Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Three quick hits on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1. Monte Kiffin and Derrick Brooks are gone. So are the days of Tampa Bay being an elite defense. Aside from middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, there's not a blue-chip player in his prime on this unit. Safety Tanard Jackson and cornerback Aqib Talib may be closing in on that category, but Jackson's going to miss the first four games of the regular season because of a suspension and Talib may face disciplinary action for a recent suspension. New coordinator Jim Bates is a great motivator and a strong strategist, but he hasn't been dealt a great deal of talent. Unless cornerback Ronde Barber can regain some of his youth and defensive end Gaines Adams suddenly develops pass-rush moves, Tampa Bay may be counting on its offense
to carry its defense for the first time in ... well, forever.
2. One of the trends in the NFL is having a two-headed monster at running back. Football Outsiders The Football Outsiders use their unique brand of analysis to break down each of the league's 32 teams. Tampa Bay Buccaneers I can see Tampa Bay having a three-headed monster -- maybe even a four-headed monster. The Bucs brought in Derrick Ward as a free agent and he's going to be the closest thing the Bucs have to a feature back. But Earnest Graham already has shown he can produce and he's going to eat into Ward's carries. The Bucs also have big plans to use Clifton Smith as a running back this year. Smith made the Pro Bowl as a return man as a rookie and can make things happen in open space. Then, there's Cadillac Williams, who is coming back from a major knee injury for the second straight year. If Williams is fully healthy, he's good enough to fit in a rotation with Ward and Graham.
3. There's been a lot of speculation that coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik are in over their heads. I'm not buying it. Yes, they're both young, but they're also talented. The Glazer brothers (Bryan, Joel and Ed), who run the team, are smart businessmen and they sensed the organization needed some youthful enthusiasm. They found it within their own organization and Morris has made it a point to surround himself with experienced assistants like Bates and offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski. Dominik's spent his career being groomed by the likes of Rich McKay, Jerry Angelo, Tim Ruskell and Bruce Allen. Morris and Dominik at least have a long-term plan, which is a step up over the previous regime. A long time ago, McKay and Tony Dungy were put in charge of this franchise when it was the worst in the league and a lot of people said they were in over their heads. McKay and Dungy had a plan and look how that turned out.