SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL:
FAB 1. BUCS FINALLY PLAN TO BEAT THE HEAT
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
It’s a famous phrase, and one that Bucs head coach after Bucs head coach used in vain to try to conquer the sweltering heat and humidity that comes from their team being based in the tropical climate of Tampa, Fla.
For decades, various Tampa Bay coaches have foolishly tried to combat the heat by practicing in it to get used to it. The theory was that the more the Bucs were in the heat, the more of an advantage it became for them against their opponents, especially the ones from up north where it was cooler.
Back during two-a-day practices, Jon Gruden held one training camp practice in the early morning hours and then one in the heat of the day at Disney’s Wide World of Sports when the Bucs used to camp in Orlando. Quite often, Gruden’s team was forced to do walk-thrus on the basketball court or in hotel ballrooms when the heat index rose to dangerous levels.
Bucs C Evan Smith and former LG Logan Mankins – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Under Raheem Morris the Bucs used “cool down trailers,” which were air-conditioned portable trailers the team would seek refuge in during water breaks during practice. But Morris’ teams typically practiced in the heat of the day, although he would occasionally get his players out of the heat by bussing them to Tropicana Field for an afternoon practice or two during the season.
Greg Schiano mixed up his practices between mornings and afternoons, but believed an up-tempo offense that was well conditioned in the heat could be an advantage. His 11-21 record as head coach in Tampa Bay from 2012-13 said otherwise.
“[The heat] has to become our advantage,” Schiano said. “When you get teams out there in that stadium and it’s really hot and you push the envelope, I think it becomes an advantage and that’s something that’s important to me.”
Lovie Smith followed Schiano’s stubborn methodology and upped the ante by having practices hours later in mid-morning times and also in late afternoons when the sun was at its hottest and the humidity at the highest.
“It has to be an advantage for us,” Smith said. “You feel the heat and it does make a difference. Late in the year, Green Bay and Chicago, those outdoor teams have an advantage over warm-weather teams that come up. We feel like we have the same.”
But the supposed home-field heat advantage never materialized for Morris, Schiano and Smith. Over the past decade, Buccaneers teams have faded down the stretch, having nothing in their tank to finish the season strong, evidenced by a 7-31 mark in games in December through the end of the season.
The end of the 2015 season was a prime example as Tampa Bay finished 0-4 after a 6-6 start, and that weak finish cost Smith his job.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Enter new Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, whose previous coaching stops have been out in the desert at Arizona State (2001-06) and in the hot south in Jacksonville (2007-11) and Atlanta (2012-14). Koetter has coached in the heat for well over a decade and has a much different approach when it comes to battling the heat than he saw working under Smith last year.
Morning practices will return under Koetter, who used some tongue-in-cheek humor while addressing his plan to beat the heat this year.
“We did a little study and in August when we’re out here it’s on average 11 degrees cooler at 8:45 a.m. than it is at 2:45 p.m., so I did quick Idaho State math [laughs] and figured that out and said, ‘Jeez, it’s 11 degrees cooler. Why don’t we practice in the morning?’” Koetter said. “So it didn’t take a brain surgeon. The last 10 years I’ve been coaching in the South I really do believe there is a cumulative effect over the course of the season, from August until the end of the year, when you’re out here, even if it’s for walkthrough at 12, 1, 2 [p.m.] and it’s 95 degrees and the sun is beating on you. I just think there’s a cumulative effect. We are going to do everything we can to try to chip away at that. There’s some things we can’t get away from, but we’re going to do what we can.”
Part of Koetter’s plan was on display during the team’s OTAs this week as the coaches had the players remove their helmets for a period or two of walk-thrus to help provide some heat relief as the heat index was already in the 90s in late May in Tampa.
“That’s just one of those things that makes good common sense,” Koetter said. “If you can get a couple of 10 minute periods in there where those guys can get those hats off – you guys can all feel for yourselves right now, it’s warm and it isn’t even humid yet. To get those helmets off for a couple periods, it just forces us to let them cool down a little bit, but still try to get some work in.”
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht shares Koetter’s belief that the heat actually works against teams from warm climates rather than for it.
“I think the heat actually affects you early in the year, too,” Licht said. “You’ve been out here in the heat here in June, July and August and you get worn out.”
Licht is correct. Tampa Bay is just 13-22 in the month of September over the last decade, including a 3-12 mark over the last four years. Only one of those September wins has come at Raymond James Stadium over the past four seasons.
“Dirk is a really smart guy,” Licht said. “He’s done a lot of research and he has a lot of experience he can draw from [at Arizona State and Jacksonville]. Even in 30-minute walk-thrus, which is a light jog, even doing that in the heat and the sun in the middle of the day is zapping our players.
“We’ve changed things up this year and we’re doing a lot of things differently, hoping it has an accumulative effect on how we start the season and how we finish with things like changing the times of practices and the times of the walk-thrus.”
The Buccaneers are also exploring different means to use sports science to help players recover from the heat faster and increase their vitality during football season while battling the effects of prolonged exposure to the hot sun and humidity. The team’s indoor practice facility, which co-chair Bryan Glazer announced last summer, is still on schedule for construction in 2017.
“It’s in the plans,” Licht said. “I’m looking forward to that day. In the meantime, the Glazers are doing everything they can to help us [battle the heat].”
