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SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.

FAB 1. Be Cautiously Optimistic About These Bucs

The Buccaneers offense hasn’t scored a single touchdown this year. The team has yet to prove it can fix its red zone woes.

Tampa Bay’s defense hasn’t recorded a single sack in 2018. The team has yet to prove it can get to the quarterback.

Wait a minute.

Didn’t the Bucs add defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry in the offseason, along with defensive tackles Vita Vea, Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein?

Isn’t defensive end Noah Spence back healthy and looking better than ever?

Isn’t defensive end Will Gholston 15 pounds thinner and looking to bounce back from a down year?

Doesn’t Tampa Bay have a proven new defensive line coach in Brentson Buckner, who is already making his mark at One Buccaneer Place?

The new additions are great, but talent doesn’t win championships.

Cohesive talent does.

Chemistry does.

It’s not so much skill as it is will.

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson and quarterback Jameis Winston are two of the more talented players at their positions (despite what ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio would have you believe). Yet if they can’t connect on the deep ball and produce some scoring strikes with improved chemistry this year their talent underachieves.

That’s why when Bucs Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy took to the podium on Tuesday to discuss all of the great additions to the team’s defensive line, he did so with one part optimism and another part skepticism.

“It’s great, man. You always want to welcome new guys whether they are a rookie like Vita or Super Bowl champions in J-P-P and Vinny and Beau and Mitch has played on a Super Bowl team, so we have a lot of experience,” McCoy said. “That is what we need. Me going into my ninth year, we need more experience in the room and I am excited about it. It’s going to be good. Here’s the thing, the media, you guys see names and you immediately get excited. There is a lot of work to be done.

“I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve seen people come in and people go out and I am excited for the names, which is great, but so much work to be done. I look at things a little different. I look at it like now we have guys where we don’t have to lay a foundation. They have the foundation because of all the experience that they have, but so much work to be done. Today is the first day of OTAs. We had Phase One and Phase Two where we learned new techniques from Coach Buck. But, so much work to be done. I don’t get all hype like that. Too much work to be done, so I’m excited for the names, but so much work.”

What?

Why was McCoy, who has labored around inferior talent along the defensive line since he was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2010, so subdued when rattling off the names of some real premier defensive line talent that has made its way onto the Bucs’ 2018 roster?

Because he’s smart.

McCoy has seen this before.

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy and former DT Chris Baker - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy and former DT Chris Baker – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs signed defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and high-priced defensive end Michael Johnson in 2014 coming off a 7-9 season the previous year. The result? A disastrous 2-14 season that nobody saw coming.

In 2016, Tampa Bay signed defensive end Robert Ayers, Jr. and drafted Spence in the second round. After a 9-7 campaign that year, the Bucs brought back virtually every member of the defensive line that helped record 38 sacks that season in addition to new defensive tackle Chris Baker, who turned out to be a bust. The result? A league low 22 sacks in a 5-11 campaign last year that nobody saw coming.

Before anyone crowns the Bucs “playoff contenders” or Tampa Bay “having the most talented defensive line in the NFL” McCoy wants to see how it all comes together with his own eyes.

I want the same thing.

And after a decade’s worth of getting your hopes up for a long, lost playoff season that has yet to arrive, you should, too.

The Bucs are more talented this year, and general manager Jason Licht and his staff did a very fine job adding talent this offseason. Let’s see how it all comes together in training camp and the preseason.

Licht will be the first to tell you he hates the “Won The Offseason” banner that the national media bestows on some lucky franchise – a franchise that usually doesn’t live up to expectations and fails to make the playoffs as a result, crumbling under the weight of heavy expectations.

Tampa Bay was that team last year.

Fox Sports, NFL Network’s Good A.M. Football show, HBO’s Hard Knocks mini-series and other media outlets, including PewterReport.com, bought in to the hype last summer. With another great draft that featured tight end O.J. Howard and free safety Justin Evans, in addition to free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson, defensive tackle Chris Baker and strong safety T.J. Ward, the Bucs seemed destined to make the playoffs in 2017.

Tampa Bay has made even more splashes this offseason in free agency and the draft than it did a year ago, but after last season – and other seasons of false hope – this team no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Show me. Let’s see it.

Go ahead and dominate in the preseason. Run the ball at will. Sack the quarterback often. Score touchdowns – field goals in August. And when the Bucs need to kick field goals – make them. Prepare in August like you’re going to play in September through December. Set the tone for the season.

