Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Despite additions, Bucs have a lot of proving to do

They traded for an island in Darrelle Revis. They brought in a heat-seeking safety in Dashon Goldson. They drafted a corner they like in Johnthan Banks.

Whee, says Danny Sheridan.

Sheridan, a nationally known sports handicapper, was so impressed that he expects the Bucs to win … seven games.

Seven? Last year, when their secondary consisted of men chasing after buses, they won seven games. Last year, when they were historically bad in the secondary, bad beyond belief, they won seven times.

And now, Sheridan picks them to win seven games. Again.

"My real number is 61/2, but I'll say seven,'' Sheridan said. "It's not that I don't like the Bucs. I just like other teams more.''

They get Carl Nicks back from injury. And Davin Joseph. And Adrian Clayborn.

And Elliott Harrison of ranks them … 20th of 32 teams.

Twentieth? Last year, when the offensive line finished the season held together by duct tape and spackle, when Doug Martin was a rookie, the Bucs finished in a tie for 17th in the league.

So this year, they will move backward?


This is the dose of reality for Tampa Bay fans. You may expect better things from your Bucs. You may even expect their first playoff win in a decade. You certainly expect them to be better than last year, when Martin and Lavonte David and Mark Barron were rookies.

But it seems the rest of the nation doesn't agree. At least not yet. To the world at large, the Bucs still have a lot of proving to do. That's fair. Back when the Bucs became good in the late '90s, no one saw that team coming, either.

"This is not Manchester United,'' said Sheridan. "This is the NFL. It takes time to turn it around.''

Look, Sheridan isn't infallible. Last year he picked the Bucs to win five games. Still, it will not surprise you to discover that Sheridan, too, thinks the measuring starts at quarterback. He sees Freeman as the fourth-best quarterback in the NFC South.

"I think you have to have a great quarterback to go the playoffs, and I'm not sure Tampa does," he said. "I know Drew Brees, and I know Matt Ryan, and I know Cam Newton. But is Freeman in that class? You tell me.''

And on and on it goes. Brian Billick, the ex-Ravens coach, has the Bucs 20th in his post-draft power rankings on ESPN has them at No. 19. And Bovada, the betting site, has them at 50-1 to reach the Super Bowl. It has 19 teams as a better bet. had them at 20th before the Revis trade.

Should anyone be alarmed? Outraged? Should you run around and make every bet available to you?

Of course not. In most cases, offseason power rankings are more about last year than they are about the one to come. San Francisco is still ranked high, along with Seattle and Denver and New England and the usual suspects. No one is going to rank the Bucs above Atlanta and New Orleans based on rising stars and free agent signings.

Look, Tampa Bay can see this team's shortcomings, too. There isn't enough pass rush. There isn't a consistent over-the-middle possession receiver. Freeman is capable of nightmarish games. But we're not talking 16-0 here. We're talking about the playoffs.

Wouldn't you expect someone, anyone, to imagine this team with a chance to slip into them?

No, I haven't seen it, either.

"I think seven is a great number,'' Sheridan said. "I know they signed Darrelle Revis, but even if he's healthy, he can only cover half of the field. They didn't sign two Revises, did they? Besides, free agents don't always work. Team chemistry is still very important.

"I'll put it this way: If anyone wants to bet that the Bucs will win eight or more, I'll take the bet and give it to charity. Because I'll win. I have this team ninth in the NFC. It isn't going to make the playoffs.''

Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you look at Gerald McCoy and Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams and Mason Foster and Donald Penn and the rest, and you think about the games that got away last year, and you think about how much better the secondary has to be.

Perhaps, just perhaps, you see a chance.

Think of it like this: No one saw the Seahawks coming last year. Or the Vikings, for that matter. Or the Redskins. Certainly, none of them ranked very highly in the power rankings in May.

But winning games is a matter of a team coming together at the right time, of building chemistry as it goes, of buying into the right young players to shift the balance of power. Who knows how injuries affect a season, or quick starts, or bad seasons.

Yeah, this team still has a chance, no matter what anyone says.

"But do yourself a favor,'' Sheridan said. "Don't bet with me on this.''

Despite additions, Bucs have a lot of proving to do 05/13/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 7:33am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cal Foote said it's 'starting to feel more real'


  2. Jones: Serena Williams, and all women, deserved better from John McEnroe


    John McEnroe might be the best sports analyst in broadcasting.

    Serena Williams makes a backhand return to her sister Venus during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in January in  Melbourne, Australia. [AP photo]
  3. Joe Maddon: What my time in Tampa Bay meant, and still means, to me

    The Heater

    Editor's note: The Rays next week in Chicago will meet up for the first time with former manager Joe Maddon, who is in his third year leading the Cubs after nine with the Rays. In advance of the Tuesday-Wednesday series, we asked Maddon to share his thoughts in a column on what his time in Tampa Bay meant to …

    Joe Maddon waits to greet B.J. Upton after Upton's home run in Game 2 of the ALCS in 2008 at Tropicana Field. [Times files (2008)]
  4. Jameis Winston held his pro day at Florida State's indoor practice facility. His pro team will be getting one soon.
  5. Rays series preview: Who are the Pirates?


    After an off day Monday, the Rays head on the road to PNC Park for a three-game interleague series against the Pirates. Here's the information you need to know about Pittsburgh before the action kicks off.

    Record: 35-41, fourth in NL Central

    Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, left, has rebounded from a rough start, while fellow outfielder Gregory Polanco, right, has fallen off recently.