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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. Arians’ Mind Games With Hargreaves, McCoy
Bucs center Ryan Jensen recently spoke about the new level of accountability that Bruce Arians has brought to Tampa Bay and indicated that the team is excited about the change.
But the players will soon find out that Arians’ accountability is great – until it comes knocking on their doorstep.
Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was the target of Arians’ latest accountability salvo, not practicing on the first day of OTAs with the Bucs’ new head coach saying that he needs to get his mind right to practice.
Arians wants Hargreaves, an underachieving first-round pick in 2016, to play with an edge this year. As the most veteran cornerback on the roster next to Ryan Smith, who was a fourth-round pick in ’16, Arians needs a great year from Hargreaves, who has battled hamstring and shoulder injuries over the last two seasons.
Hargreaves had his fifth-year option, which is worth over $9 million, picked up by Tampa Bay for 2020, but it is not guaranteed unless he’s injured and can’t pass a physical next year. In other words, if he continues to underachieve, the Bucs can cut Hargreaves next offseason and won’t owe him a penny nor will there be any salary cap ramifications.
The guess here is that Arians and the Bucs don’t want Hargreaves to think that he’s automatically safe for this year and next year, and they don’t want him to assume he’s going to be starter just because he’s a former first-round pick and had that fifth-year option picked up.
This is an old school coaching tactic that the legendary “Three Bills” – Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick – have deployed in the past. No one is immune from criticism – not Joe Montana in San Francisco, not Lawrence Taylor in New York and not Tom Brady in New England.
Arians routinely did this in Arizona where he was the head coach from 2013-17, even criticizing team captain Calais Campbell, after a three-sack game in 2015, suggesting he should have had five sacks.
In an unfortunate era in which kids these days are given participation trophies and the thought of winning is diminished in favor of “having fun” in youth sports by not keeping score of games, Arians takes the opposite approach. He is definitely not one to coddle players, and his respect is earned by some and not given out to all.
It’s a different approach, and one that will have to take some adjusting to after a more country club-like environment that was created under former players coach Dirk Koetter.
The 66-year old Arians is definitely old school in his style of coaching, regularly citing Alabama’s legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant, the man he worked under for two years with the Crimson Tide, as his coaching idol. As Arians has said many times, Bryant would “coach ‘em hard and hug ‘em later.”
The message was not only sent to Hargreaves, but also to the rest of the team. There are no sacred cows at One Buccaneer Place. Just because you were a former first-round pick and have a big contract doesn’t guarantee you anything.
I love it.
This approach by Arians is absolutely needed at One Buc Place, folks.
Just look at Gerald McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowler, who is set to make $13 million this year. If you think Hargreaves is the first player to get criticized by Arians in an attempt to light a fire, you haven’t been paying attention to what’s transpired between McCoy and Arians this offseason.
McCoy, a player that wears flashy clothes to stand out and loves attention and the spotlight, has always been praised by the team and the media for his good deeds and high character, willingness to help teammates, and his play on the field that has resulted in six Pro Bowl berths and over $100 million in salary earned – although he has his detractors within the Tampa Bay fan base that don’t think he shows up enough in the fourth-quarter with game-changing plays, or the fact that his play has not been enough to turn the Bucs into a playoff team.
McCoy has not paid much attention to those voices because McCoy-hating Bucs fans aren’t important to him. I don’t blame him.
McCoy even “silenced” me after I wrote in a previous SR’s Fab 5 stating it was time for McCoy to let Kwon Alexander take over as the leader of the Bucs defense last year by blocking the @PewterReport account on Twitter. In the end, McCoy wasn’t voted as a team captain last year and Alexander was, along with fellow linebacker Lavonte David.
McCoy and I have had our run-ins in over the years, but I respect him as a player and a person whether he believes it or not. He’s been a helluva Buccaneer.
