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September 20, 2013 @ 7:25 am
Current rating: 3.20 Stars/5 Votes

SR's Fab 5 - 9-20

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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How big of an impact has the Bucs LB corps made to start the 2013 season? Did the Bucs do the right thing in drafting SS Mark Barron instead of MLB Luke Kuechly? Should Tampa Bay activate Jeff Demps? Are the Bucs united despite a 0-2 start? Find out the answers in this edition of SR's Fab 5.
SR's Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:

While the Buccaneers’ 0-2 start to the 2013 season is wrought with disappointment already, the play of the team’s linebackers has played a huge part in the fact that Tampa Bay has only lost those two games by a combined three points. Through the first two weeks of the season, Tampa Bay’s linebacking corps has made just as many splash plays as the unit did in all of last year.

During the 2012 campaign, the Bucs linebackers collectively recorded four sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries through 16 games. Here’s the breakdown:

WLB Lavonte David – 2 sacks, 1 INT
MLB Mason Foster – 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FR
SLB Quincy Black – 1 FR

Black played just over half the year before a season-ending injury occurred against San Diego. Adam Hayward and Dekoda Watson, Black’s replacements, failed to record any turnovers or sacks.

In the first two weeks of the 2013 NFL season, Tampa Bay’s linebackers have already surpassed the number of splash plays and have 14 games to go. Here’s the breakdown:

WLB Lavonte David – 2.5 sacks, 1 INT
MLB Mason Foster – 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF
SLB Dekoda Watson – 1 sack, 1 INT
SLB Jonathan Casillas – 1 FF

The Bucs linebackers are off to an incredibly hot start with a combined 5.5 sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles already. Foster credits the tight bond between the linebackers for the sensational play to start the season.

“Me, Lavonte and Dekoda, we hang out all the time,” Foster said. “After practice all we do is talk about football. That’s how we hang out. We play video games, we talk about football and we talk about what [our opponent] is going to do. I feel like it’s helping us. The way that we’ve played has shown that us studying together is working. It’s pushing us. We’re pushing each other and competing. Dekoda got his pick [against New Orleans], and I said, ‘It’s about time I got myself a pick.’ Lavonte got his sack [against the Saints], and then we all were trying to get ours.”

Each of the three starting linebackers have made as many splash plays – or more – than they did a year ago.

“That’s one thing I’ve been working on during the offseason – learning even more about this defense so I can make more big plays,” David said. “I’ve been working on it in the offseason and it’s paid off. Hopefully it will carry on throughout the season.”

In the last seven games dating back to Tampa Bay’s 31-23 loss at Denver in 2012, David has recorded two interceptions and 4.5 sacks. In the first 11 games of his career David recorded neither.

The Bucs’ second-round pick in 2012 had a great season opener against New York with eight tackles, a sack and an interception before a huge mistake – a 15-yard personal foul for pushing Jets quarterback Geno Smith to the ground when he had stepped out of bounds – played a role in Tampa Bay losing that game to a late field goal. Like the pro that he is, David bounced back against New Orleans the next week with six tackles, 1.5 sacks and helping Foster tackle running back Mark Ingram at the goal line on fourth down just before halftime.

“Lavonte and I talk all the time,” Foster said. “That’s one of my best friends. We talk all the time about doing whatever we can to help the team win. If we make as many plays as we can and try to play lights out all the time we’ll give our team a good chance to win. Whether we are making tackles, rushing or covering, we have to make a play.

“It was crazy on that play. I knew Lavonte was going to make the play. I just had to go help and cap him off. I knew Lavonte was going to slow him down. I just had to cap him off. He and I have been working real well together and helping each other.”

And when Foster picked off Drew Brees in the fourth quarter and returned the pick 85 yards for a touchdown that gave Tampa Bay a 14-13 lead it was David that helped lead the way with a block on the quarterback.

“Lavonte made a great block,” Foster said. “I knew I had to stay on my feet no matter how tired I was. The whole defense was right there with me. I knew I could give the offense good field position.

“Lavonte is a great player and a great person. Anytime you lose – both of us take it really hard. He came out in practice really hard. We were in the film room a lot this week to make sure things like that don’t happen again. Even though I don’t think he was to blame in the first place, he took it tough and bounced back and showed he’s one of the main reasons why this team is the way that it is.”

