SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. AS EXPECTED, CARR’S STOCK IS ON THE RISE AT THE SENIOR BOWLThe scoop from Bucs sources at the Senior Bowl was that the team is excited to work with Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon, who is coming off a record-breaking rookie season in which he completed just under 60 percent of his passes and threw 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Several sources PewterReport.com spoke with at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. said that Glennon’s strong arm, pocket presence and football I.Q. will be a perfect fit in Jeff Tedford’s offense.
Former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano was sold on Glennon being the team’s quarterback heading into the 2014 season, and even told the players that in his final team meeting just hours before he was fired. Schiano felt Glennon was better than any quarterback in the 2014 draft and was not going to draft another one in the early rounds to challenge Glennon had he not been fired.
Thus far, new Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith and new general manager Jason Licht have been positive in their comments about Glennon, but also neutral in saying that every position, including quarterback, will have competition. Having the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft may tempt the Buccaneers to draft a franchise-type quarterback to compete with the Glennon.
The only problem with that is if Glennon beats out the first-rounder the Bucs have just drafted a very expensive backup quarterback, which won’t please the Glazers. But if a strong running game and a stout Bucs defense improves the team to 8-8 next year, Tampa Bay may be selecting in the upper 20s next year and out of position to get an elite quarterback, which is also a concern.
The reality is that most NFL teams selecting in the top 10 don’t have a strong feeling as to which player they will be drafting until two weeks prior to the draft, which is moved back to May 8-10 this year. Right now, the Bucs are open to drafting a defensive end, an offensive tackle, a wide receiver or a quarterback with their first-round pick, or even trading down and acquiring more selections as Tampa Bay doesn’t have picks in the third and sixth round this year due to trades for Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and offensive tackle Gabe Carimi.
In last week’s SR’s Fab 5, PewterReport.com detailed the relationship between Fresno State’s record-setting quarterback Derek Carr and Tedford, the new offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay. Anticipating his stock rising at the Senior Bowl this week in Mobile, Ala., PewterReport.com forecasts Carr as the Bucs’ first-round draft pick due to his skill set and the familiarity with Tedford, who coached Carr’s brother, David, at Fresno State prior to him being the first overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the expansion Houston Texans.
Carr’s stock is indeed on the rise as most credible mock drafts currently have him going in the middle of the first round. The Senior Bowl typically helps the stock of one or two quarterbacks each year, evidenced by the rise of Florida State’s Christian Ponder, who entered the week as a second-rounder in 2011 before being drafted with the 12th overall pick by Minnesota. A strong Senior Bowl also helped the draft stock of Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel, who was a mid-round pick before an MVP performance boosted his stock to the first round where he was taken 16th overall by Buffalo.
Here’s what some notable draft analysts have to say about Carr’s strong week in Mobile, Ala.
“To his credit, Carr has been outstanding in workouts throughout the week, displaying the decisiveness, athleticism and arm talent to make big plays at the next level,” said NFL.com scout Bucky Brooks. “He has picked apart defenses with tight-rope throws to all areas of the field. If Carr can continue to play at a high level on Saturday, while also exhibiting the confidence and poise to thrive against pressure, he can squelch some of the questions that are slowing his ascension up draft charts.”
“Carr’s staggering production (68.2 completion percentage, 50 TDs, 8 INTs) was certainly inflated by head coach Tim DeRuyter’s QB-friendly spread attack and Fresno’s talented receiving corps, but any questions about his talent were put to rest with a stellar week in Mobile,” said CBS and NFLDraftScout.com analyst Rob Rang. “While no one questions Carr’s arm, some wonder if he has the grit to hold up as the leader of an NFL huddle.”
