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January 12, 2014 @ 2:57 pm
Current rating: 3.00 Stars/2 Votes

2014 Buccaneers Position Outlook, Unit Grades

Written by Mark
Cook
Mark Cook

Mark
Cook

Editor-In-Chief E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Which Tampa Bay units graded out the highest in 2013? What is the outlook for next season at every position? Find out as PewterReport.com dishes out the season-ending grades for Tampa Bay’s offense, defense and special teams and and an early preview of 2014.
Pewter Report’s Mark Cook takes a look back at Tampa Bay’s 2013 season and grades the performances of the team’s offensive, defensive and special teams units and offers up an early season outlook for each Buccaneers unit.

QUARTERBACKS
2013 GRADE = C-
A season that started with promise, turned into a total disaster in Tampa Bay, and a lot of that can be attributed to the quarterback play in 2013. Incumbent starter Josh Freeman, who set franchise records just the year before, was expected to improve and help lead the Buccaneers to the playoffs in his second season in the Mike Sullivan-designed offense. But after three weeks of sub-par play, controversy and national headlines, Freeman was benched, and then released, leaving the starting job to third-round rookie Mike Glennon.

Glennon’s play was a mixed bag of looking comfortable and in command at times, but every bit of that of a rookie at other times. Glennon's 19:9 TD to INT ratio was impressive and he set numerous Bucs rookie records, but there are still as many question marks as there are answers as the Bucs head into the offseason. Many things contributed to the 4-12 season, including the lackluster play of the quarterbacks at times.

For the season the Buccaneers quarterbacks finished with 3,181 yards on 291-of-541 passing and 22 touchdowns to go along with 12 interceptions.

2014 OUTLOOK: The new coaching staff and management are still in the evaluation process of the incumbent Glennon. Word from Bucs sources at the East-West Shrine Game and at the Senior Bowl is that Glennon can fit nicely in new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford's system, which demands a strong arm, accuracy and high football I.Q. The Bucs will need to add some additional competition at the position as they currently have just Jordan Rodgers under contract. If the Bucs end up determining Glennon is the guy in 2014, they could look to the free agent market or target a developmental guy in the mid-to-late rounds in the upcoming draft. If not, the Bucs may draft a quarterback with a premium pick in May.

RUNNING BACKS
2013 GRADE = C
Starter Doug Martin was looking to improve on his 1,454-yard and 11 rushing touchdown breakout season in 2013, but never seemed to get on track early and was injured Week 6 at Atlanta. Martin was later placed placed on injured reserve and had shoulder surgery. He finished the season with 456 on 127 carries and one touchdown.

The Buccaneers rushing attack didn’t take a dramatic nose dive initially, as sixth-round draft pick Mike James came in and averaged 4.9 yards per carry in relief before also being bitten by the injury bug in Tampa Bay’s first win of the season against the Miami Dolphins on November 11 in front of a nationally-televised audience on Monday Night Football.

After James went down, the Buccaneers turned to free agent running back Bobby Rainey who responded well and finished the season with a team-high 532 on 137 carries (3.9 avg.) and five touchdowns on the ground to go along with one TD reception.

Veteran Brian Leonard filled in primarily as the Buccaneers third-down back and added 182 yards on 47 carries. Leonard also had 29 receptions for 179 yards.

2014 OUTLOOK: With Martin and James expected back fully healthy in time for a majority of the offseason workouts it appears the Buccaneers are set up well at the running back position for 2014. In addition to Martin and James, Rainey will be back along with Michael Smith, who spent the entire season on injured reserve. If Jeff Demps is available for a full football season, and healthy, there will be some tough choices to be made come late August when Lovie Smith and his staff have to finalize the 53-man roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS
2013 GRADE = C-
Like the running backs, the receiver position took a big hit when Mike Williams found his way to injured reserve after suffering a hamstring tear that required season-ending surgery. Prior to being placed on injured reserve Williams had just 22 receptions for 216 yards and two scores after signing a big contract extension.

One big bright spot offensively was Vincent Jackson, who for a second consecutive season, went over 1,000 yards (1,224) and set a personal best with 78 catches, while also hauling in seven touchdown receptions. Jackson wasn't perfect, suffering a number of drops, but many of those were the result of Jackson trying to make a play before securing the ball.

