2011 Record: 4-12, 4th In NFC South
Overall Series Record: 8-7
Record At Tampa Bay: 2-3
Last Meeting: Oct. 11, 2009 in Philadelphia, Eagles 33-14
Game Recap: Donovan McNabb returned from a rib injury to throw for 264 yards and three touchdowns - two to
Key Offseason Moves
In: Head coach Greg Schiano, CB Ronde Barber, DE Michael Bennett, WR Vincent Jackson, OT Jamon Meredith, G Carl Nicks, CB Eric Wright, G Jeremy Zuttah, DT Amobi Okoye, TE Dallas Clark, S Mark Barron, RB Doug Martin
Out: Head coach Raheem Morris, C Jeff Faine, QB Josh Johnson, S Tanard Jackson, TE Kellen Winslow, DT John McCargo
Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers be the Philadelphia Eagles of 2011?
This offseason, that honor belonged to the Buccaneers.
The Eagles finished 8-8 and didn't make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Bucs went 4-12 last year and don't have the lofty expectations that the Eagles do. Plus, Tampa Bay will be guided by a first-time NFL head coach in Greg Schiano, who comes from the college ranks where he turned Rutgers into a formidable program.
Just two seasons ago, the Bucs were a young team on the rise thanks to quarterback Josh Freeman. However, Freeman took a step back in 2011 as the Bucs finished 27th in points scored. Then again, that's better than the defense performed. Tampa Bay was dead last in points allowed on defense. In 10 games, Tampa Bay allowed 27-or-more points. In the final five games of the year, the Bucs allowed at least 31 points in each contest.
However, the splurge in free agency addressed the offensive side of the ball to make Freeman's life easier. In a division with Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan, stellar quarterback play is an absolute must. Freeman now has a top-flight receiver in Vincent Jackson. Veteran tight end Dallas Clark will bring leadership and experience. Doug Martin, the second of the Bucs' first-round picks, gives Schiano a workhorse back and added depth along with LeGarrette Blount.
The defense is has a lot of young pieces, especially along the line. The two starting defensive ends - Da'Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn - and two starting tackles - Gerald McCoy and Brian Price - are all first- and second-round draft picks from the past two years. At middle linebacker is Mason Foster, a third-round pick last year who took over starting duties. With the No. 7 overall pick, the secondary was improved with Alabama safety Mark Barron.
It will be interesting to see what personality Schiano brings to the Bucs as he tries to make them relevant again. Where will the team stand this late in the season? Will Schiano be among the candidates for Coach of the Year? Or will the Bucs be headed towards another losing campaign? The Bucs have just one 10-win season in the past six years.