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. BUCS’ SECONDARY STRUGGLES IN PART DUE TO LACK OF CONTINUITY
The Buccaneers need Johnthan Banks back in the worst way and as soon as possible. Although he hasn’t garnered the type of league-wide accolades as other more prominent names, Banks is a shutdown cornerback in the NFL and the best cornerback on Tampa Bay’s roster.
Through five games no cornerback has recorded an interception, and the Bucs have just three as a team. Last year, Banks led the team in pass breakups with 10 and also in interceptions with a career-high four, including a pick-six against Washington.
With a rematch against the Redskins looming on Sunday with the Bucs coming off their bye week, Tampa Bay’s ravaged pass defense would love to have another pick-six – or even just a pick – from Banks.
Bucs CB Johnthan Banks – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“We’d like to get him back as soon as possible because of his length and playmaking ability,” Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said during the bye week. “Hopefully it won’t be too far away. He’s still a young, up-and-coming corner. It would help us to get him back.”
Banks has practiced all week following the Bucs’ bye and head coach Lovie Smith said that the secondary needs him back on the field.
“Just a good solid player,” Smith said. “Of course he played well against [Washington] last year, but he’ll tackle – he’s different from the rest of our DBs (defensive backs) that we have, because he has height and length and long arms. He’s been a playmaker for us – can’t have too many good corners. We haven’t been totally pleased with how we’ve played on the back end, that’s been documented. To get another one of our guys, who we start the season with as our starter, back, has to help.”
Banks had eight tackles in two and a half games before injuring his knee at Houston in Week 3, which are twice as many tackles as Mike Jenkins has and he has played in all five games for Tampa Bay. Jenkins has surrendered two touchdowns in man coverage and starting cornerback Tim Jennings has given up three passing scores while playing both man (two) and zone (one).
Jennings, a 10-year veteran who played for Smith in Chicago from 2010-11 before being released by the Bears on August 31, was particularly awful against Jacksonville as he was repeatedly targeted by Blake Bortles in Tampa Bay’s hard-fought, 38-31 triumph before the bye week.
Jennings, who was playing in the slot, gave up a 12-yard skinny post to Allen Hurns and didn’t jam or re-route Hurns at the line of scrimmage. With a free release, Hurns caught a TD pass right in front of safety Chris Conte.
Jennings was penalized twice against Jacksonville for illegal hands to the face and pass interference and blew the coverage on Hurns’ 58-yard catch-and-run on fourth-and-18 on the Jaguars’ final drive. He then gave up a touchdown pass to Allen Robinson shortly thereafter.
Bucs CB Tim Jennings might be benched with the return of Johnthan Banks – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Don’t be surprised if Jennings is benched against Washington, especially if Banks is ready to return to the starting lineup. And if rookie cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah continues to progress, Jennings, who signed a league-minimum deal, could be expendable.
“There were some things that Tim can definitely do better,” Frazier said. “It seems [the Jaguars] wanted to come his way a little bit. Usually, he responds with some batted balls or even some interceptions. He struggled a little bit, but he’ll bounce back. He’s a veteran guy, he’s been through the wars before and he’ll bounce back from that ballgame. He’ll work hard this week in practice and next week as well. We’ll evaluate the position and make a decision on which direction to go.”
Tampa Bay’s pass defense has surrendered 12 passing touchdowns, which was the highest in the league before the bye week and now ranks second as the New York Giants have now given up 13 aerial TDs in six games.
“We haven’t played well enough – it’s as simple as that,” Smith said before the bye week. “No, I’m not pleased at all. Simple as that. We’ve had opportunities to take the ball away more times. A game like [Jacksonville], to finish on a note like that was discouraging. Where there were missed tackles and just your play on the ball. So we’re not where we need to be on the back end right now, it’s as simple as that, but we’ll keep working on it.”
Part of the problem has likely been all of the shuffling that has gone on in the secondary as the coaching staff is struggling to find the right combination of defensive backs to put on the field. The only consistent starter has been McDougald at free safety.
Verner started the first two games at cornerback before being replaced by Jennings due to performance. Banks started the first three games at cornerback before being replaced by Jenkins due to injury. Sterling Moore got the start at nickel cornerback for the first four games before being replaced by Verner.
Bucs SS Chris Conte – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Conte has received the last four starts due to Wright’s injury after Week 1, but Wright, D.J. Swearinger and Keith Tandy have both seen playing time at safety since the start of the season, too. The constant shuffling of players has negatively affected the secondary and prevented any consistency from being achieved.
“You’re trying to get that right combination, try to come up with the true starting corners, the true starting safeties that can do what you are looking for,” Smith said. “We’re getting pretty close to honing in on the guys we think are going to give us the best shot to be successful back there. They are all working hard and they are playing hard. We just have to do a few things a little bit better.”