The third receiver spot was a disappointment for the Buccaneers as they started the season with Kevin Ogletree in that role before releasing him early in the season. Tiquan Underwood was re-signed after being cut after the preseason and played decent, nabbing 24 catches for 440 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Underwood still had issue with drops and separating from defenders, which is something that has followed him throughout his career.

Skye Dawson, Eric Page, Chris Owusu managed just 19 receptions combined and never showed much in terms of development throughout the season.

2014 OUTLOOK: Sources told PewterReport.com at the Senior Bowl that the new staff is excited to find ways to utilize Jackson in Tedford's offense. But other than Jackson there are several question marks, including if Williams rebounds from a poor 2013 season and if his head is in the right place to excel. Williams' off-field shenanigans were something that was extremely concerning to the previous staff, and it will be interesting to see how Smith and new general manager Jason Licht will handle it. There is no question the Buccaneers need to add speed and athleticism to the wide receiver corps. Will it come via free agency or will the Bucs look to add some playmakers, such as Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, in the NFL Draft?

TIGHT ENDS
2013 GRADE = C
The tight end position also failed to escape injury problems, as projected starter Tom Crabtree was hurt in the Buccaneers final preseason game against the Redskins and never made an impact after returning, before ultimately being placed on injured reserve midway through 2013.

In Crabtree’s absence the Buccaneers did manage to find a diamond in the rough with converted receiver to tight end Tim Wright. Wright, an undrafted free agent, came on midway through the season and ended the year as the team’s second leading receiver with 54 receptions for 571 and five scores.

Nate Byham contributed just three receptions for the Buccaneers in 2013 before being placed on injured reserve, and Luke Stocker missed the whole season and has been a bust thus far.

2014 OUTLOOK: Say what you want about Greg Schiano and his influx of Rutgers players, but you can't argue that he nailed the Wright acquisition. Wright was converted from wide receiver to tight end and exceeded everyone's expectations. Stocker is still under contract, but it appeared the previous staff were ready to move on from the former Tennessee tight end. Can the new staff get anything out of Stocker to justify his fourth-round selection in 2011? The Buccaneers will need to address the position before training camp and could look to sign some help in free agency. Licht's former team, the Arizona Cardinals have some options with Jeff King and Kory Sperry in free agency. Both would be better blockers, and King has had some good NFL production as a pass catcher.

OFFENSIVE LINE
2013 GRADE = D

What was expected to be one of, if not the strongest unit on the team, the Bucs offensive line was easily the most disappointing. Things started poorly with starting left guard Carl Nicks being diagnosed with MRSA prior to the start of the season, then after returning, ended up on injured reserve for the second season in a row with a recurrence of the MRSA. In two seasons with Tampa Bay, Nicks has started just nine games for Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers tried a number of combinations to replace Nicks including Gabe Carimi, Jamon Meredith, Jeremy Zuttah and Ted Larsen. Meredith ended up playing the most games at guard before fading down the stretch and eventually losing the starting job by Week 17.

Starting left tackle Donald Penn had the worst season of his career, although some of his less-than-stellar play can be attributed to the musical chairs at the guard position.

One bright spot was right tackle Demar Dotson who started all 16 games for the Buccaneers, and while he may not be looking at a Pro Bowl any time soon, certainly outplayed the other members of the offensive line including center Jeremy Zuttah, who was inconsistent at times.

2014 OUTLOOK: It is hard to imagine this underperforming unit not undergoing some sort of overhaul. Donald Penn and Davin Joseph both had subpar 2013 seasons and are set to command salaries between $6-7 million in 2014. Both could very well be back, but may not at their current-slated salaries. The odds of Carl Nicks returning aren't great although the Bucs most likely will do their best to get him on the field it at possible with the guaranteed money he will be paid in 2014. While most are expecting the Buccaneers to take a defensive player with the No. 7 pick in the draft, don't be surprised to see an offensive lineman's name called in the first round.

DEFENSIVE LINE
2013 GRADE= B-
With the Buccaneers organization allowing Michael Bennett to walk in free agency, the starting job was handed to Da’Quan Bowers who admittedly wasn’t in shape when training camp began. Bowers (seven tackles, one sack) was never able to beat out Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (15 tackles, one sack) and eventually gave up snaps to rookie William Gholston (31 tackles, two sacks) late in the season. The gamble to not re-sign Bennett was a big mistake and will be something the Buccaneers will most likely need to address via free agency or the draft this offseason.

