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6 Questions with Bucs Nation Previewing Redskins Game

Sander Philipse, Editor for SB Nation's Tampa website, Bucs Nation, answers our questions on the state of the Buccaneers roster and who to watch tonight in this final 2013 preseason game.

Johnthan Banks
Johnthan Banks
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Visit Bucs Nation to read my answers to their Redskins questions.

1.) Skins fans are upset we won't see a Mike Shanahan vs Mike Shanahan matchup this week....what say you about cutting him?? On a more serious note, how do you feel about the Bucs QB situation?

The Bucs must have been really excited to get a head coach on the waiver wire, but reality disappointed, I guess. As for the quarterback situation..troubled would be the right word. Josh Freeman is the starting quarterback and he's not going to be unseated by Mike Glennon -- there was no real competition. But Freeman has some issues he has to work on. He is inconsistent with his accuracy and inconsistent with his decision making. On the other hand, he has a lot of physical talent and put together one great season in 2010. The question is if he can get back to that.

2.) How has 2nd round pick Johnthan Banks looked so far?

Banks has looked pretty good, especially in zone/off coverage, which is a bit of a surprise. Of course, he hasn't been challenged much, either. With Darrelle Revis out he's generally been the best cornerback on the field. However, he's still a rookie cornerback, and rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle.

3.) I noticed the game vs Skins is blacked out in Tampa...are fans still that low on the team even with the addition of Revis?

I don't know if it's that fans are low on the team, really. It's more that the team hasn't won a playoff game since 2003, and a lot of people have been turned off the Bucs over the past decade. There are other issues, too: the area is filled with transplants who root for other teams, the Bucs' marketing has been uneven over the past years (it's improving), 1 PM games are ridiculously hot in August and September, which drives people away. The Bucs do expect most games to be on television locally this year, but it remains to be seen whether that will actually happen.

4.) What's the overall state of the team and how do you think Tampa will finish in the NFC this year? Any regrets with free agency last 1-2 years?

The team is pretty talented overall. It has a lot of frontline talent, but does have some depth issues at most positions. Pass rush and secondary are question marks this year, though not necessarily big concerns. But the biggest problem, really, is the quarterback position. We just don't know whether Josh Freeman will improve to a point where the Buccaneers can really get to the playoffs and win some games once there.

5.) What rookies have impressed so far in Tampa this summer and give us 2-3 names to watch for Thursday.

Johnthan Banks has looked pretty good, and he should get some playing time tonight. Another player who has looked very good is fourth-round pick Akeem Spence, who's replacing Roy Miller at nose tackle. He seems custom made for the position and has produced a lot more pass rush than we expected based on his college tape. A bit farther down the list is Rashaan Melvin, who really has shown up a lot as a press-man cornerback. Surprisingly good for an undrafted free agent, and he's one to watch tonight.

6.) Your secondary looks like one of the best on paper, but what leads you to believe your pass rush will be improved enough for it to succeed?

That's a good question and it's one of the main issues facing the Bucs. They let Michael Bennett leave for the Seahawks on a relatively small contract to give Da'Quan Bowers more playing time, which certainly looks like a fairly major mistake right now. Bowers has been disappointing, although he's still probably the best bet to start opposite Adrian Clayborn. The latter's return, by the way, is the main reason to think that the pass rush will be much improved. He has looked great this preseason, after missing almost all of last season with a knee injury. Trevor Scott, whom the Bucs signed last week, looked surprisingly good as well. And one major problem with the pass rush last year was that the ball would be out before anyone could have gotten close. The secondary was just too awful.

But there are certainly problems, both with quality and with scheme, where the Bucs are overly fond of slowly-developing stunts and easily picked-up blitzes that expose the secondary. There's reason to believe they will improve this season, but there's little reason to be convinced that they will.