Watson knows the Bucs linebackers are loaded with talent and are living up to their potential with the rash of big plays to start the season.

“We have a promising linebacker corps,” Watson said. “I’m not trying to brag on us or say we’re the best thing, but we have a lot of potential. We have to continue to work hard. We can’t let none of this stuff get to our head. We have to continue to make plays and stick together. We have to discipline ourselves because we are the quarterback of the defense when it’s all said and done.”

Although Watson gets the start at strongside linebacker, Casillas impressed enough in the preseason to warrant playing time. The two have combined for 11 tackles through the first two games, in addition to Casillas’ forced fumble and Watson’s sack and interception. Both strongside linebackers have every incentive to play well this season as they are in a contract year.

“It’s great problem for us to have,” David said. “Those guys complement each other, too. We have guys like that play hard down in and down out. Either one of them can do the job we need them to do.”

As well as the linebackers have played to start the season, this unit was on the field for the final minute of each of Tampa Bay’s two losses.

“We’re very close,” Watson said. “We can talk about how close we are all day, but if it doesn’t come true [with a victory] and we don’t make it happen, all of that is irrelevant. The ball can be on the 50 or the ball can be on the 1. We’re the defense and we’re supposed to stop them no matter what happens.”

For the most part, Tampa Bay’s improved linebacker corps has done it’s job in stopping opposing offenses.

Many Bucs fans and media members were aghast when Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik traded down with Jacksonville from the fifth overall spot to the seventh overall pick to select Alabama strong safety Mark Barron in 2012. The Bucs desperately needed help at cornerback, and with former LSU defensive backs coach Ron Cooper on staff, most believed Tampa Bay would draft Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne.

But when the Bucs traded down, Claiborne was selected next by Dallas, who traded up to No. 6 to draft him. The Bucs never wanted Claiborne, who had serious deficiencies in tackling, run support and his level of toughness. The next logical option on the board was middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, but the Bucs skipped over the Boston College tackling machine and opted for Alabama strong safety Mark Barron instead.

Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano wanted Barron over Kuechly for several reasons. The first of which was that Barron was a higher-rated player. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock loved Barron and called him a future Pro Bowler.

The second reason why Barron became a Buccaneer was that safety was a more pressing need. Sean Jones wasn’t re-signed and the loss of Tanard Jackson, who was waived by the team in the offseason, made the safety position so weak that cornerback Ronde Barber had to move to free safety from cornerback just to help out.

And finally, the Bucs decided not to draft Kuechly and choose Barron was because they believed in Mason Foster, who was entering his second year as Tampa Bay’s middle linebacker. Drafting Kuechly would have meant moving Foster, a third-round pick in 2011, to strongside linebacker where he would only play about 50 percent of the snaps because of all of the nickel and dime defense Tampa Bay plays, which takes a linebacker or two off the field.

So when Barron only had a handful of great performances last year as a rookie when he totaled 88 tackles, 10 pass breakups, one interception and one forced fumble, and Bucs fans watched Kuechly lead all rookies in tackles with 187 tackles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and nine passes defensed there were grumblings that Tampa Bay drafted the wrong guy.

Yet through the first two weeks of 2013, Barron’s play has grown by leaps and bounds, and the same could be said of Foster’s in Year Two of Schiano and Bill Sheridan’s defense. Barron has notched 17 tackles in two games to lead the Buccaneers, and has also produced half a sack and a pass breakup. Foster has been a playmaker, notching 15 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception that he returned 85 yards for a touchdown.

Through two games, Kuechly has 23 tackles and an interception, but made a costly pass interference penalty on third-and-6 with just 21 seconds left in Carolina’s 24-23 loss at Buffalo last week. The Bills were at the Panthers’ 31-yard line and Colin Jones had picked off rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, but a pass interference call on Kuechly moved the ball to the Carolina 11 and gave the ball back to Buffalo. Two plays later, Manuel threw the game-winning pass to Stevie Johnson for Buffalo’s comeback win.

Now Kuechly is a fine player, and has a future full of Pro Bowls. But if Barron continues to be a force in the secondary and Foster keeps making big plays, the Buccaneers’ decision to believe in Foster and draft Barron will be proven to be the correct one.

