By ROGER MOONEY
It was suggested earlier this week that new Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik doesn’t have a plan.
He blew up the defense, cut a receiver who had 1,000 yards receiving in 2007 and released the one receiver on the roster you could count on to catch a seven-yard pass on third-and-six.
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Dominik had the Bucs headed toward an unheard of $61 million salary cap deficit and to the bottom of the NFC South.
Then he started spending money.
By now it is obvious Dominik does have a plan. He wants the Bucs younger and he wants the offense better.
The days of grinding out victories with Monte Kiffin’s defense are over.
The days of out-scoring teams could be upon us.
In Kellen Winslow, Dominik found a tight end who, when healthy, plays at a Pro Bowl level.
In Derrick Ward, Dominik found a running back capable of running away from defenders. Ward was successful as part of a three-man backfield with the New York Giants, which means he should be comfortable sharing the load in Tampa Bay with Earnest Graham and Cadillac Williams, providing Williams returns from his latest knee injury.
By resigning Michael Clayton, the Bucs have a receiver who seems to be really good at dropping passes. Clayton might be one of those players who benefits from a change of scenery. If so, he could be headed for a productive season because he didn’t have to go anywhere to find that change. The scenery changed around him.
With Antonio Bryant back for another season, the Bucs now have a game-changing receiver, a game-changing tight end and a game-changing running back.
As it appears now, Luke McCown will run the offense. That’s a question mark.
Aside from a few starts as a fill-in, McCown has never had this opportunity in Tampa Bay. Give him a new offense and an offseason to learn it, and maybe he can be a productive quarterback.
He will certainly have enough playmakers around him and an offensive line to keep him upright most of the time. He has the big arm to reach Bryant downfield and a running game that should open up the passing game.
McCown could be a productive quarterback, or he could be a bust.
We won’t know until sometime next October.
What we do know is the offense will carry the day.
Dominik wants to give the young guys on defense a chance to show what they have. That could make for some long Sunday afternoons if they struggle, or it could be a smart move if they reach their potential and form a championship-caliber defense.
Dominik might still add some pieces in free agency and it will be interesting to see what the draft brings.
So far, the first-year GM has added three young and relatively productive pieces to the offense.
Sounds like a plan.