Don’t feel sorry for Jameis Winston; at least he doesn’t work in Hollywood

Winston will more than likely begin the season on the sideline.

As its becoming clear Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston is going to be suspended by the NFL for the first 3 games of the season, sentiment among Bucs fans is to cry foul.

Shouts of ‘its not fair’ are being heard on facebook and twitter, and maybe it isn’t.  Winston has denied any wrong doing, although his Uber account was suspended after the incident was reported. With no court date, no evidence hearing, Winston has been branded guilty by the NFL and sentenced. It’s not something were used to in this country where our innocence is supposed to be presumed.

But this is the private sector, and even the court of public opinion has weight in this jurisdiction. A conviction isn’t necessary as scores of fans think Winston is already guilty of bad sex conduct going back to his days at Florida State where he was accused of rape.

It was a charge he was exonerated for three time, although even the greatest fan can admit the evidence was poorly handled by Tallahassee police.

Truth is it could be worse for Winston, he could work in Hollywood. No not for the LA Rams, but for Paramount, or CBS, or Bad Robot; or any other film making company who fires employees when word of impropriety arises.

Ryan Fitzpatrick went 2-1 as Bucs QB starter last year during Winstons injuries.

Winstons ‘alleged’ transgression will cost him three paychecks, but it may cost others far more than that. For over a decade the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have started out slow in NFL seasons, facing an uphill battle each year, one they usually cannot overcome. Going in his place will be NFL Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick who has had some levels of success throwing the ball in the NFL, and who went 2-1 last year as a starter during Jameis’s injuries.

Tampa Bay’s head coach Dirk Koetter barely survived with his job last season, as expectations were high for the Bucs to win coming off a 9-7 season and instead going 5-11. A fast start is critical to having a good season as Bucs ownership is not likely to retain Koetter after another losing season.

Then a new coaching staff would come in, which would make it the 6th head coach in 12 years; A recipe for even more continued losing. A new coach who will also have absoluetly no ties to Winston who was drafted by Koetter’s boss Jason Licht who could be held responsible for the vetting of Jameis in 2015. A new head coach may see another path for winning with a new QB, in what could be a preferred one besides the beleaguerd Florida State product.

Well, maybe the NFL isn’t that dis-similar from Hollywood after all.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2018 season will be far cry from Favorites they were in 2017.

Last year going into the 2017 NFL Season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the media’s darlings. That was coming off a 9-7 season and just missing the NFL playoffs by a tiebreaker. So the Bucs were chosen to be on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ program that shows the inner workings of an NFL franchise through training camp and preseason.  The NFL and its fans all watched the Bucs, and everyone predicted a winning season and playoff birth for 2017; and of course the Bucs listened to everyone tell them how great they were.

Fast forward to this year and judging by the early 2018-19 Super Bowl Odds on this site you’ll be able to hear a pin drop IF and when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are brought up in conversation. These Bucs are not only irrelevant, they 62-1 long shots to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 53.

Yet according to ProFootball Focus’ Mike Florio in this NBC.com video, the Buccaneers entire coaching staff will enter the 2018 season already on the hot seat in a ‘Playoffs of Bust’ attitude that Bucs GM Jason Licht readily acknowledges.

Time to face facts, these Bucs are not only  irrelevant right now, but that’s probably a good thing for players who admittedly were listening too much to all the hype last year and fed into it. Last year’s Buccaneers were simply too young of a team to be ‘given’ another winning season without having to work for it.

That’s not to say there isn’t a buzz about the Bucs this year, its just all local. Local Tampa Bay fans are very excited about what on paper could be the best defensive line and wide receiver depth in many years. Having grabbed rookie Vita Vea early in the first round of the draft, and penning Jason Pierre-Paul & Vinny Curry and others in free agency, the defense is getting attention deserving of a unit that finished dead last in many metrics. And on offense, the Bucs are also hoping to get ahead with a running game reminiscent of when their last top 40 Running Back draft pick was taken in 2012 and 2015, the last year Tampa Bay received rushing deserving of a high draft pick.

But with all this to excite up the local fan base, why are no outsiders buying? Because Tampa Bay is the only team in the NFL that just so happens to be in the same division with not 1, not 2, but three playoff teams from 2017.

A quick look on Bucpower.com, and they’ve finished in the cellar of same division 6 of the last 7 years; Considering this franchise fires its Head Coach every 2-3 season, its not hard to see where Jason Licht gets Idealism: 2018 is a Playoffs or Bust campaign for Bucs coaches, and training camp opens with all of them on the hot seat.

