SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY IS HURTING TAMPA BAY
If you remember back to a previous SR’s Fab 5 after the Buccaneers’ 19-13 overtime loss to the Vikings, I called for some shakeups to Tampa Bay’s starting lineup, namely inserting Jacquies Smith as a starting defensive end. It took a few weeks, but it happened and Tampa Bay’s defense has improved since the bye week as a result.
I also called for backup guard Garrett Gilkey to get cut by the Bucs in that column after he played one series – four snaps – against the Vikings had had back-to-back holding penalties that negated a big, 16-yard gain by Bobby Rainey on a screen pass on third-and-7 in the second quarter. When you make mistakes on 50 percent of your snaps – and you are a backup – it’s time to go.
No Buccaneers player is going to go on the record and suggest a teammate be released. That’s not what happens in Gerald McCoy’s tight locker room. This isn’t Washington or New York and that doesn’t happen in Tampa Bay.
But if you don’t think that there are at least a few Buccaneers privately questioning why Gilkey is still on the roster after last Sunday’s performance in Tampa Bay’s 14-13 loss to Cincinnati you’re fooling yourself. Gilkey, who had never started a game at center at any level of football, wasn’t put in the best position by head coach Lovie Smith and the coaching staff due to his lack of experience, but he obviously warranted the start based on his performance in practice during the week.
Or in hindsight, did Smith and the coaches make a horrific mistake in talent evaluation in starting Gilkey instead of Josh Allen, a true center, who was signed from the practice squad to the active roster on Saturday?
After four disastrous penalties by Gilkey, including two holding calls on third down, and a few bad snaps, including one from shotgun that rolled back to quarterback Josh McCown on third-and-10 at the Cincinnati 10-yard line, perhaps the Bucs should have started Allen instead. Of the four penalties Gilkey had (two were declined), the most egregious was a 10-yard holding penalty on a 1-yard run by Bobby Rainey at the Bengals’ 31 on first-and-5.
Instead of having second-and-4 at the Cincinnati 30-yard line with 38 seconds left, and the Bucs already in field goal range, Gilkey’s holding call set up a first-and-15 at the Bengals’ 41. That down-and-distance with the time remaining prompted the Buccaneers to go into a four-wide receiver set to make up the 10 critical yards that were lost.
It’s safe to say that Tampa Bay’s offense wouldn’t have had to make the personnel substitutions to go to a four-wide set that ultimately led to both Oniel Cousins, who was playing tight end, and rookie receiver Robert Heron being on the field at the same time, which caused the 12 men on the field penalty. If the Bucs were on the Bengals’ 30-yard line, there is a good chance the team stays in regular personnel and runs the ball another down or two to set up a 42-yard field goal attempt by kicker Patrick Murray, who is now making 78.9 percent (15-of-19) of his kicks.
But Gilkey’s 10-yard penalty set the Bucs’ on a different path – one that resulted in going to the four-wide set and ultimately one that cost the team a chance to win its first home game of the season. In my opinion, Gilkey should have been cut after the Vikings game, and thus he wouldn’t have been on the roster to start against Cincinnati. Allen would have been given the opportunity and perhaps the outcome would have been different.
Not only was Gilkey not released after the Minnesota game, he wasn’t cut after Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, which is a mistake by the organization. Former NFL head coach Jimmy Johnson would have cut a player that had a game like Gilkey on Monday to make an example out of him. New England head coach Bill Belichick might have done it in the locker room on Sunday after the game.
Heck, former Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden wouldn’t tolerate a couple of bad snaps and four penalties in one game by one player. So why is current Bucs head coach Lovie Smith tolerating it?
Evan Dietrich-Smith is returning to the starting lineup this week after a bout of pneumonia kept him out of action against the Bengals. Gilkey will be returning to the bench regardless, so benching a backup player isn’t exactly holding that player accountable.
If you want to know why the Buccaneers keep making costly penalties, especially on offense, is because there is no accountability. There are two ways to influence behavior in football and in life – rewards and consequences.
The reward for doing the right things in the NFL leads to wins and leads to pay raises. But most importantly, doing the right thing leads to sustain employment and longevity in the NFL.
The consequences for doing the wrong things in the NFL lead to demotions and pay cuts. But the ultimate consequence is getting cut, and that’s what Smith and general manager Jason Licht need to do to drive home the point that self-destructive penalties have cost this team too many wins and must stop.
What better way to drive that point home than making an example out of Gilkey, a backup player and a part-time starter? It’s one thing to cut a return specialist like Marcus Thigpen after he muffed two punts. But it’s time to cut an offensive or defensive player who seems to have a penchant for making quite a few penalties and mistakes to send the much-needed message of accountability.
