The recipe for success in today’s NFL requires one thing that the Buccaneers haven’t really had in the history of their franchise.
Speed in space.
They have tried to add it before, and failed pretty miserably. The 2008 NFL Draft comes to mind. The Buccaneers had the opportunity to draft DeSean Jackson, but they further down into the 2nd round. That Jackson ended up getting picked by the Philadelphia Eagles and became a Pro Bowler.
The Bucs ended up taking another Jackson, Appalachian State WR Dexter Jackson, and the rest was history.
Instant history. Jackson only lasted one season with Tampa Bay, and is known by many fans as the guy who muffed a lot of punts, and was afraid to take a hit.
Since then, the efforts to add speed to the Buccaneer offense has been minimal. Instead of targeting guys who were thin, but quick, the team focused on getting big targets. In the past few seasons, one of the biggest gripes people have had with Tampa Bay’s wide receiving core was their inability to get separation from defenders; something speed could help cure.
That takes us to day three of the 2013 NFL Draft. The Buccaneers unloaded RB LeGarrette Blount to New England for a 6th round draft pick (which ended up being RB Mike James), and olympic track star Jeff Demps.
After officially joining the team in September, Demps only played in two games for the Bucs before succumbing to a groin injury.
Fast forward to the Buccaneers’ voluntary minicamp: Demps is healthy, and changing the way the Bucs’ offense looks.
Head coach Lovie Smith has made it clear that he has four running backs on his roster who all have talent, and he needs to find a way to get them all to touch the football.
He may have found a slot for Demps.
The former Florida Gator has been lining up in the slot WR position during some practice sessions, and that shows the Buccaneers’ effort to finally add a wrinkle to their offense that we haven’t seen: speed in space.
You may have heard what Bucs OC Jeff Tedford can do with speed in space; he used to be the head coach at Cal, and he called all the plays that helped develop DeSean Jackson into what he is today.
By all accounts, Demps is also the favorite to return kicks and punts for the Bucs this season, so this potential game changer should get plenty of touches.
But what if I told you that he’s not the only speed demon that Tampa Bay is boasting on their roster this season?
Another local, University of Florida alum Louis Murphy, was signed by the Buccaneers this offseason after the “Mike Williams incident.” While the plan, at the time, may have only been to provide depth at wide receiver, the move could prove to be an exciting one for Buccaneer fans.
Why? Because Murphy is pretty fast, too. And he thinks he could be faster than Demps, who runs at an olympic track star speed. Murphy also ran track, but at the collegiate level.
It is important to have these guys in today’s NFL because everything is so offense oriented. Defenders today are lightning quick, so it is vital for the offense to possess guys that have the potential to score on any play, from anywhere on the field.
The Bucs might have a couple of local guys that can do just that.
And if they do, you better not blink. You might miss something.