 

With James Winston & Mike Evan’s mention in Top 25 on PFF, true potential of Bucs offense is realized.

Vinny was given the weight of the world on his shoulders, and no supporting cast.

As I await my 40th Tampa Bay Buccaneers season as a die hard fan, I can’t help but think back to all the times the Bucs were ‘on the verge’ of great offense; drafting a top notch QB like Vinny Testaverde, or Trent Dilfer, Two Ultra high draft picks thought to be can’t

While not considered great, Dilfer’s NFL career includes a Super Bowl win, and magical 1997 Bucs turnaround season.

miss. Yet a few years later, the Bucs were right back into the same mess, muddled in with the rest of the pack at 28th or 26th ranked on offense.

With Pro Football Focus naming  two Bucs players in its Top 25 under 25, it reminds me that the recent trend toward offense the Bucs have been enjoying, is not going to come to an abrupt end.

Think about the Bucs foundation:

From the start, Evans has dominated as a Buccaneer WR, he’s a fantasy elite player.

The Bucs have tried since forever to get a real 1st class Wide Receiving threat. More often than naught they would turn out to be Alvin Harpers, or Burt Emanuels. They never dreamed they would find one like Mike Evans: for 4 years Evans has been a Buccaneer, signing his second Buccaneers contract; he has NEVER had less than a 1000 yard receiving season; and he’s under the age of 25! The future looks so bright….

…because Evans has someone to throw him the ball with even more promise. Only just turned 24, Winston is eligible for this list next year too, a testament to how young Jameis Winson truly is.

But just being young doesn’t do anything for turning the luck of a franchise around. This does:

James Winston started his career with two 4,000 yard passing

For any knock you can find against Winston, you’ll have to be reminded hes still only 24.

seasons, and even last year with Winston missing 3 games, he still finished with just over 3500 yards!

All the numbers are on the rise for Winston. He plays the game on a different level, his love for competition is only superceeded by his love for football.

With an Offensive line being built in front of him, and the Bucs drafting a serious home run threat of a running back behind him, the future is….as Jon Gruden once said in a press conference… “so Bright, you have to wear shades”.

Already “On the Clock” themselves, HC Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht begin 2018 on a HOT SEAT; and drafted accordingly

Jason Licht probably had every Running Back, DL and DB lined up in order in his head well before the draft even started. Dirk Koetter and Licht both knew their respected positions in the TEAMS  future just the same: Starting the season in the hottest position possible after having been given a reprieve from their anti-climatic 9-7 to 5-11 free fall when franchise expectations were at the highest in years.

It was a given, there would be no trading up and giving up picks to get a kicker, not even close. For the record, the picking of Agquayo wasn’t completely without merit. He was the most accurate kicker in the history of NCAA football, for a major program in a conference that sends many players to the NFL, for a team with a history of losing games because of a bad kicker.

But the biggest problem with the move was the Bucs were more than just a Kicker away from turning their cellar dwelling around.  Far more than just one player at ANY position.

So Licht and Koetter deserve even more credit for this draft, because they could have played it SUPER SAFE and just took what they had available: #7, and #38… then the 4th round where you can still sometimes land a starter if your good.

Instead of staying put, they put their coaching lives on the line and gave up No. 7 to Buffalo who was ready to invest in a QB, exactly what the Bucs were hoping for, a desperate QB hungry team with extra picks to spare.

Now armed with 53 and 56 as well as 38, the Bucs took their prized RB, got a Corner they coveted and entered the 3rd round to get an offensive lineman they can groom. Looking at the draft, the talk for the Bucs was how to get a DL, RB, CB, or OL.

They got them all.

For Licht it makes up for a few mistakes made here and there, but overall Jason Licht has been a solid GM for Tampa Bay. Even the immortal Rich McKay made mistakes; more of a talent finder, less of a Dollars $ cents guy; Licht is more compared to his predecessor who was fired along with HC Raheem Morris.

But Morris wasn’t the problem, the Bucs failed Morris, Raheem did not fail Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers immediately went out and spent money in Free Agency as soon as Raheem was replaced, the GM who did the hiring and drafting and cut ties with Doug Williams, perhaps for the last time with the Tampa Bay organization…Mark Dominik held onto draft picks and free agency mistakes FAR, FAR too long.

Give credit where its due.. this regime cuts ties with players who are a wrong fits. And while it will be years before anyone can grade this 2018 draft.. the immediate effects are positive from Round 1 on.

