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. GLENNON SHOWING FRANCHISE QB TRAITSDon’t look now, but Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Mike Glennon is a top 10 passer in the NFL.
Glennon, the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for November, is obviously not one of the top 10 quarterbacks of all time, nor is he even one of the top 10 most talented quarterbacks of the present day.
But by completing 168-of-269 passes (62.5 percent) for 1,782 yards with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions, Glennon has a QB rating of 91.6, which currently ranks ninth in the NFL. He’s ahead of Pro Bowlers like Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (89.9), Carolina’s Cam Newton (88.3) and quarterback Tom Brady (86.3), and ahead of last year’s Super Bowl quarterbacks, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick (86.6) and even Baltimore’s Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Joe Flacco (76.8).
The key word to note is “currently.” The key number in the rookie’s QB rating is the low number of interceptions.
Glennon has only thrown four interceptions since he took over as the team’s starter in Week 4 against Arizona. On that day, he threw two interceptions and one touchdown. But since then, Glennon has only two interceptions and has thrown 12 touchdowns.
Because he has played smart, efficient football rather than put up some dynamic statistics, Glennon’s rookie season would be considered more impressive than it would be considered prolific.
Seattle’s Russell Wilson had a prolific rookie season last year by completing 252-of-393 (64.1 percent) for 3,118 yards with 26 TDs and 10 INTs, while rushing for 489 yards and four TDs on 94 carries (5.2 avg.). Washington’s Robert Griffin III had a prolific rookie season last year by completing 258-of-393 (65.6 percent) for 3,200 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions, while rushing for 815 yards and seven TDs on 120 carries (6.8 avg.).
Glennon’s rookie season compares more favorably to that of Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, who completed 339-of-627 (54.1 percent) for 4,374 yards with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions last year. Tampa Bay’s third-round draft pick in 2013 is on pace to throw for 2,896 yards with 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions through 13 games.
While he is on pace to throw for 1,400 yards less in three less starts than Luck had last year, Glennon will likely throw about a dozen less interceptions and complete nearly 10 percent more of his passes than the number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft did a year ago. In fact, one could argue that Glennon is out-playing Luck, who is completing 226-of-386 passes (58.5 percent) for 2,593 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2013.
Glennon is certainly the top rookie quarterback in the 2013 class. Buffalo’s E.J. Manuel, who was a first-round pick this season, has completed 127-of-217 (58.5 percent) passes for 1,385 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions and a QB rating of 82.1. Glennon is also out-performing New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, a second-rounder, who is completing 175-of-317 passes (55.2 percent) for 2,227 yards with eight touchdowns and a whopping 18 interceptions and a QB rating of 62.1.
But the big question in Tampa Bay is regarding Glennon’s potential to become a franchise quarterback for the Buccaneers, and that’s the question I posed to head coach Greg Schiano on Monday.
“I know this about Mike: he is a rookie quarterback, for sure, and there’s still some rookie things he says and does that make you remember, ‘Oh yeah, this guy’s a rookie,’” Schiano said. “But I think he has accelerated his progress by, from the day he got here, how hard he’s prepared and worked. If there’s such a thing, I think he’s kind of taken a rookie season and kind of condensed it into eight or so games, if that makes sense, because he’s playing at a higher level than you would expect a rookie [to].
“The things that are hard for rookies [are] to let a bad play die and don’t get greedy. That’s what Mike does the best job of. In six games, he’s thrown one interception. He’s now throwing the ball down the field, I think, with more confidence, because he’s always been able to do it, just pulling the trigger. That is the development or the maturation of a quarterback. I think we’re all seeing it right in front of our eyes. I think this is a guy that certainly, as long as he continues on this trajectory, you’d love to have as your quarterback for a long time.”
The Buccaneers organization is a bit shell-shocked from the rapid decline of Josh Freeman, who was once regarded as the team’s franchise quarterback. Freeman, who was the team’s first-round pick in 2009, set numerous team career and single-season records, and became the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a single season. That happened just last year when he threw for a career-high and franchise-record 27 touchdowns.