But this is the first time that McCoy has ever heard any real criticism from inside One Buccaneer Place, and from someone that is supposed to be important to him – his own new head coach. The criticism and lack of love he’s felt from Arians has definitely lit a fire under McCoy – just take a look at McCoy’s Instagram tirade directed at his new head coach without naming him – and that’s exactly what Arians wants.
If McCoy is going to play for the Bucs in 2019 Arians wants an edgy McCoy – one that is pissed off, feels angry and disrespected and has something to prove. Keep in mind that everything Arians said about McCoy in Arizona at the NFL Owners Meeting is true.
“He is on our team,” said Arians. “He plays three-technique and we have a three technique that penetrates. He did it as well – whenever that was – four years ago … Would I like to see him more disruptive? Yeah. We can use him. If he is here, he is going to be used a bunch. It is just a matter of what happens.
“He is not as disruptive as he was four year ago, but he is still tough. He is still a good player. If he is there, he is there. He is our starting three-technique. There is no doubt about that.”
All of that is true. At age 30 last year, McCoy produced six sacks, which was the same number he had in 2017 but fewer than he had in years past.
Sometimes the truth hurts.
And what’s also true is that the 31-year old McCoy is no longer worth $13 million per season based on that level of production.
“The financial is a big part of it,” Arians said. “I have got to evaluate him. [The] guy is up in age. It is different. Now it is usually the age where they get paid the most. And production and price don’t match. So we have to find that out. It is very hard because we can’t get in pads, but you can still see it. And you can still see his enthusiasm for the game.
“If he still has all that, then I am fine. As a coach, I coach who I got. I coach the guys that are there. Now if guys don’t show up, then don’t ask me about them. I ain’t talking about them. I talk about the guys that show up. We will see how that goes.”
It’s one thing for McCoy to brush off comments from angry Buccaneers fans on Twitter or WDAE 95.3 afternoon radio host Ian Beckles, who has been one of his harshest critics. It’s another thing to try to shrug off criticism from McCoy’s own head coach.
This is all calculated, folks.
If McCoy returns to play a 10th season in Tampa Bay, Arians wants him to play on edge – and for Hargreaves to play that way, too. And if McCoy winds up being cut or traded and doesn’t play for Tampa Bay, then oh well.
Arians has sent the message that there are no untouchable players in the building when it comes to the kind of accountability he’s bringing.
Arians always says it’s not personal when it comes to him chewing out a player on the field or in the meeting room or chastising a player in the media, that it’s about their football – not them as a person. That’s a lesson the Bucs are currently learning about their new head coach, and McCoy and Hargreaves are exhibits A and B in this case study.
Arians is famous for telling the players that this is their team – not his. Yet it’s all a mind game, as Arians is actually in full control – pulling the strings to extract the best performance possible from them.
You see Arians isn’t lying to his players, or ripping his players without a reason. He’s a maestro, conducting an orchestra.
The players are the ones that have the instruments and are responsible for making the music on the field. As a coach, Arians doesn’t play a single note – only being responsible for making sure the music sound good and making sure the instruments are played correctly and at the right time.
Speaking of music, there was not a single note of music played at Bucs practice on Tuesday, and – surprise! – the energy level on the field was just fine. There was not one rap or rock song played, and the players didn’t miss a beat.
No one is off limits to Arians’ “coach ‘em hard, and hug ‘em later” strategy. And if you think this is no way to treat a “great player” and a “good guy” like McCoy, this isn’t the first time this has happened in Tampa Bay.
When Mike Tomlin arrived from the University of Cincinnati in 2001 to replace Herman Edwards as the Bucs secondary coach, he gave Pro Bowler John Lynch a list with dozens of ways for him to become a better safety, which immediately pissed off Lynch.
Tomlin also said that he loved Ronde Barber, but that he was trying to replace him all the time, especially the older he got into his 30s. Tomlin wanted Lynch and Barber on edge, and achieved that.
