Cover 3 is a weekly feature column written by PewterReport.com’s Tampa Bay Bucs beat writer Trevor Sikkema published every Tuesday. The column, as its name suggests, comes in three phases: a statistical observation, an in-depth film breakdown, and a “this or that” segment where the writer asks the reader to chose between two options.

Sikkema’s Stat of the Week

Alright, I should probably explain that title right away so you guys don’t get mad at me.

I’ll give you the main message of it now and explain it as we go on.

This entire rebuild – or reload, whatever you want to call it – was never meant for 2019, we just fell for the bait.

Every year there is that surprise team that makes the playoffs. There are the six or eight teams across both conferences that make the postseason that most could’ve called at the beginning of the year. But we all know that there are always one or two teams that shock the world and make it in with an unexpected great year.

We told ourselves that could be the Buccaneers.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Instead, it’s the undefeated 49ers, who won the season opener in Tampa Bay, 34-17, to kick off an 8-0 run to start the 2019 campaign.

Now, in our defense, the formula was there for such a reality. Head coach Bruce Arians had been a part of two very quick turnarounds, first in Indianapolis in 2012 and then in Arizona the next year. Both of his Coach of the Year Awards in ’12 and ’14 came in his first few seasons with each team, part of which was because of how incredible it was that he was able to get things going early on. If Arians had done it before with other teams, why couldn’t he do that in Tampa Bay?

There were also positives of this particular situation in Tampa that show signs of a successful first year. Arians had never been an NFL head coach before when he took over the Colts on an interim basis, and look at the success he had making the playoffs in Andrew Luck’s rookie season. Then he had never been a full-time NFL head coach before his tenure with the Cardinals; he had quite a bit of success there, too.

Coming to Tampa Bay, Arians had way more head coaching experience under his belt, and on top of all that, had just taken some time off of coaching to really sit back, view what the rest of the league was doing, and digest it. Throw in the fact that he had assembled his dream coaching staff to implement what he wanted to do and we all believe that the process to success under this new regime was about to be streamlined. Playoffs? Heck, we were even convincing ourselves 2019 could hold double digit wins for the Buccaneers.

That also came from the confidence in the roster. When Arians took the job here in Tampa Bay, he did so singing the praises of their quarterback Jameis Winston. He talked about Winston being a big reason why he came back to coach. “The quarterback whisperer,” as some people call him, identified Winston early on as a player he could win with.

Bucs fans took those words and ran with them, envisioning Winston taking a giant leap into being the consistent franchise player we thought he could be back on draft night in 2015. Arians also went on to say that he had never taken over a team with as much talent as he saw top to bottom on this Bucs roster before the season.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Bruce Arians
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

So let me get this straight. A guy who has a track record for quick turnarounds bringing in tons of experience with him on his coaching staff to a roster already set with a quarterback he liked and a depth chart around him that he boasted to be the most talented starting point he’s ever had.

After wandering the NFL postseason desert for over a decade, in search of any sign of water, Arians offered Bucs fans an oasis of hope.

But it turns out it was a mirage – and it always has been. This team was not built to win with a new regime in 2019. It was always about beyond that. But I want be very clear and emphasize that all of that is okay – our expectations are what made us think it wasn’t.

Arians came to Tampa Bay reiterating that he wasn’t about rebuilding but rather reloading. That’s great to hear in training camp. That’s the kind of stuff that gets you fired up as a fan and fosters belief in a roster full of players he has to win over.

But it’s just a cliché, and certainly was here, in a place where the culture of losing is deeply rooted. What does that kind of statement say – that he wants to win? Of course he does, every team does. But this Bucs team wasn’t built for it in 2019. It had to get exposed before it could grow, and now it’s showing.

The big stat in this section of the Cover 3 is number 25.4. That was the average age of this Buccaneers’ roster at the end of training camp. That number made them the second-youngest team in the NFL behind the Miami Dolphins, and after moving on from a couple veteran players since, the Bucs might be even closer to the No. 1 spot in terms of youthfulness.

That’s showing on the field. This team doesn’t have much experience, certainly not much winning experience. The young players don’t know how to win yet. Sure, some of the veterans do. Winston is having a decent year, all things considered. When things have been stable and supportive around him, he’s at times looked his best as a Buccaneer.

Left tackle Donovan Smith is quietly having a good year, too, as now one of the vets on the team. Center Ryan Jensen, left guard Ali Marpet and linebacker Lavonte David have all been solid this season with their presence, while wide receiver Mike Evans has been spectacular. But outside of those guys and maybe a handful of others, this team doesn’t know how to start, it don’t know how to win, and it certainly don’t know how to win in Tampa Bay.

No many do.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: PewterReport.com

The big take away quote from Arians’ press conference after the Seahawks loss was that at one point they were playing six rookie defensive players on the field at one time. I believe that number was actually five, but the point still stands. A team can’t win with that. And yet here the Bucs are throwing five or six rookies out there no defense because it’s their best option.

That’s why this was never about 2019. It was always about 2020 and beyond, whether they – or we – realized it or not.

That’s why you also heard Arians talk about how proud he was of his guys and their fight after this week’s loss: “I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”

I’m not calling Arians a liar at all, and I’m not even saying that he shouldn’t feel that way. He can, he should and it was true. But trying hard wasn’t the message at the beginning of the year. The message was winning. I think we’re all coming to grips with the fact that 2019 isn’t about winning in the now with this team and its disappointing 2-6 record. It’s about making sure what the Bucs are going through means something for the future.

