By DJ Siddiqi @DJSiddiqi on July 16, 2014
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with one of the league's worst records at 4-12 in 2013. However, they enter 2014 with big expectations. Following an overhaul of the coaching staff and the quarterback position, many pundits have picked the Bucs to be the breakout team of the 2014 season. However, the Buccaneers will have to compete in a tough NFC South division in order to make that happen. Here are five rumors surrounding the Buccaneers.
Over the past two seasons, the 6-foot-5 and 230-pound Vincent Jackson has established himself as one of the game's best receivers. Now, the Bucs have a carbon copy of Jackson in Mike Evans, who is also 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, except Evans has yet to turn 21 years old. With two gigantic receivers in the offense, the Buccaneers should have no problems scoring touchdowns in 2014.
Doug Martin earned a Pro Bowl berth in his rookie season two years ago. Last season, he suffered the sophomore jinx when he ran for just 3.6 YPC before succumbing to a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 7. The absence of Martin contributed to the passing game struggling. After sitting out a full season, he should be fresh and ready to go for the season opener versus the Carolina Panthers.
Over the past five years, the Buccaneers have hired three head coaches. Hopefully, the third time's the charm. Lovie Smith was hired as Bucs head coach after Greg Schiano was fired, and Schiano was fired after a two-season tenure that was preceded by Raheem Morris' three-season tenure. Long story short, Tampa Bay hasn't clinched a playoff berth since Jon Gruden was the head coach in 2007. Smith was the best head coach available on the market.
Josh McCown hasn't been considered a team's franchise quarterback since he played for the Arizona Cardinals a decade ago. Since that time, he has spent stints with several NFL teams, including one in the United Football League. However, the veteran quarterback enters the 2014 season as the undisputed starting quarterback for the Buccaneers. It's hard to envision him remaining the starting QB from Weeks 1 through 17.
Many pundits are choosing the Buccaneers to be the surprise team of 2014. Many consider Tampa Bay's offseason a great success as the Bucs added big-name free agents such as McCown, Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner. However, teams that try to improve purely through free agency tend not to do so well when the games are actually played. Just ask the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.
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