Not only will the indoor facility help the Bucs battle the heat, it will also prevent practices from being rained out, as daily afternoon thunderstorms in July, August and September are the norm.
The Titans killed the Bucs in Week 1 last year – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
There is a school of thought in the NFL community that it is advantageous for teams to practice in the conditions that mirror those at game-time.
“I think there might be something to that, but I think you also have to pick you’re poison and I think everybody that says that probably doesn’t live in Tampa, Florida,” Koetter said.
That was the way Smith thought.
“I understand other teams practice early to avoid the heat,’’ Smith said. “No, we’ve got to get ready for it. The only way to get ready for it is to practice in it. We feel it and then we hydrate. We rest up and then we start it again.’’
That kind of stubbornness played a role in Smith’s swift departure from Tampa Bay after just two disappointing seasons.
“Dirk is huge on talking to the players,” Licht said. “He’ll tell you he’s big on that. You get a lot of great information talking to them.”
Bucs Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who is entering his seventh year in Tampa Bay, discussed Koetter’s plans for morning practices.
“I feel like the weather has a personality and it knows when we move practice,” McCoy said. “So I don’t think the heat in Tampa cares. It’s like, ‘We’re going to practice in the morning, guys,’ ‘Great!’ and then the temperature is like, ‘Well, I don’t care when you practice, it’s going to be 175 [degrees].” So, it’s great, and I’m excited about it, because I’m one of those guys who prefers to get the practice out of the way and then have the rest of the day, instead of just sitting around waiting to die [laughter]. It’s just like, just kill me now.
Bucs DE Jacquies Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“But I think guys really are going to appreciate it, with me being here going on seven years and seeing the different times you can practice, I prefer to practice in the morning, but I tried to warn the guys who haven’t been here, ‘Listen, it doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to prepare you for [the heat]. So just be a professional and go at it.’”
The Tampa heat and humidity won’t be going away any time soon. The latest advances in sports science can help visiting teams hydrate and adequately prepare for three hours in the heat at Raymond James Stadium. Most professional athletes are well conditioned in the modern era and the heat and humidity advantage in Tampa is a myth.
The reality is that the heat and humidity have done more harm than helped the Buccaneers by wearing the team out early in the season and by robbing it of enough stamina to finish strong. Tampa Bay’s records in September and December bear evidence of that.
Let’s see if Koetter’s plan of earlier times for practices and walk-thrus and periods without helmets help the Bucs battle the heat better than they have over the last decade. I definitely think Koetter has the right idea, and it’s safe to say that after an 8-24 record that Smith certainly had the wrong idea.
FAB 2. VITALE, DIVERSIFIED OFFENSE HELPS CREATE MISMATCHES
So the Buccaneers didn’t add a speed receiver in free agency or the draft and that has some folks worried.
What happens if Mike Evans goes down with an injury?
What happens if Vincent Jackson goes down and Evans sees increased coverage or double teams?
How would the Bucs create mismatches in the passing game if that happened? The same way the New England Patriots would – with a diversified passing attack.
Of course, Tom Brady has the best tight end in football to throw to in Pro Bowler Rob Gronkowski, who led the way with 72 catches, in addition to receivers Danny Amendola (65 receptions) and Julian Edelman (61 receptions). But running backs James White and Dion Lewis combined for 60 catches, while backup tight end Scott Chandler had 23 receptions.
Bucs WRs Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Buccaneers have a similarly diversified offense with two receivers accounting for over 100 combined catches in Evans (74 receptions) and Jackson (33 receptions), as well as having two running backs that were very productive in the passing game in Charles Sims (51 receptions) and Doug Martin (33 receptions), combining for 84 catches. With Austin Seferian-Jenkins missing a lot of time due to a shoulder injury last year, Tampa Bay relied on a committee approach at the tight end position and saw Seferian-Jenkins (21 catches), Cameron Brate (23 receptions), Brandon Myers (12 receptions) and Luke Stocker (nine receptions) combine for 65 catches.
Add rookie fullback/tight end/H-back Danny Vitale, the Bucs’ sixth-round pick, and Tampa Bay’s offense will even more dangerous in 2016.
Make no mistake. Vitale will make the Bucs’ 53-man roster this year. Not only was he a personal favorite of Bucs general manager Jason Licht’s during the pre-draft scouting process, Tampa Bay sent two position coaches – tight ends coach Jon Embree and running backs coach Tim Spencer – to work Vitale out at Northwestern.
“I do like him,” Licht said. “He has great hands. He’s super smart. He’s very tough. He’s a great athlete. He’s not a typical fullback athlete. A guy like that can be your quarterback’s best friend. He has a real knack for running routes and getting open and making big plays.”
Vitale is wearing jersey number 86, which is a tight end number, and he practices with the tight ends, but he’ll also see time at fullback like he did at Northwestern. In fact, with both tight end Luke Stocker and Vitale capable of lead blocking, the Bucs likely won’t carry a fullback on the roster after having Jorvorskie Lane in that role over the last two years.
“I did this pretty much in college, I kind of played in the slot, played tight end and a little bit of fullback,” Vitale said. “I think the biggest transition is going to be that fullback spot when they do need it. I’m not worried about it. Just using my athleticism, I’ll be able to figure it out and do the right things. I think I can be used in a lot of different situations – flexed out and in the backfield as well – kind of a wing-flanker type.”