The 2019 season is a weed-out year. It’s a year where Arians can see which guys he can win with and which guys he can’t. And I’m not talking about just talent. I think a lot of these player have talent.

But winning in this league is more than that. It’s about experience. it’s about reps. It’s about mindset. It’s about mentality. It’s about finding out who is going to buy in and which players are smart enough not to get this team beat. For years and years, Tampa Bay has had talent (some years certainly more than others), but as it went through its struggles it never matter because the guys they had weren’t struggling in an effort to build towards something greater. That’s what 2019 has to be for Arians and the Buccaneers, especially now.

The Bucs are not going to make the playoffs in 2019. What they have to do for the rest of this season is find out who is worth keeping and investing time in. A bunch of their players are on one-year deals, or contracts that are not fully guaranteed after this year.

Bucs LB Lavonte David and DT Ndamukong Suh
Bucs LB Lavonte David and DT Ndamukong Suh – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Outside linebackers Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib, defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Beau Allen, tight end Cameron Brate, linebacker Lavonte David, right tackle Demar Dotson and quarterback Jameis Winston to name a few. All but Brate and David are free agents, and who is worth bringing back?

I didn’t say who has talent to play in this league. I said who is worth bringing back? Then there are a handful of younger players who, despite having cheaper rookie deals, this franchise should not put up with if the play and the mentality from them does not advance this team’s cause.

No, 2019 isn’t a postseason year. It’s a “Come To Jesus” year. Winning is a lot more than just what you’ve done in the past, and these young Bucs are realizing that. Even with the most experienced coaching staff they’ve ever had, it’s going to take time. If they make the most out of their struggles this season and point them in the right direction for next, perhaps a Coach of the Year and playoff run could be coming in Arians’ second season as head coach – just like it did when he was in Arizona.

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Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

81 COMMENTS

  1. I agree, and I’ve been thinking about it after the last couple of games. We the fans jumped the gun too soon. Expecting playoffs based on some of the roster moves and names on coaching staff. It takes time for things to come together.

    What do I want to see the rest of 2019? A few more wins, not another 5-11. I’d like to see this team win 4 or 5 games the rest of the way. They face the Cardinals, Falcons x2, Jags, Lions, Saints, Colts and Texans. Beat the Cardinals, sweep the Falcons and win 1 or both vs Jags/Lions.

    What would give me the most confidence for 2020? BA taking over play calling. Licht going hard after OL, CB and DL in the draft and FA.

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    • “Jumping the gun”, “this was always about 2020 not 2019”, and “just too much youth” are all what we in the real world call “excuses for failure”.

      Like this was all the fault of fans for having too high expectations … EXCUUUUUUSSSEEEEE MEEEEE??????!!!!! Bucs fans with “too high expectations”.

      Sorry, in the real world and in the world of the NFL – otherwise known as ‘not for long” it is ALWAYS ABOUT WINNING NOW.

      Come 2020, and the failure continues, then what will be the excuses run up the flag pole like the white flags of surrender? “Well, two years just isn’t long enough” … or ” Winston is really really really the quarterback of the future .. as in, never this season.”.

      Winston is to Bucs quarterbacking like fusion power is to commercial electrical power – it’s always the future in 20 years.

      Ditto with Jason Licht’s prowess (excuse me while I throw up a little in my mouth) as a general manager and personnel man. It is always for next year, not this year.

      Sorry, the sell by date for Bucs franchise excuses passed many many years ago.

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  2. Trev,I have one question for you. Shouldn’t a GM who’s been picking in the top ten of the draft for the last six years have a team that’s ready to win by now? If Licht had picked the right players, they should all be at the peak of their careers by now, including the #1 over all pick QB. Instead we have more questions then answers, a roster full of holes, and we’re still wondering if Jameis is that guy. How many GM’s going on their sixth year with high draft choices, and tons of salary cap in the beginning of his rein still have a job let alone needing more time to build? Three HC’s, the #1 over all pick QB, six years of drafting in the top ten, and it was never meant to be this year? Wow. Patients, are what’s waiting in a doctors office, not the NFL which stands for not for long.

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    • @surferdudes Exactly. I agree with everything you wrote. The Bucs are one of the youngest teams in the NFL but some how they are in Cap Purgatory this year. He can’t manage the cap, he can’t draft well and he has a less than stellar record with FA Signings. So of course the Glazers give him another 5 years.

      Then you’ve got JPP who has come back from a broken neck, has dominated from out of the gate, provided much needed leadership to this team whose culture is currently “Losing is Acceptable”. It isn’t acceptable to Pierre-Paul. He could be the Hardy Nickerson of this generation of Buccaneers. So of course the front office reworked his contract so he can hit the FA Market in 2020.

      Retain the incompetent, Release the Competent. Chump Teams make Chump Moves.

      Oh well. It’s a Buc’s life.

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    • Without a doubt Licht should hold responsibility for the roster being what it is. No team is perfect, but this defense has not grown into what it has needed to be to match what the offense can do. That is on Licht. He’s been here long enough for that to be the case.

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      • Which is funny since, ya know, PR has been Jason’s Licht’s personal PR machine for all of his tenure here.

        Glad at 29-59 and 5 years out of 6 starting in the top 10 of the NFL Draft with his first overall pick on shaky ground to get an extension and no immediate hope in sight we can get the occasional Yeah “This is on on him” in the comment section of an article that is telling fans, not the writers of the outlet who regularly pump out articles proclaiming the glory of every draft and wisdom of the objectively failed GM’s moves, that they were too optimistic.

