FAB 2. All Or Nothing With Arians: Coaching

There hasn’t been a head coaching hire by Tampa Bay that has registered more fan and media approval than that of Bruce Arians last month. In my two decades of covering Bucs football, the Arians hype has only been matched by that created by the Glazers’ daring trade for Jon Gruden back in 2002.

Combine the fanfare of the Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter hires and they don’t come close to that for Arians. I know this from talking to folks in the Bucs ticket office, which has been revitalized over the last month, in addition to looking at PewterReport.com’s own web traffic statistics.

January 2019 was our busiest traffic month – ever. And that distinction is typically reserved for high-traffic months like March (NFL free agency), April (NFL Draft), August (Bucs training camp) or September (Bucs regular season kickoff). There have been a couple of big Januarys in the past when Schiano was fired and Smith was hired in 2014, and in 2016 when Smith was fired and Koetter was hired – but nothing like this past January.

Arians is different from those other coaching hires – not because he has two Super Bowl rings with Pittsburgh or the fact that he’s a two-time NFL Coach of the Year. Not only is Arians quite the character – with a whole host of accomplishments – he has more material to research from an NFL Films A Football Life documentary to his The Quarterback Whisperer autobiography to his the All Or Nothing documentary on the 2015 Arizona Cardinals on Amazon Prime.

The Quarterback Whisperer
The Quarterback Whisperer

I’m three chapters into The Quarterback Whisper, which I highly recommend, but I spent the last week watching the 8-hour All Or Nothing series on Arians’ 2015 Cardinals team, wanting to do my homework on him, assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin, cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross, safeties coach Nick Rapone and outside linebackers coach Larry Foote. There is also plenty of former Cardinals and Bucs defensive line coach Brentson Buckner featured, too.

I took plenty of notes on Arians from All Or Nothing that I’m going to share with you over the next two SR’s Fab 5 sections. The first section will be about Arians’ practice and game day demeanor, and the second section will discuss how he handles personnel issues – and I’ll apply this to the present day Buccaneers.

Here are some of my notes on Arians’ coaching style.

The Big Takeaway
The first thing you’ll notice about Arians on the practice field this summer at Bucs training camp is that he uses some salty language, which is perfectly fine with me. Tony Dungy he ain’t, and at times while I watched All Or Nothing, Arians’ sailor mouth made Jon Gruden look like Mr. Rogers.

Arians could give a master class on profanity that would surpass that of Gruden, former Bucs assistants Rod Marinelli and Joe Cullen. Arians, a brass, blunt talker, uses the profanity to drive points home – with emphasis.

When Arians talks, his players listen – and obey. He means business and my big takeaway from watching All Or Nothing is that he will definitely bring much-needed swagger and accountability to the Buccaneers.

Quotes That Matter
“We had dinner with Bruce and at one point he drops the F-bomb three times in one sentence,” said Cardinals president Michael Bidwell, regarding Arians’ interview for the head-coaching job in 2013. “And I stopped and I sat back and I thought, ‘noun, verb and adjective – very good!’”

Episode 1 of All Or Nothing began with Arians’ simple message at the start of the 2015 campaign – a season that would end with a 13-3 regular season record and a loss at Carolina in the NFC Championship Game.

“Every year in the NFL, it’s a new team,” Arians said. “As far as goals go – we have one: putting a f*@$ing ring on our finger. Not a Super Bowl – a Super Bowl ring. You go to win the bitch.”

Arians is fond of using veteran players and team captains, such as Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson and Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, as lieutenants to talk to the players to send a message whether it’s during practice or during a game. He’ll do the same in Tampa Bay with the Bucs’ leaders. Sometimes a message is even more effective coming from a peer, and Arians knows it.

With 1:44 left in the 2015 season opener against New Orleans and Arizona up, 24-19, Arians opted to get the game-clinching first down by throwing the ball rather than risk running the ball and having to punt it back to Drew Brees. During Week 1, we see “no risk it, no biscuit” in action.

The result? A 55-yard touchdown reception by rookie running back David Johnson down the sideline to seal the win, which prompted Arians to tell his Cardinals after the game, “Winners finish.”

After winning at Chicago 48-23 to start the season 2-0, Arians tempered the enthusiasm in a team meeting.

“Congratulations on getting to this point at 2-0,” Arians said. “What’s it done? Brought a lot of attention all of a sudden. Alright? Everybody wants to write about how great you are. How you are going to the Super Bowl, but 2-0 don’t get you to the Super Bowl. We still ain’t s#*@, alright? We ain’t done nothing yet. A team’s success borders on one thing – the process. Let’s go to work.”

Arians believes that winning is a process rooted in preparation in the classroom and on the grass at practice. In the first practice after the Cardinals’ 2-0 start, Arians is enraged at one point, mumbling, “That f*@$ing d#@$wad” about an unknown player. If he’s not happy, Arians, who is a perfectionist, will let you know.

The Cardinals started off 3-0 after an absolute 47-7 dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers. James Bettcher’s Arizona defense recorded two pick-sixes against Colin Kaepernick in the rout. One of the officials came over to Arians near the end of the game and joked, “We were expecting a lot of profanity from you and didn’t get it, so we’re disappointed.”

Arians replied, “I know man, I was too calm today. I didn’t even raise my own blood pressure.”

Afterwards in the locker room, it’s clear that Arians’ “we ain’t s#*@” message has worked so far.

“Good job – helluva win,” Arians said. “That’s all it was – a helluva win. We ain’t s#*@ yet, but we’re starting to smell a little better.”

Former Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Bruce Arians
Former Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

The Cardinals host the Rams in Week 4, and Arians prepped his team for a revenge game after Arizona won 12-6 last year in St. Louis in Week 11 and talked some trash after the game.

“This one will be different – this will be a bloodbath,” Arians told his players in a team meeting. “And I’m sure right away the comments from last year’s Thursday night game will be out there – about them being perennial 8-8s.”