Jason Licht’s 1st Round NFL Draft trade was greatest value swap of the day for Tampa Bay Buccaneer GM

It made up for the ‘moving up to draft a kicker’ fiasco that almost cost Jason Licht his job. Instead, Licht took an offer from the Bills to move down from 7 to 12 after the 3 best impact players Tampa Bay were interested in were all gone. For the 5 spots Buffalo moved up, it paid dearly, two prime 2nd round picks at NO. 53 and 56, giving the Bucs 4 potential starters for next year.

Here are some players taken aproximately between no. 50 to 70 over the last decade:

Alvin Kamara RB New Orleans, Ali Marpet OL Bucs, Tyler Lockett WR

Imagine getting a free Ali Marpet for getting the same player you wanted anyways

Seattle, Yanick Ngakoue DE Jacksonville (probowl) over the last 3 years.

 

In 2014 with time to develop, three WR were taken from 53-63; Devante Adams Green Bay, Allen Robinson KC, and Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins. In 2013 Travis

Of course it all relies on your GM finding a GEM. If todays pick turns out to be a Le’veon Belll

Kelce was taken with the 63rd pick in the 2nd round, the ultimate steal may be pick #48 Pittsburgh Steeler RB Le’veon Bell.

The NFL has a value system to the draft, and there are different ways of weighing that value. One of the most down to earth approaches is the money value system   that Chase Stewart created for Football Perspective. As reported by Tampa Bay Times staff writer Thomas Bassinger, the Bucs gave up $1.00 and got back $1.67, more value than any other draft drade on draft day #1.

Going back farther: Lavante David, Randall Cobb, Carlos Dunlap, Sean Lee, Golden Tate, LeSean McCoy, Calais Campbell. Or of course, it could turn into another Roberto “Oh No” Aguayo; Lets hope not for Jason Licht’s sake

PFF Mock Draft 5 could be silliest yet for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Make no mistake, secondary help is high on the Bucs needs and wants, but its not as high as some people think it is, and Ill go on record as saying the current group of Bucs DBs have not been given a fair test yet, and Ill tell you why.

As Great as Ronde Barber and Donnie Abraham/Brian Kelly were at corner, great as John Lynch and Dexter Jackson/Damien Robinson were at Safety; They may all have the nickname “Toast” applied to their names if not for Warren SAPP, Simeon RICE, Booger MCFARLAND and a host of other pass rushers that set an NFL record for consecutive games with a sack (it went on for seasons).

An edge rusher to go along with the return of a healthy Noah Spence could make all the difference in the Bucs secondary.

Those Bucs teams had opposing QBs with QB Ratings down in a barely usable level; because if the opposing QB was getting sacked, he was being hurried which caused more turnovers. It wasn’t a gimmick, it was fundamental football. No corner, not even a Reavis in his prime, can cover a WR for 6 seconds; The WR knows what he’s doing, the DB has to guess.

PFF has the Bucs taking Florida State Safety Kerwin James, who no doubt is going to have an electric career in the NFL. But in taking James the Bucs pass on Pressure from the outside in Bradley Chub, and RB Saquon Barkley. Notre Dame Guard Quenton Nelson goes 2 spots prior in this imaginary take.

Its been proven time and time again, drafting for need results in a future when people look back 5 years later (sometimes not that long) and say “wow, we could have had him” … and it was a player even  5 years prior everyone knew was going to be a stud.

The Bucs cannot afford to pass on one player that not a single poor word has been said about him; thats Guard Quenton Nelson. This is a chance for the Buccaneers to finally have an elite offensive line with two all pro guards, a stud at Center, a LT the team is sold on and a replacement for RT away from that dream.

Imagine Marpet and Nelson in a Bucs nasty interior Line that could rival any in the NFL.

Being 4 deep at Wide Receiver is impressive, have two unstoppable Tight Ends going out in routs is an amazing advantage. But having these and a QB who is given all day to stand in the pocket to make his choices, is the difference between a 9-7 team, and a potential Super Bowl  one.

The Bucs have addressed the deficiency on the Defensive Line by bringing in several free agent linemen, and Noah Spence returns to the fold. But add in Bradley Chubb to the opposite edge of Spence could make the Bucs current secondary players into household names like the list of Tony Dungy’s guys.

3 Signs Tampa Bay Bucs will do good in 2018; 3 reasons they might not

The 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season will be my 40th consecutive year following the Bucs as a diehard Bucs fan. And while one year may have little effect on another in the grand scheme of things, history repeats itself, and trends can give a lot of information if you look for it.