Last week saw the long-awaited arrival of Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps, who finally reported to the team after missing training camp and the preseason while running for the U.S. track and field team. Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano aptly referred to the Olympic silver medalist and former collegiate sprint champion as the fastest player in the NFL.

The Bucs were given a roster exemption to allow the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Demps to practice with the team and gauge his progress as he has been out of football for a year after being placed on injured reserve in New England last August. Now Tampa Bay will have to decide whether to activate the player they shipped LeGarrette Blount to New England for, or whether to release him with the hope of sneaking him onto Tampa Bay’s practice squad. Even though he is admittedly not ready to play yet and is still rusty, Demps wouldn’t clear waivers.

“It takes time for it all to come back,” Demps said. “I’ve still got a lot of rust on me. As each day goes on I’m just getting a little bit better.”

There is enough intrigue in a speedster like Demps, who runs a 4.2 in the 40-yard dash and had a successful career as a running back at Florida for several teams to put in waiver claims for him should the Bucs release him. The idea of putting Demps on the practice squad is a good one, as he served as a great stunt double for New Orleans’ Darren Sproles on the scout team for the Bucs defense.

In fact, Demps took one run 40 yards to the house and blew by all 11 Bucs defenders in practice.

“He outraced the whole defense,” said Bucs free safety Ahmad Black. “It was a realistic play and he just outran everybody. He gave us a great look and that’s what he’s here for. I’m happy he’s out here with us. He’s a talented guy.

“I’ve played with him for a few years at Florida. Ever since I’ve known him he’s always done what is asked of him. He always tries his best to help the team.”

While he gets back into football shape, Demps loves being a part of the team and helping Tampa Bay’s offense and defense prepare.

“Practice has been going pretty good,” Demps said. “I’ve been learning on the run. Doing a lot of scout team stuff and getting our defense and offense a good look.”

Demps finished as Florida’s eighth-leading rusher with 2,470 yards on 367 carries, a 6.7 average, and 23 touchdowns on the ground. As a receiver out of the backfield, Demps caught 57 passes in his career for 481 yards, an 8.4 average.

“He’s not a track guy playing football, he’s a football guy running track,” Black said. “You don’t lose football. He may be a little rusty, but he hasn’t lost it. He shouldn’t take him too long to get back into football shape.”

Will the Bucs be patient? The team lost defensive tackle Derek Landri for several weeks with a torn MCL in his knee, but will keep him on the roster and await his return rather than place him on injured reserve. The team is also without cornerback Michael Adams for several weeks due to a knee injury, and tight end Tom Crabtree for at least another week due to a high ankle sprain. Can the Bucs afford to keep a rusty Demps on the 53-man roster even though he is still learning the playbook?

The answer is yes. Demps can help the punt rush unit, in addition to the return game on special teams. Tampa Bay will have to release a player in order to make room for Demps on the roster, and that player might be backup running back Peyton Hillis, who is very inexperienced on special teams and hasn’t covered kicks and punts since high school.

While Tampa Bay has plenty of weapons, including wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, in addition to running back Doug Martin, adding a player that has the speed to go the distance on any play could only help the Bucs’ struggling offense.

“I’ve never played with or against anyone faster than [Demps],” Black said. “Not at all. It’s not even close. I can’t wait to see him get out there for us.”

Bucs general manager Mark Dominik would be wise to keep the player he has been after for well over a year now that he has him on the roster.

Tampa Bay has had a horde of headlines during the first two weeks of the NFL season – but for all the wrong reasons. There have been stories about the Bucs’ players-only meeting prior to the start of the season, a supposed tampering of the captaincy vote, Josh Freeman potentially seeking a trade and Darrelle Revis supposedly being unhappy with how he’s being used in Greg Schiano’s defense.

There have been reports, such as this one and this one on PewterReport.com, stating how the team doesn’t favor Schiano’s hard-line coaching style and how there has been a disconnect between the coaches and the Bucs players.

There have been reports, such as this one in the Tampa Tribune, second-guessing Schiano’s end-of-game coaching decisions – a problem that has dated back to last year with the former Rutgers head coach. The Tampa Bay Times has had plenty of them, too.

There have been reports, such as this one on ESPN.com, about how Schiano is ruining Freeman.

Folks – despite the denials by Schiano, Freeman and Revis – where there is smoke there is fire. And there is plenty of smoke coming out of One Buccaneer Place right now.