Video of Arians’ post-game press conference following the Week 11 win in 2014 is cued up during the All Or Nothing episode: “I think that was one of the best wins that I’ve ever been around or ever been a part of in my coaching career. Everybody didn’t want to talk all that stuff about how great their defense is. I think they saw a good defense tonight – it was in red and white. I love it when everybody says you don’t have a chance to win. There’s an 11-3 team (the Cardinals) and a team that’s always 8-8 (the Rams). You figure it out.”

Back to Arians in the Cardinals team meeting prior to Week 4 in the 2015 season.

“You’re going to hear about some statements made after last year’s game in St. Louis that I made. I talked a lot of s#*@ about a perennial 8-8 team versus a team that had 11 wins. About a defense that was in red – not blue. I expect you guys to have my back.”

I love how Arians had the guts to talk crap about the opponent and put the onus on his players to back him up. That’s something I had wished Dirk Koetter would have done in Tampa Bay, but he always seemed on the defensive after he said he wanted a “bad ass” football team.

Arians is never on the defensive. He’s always attack, attack, attack.

The only problem was that the players didn’t have Arians’ back in Week 4 – although it wasn’t for lack of want-to. Johnson fumbled on the opening kick, to which Arians reassured him, “It’s okay – you never lose the game on the first play.”

Everything that could wrong did go wrong for Arizona against St. Louis, including a rare fumble by Fitzgerald.

The Cardinals had fallen to 3-1 after a 24-22 loss to the Rams. It was interesting to see how Arians handled a loss in the post-game locker room.

“Just sit right there for a second because I don’t want the feeling to go away quick,” Arians said. “We let somebody come into our house and be more physical than we were, and make more plays than we made. Let’s make sure that never happens again.”

Bruce Arians
Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

In the team meeting room days after the loss to the Rams, Arians said: “The one thing that we talk about every year after that first loss – you’re going to lose one sooner or later – but you never lose two in a row if you have true character and leadership on your football team.”

Arians is very demanding on the practice field and isn’t afraid to make it known when he’s unhappy.

“It’s a good thing we’re playing touch,” Arians yelled. “Hey you vets, this isn’t good enough the way we are playing on defense. We’re gaining eight yards every damn snap! There’s another one – no f*@$ing tackle! That’s a 10-yard gain! I guess we’re going to be satisfied with them running the ball down our damn throats! Break down and make the tackle! That’s horses#*@! They’ll run for 200 f*@$ing yards if we play like this!”

Following a 42-17 win at Detroit, the Cardinals headed to Pittsburgh to face off against Arians’ former team, the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t playing, so Michael Vick got the start.

“Defend every blade of grass,” Arians told his defense at kickoff.

Vick hurt his knee in the game and third-string quarterback Landry Jones came in and threw a touchdown on his first NFL pass to Martavis Bryant. The Steelers led, 18-13, with 2:25 left when quarterback Carson Palmer threw a costly interception in the end zone. With Landry backed up near his goal line on third down, Arians anticipated the Cardinals defense holding and forcing a punt.

“Hey we’re going to get it back with a short field,” Arians told Fitzgerald. “Larry, go pick [Palmer] up. It’s turnover time, let’s hunt on this kid.”

But “the kid,” Landry, hit Bryant with a short pass that the speedy receiver takes 88 yards to the house to stun Arizona, 25-13.

“We have to get it corrected,” Arians told his players after the game. “Let the taste be in your mouth. Don’t spit it out too quick because that’s two we gave away now. We can’t give away no more.”

Bruce Arians and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
Bruce Arians and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin – Photo by: Getty Images

During a sloppy practice following the loss to the Steelers, Arians said: “We sure can f*@$ some s#*@ up! What the f*@$ is that?”

Arians is stern in a team meeting room before the Baltimore game, telling his players: “We still have those mental lapses where we fall asleep. None of that bulls#*@ anymore. We can do it and go 8-8. That’s fine – if that’s what you want. Alright? If you want to win the division and set ourselves, then that s#*@ will cease.”

The Cardinals got Arians’ message and rattled off nine straight wins, including a 26-18 victory against Baltimore. During that game, Bettcher comes over to Arians and says, “Third-and-20, Coach.”

Arians didn’t waste a second, and yelled to Bettcher, “Blitz that motherf*@$er!”

Veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney, who was an in-season signing, got to Joe Flacco first and recorded his initial sack as a Cardinal with his patented inside spin to help seal a 25-18 win in the fourth quarter.

Before traveling to Cleveland in Week 8, Arians delivered a big-time warning to his players in a team meeting about the team’s upcoming bye week in Week 9.

“If I hear a motherf*@$er talking about a bye week this week there will be some serious repercussions,” Arians said, laying down the law. “We ain’t got no bye week this week. We’ve got the Cleveland Browns. Make sure we are prepared to play the best game we’ve played. Every game matters.”

Arizona improves to 6-2 following a 34-20 victory over the Browns and Arians had a message to his players before the bye.

“We’ve got to keep out the noise,” Arians warned. “Don’t let the individual bulls#*@ take over because the motherf*@$ers (the media, family and friends) are patting you on the back. There ain’t enough room for all the motherf*@$ers that have jumped on the bandwagon. They are coming in left and right, wanting to join up. They ain’t on this f*@$ing team. That elevator drops fast in the s#*@house. Penthouse now, s#*@house in a minute. Don’t lose sight of the big picture.”

Bruce Arians
Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

Arizona traveled to Seattle for a big game on Sunday Night Football. The Cardinals blew a big, 19-point lead at Seattle but came back to win, 39-32, to improve to 7-2 on the season.

“Everybody that we’re playing from here on out it’s going to take a great week of preparation,” Arians said. “We’re not any better than anyone else we’re playing. We’re not better than the Bengals. We’ll beat them if we respect the process. Take nothing for granted.”

