Bucs must overcome shortcomings

by Gary Shelton on August 30, 2022

in general

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

You are aware of the gifts of the Tampa Bay Bucs.

You know how good their quarterback is, the best ever to play. You know how deep their receiving corps is. You are aware of their inside linebackers and their defensive tackles.

Ah, but how about the shortcomings?

Can this year's Bucs overcome those?

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In the NFL, of course, that's the point. The game isn't just about strengths -- it's about weaknesses. Every team has them. It is how those teams overcome their flaws -- and their injuries -- that determines how good they turn out to be.

With the Bucs, the shortcomings where they'll have to be better than others fear are these:

The interior of the offensive line. The secondary. The pass rush.

Granted, there have been a lot of Bucs' teams with a lot more holes that that. Take the Bucs' first Super Bowl team. It had a dreadful offensive line, far worse than this one. But a great defense more than made up for it, and the team won it all.

This one? If you follow the Bucs, you're probably concerned with the offensive line -- which will go into the season minus Ali Marpet, minus Ryan Jensen, minus Alex Cappa and maybe minus Robert Hainsey. Injuries, free agency and retirement have all hit this line.

True, a great quarterback makes an offensive line better, but that's a lot of potential exposure for quarterback Tom Brady. Can the replacements block the Cowboys? The Saints? Anyone else? We'll see.

Then there is the secondary, which frankly wasn't very good last year. The Bucs rave about the players they have coming back, but too often, the scheme dictates too much soft coverage and can make mediocre quarterbacks look impressive.

Which leads us to the pass rush. I'm not convinced that Shaq Barrett can be enough of a force on his own. Is Joe Tryon-Shoyinka ready to elevate his game? We'll see. Otherwise, the team will have to rely on the blitz again, which can lead to exposure?

Oh, there are other nits you can pick. The tight end room isn't as talented as last year. The leadership void has been affected by the departures of Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Rob Gronkowski. The running game is hit-and-miss. The special teams have been dreadful in the preseason.

But for the Bucs to be as good as some people expect, those three areas have to hold their own.

The Bucs should be good this season.

Great? We'll see.

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