To their credit, the Buccaneers players are united and there is no finger-pointing in the locker room. How could there be? Despite solid play by the defense, it has been that unit on the field in the last minute of the team’s first two losses of the season – even though Freeman has underwhelmed and the offense’s scoring and yardage production has hurt the team. A stop or a turnover by the defense and the Bucs could be 2-0.

“I’m not going to sit here and point fingers [at the offense],” Bucs linebacker Dekoda Watson said. “When it’s our time to step on the field we have to go out there and make sure we perform to the best of our abilities. There’s nobody that we can point our fingers. We just have to continue to ball.”

Tampa Bay middle linebacker Mason Foster agrees with his teammate.

“It’s tough – anytime you lose it’s tough, especially when you lose like that,” Foster said. “We have to keep playing and keep pushing and making sure the games aren’t that close at all. When you have it right there and let it go – it’s tough.”

To his credit, Schiano has done a good job of keeping his team focused on beating the next opponent, evidenced by how hard the team played and competed against both New York and New Orleans.

“People are going to talk about you whether it’s good or bad,” Watson said. “People are going to try to tear you apart. People are going to get inside your head. At the same time, we can control what we can control – the locker room, how we communicate and just focus on ourselves. That’s the biggest thing – just focus on ourselves.”

Bucs wide receiver Mike Williams is among those players keeping the faith that the team’s close losses will quickly turn into victories as the season progresses.

“When you put in all that work in the offseason and you have two immediate losses, it’s frustrating,” Williams said. “It kind of hurts. When you think about how the losses were and how we got there … we were up. We were up in the final seconds of each of those games. We’re right there. That’s a good sign for us.”

Schiano has also emphasized over and over again that the Bucs players are beating themselves with 23 penalties for over 200 yards combined in the first two games of the season.

“We’ve got a lot of talent on our team, but at the same time there were a lot of mistakes that were made,” Watson said. “We’ve got a great team, but everything looks good on paper until you step out on the field. When you beat yourself it’s very discouraging. We have to continue to stick together and work hard.”

Schiano hasn’t lost the team yet. It’s still early in the season despite a 0-2 record and the fact that only 12 percent of the teams that have started off the season with two losses and no victories have made the postseason since the 1990s.

But if Tampa Bay can’t win at New England, which will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola the team will fall to 0-3 on the season and the heat on Schiano will grow even hotter. A loss to Arizona the next week would produce a 0-4 record, a potential change at quarterback to rookie Mike Glennon if Freeman continues to struggle, and a possible mutiny in Tampa Bay against Schiano.

At that point in time, the Bucs would be 1-9 in their last 10 games under Schiano, and that would be absolutely unacceptable – no matter how close the losses are. In order to salvage the season, and Schiano’s job, the Bucs need to be 2-2 at the bye week. And that means an upset against the Patriots.

FAB 5. Here are a couple of things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab:

• The Bucs are off to a good start in terms of tackles for loss again this season. Through two games, Tampa Bay has recorded 11 tackles for loss, which led by linebacker Lavonte David’s three. David led the team last year with 20 tackles for loss. The Bucs set a team record with 104 tackles for loss in 2012, but are on pace for just 88 this season.

Yet Tampa Bay is ahead of pace in terms of sacks and forced fumbles in 2013. The Bucs had just 27 sacks a year ago, but are tied for the team lead with nine entering Week 3. That puts the Bucs on track to record 72 sacks, but getting 4.5 sacks per game is a very unrealistic pace. In fact, the Bucs would be thrilled if they had half that number, as 36 sacks would be a welcome improvement over a year ago.

Tampa Bay had 10 forced fumbles a year ago, and already has three through two games. That puts the Bucs on pace for 24 this year, which is a highly unlikely number to finish with, but it would set a new franchise record.

• What type of effect is new Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis having on defense against opposing offenses? Consider that through the first two weeks of the season quarterbacks have attacked the Bucs defense with tight ends and not wide receivers. In the season-opening loss at New York, the tight ends – led by Kellen Winlsow – caught eight passes for 86 yards and a touchdown, while the wide receivers combined to catch 11 passes for 114 yards.