I love how Arians kept the pedal to the metal during that season. Following a thrilling 34-31 win against Cincinnati that I chronicle in the next Fab section, Arians warns his players against a possible “trap game” the next week at San Francisco. Remember, the Cardinals waxed Kaepernick and Co., 47-7, in Week 3. Arians didn’t want there to be any false sense of security about the rematch.

“We haven’t won in San Francisco since 2008,” Arians said. “They’re not playing very well right now. People always talk about ‘trap games.’ I don’t know how in the hell the 49ers could be a ‘trap game’ for us. We haven’t won there in eight years! It’s a division road game. Nothing else really needs to be said. I want the oldest guy in each position group to put your hand up. Okay – get ‘em f*@$ing ready.”

As Arians expected, the 49ers gave the Cardinals everything they can handle at home. During this episode of All Or Nothing, we saw how Arians interacts with his players on the sidelines when he goes over to “chat” with the offensive line, which is struggling in short yardage.

“I’m tired of third-and-1 kicking our ass!” Arians yelled. “Hey, this crew needs to get your head out of your f*@$ing ass! Hey that’s third-and-1 for three weeks now – we’re getting our ass kicked because we ain’t got our head up.”

That “chat” spilled into halftime, which offered a revealing look at how Arians handles his players in a matter-of-fact way.

Bruce Arians
Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

“That’s the whole half – third-and-1!” Arians bellowed. “We’re o-fer. We can run anything else – slants, slash – anything we want, but we can’t block a dive on third-and-1 and get a damn yard! But it all comes down to f*@$ing third-and-1 (pounds whiteboard) because we don’t have enough f*@$ing brains to get our goddamn eyes up and see linebackers running through – or hit that bitch up in there.

“Now we have the ball. It ain’t going to be no different. It’s the same plays – the same things that we’re ready for. Finishing the f*@$ing drive and put points on the board.”

Arians stormed off and Palmer rallied the now-focused offensive players up to finish off the 49ers in the second half for a 19-13 win. Arians gave the players a Victory Monday after the win, but Peterson interjected and said: “Defense, we’ll meet at 11am. We’ve got to fix this.”

Before a rematch game with the Rams – this time in St. Louis – Arians delivered a powerful message to the team after practice during the week.

“Just a little history – December football,” Arians said. “Last year we were 9-2 on the same day – 9-2. We didn’t win enough games (the Cardinals would finish 11-5 in 2014, going 2-3 down the stretch after losing Palmer to a torn ACL). One of the problems is your body gets beat up, but that can’t be an excuse. We’ve got to be taking care of ourselves.”

After a 27-3 win at St. Louis, the Cardinals were in a dogfight at home against the Vikings in Week 14. Arians was once again not happy with his offensive line after blowing an opportunity to get a touchdown in the red zone.

“F*@$ing bulls#*@!” Arians said. “I’m going to tear some asses up. Come here. You ought to be f*@$ing embarrassed. That’s so pitiful. First-and-goal from the 2 and we kick a goddamn field goal from the 10. We can’t have sacks. We got a field goal. Are they doing something special or are they kicking our ass? Oh, so we’re getting our ass kicked?”

Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu - Photo by: Getty Images
Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu – Photo by: Getty Images

Arizona’s 20-10 lead shrunk to 23-20 in the fourth quarter before the Cardinals win was clinched with a strip-sack by Freeney on an inside spin move.

The Cardinals would lose Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu the next week in a 40-17 win at Philadelphia and then beat Green Bay 38-8 at home before losing 36-6 at home to Seattle. Yet Arizona had done enough to clinch a playoff bye and a home game to beat Green Bay again in overtime, 26-20, before falling 49-15 at Carolina in the NFC Championship Game in a game that Arians said he “never saw coming.”

The FABulous Ending
Arians uses a good deal of profanity to drive his coaching points home, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that his messages hit home and resonate with today’s NFL players. Arians “keeps it real,” as Jason Pierre-Paul would say, and does so with no sugarcoating and the extreme amount of accountability he demands from his players.

Arians is not always angry, nor is he a tyrant. He genuinely loves his plays and there was plenty of praise towards them throughout All Or Nothing. But Arians wasn’t brought to Arizona to make friends. He was hired by the Cardinals to win a championship and that takes drive, discipline and focus – along with the trust, loyalty and respect that Arians preaches. It will be the same thing in Tampa Bay.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

I covered this team during the Dungy and Gruden eras and I know what a winning locker room full of accountable players looks like. I haven’t seen the necessary amount of accountability in Tampa Bay since the day Gruden left after the 2008 season. Koetter would swear from time to time, but didn’t hold the team accountable.

Arians is a blunt, direct, no-nonsense kind of coach. After watching All Or Nothing on Amazon Prime, I’m convinced his approach is exactly what’s needed right now in Tampa Bay to take the Bucs to the next level.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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macabee

This is why there is so much consternation over re-signing OT Donovan Smith, even signing him to the franchise tag. Can’t have your QB getting hurt if we are to have a winning season. In this short video, Winston sustained a right shoulder injury and was never the same for the remainder of the season. Smith gave up the tackle to DE Alex Okafor/Saints that led to the injury. Okafor, BTW, is now an UFA paid 2mil in 2018, who was drafted by Bruce Arians/Arizona Cardinals in the 4th round of the 2013 draft. Whatever course of action the Bucs… Read more »

BucWild02

Here’s another sack Smith(supposedly) gave up to Dallas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2G4BMEMCm8

After watching the play, the guy he was blocking sacked Jameis outside the RIGHT side of the Tackle Box. He literally ran a massive circle all the way around the entire offensive line to strip sack Winston. Here’s an idea: Get rid of the damn ball sooner Winston.

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cgmaster27

Its called trying to make a play. I’m sure you weren’t complaining the last game of the season when winston did this very thing and made plays like the bomb to make evans. Yes he can get rid of the ball sooner at times, but let’s not pretend smith hasnt gotten jameis and fitz clubbed numerous times.