Lynch made two more Pro Bowls at age 30 and 31 under Tomlin, and is there any coincidence that Barber led the league with a career-high and team-record 10 interceptions in Tomlin’s first year in Tampa Bay in 2001? Or that the franchise’s signature play – a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown at Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game – came the following year?
Who was Tomlin’s offensive coordinator when he won his Super Bowl in Pittsburgh?
Why Arians, of course.
And keep in mind that Jon Gruden walked into One Buccaneer Place in 2002 and said that Monte Kiffin had a good, but not great defense, and that great defenses score touchdowns. Gruden, who had an entirely new offensive coaching staff and a revamped offensive unit to break in, challenged the Bucs defense to score nine defensive touchdowns in 2002, knowing that it would take a while for his offense to come together during the season and that Tampa Bay would need some scoring help from the defense.
The defense was irked, yet responded to Gruden’s challenge and rose to the occasion with five defensive TDs during the regular season. Barber added one more against the Eagles to get the Bucs to the Super Bowl where linebacker Derrick Brooks and cornerback Dwight Smith added a total of three more to beat the Raiders and hit Gruden’s goal of nine.
Arians wants to push Hargreaves towards greatness or push him to the bench. At the end of the day, how Hargreaves responds will be up to him.
That’s what accountability is all about, and that’s what Arians is teaching these Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
FAB 2. Where Will The Bucs’ Sacks Come From To Replace JPP?
Bucs fans are absolutely beside themselves over the news that defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul will likely miss most or all of the 2019 season due to a fractured vertebrae in his neck stemming from a car crash weeks ago.
Despite battling a myriad of injuries, Pierre-Paul had a triumphant debut in Tampa Bay, recording 12.5 sacks and breaking the double-digit sack drought that has plagued this franchise since Simeon Rice last accomplished that feat in 2005.
Now Bucs fans are wringing their hands, wondering where those sacks will come from in 2019, especially if the team parts ways with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was responsible for six sacks of his own last year. Eighteen and a half sacks is a lot to replace considering that the Bucs had just 38 sacks last year, with JPP and McCoy combining for nearly half that total.
Notice how I said that Bucs fans are wringing their hands – and not necessarily the Buccaneers themselves? That’s because I don’t think they are.
New coordinator Todd Bowles is a defensive mastermind that will bring plenty of pressure and blitzes from all over the field. He never got the chance to coach Pierre-Paul, so outside of watching film from last year, he doesn’t know what he’s missing and will work around his absence.
Would Bowles prefer to have JPP suit up in and red and pewter this season? Of course, but he likely won’t and Bowles and the Bucs will march on without him. Tampa Bay has edge rushers Carl Nassib, Noah Spence and newly signed Shaq Barrett all in contract years, in addition to draft picks Devin White, who will blitz from the interior, and Anthony Nelson, who will play outside linebacker and bring pressure from the edge. While JPP was the most accomplished at getting to the quarterback, the cupboard isn’t bare.
Here is a look at how the sacks were spread out in Arizona over a lot of different players in Bowles’ two seasons with Arians.
Cardinals’ 47 Sacks In 2013
OLB John Abraham – 11.5
DE Calais Campbell – 9
ILB Karlos Dansby – 6.5
DT Darnell Dockett – 4.5
OLB Matt Shaughnessy – 3
ILB Daryl Washington – 3
OLB Marcus Benard – 2.5
OLB Dontay Moch – 1
DT Dan Williams – 1
SS Yeremiah Bell – 1
OLB Sam Acho – 1
CB Javier Arenas – 1
DT Frostee Rucker – 1
SS Tyran Mathieu – 1
A total of 14 players registered at least one sack that season in Arizona with 28.5 sacks coming from linebackers, including a combined 9.5 from inside linebackers Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington. The defensive line accounted for 15 sacks, and the secondary added three sacks in 2013.
