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.
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.
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.
• 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.
“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.”
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.
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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.