The only safety that has been making plays on a consistent basis is Conte. McDougald has been on the field when Tampa Bay has surrendered a majority of its passing touchdowns and has done little to help prevent them. Wright has yet to make a splash play in the three games he’s played in, while Swearinger has also yet to establish himself as a playmaker in the regular season after a promising preseason.
During most of the years when Monte Kiffin was defensive coordinator the Bucs had Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly at cornerback and John Lynch at strong safety for a six-year block of time from 1998-2004. The only variant in base defense was at free safety where Charles Mincy, Dexter Jackson and Dwight Smith manned the position from 1997-2003.
“It does help if you have a lot of time together for sure, because you have a better idea where the guy next to you is going to be and where the guy in front of you is going to be because you’ve had enough reps with them,” Frazier said. “For us that will happen over time because we have been changing people in and out. You don’t want to make excuses because they guys that are out there have to make plays when they are in position to make the plays.”
The hope is with Banks’ return to the starting lineup that more continuity can be achieved in the coming weeks, and with that better pass defense from the secondary – starting this week against Washington and a quarterback in Kirk Cousins who has thrown eight interceptions in five games this year.
FAB 2. BUCS HAVE STRUGGLED IN BOTH MAN AND ZONE DEFENSE IN RED ZONE
Just because Lovie Smith deploys the Tampa 2 scheme with the Buccaneers doesn’t mean that Tampa Bay is strictly a Cover 2 team. In fact, the Bucs play just as much Cover 3 as they do Cover 2, which is less than half of the defensive snaps.
Through the first five games the Bucs have actually played more man coverage than you would suspect for a Smith-coached team, but the results haven’t been good in either man or zone coverage despite Tampa Bay having the fifth-best pass defense. Tampa Bay is allowing an average of just 202.4 yards per game, but that is deceiving because the Bucs rank 31st in the NFL in points allowed with 29.6 per game.
The Bucs defense has surrendered 16 touchdowns through five games with only four coming via the ground and a disappointing 12 coming through the air. Here’s a look at Tampa Bay’s 12 passing touchdowns that have come against a variety of Bucs defenders in both man and zone coverage:
1. Titans WR Kendall Wright’s 52-yard TD vs. Cover 2
Lining up in the slot against linebacker Lavonte David, Wright zoomed past him as both David and rookie middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who was supposed to drop deep down the middle of the field, bit on Marcus Mariota’s play-action. Wright caught the ball behind Alexander and blazed past safeties Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald for the first of four Titans receiving touchdowns.
Titans RB Bishop Sankey – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
2. Titans RB Bishop Sankey’s 12-yard TD vs. Man
Sankey beat a slow-reacting David to the right flat where he caught a pass and outraced the Bucs linebacker to the pylon for Mariota’s second TD throw.
3. Titans TE Delanie Walker’s 1-yard TD vs. Zone
In what appeared to be against zone coverage, Walker hesitated for a brief instant after the snap, went one yard to cross the end zone and turned around to catch a dart from Mariota. David was the closest Bucs defender and lost track of Walker on the play.
4. Titans WR Harry Douglas’ 4-yard TD vs. Man
Douglas benefitted from a pick play that brushed Alterraun Verner off in man coverage and allowed him to escape and catch a touchdown pass a few steps away from McDouglad, who was the closest defender.
5. Saints WR Willie Snead’s 12-yard TD vs. Man
New Orleans head coach Sean Payton saw Verner get picked in Week 1, so he did the same thing to him in Week 2 on Snead’s 12-yard score. Verner is not the most physical cornerback and those two pick-play touchdowns led to his demotion and Jennings’ promotion against Houston.
6. Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins’ 5-yard TD vs. Man
Hopkins got a quick, inside release on Jennings, who didn’t jam or re-route him towards McDougald in the end zone on an easy touchdown in Houston.
Bucs CB Mike Jenkins – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
7. Panthers WR Ted Ginn, Jr.’s 5-yard TD vs. Man
Ginn ran a simple out route against Jenkins, who got a late jump on the play and slipped and fell, while the Panthers receiver scored an easy touchdown just inside the pylon.
8. Panthers WR Ted Ginn, Jr.’s 12-yard TD vs. Man
Ginn ran a crossing route from the left hash mark all the way to the right pylon for a touchdown against Jenkins, who got caught in traffic among the linebacker and couldn’t keep up with the speedy receiver. It didn’t help that Danny Lansanah, who was playing zone coverage underneath, didn’t pick up the crossing Jenkins.
9. Jaguars WR Allen Hurns’ 12-yard TD vs. Zone
Jennings was lined up in the slot and allowed Hurns to have a free release on a skinny post pattern and he caught the ball in the end zone in front of Conte for a touchdown.