There are two main ways to create mismatches in the passing game. The first is with wide receivers matched up against cornerbacks and winning with speed or size – or both. The second way is to create mismatches with running backs and tight ends on linebackers and safeties.
Bucs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Having a big 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end like Seferian-Jenkins work the seam against a slower linebacker or a 190-pound safety creates a mismatch. So does having a back with blazing speed like Sims outrun linebackers down the sidelines on wheel routes.
Vitale, who has 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, showed he has the ability to do both at Northwestern where he hauled in 135 catches for 1,427 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career. Vitale has the ability to run those seam routes from the tight end positions or the slot, in addition to running wheel routes from the fullback and H-back positions.
Embree coached former Pro Bowl H-back Chris Cooley in Washington and has admitted that there are definitely some similarities between Cooley and Vitale.
“Vitale is an added weapon,” Licht said. “He’s not a long player that is going to survive for a ton of plays on the line of scrimmage. He’s going to be more of an H for us. Chris Cooley is a perfect example. I love his versatility. The other unique thing about him is that he’s a four-phase special teams guy. When is the last fullback you’ve seen that could play on special teams?”
Vitale loves the comparison with the similarly built 6-foot-3, 243-pound Cooley, who had 429 catches for 4,711 yards and 33 receiving touchdowns in his career with five seasons with over 65 catches for 700 yards and four seasons with at least six touchdowns.
“Absolutely,” Vitale said. “I loved watching Chris Cooley. I remember watching those NFL Fantasy File commercials where the guys do some crazy stuff, and Chris Cooley’s was always my favorite when he punches through the way and catches the ball. He’s a guy I’ve watched a ton of, and my freshman and sophomore year I kind of compared myself to him. He’s definitely a guy that I think I can fill that role here the way he did with the Redskins.”
With so many weapons on the Bucs offense, he’s not going to catch 65 passes for 557 yards and three touchdowns like legendary fullback Mike Alstott did during his rookie season in Tampa Bay, but he will be used quite heavily in the passing game.
Bucs TE/FB Danny Vitale – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“Mike Alstott had a lot of catches for hundreds of yards his first season,” Vitale said. “I hope I can live up to that.”
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston had a player with similar abilities as Vitale at Florida State in 6-foot-3, 238-pound All-American tight end Nick O’Leary, yet doesn’t have Vitale’s speed and athleticism. O’Leary caught 81 passes for 1,175 yards with 13 touchdowns during his days with Winston at Florida State and was his go-to guy during their time together with the Seminoles from 2013-14.
In time, Vitale could become that type of go-to player for Winston. As a rookie, Vitale will be counted on to be an added weapon in Winston’s arsenal.
“We like our tight ends, and we have Charles Sims coming out of the backfield, too,” Licht said. “We see those mismatches [we can create], and it’s not like we’re trying to ignore the receiver position at all. We happen to think we have two pretty good ones, and we have some other guys we like, too, in Adam Humphries and Louis Murphy. We hope that he’s going to be back by training camp. We’re excited to see what Kenny Bell can do too because he can run.
“But look at the Seahawks and the Patriots,” Licht said. “They don’t have any first-round receivers and they win Super Bowls. Obviously, we do. We drafted Mike Evans at No. 7. But you have to diversify your offense. If you have several mismatch-type weapons – maybe not the elite speed guys – you’re still diversified. Your mismatches don’t always have to be on the outside. They can be inside, too.”
FAB 3. SR’s OBSERVATIONS FROM BUCS OTAs
PewterReport.com was out at Bucs OTAs this week as our staff got to watch Tampa Bay’s veterans and rookies practice together for the first time. Here are some observations and notes as the Bucs refine their explosive offense and install Mike Smith’s new, aggressive defense that will feature multiple looks.
• After watching the Bucs’ first mini-camp and then the OTAs it’s becoming clear why Tampa Bay drafted 5-foot-10 cornerback Vernon Hargreaves with their first-round pick. Smith and defensive backs coach Jon Hoke want the team’s cornerbacks to backpedal instead of just turn and run while covering wide receivers. The Bucs didn’t backpedal under Lovie Smith, and it’s a skill that is hard for taller cornerbacks to master due to their longer legs and usually tighter hips.
Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Tampa Bay has Alterraun Verner and Brent Grimes – both 5-foot-10 corners – in the starting lineup and they’ve looked great. Johnthan Banks, who is 6-foot-2, is with the second team, and while he’s performed well, you can see by what the coaches are asking the cornerbacks to do that Verner and Grimes are better suited size-wise to perform in this defense. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for Banks on the roster, or that he won’t end up thriving in this scheme, but there’s a reason why he’s running second team with Josh Robinson right now.
Hargreaves is running second team behind Jude Adjei-Barimah at nickel cornerback, which is where I’ve suspected he would start his NFL career all along. Both Hargreaves and Adjei-Barimah are under 6-foot and look smooth backpedaling and in transition. Hargreaves will eventually become the starter due to his superior ball skills, but there is definitely a place for Adjei-Barimah on the roster because he can play inside, outside and at safety, which is where he played in college.
• The Bucs have spent a lot of time rolling Jameis Winston and the other quarterbacks out in practice and having them throw on the run. That could be just to practice escaping the rush, but it could also signal that Tampa Bay will be incorporating more roll-outs this year to take advantage of Winston’s weight loss and increased mobility.
