With the past two coaches the Buccaneers started their seasons going 3-13 behind Raheem Morris and 7-9 behind Greg Schiano. There are greater expectations for Lovie Smith as both previous Bucs coaches were new to the NFL as a head coach. Lovie has 9 years experience so it goes without saying that he should do better to start than the two previous coaches with no experience. An 8-8 season is the minimum that should be expected out of coach Lovie and the Buccaneers this year seeing as how Schiano did 7-9 in his first year. I would even go so far as to say that a 10-6 season is not out of the question. But without doubt this team should go at least 8-8.
The offense has no where to go but up. After finishing last season ranked dead last for offense, it is going to be pretty difficult to not improve on that record. I would expect to see us approaching the top half. Say around 20th at minimum.
Our defense is another matter. The defense in 2013 ranked 3rd in the league with takeaways. Lovie preaches takeaways so he is going to have to give us a first or second place finish in that category. Anything less will be seen as a digression.
The Bucs were ranked 17th in defense for yards allowed and 21st in points allowed. I expect to see both of those rankings increase upwards to a top 10 position. The Bucs also ranked 23rd in the league in sacks with 35 last year. I also expect to see that number in the top 15 at the minimum with 40+ sacks. We paid a lot of big money to defensive lineman to increase our sack numbers. Anything less than 40+ sacks will be a failure.
Lovie is trying to make this into a defense first football team like he did with the Bears. Our division has teams in the Saints and Falcons that can put up a lot of numbers really fast so it is going to be a challenge. It is possible that Lovie will fail to achieve the desired numbers in all of these categories but that will have to be balanced out by increasing the rankings in other categories not mentioned or this season will be seen as a failure. I do not think the Bucs fanbase will take to kindly to another season of losing. We have only had one winning season in the past 6 years. Now is our time to shine. Go Bucs!
Summary of expectations for the 2014 season
- 8-8 record minimum
- 20th or better offensive ranking
- 1st or 2nd in defensive takeaways
- 40+ sacks
- top 10 defense