Greg Schiano has a daunting task ahead of him — restoring the fan base’s faith in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. An NFC South division title will surely be a cure for such ills.
Here’s how the Buccaneers can do it.
1. Sweep the division.
It’s true that the Buccaneers have won the division on two occasions without sweeping the division in the past, but the other three teams are prime playoff contenders.
Yes, I am including the Carolina Panthers because Cam Newton has proven to be a solid foundation so far and the defense will most likely improve under second-year head coach Ron Rivera.
Sweeping the division would be the team’s tallest task this season, but would definitely put to rest the most important factor of a tie-breaker, head-to-head. Sweeping the division would be very hard, yet it would be harder to lose ground for the title.
2. Beat the teams you should be able to beat.
The Buccaneers, at least on paper, look to be a better team that quit and sent Raheem Morris packing. If they sweep the division opponents, they’re 6-0. Looking at the rest of the schedule, while there is no such thing as a guaranteed victory, the teams that look very beatable include the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams.
There, that’s 10-6.
Unfortunately 10-6 wasn’t enough to win the NFC South in 2010 and with their tie-breakers, it wasn’t even enough to get into the playoffs. For the Buccaneers to have at least a 70 percent shot at the playoffs, they need to take one, but if they want a real shot at the division crown, then they need two from beating any combination of the remaining NFC East and AFC West teams: New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, and Philadelphia Eagles.
3. Josh Freeman needs to play like a Manning.
As I pointed out before, Mike Sullivan will probably have to mold Freeman like he did Eli Manning. Having a season like 2010 will help, but I think given the caliber of teams he’s facing. He’ll need a career season. I’m not saying he’ll have to be Drew Brees, Matt Ryan or even Cam Newton (sans the turnovers), but it’ll help.
Freeman will have to be a more cerebral quarterback but if he insists on holding on the ball, then he’ll need those running lanes to open up to become the threat he was in 2010.
The addition of Doug Martin will help give Freeman more of a check down option, so it should help him immensely if a play break down.
It was also an option that didn’t really exist with LeGarrette Blount, but we will see if whatever happened against the Titans preseason game will affect his role in the regular season.
As originally posted here.