The wait, my friends, is finally over. At 1:00 p.m. EST we will have live, regular-season, Tampa-Bay-Buccaneers football on our televisions.
The phrase, “the preseason doesn’t count” has been thrown around a lot these past few weeks — as it normally is — however, where each team now starts clean, it’s tough to make night and day out of a preseason and a regular season.
Keeping in mind the principles that it’s only the preseason and that it’s still the team out there playing those games, here’s what you can expect going into Sunday.
The Return Game
No, I’m not talking about special teams — although, I’d like that category to be a positive as well — I’m talking about Darrelle Revis. Revis has been in the news this week for giving the Bucs tips on Jets receiver’s tendencies. That, to me, doesn’t really mean much — you can see tendencies on film. What does matter is that it’s probably going to be the most emotional game of his life. He’s playing professional football for the first time in almost a year, he’s playing with his new teammates for the first time, but probably, more impactful than the first two, he’s going to greet his old teammates and friends and hear whether the fans he loved so much will cheer him or boo him.
It’s going to be quite the roller coaster for Revis come Sunday, but I have confidence in his ability to treat every game like a businessman. Make no mistake, if Revis is fully healthy, and has confidence in that knee, he’s going to make Geno Smith pay dearly for any learning curve the young QB still has.
Da’Quan Bowers isn’t starting, in fact, he’s not what fans — or Schiano — thought he would be two years in. He’s coming off injuries, I get that, but the Bucs have moved on (for now). They’re putting the best four-man front out there which highlights Adrian Clayborn and Gerald McCoy, and welcomes Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Akeem Spence. The Jets were 27th in the NFL with 47 sacks given up in 2012. Though there wasn’t as much pressure on the QB as fans would’ve liked to see in the preseason, I fully expect the D-Line to give Geno all sorts of trouble.
Remember this: If the Bucs win in the trenches, they will win on the scoreboard.
Alright, I’ll say it, it’s not encouraging that after three straight years of elected leadership, Josh Freeman was not selected as a captain for the 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, this season still lives and dies on Freeman’s arm.
Freeman was shaky, down right disappointing even in his limited time during the preseason, but it’s a new start.
On Sunday, Freeman embarks on his most important season up to date. He’s not playing with house money anymore, he’s playing with his money — or, future money.
Tampa’s offense is always the question mark. Going back to the Tony Dungy days, Tampa fans have always looked for, and at times possessed, great defenses, but they’ve never experienced an explosive offense. Well now, the talent is there for one. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams won’t drop the routine passes that we saw in their preseason action;they’ll show up to play. Doug Martin is what he is: a very talented, all-around RB whose production will heavily weight on the success and health of the offensive line, along with how effective Josh Freeman can be opening up the run game with a solid pass game.
Freeman’s numbers last year weren’t bad: 4,065 yards, 27 TDs and 17 INTs, but if you actually watched him play, you knew he could be better.
Bucs fans come into Sunday either already given up on Freeman, or still believing that last part: you know he can be better.
The pieces are there for the no-longer-young QB. I except Josh to have a lot of success against a depleted NY Jets seconday, whether he has your support on Sunday or not.