Don’t bite your fingernails yet.. save them, because if the Bucs ever decide not to dress 8 Starters on offense and defense like they did at last weekends Brown’s game, you can bet the expectations will be the opposite of what they were Saturday night: Through the stratosphere!
Gerald McCoy haters can see what the pass rush looks like without Geraldini, and its not pretty. Yet as an avid preacher of the inconsistancies of preseason, you can expect my annual “don’t put stock into anything that happens in preseason” talk around these parts!
This weeks game, like the last two pre-season games, we did see the Bucs offense come out with Jameis Winston’s guns-a-blazin’… but to back up wide receivers. Goodwin and Reedy… Evans and Jackson they are not!
Left Guard, Right Tackle, and two startings talent was as expected. What wasn’t expected was the drop in plays on defense, as Cleveland Browns QB DeShone Kizer won a starting spot in the NFL on the heels of his passing to WR Corey Coleman.
This season has been a treat so far, as we’ve been given inside access to how the Bucs train with “Hard Knocks” the HBO documentary every year that follows a team throughout training camp.
Expectations have been high for the Bucs from their own fans for years now, with Miami and Chicago up first on the schedule, anything less than 2-0 record would disappoint fans for sure.
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
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.
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?!?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.