Cardinals’ 35 Sacks In 2014
OLB Alex Okafor – 8
DE Calais Campbell – 7
DT Frostee Rucker – 5
ILB Larry Foote – 2
ILB Deone Bucannon – 2
FS Rashad Johnson – 1
OLB Marcus Benard – 1
CB Patrick Peterson – 1
CB Jerraud Powers – 1
DT Dan Williams – 1
SS Tony Jefferson – 1
OLB Sam Acho – 1
ILB Kevin Minter – 1
ILB Lorenzo Alexander – 1
DE Kareem Martin – 1
DE Tommy Kelly – 1
Without Abraham, who suffered an early season concussion that forced him to retire in September, a total of 16 Cardinals registered sacks, as Bowles’ piece-mealed the team’s pass rush. A total of 16 sacks came from linebackers, including a combined six from inside linebackers Larry Foote, Deone Bucannon, Kevin Minter and Lorenzo Alexander. Fifteen sacks came from defensive linemen, and four sacks came from the secondary.
Bucs’ 38 Sacks In 2018
OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – 12.5
OLB Carl Nassib – 6.5
DT Gerald McCoy – 6
ILB Lavonte David – 3.5
DT Vita Vea – 3
DE Vinny Curry – 3
DE Will Gholston – 1
ILB Kwon Alexander – 1
ILB Kevin Minter – 1
ILB Adarius Taylor – 1
The Bucs played in a 4-3 defense last year, but let’s convert the positions those sackers played last year into what they will be playing this year. A total of 10 players recorded at least one sack in Tampa Bay in 2018 with 25.5 sacks coming from linebackers, including 6.5 sacks from inside linebackers Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Adarius Taylor and Minter. The defensive line accounted for 13 sacks and no one from the secondary recorded a single sack.
Mike Smith’s defense that both he and interim defensive coordinator Mark Duffner deployed relied heavily on pressure from the Bucs’ four-man front and rarely dialed up blitzes. In 2017, the Bucs had just 22 sacks, led by McCoy and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who each had six. The linebacker unit produced just two, and for the first time in his illustrious career, David didn’t post a single sack in a season during the 2017 campaign.
The year prior in 2016, David had five, while middle linebacker Kwon Alexander had three. In that year, Jude Adjei-Barimah had two sacks, which are the only sacks generated by a defensive back in Smith’s defense during his 2.5 years in Tampa Bay.
Without Pierre-Paul, I could see Bowles blitzing Devin White and Lavonte David more up the middle, in addition to bringing safeties and cornerbacks on blitzes from the slot to compensate for his loss. Here’s what 38 sacks could look like this year in Tampa Bay without Pierre-Paul or McCoy.
Bucs’ Projected 38 Sacks In 2019
OLB Carl Nassib – 8
OLB Shaq Barrett – 5
ILB Lavonte David – 5
ILB Devin White – 5
DT Vita Vea – 5
OLB Anthony Nelson – 3
ILB Deone Bucannon – 2
ILB Kevin Minter – 1
DE Will Gholston – 1
SS Mike Edwards – 1
CB Sean Murphy-Bunting – 1
SS Jordan Whitehead – 1
Keep in mind that Tampa Bay’s 2019 season doesn’t start tomorrow, as Arians noted a week ago at the conclusion of the Bucs rookie mini-camp.
“It’s easy. When we get to training camp, we will have the guys that we want in there,” Arians said. “When I was in Arizona, every year that last week we would always add the missing piece. We’re looking for the missing piece right now. There is somebody out there. John Abraham came in, Dwight Freeney came in – guys that really impacted our defense and Todd did a great job of matching them up. We’re nowhere near where we are going to be in September, so we will just wait and see.”
In Arizona, Arians and general manager Steve Keim signed Abraham on July 25, 2013 and he wound up leading the Cardinals in sacks with 11.5 that year. During the 2015 season, the Cardinals signed Dwight Freeney on October 12 and he wound up with a team-high eight sacks and three forced fumbles, even earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 16 with three sacks and a forced fumble.