“No Senior Bowl quarterback has had a better week of practice than Derek Carr, and NFL evaluators are taking notice,” said NFL Network analyst Charles Davis. “He’s answering the questions people had about his game. There were doubts about his arm strength coming into the week and I think he’s done a lot to put those concerns to rest. A lot of his throws at Fresno State were for 10-12 yards or fewer, but I have no questions at all about his arm strength. He will get the ball downfield, and he’ll do it accurately. The quarterbacks here had to battle heavy wind gusts earlier in the week, and I was really impressed with how his throws looked in those conditions. He did a nice job of cutting through it. I think he’s been very consistent throwing the ball, and his athleticism has shined through, too. He moves around well in the pocket and finds a way to get the ball to his receivers, but he doesn’t force the ball downfield if it’s not there. He’s well-schooled that way.”
“The throwing conditions have been less than ideal this week,” NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “The wind gusts have been an issue for all six quarterbacks, but Carr has managed to slightly separate himself from the pack. He has a compact delivery, throws on time and is able to cut through the wind with a very tight spiral. I’ve been very impressed by his ability to throw on the move. Also, he scored some points with evaluators by spending extra time working with his receivers following the end of practice.”
The buzz this week about Carr has been his penchant for staying after practice and throwing for an extra 20 minutes with Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews. In my 11 years of covering the Senior Bowl I’ve never seen a quarterback turn down the post-practice interview session time with NFL scouts and media members to do that, and it’s made quite a favorable impression on the NFL scouting community.
A good showing in the Senior Bowl game on Saturday could cause Carr’s stock to rise into the top 10 if it hasn’t already. Carr is an underrated athlete, evidenced by a wicked block (4:15) and a heroic touchdown run (5:00) in this highlight video, and is expected to perform well in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine, which could cement his status as one of the top draft prospects in 2014.
I had the chance to speak with Carr’s former head coach at Fresno State, Pat Hill, and asked about Carr’s NFL prospects and his relationship with Tedford.
“I haven’t had the chance to watch him much on film this year, but I know when he was with us that he had great arm strength and great football intelligence,” Hill said. “I think he’ll do real good in the league. We ran a pro-style offense at Fresno State unlike the last couple of years, and that’s what Jeff runs. Jeff was on our staff when David was the quarterback. I know Jeff really, really well. Derek would be very comfortable in that system. He can handle a pro system. He’s very intelligent. He’s got a big brother who has been through it. Even though he’s been in a spread offense the last couple of years, he has a very good background in that offense, reading coverages, protection adjustments and things like that.”
Hill hired Tedford to be his quarterbacks coach at Fresno State in 1992 and then promoted him to offensive coordinator, which is a post he had from 1993-97, and believes he will do great things in Tampa Bay.
“Jeff is a great coach and an outstanding person,” Hill said. “I’ve known Jeff since he was a player in junior college. He’s a real talented play-caller. He’ll do a great job in Tampa. He’s got a great running back and a good offensive line. The young quarterback was coming on. I think he has a lot of real good offensive weapons. When he took the job I texted him and said, ‘You’re walking into a real good situation. Lovie has got some good defensive players. That’s a good fit. Derek would be an easy fit for him down there, too.”
Standing next to Hill on the sidelines of the South practice was Fresno State tight end Marcel Jensen, who missed the rest of the week with a slight injury. Jensen, who was PewterReport.com’s fourth-round pick in its initial 2014 Bucs 7-Round Mock Draft, raved about Carr.
“Derek is the absolute smartest guy I’ve ever stepped on the football field with,” Jensen said. “He’ll look at a defense and know exactly what’s coming at him. He uses that to his advantage. I don’t know how it will work for him at the next level, but in our offense he had a lot of leeway where he would change plays at the line of scrimmage a lot. We had success doing that. He’s very intelligent and a hard worker. He had a firmer grasp on the team and he was our unquestioned leader this year. A lot of guys looked at him for leadership. He’s always been a leader, but this past year everyone really bought in. It was his team.”
Despite being fired from Fresno State two years ago, Hill flew from California to Alabama to support Carr, which says a lot.
