By Kyra Hallett
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a disappointing season so far. They got their fans hopes up after a victory in Week One, and they played competitively in a loss to the defending Super Bowls champions in Week Two, but they sit with a 1-3 record record one month into the season.
They have suffered a handful of injuries, but they have worked through them and don’t seem to be struggling too much in those places.
The Bucs have made roster moves every week. Some have been to replace injuries, while others were supposed to fix personnel mistakes. On Tuesday, they signed tight end Nate Byham and released defensive end Jeff Charleston, who was signed before the Washington Redskins game in Week Four.
The Bucs’ defense has been impressive as a whole. It looks like a completely different unit compared to last year. Some players have stood out more than others.
Defensive end Michael Bennett has four years in the league, but finally seems to becoming into his own player. He has dominated opposing teams, striking fear into opposing quarterbacks. Bennett has four sacks and two forced fumbles on the season.
Second-year linebacker Mason Foster has also been impressive. Foster has one interception, a half-sack and 31 tackles on the year. With 12 games to go, he is already halfway beyond the total number of tackles he had last season, 58. He is currently on pace for 84 tackles this year.
The rookies have also put on a great show. The Bucs’ first round draft pick in 2012, safety Mark Barron, has been a tough player. He hits hard and finishes plays. He is doing everything and more than the Bucs expected from him. Barron has 27 total tackles and one forced fumble.
Linebacker Lavonte David has taken over play calling on defense, a role that Foster had last year also as a rookie. He is another hard hitting player who has a total of 33 tackles.
Franchise player, kicker Connor Barth, has lived up to that title. He continues his field goal streak at 25 and made a career long versus the Redskins with a 57-yarder. The Bucs will need him to continue with his true aim.
In the Middle
One player that has been both impressive and disappointing is wide receiver Vincent Jackson. His best game so far was against the New York Giants in Week Two when he had 128 yards on five receptions. Jackson has been on one week and then off the next. On one play he can make a 20-yard reception and then drop the ball on the next. He has not lived up to what people have expected out of him. He can come through on crucial moments and also blow an easy play. Jackson needs to become more consistent so he can help the team win.
Not too many Bucs have been disappointing, but Dallas Clark had been. The most receiving yards he’s has in a game is 33, and that came two weeks in a row. In Week Three versus the Dallas Cowboys, he had one reception for zero yards. The veteran has not been playing up to his Pro Bowl level.
As a whole, the offensive line has let the running backs down. The line has not been giving the backs big enough holes, or holes at all. The average experience on the O-line is five years, which should be enough experience to know what to do. They did take an early blow, losing Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph, a seven-year veteran.
The Bucs will have to prove they have the skill and determination to make it all the way to January successfully.
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Kyra Hallett is a freelance writer and a Multimedia Sports Journalist. She has experience covering Tampa Bay sports in many outlets including Examiner.com. Her dream job would be to work with the athletes and their fans. You can view some of her work at KyraHallett.com or here at Examiner.com.