By Tom Krasniqi
Make no mistake— the Buccaneers were a bad football team last season. There’s no way to spin a 4-12 record.
But a lot has changed since then. New head coach. New general manager. New uniforms. The roster was turned over. There is a general sense of optimism coming from One Buc Place.
One year turnarounds have been the norm in the NFL in recent years. The Colts were 2-14 in 2011. They went 11-5 the next season— granted, having a franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck helped.
The Chiefs were the worst team in football in 2012 with a 2-14 mark. They changed coaches. In 2013, they finished 11-5 and made the playoffs. The Cardinals went from being 5-11 in 2012 to 10-6 last season. New Bucs GM Jason Licht was a part of that turnaround.
Why not the 2014 Bucs? New head coach Lovie Smith is looking for a similar type of quantum leap this season.
“I’m not going into the meetings saying — ‘hey guys we were 4-12 last season, we can get to 5-11, we’ve made improvement’,” Lovie said after Wednesday’s minicamp practice. “No, we’re talking about winning the division, making Raymond James Stadium a place that people don’t want to come to play us.”
There are many so-called experts high on the Bucs this season (myself included) and one of them is former Bucs defensive assistant Herm Edwards, who recently predicted that the Bucs would reach the Super Bowl.
That’s a bold prediction. And Lovie knows about it.
“Herm knows football,” Lovie said. “If Herman Edwards says it— he’s just not throwing out stuff without something to back it up with.”
Lovie isn’t the only one within the organization with high expectations for the club. His players are talking a big game too.
“Oh man, it’s a whole new year—sky’s the limit,” said Bucs linebacker LaVonte David after Wednesday’s practice. “We’re starting over just like everyone else. Obviously, we want to be in Phoenix [site of the Super Bowl] at the end of the year. It all starts right here. We’re working towards that.”
From 4-12 to the Super Bowl? Now that would make for a great story.
News & notes:
- Practice was interrupted for about 30 minutes because of lightning in the area.
- I asked Bucs LB LaVonte David about the goal this season for the defense: “At the end of the day, we want to be #1. We saw the success obviously that Seattle had [winning the Super Bowl]. We want to be in that position too.”
- Patrick Omameh continued to get first team snaps at right guard: “I’m working hard. They [the coaches] like the way I’m working, just trying to make the most of the opportunities that they’re giving me.” Omameh (6-4, 305) went undrafted out of Michigan after the 2013 draft. The Bucs signed him off the Niners practice squad last October.
- The team is taking a close look at a number of players at the kick returner position. Chris Owusu, Skye Dawson, Charles Sims, Eric Page and Mike James all took turns returning kicks during Wednesday’s practice. Lovie says that position won’t be settled until late in training camp.
- CB Rashaan Melvin made the play of the day with a diving interception late in practice.
- Rookie 5th rounder Kevin Pamphile took 2nd team reps at right tackle.
- Former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy was at practice.
- The Bucs have announced their training camp schedule. Players will report on July 24th with the first practice taking place on Friday July 25th from 4:30pm-7pm. For more details on practice times, check out 620wdae.com and buccaneers.com.
- The Bucs 3 day mandatory minicamp wraps up Thursday and the minicamp practices are not open to the public.