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Minnesota Vikings 2014 opponent profile: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chad Greenway (52) and Harrison Smith (22 purple) tackle Doug Martin (22 white) during the last meeting between the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Chad Greenway (52) and Harrison Smith (22 purple) tackle Doug Martin (22 white) during the last meeting between the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have met four times since the league re-aligned into eight divisions of four teams in 2002. The Buccaneers have won all four meetings.

2013 Record: 4-12 (tied for third in the NFC South)

2013 Offensive Statistics: 18.0 points per game, 277.0 total offensive yards per game, 100.8 rushing yards per game, 176.3 passing yards per game, 21 turnovers

2013 Defensive Statistics: 24.3 points allowed per game, 348.0 total offensive yards allowed per game, 110.1 rushing yards allowed per game, 237.9 passing yards allowed per game, 31 turnovers forced, 35 sacks

Head Coach: Lovie Smith (First season in Tampa Bay)

Key Returning Offensive Players: QB Mike Glennon, WR Vincent Jackson, RB Doug Martin, G Jamon Meredith, G Carl Nicks, RB Bobby Rainey, TE Luke Stocker, TE Timothy Wright

Key Returning Defensive Players: CB Johnthan Banks, S Mark Barron, LB Jonathan Casillas, LB Lavonte David, LB Mason Foster, S Dashon Goldson, DT Gerald McCoy, CB D.J. Moore

Free Agent Additions: LS Jeremy Cain, OT Anthony Collins, OL Oniel Cousins, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, LB Dane Fletcher, WR Lavelle Hawkins, CB Mike Jenkins, DE Michael Johnson, QB Josh McCown, DT Clinton McDonald, WR Louis Murphy, TE Brandon Myers, CB Alterraun Verner, S Major Wright

Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 7 - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M; Round 2, Pick 38 - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington; Round 3, Pick 69 - Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia; Round 5, Pick 143 - Kadeem Edwards, G, Tennessee State; Round 5, Pick 149 - Kevin Pamphile, OT, Purdue; Round 6, Pick 185 - Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming

Outlook: The Buccaneers thought things were getting better, but injuries and apparent in-house issues with starting quarterback Josh Freeman brought the team back toward the bottom of the league.

Freeman was released and head coach Greg Schiano was eventually fired. The players appeared to have given up on both of them.

The Buccaneers are now led by 35-year-old quarterback Josh McCown and head coach Lovie Smith. Ironically, both last performed their jobs in the NFL in the same capacity with the Chicago Bears.

They will be better in 2014. The defense is young and talented at all levels of the defense. Gerald McCoy and Michael Johnson will anchor the defensive line. Lavonte David and Mason Foster are solid linebackers. Alterraun Verner, Johnthan Banks, Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron will form a very good starting secondary. The additions made will help, but they have a long way to go and will need to build chemistry.

There are a lot of question marks for the Buccaneers offense. Can the offensive line protect McCown? What can you expect from a mid-30’s free agent quarterback that has played more than nine games in a season just once, which came 10 years ago, and was out of football in 2012? Can Doug Martin be the star running back he was as a rookie after missing more than half of last season with a shoulder injury? About the only sure thing is wide receiver Vincent Jackson. He will put up big numbers, but will be alone until rookie Mike Evans catches up to the speed of the NFL.

There are too many question marks on the Buccaneers for them to improve very much in the standings.

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