“Derek is great. I think he has first-round talent, but I just don’t know what the competition is,” Hill said. “It’s hard to pinpoint where a guy is going to go when there are so many other positions. It just depends on what the needs are and who’s picking. But he has the arm, the talent, the intelligence and the athletic ability. He’s a football guy. He has all the tools to be a first-round guy. Like I used to tell my guys at Fresno State, all it takes is one team to like you. I think he would be a valuable addition to any team that picks him up.”
That team could be Tampa Bay in the first round because of his relationship with Tedford and how well his skills would fit in the Buccaneers’ new offense.
FAB 2. CARR FIGHTING HIS LAST NAME IN SOME NFL CIRCLESNot only has Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr been the best quarterback at the Senior Bowl and has NFL scouts raving about his arm strength and accuracy in the windy conditions at the Senior Bowl, but Carr has also impressed scouts, coaches and general managers with his interviews. Carr, who is married and has a son, is incredibly mature and charismatic, and those are qualities teams look for when drafting a quarterback in the first round to be the face of a franchise.
Carr’s biggest knock might not be his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame, his gaudy numbers from a QB-friendly spread passing offense at Fresno State or some questionable mechanical issues and footwork when throwing the ball. It may be his last name.
As the younger brother of David Carr, the former number one overall pick in 2002 by the expansion Houston Texans, Derek Carr has had his game unfairly compared to his older brother, who failed to live up to lofty expectations during his career. Playing behind a less than stellar offensive line during his time in Houston, David Carr set an NFL record for being sacked 76 times in a season in 2002, and was also sacked 68 times three years later.
“There’s not an expansion team anymore,” Derek Carr said. “A team isn’t starting fresh. These teams are all great and they are just one step away. I think the situations [between my brother and I] are completely different, you know? [The Texans] were coming out and they needed a quarterback and you had to draft one, so that’s how they did it and that’s how they started. The situations are different but there is so much to learn from it.”
Carr, who is 12 years younger than his brother, has learned a lot from his trials and tribulations in the NFL.
“The number one thing he told me was you’re going to praised and you’re going to be criticized – ignore both because neither matter,” Carr said. “Work hard and be yourself. I’ve been around a lot. You know, people can say whatever they want and it’s going to bounce right off me. I’m definitely ready for that part of [being an NFL quarterback].”
Carr doesn’t shy away from comparisons to his brother he embraces them. However, there are some in the NFL community and fan base look at his last name and some of the jitteriness in the pocket that he displayed at Fresno State, and can’t help but recall how his brother took so many sacks playing in Houston and envision the same thing happening to Carr. The record-setting Fresno State star didn’t flinch when talking about concerns regarding his pocket presence at the Senior Bowl.
“When I answer those questions, I say that was  because I worked on that a ton this year,” Carr said. “I made it a sure effort to clean that up. I needed to grow up and be more mature in that sense. I’ll turn on the film with you and watch it and show you plenty of times where I’ve stepped into throws and took hits right in the face.”
Another critique of Carr’s game is his footwork. He has the accuracy and arm strength to complete throws off his back foot at the college level, but will have to clean up his mechanics at the next level to avoid passes that were touchdowns at Fresno State from becoming interceptions in the NFL. Those types of gun-slinging play at times resemble that of legendary quarterback Brett Favre, who is Carr’s idol.
“I get that a lot and I wear number 4 because of Brett Favre,” Carr said. “I respect his game and the way he played. At the same time, I know there are some things I have to work on. I know that. I understand I can get a little bit lazy in the shotgun sometimes. It’s not something I blow off and don’t care about. I have a lot to work on. It’s a production-oriented business. If you throw off your back foot and it’s a touchdown, great. If you do that and it’s a pick, you’re the worst thing ever. You always try to get better and strive to be perfect, but knowing that you’ll never get there.
