ESPN’s NFL analyst, six-time National Football League Executive of the Year Bill Polian participated in a media conference call to answer questions about the 2013 NFL season. When the question’s about the success of the Tampa Bay Bucs came up he made it clear where the success would come from.
Polian, the man who brought Peyton Manning to the Indianapolis Colts has always been a guy who puts the key to winning on his quarterbacks. He was quick to point out that the Bucs have indeed gotten better but as to how close they come to reaching the playoffs- that is where Josh Freeman comes in.
BILL POLIAN ON THE BUCS IN 2013: Well. Getting younger, better players. That’s number one. Second, I think you have to know how you want to play, and I think Greg Schiano does know that and is implementing that. They’re in a very tough division, and there’s no question that New Orleans has improved simply because Sean Payton is back and because of how much he means to that franchise and that team. Atlanta is what they are; they’re a bona fide Super Bowl contender. And Carolina has the capacity to be a pretty good team.
So I think you’ve got — you have Atlanta, and then you have three teams, all of which have yet to prove that they have the capacity to be complete teams. New Orleans has to improve dramatically on defense. Carolina has to play consistently. And Tampa Bay has to play consistently. And that’s usually the difficulty for a new coach. I mean, it’s hard for him to get them to recognize how they have to play consistently. That’s part of what I talked about with Jacksonville. That’s part of the changeover.
That said, I think Carolina and Tampa Bay hinge directly on how well their quarterbacks play; the avoidance of turnovers, good decision making, the ability to bring your team from behind within the context of teams that are not going to throw the ball wildly all over the place. Neither team is going to be a spread team. They’re going to run the ball, and they should. And then the ability to finish games on defense.
You know, we’ll see as the season progresses whether both Carolina and Tampa Bay will do that, and I think that therein lies the story of their season. If the quarterbacks perform and the defense performs at critically efficient times, then they’re going to have a real chance to be playoff teams. If they don’t, then they won’t. It’s really that simple.