Against New Orleans, Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham caught 10 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, while the Saints receivers combined to catch six passes for 88 yards. Through two games, tight ends have accounted for 18 receptions for 267 yards and a touchdown, while receivers have been held to 17 catches for 202 yards and no touchdowns. Revis has played a big role in shutting down opposing receivers and leads the Bucs with three passes defensed through two games.

• One player that was rumored to be on the Bucs’ radar prior to the 2013 NFL Draft was Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. However, PewterReport.com has learned that Tampa Bay had very little interest in him. In fact, the Bucs didn’t even have a mid-first-round grade on him.

Carolina drafted Lotulelei, who was once considered to be a top 5 draft prospect, with the 14th overall pick in the draft, so now he’s playing for Tampa Bay’s division rival. With seven tackles to start his NFL career, the jury is still out for Lotulelei. He’s shown he’s a good run defender, but can he rush the passer? The Bucs will find out twice this season in person.

• It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Ronde Barber’s 92-yard interception return for a touchdown against Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2002 NFC Championship Game, but Tampa Bay middle linebacker Mason Foster did his best Barber impersonation on Sunday during his pick-six, which he returned 85 yards against New Orleans. Like Barber did to McNabb by faking blitz and then stepping into the passing lane and picking off a pass intended for Antonio Freeman, Foster baited Brees into throwing his way.

“I had the coverage on that,” Foster said. “I started on the line, so I knew Brees might not see me. I know from the game last week they had seen me pass rush a lot and I was rushing a lot earlier in the game. I knew that he wasn’t going to see me drop in coverage and I knew that he was looking for Jimmy Graham. I tried to make a play and he threw it right to me.”

• Count New England head coach Bill Belichick as a big fan of Tampa Bay’s linebacker corps. During a press conference this week, the future Hall of Fame head coach heaped praise on Dekoda Watson, Lavonte David and Mason Foster.

“Their linebackers are fast, too,” Belichick said. “Dekoda Watson and David, and of course, Foster. Those guys are all very active. They pursue well. Their safeties are like linebackers. They’re fast and they close down those spaces. I think that’s what you see. You see an opening it looks like the back is going to gain some yards and all the sudden it’s second-and-8. Then there are other plays and they knife into the backfield and it’s second-and-13. Those holes don’t stay open very long.”

Last modified on Friday, 20 September 2013 11:05

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  • avatar

    Quote from: Boid Fink on Today at 04:34:46 PM It's all made up by the media. Everything is hunky dory you fuggin imbeciles !! They are all "in". It starts with our dumb *censored* coach. Our loser sissy QB who is a fukkin loser. Clear house tonight! 0-16 from all this payout!? Schiano is a busted worthless gap toothed dumbass. And Freetard should play in route 81. ----------------- You ever visit your site's website to see what people post without moderation?
  • avatar

    Pinkstob: Smoke before the fire in your analogy is so eloquently stated and in part I agree. You are not understanding the context of what is being stated. If you are going to present the smoke as you call it it should be articulated that way. Instead all the "smoke" is pure speculation with a distinct conclusion. We all know there is "something" but to what end? If winning cures all then what is so different about this being any 0-2 team with a sub par QB at this point? Many times "smoke" is created for the purpose of ratings or a story and if you do not see that then I applaud your view and wish you well. By the way, I thoroughly enjoy SR's articles and will continue to be a subscriber. I don't however, have to agree all the time with how it is presented.
  • avatar

    The thing I like about the NFL is that the best play....or coach. If you can't play or coach well enough, you get cut. This team has no excuses and neither does the coaching staff. I like the fact that PewterReport gives us their viewpoint and not the teams standard reply.
  • avatar

    I think it is B.S. that Schiano is getting all of this heat. I respect the guy for taking the heat and the blame. The players should recognize this. Coaches coach and players play. It would be foolish of the Bucs to change coaches. This would mean a change in offensive coordinators as well. That would totally screw up Freeman. The coach didn't commit all of those stupid penalties. Someone in the organization, hint, hint - Glazers, needs to come out and support the coach. Give this guy another 2-3 years and then let's talk. The problem isn't Schiano.
  • avatar

    Eric Paige is not awful awful but he's not that great either. If Demps can be a superstar return guy its worth it to put Eric on PC. IF you don't want to lose him, give him a min contract. I have a feeling that we're going to beat the Patriots this week. Silly right?
  • avatar

