Season Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass against the New England Patriots during the game at Gillette Stadium on August 16, 2013
© Getty Images
Sports Mole previews the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' chances in the upcoming 2013 NFL season.

There were plenty of positives to take from Greg Schiano's first season in charge of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, but he will be aware that there is also much room for improvement during the upcoming campaign.

The Buccaneers are aiming for their first post-season appearance since 2007 and, although they finished bottom of the NFC South last year, their improved record put them level on wins with second-placed Carolina Panthers.

Here, Sports Mole takes a look at whether or not the Buccaneers will be able to continue their improvement this season.

Head Coach: Greg Schiano

Last Season: 7-9

Review: The Buccaneers began the season with a win over the Carolina Panthers that saw them break a 10-match losing streak stretching back to week six of the 2011 campaign.

They returned to losing ways soon enough, however, winning just one of their next five matches to give themselves a record of 4-2 in week seven.

The Buccaneers hit a good run of mid-season form that saw them win four consecutive matches, thrusting them into contention for a post-season place. However, they followed that good spell up with five consecutive defeats, the worst of which saw them thrashed 41-0 by the New Orleans Saints in week 15.

They ended the season on a positive note, however, beating number one seeds Atlanta Falcons 22-17 in the final game, but it was not enough to lift them off the bottom of the NFC South.

Notable Ins

Darrelle Revis: The Buccaneers' rushing defence was one of the best in the league last season, but their passing defence was quite the opposite. The signing of cornerback Revis - traded for the Buccaneers' first-round Draft pick - should go some way to rectifying this.

Dashon Goldson: As well as Revis, the Buccaneers have brought in free safety Dashon Goldson from the San Francisco 49ers. The 28-year-old has made the Pro Bowl in both of the last two season and should improve Tampa Bay's secondary.

Notable Outs

Ronde Barber: Ronde Barber will be sorely missed by the Buccaneers. The 38-year-old announced his retirement from the game during the off-season having spent his entire 16-year career with the franchise. He was voted to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 2000s and holds a number of league and franchise records.

Dallas Clark: Clark may have only spent one year with the Buccaneers, but the former first-round Draft pick will need to be replaced. He finished last season with 47 receptions for 435 yards and four touchdowns before moving to the Baltimore Ravens.

Key Player Offence: Doug Martin

Key Player Defence: Darrelle Revis

Rookie to watch: Johnthan Banks

Pre-season form: 1-3

Prediction: 9-7. The Buccaneers have moved to improve their biggest weakness from last season by bringing in Darrelle Revis. They gave up their first-round Draft pick for the cornerback, but it could prove to be a shrewd move as he is arguably the best in his position in the entire league. Question marks remain over the consistency of quarterback Josh Freeman, but if he has a good season then Tampa Bay could be looking at a potential playoff place.

Cornerback Darrelle Revis #24 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaves the field after the game against the Washington Redskins August 29, 2013
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