FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots

• New Tampa Bay wide receivers coach Skyler Fulton says that wide receiver Mike Evans didn’t have a down year despite barely getting 1,000 yards (1,001 yards) and scoring five touchdowns, which was seven less scores and 320 less yards on 25 less catches than his Pro Bowl season in 2016. But the reality is that Evans is capable of doing more in Dirk Koetter’s offense.

Evans had just one 100-yard game last year, which was a six-catch, 108-yard performance at Carolina. The Bucs’ first-round pick in 2014 had four the year efore and five during the 2015 season. Evans even had three 100-yard games as a rookie, including a season-high seven-catch, 209-yard, two-touchdown effort at Washington in 2014. Evans has the size and talent to take over ball games, and that’s one of the things he needs to do more often in 2018 – despite the fact that the Bucs have more weapons than ever on offense. None of those weapons can dominate a game the way Evans can.

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

One of the things that Evans needs to work on this year is getting yards after catch. His longest play of the year in 2017 was a 42-yard touchdown against Atlanta last year, and that was a 42-yard throw into the end zone where Evans had no yards after catch. Evans only had one other play over 40 yards, which was a 41-yarder at Arizona. Evans has just eight catches of 40 yards or more in his Tampa Bay career, an average of two per year. As a big-bodied receiver with 4.53 speed, Evans is capable of producing at least four receptions of 40 yards or more.

• PewterReport.com has been cranking out some of the most popular editions of the Pewter Nation Podcast since the Bucs 2018 draft, and I’m going to make it easy for you to listen to the four most recent episodes by linking them all right here. So whether it’s on your lunch break today, your commute home tonight or over the weekend while you are running errands or mowing the lawn, you’ll have the opportunity to be informed and entertained by Mark Cook, Trevor Sikkema and myself with nearly four hours of Bucs analysis and insight.

We’ll start with our most recent episode, which was recorded on Thursday following two days of interviews with the Bucs assistant coaches. Really good stuff here. You can click here to listen to Episode 74: A Long Way To The Top

Sikkema, Cook and yours truly offer up our expert opinions as we review 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.

Pewter-Nation-Podcast-Pewter-ReportIf 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.

• New Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul played an astonishing 1,010 snaps last year for New York, which was 91.65 percent of the Giants’ defensive plays. That was the highest number in the league for any defensive lineman. Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy played 806 snaps, which was 76.1 percent of the Bucs’ defensive plays, which was the most of any pewter-clad defensive lineman by far.

Those days of really high snap counts may be coming to an end with new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, who inherits a D-line unit that is overflowing with capable bodies this season thanks to the additions of Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein in free agency, Pierre-Paul via a trade, and rookie Vita Vea from the 2018 draft. Buckner wants to play eight defensive linemen and constantly rotate his players in and out of the game to keep his studs fresh for the fourth quarter.

“It’s great,” Buckner said. “The more players you have, the more you trust to go out there, you even out the workload. So now, if I’ve been a great player with 60 plays, how much better can I be if I only have to play 35? Now I can play those full-speed, 100 miles per hour. Don’t count your plays, just make your plays count.

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“We don’t even talk about tiring because we work, each one of my guys works to the point where they could play 100 plays straight. But now you cut those down, look at the energy you’re going to have. Because the end goal, it doesn’t matter if I have 1,000 tackles and we’re 3-13. The end goal is to win the game. I want the guys on the field who are fresh and give us the opportunity to be the best we can be as a defensive line every snap.”

Pierre-Paul averaged 62 snaps per game last year, while McCoy averaged 53 snaps per game. With both defensive linemen among the highest-paid players on the team, making over $12 million this year, they may see a slight reduction in play snaps, but they will still be playing closer to 50 snaps per game, especially if it’s close in the fourth quarter, rather than 35 because of the impact they can make.

• While Bucs fans (and the PewterReport.com staff) is impressed with Buckner’s coaching style, new wide receivers coach Skyler Fulton made a great first impression with the media on Thursday. Fulton, who has been on the staff as Todd Monken’s assistant for the past two years, is full of energy and contagious enthusiasm.

“The room is mine now,” Fulton said. “They are my guys. I’m choosing the drills and talking about the reps at practice and the routes I want. It’s more responsibility, but I’ve been with the receivers for two years before this. I’ve been extremely lucky because I’ve got to spend two years with Monk, who isn’t just still the best receivers coach in the building, but probably the best receivers coach in the NFL. To be able to learn from Monk and still have Monk in the building and conversate with him, talk about things and bounce things off him is awesome.”

When asked what it meant to Fulton for head coach Dirk Koetter, who coached him at Arizona State, to promote him rather than making an outside hire at the wide receivers coaching position.