Behind the scenes, Freeman has some personal issues he needs to work out, and unfortunately those issues affected his quarterback play during a contract season in 2013. Those issues, and his performance, prompted Freeman’s benching after the first three games of this season, triggered his departure, and ultimately led to Glennon’s insertion into the starting lineup.
Freeman had a promising start to his Bucs career, throwing 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions in his second season while helping Tampa Bay finish with a 10-6 season with four fourth quarter comebacks in 2010. Yet over the next three years, Freeman would throw 45 touchdowns, but also 42 interceptions as the Bucs went 11-23 in his last 34 starts with the Buccaneers.
The fear within the Bucs organization and in the Tampa Bay fan base is that Glennon may not be able to sustain this level of play for the rest of the season or from season to season throughout his career, and that his rookie campaign in 2013 is the same fool’s gold that Freeman’s 2010 season turned out to be. But there are three factors at work that should provide optimism.
The first of which is that Glennon is getting better each week. Two weeks ago, Glennon completed 20-of-23 passes (87 percent) for 231 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 41-28 win over Atlanta. His 137.5 QB rating would be surpassed last week when he completed 14-of-21 passes for 247 yards with two touchdowns in a 24-21 win at Detroit for a career-high QB rating of 138.4.
For the first time all season, Glennon’s average per pass attempt was over 10 yards for the past two games. Glennon had a 10.04-yard average against Atlanta and a career-best 11.76-yard average against Detroit.
The second factor is that Glennon is remarkably consistent, and far more consistent than the streaky Freeman was. Consider that Glennon is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass in each of his first eight starts. The North Carolina State product has thrown for at least two touchdowns in five of his eight starts, and has thrown zero interceptions in five of his eight starts, too.
The third factor is Glennon’s maturity and intelligence. Armed with an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree, Glennon’s I.Q. and football I.Q. have made his transition to the NFL seem rather easy. The fact that he is a film room junkie and doesn’t seem interested in Tampa Bay’s nightlife the way Freeman was bodes well for his long-terms prospects as the Buccaneers’ quarterback.
There is a chance that Glennon continues to ascend as a quarterback and reaches a Pro Bowl level if he develops his playmaking ability and continues to be safe with the football. Glennon reminds me of former Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson, and I see him developing into that type of player over the course of his career.
Johnson was a pocket passer, and that is what Glennon is, although the rookie does have more mobility to elude the pass rush. Johnson fearlessly stood in the pocket and delivered the football downfield, even when he was getting hit. Glennon has demonstrated that ability, too.
Johnson was incredibly smart and savvy, and those two words could also be used to describe Glennon. But where Glennon has the advantage over Johnson is his arm strength. The rookie is becoming a more accurate downfield thrower as the season progresses, and that is evident in the last two games when he hit Vincent Jackson with strikes of 53 and 49 yards, and connected with Tiquan Underwood for a career-best 85-yard touchdown bomb. Johnson didn’t have a weak arm, but his arm was never as strong as Glennon’s.
Johnson, who had a career 82.5 QB rating, was a two-time Pro Bowler (1999, 2002) and led the Bucs to the team’s only Super Bowl championship in 2002. If Glennon could reach that level it would be a welcome sight in Tampa Bay. But the guess here is that he has the potential to become an even better quarterback than Johnson.
The prediction is that Glennon becomes Tampa Bay’s franchise quarterback for the long haul.
FAB 2. GLENNON’S SUCCESS MAY MEAN NO QB IN FIRST ROUND IN TAMPA BAYAfter the first three games of the 2013 season, the Buccaneers officially gave up on the player they thought was their potential franchise quarterback in Josh Freeman. By benching him in favor of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and ultimately releasing Freeman, the Bucs seemed destined for two things – a losing season and having to spend a first-round pick on a new quarterback in 2014.