In Tampa Bay, Licht signed Jacquies Smith on September 10, 2014 and he went on to post 6.5 sacks, which ranked second on the team, and one forced fumble that season. Last year, Licht claimed Carl Nassib off waivers on September 3, and he wound up eventually starting for the injured Vinny Curry and posting a career-high 6.5 sacks
The Bucs’ leading sacker in 2019 won’t be Pierre-Paul, but he may not even be on the team right now. Whoever that leading sacker ends up being, Bowles will make sure he has plenty of help when it comes to getting to the quarterback this season.
FAB 3. SR’s 5 Takeaways From OTAs
The Buccaneers had three OTAs (organized team activities) this week and the local media was allowed to watch the first one on Tuesday, May 13, which was held at the indoor practice facility at the AdventHealth Training Center at One Buccaneer Place due to inclement weather.
1. Believe The Hype About White
Inside linebacker Devin White, the team’s first-round draft pick, is going to be an absolute stud and make Bucs fans quickly forget about Kwon Alexander. Simply put, there is a reason why Alexander was drafted in the fourth round and White was selected fifth overall. He’s a better player and a better athlete. And over the next five years, White will be significantly cheaper than Alexander, who will make over $13 million per year thanks to his new deal from San Francisco.
White is going to make some rookie mistakes. He’s going to miss some tackles and blow some coverages, but he picked up right where he left off at the rookie mini-camp by looking like he absolutely belongs on an NFL football field. White picked off quarterback Jameis Winston after the first couple of plays in 11-on-11 and shows great instincts and speed in coverage. Buy this guy’s jersey, Bucs fans, and pencil him in for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Yes, he’s going to be that good. White is already an absolute stud and it’s pretty clear to see.
2. The Bucs Will Work The Seam A Bunch
Head coach Bruce Arians loves taking deep shots down the field, but a lot of them will go down the middle of the field as opposed to the sidelines. Perriman’s deep touchdown came down the right sideline, but Winston also fired a couple of deep passes to Perriman and Mike Evans down the middle, too.
The Bucs lined up in a tight formation a bunch of times with the wide receivers inside the hash marks instead of outside. Some of those receivers stayed inside and worked the seam while other targets flared out and had plenty of space to operate out the hash once they got there. Expect big years in the passing game this season from tight end O.J. Howard, tight end Cameron Brate, who is still sidelined after offseason hip surgery, and Chris Godwin, who will be playing the slot quite often, along with speedy rookie receiver Scotty Miller if he makes the team.
3. Perriman Will Make Everyone Forget About DJax
After two years, the DeSean Jackson experiment is over in Tampa Bay. Bucs general manager Jason Licht traded him to Philadelphia this offseason and found another speedy wide receiver to take his place in Breshad Perriman. Granted, Perriman is not nearly as accomplished as Jackson, and after a failed stint in Baltimore where he was a first-round pick that succumbed to injuries and a case of the drops, he still has a ways to go in his development.
But what Perriman brings to the table is a combination of size and speed that Jackson didn’t have. While Jackson’s slight frame and 5-foot-10, 175-pound stature didn’t allow him to be a factor in run blocking on the perimeter or going up and winning any battles for jump balls, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound is four inches taller and weighs 40 pounds more and gives Winston the catch radius he needs to complete downfield passes – not to mention 4.3 speed. The two seem to be in rhythm early with Perriman beating rookie cornerback Jamel Dean, who also has 4.3 speed, to catch a perfectly thrown deep ball from Winston for a touchdown. Perriman may not be as talented as Jackson, but he’ll catch more passes for more yards and score more touchdowns from Winston this year than DJax did in any of his two years in Tampa Bay.