10. Jaguars WR Allen Robinson’s 13-yard TD vs. Cover 2
Robinson was lined up in the slot against David and near Alexander in underneath zone coverage. He faked a flag route to the left corner of the end zone before zipping to the middle of the end zone, but not before Wright bit on the fake and raced outside before Robinson’s touchdown in between Wright and McDougald.
Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
11. Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon’s 4-yard TD vs. Zone
Facing what looked to be zone coverage, Bortles rolled to his left and found Yeldon all alone in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard score. David had been covering Yeldon, but drifted too far to his right as he was mirroring Bortles, while Yeldon found some open space in the middle of the end zone and settled in and waited for Bortles to find him.
12. Jaguars WR Allen Robinson’s 5 yard TD vs. Man
Jennings was in man coverage and was beaten to the back corner of the right part of the end zone by Robinson for the touchdown.
Notice that most (seven) of those touchdowns came against man coverage, and that all but one of those passing TDs came inside the red zone – the 20-yard line – where opponents are preferring to pass against a porous coverage unit rather than attempt to pound it in the end zone with the running game.
“We’ve been playing quite a bit of man,” Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “I’m not sure it’s been a change of philosophy, but with certain game plans they feel like that is a better thing for us.”
Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier have been trying to mix up the looks they are giving opposing quarterbacks in the red zone with both man and zone coverages – but to no avail.
“We just have to play things a little bit better in man and zone because [Jacksonville] hit us in man and zone the other day,” Frazier said. “We have to do some things better than what we’re doing, and that’s the good thing about a bye week because you get the chance to work on some things that have hurt you through the first five games of the season. We’ll try to go back and get those better.
“I think this bye week, hopefully, will have helped us in that area. Going back through some of the things that have hurt us and then just trying to do some things a little bit better, whether it be our rush with our coverage in the red zone or just tackling in the red zone – when we are in position, being able to make plays and everybody being where they are supposed to be. Going back and getting those extras reps should help us get better in the red zone. We’re not going to change a whole lot of things schematically. We just need to do some things a little bit better than we have.”
Bucs CB Alterraun Verner – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs jettisoned last year’s nickel cornerbacks Leonard Johnson and Isaiah Frey and also parted ways with Brandon Dixon, and have several new corners this season, including Tim Jennings, Sterling Moore and Jude Adjei-Barimah. Mike Jenkins has also returned from injured reserve from a year ago, so the cornerback position has been completely remade with the exception of two holdovers in Verner and Johnthan Banks.
Smith felt like the athleticism increased with the new additions and that has afforded Tampa Bay the ability to play more man coverage. That was Smith’s plan all along.
“They told me that they wanted to lead with man this year on my visit, and that’s something that I expected,” Moore said. “I know we didn’t show that a lot in the preseason, but I kind of had an idea. I didn’t know it was necessarily going to be this much man, though.
“I had that misconception that the Tampa 2 was a lot of zone and Cover 2, but I know us in the back end, we look at that as a challenge. You want to go man to man – me versus you – and see who wins. Any cornerback wants a mano-a-mano battle, and I think that’s what we’re getting right now.”
The results have been mixed. While the secondary has done a decent job of limiting opposing quarterbacks’ yards per game, the defensive backs have allowed way too many touchdowns. In just five games, the Bucs have allowed two quarterbacks – Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota and Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles – to each throw for four touchdowns and carve up the defense in the red zone.
To make matters worse, Banks, Verner, Jennings, Jenkins and Moore have combined for zero interceptions seven pass breakups with Jenkins leading the way with four. To put that in perspective, rookie middle linebacker Kwon Alexander has a team-high six pass breakups and one interception.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Verner said. “We only have a couple of picks and they are from a linebacker and safeties. We don’t have many pass breakups or anything from the cornerback position. It’s frustrating. We’re looking to try to make more plays on the ball.”
In the first five games of the regular season, the Bucs’ best defensive back has been Conte, who is the team’s third-highest tackler with 37 stops to go along with three tackles for loss, two pass breakups, a team-high two forced fumbles and an interception.
“Chris has been playing great,” Banks said. “He’s got three takeaways in five games. That’s real impressive. We knew what Chris was capable of and he’s impressing. He’s been one of our best players on defense.”
Other Bucs defensive backs need to match Conte’s production, and it’s not like they aren’t getting help. Tampa Bay’s defensive line has been getting great pressure to start the season as it has 13.5 of the team’s 15 sacks through five games. Of course the pass rush could always be better, but Tampa Bay is on pace for 48 sacks this year, which would be the second-most in franchise history behind the 55 the team produced in 2000.
“We’re always preaching takeaways and they will come,” Banks said. “We just have to go out there each week and compete better and they’ll come our way.”