Changing the launching point of the ball by moving the pocket and having quarterbacks roll out is one way for offenses to give defenses a different look from a strategy standpoint. And after seeing what Winston can do on the ground with a key 20-yard scramble on third-and-19 against Atlanta last year, in addition to six rushing touchdowns, offensive mastermind Dirk Koetter wants to take greater advantage of his quarterback’s ability to make plays with his feet.
• It’s early, and the pads haven’t come on yet, but it looks like Tampa Bay’s offseason gamble of not adding a premium wide receiver through the draft or free agency was a sound move. Second-year players Donteea Dye, Adam Humphries and Kenny Bell have all made their share of plays in practice. Dye and Bell are the fastest receivers and both got behind Hargreaves and Josh Robinson for deep touchdowns this week, while Humphries has made his share of plays underneath from the slot.
Dye looks more confident this year, Bell looks hungry and fast, and Humphries looks comfortable as the team’s slot receiver. A lot can happen between now and September, but it’s a good start for three young Bucs receivers the team is counting on to come through this year. Youngsters Evan Spencer and Bernard Reedy have also had moments where they’ve shined, too.
• Tampa Bay is emphasizing special teams more than I saw them do it under Lovie Smith over the last two years, and that’s a good thing. New special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor has the intensity that reminds me of Rich Bisaccia. He’s an incredibly demanding coach that is full of fire and brimstone. I think it’s a good sign as the tempo during special teams matches that of the offensive and defensive periods.
Bucs WRs Mike Evans, Louis Murphy and Vincent Jackson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs also don’t waste any time during special teams periods, either. The three receivers that aren’t involved on special teams, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and the injured Louis Murphy, all play catch with assistant wide receivers coach Andrew Weidinger and work on holding on to the ball while the other two players try to pull at the receiver’s arms. Instead of just taking a break during special teams periods, the Bucs that don’t participate on teams make the best use of their time and work on the little things.
It’s also interesting to note that only four defensive backs aren’t on special teams – starting safeties Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald, and cornerbacks Grimes and Hargreaves. They all work on their hands catching the ball during special teams periods, which is good considering Tampa Bay’s secondary only produced six interceptions last year.
• And finally, the energy during the offseason is much higher and better than it has been in recent memory. Despite the heat and humidity, the players are loose and upbeat, dancing to the music that blares over the loudspeakers between plays and having a blast. Koetter has definitely created a more fun environment for the players than the more stoic Lovie Smith offered up.
Another reason for the high energy is the addition of defensive coordinator Mike Smith, whose outward display of passion rivals that of Koetter’s. Seeing the energetic Koetter and Smith encourage the players reminds me of the days when Jon Gruden ran the offense and Monte Kiffin ran the defense in Tampa Bay and brought such high intensity to practice every day.
Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp was Gruden’s fire-starter at practice back in the day. Sapp loved to practice and pushed his teammates through the Florida heat. For Koetter, it’s the effervescent Winston, who is Tampa Bay’s vocal leader and the team’s heartbeat. This young Bucs team is just fun to watch, and it will be interesting to see just how improved it is this year from a year ago.
FAB 4. LICHT LEFTOVERS
Last week’s SR’s Fab 5, which featured an in-depth look into the draft strategy of Bucs general manager Jason Licht, was one of the most widely read columns in PewterReport.com history. In addition to the topics he discussed last week, such as his draft day maneuvering, his rationale for drafting kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round and talking about his influences from a personnel and scouting standpoint, there was other ground we covered in my wide-ranging interview. Here are some leftovers from my conversation with Licht.
Licht on Tampa Bay’s special teams, which has upgraded the kicking game with a new kicker in Aguayo and a new punter in veteran Bryan Anger, who will be challenging Jacob Schum in training camp:
Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“Everybody preaches about how important special teams is,” Licht said. “I think the moves we’ve made show we are dedicated to trying to be the best special teams in the league. I think we have the highest drafted punter and kicker combination right now – not that that’s the goal. But it’s also bringing out the best in Schum, too. He’s been having some great OTAs out here. He was asked to do some things last year that didn’t necessarily help in terms of looking at his average. He actually has a really good leg. If anything, Anger is providing strong competition. It will sort itself out.”
Licht on the new high-definition video boards and increased cameras at Raymond James Stadium with the stadium improvements:
“Getting better replays with more cameras will be helpful,” Licht said. “When you go to certain stadiums you would see that they have an advantage with being to see [replays] quickly – we did too when we were there. But it seems like the home team gets a little more home-field advantage. I’m not saying we would have anybody doing anything differently, but I’m looking forward to it. But number one, it’s going to be a great fan experience. When fans are enjoying the game and fans are into the game it’s always a boost to the home team – always.
“It’s like at Nebraska when I was playing in front of those fans – it’s electric. Your blood is pumping. Then you go to an away game to play a non-conference game and the stadium isn’t full – for whatever reason, you’re just not as up for it.”
Licht on having Bucs assistant wide receivers coach Andrew Weidinger also serve as Dirk Koetter’s game management coach as Koetter retains his offensive play-calling duties as Tampa Bay’s head coach:
“It’s awesome, especially since Dirk is not going to change his role on game day,” Licht said. “Dirk is going to be talking to the offense when the defense is on the field. Dirk’s going to be talking to Jameis and talking to the players. Dirk doesn’t have an ego. He knows he can’t handle all of this. He’s got to compartmentalize and he has to focus on [the offense]. We have some very, very intelligent guys like Andrew that are smart football guys telling him what to do.”
