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Home / Articles / Columnists / Sports Feature /  Pro Football Expectations Run High – Even If Teams Don't
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Friday, October 4,2013

Pro Football Expectations Run High – Even If Teams Don't

By Mark Tudino  

Last time we met in this space we previewed the upcoming college football season and so far, it hasn’t disappointed. Fans of the University of Miami are thrilled over their upset win over in-state rival Florida, and Florida State has a bona-fide star in redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. Those respective futures certainly look bright, so now we turn to the professional ranks - if only those fortunes were equally as optimistic. As of this writing, two of the three professional teams in state are winless, but the other may be building a season to remember. Let’s start with the good news first.

After underachieving (and losing a good chunk of their fan base over the last 10 years), the Miami Dolphins made a concerted effort this past off-season to attract top flight free agents and to focus on their weak spots in the draft. Well, so far so good. Miami signed big play wide receiver Mike Wallace from the Steelers, and added/ resigned solid possession receivers Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline to help 2 nd year QB Ryan Tannehill revive an offense which ranked at, or near the bottom in most categories last year. The early indications show it was money well spent. On defense, always a strong suit for the team, the ‘Fins drafted defensive end Dion Jordan to bolster the pass rush and added impact linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to man the middle of their defense. While Miami has a tough schedule, as well as the specter of perennial power/rival New England to contend with, a shot at the playoffs is not out of the question this year.

Which is more than we can say for Florida’s two other pro teams.

In Tampa, the Buccaneers have the spirit but seem to be in a transition of sorts as the head coach and the general manager are seemingly at odds over the direction of the franchise. Published reports indicate the feud may center over who gets to make personnel decisions, with quarterback Josh Freeman caught in the crossfire. In fact, as we go to press, there are indications Freeman may want out of Tampa Bay via a trade, which would surely stunt the growth of the team. And it’s a shame because the Bucs have talented players in running back Doug Martin, wide receiver Vincent Jackson and an athletic, aggressive defense. But if what’s been reported is true, it brings to mind the old Abraham Lincoln quote about “a house divided against itself cannot stand”, and that means it could be years before the fans of the pewter and red see the postseason.

In Jacksonville, rookie head coach Gus Bradley faces a huge task of rebuilding a team which has largely been forgotten by most, and all but ignored by many of its own fans. Still, the Jags will give great effort and even if this isn’t their year, hey, there’s always the battle for the first pick in next year’s NFL Draft (did someone say Johnny Manziel?) So, whether you’re a fan of the good, the average, or the bad, our national passion is upon us. hang on, it’s going to be a wild ride!!

 

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