Tackle Gerald McCoy made another huge leap in production from his previous Pro Bowl season and almost doubled his sack production, finishing the season with nine QB takedowns to go along with 50 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, four pass break ups and one fumble recovery.

Nose tackle Akeem Spence was solid in the middle (29 tackles, once sack) despite being troubled with a wrist injury that hampered him for a big part of the season.

Adrian Clayborn may never be a 10-15 sack guy in the NFL, but has a nonstop motor that Lovie Smith will love. Coming off an ACL injury in 2012, Clayborn provided the defense with a spark plug from both the right and left side of the field. The former Hawkeye had 66 tackles and six sacks in addition added 19 tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.

Backups Steven Means, Gary Gibson and Derek Landri played sparingly, contributing little on the field in 2012.

2014 OUTLOOK: For Lovie Smith's 4-3, Cover 2 scheme to be successful the defensive line must get pressure on the quarterback rushing just four lineman. There are blitzes in the defense but the basis on the scheme is built around pressure from the front four. Right now the Bucs have one proven player, Gerald McCoy, one potential double-digit sack player in Clayborn, and a raw but unproven pass rusher in Will Gholston. There is no question the Buccaneers will add pieces to the defensive line rotation to battle it out in camp. Look for Tampa Bay to make a strong push to sign Jared Allen or even Greg Hardy in free agency. If they Bucs can lure Allen or another proven pass rusher to Tampa Bay it will allow more flexibility and options come draft day.

LINEBACKERS
2013 GRADE= A-
Most agreed Lavonte David would be a good NFL linebacker coming out of college but not many could have predicted the amazing success the former Cornhusker would have in his first two years. After a 144 tackle, 20 tackles for loss, six sacks and five-interception sophomore campaign, David is destined to be star in the NFL.

Mason Foster manned the middle and had his best season as a professional. Taking on blockers to free up David to clean up the play, Foster’s role was somewhat unappreciated by many in 2013. Foster had two terrific interception returns for touchdown this season, including what should have been the game winner in week 2 against the Saints. Foster finished 90 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions.

The strongside linebacker position was handled on a rotation with Dekoda Watson, Jonathan Casillas and Adam Hayward all taking turns in the starting lineup. All three played well at times but it appeared Casillas had settled in as the full time starter before an injury sent him to injured reserve. Watson showed flashes at times at the linebacker position, and also from a standup rush position but suffered a shoulder injury late in the season.

2014 OUTLOOK: Licht and Smith will need to quickly evaluate if Foster can be the middle linebacker than can excel in the Cover 2. The Mike linebacker in the scheme will need to be able to make deep drops in the middle and that is not one of Foster's strengths. Another question will be, do they bring back Dekoda Watson or Jonathan Casillas who are scheduled to be free agents? If both are allowed to walk there will be a need to add to the roster at the strongside linebacker position.

SECONDARY
2013 GRADE=C+

The Buccaneers made a blockbuster deal bringing All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay in a trade last spring, and despite never being 100 percent, the former Jet had a huge impact on the secondary, which had finished a handful of yards away from an NFL record worse in 2012. Revis finished with 50 tackles, two interceptions and his second career sack, but most importantly keep opposing teams from testing his side of the field very often.

Rookie Johnthan Banks had an up-and-down season but held up pretty well under the circumstances. Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer and Michael Adams were adequate nickel corners, but were unable to make any impact plays for the most part, other than Johnson’s terrific interception return for a touchdown at Detroit.

Dashon Goldson (72 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble) was the Bucs big slash free agent signing last spring but didn’t play up to his five-year, $41.25 million contract. Too many breakdowns and too many penalties were the story of Goldson’s season, and the Bucs will need a better season from the former Pro Bowl safety in 2013. Mark Barron (88 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks) improved dramatically over his roller coaster rookie season, especially as far as being a force against the run. Barron clearly still has areas to improve on but is on the right path. Second-year safety Keith Tandy was a pleasant surprise, notching 37 tackles and three interceptions on the year in a part-time starting role.