    Dumping Hillis to keep Demps would be a dumb move by Dominik imo. Page is a perfectly good returner, and Hillis can serve well as Martin's replacement in case of injury or even for a few carries to change the pace and give overused Martin a break. Hillis is a better blocker than 5'7" Demps would ever be.
  • avatar

    Once again I rarely make predictions but we are beating the pats this weekend
  • avatar

    ColoradoBuc - Actually, the Bucs did trade RB LeGarrette Blount for Jeff Demps. He wasn't an afterthought, although that's what the Bucs said at the time. The truth is that Mark Dominik didn't want to make it seem like they were trading for Demps – just in case he didn't report to the Bucs and wanted to continue track so he wouldn't look bad. The Bucs have been after Demps since the summer of 2012 and lost out on signing him to New England. I know they wanted the sixth-round pick to draft RB Mike James, but they really wanted the rights to Demps on draft day, too. buddah - I have no vendetta or personal beef with Greg Schiano and I don't want to see him fired. Neither I nor PewterReport.com is on any kind of a witch hunt. But when a team is 1-7 in its last eight games after starting off 6-4, the Bucs are going the wrong way and that's the facts. I have to point those out or I'm not doing my job.
  • avatar

    Really, Scott, why don't you stick to the football stuff and skip all the drama. Schiano is not going anywhere and you know it, though you might like to see him forced out. That was the best defensive performance in the past five years at least. the team is playing hard on both sides of the ball. The offense has been set back by the loss of Nicks and Crabtree. The team still has some holes. I will be shocked if they don't play the Patriots tough, though Brady has only lost 12 games in Foxboro in all these years, so they are up against it. A season is not the first four games. The media built up such high and unrealistic expectations before training camp even began. This is a defense with five new starters and an offense with two key offensive lineman who have never never started a game together. The jury is out on Schiano but I've seen nothing to suggest that the team isn't listening to him, that players hate him, or that they are on the verge of a mutiny. The media basically are easy dupes. After week 1, they had Chip Kelly annointed the best coach in the NFL. Now after he falls to earth, what are they saying. Apparently, there are locker room issues in Philadelphia.
  • avatar

    SR - a comment on Fab 3, para 2: Demps was NOT " the player they shipped LeGarrette Blount to New England for." There was a draft pick involved and Demps was an afterthought. Please don't try to make me belive that the Bucs wanted Demps all along.
  • avatar

    Very good article Scott. There is positives to look at and I believe that is why some fans like me are bothered by what has happened to the Offense so far. Here I thought that our older/mature Offense this year would have to help the younger/inexperience Defense, and what has happened so far? Our Defense is playing very good and our Offense is playing not so good and our passing offense stinks. I believe that this is a winnable game and hopefully we get our time/game management under control. This is way too talented of a team not to still go 8-8 or even 9-7. We may have been expecting too much so soon from Schiano, but if Freeman doesn't pick it up in the next few games he surely will not be here next season. Lets all hope that Freeman steps up and also our WR's prove why they are being paid so much. Go Bucs! The time is now!
  • avatar

    EastEndBoy - Thanks for your kudos, but just to clarify, Tanard Jackson was released on April 10, which was before the 2012 Draft and before the team selected Mark Barron. The Bucs were pondering moving Ronde Barber to safety in the offseason, but that didn't happen until April or May during the OTAs. Ahmad Black barely played as a rookie as he was on the practice squad for the start of the 2011 season. He only had a couple of tackles and a FR as a rookie and was largely an unproven commodity. seanryan32 - Thank you for your compliments. Keep in mind that the Bucs are 1-7 in their last eight games. What if the Bucs were to start off the season 1-7? It's kind of the same thing as 1-7 is 1-7 – especially with a team this talented. Raheem Morris' teams didn't have all this talent. Mike Mularkey got fired after just one season, and there are plenty of coaches that have been fired after two seasons. I hope Greg Schiano isn't one of them, but they better win soon. If the Bucs are 0-4 at the bye week they'll be 1-9 in the last 10 games. That's pretty damning.
  • avatar

    I tip my hat to you sir...TJax two-weeks ahead of the draft (whadda ya know)...well then I guess there wasn't much across the defensive board to be "un-hole-like". I just recall yelling at the TV when the name Barron came out instead of Keuchly...but it's hard to be too upset. Apologies for my mistake...
  • avatar