“Getting back under center after playing in shotgun for two years is something I have to work on. Whereas now, you watch the NFL and it’s almost all shotgun sometimes, but at the same time there are throws to be made from under center and with play action. So to get back under there is something I need to work on. It’s not like it’s brand new to me. I’ve done it since I was three years old. It is just getting [used] to it and learning the new team’s offense.”
Leading up to the draft, Carr has to fight perceptions of his pocket presence, footwork and the style of offense he played in at Fresno State. But his greatest fight regarding his draft stock may be his last name and comparisons to his older brother, and former Fresno State head coach Pat Hill thinks that’s unfair.
“Derek doesn’t have to fight anything, he’s his own man,” Hill said. “David got put into a tough situation. You have to remember that he took as many hits as anyone in NFL history and he never missed a game. You can never deny his toughness and his want-to. A lot of guys get put in tough positions. I coached David, too. David was a great player. Who knows if he would have done better in a different situation? I don’t think Derek has to fight any of that. Derek is his own man. Whenever you have a brother that has played as long in the league as David did, and to be a No. 1 or No. 2 quarterback in the NFL, it is a pretty darn good thing. Derek doesn’t have to fight anything.” FAB 3. GAROPPOLO COULD BE SECOND-ROUND QB OPTION FOR BUCSFresno State’s Derek Carr is not the only quarterback whose stock is rising in Mobile, Ala. during Senior Bowl week. Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo entered the post-season as a third-round pick, but was the star of the East-West Shrine practices last week, and the game’s MVP, and has seen his stock rise into the second round with two weeks of impressive play in front of NFL scouts and talent evaluators.
With Alabama’s A.J. McCarron opting out of the Senior Bowl due to a shoulder injury he suffered against Auburn that he is keeping quiet – and not because of his perception about his draft status – the Jaguars coaching staff added Garoppolo as his replacement, giving the FCS level star another week’s worth of added exposure to the NFL scouting community. Garoppolo is the second-best quarterback in Mobile behind Carr and ahead of San Jose State’s David Fales – all three of whom play for the South squad.
Garoppolo, a small school prospect, has taken advantage of the week and has likely surpassed Fales and North team quarterback, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, who has had a very bad week and see his stock plummet, in the upcoming draft.
“People always think that the FCS-FBS comparison is so drastic, but in my eyes the best FCS teams can compete with the FBS teams,” Garoppolo said. “We’re all college football players at the end of the day.”
The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Garoppolo has shown he belongs among the top college quarterbacks during the past two weeks. He completed 66 percent of his passes while throwing for 5,050 yards with 53 touchdowns with just nine interceptions as a senior. Garoppolo also outplayed Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch in a 43-39 loss to Northern Illinois, passing for 450 yards with six touchdowns a week after scorching Illinois State with 480 yards and seven touchdowns. Garoppolo was a four-year starter at Eastern Illinois where he has passed for 13,156 yards with 118 touchdowns and 51 interceptions.
Former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville coached Garoppolo at the East-West Shrine Game last week in St. Petersburg, Fla., and came away very impressed with his skill set.
“He’s got a great arm and he really throws that ball,” Glanville said. “He has some real spin on the ball. The ball has RPMs. I don’t see anything he can’t do. He’s very, very impressive. He’s a good player.”
Scouts love Garoppolo’s arm strength, mobility and quick release, but he also earned high marks for his football acumen during interviews with NFL teams. Here is a video with a Garoppolo interview and highlights.
“My biggest strength is my knowledge of the game,” Garoppolo said. “I’m a football geek. I really like learning about football and about schemes, and also about defenses and how to beat them. Obviously, the physical stuff, too. The quick release is something I have been trademarked with.”
The Buccaneers spent some extensive time with Garoppolo last week in St. Petersburg and the Eastern Illinois star came away impressed with the interview.
“I met with them at the East-West Shrine Game,” Garoppolo said. “They had me draw up a couple of plays from our old offense in college. It went well. It was a fun group. There are some interesting scouts in that group for sure. Coach Lovie Smith is down there now, a former Chicago Bear.