Cutting Freeman and playing a rookie quarterback could have sunk the fortunes of second-year head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, the man who drafted the former Kansas State star, especially after the team lost its first eight games of the 2013 campaign. There is nothing harder in the NFL than finding a franchise-caliber quarterback a team can win with over the long haul. The fact that Freeman’s replacement came in the same year that Schiano and Dominik jettisoned the team’s first-round pick from 2009 is a tremendous relief to the organization and will likely save their jobs this offseason.
If he continues to improve and finish his rookie season with a flourish, Glennon could give the organization the confidence to believe that he is the quarterback for 2014 and beyond. Now the Buccaneers can spend the time and resources bolstering other positions rather than involving the front office and coaching staff in a nationwide manhunt for another quarterback to be taken in the first round.
Consider that teams like Buffalo and Tampa Bay filled their need at quarterback this year with E.J. Manuel and Glennon, respectively, and that teams like Indianapolis, Washington, Miami, Seattle and Philadelphia filled their needs at quarterback last year with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson and Nick Foles, respectively, and that’s seven teams that won’t be spending a first- or a second-round pick on a quarterback. The same could be said for about 16 other NFL teams that already have solid NFL starters in place for 2014 and beyond.
There are believed to be six quarterbacks that will be taken in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, including Louisville junior Teddy Bridgewater, Oregon redshirt sophomore Marcus Mariota, who will likely be top 10 picks. Other first-round quarterbacks include Clemson senior Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M redshirt sophomore Johnny Manziel, Fresno State senior Derek Carr LSU senior Zach Mettenberger.
There are only six teams that have such a need to take a quarterback in the first round. The teams that appear to have pressing needs at the quarterback position are Jacksonville, Minnesota, Cleveland, and there is a strong possibility that Houston, Oakland and Tennessee could draft one in the first round if Case Keenum, Terrelle Pryor and Jake Locker don’t finish the season strongly and win games.
The QB situations in Arizona and with the New York Jets are a bit muddled, as the Cardinals’ Carson Palmer is getting older and there is presently no heir apparent, and Geno Smith, the Jets’ second-round pick this year, may not be the long-term answer at quarterback. That could put the Cardinals and the Jets into contention for drafting a quarterback in the first or second round, too.
That’s a total of eight teams that could be in need of drafting a starting-caliber quarterback. After the names Bridgewater, Mariota, Boyd, Manziel, Carr and Mettenberger come off the board, the quarterbacks that carry a second-round grade are UCLA redshirt sophomore Brett Hundley and Alabama senior A.J. McCarron.
There is a good chance that some of those QBs would slide into the third round due to the depth of the upcoming quarterback class – provided Mariota, Manziel and Hundley all declare for the draft. If the eight teams that could possibly need quarterbacks drafted those eight players the stocks of the other QBs would fall.
Eastern Illinois senior Jimmy Garropolo is a third-round prospect that could slide further, and Georgia senior Aaron Murray – provided he makes significant progress over the next six months in coming back from a torn ACL injury last week – could be drafted in the third or fourth round, too. Miami’s Stephen Morris carries a fourth-round grade, as does San Jose State’s David Fales. They both could slide down draft charts as quarterbacks come off the board in the first and second day of the draft.
Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas is viewed as a fifth- or sixth-rounder, as is Cornell’s Jeff Mathews, that could fall in the draft to the seventh round due to the fact that there are more good quarterbacks than teams with needs in 2014.
Drafting a quarterback in the first round would mean having to play him over Glennon in 2014 due to the financial and draft pick investment Tampa Bay would make in the rookie. That’s why the Bucs wouldn’t draft a quarterback any higher than the second round if Glennon keeps playing the way he is.
Schiano likes a tall, strong-armed quarterback, and there are only a few candidates outside of the first round. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Mettenberger might be an option if he slid to Tampa Bay in the second round.