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BucWild02

You can complain for 5 more years. Smith is getting extended. Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahha

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chefboho

Really? He’s being extended for 5 more years? Why don’t you try and show us all where you found this out? Like you said to another poster, stop being so dumb

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BucWild02

chefboho: Its in the article. Front office likes him and coaches like him. They are trying to get a long term deal done at this moment and if they can’t, they will franchise him.

Thankfully he isn’t going anywhere. Pick a new whipping boy.

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cgmaster27

And for the record, on that play Smith was beat like a drum and wouldve had an easy sack had jameis not escaped Initial pressure, which is what he and fitz had to do a ton last year.

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BucWild02

Tackles are taught to run DE’s out of the play by letting them wheel out wide. I can pull up 50 passing touchdowns where smith stopped his guy.

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BucWild02

You are blind. Dot got beat across his face, Benenoch got beat on the crosser, Jameis stepped up to the right where Dot got beat and Randy gregory came from 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage. That is on Dot and Winston. NOT ON SMITH FOOL.

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BucWild02

On top of that, it was 3rd and 5. Brate is at the sticks when Winston leaves the pocket. Why not take the easy throw and catch and get the first down? I have watched this play 20 times over the last day. The more I watch it, the more Im convinced that the Randy Gregory made a hell of a play with his hustle. SMith wasn’t lazy. He did precisely what tackles do to speed rushers, they use the speed against them and push them out of the play. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »

BucWild02

Winstons touchdown passes as a pro…

Watch Big #76. Quit picking one play that Winston was equal to blame.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7uuYgrc8cw

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cgmaster27

Man this is great stuff. I love his fu attitude and demeanor. You know who else loves that kind of coaching? Jameis. He needs to be coached hard. And personally I cant wait to see Bruce make an example of Mr donavan Smith. Could you imagine arians reaction if Smith did what he did last year when he gave up on a free play and jameis got smacked? Smith might be cut! I think Smith raises his game this year and does well. Warhop shouldve never been here as long as he was. He got zero production out of anyone.… Read more »

BucWild02

He aint cutting Smith any more than he’s cutting Jameis. Quit being so dumb.

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BucFan circa76

Ummmm, Smith is not under contract yet for 2019, Winston is. Smith cant be “cut” since he’s now a FA. File that comment under Dumb and Dumber.

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BucWild02

He isn’t a free agent yet. The 2018 league year hasn’t ended. There’s about a month left. This article claims to be reporting the teams stated intentions of signing him to a long term deal and franchising him if they can’t get it done in time. The front office and new coaching staff believe in him. Unless Im missing something, that sounds like an a 5 year deal is in the works.

Donovan Smith is not going to make it to free agency. He just isn’t.

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Buc76

I tend to agree. Losing breeds more losing. Poor play no confidence. It seems like we finally have a real NFL coaching staff for the 1st time in at least 10-15 years. This coaching staff should be able to get a lot more out of this team. If (and its a big if based on the past few years) we can have a solid draft and pick up some good free agents you could see a Rams type turn around for this team.

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Bern

I think he has enough left in the tank, he will need the same fire he had early in Arizona.

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chefboho

Nothing strikes fear and respect in a team like cutting a player for taking his parking space. I couldn’t love what I’m hearing any more than I do. A real coach not excepting slack efforts or guys “just getting by” he’s a motivator. Hell, I get pumped just reading his quotes. Hopefully he lights the fire under this teams ass that has been sorely lacking.

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stlbucsfan

The one thing I don’t understand is the willingness to let Licht off the hook at every turn. Donovan Smith’s lackluster play is now the fault of George Warhop? Well while Warhop was in Cleveland he coached Joe Thomas at LT and I don’t recall one bad thing being said about his play during that time. The easy route is blaming the skill coach when the reality is the GM is the one responsible. After Warhop requested O’Neil Cousins and Anthony Collins only a fool, or Licht, would continue to listen to his input when assessing incoming players. He let… Read more »

EricNV

Arians is here, in part, because Licht is still here. Doesn’t matter what your opinion, my opinion, or anybody else’s opinion of Licht is. He’ll be here until the Glazers say otherwise. You can bitch all you want, but that’s the reality of it.

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stlbucsfan

How you handle the GM being awful for 5 years is your business, but on a Bucs platform I will post what I want about the clown. If I see an article that I feel doesn’t offer the full picture my login credentials afford me the opportunity to offer whatever opinion I want. If the truth is bitching then so be it. Can’t wait until the next head scratcher in the first 3 rounds of the draft to remind us of the real reality with the Bucs.

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BucFan circa76

Not even Warhop could screw up the All Pro “cant miss” talent of Joe Thomas. Pitiful analogy…..

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Spitfire

You said it best all by yourself and didn’t even realize it… Warhop coaches Joe Thomas, an automatic Hall of Faner on his own and Warhop got the credit… Meanwhile Smith has all the measurable and talent to be a solid LT and Warhop failed to get it out of him… If you think all of these players can play the game on their own you are dilusional… If they aren’t the few that are born with automatic talent, they need guidance and to be taught how to be great or even good… This new staff will find who can… Read more »

stlbucsfan

@bucfan-circa76 So I should also assume that when Ali Marpet was selected in the 2nd round from Hobart College that he came out ready to play as a rookie. Of course not, he was developed and put at RG by none other than George Warhop were he played his best football. He moved to C as a result of Jason Licht’s terrible attempts at C and then later to LG because he couldn’t fill that position in almost 5 seasons on the job. Give me a break with the excuses for Licht and the need to blame a competent position… Read more »

stlbucsfan

Also you see Sweezy playing better in seattle and assume that it’s because the coaching is better. Which is true but why get a guard who comes from a run heavy attack knowing that our offense is built around the pass. He returned to the run heavy Seahawks and I guess they rubbed some magic elixir on him as he’s better. No they run the ball which is his strength we asked him to pass pro most of the game which he does not excel in. But then again it was probably Warhop calling the plays so it’s his fault.… Read more »

