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Challenges for new Bucs coach

Whoever takes over for Greg Schiano will have questions to answer as he tries to turn the Bucs around from a 4-12 season. Here are five issues the new coach will have to confront in 2014 — going into the season and during his first season.

1. What do you do at quarterback? Had Schiano returned, he made it clear Mike Glennon (left), drafted in 2013, was his quarterback moving forward. But with a new coach, there's no such assurance. The Bucs have the No. 7 pick in the draft. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel or Fresno State's Derek Carr could be there, or the team could bring in an established veteran. Glennon threw 19 touchdown passes but also had five straight games in which the Bucs totaled fewer than 250 yards as a team.

2. Find an outside pass rusher. Adrian Clayborn (left), with six sacks, was the only Bucs end with more than two this season. So as strong as Gerald McCoy was on the inside, the Bucs didn't have an elite outside threat. This will be a major priority via a high draft pick or free agency. Then again, a new coach and coordinator could install a 3-4 defense, which means shifting personnel to a new scheme.

3. Bring the fans back: The Bucs' 2013 average announced attendance, 58,818, was the highest since 2009 but still ranked 29th among 32 teams. And blackouts loom if opponents don't entice fans or the Glazers aren't willing to buy unsold seats. If the Bucs don't make a splash hire, the new coach has to open strong. Another weak start, like this past season, would bring more empty seats.

4. Get healthy on offense: The Bucs ranked last in the NFL at 277 yards per game and 30th at 18 points per game. Improvement should come with getting running back Doug Martin (left) and receiver Mike Williams back from injuries. (They combined for 21 touchdowns in a healthy 2012 but just three this season.) Tampa Bay hasn't drafted an offensive lineman since 2009, so adding youth there wouldn't hurt.

5. Lock up Gerald McCoy The two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle (left) has another year remaining on his rookie contract. But this offseason is a chance to negotiate a long-term extension and keep him from hitting the open market or getting a franchise tag. The Bucs don't have a major contributor who could leave as a free agent this offseason, so there's an opportunity to lock up the team's defensive anchor and a central locker room leader.

Challenges for new Bucs coach 12/30/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 30, 2013 10:44pm]
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