Having Banks back out on the field should be a big help this week as he has produced seven interceptions in his first two years in the NFL, including a pick-six last year at Washington. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown eight interceptions this year, so there should be opportunities for the secondary to make plays on the ball – whether they are playing zone or man.
“We played a lot of man last year, too, so it’s not like this is new,” Banks said. “We just need to get tighter coverage and challenge guys and compete.”
FAB 3. ADJEI-BARIMAH IS A ROOKIE ON THE RISE
A few weeks ago, we forecasted the rise of wide receiver Donteea Dye from the practice squad to the active roster in SR’s Fab 5. Now here’s this week’s inside scoop on another young, developing rookie.
Cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah (pronounced EYE-JAY Buh-REE-muh) has been impressing behind the scenes and may be ready to move from special teams to seeing some snaps on defense. The Bucs have a lot of “name players” at cornerback, including veterans Tim Jennings and Mike Jenkins, but both may be better suited to be NFL backups at this stage of their careers rather than starters.
Their ineffectiveness in pass coverage, especially in the red zone, through the first five games of the season may open the door for more playing time for Adjei-Barimah, who had a great career at Bowling Green mostly playing the Whip position, which is one part nickel cornerback, one part safety and one part linebacker with coverage responsibilities. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Adjei-Barimah appeared in 52 games with 20 starts for the Falcons and recorded 150 tackles, five picks and 2.5 sacks. He also broke up 26 passes and forced three fumbles.
He went undrafted, but did have a tryout with the Jacksonville Jaguars, followed by the Bucs, who were impressed with his 4.48 time in the 40-yard dash, his physicality and coverage ability and signed up for training camp on July 29. Adjei-Barimah was released in the final roster cut-downs on September 5 and then signed to Tampa Bay’s practice squad on September 7.
After three weeks on the practice squad, the Bucs promoted Adjei-Barimah to the active roster for the Carolina Panthers game and he has played a role on special teams in the past two games.
“It’s been a blessing for me coming into camp as late as I did,” Adjei-Barimah said. “I feel like I’m in a great situation and I’m just trying to make an impact on the active roster and help the team win. Special teams are where I can make an impact as a rookie. I play hard and play fast and provide a lot of energy for the team. That’s my opportunity to really help the team and the coaches have been working me in a little bit at corner to get me some experience and get a feel for the game. As the season progresses I’m looking to make an impact on that side of the ball, too.”
Bucs CB Jude Adjei-Barimah – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Adjei-Barimah has been making strides at cornerback with the help of the veterans in the defensive backs room.
“It’s always fun seeing the young guys come in because you’ve been there,” Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “With him, he just soaks everything up like a sponge. He’s very observant and he listens really well. You can just see him applying it on the field. I think that’s what is going to make him a really good player. He’s very coachable and he puts out tremendous effort. I’ve been very pleased with what he’s been able to do.
“He has a safety pedigree, so he’s tough and he can tackle. He can run and he competes for the ball. He made a lot of plays starting in training camp for us. I’m excited to see his progression. He’s a playmaker. I’m looking forward to seeing him progress.”
Adjei-Barimah loves the fact that he has a room full of veterans to learn from.
“I made my share of plays at Bowling Green, and I want to continue that here with the Bucs,” Adjei-Barimah said. “I’m the young guy here and there are a lot of guys in that room with a lot of experience coaching me up and helping me out. They’ve been doing a good job getting me ready for the NFL game as a rookie and teaching me how to be a pro. It’s a big advantage for me having a lot of vets in my room.
“I like to think I’m a smart corner, tough and physical. I like to make plays and I want to force takeaways. I think I fit in to this defense pretty well. I was able to grasp our concept of defense early in camp, so I can play in both man and zone. I’m pretty comfortable in all of the coverages we run. It’s just about being precise and knowing the details.”
In the classroom is where Adjei-Barimah has excelled, and his ability to immediately absorb the coaching from Gil Byrd is a big reason for his quick ascension to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.
“He’s coachable and he does what he’s supposed to do,” Bucs wide receiver Russell Shepard said. “He’s a heady guy – a smart guy. Everybody at this level has athleticism. The guys that separate themselves are the ones that pay attention to the coaches and do the little things to get better. Jude has learned from guys like Gerald McCoy, Vincent Jackson and the guys in his room like Alterraun Verner. I call him Coach Jude because he’s coachable and does exactly what he’s supposed to do to the best of his ability.
“He told me that before he came to us that he went to try out for a Canadian team and they cut him. Just to see somebody like that has struggled but constantly grinds – it’s great to see it pay off for them. I’m excited for him. He’s done some great things for us special teams-wise and he’s going to do the same thing on defense when his time comes.”
With players like Mike Jenkins and Tim Jennings signed to just one-year deals, they aren’t in the team’s long-term plans. However, a young, developing cornerback with physicality and speed like Adjei-Barimah is. When asked if he was the fastest cornerback on Tampa Bay’s roster, Adjei-Barimah deferred to a veteran.
