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For Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, this is what it’s like where the grass really IS GREENER

Ah remember the days Bucs fans… when WE had the QB battle of the TH-tars!

Fans entered the stadium, excited to watching their NFL team, even though the tons of empty seats didn’t express that notion. Preseason is important this year, the new coach has big decisions to make; A QB needs to be decided on. Who will lead the offense  at the most important position on the team?

Why am I talking Jaguars football? I’m not, I’m pulling a memory from a Bucs preseason game 3 years ago at this very stadium. Opening PreSeason 2014 and Lovie Smith had a QB battle between M. Glennon and Josh McCown; they threw for 172 total yards in that game, with a job on the line.

In other games that preseason, the Bucs watched teams with strong Offensive lines push them around, while the Bucs O line was a tattered mess, recovering from the offseason upheaval that the front office jettisoned due to under-performance. Long time starters like Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah and Davin Joseph were gone, to start over with Free Agent busts like Collins, Cousins Dietrich-Smith, Omame ( pronounced Oh Mommy!!).

Even with the help of Logan Mankins, who had to help a little to the right

Even in rookie camp, you could see the Bucs future looking bright.

and a little (lot) to the left, the Bucs were putrid on offense.  But Mankins paid off later on, when the Bucs started to draft smart, and Corralled a couple of Offensive Linemen in the draft, and a Super Bowl veteran in Free Agency. Even though he took a whole year to get ready, added to the “Get it right” contract for Demar Dotson, the quiet Right Tackle, and now Tampa Bay has an offensive line that is on the verge of becoming one of the NFL’s best, and it has DEPTH for the first time, perhaps ever.

 

If watching the Bucs take on the Jaguars last night left you with a strange feeling, it was because you were so used to being that team on the OTHER side. Oh sure they wore Teal and Gold and whatever other color Jacksonville claims… but you could swear they were wearing Red and Pewter.

Martin looks like the ’12 and ’16 Martin, of course he has a ’12 and ’16 O line in front. Coincidence?

For too long Bucs fans have watched their team show up in preseason, get outplayed by the other team early, then score enough points with medium talented backups over 3rd stringers in the 4th quarter to win the game 13-9.  But this time something was different.

This time, we were the ‘other’ team. Ive watched a lot of Bucs football in my days, last night the Bucs looked like a 90s version of the 49ers out there. Hard to figure out who was playing Madden 17, the Bucs on offense, or the Jags on D?!?

Jameis is what the Bucs wanted out of Young, Testaverde, Dilfer, Freeman…. Leader by example and skill

Sure, you could swear that was Josh McCown throwing the ball up for an ‘almost turnover’ in the end zone before being ruled down in the grasp, but lets not forget: Jameis Winston is 7 years away from his 30th birthday! He’s still a babe.. and so while he might be going into his 3rd season, he’s the same age former Buc Vinny Testaverde was when he began his first year as a Pro NFL QB. A year later at 24, Vinny became full time starter, and proceeded to throw 35 interceptions that year. Thats two more than Jameis has right now, but still way too many for Head Coach Dirk Koetter.

A big reason the Bucs are turning the corner as a franchise is those two men; Winston and Koetter. While Koetter had to take his lumps last year with poor time management decisions, he doesnt let Jameis off the hook when he messes up. Koetter has surrounded himself with a good coaching staff of teachers, and with GM Jason Licht he’s surrounded Jameis with a whole lotta talent.

Consider this before signing off:

  • The Bucs are running VANILLA offense. In the past they would run Vanilla in preseason, then French Vanilla in September. What’s it going to look like against Miami?
  • Teams would kill for a Tight End with hands who can block. He’s only a rookie, and he is going to make his shares of mistakes as all rookies do. But picture the Bucs red zone with O.J. Howard in there… and then see the image of Cameron Brate crossing the other direction. Sure its only paper now, but the Bucs offense has never even been this dangerous on paper.
  • Last year, the Bucs had a no.1 WR and a No.2 WR; they were the same person, Mike Evans. Defenses knew the Bucs would throw his way.. Remember the Carolina game on Monday Night Football? To ice the game, needed a pass completion for a first down, and Mike Evans was the only WR on the field? And Jameis completed it to him?  Well now picture the same defense trying to double team…. Evans?  DeSean Jackson?
  • Get your popcorn ready Bucs fans… and someone cut that grass.. before it gets to looking like the side of the yard we came from!
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Roberto Aguayo cutting an example of Licht over “Rock Star”

Coined the “Rock Star” GM by the ever so aptly naming machine known as JoeBucsFan.com, Mark Dominik drafted some very good players, some of whom like Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David to name a few. But it was the mistakes, the errors that doomed Dominik, maybe not so much for making them but for how long he stayed with them.