Tampa Bay doesn’t have a third-round pick this year due to the Darrelle Revis trade with New York, but could select a quarterback on the third day of the draft to take advantage of quarterbacks sliding down the draft board to shore up its depth behind Glennon in 2014. If McCarron were to slide into the fourth round, or the Bucs were to trade up into the third round, the 6-foot-3, 214-pound Alabama star would be an ideal fit in Tampa Bay although he doesn’t have the strongest of arms.
The 6-foot-6, 254-pound Logan is the closest quarterback to Glennon in terms of stature, and is strong-armed and athletic, but needs to improve his accuracy. Logan is another option for Tampa Bay later in the draft.
While Bucs fans would have loved to have a more exciting playmaker like Bridgewater or Mariota, the franchise won its only Super Bowl with a pocket passer like Brad Johnson at quarterback. A quick look around the league shows that Denver’s Peyton Manning, New Orleans’ Drew Brees, New England’s Tom Brady, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers are among the best quarterbacks, and all are pocket passers.
Quarterbacks like RG III, Carolina’s Cam Newton and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick are all considered dynamic, but none are among the top 15 rated quarterbacks. The only player that could be considered a true mobile quarterback among the top 15 is Wilson.
By freeing up Tampa Bay’s first-round pick to be used on a position other than quarterback, the Bucs can improve their pass rush by drafting a player like South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, UCLA linebacker-defensive end Anthony Barr, Buffalo defensive end Khalil Mack or BYU linebacker-defensive end Kyle Van Noy, or improving its secondary with a cornerback like TCU’s Jason Verrett or Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert.
Tampa Bay could improve its offense in the first round by drafting Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams or Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro in the first round.
By removing quarterback as the Bucs’ primary need in the 2014 draft, the first round is now open to a multitude of possibilities for Tampa Bay.
FAB 3. BUCCANEERS ARE HOSTING A BLOCK PARTYWhen Buccaneers cornerback Danny Gorrer blocked a punt in Detroit it marked the first time a team has blocked punts in back-to-back games since 2002 to record consecutive games with a blocked punt since Baltimore did it against Tennessee and Cincinnati. Bucs linebacker Dekoda Watson blocked a punt the previous week in Tampa Bay’s 41-28 win over Atlanta.
Watson, who blocked two punts last year and was named PewterReport.com’s 2012 Bucs Special Teams MVP, has now blocked three punts over the past year and a half, which is more than any other player in the NFL.
“It’s past overdue,” Watson said. “Obviously I’m disappointed this late in the season, but at the same time, God has a plan. I’m going to make the most of my opportunities for the rest of the season.”
Ironically, two of Watson’s three blocked punts have come against Atlanta punter Matt Bosher.
“It’s nothing personal against him at all,” Watson said. “I’m just taking advantage of the opportunities that I’ve been given. Whether it is against him or somebody else from another team, I’m going to go out and try to block as many as I can. I don’t care who the person is.”
In addition to some solid punting by Michael Koenen, some solid kicking from Rian Lindell, some good returns and some good coverage on punts and kicks, Tampa Bay’s special teams units have also come up with some big plays this season. The Bucs have blocked two punts, successfully faked a field goal with a 22-yard run by free safety Dashon Goldson and had an onside kick successfully recovered by wide receiver Russell Shepherd. About the only thing that hasn’t worked out well is a fake field goal attempt against Atlanta.
“Shepherd came up with a huge play,” Watson said. “The block punt and things like that worked in our favor. That one fake field goal, that was catchable, too. Nothing against [Brian] Leonard, or anything like that, but we have to take advantage of opportunities when we are given them.”
Bucs head coach Greg Schiano recently praised the work of special teams coordinator Dave Wannstedt and assistant Phil Galiano.
“I think Coach Wannstedt has done a great job, he and Phil Galiano, with the group,” Schiano said. “Even though we didn’t score of that blocked punt, it was like a heavy weight fight, and at the end, we were making sure that we won the decision, if you know what I mean. We didn’t have it to go for the knockout, but we wanted to make sure we won the decision. That blocked punt helped us get to the decision. So, yeah, special teams have done some really good things.”
