Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers added Tom Crabtree this offseason, they did so in hopes that he would be able to take a step forward and prove he’s ready for a bigger role in an offense lacking a true number one tight end. Crabtree was just one of many potential targets in the Green Bay, and now finds himself in Tampa Bay where the competition is perceived to be less steep. And while it may just be an act of goodwill towards the team that’s giving him a chance to earn a bigger role in the offense, Crabtree things that the competition in Tampa Bay is just as fierce. In fact, he went so far as to compare the talent to that of the Green Bay Packers.
Pewter Report’s Mark Cook quoted Crabtree as having said the following about his new teammates:
"“Man, I’ll tell you what – being here for a month, some of the best, just gifted athletes I’ve been around. Some really talented guys. That’s not taking anything away from Green Bay. They’ve obviously had talented guys, as well. But coming here there’s been no dropoff as far as the athleticism and the talent of guys.”"
Crabtree may be a bit biased towards the team who offered him a contract versus the team that neglected to offer him a restricted free agent tender, but he may also be on to something. Are the Buccaneers as talented as the Packers? Let’s quickly go position by position and see if the Bucs’ newest tight end has a point.
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Running Back: This one is just as easy. Doug Martin is miles ahead of anyone in Green Bay. Advantage, Tampa Bay.
Wide Receiver: The Packers lost Greg Jennings, but still have Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and James Jones. The Buccaneers counter with Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, and a mix of players competing for the third wide receiver job. Nelson is injury prone, and Cobb and Jones may be producing over their talent level thanks to a great quarterback, but the fact that the Packers roll three deep here means they have the slight advantage. Slight Advantage, Green Bay.
Tight End: I’m not a big fan of Jermichael Finley‘s talent, but the Buccaneers have nothing to stand out as better than him, so Advantage, Green Bay.
Offensive Line: The Buccaneers have this one in the bag once everyone gets healthy. The Packers have a couple of solid linemen, but the Buccaneers have some of the best in the business. Advantage, Tampa Bay.
Defensive Line/Pass Rush: These teams run different systems, so this is tougher to judge. So I’ve included Clay Matthews in this group to give a more level playing field, and because of that, Green Bay comes out ahead. Advantage, Green Bay.
Linebacker: With the way I have broken out the teams, Clay Matthews is a part of the pass rush section listed above. That means that Lavonte David is the best linebacker left between the two teams, and Mason Foster is good enough to give the Buccaneers a slight edge here, along with the potential that Jonathan Casillas brings. Slight Advantage, Tampa Bay.
Secondary: The Packers lost Charles Woodson, and the Bucs lost Ronde Barber. That’s where the similarities end. The Bucs are clearly better at this position, with Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis dwarfing anyone the Pack have to offer. Advantage, Tampa Bay.
Special Teams: Mason Crosby used to be a pretty reliable guy, but fell off last season. Connor Barth has been reliable. As for the punters, Tim Masthay and Michael Koenen aren’t that much different, but a slight edge goes to Masthay. On kickoffs, the Buccaneers were the best in the business at kicking for touchbacks, and Green Bay was below average. But Green Bay’s return game was much better than the Bucs. This section is a Push.
So in other words, there is no clear favorite here, when we break the teams down in the most simple of fashions. Obviously, there is a wider margin between the talent at some of these positions (Quarterback and Pass Rush come to mind.), but as a whole, the Buccaneers line up well against Crabtree’s former team.
What do you think, Bucs fans? Do our guys have a chance to be better than the Packers? Or is Crabtree crazy? Comment below and let us know.