” There was a Rock Star here before me? “

Fast Forward to the Anti-Rock Star Jason Licht who jumps in his pool after wins, and isnt afraid to make the big deal to get That Player, aka His Guy.

Roberto Aguayo was his guy. To steal a McKayism, The Most accurate kicker in NCAA collegiate football history, well that kicker is kaput. One year almost to the day from when it all came apart for Aguayo, he repeated his ill fortune and came out for the first pre-season game of the year and stunk the place up with his kicks.

To be fair the extra point he missed vs Cincinnati went straight as an arrow, just that it wasn’t supposed to: if your standing on the right hash marks it has to curve in a bit. Bengals kickers Randy Bullock and Jake Elliot had no problems, but then this is a broken record with the excuses we’ve had to make for Aguayo, who is now the Chicago Bears problem, and he can be consoled     by Mike Glennon.

 

No one should be surprised if Aguayo succeeds at kicking in the NFL once he gets a fresh start, and NFL kickers will re-adjust to the new kicking paradigm. But bad luck of having to start a pro career when the NFL went all Belichik rule crazy, rather than have Aguayo cost the Bucs games and perhaps a shot at the playoffs, Jason Licht did what he always does when one of his moves goes south.

He sends them south down the highway, like a rock star, only, not.

 

 

EXTRA:  WHAT HAPPENED TO AGUAYO?

If you want to know what happened to Aguayo I think the answer is simple, bad timing. No, I don’t mean bad timing of his kicks. I mean bad timing joining the NFL right at the time the league changed the rules to push kicks back to a 30 yard Field Goal instead of  19 yarders that were never missed (never in this case is over 99%).

In 2016, 75 extra points by 36 different NFL kickers were either missed or blocked. The year before the rule change, when Extra points were 19 yard FG attempts, only 8 extra points were not made, for whatever reason,  by 37 NFL Kickers. Only 7 kickers of those 37 were NOT 100% perfect. Last year only 7 of the 36 were 100%.

Kicking Field Goals is a mental discipline, its probably 80-90% mental, the swinging of the leg and lining up is so routine, imagine how many times you think an NFL kicker has swung at a football towards the goal posts. Many theories have been brought up as to why so many NFL kickers struggled with kicking the last couple years.

Extra points were GIMMEs like a warm up screen pass for a QB in a game before going downfield. Eliminate the gimme, and now kickers have to bring their A game just for the extra point, and if they miss, it throws the rhythm off.

It has to be something to it, experienced kickers like Nick Novak, Steven Hauscha, Dan Carpenter, and several others could not even crack the 90% mark, Carpenter not able to get into the 80s. Imaging this effect on experienced veterans like these,  on a young kid from Florida State where he was labeled the most accurate kicker ever.  One miss in his career, he was head man on campus, A pro team TRADED UP to draft him in the second round…and he missed his first kick in preseason and got booed in camp when missing more.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers first Depth Chart tells a few clues, if one buys the 1st chart as “Sports Canon”

The first DEPTH CHART is out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 2017 and I’m about to tell you how they look:

I Don’t know.

Let’s wait until they play someone with-OUT Orange, Red, Pewter and/or Motorola numerals on their uniform.

But regardless, you can tell a few things by checking out the very first issue. For starters, coaches will put someone first who shouldn’t be to motivate a player.

This is year two with the same defensive coordinator, and year three with Offensive coordinator. If you remember last year Cameron Brate was listed as no.1 Tight End, and everyone including myself said “Who”?  10  TDs later …. Brate is still the starting TE, but so is The Juice.

OJ Howard has Bucs fans excited with visions of Gronk and Hernandez dancing around (without the Hernandez off field stuff obviously)!

Ali Marpet is a Center, but this isnt the first time the Bucs have moved linemen around, its part of the DNA around here. Way back First HC John McKay was famous for taking defensive linemen and putting them on the O Line.

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30 days out from answers to many questions for Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans

The questions have been made, now the answers are soon the come. In 30 days, long after the Cameras from the network that gave us modern lovable mobsters, history laden fantasy-drama with dragons, and super close nice guy rich kid/friends with names like E and Turtle, the answers will be given. The only debate, is will we like the answers?