        Now of course we don’t get treated to “Licht needs to be fired like 3 years ago” from the writers at PR, like some of the writers do about every coach on the roster or of us have been typing about Licht since the HBO lights went out along with any hope of the 2017 NFL season. It’s not like what would happen with literally every other position on the coaching staff or roster, no we get a ‘You guys were too optimistic’ spiel, from the readers of your own optimistic preseason and post draft takes.

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        • Devasher, that’s rude!

          PR is contractually obligated to carry the water for the Bucs GM. Dominik, now Licht. It’s not their fault!

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          • @tog It’s even in their initials.

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      • His worse failing IMO is failure to develop any depth, especially across the OL. Our starters aren’t great but they are serviceable. But if one goes down the drop off to the backup is so large its game over. The pass rush against us then looks like a gang of Warren Sapp’s rushing the buffet table.

        Related is the fact we can not play “game manager” because we are always behind due to a Swiss Cheese secondary that has this GM’s fingerprints all over it. No lead is too big for our opponent to overcome.

        If you sat in the jury box at this GMs trial you have no choice but to vote guilty of incompetence.

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  3. As always Sikkema insightful coverage, but I think the Bucs have a chance at the playoffs. They played very well against a very good Seattle team (Wilson what can I say). If they win against the Cardinals (they should) and beat NO (dicey) the week after, don’t count them out. The young secondary will only get better. We saw flashes of that last week. This team is starting to believe. Go Bucs.

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    • I’d say the Bucs are closer to being a winning team at this point in the 2019 season then they were in the 2018 and certainly the 2017 season. If Arians can keep these guys fighting hard, like they did Sunday, they could conceivably turn a corner over the next 8 games. I think the key is Winston continuing to play smart like he did against Seattle, the first Carolina game, the Rams and the Giants games.

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    • Great assessment of our real situation and overblown expectations even though the majority of analysts made predictions of anywhere from 5-11 to 8-8 before the season began.

      However, having experienced all of the last 11 or 12 years I finally tempered my expectations this year even though I always look at the glas as more than half filled just because I insist on being a die hard fan.

      Not only are Bucs fans tired of losing I would dare say that most of us are also tired of discussing “next year” come every mid season or so.

      Nonetheless, that’s exactly where we are again.  Only a miraculous run of the table can bring much joy to this season.  An  8-0 or 7-1 finish to the season would do the trick.
      _______________
      Go Bucs!!!

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    • Please let me know what you are smoking….I need it.

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    • @mbrown758 I think you are being way too optimistic about the Bucs being a playoff team. At this point, I would settle for a Dungy: Year One style strong finish to the season. IDK if Arians really believed what he said about an immediate turnaround for the Bucs but obviously that’s not the case.

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  4. Playoffs, playoffs! I just want to win a game! Playoffs! Talk about drinking the cool aide, this punch bowl is laced with something, playoffs! LoL.

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    • Hahaha

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    • @surferdudes Easy there, Jim Mora.

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  5. You found out what it takes to get Good Jameis: 1. Good protection by the OL (and with the return of Cappa you saw it, and both D. Smith and Dotson overall did a better job of stopping Seattle’s pass rushers.) 2. A better run game. (Produced by giving Jones the majority of run plays, and will start him next week.). 3. Keeping an emotional Jameis calm. (Did you notice BA himself late in the fourth quarter grabbing Jameis and telling him “Calm Down!” If BA won’t call the plays, he needs to be able to talk into Jameis’ helmet just like his OC can; and thereby keep Jameis calm and focused. Because if Jameis comes out Good Jameis for the rest of this year, and our young secondary players get more live reps and improve the defense, with one more draft to get more top OL players and another speed rusher, and sign some Free Agents with experience, we should be set for a deep run next year. Moreover, BA just needs to get a little more creative to allow us to win all short yardage situations, such as playing Vea as a fullback then. (He has a capable backup in Beau Allen to give Vea a short rest after each time he plays FB).

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    • Good points owlkat, i must’ve missed Ariams telling jameis to calm down. I would love to know what arians was saying when he was laying into byron on the sidelines during the game.

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      • I was wondering that too, mentioned it in one of my comments. Luckily Seattle called a timeout, so it didn’t matter, they could regroup.

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    • @owlykat I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jameis had the worst game of his career when 40% of his first string offensive line was out due to injury.

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  6. What id like to see is consistency the last 8 hames from jameis. Im still convinced he gets a small 2 year deal or so. Id like to see licht attack the trenches next draft, but that might be wishful thinking as he seems to neglect it every year. Id also like to see some growth from our secondary. Hargreaves is all but gone so lets see these other guys step up. This team is too young, but we all bought the sales pitch. Its tough though as the morengames we win, the more we mess up our draft spot, and we arent going anywhere this year. Same shiit different year with this team.

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  7. You can not replace all the players that you lose in one year. David is aging, both offensive tackles need to be replaced, small-handed QB must go, As you predicted at least ONE DB with pro-bowl talent must be obtained. Not that many draft choices are available and we don’t draft very well anyway. Pretty gloomy outlook for 2020.

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    • You are either getting better or you’re getting worse in all sports–each day. At the end of last year, most posters were saying R. Jones BUST; Cappa–BUST. Now we see that both can play, though neither is near reaching their potential. Smith is a serviceable tackle. Have you looked at the offensive lines around the league? Do you realize how few teams run the ball effectively?

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  8. To give me some confidence going into next year I want to see the Bucs actually beat down a few teams and maybe go on an actual winning streak for once. When was the last time we actually dominated a game? I’m tired of these heart attack games.