BucFan circa76

Good counterpoints on some, and please dont think I am a flute musician for Licht, who like Donovan Smith has been average and inconsistent at his job. In what accounted as a “make or break season”, Smith was underwhelming and Licht brought us a 2nd round bust at RB. Warhop, though, has them both beat when it comes to players and coaches who underachieved MOST the last season or so – and paid the price. Jury still out on Licht and some of “his” players that still remain, and count on open and heated competition on just about every position.… Read more »

Spitfire

I still say we draft someone like Williams and put him at RT or RG and moving him to LT someday can be an option. Even if not we move Benenoch to rT and with Williams at RG our Oline will be solid with versatility…

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Bucsfan1983

I don’t think Jonah plays LT at all in the NFL. G or RT IMO. He’s too small, small arms for LT. Two of the best LT in NFL history, Walter Jones and Joe Thomas, 6’6″ 320 and 6’6″ 315 respectively. Jonah is 6’4″ 300, I’ve seen some listings of him at 295. We’ll see at the combine. I just think his future is Pro Bowl G or RT. I’d personally rather move to Smith to RT to replace Dotson. Draft Andre Dillard 6’6″ 315/Juwaan Taylor 6’5″ 335/Greg Little 6’6″ 325, either in round 1. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit… Read more »

BadgerW4

Okay, let’s be clear about this, SR. Your math skills kind of stink (either that or your research was lazy). Yes, those are the grades from PFF, but they place Donovan Smith at 46th out of 80 qualifying tackles in the NFL, and there are all of 7, 7!!! qualifying starting left tackles who were worse than Smith last year. That’s all. 7. Martinas Rankin–Houston Cordy Glenn–Cincinnati Kolton Miller-Oakland Kelvin Beachum-NY Jets Chris Clark–Carolina Ereck Flowers-Jacksonville Desmond Harrison-Cleveland. That’s it. I love that you used PFF focus #s to evaluate Smith, but even by their metrics, he’s not “above average.”… Read more »

BucWild02

Better go get a jersey! HE’S COMING BACK!!

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Ken Grant

Also, PFF’s grades are not analytics. They are good ol’ fashioned scouting grading each player on a play-by-play basis.

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BadgerW4

I’m actually fine with their grading process as they’re never just one person’s opinion, and everyone grading knows more about football than I do, but by their measurement, Smith is NOT above average. He’s considerably below average.

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BadgerW4

Oh, I did, but it’s a logic problem, not a name problem. One must be above 50% of the average to be above average. Smith did not qualify in either being one of the top rated of all tackles, or just among starting left tackles. That makes him below the 50%, aka below average. IOW, PFF can CALL it whatever they please (the super supremest supreme tackle! at 50% PFF rating, FI). Calling it something doesn’t make it so, but mathematically, Smith was below the average–below average.

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Horse

What I think I read, Smith is above average, Marpet is an All-Pro type of player, Jersen is above-average, Benenoch is way below average, and Dotson is barely average. Overall our Offensive Line has performed below average. I see no reason to extend any OL contract pass this season.

Scott has stated Arians takes an attitude of all or nothing. Based on that attitude, I would prefer not to guarantee any money past this coming season. Just my opinion.

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BucWild02

Great Fab 5 this week SR. Fab 1: Doing the happy dance. I am glad the team is keeping Donovan Smith. I may be in the minority, but there is no Quentin Nelson, Joe Thomas or Paul Gruber in this years draft. Drafting any tackle in the top ten this year is reaching, which is what bad teams do and what keeps them bad. Glad the Bucs are resigning or tagging the big fella! Fab 2,3,4: Arians is a winner and will demand discipline. The players defected from Schiano quickly when it didn’t translate to wins, but he wasn’t wrong… Read more »

Ken Grant

Citing Smith’s projected contract as evidence of strong play is very disingenuous. His value is based on market and situational leverage. Fact is a bad tackle makes more than a great guard because of the market and general positional availability. Tackle play in the league is atrocious and teams are desperate. Let’s stop pretending this vindicates Smith’s apologists. It doesn’t. He’s still terrible.

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toofamiliar17

“Smith is not a bad player, nor is he a bad person. He’s an above average tackle with room to grow.” This is a pure fabrication. He is not an “above average tackle”. His film doesn’t remotely support that assertion. Sure, he has room to grow in the sense that he’s bad, which means there’s a lot of ways for him to hypothetically improve. But he uses poor technique as a pass blocker. He can’t block the front or back side of zone runs due to his slow feet, his lack of coordination, and his terrible cut blocking ability. His… Read more »

EricNV

I guess you’re smarter and have more NFL coaching experience than the guys at 1 Buc Place, right?

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BucWild02

Doug Martin and Charles Simms finished as the 2nd best tandem in rushing in 2015 while Smith was blocking. Yes, Doug Martin and Charles Simms. Different C and a better LG(Mankins).

Passing offense finished 3rd last year with 2 different QB’s, plenty of turmoil, Marpet in his 3rd position on the line, new center, new RG’s rotating, and Dot coming back from injury. Smith was definitely part of the reason for success.

He’s staying and Tampa is smart to keep him.

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toofamiliar17

You’re talking about team success and assuming that Smith was a direct cause of it, when the film shows anything but that. If you want to make a case for Smith, then make a case for him based on the merits of his individual play. Sometimes, units and even whole teams succeed in spite of poor play from certain individuals. You’re harkening all the way back to 2015 on the rushing stuff. In that season, Doug Martin led the entire NFL in broken tackles, yards after contact, and yards after contact per rush. He succeeded in running the ball thanks… Read more »

Brandonges

A grade in the 60s from PFF is for a backup level player. Not one set to earn top tier money. Why is PewterReport still carrying water for a player who should be on the bench?