Bucs CB Jude Adjei-Barimah – Photo by: Getty Images
“I don’t know – Mike Jenkins can still run, so he might have me beat,” Adjei-Barimah said. “I like to pride myself on being able to run, so I think I can run with a lot of guys in this league.”
Adjei-Barimah did a lot of running while covering some of the more talented wide receivers in the NFL in practice every day. Going up against a big, fast and physical player like Mike Evans while Adjei-Barimah was on the practice squad accelerated his learning curve.
“It’s the best preparation I could possibly have,” Adjei-Barimah said. “You have a veteran like Vincent Jackson, who has been playing the game for a long time. Then you have a big guy like Mike Evans who has a lot of upside and he’s our No. 1 guy. Getting to go against those guys when I was on the practice squad – that was my game. That was how I was getting ready for this – by getting them ready for the game. I took that very seriously and I think that has helped my growth as a player.”
As the season progresses the plan is to insert Adjei-Barimah at cornerback on defense and let him get some experience while still being a stalwart on special teams.
“I think he’s a young player that wants to do things right, so he’s a guy that is going to listen to the coaches,” Bucs safety Chris Conte said. “He’s fast and all the talent is there. He really showed up in training camp and made plays and has proven that he deserves to play at this level. He’s got to keep on working and when his time comes, just show what he can do.”
If Tampa Bay’s pass coverage doesn’t improve in the coming weeks, Adjei-Barimah’s time will come sooner rather than later.
FAB 4. BUCS STARTING LINEUP AND ROSTER MOVES COMING
This week saw Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson and defensive tackle Akeem Spence return from the Injured Reserve – Return Designation list and the Physically Unable To Perform list, respectively. Both players practiced, but likely won’t be activated this week, although there is a slim chance Spence might if Tony McDaniel’s groin injury keeps him from playing as he was held out of Thursday’s practice.
Gosder Cherilus has been doing a decent job at right tackle and Dotson will have to prove he’s back to 100 percent before the Bucs will put him back in, and he’ll likely have to compete for the starting job. The Bucs have a roster exemption right now for Dotson, but when he is activated to the 53-man roster they’ll have to make a cut, and that will likely be Reid Fragel, whom the team hopes to re-sign to the practice squad.
If Spence is somehow activated this week due to McDaniel’s injury, the Bucs would likely cut Fragel, who is in concussion protocol, now as won’t be able to play on Sunday at Washington anyway.
If tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins doesn’t return from his shoulder injury soon – and he’s missed another week of practice again – the Bucs might have to cut McDaniel, who has just four tackles this year, to free up a roster spot for Spence or Dotson as Tampa Bay likely can’t afford to keep five defensive tackles on the roster. When Seferian-Jenkins does return to the starting lineup, reserve tight end Cameron Brate may be expendable as keeping four tight ends, including Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker, might be a luxury.
It looks like left guard Logan Mankins is on the mend and will start this week after returning to practice on Thursday. A groin injury kept him out of the win over Jacksonville as Kevin Pamphile started at left guard in his place. Pamphile may see some action at Washington at tight end – a spot that Fragel played against Jacksonville before suffering a concussion in practice this week.
Bucs CB Tim Jennings – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Evan Smith returned to practice, but was limited as he is recovering from his ankle sprain. Although offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said during the bye week that no starter would lose his job due to injury, he did back track a bit this week and suggest that when both players were healthy that head coach Lovie Smith would have to make a decision.
What I’m hearing is that there are a lot of people inside One Buc Place that have liked what Joe Hawley has done at center and like his unique ability to pull from the center position and don’t want to make a change. The Bucs do have three centers, including Jeremiah Warren, which is a luxury, but don’t want to part ways with Warren because they like his upside after a strong preseason.
The Bucs feel the same way about third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin. Keeping three quarterbacks is not trendy in the NFL these days, but the Bucs really like Griffin’s potential and can’t wait to see him in their offense – rather than a scout-team offense – next spring during the OTAs. Griffin’s presence may make backup quarterback Mike Glennon, who will be entering a contract year in 2016, expendable and a trade candidate in the offseason.
Tampa Bay will see cornerback Johnthan Banks return to the starting lineup and replace Tim Jennings. The Bucs now have six healthy cornerbacks, which is a bit of a luxury, and if rookie Jude Adjei-Barimah continues to progress and Jennings continues to struggle the 31-year old veteran could become expendable.
FAB 5: SR’s BUC SHOTS
• The raves continue for Bucs running back Doug Martin, who needs just 90 more rushing yards to eclipse his season rushing totals of the past two years (456 yards in 2013 and 494 yards in 2014). A healthy, sleeker Martin has 405 yards rushing through five games this year and has 11 games remaining to pile up the yardage to try to top his career-high 1,454 yards he amassed as a rookie in 2012.