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  9. So youre telling me that jason licht needs another year to put together a solid roster? How many years has he had now? How many more does he need? This “next year” talk is old and annoying.

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    • My question to you Trevor is if Bowles knew that we had this young secondary, then why run such an aggressive man coverage defense? That’s a recipe for disaster and a competent coach should know better. Should you put your entire roster in the best position to succeed? Seems very logical to me.

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      • A reasonable wuestion, but they had practiced this all week, though not with Dean. He was nervous and overmatched, but he did make several good plays as well.

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      • Maybe Bowels thinks these zone concepts are to much for a young secondary to grasp? Playing man might be easier for a young secondary to play more “aggressive”, I’m not sure. Last thing we need is giving these fast receivers more room to run IMO.

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      • Sorry this comment back is delayed, but the answer to this, in my opinion, is that Bowles knew Wilson would carve them up if they sat back and played zone.

        Many complained so much over the last two years (rightfully so) with Mike Smith that his defensive game plans never even gave them a chance because they were so soft. Bowles’ defense gave them a chance. They had to allocate extra resources on Seattle’s backfield due to them being a Top 5 rushing team and accounting for what Wilson can do as a bonus with his legs. So they took an extra defender and put his eyes in the backfield and in doing so had to play single high and a lot of man coverage. But this is the risk they had to run. If they played zone, their defeat would have been sealed, if you ask me. What they played at least gave them a chance, and remember this game did go to overtime and if they won the coin toss who knows. It was always going to be a shootout type of game. They just took the risk on playing the more aggressive coverage to maybe get a turnover or force Seattle to be perfect (which many of the passes just were).

        I honestly think it was the right move. Just young corners going up against the MVP.

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  10. I want to see this team learning how to win!! Finish the season strong! Get some victories under their belts! The young players, particularly in the secondary, have to start showing that they can play in this league. You win or lose based upon what you do Monday-Saturday. Coach Arians has talked about it: Preparation has to be better. Film study, playbook study, practice habits, attention to details. Beating New Orleans is going to be really difficult. The Saints seem to always control the line of scrimmage against the Bucs on both sides of the ball. Until that changes, the Saints are the better team. But the defense just has to get better, especially against the pass. Allowing over 30 points per game isn’t going to result in victories. I agree completely that the pass rush is too inconsistent. Way too often opposing QBs have a clean pocket to throw from. Who knows what is going to happen with this roster after the season ends? Lots of free agents. Have to make a BIG decision at QB. The bottom line right now is that the Bucs have a few good players, but their record of 2-6 tells you that they are a bad football team. Anyone currently on the roster who wants to turn this franchise around had better start showing it over the final 8 weeks of the season.

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  11. Really think you nailed it here Trevor. Not much more need be said. And I do think Arians turns this thing around. Just not this year.

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  12. “2019 is a weed out year”

    Been saying this all along. I’m on record saying this year was about finding out which players the previous staff failed…and which players won’t work for Arians. We’ve found guys like RoJo, Cappa, and Whitehead can play and should be part of this team moving forward, just like we found guys like Hargreaves, Spence, and Dotson are likely on their way out (or already gone). This season was always about making those distinctions, developing this young team, and finding the REAL problems, not the perceived ones due to the poor coaching we’ve had the past 5+ years. Arians still has some flaws of his own…so I’m still not 100% sure this will all work out for the best. But I do believe this entire write-up is spot on. This year was about analysis. Next year and beyond is about actual progression.

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  13. I think your glass is a little more half-full than mine Trevor.

    “Left tackle Donovan Smith is quietly having a good year,”…his pff is now finally at “backup” status, having been at “replaceable” for his entire career. So yes, relative to his first 5 years he’s now better, but he’s not having “a good year” by any other team’s standards.

    Call it what you want – Arians preached all off season. Maybe he was just leading us all on – for what reason? Regardless, what he has done is to have the fan base turn on the team, because EXPECTATIONS ARE EVERYTHING….every good manager in the world, in every walk of life, knows that you manage expectations first, middle, and last.

    I’m glad you have come to the same realization as many of us here on PR about Licht.

    As for the “young” team…we are mere fractions of a year younger than the average. Daniel Jones lit us up and he’s as young as anyone in our secondary. Last year we saw a young safety (that we for some inexplicable reason passed on) light it up as a rookie for the Chargers. Arians says “you draft offensive linemen for the next coach” – what a load of garbage…Quenton Nelson (a guy taken 1 spot ahead of our slot) made the pro bowl as a rookie (and will do so for a decade plus), and Frank Reich isn’t complaining about him. Rookies can play well too…just apparently not on our team.

    Moreover, the concerning thing for me is that it’s not ‘rookie mistakes’ (e.g., blowing a coverage) that our secondary keeps making (although they do those too) – it’s actual skill-shortage mistakes, like finding themselves 5 steps behind D Metcalf (whoever that is) running across the field, or being outplayed for jump balls (by S Shepherd), or getting trucked over on running plays, or failing to bring guys down with arm tackles, …that’s not Julio making them looking bad. Those aren’t ‘lack-of-experience’ mistakes, they are either skill mistakes or being disinterested mistakes….and that’s concerning.

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  14. Re: Arians……..Good or bad, because of the horrendous decisions made by the GM, in the draft and in free agency, the Bucs didn’t have the talent on the roster or the cap space to upgrade it. It is amazing bad the Bucs are when you consider they had one of the worst cap space numbers in the NFL. they should have been ion the super bowl if you look at how little cap space they had in 2019. No one can hit 100% of the time on free agents and draft picks, but the Bucs just don’t have the talent to be more than a 500. club, at BEST!! They will never be more than a 500. club with Winston at QB. After 5 years he is just an average QB and should NOT be given starting QB money next year.

