NFL Prediction (07/06/13)
Each day over the next two weeks we will reveal a Prediction of the Day, where we share an interesting player or team prediction leading into the 2013 NFL season. Rams vs. Falcons.
Prediction: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense will be significantly better than its offense in 2013.
Why it is likely:
Offensively, Josh Freeman struggled mightily in the second half of the season and may not be the quarterback of the future for this coaching staff and front office. As new quarterbacks have entered the league with big statements in recent years, Freeman, though just 25 years old, no longer projects to rank among the top half of the league in productivity at the position. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers added true shut-down corner Darrelle Revis and play-making safety Dashon Goldson to a defense that also features improving young potential stars like Lavonte David, Gerald McCoy and Mark Barron.
Even if Freeman fails to take a major leap forward in 2013, the running game appears to be strong as the offensive line is one of the more talented in the league (and is much healthier now than most of last season) and Doug Martin is a budding star. Tampa Bay plays in a division with three other teams that have offenses that are much better than its defenses, yielding six games where it should be easier to move the ball than to stop the opponent. Plus, as improved as the secondary is, the pass rush remains well below average.
Considering head coach Greg Schiano’s defensive focus, the strengths of his teams at Rutgers, and the Buccaneers’ offseason moves in the draft, free agency and trades, this may not sound that surprising. Consider though that Tampa Bay gave up 5.9 yards-per-play in 2012 (28th in the league) while gaining 5.8 on offense (9th in the league). We could easily see Tampa Bay as a top ten defense and bottom ten offense this season.