FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• One of the questions I had about the firing of former Tampa Bay defensive line coach Jay Hayes was why it took 40 days from the end of the season for it to happen. Now I know the answer. The team was waiting to see if former Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner was going to be available.
Former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians retired after the season and Arizona didn’t hire Steve Wilks to replace him until January 22. Don Johnson wasn’t hired as the defensive line coach until January 24 and the Bucs had to make sure Buckner was available and that he was interested in coming to Tampa Bay before jettisoning Hayes.
While the Bucs did their due diligence in interviewing assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer, former Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino and current University of Miami assistant head coach and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, Buckner was the guy Tampa Bay wanted from the start and the team was doing its due diligence in interviewing the others to form a comparison to Buckner.
One of the cardinal rules in the NFL is to not get rid of a player or a coach until you have a replacement in mind or in hand. That’s why Hayes remained on staff and even had his contract year picked up by the team because the Bucs weren’t sure they could land Buckner in late January when the new staff took over in Arizona. It took the Bucs a while, but they got their man.
• Bucs general manager Jason Licht isn’t the only one who likes big defensive tackles. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith also appreciates bigger men in the interior. In his previous stint as a defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, Smith had two monstrous Pro Bowl tackles in John Henderson (6-7, 335) and Marcus Stroud (6-6, 310).
Because of this preference, I think some of the smaller defensive tackles in this year’s draft class will be downgraded or ruled out. Players like Michigan’s Maurice Hurst, a first-round prospect who weighs just 280 pounds, might not be a good scheme fit. Florida’s Taven Bryan weighs just 291 pounds and that may be considered too light for Tampa Bay’s liking if he doesn’t have a frame that could withstand more size. In fact, Stanford’s Harrison Phillips, might be more ideal for Smith’s defense as he is a similar player, but weighs 303 pounds.
• A big thank you to Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson for being the featured guest in our latest Pewter Nation Podcast. Dotson always gives candid answers and didn’t disappoint in a wide-ranging interview that spanned more than half an hour. Dotson discussed the play of running back Peyton Barber, offensive linemen Ali Marpet and J.R. Sweezy, talked about Todd Monken’s promotion to full-time offensive coordinator, spoke about the Hard Knocks debacle, the Bucs’ red zone woes and more. You can click here to listen to Episode 62: Deep Dive With Demar Dotson.
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• Running back Doug Martin was released this past week in a roster move that should have surprised no one – even the Martin apologists out there. It was a move that should have happened a year ago to be honest as Martin was given too many chances to be a consistent 1,000-yard feature back in Tampa Bay and wound up as a perpetual disappointment.
Martin wasn’t one of the team’s five defensive backs when Tampa Bay deploys nickel defense nor was one of the team’s five offensive linemen. He was paid to the Bucs’ primary ballcarrier
Not to be cold-hearted or mean-spirited, but Martin’s lack of productivity resulted in other people losing their jobs – not just himself. Former general manager Mark Dominik and former head coach Greg Schiano might not have been fired if Martin was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2013. Ex-head coach Lovie Smith might not have been fired if he was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2016. The Bucs might have made the playoffs is Martin was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2016 and head coach Dirk Koetter might not be on the hot seat entering 2018 if Martin ran for 1,000 yards last year.
Injuries are one thing that players can’t control, but the drug usage, the dancing too much behind the line of scrimmage, not hitting holes hard, dropping catchable passes – all of that is on Martin. When you make over $6 million per season to be a feature back in this league, yeah, there’s not much grace or leeway, nor should there be.
Do I wish Martin well in his future endeavors? It’s not like I don’t, but when he rushes for less than 500 yards in four of the last five years, and that one year he does happens to be a contract year, I think that’s a bit crooked.
I feel like Martin fleeced the Buccaneers. Not in a malicious and devious way, but he certainly wasn’t professional enough to handle business the right way on and off the field, and ultimately his legacy in Tampa Bay is four bad seasons and two good seasons. There’s no other way around it – the bad outweighs the good when it comes to Martin’s tenure in Tampa Bay. Goodbye and good riddance.
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