“His whole running mentality is different this year,” said Bucs running back Bobby Rainey. “He’s bringing out juke moves I haven’t seen. I wasn’t here in 2012 when he had a great season, and one of the guys mentioned that those were the type of moves he was making in 2012. He’s doing a great job.”
Bucs SS John Lynch & DT Warren Sapp – Photo by: Getty
• The Bucs are making the full-court press for former safety John Lynch’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Buccaneers.com senior writer Scott Smith did an amazing piece on the case for Lynch in the Hall of Fame that every Bucs fans should read.
Do not be surprised when Lynch is the selection (or one of the selections) to be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor next year. The organization feels like that the team recognizing that Lynch is one of its all-time greats may add to the ammunition his case may need. You heard it first here. Lynch will join Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks in having his name permanently affixed to Raymond James Stadium next fall. Hopefully he joins them in receiving a gold jacket in Canton next summer.
• The Bucs aren’t doing a lot of celebrating over the fact that they have a top five defensive ranking, especially because the 29 points per game the defense is allowing ranks near the bottom of the league.
“At the end of the day, it’s always about points allowed,” Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “You don’t want to give up a lot of points. That keeps you in ball games. We need to continue to work on not giving up points, especially in sudden change situations or when we are in ‘plus’ territory. We have to do a good job in those areas. It’s a point of emphasis from our standpoint. We’ve got to do a better job in that area, but you’re pleased with some of the other things we’ve done – the way our third down has improved, not giving up a lot of yards. Those are goods things. What we are doing as far as getting to the quarterback, those are positives. Now, in this bye week, we had a chance to go back look at some of the negatives and that’s an area we want to improve on.”
• It’s interesting to note that the Bucs have three wide receivers on their practice squad in Adam Humphries, Rannell Hall and Evan Spencer, in addition to Kenny Bell, who is on injured reserve. The Bucs are prepping for the day when they have to part ways with aging veteran Vincent Jackson, who will be 33 in January and is entering the final year of his contract in 2016 in which he is set to make a $9,777,777 salary and have a cap hit of $12.2 million.
Tampa Bay also has two young cornerbacks on their practice squad in Keon Lyn and Dax Swanson – a pair of first-year players. Cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Tim Jennings were only signed to one-year deals and may not be back next year. Tampa Bay is trying to develop some young cornerbacks in addition to Jude Adjei-Barimah to perhaps take their place on the 2016 Bucs roster.
• After starting the 2015 season hot by thrashing Tampa Bay with four touchdown passes and an 86.7 percent completion percentage in Week 1 and throwing two TD passes in a loss to Cleveland in Week 2, Tennessee rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota has cooled off considerably. On a four-game losing streak, Mariota has thrown only three touchdowns and has compiled five interceptions over the last month, in addition to not completing a pass over 35 yards.
To make matters worse, Mariota suffered a sprained MCL in a 38-10 loss to Miami last week and may not play. Backup Zach Mettenberger may get the start this Sunday.
Meanwhile in Tampa, rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has won two out of the last four games for the Bucs and has accounted for six touchdowns (five passing and one rushing) against five interceptions – four of which came in one game against Carolina. Winston has also won the Pepsi Offensive Rookie of the Week award twice (Week 2 and Week 5). Winston’s arrow is pointing up. The same can’t be said of Mariota right now.
Join PewterReport.com at the Hard Rock Cafe on Sunday
• Join PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook and myself for some football fun this Sunday at the Hard Rock Cafe at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. PewterReport.com has partnered with Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to host Pewter Watch Parties for Tampa Bay away games this season and it continues with Sunday’s game at Washington.
Fans will enjoy watching Tampa Bay battle Washington on a huge, 18-foot projection TV or on various smaller TVs throughout the Hard Rock Cafe. All NFL games will be shown. Parking is free at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The fun begins at noon in advance of the 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff where the PewterReport.com staff will be giving away Hard Rock gift bags, which include a Hard Rock Classic T-shirt, Hard Rock Energy Drinks and other prizes to the first 100 Tampa Bay fans that check in at the “PewterReport.com Command Center” in the Hard Rock Cafe.
Click here to RSVP for the Pewter Watch Party and reserve your Hard Rock gift bag.
Cook and I will also be on hand to answer your Bucs-related questions and dish out some inside information prior to kickoff and hand out a few PewterReport.com t-shirts.
Fans can enjoy a special menu curated by Executive Sous Chef Michael Balles and food and drink specials in the Hard Rock Cafe. Pints of draft beer will be available for $3 each, a bucket of select beers for $15 (which is connected to the beer of the month), wine by the glass for $5, chilled shots for $4 each and mixed drinks for $5 each.
