranking at the end of 2009.  This is above the Redskins, Lions, Browns, Panthers, and Rams who are all on the 2010 season schedule.

This is not exactly glowing praise for the 2010 season.  It is a dose of reality -- a 3-13 team does not get a lot of respect the following season.  That's the nature of sports media.  Add in the half-thoughts usually given to the "small market" NFL teams and this set of early reviews feels like what would normally be expected. 

This team must win early if the perception of the team is to change.  And that perception will be a main focus this season -- when youth believes in what can happen they can pull surprises.  And a few surprises this year would go a long way in putting the 2009 season in the rear view mirror.

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