Here are three reasons why the Bucs can become a winning, in the playoff race in December football team in 2018…

…and 3 signs they may not.

NEGATIVE FIRST: 3 signs Bucs not ready to do what it takes in 2018

CLEVELAND SOUTH: Going into 2017 the Rams (32) and Jaguars were two of four teams with worst record over the last decade combined. Now its the Bucs and Brows, as the other two made the playoffs leaving the Buffalo Bills as NFL team with greatest Playoff drought. (not to forget the Bucs have gone 10-6 {2010} and 9-7 {2016} and missed tiebreakers each year.
Draft Party? Bucs have history of Draft Hangovers

Tampa Bay has only one starter left from the draft only 4 years ago. At a

Kenny Bell, one example of poor drafting done at one Buc over time.

time when a player should be becoming an NFL stud on pro bowl breakout player, the Bucs only have Mike Evans to show for 2014 draft. Charles Simms is on the bubble each year. 2016’s top pick Vernon Hargraves on shaky ground, and Noah Spence will hopefully be a repeat of Gerald McCoy who ended his first two seasons on IR but healthy ever since. Neither is a starter, and kicker Aquayo is out of the NFL. Bucs hope Ryan Smith or 2017’s Justin Evans will pan out as future secondary stars. Bucs need to hope 2018 draft will be a repeat of 2016 where Rd 1-4 are stars/starters.

HOME SOUR HOME- Bucs dont win where they’re supposed to.

Tampa Bay was 4-4 last year in home games, and after starting 0-4 in 2016 they ended up 4-4  then too. Going back three years they were 3-4 in Koetter’s first year as OC. The NFL standard is to go 6-2 at home, and break even on the road, which will put you at 10-6. Of course before the last three years the Bucs were 0-8 (2014), 3-5 (2013), 3-5 (2012) so they’re heading in the right direction, barely.

THEY GOT THE RIGHT STUFF BABY… 3 signs that point to WINS in 2018

Overall, its a positive 4 year trend for Dirk Koetter

2-14 in 2014 gives Bucs the No.1  pick and they take the single biggest player pick up in the last decade.

6-10 in 2015 wasn’t enough to save Lovie Smith’s job, but it saved Dirk Koetter as Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach.

9-7 Tampa Bay finally does it, and behind leadership of Jameis Winston has a winning season, missing playoffs by tie breakers.

OF course we know last year the Bucs fell to 5-11, but franchise QB Winston
missed 5 games with injury, which could have been less as the idea he was returned too soon has been discussed. Rather than hype the numerous close games the Bucs lost, its more important to look at the reasons they lost them, and how they’ve addressed them… so far.

KICKING- Single handedly cost Bucs the Patriots game and chance to go 3-1.

DEFENSIVE LINE- Bucs haven’t had a double digit sacker since Simeon Rice. Noah Spence may be healthy, but Bucs went out and got an endless motor in Jean Pierre Paul, and perhaps new blood in the draft.

OFFENSIVE LINE- Considered their strength (the Bucs won games with 3 of 5 starters on IR) but with a STUD at Center, Marpet back at guard, the Bucs may go over the top with another  STUD at Guard in the draft from Notre Dame.

James Winston  trending right direction.

Even though he missed 5 games, Winston continues to brake franchise records, taking over the Bucs media guide one page at a time. Prior to 2017, 4 was the most 300 yard games a Bucs QB had in a season. Vinny Testaverde did it twice (88,89) so did Doug Williams (80,81). Brad Johnson was the most recent with 4 in 2003. But Winston set the Bucs franchise record with  6x 300yd games, in spite of only playing in 11 (or 10 really).

The fact that Winston is only 24 years old, and already OWNS the NFL record for most TDs before the age of 24, is enough for me call him the greatest Buccaneer QB since Doug Williams, and he will probably surpass him soon. Its more than ability, and yes he has a way to go still;

  • calm down the passion during games so he doesn’t lose his head and hurt the team.
  • increase accuracy on deep balls

Winston is not fake, he really lives and breathes NFL Football; he is the undisputed leader of this football team, and over the next few years, the Bucs will go how Jameis Winston goes.

BAD YEAR ALWAYS FOLLOWS THE BREAKOUT SEASON, and comes before the real deal!

Its very common in sports to see a team come out of nowhere and have a great season… only to fall the next year causing many to question the legitimacy to begin with! But the good teams, they get over that poor year, learn from it, and come out better than ever in the 3rd season.