Additionally, Hard Rock Cafe Tampa will offer its famous “Rocketizers” for $5 each, to include Popcorn Chicken Bites, Bang-a-Gong Popcorn Shrimp, Onion Rings, Pot Stickers, Twisted Mac and Loaded Fries. One-dollar wings will also be on the menu.
Seminole Hard Rock will also be holding a football-themed silent auction for each game with all of the money benefiting PewterReport.com’s charitable partner, the Mike Alstott Family Foundation.
This week’s silent auction items include:
• Autographed Derrick Brooks Bucs helmet and display case
• Rock Spa Body Massage at Hard Rock Spa
• Dinner for 4 at Seminole Hard Rock’s Fresh Harvest Saturday Surf & Turf Night
• Jameis Winston autographed framed jersey
• Autographed Bucs Ring of Honor certificate signed by Mike Alstott
Pewter Watch Party Schedule
Tampa Bay at Washington – Sunday, October 25 – begins at 12:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Atlanta – Sunday, November 1 – begins at 12:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia – Sunday, November 22 – begins at 12:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Indianapolis – Sunday, November 29 – begins at 12:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay at St. Louis – Thursday, December 17 – begins at 7:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Carolina – Sunday, January 3 – begins at 12:00 p.m.
Owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, this electrifying casino destination is one of the most successful and largest casinos in the world and is located in Tampa, Florida off of I-4 at North Orient Road and Hillsborough Avenue, between I-75 and I-275, about 10 minutes east of downtown Tampa.
• If you haven’t stopped by Just Grillin in Carollwood to get your FREE BBQ sauce stop by on your way home from work today so you are ready for a weekend of grilling and football. Just Grillin, which sponsors the Pewter Player each week, is Your Tailgate Headquarters and is located 15 minutes north of Raymond James Stadium at 11743 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Carrollwood. All you have to do is walk in, mention the word “Pewter” and get a FREE BBQ sauce – just for being a PewterReport.com visitor.
• As I wrote in last week’s SR’s Fab 5, my 10-year old son, Logan, fractured his tibia and went to see Dr. Jason Hunt of Kaizen Orthopedics last Friday afternoon. I came away thoroughly impressed with Dr. Hunt’s bedside manner and the time he spent talking to Logan and I about our options and educating us on the fracture and how he expects it to heal.
Dr. Jason Hunt helps Logan Reynolds with his knee brace
The good news is that surgery won’t be required and we opted to have Logan wear a brace for three weeks and be on crutches rather than cast his leg. Next Friday will bring another round of X-rays to see how the healing is progressing and Logan should be off crutches within the next few weeks if all is well.
I came away very impressed with Dr. Hunt’s knowledge and know that if Logan did need surgery to begin with that he would be in great hands. If you or a family member or friend is in need of orthopedic care, please support PewterReport.com’s partner, Kaizen Orthopedics, and give Dr. Hunt a call at (813) 694-0449. His office is located about 15 minutes away from Raymond James Stadium at 5106 N. Armenia Avenue in Tampa. For more information visit KaizenOrtho.com.
Dr. Hunt is a big Bucs fan and his sports medicine blogs will be featured on PewterReport.com every other Friday during football season starting this afternoon.
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@example.com
Good fab as always. When it comes to our secondary I don’t think it’s a cohesion thing, I just don’t think our guys are any good. Getting banks back will help a lot.
As for the roster moves, I like hearing that we want to kee Hawley playing in stead of eds. I personally hope we can keep Vincent next year for cheaper as I love his veteran leadership with Jameis and Mike. He’s also still productive.
I also love your parting shot on mariota. It makes me smile a bit. But you forgot to mention his qbr in the 4th quarter is 48 which is lowest in the nfl. His qbr in the 4th quarter losing by 7 is an amazing 7!
I think we can burry the we should’ve taken mariota talk for good.
M.M. will be MUCH better qb when he has 2 top wideouts on his team.. Winston skill set is not near as good as M.M.
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We’ll know a lot more where this team is after the Washington game. If we get this win then we have the potential to win 7-8 games; if not then we will be lucky to win 5-6 games. Go Bucs! Get this win!.
As always, a great read and I agree with your assessment horse.
Washington is an average team, not a “rotten” one as another site proclaims.
This team has to beat average teams when they have a chance and tat will help the achieve the confidence and swagger needed to beat the better ones.
Enjoyed how you broke down the coverages on the TD receptions and the mistakes made by the players.
Would have liked to have known the down and distance on each of the TD’s.
It’s one thing to bite on a play action on 2nd and 7 and quite another on 3rd and 6.
I’m also with you cgmaster as far as it being the skill level or cohesion.
Mike Jenkins is at least in the neighborhood when his player catches the ball whereas Jennings is usually smelling the receivers burnt rubber when his guy catches the ball.