“Jeff Tedford is down there, the guy that coached Aaron Rodgers. He obviously knows what he’s doing if he coached Aaron Rodgers. It would be awesome to play for him. He’s a quarterback guru. He’s doing something right and he has so much knowledge about the game that I could use in my game. I’m more of a listener than a talker. If someone is talking to you, you have to listen to learn. That’s what helps you be successful.”
Garoppolo was the MVP of the East-West Shrine Game, completing 9-of-14 passes for 100 yards with a touchdown, and leading the East to two scoring drives in their 23-13 victory. That performance aided him in his Senior Bowl invitation.
“Last week as a whole was fun and the game went real well,” Garoppolo said. “I didn’t get as many plays as I wished I could have. It’s weird, I started in practice all week and you get used to that. But then I didn’t start the game and Lynch started. It throws you off a little bit, but once I got into the game I got into a groove. It became just another game and I went out there and competed. The game turned out well for me.
“There’s a lot of exposure here at the Senior Bowl for sure. It’s an honor to be invited. It was a last-minute thing, but it’s an opportunity you can’t pass up. I’ve already met with a lot of teams and then to compete with some of the best players is something you have to embrace. I’m a small-school guy, but we’re all professionals now and no one is in college anymore. We’re all on the same level.”
Carr and Garoppolo are the most buzz-worthy quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, and if the Eastern Illinois quarterback can somehow win a second post-season MVP honor with a stellar performance in Saturday’s game he could become a high second-round pick, and a possible target for the Buccaneers if the team elects to pick a defensive lineman, an offensive tackle or a wide receiver in the first round.
“I can see how quarterbacks can shoot up the charts here,” Garoppolo said. “Everybody is here to watch you and analyze everything you do. If you can perform well on the field and interview well it’s a huge advantage. These coaches are looking for a quarterback that can be the CEO of their company, not just some guy off the street that can throw the ball. They want someone who can lead their team and be a leader of men. That’s something I think I can bring to the table. Hopefully this week is something that can really help me rise up the draft charts.”
FAB 4. BUCS SCOUTING FOR EXPLOSIVE ATHLETES IN MOBILEThe Buccaneers were out in full force at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. scouting the talent and looking for explosive athletes on both sides of the ball. Among those representing Tampa Bay were director of player personnel Dennis Hickey, director of college scouting Eric Stokes, director of pro personnel Shelton Quarles, the team’s college area scouts, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and many of Tampa Bay’s assistant coaches, including defensive line coach Joe Cullen, linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson, cornerbacks coach Gil Byrd, safeties coach Mikal Smith, who is Lovie Smith’s son, quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, offensive quality control coach Ben Steele and offensive intern, Quinn Tedford, Jeff’s son.
While Tampa Bay’s head coach didn’t make the trip due to interviewing general manager candidates, Jason Licht, the man tabbed to be the new G.M. was in Mobile scouting talent as the Cardinals vice president of player personnel until he was hired by the Bucs on Tuesday afternoon. Talking with members of Tampa Bay’s coaches and scouts, the one phrase that kept coming up was “explosive athlete.”
“It’s about getting the personnel,” said Bucs head coach Lovie Smith. “You can have that good coaching staff together, but in the end, of course, it’s the players out there and getting a certain type of athlete. In those old Tampa Bay days I talked about, there were athletes at every position, like a Shelton Quarles.”
Quarles, who played linebacker for Smith in Tampa Bay from 1997-2000, was thrilled to see Smith hired as Greg Schiano’s replacement.
“I was excited,” Quarles said. “He was a great coach for me. He got the best out of me as a player, and ultimately got me to be a starter. He taught me how to practice and he taught me about the four P’s – preparation prevents a poor performance. Because of that I always did the best I could, and I think my wife knows a lot of football because she quizzed me a lot back then so I could study for his tests.”