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EricNV

“Why is PewterReport still carrying water for a player who should be on the bench?” For the exact reasons Scott Reynolds pointed out in his Fab 5 article, that’s why. Winston is in a contract year, so you’re not going to build his trust by yanking Smith out and replacing him with a rookie or a FA. There are simply too many needs and not enough cap room to spend more money in FA on what will likely be the same or worse caliber player at LT if the Bucs let Smith walk. If Arians can’t light a fire under… Read more »

toofamiliar17

I know it’s not often used, Scott, but what about us using the non-exclusive franchise tag? In Smith’s case, it seems like a common sense move to me if we’re determined to try to keep him for this year. If someone else signs him, then we get two first round picks (one of which we could use on Jonah Williams early in the first round, or Yodny Cajuste if that pick is later in the first round) and someone else overpays him. I just don’t get why we’d use an exclusive tag on him. By using a non-exclusive tag, we… Read more »

BucFan circa76

Someone correct me if the NFL created a “non-exclusive franchise tag” and I was obviously in a “lost weekend” consisting of things I wont mention here…. There is a Franchise Tag and a Transition Tag option with the Franchise being the most utilized because of the two 1st round picks, yadda yadda. The Transition option gives the Bucs the chance/right to match the incoming offer. There are other pros and cons for each of the two, but Smith is likely to receive the Franchise Tag option if the team so decides to keep him around. In regards to your non-exclusive… Read more »

toofamiliar17

There are two versions of the franchise tag NFL teams can elect to place on a player. They can, obviously, only use one franchise tag or transition tag per offseason. The exclusive franchise tag is the one that’s usually used, the one you’re clearly more familiar with. It gives the tagging team exclusive negotiating ability, meaning no other team can sign that player, no matter what, unless he’s traded by the tagging team. The tag amount is equal to the average of the top 5 salaries at the position for the most recent season. The non-exclusive tag comes in at… Read more »

Brandonges

Sorry to disagree, and thank you for all the work you do, but you are carrying water. You’re citing PFF to say he is an above average Tackle, when even the stats you are using rank him as a backup. You’re advocating for Tampa to pay him $14M next year, when that’s about 6x what his play dictates. Pewter Report doesn’t have to play Public Relations and get out in front of every bad move the Bucs are going to make in an attempt to justify it. We can call a spade a spade. And paying Donovan Smith $14M because… Read more »

toofamiliar17

This guy gets it.

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Darin

You guys definitely have more contacts than me so ill take your word for it. If they can get him to give effort every play Ill be a fan. Lack of effort by any pro makes me sick. Even if they keep him i expect them to take an OT in the first or 2nd. I think Licht trades back again this year tho. Now of course the coming cuts and free agency could change alot. If Smith isnt re-signed I’m guessing it changes yours too. If the Oline doesnt have at least 2 new starters Ill be shocked. Theres… Read more »

toofamiliar17

If the only problems with Smith were effort-related, I’d be onboard for a year with keeping him on with Arians and a new coaching staff. But he also comes up so short in the talent and skills required from a good NFL offensive tackle. Even if he cleans up his effort (which is a huge problem, I agree), he still has slow, clumsy feet, hit or miss hands, and poor technique on everything other than power runs to his side. There are a few worse starting left tackles, but he’s a liability for any offense in this league. Rate this… Read more »

surferdudes

Ali Marpet is a pro bowl caliber player who hasn’t made the pro bowl in four years! Q. Nelson made the pro bowl, and all pro as a rookie. This has been a big problem with the Bucs, and media like PR that keep blowing smoke up the players asses about how good they are. We’ve been hearing for four years how Marpet is one of the best guards in the NFL, now he’s being paid like one, but reality is he wasn’t even a pro bowl alternate. We’ve been hearing for the last two years from PR about how… Read more »

BucWild02

How can Marpet be named to a pro bowl when he changes postions every year? Extend Smith for 5 years. Put Ali next to Dot. Draft a kid in the 3rd round to play LG. Have Benenoch and Cappa compete with Dot at RT and provide depth. Done.

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Bern

i feel you 100%

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toofamiliar17

I voted this down because of your nonsensical jabs at McCoy and Lavonte, along with your inexplicable reliance on the popularity contest that is the Pro Bowl to tell you who’s good and who isn’t, but you make some good points here. Kwon has all the tools, yet for all those natural, God-given abilities, he’s always near the top of the league in missed tackles and can’t cover a corpse in the passing game. Evans has shown flashes, and it’s still too early to judge him, but he’s definitely nothing special at this point. Marpet is a stud and is… Read more »

BucFan circa76

With all due respect, Quenton Nelson of the Colts was the 6th OVERALL player taken in the 2018 draft. The Colts were also a playoff team unlike the Bucs. Had Nelson been available when it was our turn, not even meathead would have passed him up, I was hoping he might fall to us but NO…….Marpet is our most consistent, highest graded O-lineman, which may not be saying much but we all know Pro Bowls are a popularity contest and familiarity contest. Brooks, Sapp, Barber, Lynch, Rice all went to many Pro Bowls as they were great players, AND also… Read more »

BucRy

Anything more than a franchise tag is a mistake with Smith at this point.

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BucWild02

I sincerely hope Donovan Smith gets a multiyear contract. Five years would be perfect. It will be more cap friendly vs a franchise tag that he plays up to and then has more bargaining power. The Bucs can guarantee the first 3 years so it’s a tradeable contract if they decide to go a different way in 1, 2, 3 years. This is a best case scenario to me.

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BucRy

We don’t even know if Smith will play with his full potential under Arians yet, should just tag him and see how he does under a new system this year then talk about extending his contract.

