NFL: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Hope to Go Deep into the 2006-2007 NFL Playoffs

In 2005, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shined on defense, ranking as the number one unit in the NFL. The offense showed signs of a great unit in the future with the young Chris Simms as the signal caller and Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams as the star tail back. Everything seems to be in place for the Bucs to make another run at the Super Bowl. Head Coach Jon Gruden will have 21 of his 22 starters in 2005 return for this upcoming season. Future hall of fame linebacker Derrick Brooks is the leader on defense, but he isn’t getting any younger. The Defensive unit will have to be just as dominant as they were last season in order to be in the race for Super Bowl XLI (Forty-One).

OFFENSE

Before the 2005 NFL season began, Chris Simms was virtually a forgotten soul. He got his chance to play when Brian Griese went down with an injury. From then and on, Simms proved to Jon Gruden that he deserved to lead the team. Chris Simms won 6 of the 10 games that he started in 2005, throwing for 2035 yards and 10 touchdowns. His biggest win of the regular season came against the Redskins when he threw for three touchdowns in a 36-35 victory. Chris Simms is still young, but shows the poise and ability in the pocket. He will be protected by an offensive line that will be returning all five starters from last year. The wide receivers for the Tampa, makes Simms’ job much easier. Joey Galloway has been outrunning cornerbacks and safeties for 11 years. Last Season, Galloway caught 83 passes and 10 touchdowns. The Bucs will be counting on another stellar performance from Galloway this season. Michael Clayton – the no. 2 receiver – had an off year in 2005 due to a nagging knee injury. If healthy all season, he provides Chris Simms with an adequate passing game.

The Buccaneers biggest offensive weapon is Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams. The NFL’s 2005 Rookie of the Year rushed for 434 yards in his first three games, but was slowed down drastically towards the end of the season due to a nagging injury and being over worked. His back-up, Michael Pittman has the ability to come in and keep up the pace in case of an injury to Williams. Fullback Mike Alstott is not the same bruiser he used to be, but opposing teams still want no part of him. This upcoming season could be the last for Alstott.

DEFENSE

Since the late 90’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has had a dominant defensive unit. Linebacker Derrick Brooks has been a staple of the unit since 1995. He is not the player he used to be, but there aren’t many linebackers today that can hang with this old man. Simeon Rice is one of the scariest defensive ends in the NFL, mainly due to his speed. In 2005, Rice recorded 14.5 sacks (3rd in the NFL). Chris Hovan and Anthony ‘Booger’ McFarland are huge tanks that take up double teams to free up Rice. Ronde Barber is the leader and most solid player in the secondary. This upcoming season is the final year on his contract, so his performance will be above great in order to secure the money he wants.

A LOOK AT THE 2006 SCHEDULE

Tampa Bay may have one of the hardest schedules in the NFL. The Bucs will have to face off against 7 of the 12 playoff teams of 2005, including a rematch of the NFC wildcard game against the Washington Redskins. The NFC South Division is already tough. The Carolina Panthers are a Super Bowl contending team, the Falcons will look to return to form from two years ago, and the New Orleans Saints have a new attitude and an explosive Reggie Bush as well. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will need to be on top of their game – offensively and defensively – all season.

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