Behind enemy lines — Tampa Bay

BucsBlitz.com Editor Matthew Postins and PantherInsider.com's Brad Thomas discuss provide analysis for 10 pertinent questions facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The first five questions appear today. Part 2 of this article will appear on Tuesday.


Q: By how many wins can the Buccaneers expect to improve this season (they were 4-12 in 2006)?

MP: I'd say three. A 7-9 record is certainly attainable. The Bucs have attempted to upgrade their roster at key positions like left tackle, defensive line and quarterback. The team is completely healthy going into camp and I don't think Jon Gruden will mistakenly hold his veterans out of the preseason as he did a year ago. I know they have one of the league's easiest schedules, but I'm cautious.

BT:The Buccaneers had a good draft and brought in a few quality free agents in the offseason; they should at least double their win total from last year.

Q: How high should the expectations be for Jeff Garcia at quarterback?

MP: Looking at Gruden's experience with quarterbacks in their mid-30s, you'd have to like Garcia's chances of putting up above-average numbers in Gruden's offense. I think he's capable of 3,500 yards and 20-25 touchdowns — if his protection holds up and he doesn't get hurt.

BT: Garcia is no spring chicken at 37 years old, but he plays much younger than his age would indicate. He's got great mobility for a QB his age and generally makes good decisions with the ball – something his predecessor with the Bucs did not do. I think the Bucs' fans should be excited about having Garcia under center simply because he's a legitimate NFL caliber QB.

Q: Many believe Cadillac Williams can be a Top 5 running back in the NFL. What does he have to show us in 2007 to make that a reality someday?

MP: He needs to stay healthy for a whole season. He needs to rush for 1,000 yards again. And he needs to show he can create yardage when the holes aren't there. He seemed to run tentative late in the year and didn't show any ability to create his own opportunities.

BT: He has to stay healthy. Many of Williams' and the Bucs' woes were the offensive line. Will this line be better than the line the team had the last few years? If so, and he can stay healthy, he should be one of the top backs in the league.

Q: Who will be the No. 2 wide receiver in the season opener — Michael Clayton or Maurice Stovall?

MP: Stovall. Clayton has exhausted his chances. Stovall will have a better camp and a better preseason. That's not necessarily a bad thing for Clayton, who would become one of the better No. 3 receivers in the league. I think his size and toughness lend themselves to a role as a slot receiver.

BT: The things that I've been hearing is that the staff is absolutely in love with Maurice Stovall. I think he will usurp Clayton.

Q: Did Tampa Bay's offensive line situation get any better this offseason?

MP: That's debatable. New LT Luke Petitgout is recovering from a broken leg. New LG Arron Sears may mark the fourth rookie starter on the O-line in three years. RG Davin Joseph and RT Jeremy Trueblood are in their second seasons. They lost their most versatile guard to free agency (Sean Mahan). This line seems to green for me to put a lot of faith in it.

BT: They at least fortified their line by adding Luke Petitgout. Garcia is a mobile QB who can make plays on the run, so that helps the line in the sense that they have to protect the pocket for less time.


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