This has happened to the Bucs not once, but twice in their franchise history.

WORST TO FIRST: The NFL knew no losers like the 76-78 Buccaneers. But in 1979 the Bucs started out 5-0 and won their first division championship. They went to the playoffs, and won their first playoff game against Philadelphia Eagles, going to the NFC championship game in only their 4th year of existence. The next year they went 5-10-1, and the defense was a shell of the ’79 team. Still, coach John McKay saw the NFL going to a passing league, and adjusted his defense accordingly. The Bucs went 9-7 in 1981 and won the NFC Central division championship for 2nd of 3 years, and Bucs went to the playoffs 3 of 4 seasons.

Drafted #1 and #2 in 1995, perhaps the best draft in Bucs history to date. Will 2015 be remembered that way too?

DUNGY RESTORES LOST ART: after 14 double digit losing seasons, the Bucs new ownership hired  Tony Dungy to coach the Bucs. Concentrating on fundamentals and overcoming years of losing mentality wasnt easy, but in the second season, first in new PEWTER uniforms, Tampa Bay started out 5-0 in 1997 (same numbers as 1979!) and went 10-6 and a wild card birth, including a HOME PLAYOFF WIN over Detroit Lions for the first time since that 1979 playoff win. But the next season the Bucs started 3-4 and ended up going 8-8, the worst record under Tony Dungy.  The following year however, the team came back with a vengeance: 1999 was the year the Bucs won 6 games in a row, won the Division for the first time since 1981, and went to the NFC Championship where they shocked the greatest offense the NFL had ever seen, the St. Louis Rams holding them to one TD, scored with only 4 minutes to go ending Bucs season.

Both times, the Bucs were a YOUNG team, and were not able to handle the pressure of the expectations. Not only brought on by the fans who expected not only the SAME, but better; but by the media who called the Bucs the next best thing.

Sound familiar? Last year the Bucs heard about how great they were going to be every time they tuned a radio or TV station in. HBO put them on Hard Knocks, and the talk was, the Bucs were going to continue from their 9-7 record and get even better.   Clearly, it was too much to handle for a young team still learning how to win; But last year when the Bucs cost themselves a win vs Caroina due to a stupid offsides penalty by a player laughing it up after the game, the Bucs found their leadership in the locker room. Is it enough to get the team focused back on winning?

The draft is coming up.

Why were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers failing at practice?

 

To quote the immortal Allen Iverson “Practice… were talking practice.”, was his rant on how unimportant practice was to him.

Iverson played in only one NBA championship series, and has ZERO championships.

While Basketball differs from football in many ways, we all know in the NFL the way you practice is the way you play.

Last week JoeBucsFan.com’s Ira Kaufman let go on his podcast that before the Monday Night Game where Jon Gruden was entered into the Ring of Honor, a celebration night was held. Kaufman, who is a favorite of Gruden’s, asked the former Super Bowl champion if he saw the Bucs practice and what he thought of it.

“Awful”

Coach Dirk Koetter complained all preseason and training camp that the Bucs were not practicing up to par. Turns out many should have heeded the warnings, and not the built up expectations of the media based on last years results.

Of course when there is a bad practice, there is usually a distraction not that far behind it. What was last years big distraction? Its not too HARD to KNOCK down the door of a division champion… each year a few surprise teams are doing it. but you practice good, and during the camp/preseason days, more than a few reports were coming out about bucs  hamming it up to the cameras.

Next year, that won’t happen. It can’t happen, because in the NFL, ‘How you practice, is how you play’.

Was Chucky a target? We may never know, history will show passing on him as a good move

It was over 150 years ago when Lord Acton announced “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Not so much the corruption were  worried about, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a perfect example of how a head coach who is given ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY over an NFL franchise, tend to not coach long because it cant be done.

Wether its too many hats, or not enough time to go around, or the fact some people just cant pick the winners like some others. History shows us the best franchises have a separation of power: a General Manager who picks talent, and a Head Coach who takes care of the team given him.

Of course a successful team  will know how to make the two sides mesh well together, a GM who picks the right players for the Coach’s system, but who knows how to get good players.

Both GMs the Bucs had were terrible w/Gruden: Rich McKay could spot talent but it didnt always mix with Gruden’s system. Like picking  a left handed QB in Chris  Simms. Gruden will no doubt want to be the Boss, and his track record has shown  he’s not good as a talent picker.

If Gruden is paired with a strong GM who will yield to   Chucky’s  system knowledge but stand his own with his convictions on picks.

 

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