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Licht on the weight gain of some defensive players like defensive lineman Will Gholston, who is up to 290 pounds, and Kourtnei Brown, who is up to 265 pounds, and the increased size at the strongside linebacker position, which features 250-pound Daryl Smith and 236-pound rookie Devante Bond:
“There wasn’t a mandate or directive about size or people’s weight,” Licht said. “Ideally, you would like the Sam linebacker to be a little bit bigger because you have to get on the line of scrimmage some and set the edge. But you still have to play your best football players. We would make it work if we had another Lavonte David or Kwon Alexander and that guy fell to us and we felt he was as good as they are. We would take another undersized guy and make it work.”
Licht on whether Mike Glennon’s status as an unrestricted free agent in 2017 will essentially force the Bucs to keep three quarterbacks on their roster this year so that Tampa Bay will have a groomed replacement in either Ryan Griffin or Dan LeFevour to back up Jameis Winston next year.
“We don’t mind keeping three,” Licht said. “One year when I was with the Patriots we kept four. It was Tom Brady’s rookie year and he was the fourth quarterback. It kind of depends. If you like the guy, you do keep three. Right now we like Ryan, but he’s never played in a game as a Buc. We’ve never seen him play in our system in a preseason game. He was running scout team offense for us last year, and he did a great job at that. But we need to see more from him. If we like what we see and we see the potential for him to be a solid No. 2, then I would say we would probably want to keep him, so we’ll keep three.”
Licht also expressed his admiration for safety Chris Conte, who figures to start again this year and signed another one-year deal with Tampa Bay this offseason:
“It was kind of mutually agreed that this would be the best way to handle it right now [with a one-year deal],” Licht said. “Make sure he stays healthy. Chris kind of got mixed up – and it was probably my fault when I was discussing some of these older free agents – with the bridge players to some of these young and up-and-coming guys. Chris is not just a bridge player. He’s potentially an answer. He’s one of the more athletic safeties I’ve ever been around. If he can stay healthy, he can be really good. I like safeties with a cornerback background. He played some corner in college, and Bradley McDougald and Ryan Smith are the same way.”
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• Tampa Bay safety Bradley McDougald is excited about continuing the practice of matching up one-on-one against tight ends in Mike Smith’s new defense. McDougald played cornerback at the University of Kansas and made the transition to safety in the pros beginning with Kansas City and then with Tampa Bay when he arrived in 2013.
Bucs S Bradley McDougald – Photo by: Getty Images
“Most definitely,” McDougald said. “Even in my second year I was matching up on Jimmy Graham and following him around. In that defense we didn’t exactly match up like that, but Coach [Leslie] Frazier made an exception for me. I personally like covering guys. It’s a one-on-one challenge and you have to beat the guy in front of you.
“I always like the thought of that, but in this defense there are times when we’re not covering tight ends. There are times where we’ll be dropping down on wide receivers and giving them different looks and carry guys across the field. As long as you are in the right place at the right time and use your technique the right way and knowing where your help is at, you are really able to cover anyone with a good rush. It’s going to be fun.”
• Bucs rookie Danny Vitale’s two favorite NFL players are former Washington H-back Chris Cooley and former Tampa Bay fullback Mike Alstott. Vitale wore No. 40 at Northwestern as a tribute to Alstott.
“I loved Mike Alstott, especially because he was a Joliet guy,” Vitale said. “I like to believe that I can try and fill that role that he once had. It’s going to be tough because he was such a great player, but this fullback role is kind of transitioning to that H-back role, and I can bring something new to the table as well.”
Unfortunately for Vitale, he can’t wear Alstott’s No. 40 jersey because it has been retired by the Buccaneers. Nor can he pay tribute to Cooley by wearing No. 47 because that number is out of use and is expected to be retired this year when legendary Tampa Bay safety John Lynch gets inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor this year.
Bucs WR Kenny Bell – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
• Speaking of Danny Vitale, he is expected to join Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Charles Sims, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Cameron Brate, Adam Humphries and possibly Donteea Dye and Kenny Bell to give Tampa Bay as many as nine skill position players that have three years worth of experience or less.
“I think it’s awesome that it’s a pretty young team with a lot of great athletes,” Vitale said. “You’ve got guys like Jameis and Mike Evans as well. Those are guys I looked up to in college. It’s awesome to be playing with those guys.”
• Tampa Bay director of football administration Mike Greenberg received some well-deserved kudos from Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer this spring at the NFL Owners Meetings in Boca Raton. Greenberg, who is the team’s capologist, has helped the team lock up big-time stars Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Doug Martin to long-term contracts over the past two years. Glazer lauded Greenberg’s trend-setting practice of creating guaranteed contracts without signing bonuses that can saddle a team’s salary cap with dead money.
“Mike does a tremendous job, and we are fortunate to have Mike and I know no one works harder than Mike on the contracts and really looking at everything and being innovative in what he does and the ideas that he brings,” Glazer said. “He has really done tremendous job, and if you look at our salary cap situation the last several years, he’s kept us in a really good position. We are nowhere getting ourselves in any type of problems and we are well positioned for when we have success to be able to keep the team together and continue on. So he’s not someone who gets mentioned often, but he is the perfect example of people that don’t necessarily get notoriety and aren’t out in front, but do a tremendous job and is a great benefit to our organization.”