4. Bowles Brings Pressure From Everywhere
As someone who absolutely loves good defense, the regularity with which new Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles brings pressure is a sight for sore eyes. This new Tampa Bay defense is going to be exciting and fun to watch, as Bowles brings pressure on nearly every play with a host of players getting in on the blitz action. Blitzing won’t just be reserved for outside linebackers in Bowles’ 3-4 scheme, either. Both White and fellow inside linebacker Lavonte David will blitz from the interior quite a bit, too.
But it was the blitzing from the interior from safeties and from the slot with safeties and cornerbacks coming off the edge that really excited me. Part of the reason why the Bucs invested draft picks in three fast defensive backs – Dean, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting and safety Mike Edwards – is to use their speed to get to the quarterback on blitzes. That’s why in Fab 2 when I was talking about where Tampa Bay’s sacks were going to come from without Jason Pierre-Paul this year I gave a sack to Edwards, Murphy-Bunting and also second-year strong safety Jordan Whitehead.
5. OLB Kenney May Be A Real Factor
I know it’s early, but PewterReport.com was the first to see this David Kenney kid absolutely tear it up with his outside rushes during the rookie mini-camp as a tryout player. I asked Arians about Kenney on Saturday and he spilled the beans about the fact that Kenney was going to be signed to the 90-man roster and given a chance to go against the veterans. Well, Kenney handled Tuesday’s practice with no problem, consistently blowing back offensive tackles and putting pressure on quarterback Ryan Griffin.
Granted, Kenney was relegated to the junior varsity practice that featured most of the team’s young backup players, and the pads weren’t on, either. But it will only be a matter of time before he gets some looks on the varsity practice (the Bucs split the field and had two practices going for 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 periods with the offenses back-to-back). It’s obvious Kenney, who has been out of football for two years, is hungry. He has a wicked first step in which covers a lot of ground, and you can see the influence that former Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis, who is his personal trainer, has had working with him. Keep an eye on Kenney, as he could be a legit challenger to Noah Spence for a spot on the 53-man roster.
FAB 4. Thank You, Big Dog
There is a chance that some of you reading this SR’s Fab 5 column today first heard about Buccaneer Magazine and BucMag.com, which later became Pewter Report magazine and PewterReport.com, by first listening to me on WDAE 620 AM with afternoon host Steve Duemig on Wednesdays during Bucs football season.
We did a show together for 11 years from 1999-2009 called “The Buccaneer Blitz” from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. and had a lot of fun talking Buccaneers football and even getting into some heated on-air disagreements along the way.
After all, I was on with “The Big Dog,” who had some bite to go along with that loud bark.
Duemig played a huge role in helping to grow our audience of magazine subscribers and online visitors for over a decade, and for that I am absolutely thankful. I shared that with him after we parted ways as an on-air tandem, and again after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor just a few years ago. I liked the fact that he wanted to take some credit for my success, and I was happy to give it to him.
We were friends.
He was there at Champps when my ex-wife and I invited our parents to dinner at 6:00 p.m. right as I got off air at the WDAE radio remote to announce that we were expecting our daughter, Ellie. Duemig, who has a daughter, Jill, shed a happy tear for me at our dinner when we broke the news. Although he was 17 years old than me, we had some things in common, including a special place in heart for our little girls.
You see “The Big Dog” was really a big softie, and he would hate for me to tell you that – like I’m revealing a superhero’s true identity – but it was the truth. He was a good friend and he was fiercely loyal.
I not only remember our on-air conversations, but also the off-air conversations we would have during long commercial breaks in-studio or outside on one of his smoke breaks. Those were the best, as we would speak freely and exchange inside scoop on the Bucs – saying things confidentially that we couldn’t say on-air.
Like friends, we had some spats. He hated the flack he caught from Bucs fans who listened to him and ripped him on the PewterReport.com message boards – absolutely hated it! It put me in a pickle at times because Duemig wanted some of those comments removed, and yet I had to let my readers speak their mind. Some of you guys really tormented him!