Last year the Bucs didn’t get to the quarterback, couldn’t run the ball effectively and had trouble scoring TDs in the red zone and missed kicks in the preseason and it sure carried over into the regular season.

“Stacking wins” is a term often used at One Buccaneer Place because it’s impossible to get to the playoffs without going on some sort of a big winning streak or at least having a couple of mini-winning streaks within the year. Winning every other game only gets a team to 8-8.

Let’s see this team stack some long runs, stack some red zone touchdowns, stack some long-range field goals and stack some sacks first before we suggest that Tampa Bay might be this year’s New Orleans Saints, who went from worst to first within the NFC South division a year ago.

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy - Photo by: Mark Cook/PR

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR

McCoy has never been more right to take a wait-and-see attitude, and I love his demeanor this offseason. He’s 30 and he knows it. He knows time is running out to get the Bucs to the playoffs and bring a Super Bowl championship back to Tampa Bay.

I’m not saying this year’s Bucs squad won’t make the playoffs, but I’m not here to tell you they are going to, either.

They need to come together on offense and defense with cohesion first. As McCoy accurately notes, that process has just begun. There is still a lot of work to do. That’s what the OTAs, mini-camp and training camp are for.

Be optimistic all you want about the coming 2018 season, Bucs fans.

I’d just suggest you would follow McCoy’s lead and be cautiously optimistic.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: sr@pewterreport.com
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Pete Wood
3 years ago

I agree that everybody was way too enthusiastic about the Bucs chances last year. But, who wrote this Fab Five?
Chicken Little?

Darin
3 years ago

Stacking wins should not be a saying heard at One Buc. Dirk should have learned by now. This, along with other things he does, makes me hesitant to believe. I would be willing to bet most every playoff team is looking at the next game, and then the next. Cant look past the next one in this league. Shoot at this point they shouldnt look past the next practice.

jb™
3 years ago

my biggest concern for the upcoming season, is COACHING! The fact that Koetter and Licht decided to pass on Alvin Kammera, TWICE, and trot Doug Martin out there doesn’t instill much confidence in the putting together a playoff team. My biggest fear is they continue their stubborn ways, and start Barber over RoJo, even with RoJo’s far superior skills.

FLyBoy
Reply to  jb™
3 years ago

jb – I agree with the coaching statement. Better decisions in the RedZone and getting players involved at the right moment/play. I was dumbfounded when we kept Martin and then used him no matter the production he had. I think they learned their lesson. That brings me to the second point; as much as I love to see RoJo starting, he hasnt done anything in this league to warrant a start over Barber. I think even himself will tell anyone that. He wants to start but he also wants to prove himself and earn that starting nod. Barber has paid… Read more »

plopes808
Reply to  jb™
3 years ago

I’m not so sure on this one. Rojo hasn’t proven to be starting caliber…yet. Barber on the other hand has proven to be a beast out there. I say give Rojo a lot of touches in preseason and see where he’s at. Barber is ideal for those tough short yardage situations. I also worry about Rojo’s size and ability to carry the load at the next level. Setting up a good rotation throughout the season will limit the mileage on both backs and keep them fresh, much like the DL rotation will do. May the best man win…but maintain the… Read more »

ayron54
3 years ago

Maybe I was lead to believe something that wasn’t true but isn’t one of the things that the American flag stands for and represents, freedom?? So how is it anyone’s right to say what freedoms one can exercise and what freedoms one can’t when everything is completely legal and within their constitutional rights that lots of people fought for amd died for in order for people to have those freedoms to do so. Go Bucs!!

Destino102
Reply to  ayron54
3 years ago

I think I understand what your asking, and maybe this will answer it. The first amendment protects you freedom of speech and your right to protest from the government itself. It does not protect you from your employer. When you are employed, you have to adhere to the rules of the employer to remain employed. You can say or protest what you want, but they have the ability to punish or fire you for it. They can also make rules that dictate what is expected from it’s employees. This is why players get fined for celebrations, having stuff written on… Read more »

Horse
Reply to  Destino102
3 years ago

Agree

Devasher
Reply to  Destino102
3 years ago

While I understand that point your point of view, there are limits to what an employer can ask you to do regardless of who owns the business. An employer cannot require me to pray, they cannot force me to believe something or do things that violate the law. As with all rights, there are limits. The question of whether a professional athlete must stand for the flag is a question between the owners and the union that represents the players bargain for. In the case of the NBA, they bargained that piece in their contract. If the union agrees to… Read more »

buccaneerNW
Reply to  ayron54
3 years ago

The employer argument is the only logically valid argument against the anthem protests. Employers do have a right to constrain behavior during work hours. The only question is whether they should limit some forms of speech and expression. Some owners want to, and others don’t.