Well said, Mr. Glazer.
• And finally, congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning for such a great and exciting season. The Lightning’s postseason run helped energize the Tampa Bay area, which truly became “The Thunder.” I saw two Lightning games this spring, including a playoff win over the New York Islanders, and they are such a fun team to watch.
Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik has done wonders in creating a truly electric atmosphere at Amalie Arena and my hope is that a newly renovated Raymond James Stadium will pick the Bucs pick up where the Lightning left off and captivate Tampa Bay with improved play and a winning season. I know the Glazers, Bucs chief operating officer Brian Ford and the Bucs’ brass have been paying close attention to how the Lightning have engaged fans and gained a tremendous amount of popularity in this market and will follow suit. Go Bolts!
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Man, I wrote a long comment and clicked post, and it just disappeared. That’s so annoying.
That’s happened to me before. Some of my best thoughts got zapped. Too busy to do over.
I think it’s time for an extended vaca… Regurgitated old info and quotes is not a Fab 5. Long for the good ole’ days of Buc Mag…
So you’re complaining about there not being enough information, in May nonetheless, and suggesting an extended vacation for SR. Which would in turn lead to a lack of articles and analysis, which isn’t even available at this time of year anyway.
I don’t know if you saw the last time SR missed a Fab 5 a few weeks ago because he was on vacation, but it was basically Armageddon over here. Damned if you do – damned if you don’t over here Scott, sorry for the ungrateful followers. And I don’t know if you heard but apparently Deacon Blues now determines what constitutes a Fab 5, and apparently regurgitated old info and quotes just ain’t cutting it! haha you guys kill me. Go find the info that Scott is supposedly missing at another site if you feel the need to bitch over here. Oh wait, you can’t, because it’s f***ing May! No one is forcing you to stay here.
Deacon why don’t you write 5,000 words a week – every week – during the offseason and see how much info you end up regurgitating. I’d love to see it.
Anyway, is anyone else really really excited to see Jameis this year? I honestly think this kid is the answer to our long ignored prayers finally. I haven’t felt this excited and optimistic for our future since… Ever!! GO BUCS!!!!
Just did it again. What the hell’s going on, PR? Shame on me for not hitting “copy” first this time, but what gives? Are you guys censoring my comments because you don’t like what I have to say? That can’t actually be happening, right?
I’ve gotten to where I “Select All” and “Copy” before I submit every single one of my posts. It probably happens to everyone but it’s been refreshing without showing my post for so long I can’t remember when it started happening.
Yeah I believe you get timed out if you take too long to write a post. I’ve had it happen to me a couple of times and as PInk stated above, I’ve gotten used to saving my longer ones before I post.
Hmmm okay. I’ve posted a lot of long comments, and none have ever done that. I guess that’s what happened, though. Thanks for the tips, guys.
Don’t believe these guys toofamiliar. PR has a most wanted list and I don’t know who’s at the top, you or Jon Gruden. Word is they read your unflattering treatise on BucsNation last week on “PR gon run me crazy, up in here” and unleashed their hitman, Mark Cook, aka, godfather of the Plant City Mafia. I know this guy, he wears a beard to disguise himself, but make no mistake, he is cold-blooded. He once gave Peg Leg Moffett, a woodpecker and a package of termites for his birthday! He can kill a post quicker than you can say “this must be sarcasm” So you’re right to be paranoid! Lol.
Amazing what Jack Daniels and little imagination can do on a slow day all in the name of sarcasm and fun. Just kidding toofamiliar, nobody is after you and try to have a good weekend! Lol.
I’m excited for Vitale. Trying to temper my expectations with him being a 6th round pick, but the possibilities with him are tantalizing. I love the idea of being able to go into a huddle with him, Doug, and a tight end to force the defense into their base formation, starting in I formation, then shifting him outside and watching him abuse a linebacker on a route. The kid looks to me like he has a ton of potential. I’m a bit unsure of him as a pure lead blocker in jumbo sets. Hopefully he can figure it out and excel there.
Fab 1: What times were we practicing in 2002 when we went on to win a Super Bowl? I know we were running 2-a-days for the most part back then, but one practice was lighter than the other. I say we mimic whatever schedule that was as well as possible.
Fab 2: We’ll see.
Fab 3: In years past we would get daily reports on the OTA’s that were available to be viewed by the media, now it’s one section in Fab 5 at the end of the week? The daily practice reports from OTA’s and training camp are the reason I joined PR over 10 years ago (back when you had to pay to play). It was insight I couldn’t get anywhere else, now I spent the last week scouring SB Nation and Buccanners.com for info. What gives?
Fab 4 & Fab 5: Nothing to add here.
Not the best work of PR ,but c’mon guys, there really isn’t anything to report this time of year. OTA’s are guys in shorts running freely , so it’s hard to gauge anything and I’m sure PR doesn’t want to do what they did a couple of years ago talking about how good players like Mcclown are playing in shorts.
As for the fab 5 itslef, I’m a firm beleiever that we should get out of the heat as much as possible. Yeah it’s different when certain teams come in from a cold climate, but there is no advantage to playing in the heat. I’ve worked in kitchens for 20 years and you don’t get used to the heat. You just deal with it.