FAB 4. LINDELL HAS KICKED SOME IN-GAME GAME-WINNERS THIS YEARTampa Bay had a chance to increase its three-point lead to nine points in Detroit last week, but two missed field goals in the fourth quarter by Rian Lindell allowed the Lions to hang around before losing to the Buccaneers, 24-21. Lindell came into the Detroit game connecting on 15-of-18 (83.3 percent) field goals in 2013 before making just one-of-three kicks against the Lions.
Lindell missed a 35-yard field goal and a 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter after making 15 of his last 16 kicks over the previous eight games. His previous miss was a forgivable, 55-yarder against Atlanta that had no bearing on the outcome of Tampa Bay’s 41-28 victory over the Falcons.
Lindell’s misses aggravated the Bucs fan base, but after the game, the 14-year veteran received a vote of confidence from head coach Greg Schiano. While he did miss two fourth quarter kicks that would have padded the Bucs’ lead, the reality is that Lindell actually kicked the game-winning field goal – it just came in the first quarter as the Bucs jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Oftentimes, the focus on kickers’ kicks is at the end of games, and they are usually the game-tying or game-winning fashion. But field goals made in the first quarter, second quarter or third quarter are just as important in a league that sees the majority of its games decided by three points or less.
“I absolutely agree,” Lindell said. “You are one of the very few people that has recognized that. I agree that a lot of times that game-winning kick can really happen at any time. A lot of times we may hit a field goal that puts us up by 17 and all of a sudden the other team is forced to start throwing the ball. A field goal in the middle of the game can change their offensive philosophy, and it may be good enough to win the game for us at the end.”
After starting the season off 1-of-3, including a critical miss against New Orleans in Week 2 in a game that Tampa Bay lost, 16-14, Lindell hit his next 13 field goals before missing his 55-yarder against the Falcons. Although neither Lindell’s 24-yard field goal nor his 35-yarder against Miami came in the fourth quarter, both were pivotal in Tampa Bay’s 22-19 victory over the Dolphins, which was the first of the year for the Buccaneers.
Although his field goal percentage has fallen from 83.3 percent to 76.2 percent (16-of-21) due to one bad game, it should be noted that Lindell is just 1-of-3 on field goals from 50 yards or more, and the one he made was from 50 yards out against Arizona in Week 4. At age 36, that’s about the extent of Lindell’s range. Lindell is 15-of-18 (83.3 percent) on his field goals from inside of 50 yards.
Lindell offered some interesting insight on attempting field goals, especially ones from long distance.
“The one stat that always holds up is turnovers, and a missed field goal is really a turnover,” Lindell said. “The three points is nice if you make it, but sometimes it’s almost better if you don’t miss rather than make it. Do you understand that rationale? It’s a quirky way to think of it, but it’s really a turnover if you miss a kick, especially a long one. Then you give the other team momentum.”
Lindell was signed during Tampa Bay’s training camp this summer after Connor Barth was placed on injured reserve with a torn Achilles and veteran replacement Lawrence Tynes had contracted MRSA. With only unproven kicker Derek Dimke on the roster, Lindell was added for veteran experience.
Coming from Buffalo, which has not made the playoffs in ages, to a Tampa Bay team that was winless for the first eight games was tough. Lindell thought he made a game-winning kick against New York to beat the Jets in Week 1, and then had a crucial miss in Week 2 against New Orleans. There have been very few opportunities for Lindell to get involved in a potential game-winning situation until the Seattle game prior to Tampa Bay’s first victory of the season a week later.
“It’s been very frustrating,” Lindell said. “It’s not like they are asking me to cover their number one wide receiver. There’s no way we would win if that were the case! It’s been frustrating for me being a kicker. We’re a good team that just hasn’t won at the end of the day. I think that’s how the guys see it. It’s not like we’re a hapless team in a hapless situation.
“This team didn’t quit. If you look at the Seattle game and then the Miami game and this week – nearly every week – we’ve been in the game. We just weren’t winning it in the end for some reason at the start.
