table of contents
- Pewter Report's 2012 Bucs 7-Round Mock Draft
- SR's Fab 5 3-8
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: QB
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: RB
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: TE
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: OL
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: WR
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: DL
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: LB
- Schiano Should Only Guarantee Two Starting Spots In Tampa Bay
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: S
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: CB
- Point-Counterpoint: Which Free Agents Should The Bucs Target?
- Glazers Have One Last Chance To Win Back The Fans
- Pewter Prospect: LB Mychal Kendricks
- Pewter Prospect: OT Bobby Massie
In fact, Schiano should send out a memo to every Buccaneer player on the roster in advance of that mini-camp that aside from the team’s lone Pro Bowler, right guard Davin Joseph, and the team’s franchise tag player, kicker Connor Barth, ALL starting spots are officially open.
Joseph was the only player deemed to be great by the league, hence the Pro Bowl berth after the 2011 season. And with Barth nailing a team-record 92.5 percent of his field goals in 2011 and the team placing the franchise tag on him, to say he’s not a starter would be utterly foolish.
The message that all 11 starting spots are open on defense and that 10 out of 11 starting jobs are available on offense would send to a team that was obviously way too complacent in 2011 – as it lost its last 10 games – would be absolutely stunning. It would also remind the Buccaneers that there are no allegiances and no favorites with regards to Schiano and the new coaching staff, and be prepared to work hard or be disappointed.
Everyone gets a fresh start. Every Buccaneer gets a clean slate. Everyone gets the chance to make a first impression with Schiano and the new position coaches and coordinators.
If opening up the starting spots doesn’t invigorate and revitalize the roster of existing players, nothing else probably will.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn should be put on notice that despite leading the team in sacks with 7.5, forced fumbles with three and leading all defensive linemen with 54 tackles during a sensational rookie season, it wasn’t good enough to help the Buccaneers get more than four wins in 2011.
There should be an open competition between long-time team captain Jeff Faine and newly re-signed lineman Jeremy Zuttah for the starting center position.
General manager Mark Dominik should not trust right tackle Jeremy Trueblood to play well in a contract year and give him a competitor to fight for the right to start at that position. Dominik made that mistake last year at weakside linebacker and strong safety, thinking that Geno Hayes and Sean Jones would have enough incentive to play great football by being in a contract year without legitimate competition.
Instead, each player proved to be a huge disappointment and the move backfired on Dominik and the Bucs as the backups behind Hayes and Jones weren’t good enough to replace either of them.
Tanard Jackson, who will be in a contract year in 2012, should be put on notice that Cody Grimm, Larry Asante and Ahmad Black have just as much of a chance to be the starter at free safety in September as he does.
Gerald McCoy, who has yet to live up to his draft billing and his potential due to winding up on injured reserve the past two seasons with biceps tears in each arm, would have to prove he’s better than Frank Okam and John McCargo for the right to start.
Dekoda Watson and Adam Hayward should realize that just because Quincy Black is fresh off a huge contract extension in 2011 and will be making $5.5 million in 2012 that in no way, shape or form would he be guaranteed to start or even make the team in 2012. The strongside linebacker position, along with every other spot on defense, is open.
Ronde Barber, one of the franchise’s all-time greats, should be told that if he wants to re-sign with the Bucs for another year at age 37 that he will have to earn a starting spot. No exemptions for legends.
Any rookie selected in the 2012 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay from the first to the seventh round should be told to be prepared to compete to start this season and to not just try to make the team.
When it comes to free agency, Dominik and Schiano should be forthright in telling even the biggest of available names that they will have to compete for the right to start. If Stephen Tulloch gets signed, he’ll have to fend of Mason Foster for the right to be the starting middle linebacker.
Vincent Jackson would have to beat out Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Dezmon Briscoe and Preston Parker for the right to start at wide receiver.
Carl Nicks would have to emerge the victor in a battle with Zuttah and Ted Larsen to start next to Donald Penn at left guard.
Because the Buccaneers have over $60 million worth of salary cap space at their disposal and so many of the players currently on the roster are so cheap because they are so young, Tampa Bay could justify not starting their high-priced free agent signings. If Jackson’s arrival pushed Williams and Benn to greatness and they performed better than the former San Diego wideout in the preseason, there’s nothing wrong with starting them and making Jackson the third wide receiver if that’s how it went down fair and square.
Logically, Josh Freeman would get the benefit of the doubt to start at quarterback given his experience, but free agents Jason Campbell, Rex Grossman, Vince Young or Dan Orlovsky would be told by Schiano that it would be an open and fair competition for the right to be under center in Tampa Bay. The Bucs need a good, veteran quarterback that can step in and legitimately win games and be capable of getting the Bucs to the playoffs if something should happen to Freeman.
The message Schiano would need to send to lure a good, experienced quarterback to Tampa Bay in free agency is that every Buccaneer would have to earn their keep and their starting job – even Freeman. Come on down and compete with him.
Salary, draft status, athleticism and talent should mean an awful lot less than they actually do in the NFL. The only thing that should matter is production, and that’s what Schiano should be preaching.
Do you earn your salary? Do you live up to your draft status? Are you maxing out your athleticism and your talent? If not, you’re not good enough to start and there will be a more productive player seizing the opportunity.
The message Schiano would send to Tampa Bay’s younger, cheaper players would be that no matter how big the name or how big the contract of the player signed in free agency, last year’s Buccaneers starters and backups would still have a legitimate chance to compete for the right to start in 2012 under the new regime. This bold move would earn Schiano a great deal of instant respect and foster an extreme amount of competition in Tampa Bay.
There is nothing more than the Buccaneers need as much as competition right now to fast track the team’s overall improvement.