Pretty sure Jennings post op knee is affecting his play and I think our opponents have figured that out as well.
Yeah, the secondary still sucks and will for a while until we draft the right type of CB in the draft. For the record I’m still adhering to what I said after Week 1. I won’t bring up Mariota unless someone else does first. Also for the record he’s leading Winston in every statistically category kept by NFL.com expect fumbles despite having faced a tougher schedule…with fewer weapons around him…with a damaged MCL. All while winning rookie of the month, not week. But whatever, we’ve still got 2.5 years of this to go I suppose.
Before i say anything pink, I’m just debating you here, not attacking you. The problem with your argument pink is that almost half of his stats are from smoking our defense. Without that game he not only doesn’t have better stats but that single game got him rookie of the month practically. He’s been horrible since. He’s 3-21 on passes over 20 yards and his QBR has plummeted. That’s terrible.
As for the weapons point, You made it pretty clear that he was transcendent to the game of football. We’ve never seen anything like him I believe were your words. SO weapons shouldn’t matter.
And just from a football perspective, if you have really watched him play, as I have every week, and you think he would fit Koetters scheme well then I don’t know what to tell you after that.
But I digress, we are all Bucs fans here and we will most certainly be having this discussion well into their careers. Where they were drafted guarantees it. I”m just going to stick to my guns and say we made the right choice.
didnt john gruden say stats are for losers? wins matter. and right now, he has more than Mariota, who i have nothing but positive things to say about. both platers are going to be great. winston is starting to get the nfl a little bit better each and every week. he may turn the ball over, but that will change as he becomes more seasoned. hes a very young qb who is learning what you need to do to win in the nfl. im nothing but pumped hes our qb, just as titans fans should be pumped they have mariota. im tired of comparing the two. mariota isnt even in the same conference. i wish Scott Rynolds would stop trying to justify that tampa made the right choice bc all it does is get pinkstob worked up lol. but really,both will be great. winston is a gamer and was much better on 3rd down against jacksonville than he was against carolina.
I am happier than I thought I would be with JW. I still prefer MM because of accuracy. Never the less, JW is our QB and I am fully behind him. I think he looks best when he is not trying to do to much. If you look at the games where he is throwing a lot, bad things happen. Soon, perhaps this week, teams will take away our running game. At that point we’ll see what kind of QB JW really is.
Well since you brought it up pinstob, does it really matter if you fumble the ball or throw and interception. A TO is a TO.
Actually I’m not up in their stats, but from what I remember, they are pretty close to being the same except Mariotta has one more overall TO. Mariotta didn’t suffer the MCL sprain until the last game so I don’t see where that affected his performance much in the first four.
Was listening to a NFL Network broadcast today and the announcer was stating as teams adjust to Mariotta’s game, his QB rating has descended every week
I agree this is not a cohesive thing with this secondary, this is simply a sucky secondary. When you have a secondary that sucks you can’t keep the same guys 6 years and see if they don’t suck! Banks is better than average but hardly a shutdown corner. I guess if you compare him to Jennings Jenkins, etc, he’s awesome! Really not even worth commenting on Mariota. Lol. He has stunk since he played our crappy team. Don’t want to hear about he has less to work with than Winston either. Titans crushed us remember? Lol.
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Winston or Mariota? You guys handle that one. I’ve got more important things to decide. Olivia Stacey or Casey Phillips? lol. #oldbutnotdeadyet
After spending a few days in my hometown of Pittsburgh and having a good time at the Steelers game, I’m glad to be back home. What a difference it was going to a game where everyone except a handfull of brave Cardinals fans was wearing the home team colors. I could not believe the number of stores around town devoted to Steelers merchandise. No other teams’ gear was even available. Maybe one day, the folks here will become loyal to their “home” team instead of living in their past. Wore my 1998 Hall of Fame Game sweatshirt that has both Bucs and Steelers logos.
SR, really good 5. It’s encouraging to know the Bucs MAY have some good, young corners. Unlike many, I don’t blame Lovie for this defense. HE inherited a VERY depleted roster and the last two very good drafts have been exclusively on the offensive side of the ball. The bottom line, you have to have talent to win in the NFL and the Bucs have very little talent in the defensive backfield
You confuse me scubog, you lament the fact that more folks here don’t support the Bus instead of their old “home” team.
But there you are at a Steelers game whooping it up with other Steelers fans in your self described “hometown.”
Very confusing, sir.
drdneast:I merely went to the game during the Bucs bye week and cheered for the Steelers instead of JonnyG’s hometown Cardinals…… in Pittsburgh. I can assure you, when the Bucs play the Steelers, I’m a Bucs fan to the core. Proudly revealed to everyone around me that I am a Bucs fan.
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