With Lovie Smith taking over from Greg Schiano as head coach, Josh McCown stepping in at quarterback and plenty of promising fresh faces, including 1st round draft pick Mike Evans out of Texas A & M at wide receiver, complementing experienced veterans on both sides of the ball, the 2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to be competitive from the first snap of the season.
On The Morning Show on CBS Sports Radio in late June, Simms said, “The Tampa Bay Buccaneers probably interest me as much as anybody. I think they have a chance. I think they’re pretty stacked — not to win the Super Bowl, but to be really good. It’ll be interesting. New coach down there: Greg Schiano had it turned. He had it turned physically. They just had to come together to get it done.”
“I think they’re a team to look out for,” Simms continued. “I think there are a lot of good players down there, and I think they could come out of nowhere.”
The Buccaneers, a disappointing 4-12 in 2013, are seeking to accelerate improvement in what would normally be a rebuilding year. With new systems being implemented on offense and defense and a host of new talent at key positions, Smith sees plenty of reason for optimism.
“We like the team,” Smith told the Tampa Bay Times following June’s round of OTAs. “We like the way they come to work every day…When I talk about the guys, this smile is real. It’s believing in the guys. When you come to work, and say, ‘do this,’ and they’re anxious to do it, how can you not be pumped up?”
While clearly excited about the squad’s prospects in the NFC South in 2014, Smith understands what he saw during the Buccaneers’ mandatory minicamp June 10-12 is only a hint of what is possible when training camp begins in earnest July 25.
“It’s a big jump,” Smith said. “We know a lot more about our football team. It’s like a college workout, you see the guys go through a lot of drills. Then you get hands on with them, get a chance to meet with them and see what they can handle in the classroom. But it’s about the physical part of the game, putting on the pads. So we can’t get too high.”
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