FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• The NFL issued its new policy regarding the National Anthem this week and naturally it pleased some and upset others. Most of you know my stance on this issue, but if you don’t, I side with Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem.
At the same time, I’m against police brutality and support the players’ right to speak up about issues. Yes, you can actually be in favor of all of the above, and I think that Colin Kaepernick and the players would have been more successful in rally more people to his cause and avoided the issue of upsetting a good of deal of America by demonstrating any other time than during the National Anthem. That’s just my opinion.
There have been lots of opinions on this matter ranging from President Donald Trump’s to Eagles defensive end Chris Long to Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin and on and on – and I respect most all of them. Speaking of Trump, I don’t think it was his place to inject his viewpoint into the business of a private entity like the NFL. I don’t think it was appropriate.
But one opinion that dumbfounded me was Golden State head coach Steve Kerr, a noted liberal and Trump critic, who told the San Francisco Chronicle: “They’re basically trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people. It’s idiotic, but that’s how the NFL has handled their business. I’m proud to be in a league that understands patriotism in America is about free speech, peacefully protesting.”
Kerr realizes that the NBA makes standing for the National Anthem mandatory, right? The new NFL policy closely mirrors the NBA policy, which says on page 61 under the Player/Team Conduct & Dress section:
(2) Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.
Also, I don’t understand the “fake patriotism” part of Kerr’s comments. That patriotism is 100 percent real to a lot of Americans, myself included, who got upset over the protests during the National Anthem. If he – or others – feel it’s fake patriotism that’s on them and that’s their right, but don’t deny my patriotism or others that feel the same way by calling it fake.
After two years of dealing with this topic, this is an issue that clearly not everyone is going to see eye-to-eye on, and that’s okay. We can agree to disagree, which brings me to my next point.
Thank God Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee and protest – even though I objected to it at the time and still object to the premise of kneeling during the National Anthem.
Because Kaepernick’s protest started dialog between Bucs fan and PewterReport.com reader Kenric Montgomery, who is an African-American veteran, and myself about this issue on Twitter when it first happened years ago. After some staunch exchanges on social media, we took our discussions offline and met for lunch to further our conversation. As you might expect, he and I differ on some political and cultural issues in addition to the protest issue.
But what Montgomery and I have done over the past two years is continue to meet for lunch, and text, and call each other regularly. We’ve become very good friends as a result. As an African-American man who is a few years younger than me, Montgomery has had far different life experiences than I have, including serving in the U.S. Army.
Without delving too much into his personal business, Montgomery has shared with me the fact that he has been pulled over by the police simply because he’s a black man driving a nice car in certain parts of Tampa. That’s something I have not been subjected to, and I’ve listened to him and empathized with him on several issues that affect the African-American and minority communities that don’t really affect the white population, such as needless, excessive use of force by some members of the police. It’s been eye-opening.
And I’ve shared my views with him on other matters that he has found enlightening because I have a different perspective on some topics than he does. There has been a great information give-and-take between us.
I don’t know that either one of our positions on certain issues has necessarily changed, but what has changed is our understanding of each other’s opinions and points of view. I have a profound respect for his point of view and I believe he has the same for me.
We talk, but more importantly, we listen to each other. We’ve never called each other a name or put down one another. We simply listen and take in what the other person is saying.
You can’t gain understanding, empathize or sympathize without listening. That’s a fact. In today’s society and culture that’s unfortunately driven by smarmy hot takes and gifs on Twitter, listening is becoming a lost art.
As a middle-aged white guy, I know I have a much better understanding of black culture and the viewpoints of minorities from listening to Montgomery and because of my friendship with him. I think what Kaepernick wanted all along was to start dialogue about the issue of police brutality. To that I say, “mission accomplished” – at least for me personally.
If it weren’t for Kaepernick taking a knee, I wouldn’t have forged a great friendship with Kenric Montgomery, who is someone I have the utmost respect for. So thanks, Kaep.
Montgomery (@kenric1) is a cool Twitter follow, too.
My hope is that whatever side of this issue – or any issue – you’re on, that you’ll find somebody with a differing point of view, have a conversation with them, and most importantly, listen and learn.
• Memorial Day weekend is here and if you are hitting the beach, traveling or just relaxing at home this weekend is a great time to get caught up on the latest Pewter Nation Podcasts. I have conveniently linked the last five podcasts right here for your listening pleasure so you can get caught upon all of our insight and analysis this offseason. Be prepared to be informed and entertained by Mark Cook, Trevor Sikkema and myself with nearly five hours of Bucs analysis and insight.
Here is our most recent episode, which was recorded on Thursday following the first two OTAs where Sikkema and I reviewed all the action and discussed the things that stood out the most. You can click here to listen to Episode 75: All About OTAs.
The PewterReport.com staff had a chance to interview all of the Bucs assistant coaches during the media sessions two weeks ago and you can get our insight on those interviews right here. You can click here to listen to Episode 74: A Long Way To The Top
Sikkema, Cook and yours truly offered up our expert opinions as we reviewed Tampa Bay’s rookie mini-camp. Be sure to give it a listen. You can click here to listen to Episode 73: Rookie Mini-Camp Recap
The PewterReport.com staff discussed the undrafted free agents that Tampa Bay signed and offered up more commentary about the Bucs’ 2018 draft class. This one got a lot of listens. You can click here to listen to Episode 72: New Kids On The Block.
If you missed PewterReport.com’s post-draft edition of the Pewter Nation Podcast where we analyze the draft picks of Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter make sure you listen to this one. This is the most listened to Pewter Nation Podcast we’ve done thus far. You can click here to listen to Episode 71: Locked In On Licht’s Draft.