Remember when I said “The Big Dog” was really a big softie? Well, he had some of the thinnest skin you could imagine, which went completely counter to his on-air persona as this tough-talking radio broadcaster. Kinda crazy, right?
The reason why Duemig had thin skin is because he was really a caring guy. He was from Philly, but pledged allegiance to the Buccaneers, Lightning and Rays, and suggested – almost demanded – that Northern transplants living in Tampa do the same and surrender their past allegiances and become followers of the hometown teams. He cared about this area a lot.
Remember when I said he was fiercely loyal? Duemig LOVED Tampa Bay sports, and he loved the fact that he was one of the first, as well as being one of the longest and best ambassadors of the Tampa Bay sports community, first with Sports Radio 910 AM WFNS and then with WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal.
You didn’t want Duemig as your enemy because of the power of his afternoon drive-time show because there was a time when it seemed just about every sports fan in town listened to “The Big Dog.” When we finally ended the show together in 2009 – I think that was the year – our relationship got kind of frosty and he took to bashing me – and PewterReport.com – on the air one day shortly thereafter. He invited callers to call in and rip me, and my company’s coverage of the Bucs.
Jim Flynn, our previous editor, called me and said that Duemig was on the warpath and I was the target, and that I needed to tune in to listen. I texted Duemig, asking him why he was doing that, and he texted me back, asking if I was listening, wanting to rub it in a little. Hey, Duemig could hold a grudge. This is the Big Dog we’re talking about.
I fired back with a text about two hours later, thanking him for all of the free publicity he gave PewterReport.com on 620 AM that day, and that our web traffic was going through the roof because of it. I would’ve loved to see the look on his face while reading that text, as he probably didn’t expect that response.
But that’s what happens with friends, right? They care, they clash, and they care again.
Years later after we made up, I thanked Duemig for dedicating two or three hours of his show for ripping me, and PewterReport.com. I listened to every misguided word an angry Duemig said that day, along with every idiot caller, who probably never read a single word of anything I had written before. It made me develop some really unbelievably thick skin as a result. Since then, I have come to find that having thick skin in the media business is truly an asset.
That was one of those formative times in my career – listening to two to three non-stop hours worth of criticism over the airwaves in Tampa Bay – that truly made me better. Duemig didn’t set out to do that on that day, but that was the byproduct, and it was one of the best things any friend has ever done for me. Instead of being embarrassed by Duemig’s rampage, it fueled me and helped me take PewterReport.com to new heights.
What I admired about Duemig the most was how he understood “the theater of radio.” He was an old school radio guy, listening to sports games on the radio while growing up as a child. The Big Dog knew how to create appointment listening to get you to tune in after the commercial break or the next day at 3:00 p.m. when he shown began with one of his epic monologues. He had his share of foils – or villains – in former Bucs quarterback Trent Dilfer, who was his personal whipping boy for years, and then later set his sights on former head coach Jon Gruden, and later former QB Josh Freeman.
When Dilfer was in the midst of a three-interception game at the Big Sombrero on a Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., I remember thinking to myself, “Can’t wait to hear Big Dog’s rant about Dilfer in about 24 hours!”
So many Tampa Bay fans tuned in at 3:00 p.m. on Monday afternoons to hear what Duemig thought about the latest Bucs game. It truly was appointment radio in the Tampa Bay area, and he was an absolute Tampa Bay legend.
Thanks to Big Dog, perhaps some of you Bucs fans are here on this site and have become loyal PewterReport.com readers because of him – and for that I am eternally grateful.
And as he would often say, “That’s no bullspit.”
On behalf of PewterReport.com, I would like to send our condolences to the Duemig family, to our friends and partners at WDAE and to all of the Big Dog fans out there.
Rest in peace, Steve.
FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• If you aren’t following Pro Football Focus’ Tampa Bay Buccaneers site on Twitter, you should. @PFF_Buccaneers does a great job of providing some interesting subjective analytics about the Bucs. Here’s a great nugget on Jameis Winston’s 2018 season and how he started off rough when he had to reinsert himself as a leader when Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched, and then when he came back as a starter at the end of the season after his own benching.
