Out with the out, in with the old but very new. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the days of Greg Schiano and his militant college style of coaching are gone. Welcome Lovie Smith to the fold – the former member of Tony Dungy’s staff and hopefully the savior of the Buccaneers franchise – one that went 4-4 over its last eight games after losing the first eight of the season and competed with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the moniker of worst in the NFL.
I am many of the media can assure you that catch phrase will not be uttered here in southwest Florida.
Smith was the first and only candidate of the team – one that was looking for a tough but respected coach that could come in, spray Lysol over the affected areas of the club and turn it into a more stable and sterile environment. The team’s two worst illnesses – Schiano and quarterback Josh Freeman have been jettisoned. Now, the focus can be on rebirth and rededication.
Smith has the benefit of a solid defense and a growing offense. But he also has a fan base that is waning and the natives are restless. This is not the same team that won a Super Bowl or one that resembles a playoff team, but a solid year means eight wins are very possible. And in that case, Smith will be loved by everyone who wears pewter and red.
Here are three bold predictions for training camp.
SMITH DECLARES TWO STARTERS
When he signed Josh McCown, Lovie Smith immediately anointed him as “his starter” for the team. But the Bucs have Mike Glennon, who as a rookie showed plenty of moxie and resolve as a rookie to play better than any other rookie quarterback. Not bad for a third-round pick. Because Glennon shows he can move around in the pocket and can create space down field – Smith has no other choice but to say the Buccaneers have two starters and both will fit it out over the course of the preseason.
MARTIN DECLARES 2,000 YARDS
Trying to prove that he is back and better than ever, Doug Martin said he does not want to remember the 2013, but rather build on the 2012 rookie season where he ran over everything. The Buccaneers should be better on the offensive line this season and should be able to open holes for Martin to run through. If Martin is at full strength, the Bucs offense just got better by 50 percent.
WHY NOT THE BUCS
It is a general theme of the less haves of the NFL. Why can’t 2014 be their season? Tampa Bay’s new general manager Jason Licht wanted to know why can’t Tampa Bay become the Kansas City Chiefs or any other team that has gone from worst to first in two seasons? Licht is putting together a roster that will be solid and young and ready to challenge the NFC South. There is a chance they can surprise a few teams and win at least eight games.