The rebuilding job in Tampa Bay continues in 2010 and Al Dannity says not to hope for big strides just yet.
Off-season changes As one would expect with a franchise looking to cut costs, Tampa Bay’s biggest moves came in the draft. The primary focus was on defense where first round pick Gerald McCoy and second round selection Brian Price could both become starters at defensive tackle by the time the season gets under way.
Second year quarterback Josh Freeman got two new weapons at wide receiver with Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams both likely to start right away. Tampa Bay has a dearth of receiving talent with Sammie Stroughter, entering his second year in the NFL, fitting in as the third option. It’s far from the perfect set of tools for a quarterback looking to turn around a franchise facing potential TV blackouts in 2010.
Mark your calendar While this team lacks veteran leadership, it has the kind of start that a young team can work with. The season opens with a winnable home game against Cleveland followed by a game with divisional rivals Carolina on the road, and then a home game against the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers.
An early bye-week means 13 straight games to round out the season. The trip to Baltimore in week 12 looks particularly menacing, likewise the week 17 game against the Saints. Tampa Bay may strike it lucky at the end of the season and find a New Orleans team looking to rest bodies ahead of the playoffs. Trips west to Arizona and San Francisco could drain this young side but a week 15 visit from Detroit could provide some Christmas cheer for NFL betting fans.
The verdict The improvements made to the defense will be the difference between Tampa Bay being a 3 or 4 win team and a 6 or 7 win outfit. Raheem Morris, now in his second year as head coach, managed to make big strides in cutting down the amount of points his team concedes over the course of the second half of 2009. He needs to improve Tampa Bay’s run defense in 2010, after the team was gashed for 158 yards a game last season.
On offense I would normally be fearful of a situation where a second year quarterback is throwing to two rookies at wide receiver but in truth this is an upgrade to Tampa Bay’s passing game. The offensive line is a massive concern but Cadillac Williams found some yards in a resurgent 2009 so the run game might keep some pressure off Freeman. I like the over of 5.5 games at -167 with Sports Interaction.
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