#Bucs QB Jameis Winston in 2018:
Weeks 4-8: 61.9 overall grade (29th)
Weeks 9-17: 73.5 overall grade (16th)
— PFF TB Buccaneers (@PFF_Buccaneers) May 16, 2019
PFF also had an eye-opening stat about rookie strong safety Mike Edwards, Tampa Bay’s third-round pick out of Kentucky this year. By PFF’s estimation, Edwards had more stops in the SEC than former Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram, a first-round pick by Oakland, and LSU’s Grant Delpit, who is projected to be a first-rounder next year.
Stops, as defined by PFF, are tackles that are made in the box, which is within eight yards of the line of scrimmage.
• WE ARE OVER 32,000 FOLLOWERS ON TWITTER! Thank you, Pewter Nation, for helping our @PewterReport Twitter account surge past 32,000 followers this week! The PR Twitter account continues to grow in popularity and there are some big reasons why. We cover Bucs practices, Bucs press conferences and break news on our @PewterReport Twitter account.
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• I’ll have to ask him at the next Bucs OTA, which will be Tuesday, but Tampa Bay nose tackle Beau Allen looks absolutely huge. I know Allen is a big man and is listed at 6-foot-3, 327 pounds on the roster, but he looks even bigger and more muscular than a year ago.
The perceived weight gain – if there is any – isn’t just in his midsection, either. Allen’s arms and legs, which were monstrous in size last year, look even bigger this year. Allen was playing some nose tackle during Tuesday’s OTA, as one would imagine, but also saw plenty of reps at at the weakside three-technique defensive tackle spot in place of Gerald McCoy too, with Vita Vea manning the nose tackle spot over the center.
• BUCS OTA COVERAGE ON THE PODCAST! The Pewter Reporters assembled after Tuesday’s initial Bucs OTA practice to discuss what they saw and didn’t see – namely cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III not practicing. Make sure you listen to this week’s edition of the Pewter Nation Podcast, which is presented by Chris Garrido of Westshore Financial, as myself, Mark Cook, Taylor Jenkins and producer Matt Matera analyze all the new players and who showed up and made plays on Tuesday.
It was fitting that we talked about Bucs legend Ronde Barber on Pewter Nation Podcast Episode 120, considering he wore No. 20 throughout his illustrious, 16-year career in Tampa Bay. The PR team also discussed the rookies following the Bucs’ rookie mini-camp last week. Make sure you tune in and listen to that episode this weekend in case you missed it.
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• It’s really quite remarkable how we don’t know more about what is going on behind the scenes with the Gerald McCoy saga. McCoy did not participate with the team during the offseason Phase I and Phase II programs, and did not attend the first week of OTAs (organized team activities), either.
I’ve been told that both the Bucs and McCoy’s agent would not speak publicly about the matter this offseason, although Tampa Bay Times Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud reported that the team had not asked McCoy to take a pay cut, which I can confirm. OTAs are voluntary, and Bruce Arians said that the Bucs would welcome McCoy back with open arms, which I’m quite sure I believe. Instead, I believe McCoy was asked not to attend the workouts because if he does and gets injured then the team is on the hook for his $13 million salary this season.
There have been some reports that the Browns are interested in trading for McCoy, although I can’t get those confirmed from the Bucs’ side of things. Cleveland wants to part ways with running back Duke Johnson, and his veteran presence and ability to catch the ball would aid the Bucs’ backfield. We’ll see if a player-for-player trade between the Bucs and Browns actually goes through this offseason or if it was all just smoke without a fire.
Tampa Bay’s mandatory mini-camp is coming up the first week of June, and it will be interesting to see if McCoy shows up to that. Or if he’s even on the Buccaneers roster by then.
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