2014  OUTLOOK: The Buccaneers secondary should be a strength for Smith and his defense in 2014. The starters appear set with Banks, Revis, Goldson and Barron. Tampa Bay could very well decide to add some familiarity by signed Bears free agent Charles Tillman who could step into the starting role opposite Revis or move into the nickel role for Leonard Johnson.

SPECIAL TEAMS
GRADE= C
Losing Connor Barth to an Achilles injury prior to the start of the season was a big blow to the Bucs special teams and led to the signing of Lawrence Tynes who ended up with MRSA, then bringing in former Bills kicker Rian Lindell. Lindell did a good job after a shaky start to the season, converting 23-of-29 field goals on the season and all of his extra point attempts.

Punter Michael Koenen had a good season, averaging 44.2 yards per punt, and downing 19 inside the 20 while also handling the kickoff duties.

Eric Page averaged 10.9 yards per punt return and 24.9 on his kickoff opportunities last season.

2014 OUTLOOK: Tampa Bay will have Connor Barth back after sitting out the season with an Achilles injury suffered on the eve of training camp, and unless there are any lasting effects, it will spell the end of Rian Lindell's Bucs career. Punter Michael Koenen was outstanding on kickoffs and just average with punting. At $3 million in salary cap space, Koenen could be replaced to save money, or at the very least he can expect some serious competition in training camp. Where the Bucs will most likely be completely different is in the return game. Eric Page was decent in his first season, but Bucs head coach Lovie Smith was quick to point out to the local beat writers that he places a huge emphasis on special teams and thinks they are worth a couple wins per season by themselves. Smith most likely will attempt to lure free agent kick returner Devin Hester to Tampa Bay if he decides there is still some gas in the tank.

COACHING
GRADE= D
Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan certainly had his share of challenges dealing with the plethora of injuries across the offensive side of the ball, but also frustrated many with his lack of imagination at times.

Bob Bostad, who many considered one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL a year ago, couldn’t regain his magic with his patchwork unit up front, and the offensive coaching staff appeared to miss former receiver coach P.J. Fleck and quarterback coach Ron Turner who left last season to take college head coaching jobs.

The best coaching job on both sides of ball easily belonged to Earnest Byner who kept sending inexperienced running backs out there that performed well for the most part.

Defensively, while the Bucs improved from their 29th ranking in 2012, there were still a number of question marks, particularly in the game plan from defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and Greg Schiano. Numerous stunts and ill-timed blitzes caught the defense out of position often and contributed to a number of the teams 12 losses in 2012.

Schiano, regardless of circumstances, didn’t get the job done and won just 11 games in two seasons, ultimately forcing the Glazers to fire him and his staff. He and his staff failed to make necessary adjustments in numerous games, costing the Buccaneers wins.

2014 OUTLOOK: The fans and organization are optimistic that the new staff will be a marked improvement over the previous one. There is no question that Smith has hired a solid staff that includes Leslie Frazier as defensive coordinator and former NFL players Hardy Nickerson (linebackers) and Gil Byrd (secondary). Offensively the addition of former Browns offensive line coach George Warhop and former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford to lead the Bucs offense. And don't forget defensive line coach Joe Cullen who is a Rod Marinelli clone that is expected to do wonders with the line.




Last modified on Monday, 27 January 2014 10:29
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    and Horse hits the nail on the head. Horse wrote: "The Seahawks are the now new type of team set up to follow." IMHO that's what this Super Bowl is. The HOF QB making the retirement speech trying to pull a Jerome Bettis (the old) vs the new NFL model team with which they hope to have many & make an Extra billion dollars. (10 last year, Billion with a B) BTW loyal Bucs fans, don't look now, but Carolina is more than halfway there. If they draft Sammy Watkins or the like, we are in big trouble. Why can't we have sub 6 foot non-tackling CB's? Cause Cam or Kap or Mariota or Winston (soon enough) is lose mid-field--and Lovie's D can't get off the field on 3rd down. Sorry, this is my opinion on step 50, and we are still at step 4. BUT, we are building a team. There is a blueprint. The playoffs show you what works. It's near impossible to get a Manning. A solid line, a solid back, an aggressive D, and an athletic QB that is also dangerous in the pocket; that's a little easier to find.
  • avatar


    .....always get a kick out of articles where grades are given out by non-playing, out -of-shape, non-athletic writing nerds who think they know what it's like to be on the football field.....
  • avatar