I’d be all for the Bucs getting the same vests that FSU has their players wear. It monitors muscle and all kinds of shit and their injury rate has been outstanding. It helps in telling them when to pull guys and when not to.Pretty cool tech.
AS for the rest of the Fab 5, it’s kind of stuff we’ve been hearing all week, but As posted above Vitale is extremely enticing to me. The set we can move him to and from should create some real mismatches.
I did it toofamiliar. Wanna make sumthin of it.
Are you talking about your spacing? lol
Yes, the Florida heat which this team has never taken advantage of because there is none.
All teams go into training camp in the hot summer months and the temperature doesn’t vary that much from Florida to New York in the afternoon.
As I have stated earlier about this topic, Ray Perkins was the complete idiot when it came to this factor.
Coaches here have tried everything to achieve this “advantage” and all for nothing.
I’m glad the guys are having such a good time in OTA’s and I hear the “music” blaring in the background when I watch the videos.
I remember Raheem Morris used to do the same thing until he got fed up with the way the team was performing and shut down the tunes for a more professional work environment.
I’m not saying it is good or bad, just making an observation. I would like to know how many other teams do this in the NFL and if it is standard once training camp starts and during the regular season.
Also, I think for it to be considered music someone has to know how to actually sing or play an instrument. Using a computer to generate sounds and yelling obscenities doesn’t qualify as “music.”
Yes, I am old but I do like rap, I just never confuse it with real “music” performed by “real” musicians who know how to play real instruments.
There are plenty of musical instruments in rap – turntables, pianos, drums, guitars, synthesizers, etc. In modern rap, computers are often used to produce these sounds, but the exact same is true for many other types of modern music. And rap itself, the actual lyrics, are often very melodic, and almost always percussive in nature.
I can’t believe two of my favorite posters have digressed into a discussion about (c)rap music(?). Me, I’ll take the 60’s era stuff.
Right on Scu!
I like that too. I tend to have very diverse tastes with most things, music included. To various degrees I really, really like classic rock of the 50s-80s, country, rap, reggae, some types of metal, house, alternative, jazz….for the most part, I just like music, man.
Most pop is rough for me.
Just realized I left some out, lol. Short version, again, is that there is a wide range of music I like.
Not that anyone cares, I know. lol
Please say you don’t like Disco toofamiliar.
Fab:1 was an extremely long weather report. It’s hot in Tampa during Summer. I think the real reason the Bucs have a bad record in September is because they had terrible teams.
Fab: 2 is spot on. How often have the N.E. Pats had a speed WR? Vitale will be a force.
Fab 3: Feel the energy! Any news on the New D?
Fab:4 I still think we should trade Glennon to a team in need and stockpile a pick.
Fab: 5 Go bolts!
Well and concisely said on all points, particular Fab1. Our records in recent seasons have sucked in every month because we’ve been relatively bad at football. No other reasons. Trying to draw a causal link between our practice times/weather and our W/L record is dumb.
You beat me to it!
SR- another really good post. here is my take:
1-practicing in the heat is not the ONLY factor in our late season slides. As injuries occur, the lack of depth becomes more apparent. Poor drafting has led to a lack of overall depth and IMO had more to do with our late season problems than practicing in the heat.
2-I love the Vitale pick and kudos to PR and Licht for grabbing him. I am hoping he is as advertised.
3-I love the energy.
4- all GM’s spin and Licht is a master. I am still amazed that the smart football folks at PR bought. RA would have hit 100% of his kicks with NFL hash marks. MC reparented this nonsense on buccaneers.com. Come on guys, I know you have to suck up to get access, but please, can you inject some objectivity and call Licht out on some stuff. Let’s remember, Barth hit on 93% in 2014. Even if RA makes 100% was it really worth it. Is there anyone at PR with the stones to ask Licht some tough questions, or is it all softball, all the time?
These guys called Lovie out. If he makes 100%, of course he is worth it.
meant to you you smart guys bought the RA spin on kicking from the wider hashes. no disrespect, but if you are not going to call Licht out on that, don’t repeat it as Cook did. On this point, you guys sound like licht ambassadors instead of objective reporters.
Sorry Toofamiliar, but even your excuse admits that it is a computer generating the sounds.
Musician’s don’t play computers, they play instrument. A computer is not an instrument.
Listen, I was listening to rock when synthesizers became popular and liked Rick Wakefield on a limited scale.
But those synthesizers had keyboards and it took a musician to perform on one. That isn’t the case nowadays.
Like I said, I like a lot of rap, but I also hate a lot of it.
I love the medlodies and rhyming of Rap, even more so when it is tinged with anger and hostility.
What I don’t like is the unimaginative use of foul language. Note Marvin Gaye singing, “Let’s Get It On.” What a great tune and how many babies were made to that playing in the background.
Now juxtapose that with some idiot screaming out the “F” word to describe what he wants to do to his “b!tc$e$” and “hos.”
Give me a break. Don’t insult me by trying to convince me that is music.
I get what you’re saying with your taste. I’m with you. There’s nothing wrong, IMO, with a discerning musical palate. A critical ear is a good ear. I dislike lots of things, but that doesn’t make them not music. Note that your initial critique didn’t say that such rap didn’t have musicians. You said that it wasn’t music. Whether a note on a track is produced by the physical strumming of a string or if it is conjured by someone using a computer, an E minor is still an E minor. The note, no matter where it came from, IS still music. That can’t rationally be debated. Now, what VALUE such music has when compared to other forms of music is certainly fair to argue.
