In the spirit of the holiday season, Buccaneers101.com has compiled a wishlist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Here are three things the Bucs would like in 2013 as they try to build on the foundation that was established this season in year one of Greg Schiano:
1. A Shutdown Cornerback
Does this one really need much explanation? The Bucs have been awful against the pass this season and are ranked dead last in the league. They are allowing 310.6 passing yards per game, which is about 23 yards more a game than the next worst team. Barring a major change in play the final two games, Tampa Bay's secondary will go down as the worst in NFL history.
At the start of the season, the Bucs had Aqib Talib and Eric Wright as their starters at cornerback. Now, they are starting E.J. Biggers and Danny Gorrer. Clearly, the Bucs need to upgrade this position in the offseason.
Wright may not be back next season due to his Adderall suspension and poor play on the field. Because of that, expect the Bucs to go after one of the big name free agent corners like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Tampa Bay will also likely draft a corner with one of their first three selections in hopes of improving a dreadful secondary.
2. A Big-Time Pass Rusher
This season, Bucs fans have finally had the chance to see what a healthy Gerald McCoy can do. The former No. 3 overall pick has been a disruptive force and has made life uneasy for opposing quarterbacks. Defensive end Michael Bennett has also had a great season and he only needs one sack over the final two games to become the first Bucs player since Simeon Rice in 2005 to reach double-digit sacks.
But guess what? The Bucs still are poor at bringing down the quarterback. They are ranked No. 29 in the league; only the Houston Texans and New York Giants have less sacks than Tampa Bay.
With Bennett being a free agent after the season, expect the Bucs to re-sign him quickly before he can hit the open market. That will help. So will having a healthy Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers. But the Bucs will need one more defensive end that can get to the quarterback. Guys like Dwight Freeney and Cliff Arvil should be available in free agency. If the Bucs don't make a play for one of them, they will likely select a defensive end early in the draft.
3. A Healthy Offensive Line
This is something the offseason should fix. The Bucs have quite a few studs along their offensive line, but they haven't had a chance to work together. In the preseason, Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph injured his knee and was lost for the season. Carl Nicks, also a Pro Bowl guard, landed on injured on reserve with a toe injury after just seven games. Jeremy Trueblood also lost his job at right tackle.
Despite being held together by bubble gum, the offensive line has actually played well this season. They are only allowing sacks on 4.2 percent of passing plays, which is the sixth-best in the NFL. Also, tailback Doug Martin has had an impressive rookie season running behind this unit.
As good as they have been, just imagine how good the offensive line could be with Joseph and Nicks back in the lineup.
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