The flag means different things to different people. Military people don’t own the flag or the national anthem. Protest is protected free speech (unless it’s on somebody else’s dime).

Horse
Reply to  buccaneerNW
3 years ago

Agree

e
e
3 years ago

Nice work, Scott… I particularly like the piece on Bowers. I wonder if Licht or staff go through every single draft choice that the team has picked and done analysis on how and why that player failed to live up to expections? Then, using that data moving forward? Interesting to hear the inside story. I also don’t believe that mandating patriotism is the correct way to go with the NFL. If you want to set a policy of “free market” principles, the NFL should that that any player that is perceived to being disrespectful to the flag can be cut… Read more »

macabee
3 years ago

I’m a Buc fan. I’m always cautiously optimistic. It’s in my DNA. Twelve seasons of no playoffs (not since January 2006) justifies my guarded optimism, but I still remain optimistic because as I do every year I see enough change to start to believe again! Are we there yet? No! But we look pretty darn close this time. We already had the offensive skill pieces in place and with the addition of a quality RB, they have the table set to be a complete offense. A couple of questions remain on the O-Line, but I think those questions will be… Read more »

e
e
Reply to  macabee
3 years ago

Agreed Mac… It’s on Koetter & coaches at this point.

plopes808
Reply to  macabee
3 years ago

Agreed 100% Licht and the rest of his team have done well adding quality pieces. It’s time for Koetter and the coaching staff to put the puzzle together. If they can’t do so this year with the pieces available to them, they should be gone. I do feel that regardless of the coaching staff’s fate, Licht and his crew should stay. They have proven to be able to learn from their mistakes and adjust course accordingly. The pieces they are adding now fit the “mold” of what we want on the roster and will continue to improve this team “on… Read more »

SaskBucs
3 years ago

Yep, impossible to get hyped for this season. Week by week hope for the best. As far as the anthem thing goes, didn’t care then, don’t care now. I just want to watch football. I think these athletes should use their platform to raise social awareness but it is clear this way was too divisive. I am glad you shared the story about gaining perspective from sharing time and viewpoints with someone who has learned from different experiences and has opposing opinions. Most people don’t understand that is the only way to truly educate yourself on issues. This is why… Read more »

Horse
Reply to  SaskBucs
3 years ago

So agree.

chetthevette
Reply to  SaskBucs
3 years ago

I wish i could put my self in their shoes. But that is not possible. I can only imagine Africa Amricans fear and disgust when being confronted with racism spewwed out by White people.
My thought is this.
The entire Black race should be commended and applauded for protesting in such a civil and non-violent manner. I’m not sure if i was in their shoes I would show such restraint.
GO BUCS

majc32
3 years ago

The nfl made a bigger mess with this rule. I hope you know “a great deal of Americans” are upset these players voices have been silenced. Protests are supposed to make you uncomfortable. During the 60’s blacks would have sit ins in White only restaurants. It was uncomfortable for both but it was needed and it changed the black of segregation. Just because some were offended, the message these players were making is necessary. Nothing makes me more mad then comments made in the comments section saying that police brutality towards minorities is a false narrative etc. We see it… Read more »

buccaneerNW
3 years ago

Some good stuff, but Bowers isn’t deserving of a spot in the Fab 5.

thewbacca
Reply to  buccaneerNW
3 years ago

On his merits, no. Due to the fact that we are in the doldrums of late May and this is more of a “whatever happened to” human interest story – yes. I think the theme of passion runs across every section of the Fab 5 – from getting talent to gel, to seeing which players want to start and also to lead, to getting insight into the mind of the scouting team and front office, to see what makes players walk away, and what makes them kneel or not – the common thread is passion. When reading this article I… Read more »

EastEndBoy
3 years ago

In the spirit of trying to help, “I don’t understand the “fake patriotism” part of Kerr’s comments”

Kerr was making a comment that purporting to be patriotic because one shows deference (i.e., standing at attention) to an inanimate object, in complete contrast to the underlying values that that object is in fact representing (e.g., freedom of expression), seems like fake patriotism by that individual (i.e., not real patriotism, which would be the respecting of the underlying values).