Lindell said that he was impressed with the caliber of players in Tampa Bay’s locker room and knew it would only be a matter of time before the Bucs would claim their first victory and get on a winning streak.
“There are a lot of prideful guys that want to win and they don’t like the O-fer,” Lindell said. “On other teams some guys might say, ‘Well, I’m comfortable. I’ve got my paycheck and my stats.’ That’s not how it is here. It starts and ends there. This means something to our guys. They want to win and play well.
“People were excited when we finally got a win. It was a close game [against Miami], and people liked how we won it. What did Hannibal from ‘The A-Team’ always say? ‘I love it when a plan comes together.’ The offense did its thing and came back to take the lead. Mike [Koenen] had a nice punt, and the defense did its thing and we got the win.”
Lindell said that his rough start to the season was attributed to getting acclimated to a new battery, which is the special teams term for the unit that is comprised of the long snapper, the holder and the kicker.
“I think I’m doing a better job of finding my rhythm,” Lindell said. “The rhythm of when to leave was the big thing. I’m pretty slow to the ball. I try to leave on time, and getting the rhythm of the snap and hold down and getting in sync with me was the big thing. I think I rushed it a little bit early on. That’s all on me. It’s not on Mike or Eco (Andrew Economos). I think I’m hitting a fairly clean ball. My pre-game can always improve. It doesn’t matter where I am. I always want to hit a good ball in practice. There is always room for improvement. Mike and Eco are great. It’s just a matter of me trusting the timing of it all.”
FAB 5. Here are a few things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:
• Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik was charged with the responsibility of improving Tampa Bay’s woeful pass defense and pass rush during the offseason and accomplished that feat by signing Pro Bowl free safety Dashon Goldson, trading for Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and drafting cornerback Johnthan Banks in the second round. Goldson has an interception, while Revis and Banks are tied for the team lead with two interceptions apiece.
Last year, the Bucs recorded 18 interceptions. This year, Tampa Bay has 15 with five games remaining. The team is currently on pace to finish with 21 picks.
Goldson and Revis have also played a role in other forms of takeaways. Last year, Tampa Bay recorded 10 forced fumbles and recovered six of those. Through the first 11 games of 2013, the Bucs have recorded nine forced fumbles and recovered five with five games remaining. Revis leads the team with two forced fumbles and has a fumble recovery, while Goldson has a forced fumble.
• Tampa Bay’s improved pass defense has also paid dividends when it comes to the team’s pass rush. Last year, the Bucs recorded 27 sacks. Tighter coverage in the secondary this year has forced quarterbacks to hold on to the ball longer. As a result, Tampa Bay has already recorded 24 sacks this season with five games left.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy leads the Bucs with six, while linebacker Lavonte David has five and defensive end Adrian Clayborn has four. Those three players have combined for 32 of the team’s 61 hits on quarterbacks this season. Last year, the entire Bucs defense totaled 56 quarterback hits.
• With Tampa Bay likely drafting a quarterback in 2014 for depth – and perhaps some competition – for quarterback Mike Glennon, the Buccaneers rookie offers up his scouting report on the only draft prospect he went head-to-head with – Clemson’s Tajh Boyd.
“Tajh might be the only one I’ve played against,” Glennon said. “He’s really talented. I think he already has all of the ACC records and he has a few games left. He beat me last year in a game where I think he had seven or eight total touchdowns. He can run and he can throw. He’s a big guy, so he’s tough to bring down. He has a good arm. He really excels in that offense. He’s really talented. He spins it really well. His mobility and his size and stature make him a great player.”
Boyd, who could be a first-round pick next April, set the ACC record for career touchdown passes with 96 last Saturday, beating Phillip Rivers’ previous record of 95. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound quarterback owns several Clemson records, including the most passing yards in a career (11,301) and the most passing yards in a season (3,896 in 2012).
