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Bucs not 'already better' yet

3/24/2015

TAMPA, Fla. -- Speaking to reporters at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix on Monday, general manager Jason Licht said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already better because of their offseason moves.

That optimism is nice. But are the Bucs better than they were at the end of last season? I don’t think they are yet.

Yes, the addition of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter helps. The Bucs went through last season without a true offensive coordinator after Jeff Tedford had heart surgery. The addition of middle linebacker Bruce Carter is a plus. And adding defensive tackle Henry Melton, safety Chris Conte, and cornerback Sterling Moore gives the Bucs some nice role players.

But the Bucs are a team without a quarterback. That almost certainly will change when the draft gets here, with the Bucs likely to take either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. Adding a quarterback will be a big part of the puzzle.

But the Bucs still have some glaring needs they haven’t even started to address. They came up empty in the first wave of free agency when they tried to add a pass-rushing defensive end. They missed out on Derrick Morgan and Trent Cole.

At the moment, the Bucs don’t have anything close to an elite pass-rusher. They have some young guys with potential, but they don’t have a sure thing. That needs to change for coach Lovie Smith’s defense to have a chance at being really good.

The other area where the Bucs clearly aren’t any better than last season is the offensive line. The Bucs might have had the league’s worst offensive line last season, and they have yet to do anything to improve it.

They did release left tackle Anthony Collins, and there is something to be said for addition by subtraction in this case. But there is a wide-open hole at left tackle, the most important position on the line. The Bucs also need to upgrade over Patrick Omameh at right guard.

Once the Bucs add a quarterback, a pass-rusher and a couple of offensive linemen, they will be better than last season. But they are not there yet.