    The RB position is log-jammed with small-ish players. Seems to me, the Bucs should put Demps solely at WR...He has potential to be another Percy Harvin if he concentrates on football. Yes, I know "potential" and ability to avoid injury are HUGE hurdles to overcome.
  • avatar


    Scubog; For sure I blew the McCoy bust thing and noted many times I was wrong. I have also been singing his praises and have been on his bandwagon for over a year. Don't get to bothered by the Martin/Williams suggestion as it is just a discussion as to how fast could we get to the playoffs by doing this and that. We obviously have holes to fill and also we need to get faster. The Seahawks are the now new type of team set up to follow. I feel very comfortable that our coaching staff is a huge improvement; I am not sure how much we gained with the GM changes, we'll see.
  • avatar


    Horse: Just so you know; Lovie's lead back in Chicago was Matt Forte. He is 6-1 and 220. Our own Doug Martin is 5-9 and 219. He's more compact but no smaller. I guess I shouldn't be surprised any more by some of the stuff I read here. Some think McCoy is still a "bust" to use your term. Maybe it's one of those new, "bad means good" phrases. I do agree with with you to consider trading down in the 1st round to pick up the lost choices.
  • avatar

    Mark you wrote that Daquan bowers was "self admittedly " out of shape at the start of training camp. But when I watched every game when he came in on third downs it seemed like he had pressure on the quarterback every time. I have no idea why te'o-nesheim was starting in front of him. When he absolutely did nothing all year. Was bowers in coaches dog house or something else because I didn't see it.
  • avatar

    Did you catch the sentence about Lovie Smiths defense is predicated by pressure of the QB? If we draft defense I would love to get Clowny or Khalil mack or Anthony Barr! I know Clowney will be gone and would more then likely need a trade up to get. If we go offense I would like to see Sammy Watkins in pewter and red!! GO Bucs!!
  • avatar


    Moody and Surfer Dude good scripts and yes Schiano Killed Martin his rookie year !! You can do that in college but you cant take a tiny back that does not do a good job of avoiding contact and run him thirty times in the NFL. Especially when his head is the battering ram, Doug Martin did not run well last year when healthy. SEE THE immediate improvement with a 7th round second string college RB. Don't fall in Love with any player and trade back as many times as possible,talented players fall . Trust your scouts the Cowboys did under JJ and built a dynasty doing this.L David is a better player than Barron as was Martin his Rookie year...... Trade Back Trade Back Trade Back, lets see Martin and David or Barron......Trade back and trust your Scouts !!
  • avatar

    The oline with a well deserved D. That unit has been such a dissappoinment for the last 3 years. Do you blow the whole thing up? I wonder if you don't make Joseph restructure and draft an olineman in the 2nd and sign another in FA. I don't know how much say Lovie had in the chicago draft, but every olineman the bears drafted high was a bust. We are a pass rusher away from Lovie making this a top 10 D , so I hope the premium picks and the free agent signing are on the offense. Great article cook!
  • avatar


    Okay guys I hear you about Martin. I still think we should trade him; maybe a 2nd rounder and a 3rd this year would be better. We still have depth at RB and this would help us in other areas. Of course I am in favor of also trading down a couple spots for an additional 3rd rounder, or a few spots for an additional 2nd rounder. We could fix a lot of needs with those additional picks.
  • avatar

    I like Martin, but even if I didn't, there would be NO reason to trade him. You wouldn't get anything for him. People don't give value for running backs. The colts trade for richardson was a fluke and rarely could you get a 1st rounder for a rb. At best you would get a second and then you would just have to draft another rb. Watch the film of the 1st 5 games of the year and look at how bad the oline play was.As far as williams goes we are stuck with him... we over paid and if he gets it together great, if not, we would cut him after 2014, but no one is going to trade for him. We do need a burner. we need another reciever. If watkins is there, take him, if not have to sign a very good #3. Why we thought ogletree was a legit #3, i have no idea especialy with garrett knowing him
  • avatar

    Thanks for the feedback and discussion, even if we don't all agree. One thing I do agree with is trading Martin would be a mistake. Sorry Horse, I think that is a terrible idea. The guy had almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 2012. As far as Williams goes, it is more than just tweets. I am all for allowing himself to prove himself to the new staff. But make no mistake, the owners pay close attention to these players off the field. And MW literally slapping people with stacks of $100 bills doesn't sit well. But it isn't for me to decide who stays or goes, all I was saying is numerous others in the previous regime were very concerned.
  • avatar


