Yardbarker Horiz

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Buccanners Still A Team Very Much In Flux

The 2010 Season will be remembered for all the young players which stepped up and helped Tampa Bay attain it's first 10-win season since 2005.  Unfortunately, 2010 was also the first season the Buccaneers won 10 or more games but did not get into the NFC playoffs.

Winning 10 games does not necessarily mean the roster is stable, however great the success may feel.  In fact, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, much less may be settled going into the offseason than is actually settled by the influx of young talent.

The table below shows the opening day and final day starting lineups for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  These are the men selected by their coaches as the players most likely at each position to get the team started quickly on game day.  Tampa Bay uses a heavy rotation of players, so this is not an indicator of playing time necessarily.  But it is still a barometer of what the coaches believe as far as who has the right experience/talent combination for playing time on Sundays.

Players who started both the first and last games of the 2010 season are highlighted in pewter:

Opening Day (CLE) Season Ender (@NO)

QB Josh Freeman Josh Freeman
WR Mike Williams Mike Williams
WR Sammie Stroughter Maurice Stovall
TE Kellen Winslow Kellen Winslow
FB Earnest Graham
John Gilmore
LT Donald Penn Donald Penn
LG Keydrick Vincent *** Ted Larsen
C Jeff Faine * Jeremy Zuttah
RG Davin Joseph * Derek Hardman
RT Jeremy Trueblood James Lee
RB Carnell Williams LeGarrette Blount

LE Kyle Moore * Tim Crowder
DT Gerald McCoy * Frank Okam
DT Roy Miller Roy Miller
RE Ryan Sims *** Micheal Bennett
SLB Quincy Black * Adam Hayward
MLB Barrett Ruud Barrett Ruud
WLB Geno Hayes Geno Hayes
LCB EJ Biggers EJ Biggers
RCB Ronde Barber Ronde Barber
SS Sean Jones Sean Jones
FS Tanard Jackson ** Cory Lynch

* Finished the Season on Injured Reserve
** Suspended by the NFL
*** No longer with the team

Only 10 players started on the opening day roster and started the final game of the season (Graham and Gilmore probably bump the count to 11 as they are situational and both were healthy for both games).  The fallout is that half the starting lineup changed over the course of the season, with six of those changes due to injury (includes Vincent, who was cut as opposed to heading for IR) and only one player cut when healthy (Ryan Sims, a point-in-time moment for the current incarnation of the Buccaneers franchise).  Also note that EJ Biggers started the first game because Aqib Talib was suspended (Talib finished the season on IR as well).

Those 11 spots which went through a change during the season:  does the incumbent earn it back during the offseason?  Does the replacement keep the spot?

Each unhighlighted position is a storyline this offseason.  Those storylines will start to evolve once the rest of the NFL finishes their season, but we won't have our final answer until the next game.

Such a long time to wait!

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