    Scott, another great article and it is great to have a friend that knows what he is talking about Buc football. I hope our team can greatly reduce the dumb mistakes and then we will start wining games. I am impressed with the defense and as the offense improves we will be a division contender.
  • avatar

    Scott - I always look forward to your Fab 5 articles as they have the best insight and inside scoop. Likewise for much of PewterReport's content - keep up the good work. But I must disagree with your 'win now or else' stance for Schiano and staff. When was the last time this team has won a playoff game? I believe our Super Bowl year of 2002 - that was 11 years ago. Have the Bucs gone anywhere? Has RJS burnt down? Sure, we are not in the glory days we not too long ago experienced - but the Bucs and the NFL continue - and a lot of fans still pay to go to the games. I didn't know that much about Schiano before he arrived - but he seemed to bring stability to the Team when is was very much needed. In today's world of work some place for two years then move on - Schiano seemed to be a refreshing change of pace. Here's a guy who built a program to respectibility and also left the cupboard full - Rutgers future as a relevant program is secure with their entry into the Big 10 next year. I've watch a lot of Schaino's press conferences - from the little bit of reading between the lines I can do...he seems like a man of principle and conviction. He seems like someone concerned with building a Champion for the long term. With all due respect Scott - please don't loose the forest for the trees with Schiano. In my opinion, writing things like there might be "possible mutiny in Tampa Bay against Schiano" is irresponsible. I'm not suggesting to be critical where it's deserved - but to start planting the seed to run Schanio out on a rail after 18 games is out of bounds given the other positive things it seems he has done for our franchise.
  • avatar

    Mason Foster is outstanding this yr so far he is all over the field and making plays we have a strong nucleus of talent on this roster now we just need a coach and a qb them we will be in contention, I look for Schiano to be fired after the season and replaced by Dave Wanstedt hopefully we can draft a proven college qb in Bridgewater, manziel or McCarron
  • avatar

