In the lead-up to tonight’s Patriots preseason game, I asked Sander Philipse of Bucs Nation three questions about New England’s second preseason opponent: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1. Greg Schiano is entering his second season as the Buccaneers head coach in 2013. What's the general sentiment on the direction of the team?
Generally speaking, Bucs fans are hopeful for the future. Last year was up-and-down, but most of the blame for the losses isn't placed at Greg Schiano's feet. Josh Freeman's inconsistency and a lack of quality in the secondary are seen as bigger issues, with the importance of each changing depending on who you ask. With the addition of Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, the Bucs have at least addressed one of those issues in a fairly major way. Most fans at least are convinced the Bucs will make the playoffs. And as sad as that sounds, that alone would be a big step forward.
2. Who is one Bucs player that has flown under-the-radar on offense that Patriots fans should know about? On defense?
On offense, I'd say Patriots fans should watch for Chris Owusu. The receiver's career so far was derailed by concussion concerns stemming from college, but he has been tearing it up in offseason practices so far. Unfortunately that was followed by a lackluster first preseason game, but we can probably write that off as jitters, for now. Unless he makes it worse.
On defense, Rashaan Melvin at cornerback is an interesting player. He's an undrafted free agent, but he's received extensive praise this offseason. He looked decent in his first game, despite one mistake -- and Greg Schiano even praised him after the game and noted that he would play better in future games. Pretty impressive.
3. We often hear about what a particular team does best. In your opinion, what is the Buccaneers biggest weakness and why?
The biggest weakness right now is the team's pass rush. They have talent in several players and even some production in Gerald McCoy, but there are a lot of question marks, too. Adrian Clayborn missed almost all of last year with a knee injury, and he'll see his first action against the Patriots. Da'Bowers is talented, but he didn't look too impressive against the Ravens -- and for some reason, they keep shoving him inside at defensive tackle where he really failed to do anything. And behind those guys there's no one the Bucs can count on.
Editor's Note: Head on over to BucsNation to see their Q&A with Greg.