"NFL Total Access" has launched its "32 in 32" series, breaking down the biggest subplots of every NFL team as the 2013 season approaches. Around The League will follow along and offer our own take. Up next: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1. There's plenty of reasons why the Buccaneers can be a playoff team. Our own Marc Sessler listed several last week. But quarterback Josh Freeman is one very big reason why not. It's not an issue of talent with Freeman, who has the size, athleticism and playmaking ability that general managers drool over. The problem is consistency, and now four years into his career, it's fair to wonder if what you see is what you get.
2. I don't have the same level of skepticism about the Bucs' defense. The trade for Darrelle Revis was a Herculean feat by general manager Mark Dominik, who landed a Hall of Fame-level player at a dire position of need at a reasonable cost. The signing of free safety Dashon Goldson also was deft and should allow 2012 first-round pick Mark Barron to take on a role that better suits his strengths. Looking elsewhere on the unit, keep an eye on linebacker Lavonte David. He had 20 tackles for a loss in 2012, the second-most by a rookie since the NFL began tracking the statistic in 2000.
3. Outside Revis' health, the biggest concern on defense comes via the pass rush. The Bucs lost their top sack man when Michael Bennett signed with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency. Tampa Bay is hopeful Da'Quan Bowers will emerge, but it might not be a bad idea to ring up John Abraham's agent.
4. Back to the quarterback. If you're looking for Freeman in a nutshell, check out game tape of the Buccaneers' Week 4 matchup against the Washington Redskins. Freeman was a scattershot mess in the second quarter as the Bucs fell behind 21-3. A different Freeman came out in the second half, hitting on big plays with his wide receivers and leading the Bucs all the way back in a game they eventually lost on a late field goal.
Freeman was at his Two-Face best/worst. The Bucs are ready to strap themselves in the roller coaster once more.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.