    Hey PewterReportMC, Did you see Beyoncé the other night at the Grammys? If MW is slapping table grade like that, I could see cutting him some slack! lol. C'mon man, spit it out. If they come after you, I've got your back!
  • avatar


    Initially I was shocked to read that about MW, I mean I knew he had somewhat of a wild side to him, and after getting off on that phantom driving while intoxicated (On canibus) thing, it looked like he had gotten things together, but Michael Clayton was a perfect example of how quickly a player can get humbled in this league(and not by choice), we all thought he was the next coming of Jerry Rice, I know I did, but the poolside parties, fur coats and pimp-like attitude ruined a very promising career as he was a completely different player after a great rookie campaign. Personally I think this MW off-field behavior holds alot of credence, it appears he's showing more passion for this stupid rap thing than his NFL career, and that's so disheartening because very rarely is there anything positive that comes out of being a gangsta rapper who's just a wanna be right now, and having a posse on his payroll will definitely be a huge distraction. I hope I'm wrong and that this is just a faze that will come and go, hopefully he realizes that he's brought on the wrong kind of attention, the old coaches and GM may be gone, but the owners remain, and are not clueless, and I'm sure if they think they have a thug in the making, I doubt they'll remain moot about it, he IS a huge investment after all.
  • avatar


    @EastEndBoy I agree there's no way our coaching deserved anything other than an F but Schiano is gone so its water under the bridge. Penn, Joseph and Penn should all be asked to restructure or risk being released and this is how we free up the additional cap room needed to sign an impact FA or two. Not sure how anyone thinks trading Doug Martin for a 2nd makes us better, even if you think he should traded(which is absurd) the Browns got a 1st rounder for Trent Richardson who has accomplished much less in the league so I'm not quite sure whose Cheerios Doug pissed in to be worth only a 2nd. Mike Williams is signed to a team friendly contract so I'm not sure why we even need to move him especially considering he outperformed his rookie contract by leaps and bounds. I think Schiano brainwashed some of you to think that players with personality grow horns and should be dealt elsewhere. It's funny how Belicheck has found a way to get the most out of those "problem" players that we gift wrapped for him. Licht who was in on the drafting of the Honey Badger and Lovie who coached Brandon Marshall know that this league is about winning and not assembling the 53 nicest guys like some of you would rather us do. Trading Doug Martin and Mike Williams lol Buc fans never cease to amaze me. Go Bucs!
  • avatar


    Get rid of Martin, and Williams? Not so fast my friends. I think we haven't seen the best of Martin yet. Schiano ran this kid into a brick wall 25 times a game, Tedford will give him fewer touches with better results. Get a speed guy outside and move Mike into the slot, he gets good yards after the catch. Not opposed to trading some vets, like Penn, who I think should move to the right side. I can see the Bucs going after Clevelands pro bowl center. That would solidify the middle of our O line, and allow Zuttah to compete at guard and be a valuable back up. That would give good value in a free agent because it helps across the board.
  • avatar


    Scubog, Macabee - Well said! How in the world is trading our best PROVEN players for POTENTIALLY good players even a thought?!?!?! People really do have to have a shiny new toy, don't they? As far as Mike Williams is concerned, I chalk it up to a young man with too much cash (new contract) and time (via IR) on his hands. Before people run him out of Tampa as a wannabe rapper, let's see how he performs on the field under the new staff's tutelage. I'm more confident in Lovie Smith's ability to handle the situation than any HC we've had in the last five years plus. As far as the unit grades go, well, MC, they're your opinions and I respect them but I feel they are inflated virtually across the board (TE a "C"??, O-Line a "D"??, and don't get me started on QB). Oh well, it doesn't really matter. I'm anxious to see what the new regime can do with our Bucs...Having to wait for another six months until just training camp starts is going to be brutal.
  • avatar


    I don't think the new regime will care one bit about Mike Williams tweets or his peeps. They will care about his route running and his ability to get separation from defenders. If they draft Sammy Watkins, he may be positioned for a trade if he doesn't fit the new "speed in space" offense. I know it is your (PR) editorial right to opine on any subject you deem of journalistic value, but I would not be disappointed if you never reminded us of what the previous administration thought about anybody or what should happen this year!
  • avatar