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    • @larry harmon you are wrong about Winston. He is above average as a passer. If Arians can fix the secondary and get more depth on the Offensive Line despite Jason Licht trying to draft more kickers, TEs and WRs, you will see that.

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  15. Trevor Sikkema

    You’ve been the PRs best addition by far. Thank you for your fantastic articles. As far as the Buccs…maybe next year it’s a Buccs life.

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    • I am very lucky to have a place like PR that lets me write, and I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my work. So thank YOU!

      There’s always next year. Just gotta make sure the struggles are building blocks not road blocks.

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      • Trevor, If the next 2 games go as planned, can you start to believe?

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  16. I don’t think the fans bought it as much as the media. You wrote the articles about our coordinators potentially being gone and Byron succeeding Arians all before a single game was won lol. That’s not the fans that’s the media, letting Licht smile and woo you out of reality. The fans don’t know him at all which is prob why we have wanted him gone for awhile now, we care about the only thing that matters and that’s results. The Bucs ditched GMC for an “attitude change” but we are “nastier” and worse off lol. The narratives we get spun are as bad as Lichts roster moves. A defense is struggling so the solution was lose the best interior rusher we had Bc he wasn’t “mean” lol give me a break. Almost as dumb as cutting Revis bc we needed money for Alterraum Verner, he’s bad but he doesn’t learn. All GMs make bad moves only idiots repeat them, we have have an idiot. Another GM focused on the trenches would turn this teams win colum around but not Licht, he’s too dim to see the real issues and not smart enough to find the players to fix it. He must go

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  17. Trevor, good article. I have many questions for you and I hope you answer some of them, please, because I think many others want the answers too. I apologize up front for this being such a long reply.

    I’m like Surferdudes and many others; frustrated of hearing the same ole speeches every time we have a new Head Coach. No one points directly at the GM like they do at a Head Coach. Why is that? It appears to me there is some fear the Buccaneer Owners might cut them off from obtaining any amount of information as to the Bucs?

    Scott and Mark have been here long enough and should have showed more caution as to what the GM and Coaches were/are promoting. So why do they do it? I hope they do answer the question and I’m not asking you to answer it for them.

    Trevor, I thank you have been here 3 years? I’m glad you’re coming out now; is it because so many fans are in an uproar about all of this?

    I know I have lost trust in what is really being evaluated as to where this team actually is at this time. You do realize you can make any point you want by showing any video to prove any point. Is it possible for Pewter Report to show videos to prove the point that the GM is the real problem and not the head coaching problem?
    .
    I want the Bucs to win! Let me repeat this; I want the Bucs to win! I will always be a fan and I will always support the Bucs.
    This has to be the last season of all of this losing for a while. I do believe Arian’s will make 2020 a winning season, but only if we have a new GM!

    I look forward to your thoughts and answers.

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    • Horse, I think you have brought up several good points and good questions.

      I for one do hope that Pewter Report can be the source for good insights, a realistic presentation of where the Buccaneers stand at any given time and can continue to provide great insider information here and there.  I do try read and watch as many local media sites (including Buccaneers.com) as I can make time for during the week. PR has gotten better over the years.

      I share the frustrations about our franchise as well and I continue to want the Bucs to win every game too.  I am going to hang in there until somebody turns this thing around for the SECOND time!
      ____________
      Go Bucs!!!

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    • *cracks knuckles*

      I do think there is something to the closer relationship that the media gets to have with front office members like the GM. Sometimes it can give us extra insight that we try to portray, but I am also not naive to the fact that it can also be a bit blinding. We hear one side, understand the logic and maybe believe it more than we should. Perhaps that has been the case with Licht. This roster is his roster, and right now it isn’t good enough.

      The question with Scott and Mark I cannot answer, but I believe we all should have been less inclined to buy into what Arians was saying for 2019. Not that it wasn’t true or that it can’t happen. But I believe we took the validity of it and mistakenly forgot the time it will still take to bring it to life. Perhaps it was just getting caught up with brining someone who knew how to win to Tampa for the first time in over 10 years. Still a lot of work that has to be done, even if you make the right hire. It’s not just a snap of the finger or the drying of the ink on a contract.

      Lol the videos to prove the point that the GM hasn’t been as good enough are the same videos that show the poor play that I use in articles; that’s the product. Players, coaches, front office, ownership, there are always four levels. You can take the tape to whichever one you believe is the true root.

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      • Except this happens every season…

        You can see the dichotomy between intelligent national analysts/writers and local media in buying into the hype. There wasn’t even a serious attempt to engage with Arians record which, aside from a great 2013, is mixed (especially on the personnel side). Or the fact that hiring ANOTHER coach without a real search (Lovie, Koetter, Arians) might be a bad idea?

        Or Winston is another great example. I don’t think there’s a single serious analyst (that I’ve encountered) that thinks Winston can become a good QB. There’s not even a discussion – Winston is in the “bad” QB camp. Yet PR is still waffling…

        Why? Because they supported Winston through groping an Uber driver? Because of their cozy relationship with the organization and the Buccaneers?

        The reality is this is an incompetently run organization through and through (and that includes above Licht/Arians). Teams like the Bucs and Browns are run by people who are, unfortunately, not good at their job. If this is a company in an actual competitive environment its out of business.

