2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season Preview

<b>Head Coach: </b> Jon Gruden <br><br> <b> Last Season's Record:</b> 7-9 <br><br> <b> Last Play Off Appearance: </b> 2002 <br><br> <b> Key matchup(s):</b> Week 3 at Oakland, Week 4 vs. Denver, Week 15 vs. New Orleans, Week 16 vs. Carolina

09/12/04 @Washington
09/19/04 Seattle
09/26/04 @Oakland
10/03/04 Denver
10/10/04 @New Orleans
10/18/04 @St. Louis
10/24/04 Chicago
11/07/04 Kansas City
11/14/04 @Atlanta
11/21/04 San Francisco
11//28/04 @Carolina
12/05/04 Atlanta
12/12/04 @San Diego
12/19/04 New Orleans
12/26/04 Carolina
01/02/05 @Arizona
Mike Alstott #40 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to come back in 2004, but loss of key players on defense may be a hard run.
Getty Images/Matt Stroshanes
 Star Power: Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks

Notable Additions: WR Tim Brown, WR Joey Galloway, WR Michael Clayton, OT Derrick Deese, OT Matt Stinchcomb, RB Charlie Garner, LB Ian Gold

Notable Subtractions: DT Warren Sapp, S John Lynch, WR Keenan McCardell

Offensive Overview: Quarterback Brad Johnson should have enough in the tank to be productive this season. Joey Galloway has looked impressive in camp, and Michael Clayton has progressed at a pace that has made the loss of Keenan McCardell easier to swallow. Charlie Garner will go as far as the new offensive line will carry him. Injuries have slowed the process of reassembling the offensive line, but the unit will be vastly improved in 2004.

Defensive Overview: Warren Sapp and John Lynch anchored this defense since the team wore orange. Now that they are gone Derrick Brooks and Simeon Rice will have to find a way to pick up the slack. Anthony McFarland will step in for Sapp, and CB Mario Edwards will help solidify the secondary. Chartric Darby was the starter at the nose when the Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2002 so the departure of Sapp will not be as glaring as most people think.

Special Teams Overview: Martin Gramatica has fallen from grace. He was one of the most dependable kickers in the game until last year. This is now the weakest link on the Buccaneers; whenever he lines up for a kick, listen for every Buc fan to take a deep breath. The bright side of this unit is the addition of Galloway to the punt return team. Speedy Frank Murphy could be the one to end the kick return woes that have plagued the Bucs since their inception.

The Buccaneers will show progress if.... Johnson stays healthy and the offensive line can avoid the penalties that stalled drive after drive last season. The NFC South is not as strong as many analysts think. Carolina and Tampa Bay are the only teams that play defense. New Orleans and Atlanta will not play defense, which should help the Bucs win the division.

TheInsiders.com 2004 NFL Football Preview
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