“Coach Koetter made a phenomenal decision,” Fulton said. “I’m extremely confident. I’ve spent the last two years in this building with these guys. As you guys (in the media) said, with the vets that we have that know what’s going on and the things we need to get out of that room to get better in that room, there’s not a better person for that job. I think they made a phenomenal decision, and obviously as the season goes on, hopefully you guys are writing stories to that coming to fruition.”

Bucs WRs coach Skyler Fulton - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs WRs coach Skyler Fulton – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

I’ve covered the Bucs for over the past two decades, and Fulton reminds me of former Greg Schiano wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck, who is now the head coach at the University of Minnesota, in addition to former Bucs defensive backs coaches Raheem Morris, who wound up being Tampa Bay’s head coach and is now the Falcons’ receivers coach, and former Bucs DBs coach Jimmy Lake, who is the defensive coordinator at the University of Washington. Fulton has the upbeat, effervescent personality that Fleck, Morris and Lake all have and look what they were able to accomplish.

Fulton is right. Monken is the best receivers coach in the league. But don’t expect a drop off in production with Fulton leading the receiver room. He’s going to be a really, really good assistant coach for Tampa Bay.

• 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 29,000 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.

• Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith indicated that the team has told all of the players to come in with the expectation of being a starter. Offensive coordinator called wide receiver Chris Godwin and wide receivers coach Skyler Fulton “a starter” despite the fact that Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson are the current starters. On Wednesday, Smith said that cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, the team’s former first-round pick in 2016, should also assume he’s the team’s starting outside cornerback opposite Brent Grimes.

“We’ve told everybody that we want everybody to come in with the mindset that they’re going to be the starter at their position,” Smith said. “Vernon’s position is corner and nickel, corner in base defense and nickel in our sub package. We want these guys to go out and compete.

“We don’t care where they were drafted, how much they get paid. We’re going to put the best 11 guys out there on every snap and we want these guys to go out and compete against each other from day one. In terms of Vernon specifically, Vernon is competing to be the starting corner in base and probably going to be the guy we would move in because I think he has a better skill set at the nickel position in our sub defense.”

• And finally, Father’s Day is coming up next month and it’s time to get dad more than just a tie this year. Show your father how much he means to you with the gift of a custom-fit suit or a custom-tailored dress shirt. Or if your wife needs a great Father’s Day gift idea have her give you a gift certificate to Bespoke & Co. in Tampa so you can update your wardrobe with custom-fit clothing from suits, shirts, pants, jeans, shoes and accessories like ties and pocket squares.

Bespoke & Co. is the official custom clothier of PewterReport.com and the great folks that own and operate Bespoke & Co. are huge Tampa Bay fans that specialize in custom-fit dress attire. Bespoke & Co. have done plenty of work for current and former Buccaneers, including legendary cornerback Ronde Barber, wide receiver Mike Evans, safety Keith Tandy, offensive tackle Demar Dotson and others.

There’s no better fit than a custom fit when it comes to dress clothes, so why waste your time and hard-earned money buying shirts, pants and suits off the rack at expensive department stores? Over 95 percent of the visitors to PewterReport.com are men, and we all need suits and business attire, don’t we?

Call David Kahn at Bespoke & Co. to schedule a free fitting and to get your measurements. Bespoke & Co. caters to Bucs fans and has hundreds of colors, styles and patterns to choose from when it comes to shirts, pants and suits. Bespoke & Co. is conveniently located at 3305 West Bay To Bay Boulevard in Tampa. Visit their website at bespokeandcofl.com or call them at (813) 857-7876. Be sure to tell them that PewterReport.com sent you.

 

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

15 COMMENTS

  1. The only one of those five who will bounce back is Winston. His decline– which wasn’t all that bad to start– really was injury based anyway.
    Three of those four remaining probably won’t be on the team in a year. Hargreaves will be here, but in a less prominent role.
    Bucs just need to wash their hands with DJAX. He’s never going to have the work ethic and several young receivers show much more promise. My money’s on Watson.

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    • Agree Pete, and with mesean not showing for voluntary workouts again, I’d love to see Godwin take his spot. Jackson will be gone after this year anyways so why wait? We get a solid run game and this offense could be explosive. James has had a good run game for one year as a pro, that’s horrible.
      While James had a down year ,this article shows how awful the team was around him.
      Hes just got to get those fumbles cut way down.
      http://www.footballperspective.com/jameis-winston-had-an-unusual-2017-season/

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    • Agreed as far as Godwin. He fits our scheme better, is a better WR fit for Jameis (an elite intermediate passer), fits our culture change better with his work ethic.

      Would love to see him and Evans start outside. Let Djax compete in the slot with Hump, and then we can dump his contract after the season.

      I think Hargreaves can be a top 10 NICKEL CB, so in a wayyy thats a bounceback, just not the ideal for a top 15 draft pick.

      I do think N.Spence can bounceback as well playing in relief of Curry and JPP or potentially as a blitzing LB. Bucs cant continue to afford all this talent, so I see Noah being successful as a rotational player before taking over fulltime in 2019 or 2020 as JPP/Curry decline or are moved.