Now Quarles is charged with the responsibility of helping Smith with finding players and upgrading the level of athleticism across the board in Tampa Bay, even at the quarterback position where Fresno State’s Derek Carr and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo stood out during the Senior Bowl practices.
“I think you need an athlete,” Smith said when asked about his thoughts on the quarterback position. “In an ideal world, you have an athlete at every position. Sometimes, you look at the pass-rusher on the other side. They’re athletic and they can run, too.”
Two of the most explosive pass rushers in Mobile this week were two of the most undersized defenders, too. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been the star of the Senior Bowl since blowing up Baylor’s massive Cyril Richardson, who at 6-foot-4, 343 pounds, is believed to be the best guard prospect this year, on Monday in 1-on-1 drills. Despite being 6-foot, 285 pounds, Donald has been unblockable at the Senior Bowl and has seen his stock rise from the second round to the late first round – and possibly even higher.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Richardson said of trying to block Donald. “He and I have been going back and forth. He got me one good time, and I’m working on killing him – not killing him, but getting some good work against him. He’s a good player – a tremendous player, actually.”
Donald used his cat-like quickness and a polished swim move to record 29.5 sacks, 66 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles during his career at Pitt. Donald had seven multi-sack games, and has played well against big competition. In 2012, he recorded two sacks of Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, who is projected to be the top quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he sacked the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, in this year’s season opener.
“People talk about my size, but I can play the game of football,” Donald said. “I let my play speak for itself and do the talking. All I can do is go out there and keep playing football and making plays.”
Donald, who is a prototypical three-technique defensive tackle, recorded 59 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles during his senior season. Those numbers allowed him to win the Bronko Nagurski Award as well as All-American honors. Here is a Donald highlight video.The other explosive defensive lineman that has turned heads at the Senior Bowl is Auburn defensive end Dee Ford. At 6-foot-2, 243 pounds, there are some concerns that Ford gets outmuscled at the point of attack in the run game and may not be able to hold up as a starting defensive end at the next level due to his size.
However, there is no doubting his productivity during the 2013 season as Auburn advanced to the BCS Championship Game and nearly upset Florida State. Ford recorded 29 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and forced two fumbles as a senior. His athleticism was on display as he recorded two sacks against both Winston and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel – both of whom are among the most elusive quarterbacks in college football.
Ford, who plays classical piano as a hobby, has 27.5 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks, including Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and Georgia’s Aaron Murray as a junior and three forced fumbles in his Tigers career. Like Donald, Ford has been unblockable at times in practice due to his speed and quickness. Here is a highlight video of Ford’s performance against the Seminoles in the national championship game.
Because of Ford’s size, he may be a better fit as a passing rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but there’s no doubt that his stock is on the rise as a second-round prospect and he will get some consideration from some 4-3 teams, too. Smith’s Tampa 2 defense features a 4-3 one-gap alignment that demands a penetrating style of play like Ford’s and Donald’s.
Speed and quickness is now preferred over size and strength in Tampa Bay, and that’s what enabled an athlete like Quarles to thrive with the Buccaneers during his pro career.
FAB 5. Here are a couple of things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:
• Much is being made about Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis’ criticism of former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano, who Revis says created a real tense atmosphere. Is that supposed to be news? That was well documented on PewterReport.com and elsewhere during the team’s 0-8 start. Here’s a quote from my SR’s Fab 5 column on October 4:
“I’ve just heard from too many sources at One Buccaneer Place from the football side of the organization to the non-football side that his abrasive style has created an unsettling environment in the workplace, and that there is a real disconnect between Schiano and his staff and a great deal of folks at the Bucs’ headquarters, especially the players.”
To his credit, Schiano did change his ways prior to the Seattle game and started listening more to his players and the team had more success as a result. For example, one of Schiano’s biggest and most vocal supporters, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, asked him to cut down on the stunts at midseason and allow him to do more straight-ahead rushing. Schiano listened and McCoy recorded seven out of his career-high nine sacks over the second half of the season.
