When looking at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the season, this team looked like a combinations of young guys who were still trying to figure it out with a young coach who was in over his head. Flash forward to now and you start to realize that the Buccaneers may be a true contender in the wide-open NFC.
The Tampa Bay Bucs are an interesting story. Last year a lot of people were calling for head coach Raheem Morris' job. He was a 33 year old coach with a team that was unraveling. He had Byron Leftwich as his starter and he floundered. He tried a couple more guys until he finally settled on then rookie QB Josh Freeman and he stuck with him through thick and thin. Now, that move is paying off dividends.
Freeman only has 7 career wins, but 5 of them are comeback wins. He has shown unbelievable poise for someone at such a young age. Now I will be the first to admit this, I thought he would be a flop in the NFL. But, he is proving that he is a cool customer in the pocket and can take adversity and turn it into triumph.
Morris also made a key change to the defense last year as well. He inserted LB Barrett Ruud into the middle at linebacker and released LB Derrick Brooks. This was a controversial move at the time, but now it looks like one of the smartest moves he made. Ruud has proven to be a play-making linebacker who has a nose for the ball. He is the leader of their defense.
The last and final move was made was the pickups in the 2010. The Bucs drafted WRs Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams in the draft along with 1st round pick, DT Gerald McCoy. These young guys have stepped right in and produced immediately. Williams is the leading receiver on this team and Benn is slowly but surely catching on and making plays for the Bucs. And perhaps another stroke of genius was the Bucs bringing in RB LeGarette Blount. Blount has proven to be more than a battery-ram of a back. He is starting to get more carries and proving that he can carry the load for this team.
Now, the Bucs aren't all the way back, but under the leadership of the youngest head coach in the NFL and the resiliency of this young team, the Bucs are proving that they are a team that is on the rise.