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BucWild02

What if both Smith and Winston play great and the Bucs finish 9-7(or better)? I would think the Bucs are looking at two very large long term deals. Consider that Cousins signed a 3yr/84m deal with Minnesota a year ago. Adjust for inflation and a rising salary cap and the extension for Winston could approach 28-31m/year for Winston. What do they do with Smith? Let him leave since they can’t afford him? Who do they get to protect the 30 million dollar QB’s blind side? A rookie at the end of the 1st round of the 2020 draft? I say… Read more »

BucRy

None of us knows how he will perform under a big contract yet and no one knows if he just had a bad season due to coaching or something else but tagging him allows us to evaluate him again for another season. There’s just way more of a risk in signing him to a big contract now..if he does perform great along with Winston, that’s something this team can worry about next year and I’m sure they wouldn’t let them both walk if that’s the case.

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BucWild02

I get it. Past performance doesn’t guarantee future results. Here’s the thing that’s really important to people who make the decision though, his ability to fight through pain and suit up every Sunday. Think of Ronde Barber. Was he Champ Bailey? No. Was he Revis Island? No. The guy never missed a game though. That made him an integral part of a defense that featured top talent everywhere else, yet it was HIS play in the Eagles game that put Tampa into the SuperBowl. Smith has legit value and for all the reasons SR listed, the team is sticking with… Read more »

toofamiliar17

BucWild, you’re making it sound like we’d somehow save money by signing Smith long term right now. That couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s about to hit free agency. It’s either tag him, let him walk, or sign him to a deal at market rates, which will not give us ANY discount whatsoever. To guarantee anything beyond one season to a player who has constantly underachieved and played relatively poorly for the entirety of his time here is a miserably bad idea. We should let him walk. But barring that, you tag him as a short term bandaid and… Read more »

BucWild02

toofamiliar: Let me break down the math. Franchise 2019=14m New 5yr Deal 2020-2024 estimated at 14m x 5yrs=70m. Those figures are from SRs links IN THE ARTICLE. So thats 84m for 6 years 5year deal 2019 for 60m = 12m/year Thats 24m dollars difference. Franchising Smith lets the club walk away next year but that assumes Smith plays awful and the team would want to. Does that really seem more likely than not with the new coaching staff? Signing him now to something like, 5y/60m with 36m guaranteed(3years) lets the Bucs trade the guy any time over the next 5… Read more »

toofamiliar17

PR is making some assumptions that don’t make any sense to me, and you’re just following them right down that blind path. To assume that he’d cost $12-13M per year (not quite the same as the $12M you say, but whatever) on an extension this offseason (which would be a laughably horrible overpay for what has always been a marginal-at-best and more realistically a well below average starting player) is one thing. There’s some guesswork there already. I can get onboard with it, but it IS still a projection, not gospel truth. Where you and PR really lose me is… Read more »

EastEndBoy

“When Smith is focused and locked in for a whole game he can be a dominant player.” Is that a theoretical assessment? I can’t recall actually seeing him dominate a game before…but maybe I was sick that day. Separately, when did talent evaluation and acquisition become the job of the OLine coach? I was no big Warhop fan, but are we honestly saying that Warhop is to blame for the failings of those linemen you mentioned? Oneil Cousins, Anthony Collins, Kadeem Edwards, Kevin Pamphile, Caleb Benenoch, Garret Gilkey, Patrick Omameh…are we really trying to make the case that those goes… Read more »

EastEndBoy

Right – but your insinuation is that Warhop was telling Licht, “I don’t need anything more for the OLine…this group is great”. Is that true? That’s hard to believe but even if it is, Licht still holds the responsibility…he can delegate actions, but he can’t delegate responsibility. The players on the roster are HIS responsibility alone.

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toofamiliar17

Bingo

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toofamiliar17

At least, as far as Smith goes. I do think Warhop is garbage. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that both Pamphile and Omameh played what was easily their best football starting immediately after they left Tampa. I also don’t think it’s coincidence that Ryan Jensen was one of the better centers in the NFL two years ago and could barely scratch average last season. Between the sacks of crap Warhop has liked going out of his way to bring in to his total inability to competently work with/develop any talent other than the supremely naturally talented Ali Marpet, I… Read more »

martinii

I am glad they are keeping Donavan Smith for another year, only because I would like to see how he performs in a BA regime. New motivation, coaching change may elevate Smith’s play. I would not want to put a rookie regardless of his skill level protecting Jameis’s blains side. I anticipate with one QB moving into top 5 we will land a good edge rusher, hopefully Josh Allen. This is a strange draft in that it appears D-line is abundant early and O-line is week and scattered throughout the first few rounds. Of course the running game is a… Read more »

liquidmuse3

Anybody really think if there’s a personnel conundrum, Licht’s winning out over Arians? Who has the longer contract?

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Bern

He has to play like he cares about the guys around him. Unfortunately we have to keep him until we come across a pro bowl talented LT. Talent at this position is hard to come by also. Not sure he has the love for the game to maximize his talent.

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SelmonRules1000

You may have to burn the one franchise tag on Smith and draft LT in the 1st. Benenoch was the worst BUC OL man last year. Benenoch was a late 4th or 5th round pick who started most of the year at RG. It was a disaster! So you can not create holes as you are trying to fill them. Cut Benenoch, he is worthless and he is due over 2 million dollars next year. Franchise Smith, he does not deserve a contract. But keep him one more year. Have Smith be the backup swing tackle behind RT Dotson (by… Read more »

BucFan circa76

Dude, you had me at “CUT Benenoch”……the $2million part makes it a no brainer.