I have nothing personal against Gilkey at all. He seems like a real nice guy from my brief observations of him and interactions with him. My evaluation of him is strictly based on his play on the field, and the fact that a backup player has seven penalties, which ranks third on the team, is simply unacceptable.
That’s probably what rookie wide receiver Mike Evans was thinking on Sunday after he got in Gilkey’s face and confronted him about the holding penalty on that final drive. The Bucs players are craving accountability and they aren’t getting it from an undisciplined few.
Smith has admitted that he sounds like a broken record talking about the team’s penalties and a lack of disciplined play all the time. The time for talk is over. If certain players aren’t getting the message then it’s time to act and send a long overdue message that players that help this team self-destruct are no longer wanted or needed at One Buccaneer Place.
FAB 2. BUCS DEFENSE IS MORE DISCIPLINED THAN OFFENSE REGARDING PENALTIES
The penalties on defense were piling up and something had to be done. There was cornerback Johnthan Banks’ costly hands to the face flag on third down late in Tampa Bay’s 36-31 overtime loss at New Orleans. There were defensive tackle Gerald McCoy’s four encroachment/neutral zone infractions in the first five weeks of the season.
After recording just seven penalties in its first two games combined, the Bucs exploded for 11 penalties for 110 yards in a 56-14 loss at Atlanta, suffered nine penalties in a close, come-from-behind win at Pittsburgh, and self-destructed in New Orleans with a season-high 15 penalties for 113 yards while blowing a 17-point lead in a loss to the Saints. It was after that game that the defense began to hold each other more accountable, and that head coach Lovie Smith’s message took hold on the defensive side of the ball.
The next three games – losses to Baltimore, Minnesota and Cleveland – saw the Bucs record just 17 total penalties. That’s a manageable 5.6 flags per game.
But over the last four games, Tampa Bay has been more penalized than ever this season, recording 10 penalties for 79 yards against Atlanta, 11 for 101 yards in a 27-7 win at Washington, nine for 87 yards in a road loss at Chicago and 13 penalties for 94 yards on Sunday in a 14-13 loss to Cincinnati. The Bucs were actually flagged 16 times against the Bengals, but three penalties were declined.
Following the home loss to Atlanta, McCoy voiced his displeasure with the team’s double-digit penalties. Six of which were against the offense for 59 yards against the Falcons.
“We’re an undisciplined team, a very undisciplined team,” McCoy said. “Probably the worst I’ve ever been on as a unit.”
During that dubious four-game span, the Bucs offense has been penalized an astonishing 28 times for 234 yards. That’s an average of seven penalties for 58.5 yards per game. The real number of penalties by Tampa Bay’s offense over the past month is actually 31, as four penalties were declined.
By contrast, the Bucs defense has only been flagged 10 times for 66 yards with an additional two infractions declined. Tampa Bay’s defense has averaged 2.5 penalties for 16.5 yards per game.
Bucs nose tackle Akeem Spence said that the defensive players took it upon themselves to use better technique and self-discipline on the field to cut down on the number of penalties.
“I don’t really know what has to happen around here, but on the defensive side we were pretty high on the penalty chart early in the year,” Spence said. “We took it as a defense to not commit so many holding calls on wide receivers and lower the target area. Also, we made the commitment not to jump offside. That hit home with us and we’re not jumping offside and teams aren’t getting those extra plays to keep drives alive and score more points.
“Getting those two things down a lot on our side of the ball has helped us a lot and it was the defense as a whole. When our corners would grab receivers that was an automatic first down. When we would jump offside it was five extra yards. We’ve knocked that out and it’s worked.”
Spence politely voiced his displeasure at the offense’s inability to stay disciplined, especially over the last four games.
“If a guy has you beat, just let him go,” Spence said. “If you reach out to grab him they’re going to call it. They’re going to call everything on us, but at the same time, be smart. I still want guys to play aggressive. You can tolerate the aggressive penalties, but the pre-snap penalties are the ones we have to get rid of. We need to get rid of the false starts, especially at home. Guys have to be more locked in and focused when they break the huddle. The offensive linemen know when they’re going before the defensive linemen do. You don’t need an extra jump.”
Spence was referring to left tackle Anthony Collins, who had two false starts at home against Cincinnati on Sunday, which is inexcusable. Collins, a free agent import who could be considered a bust, is tied for the team lead with 10 penalties along with right tackle Demar Dotson. However, Collins has only played in 10 games this year and averaged more penalties per game (one), while Dotson has played in all 12.
“When you see that you look at yourself as a man and as a player and as a professional and you have to stop hurting the team,” Bucs center Evan Dietrich-Smith said. “That’s on the players. It’s not on the coaches. It’s on the players wanting to be more disciplined and knowing things and knowing what they want to do. Then it’s about executing once you’re out there on the field. I’ve had my hand in them, but I’ve tried to make a personal effort to reduce as much as I can and make sure I’m not causing the offense to stall or any of that kind of thing.”