    I agree Pinkstob! Shakespeare's Hamlet Act I, Scene 4: Marcellus (not Bennett or Wiley) says "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" having just seen the ghost of Hamlet's father, the late king of Denmark. As a metaphor, the phrase has been shortened today as “Something is rotten in Denmark”. The phrase means "things are unsatisfactory; there is something wrong." You can tell it’s a slow Friday afternoon. lol
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    Beautiful article Scott. Thanks for sharing.
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    Thanks Scott - I appreciate your and PR's work in general. On FAB 1 - yes our LBs are playing well, apart from coverage (particularly over the middle) which I wouldn't call great at the moment. FAB 2 - here's where I have some issues...1) yes Mayock loved Barron but name a guy Mayock hasn't loved; 2) some had Barron higher but many had Keuchly higher; 3) safety was not a more pressing need when they chose Barron - in fact they still had TJax (only cut later that year) and had A Black (who is seeing significant playing time now) as well as Barber, while at LB we had only Foster who was arguably playing out of position (and Q Black who was under performing). David was drafted later in the draft to fill a LB need. 4) as I said, they could have drafted Keuchly for MB and put Foster back to WL where he played at Washington (and then chosen a safety in round 2). I am not saying I am unhappy with the David pick (a guy I persoanlly flipped over when we traded up and chose him), it's just that the story isn't quite right the way you wrote it. FAB 3 - agree, it would be silly to lose him now. Fab 4 - just win so we can all forget about these stories please! Fab 5 - a) perhaps Star dropped for us because we had so many injury cases, did we really want to take a chance on his health too; b) Foster was in coverage on his INT but let's be honest my gandma could have made that pick...I like Foster too, but it's not liek he stepped in front of a WR and out-manned him for the ball or something....but I would love to see that this weekend...so go Foster and GO BUCS!
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    I dont think there is as much turmoil as it seems- however i would agree that we have the worst starting TE and slot reciever I have ever seen play in the NFL in my life. Stocker is horrible, doug martin chips d-linemen more effieciently than stocker blocks linebackers. Freeman desperately needs a checkdown receiver, he's forcing the ball to Vjax. I say remove the TE from the offense and use multiple H-backs or FB's until crabtree gets back. Schiano is starting to pi$$ me off. Every week he incites more drama about something negligible and Freeman always tends to be on the recieving end and he's essentially defenseless- the only weapons he has to work with are Vjax, Mike williams, and doug. Why is schiano starting carimi over jarmon meredith at OG? meredith is a BEAST of a man and paved running lanes all of last year after nicks was done. Carimi is in better with schiano and the o-line coach he played for in college- meredith missed a few OTA's and they put him on the trading block. Carimi is fat and weak, he's no offensive guard. When schiano released najee goode I was not happy- that kid is gonna be a player in 1-3 years. Good thing we have Tim wright and shephard on our roster- they catch alot of passes (sarcasm-0 combined). The only thing saving schiano's *censored* right now is the leadership of the players on his defense. Dashon goldson and revis are looking like stellar signings while the linebacking corps is IMO the best in the NFL for 4-3 defenses.
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    I don't know if anyone can really blame this one on the media. PR is saying they smell smoke and some of you are asking for the fire as proof. You don't need to prove the presense of fire to validate smoke in an area. You just need a nose, eyes or both. Many of us fans were the ones saying we smell smoke just based on what we saw in the preseason. PR was one of the media outlets that was saying "All is well, it's just the preseason". It wasn't until the regular season started that PR agreed with what many fans had been saying all along, "Something stinks"! So the media isn't leading this charge. The fans see things are wrong on the field that used to be right so something's different and the media is just reporting what their noses smell.
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    Nice post. I agree that is the order in which all this unfolded.
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    Garv- Well said. It is a shame that most fans are led like cattle and believe all that the media tells them. Almost all media information is speculation at best or even if it isn't the media just says: "trust me". Things are probably a little shaky in locker room but to what extend, who knows? Schiano has just started his 2nd season on a team that was in complete disarray under Raheem. The Bucs are better and if Schiano is making mistakes I believe he will learn to correct them just like Tom Caughlin did. At least he had a good QB. GO Bucs!!
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    A lot of good stuff in in this Fab 5 SR and I'm glad you put in out early this Friday. Fab 1 - I'm so proud of this LB core! Keep it up this year Foster, you always look good the first 2 weeks. Fab 2 - You make a good point SR. I'm on the fence on which I would rather have. Foster limits our ability to play the Tampa 2. We can only play it in the red zone since he doesn't have to drop far and he still gets beat. Time will tell. Fab 3 - Agreed! P. Hillis will definitely get picked up by someone, but he's just Dougie insurance. Hopefully Dougie will stay healthy. Fab 4 - I agree where there is smoke there is fire. But we don't know what's really going on so in the meantime we can only hope the Bucs start finding ways to win, then it won't matter. Fab 5 - Great info SR.
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    I think the Bucs are going to keep Demps. If the recovery period for Landri and Adams is not too long, they will not be put on IR as they are both needed on the defense. The one time IR for a player to return has been used on Gorrer. I think keeping Demps puts Peyton Hillis on the bubble as he was on the inactive list for the Saints game. If he is on the inactive list for the Pats game I think he's a goner. The Browns need RBs now and with a new administration there now maybe Dominik can mend fences and make a trade. I almost forgot, The Steelers need a RB too. OK Dom, work your magic. lol
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    So basically you're saying if the Bucs don't beat the Patriots in New England in two days, Coach Schiano will be fired? "In order to salvage the season, and Schiano’s job, the Bucs need to be 2-2 at the bye week. And that means an upset against the Patriots." Unbelievable. But given the Glazers firing of Jon Gruden because "they were listening to the fans" who made the mistake of listening to the freaking media, you may get your wish. I'm very disappointed in how this is playing out. It's just wrong.
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    I would like to add the Mike Mayock called Barron the best non-qb (Luck and RGIII) player in the draft. I thought drafting Barron was a great move. Claiborne is still over rated. Especially if Jerry Jone likes him. Scott, great article!
  • avatar

    There are a lot of bad things you can say about the Bucs so far this season, but the defense is not one of them. There is no doubt that this defense is playing a lot better. I do not know whether it is Schiano can coach a defense or is that Revis really is that good. Regardless of how well the defense is playing, the offense is just downright awful. This season is starting to look like the Dungy years where the defense is playing above expectations and the offense is led by a quarterback that has all the potential to be a pro bowl quarterback, but for whatever reason just cannot put it together. Oh well, it looks like another disappointing season for Bucs fans :(
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