The popularity of the Pewter Nation Podcast continues to grow. In addition to listening to the Pewter Nation Podcasts on PewterReport.com you can also subscribe to the free podcasts at PodBean by clicking here and on SoundCloud by clicking here. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode.
• The NFL Draft is called the “Super Bowl for scouts” because of all their hard work during the year scouting college prospects, and that climaxes in three days in April. While general manager Jason Licht, director of pro personnel John Spytek and pro scouting director Rob McCartney can continue to tweak the Bucs’ roster year-round, director of college scouting Mike Biehl can’t tweak his draft.
The players you pick are the players you pick. There are no do-overs.
“Your draft is your draft, and there are 31 other teams picking,” Biehl said. “You’d love to pick all the ones you want, but it doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck with the way things fall, too. When they fall the way you like it, it’s like a cherry on top of the cake. I think it fell the way we wanted it to this year.
“Jason is great at working trades and did that this year, but it’s also a team. Mike Greenberg, Spytek, Rob McCartney and I work on that with him. I’ve heard Jason say it many times that when you are prepared for every scenario and you go into a draft it makes it easy. Nobody’s nervous. We were prepared.”
How do NFL teams prepare for something as unpredictable as the draft? With plenty of mock drafts, of course.
“We do quite a few,” Biehl said. “We do a lot with the scouts, too. This year where we were picking, it was a lot easier than when we were at 19 last year. Next year we are hoping it’s going to be even harder at No. 32. We start the process after the Combine and the closer you get to the draft you start really doing it. I would say we do literally dozens of mock drafts.”
Tampa Bay’s 2018 draft got some very favorable reviews from the national media, and the team’s drafts in 2015 and ’17 stockpiled the team with some elite talent on both sides of the ball. So what happened to the 2016 draft class that featured underachieving cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III in the first round and two second-round picks in defensive end Noah Spence kicker Roberto Aguayo, who was cut after just one season?
“I don’t think the 2016 draft is that bad,” Biehl said. “Of course there are still some question marks about it – more than in 2017 – but I think the jury is still out on that. We’ve now figured out exactly what we want, and from a personnel standpoint, the thing we can control is the type of guy we bring in. That’s where the preparedness of our scouts comes into play. They just know the kid from a personal standpoint, from a character standpoint – the way he’s made. The more we know and the more guys that fit the mold of the kind of guys we want around here – that helps. I think we’ve done a very good job of that in the last couple of years – even going back to the 2015 draft with Jameis.”
• Do you want up-to-the-minute news and observations from next week’s Bucs OTAs, which are open to the media? Make sure you become one of the 29,400 Twitter followers of @PewterReport. If you want updates from Bucs press conferences, Bucs OTAs this offseason and new PewterReport.com story notifications be sure to follow us on Twitter and help us grow to 30,000. To follow @PewterReport on Twitter please click here, and to follow us on Facebook please click here.
• If it seems like Bucs general manager Jason Licht has thrown a lot of resources at beefing up the team’s defensive line, which needed an overhaul after Tampa Bay posted a league-low 22 sacks, it’s because he has. Licht signed three free agent defensive linemen in Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein, traded for Jason Pierre-Paul and drafted Vita Vea.
But this isn’t the only time that a general manager has thrown a ton of resources at the defensive line. Former Bucs general manager Mark Dominik spent four premium draft picks and a total of seven picks in the first four rounds from 2009-2013 on defensive linemen. Unfortunately most of those players didn’t pan out.
In his first year as general manager, Dominik drafted defensive tackle Roy Miller in the third round in 2009. Dominik then selected defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price in the first and second rounds of the 2010 draft, and then used his first- and second-round picks on defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers the next season. Because Price and Bowers were immediate busts, Dominik had to replace them with a pair of fourth-round picks in 2013 in defensive tackle Akeem Spence and Will Gholston.
Of those seven draft picks, only McCoy has been to a Pro Bowl and Price and Bowers are out of the NFL. While he wasn’t a draft pick, Michael Bennett, an undrafted free agent in 2009, did make an impact and led the team with nine sacks and three forced fumbles in 2012, which was his only year as a full-time starter. Unfortunately, other players made little impact in Tampa Bay as pass rushers, and only McCoy and Gholston remain with the Buccaneers.
DT Roy Miller – 2009-2012 – 3 sacks
DE Michael Bennett – 2009-2012 – 15 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
DT Gerald McCoy – 2010-current – 48.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries
DT Brian Price – 2010–11 – 3 sacks
DE Adrian Clayborn – 2011-2014 – 13 sacks, 5 forced fumbles
DE Da’Quan Bowers – 2011-2015 – 7 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries
DT Akeem Spence – 2013-2017 – 5.5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble
DE William Gholston – 2013-current – 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
• And finally, I wanted to wish every one of our PewterReport.com readers a Happy Memorial Day weekend, and I hope everyone has a fun, safe time. Try to stay dry this weekend if you’re in the state of Florida! I’ll be remembering the fallen U.S. soldiers that fought and served in the American Armed Forces over the last century, including my grandfather, Claude R. Smith, who played a big role in my life and helped me gravitate towards the business world with his business acumen.
With my kids out of school today, we’ll be celebrating tonight with a trip to the Wesley Chapel Ford’s Garage restaurant for a well-deserved meal after a year’s worth of hard work. For me, it will be a beer and a burger – they’ve got the best in town. Ford’s Garage has restaurants all across the Tampa Bay area with locations in Countryside, Westchase and Brandon, in addition to its new location in downtown St. Petersburg. For a complete listing of locations and a full menu to browse, visit FordsGarageUSA.com, and visit the closest Ford’s Garage location to you this weekend for a great meal or happy hour – and tell them that PewterReport.com sent you.