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      • Trevor, thank you so much. This helps me to understand Pewter Report position, and how they presented it. There’s nobody to blame, I just wanted to understand it and confirm what I thought was happening.
        So the answer for me Trevor is PR was using their inside sources as best they could, understanding not to step on too many toes of their sources; nothing wrong with that at all.

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  18. I have the utmost respect and confidence in BA to succeed in his tenure here in Tampa but what I find frustrating and head-scratching is during training camp Bruce repeatedly said he is constructing a “smart” football team and that a accountability chart will be used. He stated that players who pop up too often on the chart for negative reasoning either ‘don’t care or are too stupid to be on the team’ (I’m paraphrasing here), then where is this accountability for the secondary? Week after week, Bruce tells the media the cause for poor secondary performance is communication related. Isn’t that a symptom of not being smart enough to be on the team?? Tampa absolutely should’ve acquired a vet for the secondary either during FA or before the trade deadline and Jamel Dean should’ve been running with the 1st team defense in place of VHIII since the bye week. that would’ve gave him valuable exposure time with the 1s and helped accelerate his conditioning coming back from injury.

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  19. However, one silver lining about Jamel Dean performance was that early in the game even when passes were completed on him, Dean was RIGHT there with tight coverage but Wilson was placing the ball in the one spot where only Lockett could catch it. Dean’s size and speed were very evident in the first half forcing tough throws but the more he became gassed the looser his coverage became on the WRs. This at least shows us a few things about Dean: he’s competent, talented, competitive, and fixable.

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  20. If we going to win in Year 2 – does this mean that Arians has coaxed Carson Palmer out of retirement?

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  21. If Winston plays well the remainder:
    Franchise Winston 1 year
    Resign Shaq or JPP and Nassib. Move on from Suh and move on from VHIII thank god!
    FA Sign Veteran CB
    Draft
    1 Draft Stud T Move Smith to RT if needed
    2 OL or DL
    3 QB
    4 WR (We dont have a WR 3)

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  22. Local ownership! That’s what we need. An owner that has his finger on the pulse of the franchise. These Glazer boys must spend a lot of time on their soccer team. Otherwise, they could sense the fans and media discontent. It’s starting to show even more at the games with many season ticket holders just selling their tickets to the opposing team’s fans. How in the world do u renew a GM who has like a 29-59 record? And then, u renew him for 5 more years! Not 2 year extension, or a 3 year extension, but 5 fricking years. What, please tell, did he do to deserve this 5 year re-up? To coincide with BA’s contract? It won’t matter if BA has a heart attack on the sidelines in a year or two due to the stress of this mess! I just don’t understand! Again, rewarding mediocrity with top gun pay. It was earned and it is not appreciated by this fan. Sell the Bucs if they r not ur priority. You boys will make millions! But for God’s sake get a football mind in here to run this team! I’m just saying…

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    • I do not expect the Glazers will sell this team any time soon. I do expect Winston, BA and Licht to be here for 2020.

      I am hoping that everything that BA has done this year will bear fruit next year. I am hoping (again!) for that ever elusive significant turnaround.

      I have this fantasy of BA leading us to the promised land with a Super Bowl win. It would be followed by a retirement as head coach and then being put in charge as the “President of Football Operations” in a franchise reorganization. We would then become perennial playoff contenders under a couple more coaches for several more years.

      I can dream can’t I? 😀

      Meanwhile, on to our next challenge with the Cardinals.
      ___________
      Go Bucs!!!

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  23. I have been waiting for Dean to play. Sunday I did and he looked confused or lost most of the time. BA the defensive backfield is not fixed as were your words.

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    • Great article. I may be the only person on this board who believes that BA is here for the long haul. 65 is the new 50. He is a mentor as much as he is a coach. He is mentoring his team not us, the fans. You nailed it. This is the foundational year. There will be big changes this offseason. I am confident of that prediction. I still think 7 wins is a possibility. Take note of the players he has cut loose since the start of the season. More are coming.

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  24. Whether you keep Winston or not make a free agent move on a veteran QB (Andy Dalton comes to mind). Whether you keep Winston or not draft another QB…. if nothing else this year should have taught us we need options at the QB spot.
    Address the trenches….offensive line should have priority.
    Make a free agent move on a veteran corner. We need a leader in that group and Hargraves does not fit the bill.
    If Leftwich does not find a way to make OJ Howard a significant part of the offense this year then bring in an offensive coordinator next year that can. Christ, how can you have a talent like that on your roster and just use him as a blocker!

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  25. “This entire rebuild – or reload, whatever you want to call it – was never meant for 2019, we just fell for the bait.”

    What’s all this “we” crap? You…YOU…along with PR and most of Bucs fans fell for the bait. I on the other hand said we’d go 6-10 and the way things are going we’ll be lucky to get that many wins. It’s hard to win much more than that without a QB, secondary or GM.

    To answer your question I can’t think of anything I want to see out of the rest of this season. Wins towards the end of the season don’t make me believe the team will be better the next season. Each season is it’s own. Especially since we are in cap hell and have a lousy GM making draft picks. Nothing I expect to see on the field this season would give me hope we would make the playoffs next season.

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    • We are no longer in cap hell.

