Are you ready for some football? With Buccaneers players reporting to camp today, it is becoming increasingly clear that the 2014 NFL season is just around the corner. Exciting, right? To help you get acclimated with everything going on with the Bucs, we are providing you with breakdowns of what to keep an eye out for during training camp. So, what are you waiting for? Read on to find out about this year’s offense and don’t forget to check out our review of their special teams squad while you’re at it.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Quarterback: Can Josh McCown steer this ship in the right direction?
Over the offseason, the Buccaneers signed Josh McCown to a two-year, $10 million contract after an impressive 2013 season which saw the 35-year-old journeyman quarterback throw for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns and only one interception in eight games with the Chicago Bears. Was it a smart move? Who knows. The Bucs will definitely find out soon enough.
So far, the response to McCown has ranged from teammates loving what he has to offer to analysts expressing their doubts. But no one really knows what to expect out of McCown until they throw him into the fire in Week 1. Luckily, the 12-year pro has an incredible supporting cast at his disposal with at least five skilled running backs, a tandem of big receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, and talented rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
If McCown can find that 2013 form, the Bucs should expect some relatively smooth sailing in a tough NFC South. If not, how long will head coach Lovie Smith wait before pulling the plug in favor of Mike Glennon?
Running back: Can you never have enough running backs?
During a town hall meeting on 620 WDAE, general manager Jason Licht revealed that the team could potentially keep Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey, Mike James and Jeff Demps “if we think they are all [going to] contribute for us and help us win games.” And hey, why not? After Martin went down with a torn labrum in Week 6, James came in and became a serviceable replacement before suffering a season-ending injury of his own in Week 10. That’s when Rainey stepped in and bracketed two poor performances with two outstanding ones.
Martin, Rainey and James made strong cases for being on the roster this season. However, when West Virginia’s Sims fell into their lap in the third round, the Buccaneers had to snag him and essentially throw a wrench into the team’s already stacked backfield. It’s hard to believe that all five guys will remain on the depth chart on September 7, but if they do, the Bucs will be in a good position. The more viable options in the backfield available for Lovie Smith every Sunday, the better.
Wide receiver/tight end: After Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, which wide receiver will step up?
With the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers selected Mike Evans to form a dangerous wide receiver duo with Vincent Jackson. While everyone is fascinated at seeing what Evans and Jackson can do on either side of the field, there is a huge question mark who will be the next receiving option? Will it be Chris Owusu? Or Louis Murphy? Or Robert Herron? That slot receiver spot is up for grabs and considering the amount of attention that V-Jax and Evans will receive, that third wideout is going to be essential to the Bucs’ success this season. No pressure, guys.
Following a decent 2013 campaign, Tim Wright will now slide into the number two spot with the selection of Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. At 6’6″, Seferian-Jenkins will add additional height to McCown’s arsenal and if his numbers at Washington were any indication of his potential at the pro level, Tampa may have a huge asset who can provide some help beyond the redzone.