QueDogg86
3 years ago

Scott, very powerful! I have a new level of respect for you and your logical, approach to the flag issue. Hopefully, the rest of your readers will agree to disagree, in a respectful manner.

buccaneerNW
3 years ago

Scott, I think the “fake patriotism” that Steve Kerr was speaking of was the bloviating windbaggery of King Cheeto, a man not known for respecting much of anything, and hardly a patriot. Trump is a fake patriot because he whips up issues around the flag not out of deep conviction, but out of desire to whip up resentment among his voting base. He’s the disinformer-in-chief. And the NFL policy is a direct result of this lunatic’s unhinged attack on the NFL players and especially African-Americans. He’s invested energy in dividing the country along racial lines and along issues of patriotism.… Read more »

chetthevette
Reply to  buccaneerNW
3 years ago

King Cheeto.
Love it

surferdudes
3 years ago

I’m one of the more liberal people you’ll meet. I also worked for a government agency for 34 years. We had rules we had to follow one of them being no political talk on the work room floor. I did not feel like that rule infringed on my rights. I was being paid to work after all not talk politics. I don’t believe players, or anybody at their job should be forced to stand for an anthem, or pledge of allegiance, or listen to, or have to say a prayer. I see the new NFL rule as a good compromise.… Read more »

Horse
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

Agree Scott is opening his eyes and listening too; I respect Scott because he change.

plopes808
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

That’s a great idea with the tv spots. I think most will agree that the message was never the issue here. This was a case of “right message, wrong platform.” I for one, never had any issue at all with the message of addressing police brutality and racism. However, choosing to protest during the National Anthem and “disrespecting the flag” (depending on personal opinion) created more divide than was intentioned. I think this is why so many players who originally knelt, decided against doing so later. As you said Scott, the dialogue has definitely been opened up though so…mission accomplished… Read more »

Horse
3 years ago

Good Article Scott. I was born and live in the TB area for 72 years and there is no doubt in my mine Tampa PD is rougher on blacks than whites. The Tampa Bay area was very racist up into the early 1960’s. If you were born after this time frame then please listen to white people like me, because I saw it over and over. Sports was no different, and if a few of us white kids wanted to play with black kids back then, there was hell to pay for our actions by family, friends, and the community.… Read more »

chetthevette
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

Horse. Awesome as usual. I remember when the pads started being passed out first day of practice.
There was actually a separate pile for the black kids. Damn, that was long ago.
GO BUCS

martinii
3 years ago

It’s the time of year again when you can be optimistic, pessimistic, or any combination of the two emotions. Everyone is right and we can celebrate an imaginary Super Bowl in 2018, or like so many fans who have spent the last decade angry and disappointed during the playoffs and off season because we were all wrong. I think fans who follow teams like the Buc’s should condition themselves to appreciating good football when it happens, and like a CB who has to have a short memory when they get beat on a rout or miss a tackle move on… Read more »

Mike.Seven
3 years ago

This team has 1 major talented Defence player McCoy one major talent offence player in Evans those 2 should go back to pro bowl based on their own talent they have others Winston included that could be really good but they are going to need help from coaches, someone once said there are no bad teams just bad coaches. Last year the coaching left a lot to be desired, the head coach and OC DC are back, I did not see any great moves draft or free agency, this is the toughest schedule I ever remember. I have been very… Read more »

Devasher
3 years ago

Scott, I was dreading that you would inevitably wade into the National Anthem topic, as you’ve missed no opportunities thus far to talk politics on this site, including the past times Bucs players have knelt, making readers fully aware of your feelings on the topic. But I will say I was pleasantly surprised in how you wrote this article. Usually your attempts to take a middle ground are ham-handed and show that you’re really just trying to prove a point which roughly half the readers disagree with and more object to. This wasn’t one of those times. You made a… Read more »

Brooks Dunn-Winston
3 years ago

Scott, your little story about you and your black friend is a little sad. There are other points of view?! Wow, what a revelation! But, hey, I’m glad you learned something.