While Revis was never a Schiano fan, dating back to media reports from September 17 that detailed a “clear the air” meeting between the two, the fact that he said that a lot of his teammates didn’t like showing up for work just isn’t true. Revis might have felt that way personally, and may know a few of the 60-plus players in the locker room that might have felt that way, too, but that sentiment wasn’t shared by the likes of McCoy, guard and team captain Davin Joseph, wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, fullback Brian Leonard, linebacker Dekoda Watson and several other Buccaneers, including middle linebacker Mason Foster, that publicly praised Schiano down the stretch as Tampa Bay was able to win four of its last eight games.
“Schiano was always there, pushing us,” Foster said. “He never let us hang our heads or feel sorry for ourselves. He was a great coach and a great person. No matter what was going on good or bad, he was there with an even keel. He kept us going.”
The bottom line is that Schiano changed for the better, but it was too little, too late. He got a lot of his players to come on board and buy in, but obviously not Revis, and his 0-8 start to the 2013 season was ultimately too much for him to overcome.
• Speaking of Greg Schiano, he did interview for the vacant Cleveland head coaching position, but never really had a chance. The Browns couldn’t justify firing head coach Rob Chudzinski after going 4-12 in just one season and hire a head coach like Schiano that had been fired after going 4-12 himself. There is no way the Browns owners could sell that to the fans or the media as an upgrade.
Interestingly enough, if Schiano had stayed on in Tampa Bay, rumors suggest that he was going to fire offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and promote quarterbacks coach John McNulty to replace him. But Schiano was also close with Chudzinski as the two coached together at the University of Miami from 1999-2001 when Chudzinski coached tight ends and Schiano was the defensive coordinator. Sources tell PewterReport.com that Chudzinski would have also been in the mix for the Bucs offensive coordinator post had there not been a regime change.
As for Schiano, he’s set to earn $9 million from the Buccaneers over the next three years as he was under contract through the 2016 season. Look for him to sit out the 2014 season and spend time with his family and reflecting on his time in Tampa Bay before looking to get back into coaching in 2015 – probably at the college level. Hey, that approach worked well for Lovie Smith.
• New Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith is known for his laid back, calm, Tony Dungy-like demeanor. Former Bucs linebacker Jeff Gooch said that Smith goes maybe one octave higher when trying to get his point across on the practice field or in the meeting room, but no one will confuse Smith and former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano, who was ultra-intense.
“One’s a yeller and one’s not a yeller,” Quarles said. “Everybody does what they do to get the best out of their players. I know from Lovie’s coaching style that he will be able to do that for us.”
Just because he doesn’t scream doesn’t mean that Smith can’t get his point across in a forceful way.
“One time in practice when I just got here he gave me a look, and I kind of looked back at him,” Quarles said. “He said, ‘Son, are you eyeballing me?’ From that point on I knew I should never look at him like that, and I never did it again. After that I became a starter, so it was a good lesson learned!”
• And finally, thank you to all of the Tampa Bay fans that follow Pewter Report on Twitter. During Senior Bowl week we picked up nearly 500 new followers and have now eclipsed 13,000 followers on Twitter, which is among the most for any media outlet covering the Buccaneers.
If you haven’t followed Pewter Report on Twitter, we encourage you to do so. Our handle is @PewterReport. And if you do follow us on Twitter, please help us spread the word and encourage others to follow us with mentions, favorites and retweeting our posts and links to stories, such as this edition of SR’s Fab 5. We greatly appreciate it.
And for those of you that want more Bucs-specific SR’s Fab 5 content rather than Senior Bowl-driven draft talk, you’re in luck. I delve into the Tampa Bay defense next week with some very interesting findings. Look for that next Friday.
I also encourage you to check out two stories on wrote on new Bucs general manager Jason Licht this week. Five Bucs Questions Licht Will Need To Answer and 5 Important Takeaways From Licht’s Press Conference.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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: [email protected]
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