• Tampa Bay weakside linebacker Lavonte David deserves to be in the Pro Bowl this year. After recording a team-high 139 tackles, two sacks and an interception with a franchise-record 20 tackles for loss as a rookie last year, David has 98 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a safety with five games remaining in the 2013 campaign. He also has 14 tackles for loss and is poised to break his own franchise record for tackles for loss in a season by a Buccaneer.
• Although they don’t get much publicity, newly acquired linebacker Jonathan Casillas and wide receiver Russell Shephard have made a huge impact on Tampa Bay’s special teams this year. Casillas leads the Bucs in special teams tackles with eight, while Shephard is second on the team with six. The former LSU wide receiver has also forced a fumble on a kickoff at Atlanta for Dave Wannstedt’s unit, and recovered a surprise onside kick against Atlanta.
• With a strong finish to the 2013 season, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano will be retained in 2014. As PewterReport.com previously reported, the magic number for Schiano is probably six wins over the second half of the season. The Bucs have already collected three of them with five games remaining and the Glazers have been pleased with how well the team has come together, continued to play hard and how the players have rallied around Schiano.
Some anti-Schiano fans out there have been upset with the “tone change” of PewterReport.com’s coverage of Schiano and the Buccaneers. Prior to the Bucs’ 27-24 overtime loss at Seattle, we began writing about how Schiano has made some efforts to change and form a better relationship with the players and listen to what they have to say. Some of these changes have occurred behind the scenes, and some, such as his more calm, relaxed sideline demeanor, are more public. Again, this came before Tampa Bay reeled off three straight wins – victories that came in part because of the positive changes we were writing about.
The argument about PewterReport.com needing to be nicer to Schiano because there is a strong chance he will return in 2014 and somehow our access to information would somehow be jeopardized is laughable. I have never once been afraid that my access to the team would be compromised or impaired in any way in my 18 years of covering the Buccaneers. Again, our tone shift came when the Bucs were 0-8 and it was looking like Schiano was destined to be fired.
At PewterReport.com, we pride ourselves on being objective, investigative reporters and being open to new information as it presents itself. I realize full well that I called for Schiano’s firing after the Bucs’ 0-5 start, and I’m sure Schiano knew it, too. The reason for the shift in tone was due to the fact that the players became more vocal in their support for Schiano and continued to buy into his way of doing things. I would have been negligent in my duties as a reporter if I ignored what the players were saying and didn’t report it because it didn’t somehow fit into my narrative at the time, or if I ignored new information that led me to conclude that the leaks about Josh Freeman came from the Freeman camp and not Schiano or the Buccaneers.
Instead, I decided to report the facts – even though this would contradict some of my earlier reporting this year. Sometimes new information will have that effect, and I’m not hung up on having to either admit mistakes or change course in my reporting. That’s because I don’t have an agenda and take pride in my objectivity. I think that’s what has made PewterReport.com so popular over the years.
At the end of the day, Schiano may win six or eight games this year and return next year, or he may never win again this season and be fired if the team goes 3-13. Regardless of what happens, just know that we will continue to be objective in our reporting and continue to dig for the facts and the inside scoop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
• And finally, I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. Now that holiday shopping is in full swing, I’m here to offer you some advice. If you are looking for a great gift for the loved ones in your life this holiday season, I recommend a gift certificate to Tru Beautè Med Spa. As you may know, Tru Beautè Med Spa is the sponsor for PewterReport.com’s Bucs MVP each week, and the players that are chosen for that distinction receive a free, one-hour massage and they love it.
Whether it is for a massage, a facial, a body wrap, Botox or other skin treatments, a gift certificate to Tru Beautè Med Spa makes the perfect holiday gift. Guys, with the stress of the holiday season, a massage is always a great gift idea for the woman in your life. Women always want to have beautiful skin and the wide array of skin treatments at Tru Beautè Med Spa could also be the way to go.
Tru Beautè Med Spa is located at 6328 Gunn Highway Suite C in Tampa, Fla. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (813) 960-1800 or visit trubeautemedspa.com and mention PewterReport.com sent you.
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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