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      • At the moment no….but when you consider:
        – Winston is due a big pay day or tag (unless we move on from him);
        – Barrett the same;
        – now JPP the same (since we tore up his deal);
        – Nassib somewhat smaller but still a raise;
        – Suh is gone so we need a new 3T;
        – Dotson will surely retire and need to be replaced (unless you think Wells can replace him);
        – Perriman is done his 1-yr deal (thankfully) but needs to be replaced (unless you think Miller is it);
        – we either have to keep (or attempt to restructure, which often leads to worse cap issues down the line) Jensen $10m, and Donovan Smith $14.5m next year, or else cut and replace them somehow;
        – we still don’t have a serviceable CB1;
        – are we letting Peyton Barber walk now? – maybe but who’s RB2 going to be?
        – is Lavonte now done? – it seems he’s unaffordable but who’s his replacement?

        We have very few (maybe none) up-and-comers to replace any of those guys because we spent so much draft capital on the secondary and will have to “fix” much of it again next off season.

        Somehow, all of those above can’t be replaced on the cheap with rookies….or we’re going to be using the “we’re so young” excuse again next year.

        Our cap situation is not currently “in hell”, but the heat is getting hotter quickly!

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      • I guess “cap hell” is a relative term because what I see and what EastEndBoy described. We won’t be able to freely make the moves we want and need to make to get better next season which is cap hell to me.

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    • I doubt people were expecting a winning season, but we did expect better than 2-6 at this point.

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    • The “we” is the many other Bucs fans part.

      Also, I said they would go 7-9, so we weren’t that different. I just did not think it would look the way it has. I think that’s the disconnect here with predictions and reality.

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  26. I remember Lovie being so bad that PR called for him to be fired midseason. Mike Smith another and eventually Dirk. At what point do the articles about firing Licht, the only constant to this losing, is gone. Access to a losing team can’t be worth more than writing an article that is literally seasonS overdue. There’s not a single shred of realistic evidence that points to him even doing an average job. If you have foolishly fallen in love Devin White and plan to pick CBs with the next picks why in the hell would you only sign Shaq to a 1 year deal?? JPP is older although productive and then there’s Nassib. Outside of that we have NOTHING at rush end so why not sign Shaq initially to a 2 or 3 year deal with some team options knowing that you won’t be adding a premier guy last year through the draft. Then you void JPPs deal but keep him so he can earn more money then we can pay or that he was under contract for to begin the year. It just pains me how miserable he is but then we see articles about how we were fooled lol. Many bashed Devin White and thought Allen should’ve been the pick but man it’s this personality and thing we just don’t see. Well I don’t see it and this team needs a young 7 sack guy more than a player giving at best the same production as Minter. Bad contracts, bad planning, bad drafting, bad coaching but still no fire Licht. Odd

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    • Couldn’t agree more stlbucsfan. I’m sure Devin White will be a good player in the league, but he just so happens to play MLB. Not his fault, it’s what he does. When you have the 5th pick overall, you don’t pick a MLB….ever. This from the same GM that thinks picking a kicker in round 2, and a NT at 12th overall (again, I’m sure he’ll be a good player in the league) make sense…we shouldn’t be surprised.

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      • Don’t forget the nickelback he drafted at 11. Or the CB he TRADED up to select in the 2nd that’s so bad he’s been a healthy scratch for weeks in the NFLs worst secondary. Vita, VHIII, Carlton, MJ, Whitehead, Evans, White, MurphyBunting, Bond, Ryan Smith, Nelson and Dean. 8 first or second rounders and this is the result? That’s not coaching or scheme or culture or anything other than awful personnel decisions combined with no clear plan.

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  27. Lose out, churn out half the roster including UDFA talent’s like Jamel Dean, VH3, Carlton Davis, MJ Stewart and Mike Edwards. Sign good vets for the secondary and attempt to win next season.

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  28. Ice-T haha

    You played yourself…
    That’s right, you played yourself…
    You played yourself…
    Yo, yo, you played yourself…

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  29. The way it was explained to me by pewter and all the posters on the site that it was a coaching problem in 2018 bring in a old-school hard nosed coach who was also a quarterback whisper And this team was off to the playoffs now at two and six playoffs not happening instead of A rebuild we can just fine-tune what we have to get a little more experience in the younger players and next year we’re off to the playoffs. Reading this post back to myself I just can’t stop laughing.

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    • I do think Koetter and his staff did a poor job of developing the talent that was given to them to work with. This does not mean I think Licht and his staff have made great decisions with their drafts either. I think Licht has done well in other areas. I thought his acquisition of JPP was a great move for example.

      Also from what I have gleaned from what BA did at Arizona and what has happened since he came here I don’t see him as anything special as a talent evaluator. I do see him as a very good to great teacher I see him as an “old school” leader and motivator. In that sense “In BA I trust”.
      ____________
      Go Bucs!!!

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      • P.S. I did predict the Bucs would go 9-7 but make no playoff appearance. I did this not from any particular “superior” football knowledge but just as a diehard Bucs fan going against the grain at the time.

        It is highly unlikely that will occur now. It is not entirely impossible yet. Eight more to go.
        ____________
        Go Bucs!!!

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  30. Never mind Jameis on track to throw 24 interceptions this year one good game And they’re all talking contract extension. Let’s keep the same group together and fine-tune them a little bit a little tweaks here and there.
    If they do that whatever the record ends up this year, next year will be worse.

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    • You’re an Ass Bob

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  31. What’s the incentive to win anymore games if the unrestricted free agents are going to leave anyway? All u can do is play the young guys and see what u got. It looks as if most believe Jameis will be franchised or resigned at an astonishing amount of money. The more things change the more they remain the same. Really no advantage to winning another game, although I believe we will win a couple…2-3 more games. Take the high draft pick and take the best damn Offensive Lineman in the country! Start building in the trenches. It’s the only way… we’ve tried doing it other ways but it just doesn’t seem to work. I think BA thought 2-3 years on sideline and perhaps get kicked upstairs to a management position. I think that was, ultimately, the plan. Then he could turn team over to someone he had been grooming that is currently on staff… which I think would be a disaster! I’m just saying…

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  32. I guess the question all along should have been, “reload what?” New England reloads. Winners reload. Losers? Nah.

