Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs report, eager to prove predictions wrong
TAMPA - Most prognosticators are predicting another miserable season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Bucs themselves don't see it that way. Though some are clearly taking a work-hard-and-see-what happens approach to the coming season, others are predicting big things from a team that went 3-13 last year. "I have high expectations,'' middle linebacker Barrett Ruud said. "I expect us to contend for the playoffs. I mean, 3-13 was a bitter year and I think everyone has a lot more confidence going into this year.'' The confidence level of the players on defense is particularly high, Ruud said, as a result of head coach Raheem Morris's decision late last season to replace coordinator Jim Bates and re-install a one-gap, cover 2 defensive system."That was huge,'' Ruud said of the decision to change defenses and coordinators. "We just had a lot of uncertainty last year. We didn't know what to expect with the defense and a lot of us didn't know how to approach a game or what we were going to do. "But we had some success (late last year) putting a defense together on the fly and I think this offseason the confidence is really high, a lot higher than it was a year ago, so I think we're going to be a lot better on defense.'' Defensive end Kyle Moore is one of those who's feeling a lot more confident this year. He said the team chemistry is much better than it was a year ago and that should show in a positive way on the field. "What's different coming into this year is that we spent a lot more time together (during the offseason),'' Moore said. "Everyone was here during the offseason and we got to mesh together and jell on defense. "So I feel like there's a lot more of a team atmosphere this year instead of everyone being all over the place like they were last year. The chemistry on the team is a whole lot better than it was last year.''