    I believe that the new coaching staff has already making decisions for 2014 go bucs
  • avatar


    How quickly we forget. Outa sight-outa mind. Trade Doug Martin? As John McEnroe would say, "You can't be serious." Trade a Pro-Bowl player for a shot in the dark 2nd round draft choice because you think "One Game James" and Rainey are his equal? Trade Mike Williams for a real crap shoot 4th rounder because he tweets too much? I can just imagine the commercial where a guy asks a bunch of kids around a table if bigger is better than smaller gathering a group of Pewter Report posters. "Is it better to keep proven star players or draft someone new who has never played a down?" The little kid in the back with his Pewter Report tee shirt pipes up, "Trade them and also McCoy, David, Jackson and Revis to Houston so we can draft that guy Clowney. All kids love clowns." George Allen is rolling over in his grave. No wonder our divorce rate is so high. Regarding the grades. How in the world does the DEAD LAST offense get a "C-" average? Even in today's "everyone gets a trophy" world, last is not average.
  • avatar


    Scubog ; nice try but this time you got it wrong. Lovie likes big backs. We have too many small backs. A 2nd rounder would go a long ways in helping the coaches in selecting their players. We need speed at WR and Williams is lacking that. Again, extra picks helps to fine more speedy guys. I think Nicks might get to play here in Tampa Bay and that would be a big help if the toe and foot are cleared to go. Now that our season is over, I can see that we lack speed in many areas. If we are to believe what the GM and Coach has said about building from the draft, then we should get some more picks.
  • avatar


    Thanks Mark, I really like this piece. I believe you have put together a very honest evaluation of where this team is in athleticism, talent, and depth. I thought some fans were going to be in for a real let down next season with so many comparing the Bucs to KC. I just can't see that level of turn around. Nor can I see massive improvement in just adding a QB. (Just some of the conversations I've heard) The Bucs do have some very solid players, but they are lost among a lot of back-ups playing in starter positions. The Bucs have too few draft picks & Licht's comment about not buying Pro-Bowlers but finding value in FA makes me believe Greg Hardy & Alex Mack aren't coming to Tampa except for maybe a family vacation. I don't think the Glazier's are going to allow too much Gruden/Allen era stuff with declining vets, so the Tillman or Jared Allen hires will be limited. One specific: I really like Banks. He's a mature & determined young talent. But he's slow. Can he post up Jimmy Grahm? Yep. Do you want him in the 2 spot vs ATL? Nope. As his instincts develop he'll compensate for his lack of foot-speed, but until then the Bucs' do not have a #2 starting corner and the rest of that room is Revis & not much else. Our dime coverage is embarrassing. The Bucs' should add CB to their long grocery list of needs. Write it on their at least 3 times.
  • avatar