Q1  Will the Bucs repeat history and take a step backwards before finally going full forwards? In 2010 the Bucs shocked everyone going 10-6 and missing the playoffs by tiebreaker to eventual SB champ Packers. The next season after starting 4-2 with 2 wins over division teams, the Bucs didn’t win another game until opening day 2012. Its a pattern throughout Bucs history;

  • 2005- After 2 straight post Super Bowl years of losing seasons, the No.1 ranked defense, Tampa Bay went 11-5 and lost by a Touchdown to Washington. The next year, the 2006 Bucs went 4-12 as the Bucs defense officially got old.
  • 1997- After 14 years of 13 double digit loss season, Bucs under Tony Dungy  went 10-6 and hosted a playoff game for the first time in 18 years. The Following season the ’98 Bucs started 3-4 instead of 5-0 the year before and wound up with an 8-8 record just missing the playoffs with a tiebreaker.
  • 1979- The   Tampa Bay Buccaneers shocked the world with a 5-0 start (for a franchise with 7 total wins in 3 complete seasons) and a 10-6 record, winning the Central Division Championship; finishing a TD and FG away from a Super Bowl birth. What followed was a let down 5-10-1 season in which the Bucs started 2-0 but fell apart on the heels of its defense.

Q2  Was a 2nd Round draft Trade/Up for Roberto Aguayo worth it? After last year he needs to do more than just beat out challenger Nick Folk, he needs to smash his kicks to shreds. Aquayo needs to be beyond good, he needs to be perfect.

Q3  Will the defense continue the winning ways that took over after the Atlanta loss week 8?  There are many different explanations for the defensive turnaround, the best ones focus on the “sinking in” of information for the first time of the year. Players stopped thinking, as they went with instincts after learning what to do, where to do it, AND DO IT AUTOMATICALLY… instead of thinking it.

Q4   Will Jameis Winston continue to transform into an elite NFL QB?  This dsis year three for Jameis Winston, and the first two years have been nothing short of amazing. Sports Illustrated gave him the 9th best Rookie season for a QB, ahead of Peyton Manning. Last year, he completed the two best seasons; throwing for an NFL best 4000 yards in each season. NFL best means, no one has done it before.

Jameis could be on the verge of greatness in year three.. or something else?
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Bucs UK; Still going strong 35 years later

Bucs, GO TO BUCSUK!? Who says dreams don’t come true!

As a Bucs fan, you’d have to live under a rock to not know the UK has a group of diehard Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans.  Bucs UK was born from the National (or international ) exposure of the Bucs during their final year as a legitimate playoff team, and forged over the decade plus of  double digit losses during an unending diehard support of its founder, Paul Stewart.

So integrated was he with the Buccaneers, he has several minutes on the Buccaneers 2011 Video yearbook. But the return to losing took its tool on him; unlike the 80’s, Social Media is a constant torture chamber when your on the other side of popular opinion.

I know I felt it myself, from the onslaught of an unfair bigotry against Raheem Morris, to the highly toxic subject of coaching changes that followed, Being a fan was suddenly doing hard time; so Stewart got                                                                              out.

A lot has changed about the BucsUK over the past few years, maybe more so than the changes going on at One Buc Place in the same time frame. Because when one makes a decision to leave a longtime love, its inevitable the desire to get involved will return. Problem is, sometimes that love has moved on without you.

Now run by Phil Jones, Kieron Hyams and Dave Cambridge all playing integral parts, the group may not appear to be as big as it once was, but what it may lack in Quantity it makes up for in Quality.

The BucsUK are annual visitor and guests of the Buccaneers, and as an honorary member as thanks for supplying live Video Feeds of the Bucs  using slingbox and other contributions, I’ve been a part of many amazing events; the 2009 30 year anniversary of the 1979 Bucs first NFC South Division as one example. Not even the press was invited to this one, and here I am with my teenage Bucs heroes Doug Williams, Jimmy Giles, Gordon Jones, Cecil Johnson, David Lewis and more! (more photos below) It was a dream come true for me, having dinner at the same table with Safety Mark Cotney. The year before I was on the field pregame for the  Seattle night game in 2008 and met the Glazers themselves. They upgraded all of our $86 dollar seats into $500+ Club Seats, so it was no wonder I led the protest against “Glazers are cheap” chants of 2007-11.

THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW

Today, the former head of Bucs  UK plays a ton of golf, and continues to run and feed the best Bucs resource site, Bucpower.com. No joke, the Buccaneers do NOT have as much information as Bucpower.com. Don’t take my word for it, check out every game by team, by season, with photos and video clips (Many donated by Bucstop’s Video Vault, where do you think I got my honorary membership?? ).  In addition to his day job he painstakingly assembles statistics from each season and during his pilgrimage to Tampa each year, gives the Bucs a CD full of current stats.  Sure, the Bucs have their own statisticians and/or get their info from private companies that do that, Brian Ford and Bucs go out of their way each year to make both parties feel welcome as if they were still Brad and Angelina.
So how are the BucsUK doing without it’s founder?
There maybe less than get togethers in the past, but these guys are ALWAYS at EVERY BucsUK event. Tight, Close group under “new management” is inseparable.

Our first article coming back was a ‘Get Together’ at a local Football Club; Aylesbury FC’s Hall. The Hall’s twitter sent out a Thank You tweet with photos thanking the 25 members who showed up for the event. When you go to the Bucs UK website, you see photos of the events while under the old leadership, and I suppose it should come as no surprise the turnouts seem bigger. Paul was extremely skilled at getting the MEGA participation at events, It was the passion he had for the Bucs, born on that fateful night in 1982 when the 3rd game of a strike shortened season had the home Bucs on Monday Night Football

0-2 Bucs desperately hosted 2-0 Miami Dolphins, and beat them in an exciting last second win on Monday Night Football.

against the 2-0 Miami Dolphins.

The Bucs fought and beat Miami to stay alive in a strike shortened playoff race leading future British Bucs supporter to say to himself “That must be a good team, I think Ill support THAT team” as an ever growing fan base in Europe was being exposed to American football for the first time. “Fourteen double digit losing seasons later…” that choice may have changed another man’s mind, but not him. There are few people on this earth who know  more about the Bucs than I do, and without a doubt I give that to Paul. But lets just say I was never allowed to compete for real contest prizes back in the day !! 🙂 But when you hear a guy on the radio talk about the Rams overcoming a 27 point deficit to beat the Bucs and he says “Oh yeah, Dec. 6 1992” you know you’ve got someone special on the team.
THE CROWD..THE NUMBERS
That passion, which infected others, showed in the numbers of people who would show up to Bucs UK events in droves.
While not everyone has money to come to the US for games, he still managed to get people over in to Bucs Games at a time when the economy in either of our countries either wasn’t so great or  when the TEAM wasn’t so hot either.
While the roll call of current Bucs UK seems to be smaller, actual membership is claimed to be higher than what it was under previous regime.
A sort of schism has formed between the two sides, with both claiming the opposite of the other. BucsUK claims the rolls are currently up higher than before with numbers in high 100s compared to just over a C-note for the previous high.
 And while I hear from both sides that this group is not happy and  ‘that group is happier’, your always going to get that from people that have similar viewpoints, in fact in my opinion, they all just support what Ive said right here;
Bucs UK seemed bigger and more visible under Stewart, but it’s current core leadership has in this group maybe a tighter Bucs UK foundation than ever before.
MORE PHOTOS..

 

Phil gets a new Bucs throwback helmet signed by all of the 1979 Bucs who showed. The small helmet got current Buc Chris Hovan and others.
… and Barrett RUUUUUUUD!
Outside of a Tampa Bucs clothing store, origin of my story below and Nickname “SATNAV” by Bucs UK faithful.

So like the Beatles would put another song at end of record, here is a hidden Easter Egg story. During visit in 2011 to see Bucs, the group led by Paul (taking photo?) stopped at Bucs,Bulls, and more clothing store as a meeting place before going to OneBuc. Unfortunately, I was not a big traveler back then, and other than going to the stadium, I did not know Tampa well.  These were the early days of GPS, when it works, but sometimes, it gave you close, but not perfect.

Not knowing how to get to One Buc Place, which is just left of the STADIUM off of Dale Mabry Ave. I put in “ONE BUC PLACE” into my iPhone. (Sorry google fans, there WAS NO ANDROID PHONES back the iPhone was only smart phone) and I followed the directions to ONE BUC PLACE, or at least where it USED TO BE when Tampa Stadium was where the Bucs played.

So here I am, the only one who lives in the area, with 4 guys from Britain, meeting 20 plus others from the U K,  and my car is 10 minutes late because I didn’t know where to go.

Upon arrival, within 5 minutes my nickname was SAT NAV.