Mike.Seven
3 years ago

I am one that would love to see politics left out of football, Last year NFL saw 10-15% drop due to politics in football, Football is a place to escape problems in our lives, Politics should be left outside football, Go ahead stand a protest in the locker room and watch another year of declining ratings does not seem real smart to me.

bueller
3 years ago

Wow have the Bucs wasted Gerald McCoy’s talent he may surpass the waste of talent waste of James Wilder who could have been in the greatest RB of all time had he played for another team. His pass catching was way ahead of his time for an every down RB.

scubog
Reply to  bueller
3 years ago

Absolutely correct about James Wilder. He was easily best back of all time playing on one of our worst teams. The youngsters should take a few minutes to watch a few of his highlights.

Horse
Reply to  scubog
3 years ago

Yes, agree. Best running back we ever had.

scubog
3 years ago

I really hate when this “football fan” site turns into a political forum. People always wanting their own rights to be recognized, but have no problem rejecting or shouting down the rights of others who might be a bit different from their own. Back to football. I’ve entered each Buccaneer football season for the past 42 years with optimism and hope. Often exiting with disappointment and worse yet, brief apathy. Even the most critical fans [Mike. Seven and sometimes Pinkstob] care. They just try to shield themselves from the disappointment, that has so often surrounded us, by being a bit… Read more »

rocko23
3 years ago

The Anthem issue is truly a case study on society. People are upset because others choose to sit or kneel during the playing of the song. When you have bigger issues like school shootings police brutality homelessness poor education and high Healthcare.

In the grand scheme of things which is the gigantic big universe we live in that flag and that song is about insignificant as a tick.

As for the Bucs I’m more worried about coaching that I am skill set of our players, we have plenty of talent to win and win that.

WiltheBrewer
3 years ago

Though I’d like to join the Anthem discussion, I’ll bring it back to football for a sec-
Sweezy is injured again??? WTF

kapmorg
3 years ago

I see we got six interceptions during one of the practice days during OTA’s, but how did our pass rush look, Scott? I know there are no pads, but would like to read about a some hope for a pass rush this season compared to last year.

owlykat
3 years ago

As a Veteran who was not drafted but volunteered to serve my Country during the Vietnam War as my Father did also though entitled to a deferment as an only son during WWII and survived the Battle of the Bulge, I was not happy to see players refusing to show our flag respect during a football game. But I didn’t boycott the NFL as a protest either. I respect the right of any citizen to peaceably protest at the proper time and place but a football game is the wrong time and place. It should be non political place where… Read more »

EastEndBoy
Reply to  owlykat
3 years ago

Thank you for your service – and your father too! I agree that Sunday’s at the games should be about football, not national anthems….it was and is a strange oddity to be playing national anthems at sporting events.

mattym3
3 years ago

I hope Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea plays for more than the “3 days” Bucs director of college scouting Mike Biehl is quoted as saying he will. :-P

Crook
3 years ago

Don’t forget…Bowers is also the reason Michael Bennett isn’t still a Buc. You could argue that pick was as bad as Aguayo

Devasher
Reply to  Crook
3 years ago

The clear reason why Bowers is nowhere near as bad a pick as Aguayo and the comparison is laughable: 1. Bowers showed potential as an elite pass rusher in his Jr year with 15.5 sacks and 26 TFL. 2. Bowers was a 5 star prospect coming out of HS so his production was not unexpected. 3. If you have a player with elite pass rushing production/ability you take him high. Usually in the top 5. You never take a kicker in the top 5. 4. Aguayo was coming off his worst year with only 80% FG and a blocked kick… Read more »

EastEndBoy
Reply to  Devasher
3 years ago

Well said

Crook
Reply to  Devasher
3 years ago

We’re making two different points. Your point is that when they actually made the picks, Bowers in the 2nd round was a much better selection than Aguayo in the 2nd round. I agree with that 100% and also agree it isn’t even close. My point was hindsight and the long term impact the picks have had on the franchise

drdneast
3 years ago

Samuel Johnson said it best years ago.
“Patiotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
He should have added religion as well.

drdneast
3 years ago

It’s simply hysterical when someone who dodged military service four or five times, is a serial cheater on his wife and has a campaign staff that met with the Russians in an attempt to rig the election can question anyone’s patriotism and loyalty.

EastEndBoy
Reply to  drdneast
3 years ago

Yes – but it would be less hysterical if he didn’t have his finger on the nucs.

Horse
Reply to  drdneast
3 years ago

Mr. bone spurs thinks he can.