    Horse I am with you on trading Doogie. If you figure out yards per carry he was the number fourth best back last year. We need to see this off season what kind of running back we have with Pruitt this year. If he is good we could use he and Rainey as a tandem in the backfield similar to the effective duo we had when Dungy had an effective running Offense, then bring in our other big back as the third down back--Leonard--who just about equalled Rainey's yards per catch but is an effective blocker on blitzes and catches well on the run. In shorter yardage and as a change of pace to keep Rainey fresh bring in James. Then on the goal line pair Pruitt with our FB in a jumbo backfield. If we have a good OL and a first string first round QB, given Tedford's expertise, we could have a good Offense this year that is fun to watch. Good grading Mark!
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    I followed Mike Williams for a while on Twitter and was amazed at his immaturity. It got so ridiculous I "unfollowed" him. I hope Lovie gets wind and looks at these posts. He may well have to take an action there. BTW I was at One Buc today and saw Mike Glennon. The players cannot be coached at all now but they can work out with trainers. We heard Carl Nicks was there as well. Although it's an extremely quiet time of year as far as player activity there it was good to know some players were around.
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    Coaching got a D? What do you have to do to garner an F? I guess Earnest Byner is the one coach that saved the F grade...
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    TE is an F all day long and again on Tues Please pay attention to those grades and and please some of the lemonade drinkers realize this is pretty close to what it was before the season. Only Dom, Obama and the dead thought any different. I don't believe for a minute Schiano thought much different other than the offensive line.Michael B is on a tear in the playoffs,do ya think Schiano wanted him back ? There are some big challenges ahead because other than the secondary and maybe the RB position if James comes back healthy not much is going to change next year with just the draft.
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    Ajoe I can understand your point. I would say the staff was able to keep the wheels on even with the lug nuts falling off. That is noteworthy. Also the defense made a solid jump in overall rankings.
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    I believe the off field problem that they are talking about is Williams ownership in a Rapp company. They think his head is not into football like it should be.
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    Nice review Mark. I'm a little confused how our coaching didn't get an F...I mean what would an F coaching effort look like if not what we got in 2013...but anyway, on to a few player thoughts...I agree on Goldson - a leopard doesn't change its spots and I can't see this guy having an actual reliable place on the team....as for Foster, the solution seems clear - move him back to SAM...he played OLB in college, the talk was all about him moving back outside before we drafted LvD, we will likely lose Watson and the other options we have are not great at SAM....so put Foster at SAM, LvD at WILL and draft or FA a MIKE....our bigger issues are on offense where need I remind everyone WE WERE DEAD LAST IN THE LEAGUE....we need help on the line, at QB, at WR, at TE...we're playing with way too much B-team right now and that has to change big time....yes it would be nice to fix the D-Line and improve the secondary but we have a hole the size of a MACK truck on offense that needs fixing first!
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    I agree bucfever40. I can't recall hearing about off the field trouble for Williams since he left Syracuse and came to Tampa. Mark, can you elaborate on the "shenanigans" you referred to?
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    @pweb....I believe he prefers to be called Master MW or something of the like...a burgeoning rap career may overshadow his 'efforts' at RayJay and 1-Buc....or so goes the rumor mill...
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    My only point of contention would be the TE grade. I'm not sure how they can get above a D when everyone besides Wright did absolutely, positively nothing and even Wright can't run block. As for the O-line, with the permanent toe faciitis that Nicks has we don't have a single great run blocker, including Dotson. I think he'll fare better run blocking at LT, but I don't think a postion switch would help anyone else. Even Meredith somehow got worse as the season went on. Everyone on our O-line needs to be either stronger or more athletic. Maybe a bit of both for Penn and Zuttah.
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    Changing coaches often means changing schemes, and defensively it could be a big deal, even though the team was for the most part a 4-3 defense, it wasn't anything like a true cover (Tampa) 2 defense, which is predicated on the talent of the personnel, and as the article mentioned, a main importance falls on the Mike LB who must have the wheels to drop in coverage and also must be able sniff out run vs pass very quickly, I really like Mason Foster, and judging by his ability to cut like a running back, which was displayed after his 2 interceptions, it's going to be interesting to see if he's gonna be too heavy to do what the position calls for, if not, I'm hoping he can be utilized perhaps in another position. I know it's crazy, but I wonder if the coaching staff would ever consider trying him out at RB if he's not in the mix at MLB.
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    @Horse I said the same thing about trading Martin. I'd do it if it was offered. I like him, but he's replaceable. I'd look at Andre Williams from Boston College as an option in the later rounds. I don't think that Williams can be traded with the extension he just signed a year ago.
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    But other than Jackson there are several question marks, including if Williams rebounds from a poor 2013 season and if his head is in the right place to excel. Williams' off-field shenanigans were something that was extremely concerning to the previous staff, and it will be interesting to see how Smith and new general manager Jason Licht will handle it. COMMENT: I'd love to hear a bit more about this as I wasn't aware that Williams had ANY issues.
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    Williams having issues off the field? That's news to me, and how did he have a poor 2013 when he became injured early in the season, I'd like to know WHAT was "extremely concerning" with Williams, and how do you know the prior staff were so concerned about it, unless you personally knew the staff, nothing was ever mentioned in the press to suggest what you are claiming.
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    We will have more soon but follow him on social media for a sample.
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    I agree with the QB, OL, RB, WR, LB, CB, ST grades; I don't with the generous grades for the TE and DL. I know this might sound radical, but I would trade Martin for a 2nd rounder this year, and Williams for a 4th rounder. I would also renegotiate several contracts or release those players.
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