Many people would say the same thing about many, or maybe even all, of the various sub-forms of heavy metal. But most metal utilizes some of the more complex rhythms, time signatures, and constructions ever created in music. That I can’t appreciate one doesn’t make it not music. It just makes it, in my opinion, BAD music, lol.
Guys, I feel your pain regarding the current state of cacophonic, dissonance, uh, I mean current music. However, this is a football site. Besides no decent music has been published since Claire de Lune in 1905.
Random question – why do keep creating new comment threads rather than using the “reply” feature at the bottoms of comments? It makes having an online conversation more difficult when the flow of the thread keeps getting broken up.
And now my “old school” pal, 76 has been sucked into the music exchange? Can we fast forward to July and begin football talk? It’s a sad day when the conversation has turned to the audio selections of an OTA. Oh the insanity!
Haha yea, this isn’t a conversation that’s likely to pop up in October, that’s probably a fair point.
Sorry scubog. I don’t know what came over me:(
Bucnut2, Licht has had to answer plenty of questions about the pick of RA, from local and national media.
How else and how long would you have continued to ask the same question to get the same answer.
The staff of PR is entitled to their own opinion of the draft pick as you are.
It’s not like there is a giant conspiracy going on to hide the fact that Licht picked a kicker with a No.2 selection.
Practicing in the middle of the day in the heat is definitely a terrible idea that drains the players energy. I am so happy to see Koetter bringing solid ideas to the table. And for such a slow week that was a solid Fab 5 if you ask me
Regarding the question of the draining effect of the Bucs practicing in the heat all week as compared to our opponent playing one game in it. Ask any roofer. As the week goes on their body gets more and more sapped so by Friday they’re about fried. Do the northern teams practice in a blizzard?
Get that covered practice facility done…..NOW!!
Common ground has been found toofamiliar. I’m not a big fan of heavy metal, either.
However, 76Buc wins the post of the day when he refers to all of this as “cacophonic dissonance.”
I play soccer in the heat very often. We also play at the same time the Bucs play. While both teams suffer in the heat, there is one big thing you can do to give yourself an advantage. The most important one is aerobic conditioning to remove as much of that insulating fat as possible. Moving less useless weight around all day produces less body heat, too. So you’d want offensive linemen and defensive tackles who are big only because they’re big and muscular, not because they’re big and fat.
Also, there’s a flaw in the logic that the Bucs fade down the stretch because of exposure to heat. Fatigue from playing in the heat only lasts for 24 hours or so. If the Bucs are winning more in September when it’s hottest, and losing “down the stretch” in December when temperatures are more comfortable, couldn’t that be BECAUSE they lost the advantage of being more acclimatized to the heat and humidity?
I don’t think the Bucs should practice every day at the hottest times. It’s hard to stay sharp and learn when you’re always under that kind of duress. But I do think they should make a point of simulating game conditions at least once a week. That way individual players can experiment with methods for how best to cope with it– what to wear, what kind of shape to be in, what to do in pregame warmups, how much and how often they need to drink to stay hydrated– rather than having to learn on the day of the game same way their opponents have to.
You guys complaining about a Fab 5 in May make me laugh. There is nothing going on, even for the first OTA’s of the season. Yes the team ran around in shorts and looked good. Rarely does a team look bad in shorts and helmets. Just like Cmaster said, remember how much praise McCown was getting during underwear practices? SR gave you who looked good, what they are focusing on more, and how the practices are run. What else would you like, a play by play breakdown of a team running the basics on offense and defense? I think the 15 comment long thread of what constitutes music today is a great example of just how exciting the NFL is in May. “Computers aren’t instruments!” Said the old man yelling at the cloud. Oh and by the way, Horse, it’s ‘Ditto’ not diddo. Just to clarify. Everyone have a great Memorial Day weekend, and in the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X. Football and meaningful and copious amounts of information and analysis will be readily available very soon. Until then you can scour the other sites for information that just isn’t there this time of year. LETS GO BUCS!
I guess that’s what PR wants, me scouring other websites for information I used to get here. The information that has value this time of year is the same it’s always been. Who is in shape, who’s dropping passes, who’s passes are off target or on target, who’s intercepting passes and who is running with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams that we might not expect. Just report the news and let us decide if it’s important or not. Reading about what the coaches and players think of each other has less value to me than practices without pads. What else are they gonna say, “Man, that guys sucks!”
If this information is reported daily you have more room to describe what you saw instead of cramming it into one section of a Fab 5.
pink, I think PR does a great job, especially in the analysis area. However, you are making a lot of sense here! Whose looking good and whose not is what I want to know.
esquandolas4, at least Horses typo didn’t get any worse that that. it could have been much worse.
If just one of those consonants was an l instead of a d, this conversation would have spun out of control.
Swear I heard this from a female broadcaster while watching the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship which I love watching because the “women” are so full of natural emotion, enthusiasm and of course, beauty. Oink, oink. (That oink is referring to me)
One of the women hit a bad shot.
Male announcer: It sounds like she got into some wood on that shot.
Woman announcer: Oh boy, do I know how that feels.
I’m not saying another word.
Hysterical drdneast! Too bad Jet’s owner Woody Johnson wasn’t in the gallery.
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