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  33. We have the worst GM in the league. It’s really starting to get annoying that this guy has a job. All of this talk, all of this nonsense comes down to one single thing. This franchise is incompetent from top to bottom. If I hear one more time that 2-6 is somehow progress, I’m going to puke. This is not progress. It’s losing just like last year and the year before that and the year before that. Does this team look any different than last year or the year before? NO IT DOES NOT.

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  34. We have a good Offense but not trying to sound like a broken record but a great defense is what gave a success before and it’s the only thing that will save us in the future.

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  35. One of the things lost in all this is we are bragging about is we are playing 5 rookies. This is all fine and good, but shouldn’t these 5 rookies be flashing talent? Devin White will probably be a good pro, but for a MLB to be drafted at 5, he should be a perennial All Pro, like Kuechly. Not just a solid pro. We have all these young players playing in the secondary, but none of them look even average. We can’t keep drafting 3 db’s in the first 3 rounds every year and hope 1 sticks. We can’t draft a nose tackle in the first round. We aren’t good enough for that. We praise this team for stopping the run . You know who can’t stop the run? The Packers. The Patriots. The Chiefs. All teams in much better shape than us. I thought before the season Arians was a competent head coach. I still feel he is. But he isn’t a qb whisperer. And he isn’t a great evaluator of talent. And that is what we need.

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    • Your comment makes me wonder why didn’t we just let Dirk Koetter coach out the final year of his contract. Miami Dolphins Brian Flores is coaching for next year, thats why they gutted the roster. If it was always about next year then why did we sign Suh to only a 1yr deal and D Smith to long term 4yr? Why didn’t we sell before the trade deadline? If its about next year why is Perriman, VHlll still playing? Why not just throw the rookies out there let them take there lumps and next year they’ll be ready, “if its all about next year”. Lets not kid ourselves Bruce Arians was 100% brought here to win This Year. #Nomorexcuses

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  36. Always enjoy Trevor’s articles and so glad he is back at Pewter Report until something better comes along to advance his career.

    Each springtime I like to smell the flowers, enjoy the warmer days, await the Bucs schedule and start thinking about the Draft. Hope is in the air. The Kool-ade is brewing. Over the years I have become less and less emotional and more and more apathetic about our favorite team.

    I’ve been through each one of the GM’s starting with the great Ron Wolfe through Jason “Meathead” Licht. Licht seems like a great guy, a down to earth common man who has a tremendous responsibility trying to predict how his personnel decisions will impact the team he commands. There is really only one way to determine if those choices were the right ones or not…………..the won-loss record. After year 6 the only conclusion even the most ardent supporter can make is……..not good!

    This is not Lovie’s team, Dirk’s team or Bruce’s team. It’s Jason Licht’s team. For whatever reason, the team has floundered, been stuck in neutral, taken one step forward then quickly one step back, gone 360 degrees, run in place, tread water, feet stuck in the mud, and ended right back where it started from.

    We have a team of “good enough to get you beat” Steve DeBergs. A couple of semi-recognized stars, an equal number of players on the cusp of being out of the league, but for the most part so far, a collection of JAGS (just a guy) who might not be good enough to start on other teams. The culprit…….Jason Licht and his band of perhaps not so good scouts on whom he relies.

    So here we are approaching my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Three Bucs games between now and then followed by five more until they dig up Dick Clark to close out 2019. Like Dungy’s mid-season 1996, I’m willing to see how the season ends, how the youngsters progress, if the veterans get a second wind or take a last gasp and if the team is inching forward or swirling around the drain. I know this much. Whatever happens, Jason Licht owns it.

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    • This comment wins

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    • Scubog, well said as usual.

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  37. Did not expect a winning season this year. I still remember the first half of Coach Dungy’s first year….it was not pretty!! And I remember how Barber looked/performed his first couple of years in the league. Trying to bring in a new system with this many young players is going to be frustrating for the team and the fans. But my hope is the second half of the season will see them improve with more experience in this defensive and offensive system. Hopefully the performance in Seattle….taking them into OT….will bode well for the second half of the season.

    Regarding Licht, he is not a lot different than any other GMs. Most have more misses than hits. Fans will say what a good job McKay did….but they forget that Sam Wyche had full control of the draft and player acquisition when Lynch, Sapp and Brooks was drafted. Those 3 provided the cornerstones for the success this team had under Dungy and Gruden.

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  38. Well, we don’t live in a what if world to start with. Also, I would ask what was coach Dungy’s record his 1st year taking over the Bucs?
    This team has made improvements throughout the year. The Dline is stuffing the line of scrimmage even before JPP’s return. The main problem seems to be to much youth in the secondary and mistakes that happen because of inexperience.
    With no salary cap space this season I think it hurt more than anything else. Next year more salary cap space should try to keep Shaq and JPP to return., Suh’s been great at stuffing the line with Vea and we should try to get him back IF reasonable price.
    The Oline needs consistent mistake free lineman. They don’t have to be the best at position, but smart and steady. Regardless of how Jamie’s finishes you have to at least franchise him for next season to be a bridge of experience to whoever they draft to replace him with.
    I would like to see the same thing that happened to Dungys 1st season where at the end the team finally understood how to play as a team.

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