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scubog

I was at that Cardinals-Steelers game that Scott referenced. Wife and I went to Pittsburgh during the Bucs Bye Week. Sure was nice to sit in the stands without being surrounded by the opponent’s fans. I wore my sweat shirt from the 1998 Hall of Fame game that had both Bucs and Steelers logos. I did end up buying a Terrible Blankie because I was freezing my ass off. In that game the Cardinals dominated. Steelers fans thought the game was lost until the miracle happened and they “found a way to win” unlike our Bucs who often seem to… Read more »

toofamiliar17

Happy to answer your query – I’d draft Jonah Williams at #5 overall, or trade back and draft him, or maneuver around and take Yodny Cajuste at the end of the first round or the beginning of the second, or go hard after Trenton Brown in free agency, or explore the trade market for a LT trade like what the Seahawks did for Duane Brown last offseason. In short – there are a lot of options available to us outside of giving a massive contract (short or long term) to Smith, and we should choose one of them over going… Read more »

scubog

So you want to draft two rookies (neither of which is a sure thing or even suited to be a LT) or hope to get a F/A who I would say is no better than Smith…..he just happens to play for the Super Bowl champions? Different isn’t always better. I guess I’m more of a “devil you know” guy. Maybe that’s why I’ve been married to the same woman for nearly 50 years.

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toofamiliar17

You know who we KNOW isn’t suited to be a left tackle? Donovan Smith. We know because he’s been bad at the job for all four years he’s been in the NFL. This is the same guy that scouts almost unanimously pegged as a guard at this level. He’s worse suited for the job than both of the draft prospects I just mentioned. I don’t want to draft two rookies. I said draft one of them. The FA market is ripe with strong guard options. So we sign a guard, draft a tackle, and let someone else drastically overpay Smith.… Read more »

fredster

I think signing Smith to long term deal is huge mistake. He had his worst year in a cantracr year last year! I cannot believe he’s the best option but whatever. Not going to cry and harp on it like many do here about Winston. They made their bed and will have to lie in it. I will be surprised if he improves but will see I guess. If he doesn’t Bucs aren’t going anywhere and won’t be able run ball and pass protection will still be inconsistent crap. So call me a hater whatever I think he is below… Read more »

toofamiliar17

Sadly, I don’t think it WAS his worst season. It actually was probably his best, which is really depressing when you consider what that says about his first three years before that, lol. Either way, the point remains the same, and I agree with you.

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fredster

Last thing I’ll say then I’m moving on. Guy seems lazy to me. He had his worst year in a contract year so you pay him big money and sign a long deal, pay like a top LT in league, 13 million or more a year and he will now improve and play better once he’s been paid this huge contract? That sound logical to anyone? Lol. Utterly ridiculous.

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chefboho

I agree fredster. The only thing we can hope, is that the new coaching and BA can somehow turn the light on for this guy to be more consistent. Could you imagine if Arians was coaching when Smith let the DE blow by because he quite on an offsides and got jameis sacked!? He’d be on the street right now lol

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drdneast

I mean all this tough talk about Larsen is well and good but it is also useless. Larsen didn’t commit a penalty, the other guy did. Make a point with something else, coach.
At the same time Larsen was another very serviceable guard we had here until Love blew him and our right tackle out for the inglorious Patrick Omaneh.
Bonehead.

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BucFan circa76

BucWild, obviously you are passionate about LT Smith, but comparing him & his situation to Ronde Barber is like comparing Kenyatta Walker to Paul Gruber. Barber was selected to Pro Bowl and named All-Pro in his 5th season, will be in the NFL HOF, and one of the best Buccaneers of all-time. We all wanted, hoped, and (as a 2nd round pick) expected Smith to be on the cusp as a leader & force on this O-line after 4 seasons….thus the cynical feelings out here. If you want to compare Smith to another Buc, how about Adam Humphries……who had a… Read more »

BucWild02

I just think the guy gets an unfair shake from fans. I watched every game too. Losing him creates a much bigger problem than it solves. The Randy Gregory sack/strip/TD has a perfect example. Smith pushed his speed rushing guy wide twice on a 3rd and 5 where there were no deep routes being ran. Jensen was engaged with no one. Marpet ended up on his ass. The pressure that forced Winston from the pocket came from Dot and Caleb’s side. That is what forced Jameis to the right in the empty space. If you stop the tape as soon… Read more »

BucWild02

Also, Im not sure how the Bucs keep GMC if they keep Smith. It’s no secret that I’m just as critical of GMC as most of the fans on here are of D.Smith. Keeping the young guy signals the end for the old guy in my mind.

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BucWild02

One last thing(LOL)… My comparison with Ronde was about toughness and availability. Kenyatta only played two complete seasons in six. He missed 21 total games and didn’t start 2 others. Paul Gruber missed 9 games in 12 years. He had 10 seasons as the starter of every game. You mentioned Ronde was named to a probowl and as an all pro in his 5th year. Not in his first 4 years though. Smith is in his 4th year. Who knows if the guy is named to a probowl next year or as an all pro? Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit… Read more »

BucFan circa76

And the Glazers may say “what the hell?” and build the Rays that new stadium with funds from the Glazer Family Foundation ….combined with tax cuts from their 2018 returns. I’d say the same odds of reality hold true for Smith to be named Pro Bowl starter and All-Pro LT in his upcoming 5th season (as Barber did).

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BucWild02

BucFan circa76: Ok Vegas. Its a bet. I say Donovan SMith is here next year AND beyond. I say the coaching will matter, just like the playcalling will, just like Winston getting rid of the ball will. I say Smith gives up 4.0 sacks or less next season. I say the Bucs leading rusher has 1000 yards or more. Winning is how teams get players named All-Pro and to a Pro Bowl. It’s rarely based solely on individual effort. It’s not as IMPOSSIBLE as you think. They just have to win. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

Spitfire

I see the downsides to both Franchising and Long Term deal… the whole thing is a conundrum… Just like a previous article stated, we are painted into a corner here. Smith is not the worst person we could have at LT. If only we could have moved him to RT in previous seasons we could have paid him RT money and he probably would have been solid over there. We will not do better in FA and the Draft is no guarantee anymore with the way College Ball is nowadays… I would say if there is some way to sign… Read more »

toofamiliar17

If only he was actually above average, that would make a ton of sense. But he’s not, and he never has been. So the rest of this thought process kinda falls apart.

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