The Hunters Are Now the Hunted

As the 2003 NFL season approaches, the Buccaneers prepare for their first title defense knowing every team on their schedule wants nothing more than to knock off the defending champs.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have enjoyed a few successful years advancing deep into the playoffs before winning the Super Bowl last year. The fact that the previous three seasons have ended with playoff losses ensured that the players would always come back to training camp the following year a little hungrier to improve in hopes of making it to the next level.

Now that the Buccaneers are World Champions everything changes. Along with a much more rigorous schedule comes the notion that teams simply circle the week that they play the Bucs. What team doesn't want to knock off the defending champs?

The Bucs better expect a team's best effort every week. For an average or mediocre team beating the Buccaneers simply makes their season. Think about it a team can say well we've only won seven games all year but one of those victories came against the Bucs, it makes for a nice disclaimer. For yet other teams who maybe dominated and driven into the ground by the Bucs the realization that they a long way to go to compete with the best comes to fruition.

I have heard the term "measuring stick" which is used by coaches and players alike to determine just how good or bad a team are. Fact is that every team will use their match up with the Bucs as just this, a measuring stick. It will be interesting to see just how teams perform after their showdown against the best.

As training camp approaches head coach Jon Gruden must instill the desire to repeat and not only address but also dismiss any kind of complacency in his players. With Gruden's fire and intensity I believe he is capable of just that translating into another very successful season.

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