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  2. I think 3 of the 5 will have a bounce back year in Jameis, Gholston and Spence. Gholston(from reports)has already approached Buckner and said he wants to improve his game, losing and extra 15lbs at his height has helped with that 1st step.

    Spences surgery from what I’ve read has taken this time round and SHOULD be good to go so I’m expecting him to be a terror especially since rumors have him being a rush specialist and not an every down back any longer.

    JW, I’m expecting big things because this is his “show me” year, especially now that we’ve added more help to the line and backfield. Besides, he has to feel it and know that there are absolutely no excuses this year, there’s far too much talent for him to flop.

    I didn’t add VHIII because he just seems like his confidence has been shaken while Gholston, Spence and JW seem to exude confidence. I want VHIII to succeed, I don’t hate the guy but, he just seems to play with this childish demeanor which makes me think the kid’s self-contious.

    Djax is who I was hoping to make our offense blow up! I understand JW has fault in that but not as much as Djax IMO. I was happy to see them training off-season but there’s no way they fixed what they needed to in those few days that they spent together. Djax had the chance to change that by showing up to OTA’s and respond with a physical presence. I know he’s in Cali doing his typical training but why not have your trainer come here? There are inside track facilities in the area AND he could still get time in with Jameis. I hope he and JW prove me wrong but it’s valuable time lost either way you look at it.

    Scott, I’m curious as to which teammates were harping on VHIII’s lack of work ethic?

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  3. Great post Pete. I would give you a thumbs up if the site let us still.

    When Jamies finally started to get healthy he was the #1 QB in the league in fantasy points per ProFootballFocus over the last four weeks of the season.

    He also was their top rated QB that is under 25: ‘Winston has flashed the potential that made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. including this past season, he was more productive than any quarterback not named Tom Brady while under pressure, producing a passer rating of 84.4.”

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  4. Meant to say “every down DE” when referring to Spence, not an every down back lol!

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  5. Great Fab Five Scott. I think 4 of 5 have a shot to come back. DJAX is collecting a paycheck and will show flashes, but will take a dive going over the middle and trot out of bounds on the sidelines. My guess is the WR will come around where we’ll trade him to the Chargers so we can let him go back home, develop our guys and maybe pick-up a low draft pick for next year.

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  6. I think the one person, of everyone in this organization, that needs to shine the most is coach Koetter. All of the pieces are there. No more excuses.

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    • Agreed…and Mike Smith…

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  7. So… basically… almost every one needs to play well this season.

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  8. Donovan Smith? I don’t know what to say…that write-up must be under the wrong player profile.

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  9. Another good article Scott. My thinking on this team right now is ” a lot of maybes”?

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  10. Great Fab 4-1/2 Scott. Can’t give full credit to Fab 5 since it’s a lot of pimping sponsors and yourselves.

    Since there are so many folks on this site believing the team is destined for a season in which it won’t win a single game; I’m thinking the Pewter Reporters might want to update their resumes’.

    Folks sure were surprised when that 5-11 1978 team went to the NFC title game after so many were predicting another losing season with a QB who couldn’t even hit 50% of his passes, a running back who should have been Tony Dorsett and a defensive lineman who was too polite. Maybe we should change the old 1979 fight song.

    Hey Hey Tampa Bay the Bucs are going to suck.
    Hey Hey Tampa Bay look out for more bad luck.
    When we’re in trouble that’s the norm, we’re still down and out.
    Because we know we are the worst, when we sit down, sit down and pout.

    Or how about the other one.

    Ho hum ho hum we’re the Buccaneers.
    Ho hum ho hum we’re the Buccaneers
    No offense, no defense, now we’re here to say.
    Our ship has sunk so there’s no plank.
    We’re floating in Tampa Bay.

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  11. As always, thanks SR. Watched all the position coach interviews & got to read a Fab5 this week. A great week. Amped for football in May. (Damn you) You highlighted some key players/positions that must step up. But, don’t we All think that our coaching is the real suspect? I’m not asking you to burn any bridges, but I’m curious as to your take on the current staff. Wouldn’t the best way to develop some of this talent be with better coaching?

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  12. Another great SR, Scott. You are the best. I just have a different view of D. Smith. I like his durability and his size but he is not great at pass protection as his leading the Bucs in holding on passing downs proves. If he does not improve markedly his pass protection I don’t see us being over .500 at our week off. They then need to give Cappa a shot at LT. If not they will be risking getting Jameis injured and out again. It would be nice if Benenoch can step up this year and win the starting RT position early so they can cut Sweezy and train Cappa as a LT or at least as a RT. Tackle is his best position and he played LT in college. I do think D. Smith has a lot of potential at LG
    and I would prefer they move him there and put Marpet back at RT.

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