Tampa Bay’s offense has struggled enough this season with the unexpected loss of offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, a quarterback shuffle between Luke McCown and Mike Glennon and numerous injuries. But the high number of penalties has stymied the team’s progress in areas like pass protection and trying to develop a consistent ground attack.
In the words of Tampa Bay quarterbacks coach and play-caller Marcus Arroyo this week, “The Bucs can’t beat the Bucs.”
“That’s the hardest part – taking away a big play or you’re getting behind schedule,” Dietrich-Smith said. “Once you get a penalty then all of a sudden you are looking at a longer yardage situation your playbook shrinks and theirs opens up a little bit. We’re not sitting there looking at a second-and-15 or a third-and-10 because there really isn’t much you can call on those plays to convert. You can’t run it. There goes you trying to establish the run.
“You want to get things going and establish stuff and we haven’t done a good enough job doing it in the run game. Sometimes we’ve put ourselves behind and then you really don’t get a good flow going. It’s one of those things where you want to establish stuff early and then keep it going through the game, but we haven’t been able to do that. You don’t help out really anybody when you put yourselves in those situations because the defense kind of anticipates a lot of what you’re going to do.”
Dietrich-Smith has been whistled for only four penalties this year, which is the least for any Tampa Bay starting offensive lineman this year, but only two since the bye week. One of those – a holding call at Chicago – was declined.
“You have to be a professional,” Dietrich-Smith said. “You know you can look at it like you made a mistake, but you can’t let it affect you because then you go to the next play and it’s affecting you and it’s second-and-25. You can’t let it stack up on you to where it’s affecting the game as a whole. Like Lovie was saying, we were in the plus category with the turnovers but we had so many penalties that negated so many good things that it didn’t matter. At some point in time you have to say it’s my problem, not the coaches’ problem.”
Over the past month, it’s been a truly offensive problem for Tampa Bay’s players on offense.
FAB 4. BUCCANEERS LIKELY TO GO WINLESS AT HOME IN 2014
Tampa Bay lost its best – and perhaps last – opportunity to win a home game in 2014 on Sunday in a 14-13 loss to the Bengals that the team simply bungled away. Only 45,994 fans (and some of them were from Cincinnati) were there to see it, and with Green Bay and New Orleans as the last two home opponents, Tampa Bay may go winless at home this year for the first time.
That dubious distinction would be the franchise’s first winless year at home since … the Buccaneers’ inaugural season in 1976. Should the Bucs go 0-8 at home that would be a crushing blow to the team’s season ticket sales push in 2015.
With a new head coach in Lovie Smith – that a few fans now want fired – new players and new uniforms, the Buccaneers played the “new hope and optimism” card last spring with the team’s marketing campaign. After a winless home slate in 2014, what fan-generating, promotional card would be left to play?
Perhaps the Bucs will play the “History suggests we won’t have another winless home schedule again for 38 more seasons” card with the marketing slogan of “Buy your season tickets now because we’re guaranteed to win at least one game!”
Here’s a look at where this season ranks among other home schedules in nearly four decades in Tampa Bay.
Unlucky 7 Seasons To Be A Bucs Season Ticket Holder
1976: 0-14 – 0 home wins
2014: 2-10 – 0 home wins – thus far
1977: 2-12 – 1 home win, 17-7, over the Cardinals in the last home game
1983: 2-14 – 1 home win, 33-24, over the Oilers in the second to last home game
1986: 2-14 – 1 home win, 34-38, over the Bills
2009: 3-13 – 1 home win, 38-28, over the Packers
1985: 2-14 – 2 home wins, 16-0, over the Cardinals, 19-16, over the Lions in OT
Winning one of the two remaining home games would put the Bucs on par with Raheem Morris’ first season in 2009 in which the team won three games, including just one at home. Even in a couple of the worst seasons in memory, Tampa Bay has at least won a few home homes.
The Bucs finished 3-13 in 1991, but all three wins at home due to a 14-13 victory over the Eagles, a 30-21 triumph against the Lions, and a 17-3 win over the Colts. In Morris’ final year, which ended with a 4-12 record, including 11 straight defeats after a 4-1 start, three of those victories were at home with a 16-13 decision over the Falcons, a 24-17 win versus the Colts on Monday Night Football, and a 26-20 win against the Saints.
In 2013, the end of the Greg Schiano era, the Bucs finished 4-12, but got three wins at home, including a thrilling, 22-19 victory over Miami on Monday Night Football, and two beat-downs in front of the home crowd with a 41-28 triumph over the Falcons and a 27-6 demolition of the Bills.
Tampa Bay fans haven’t been so lucky this season, watching the Bucs go 0-6 at home with a crushing, 48-17 loss to Baltimore on one end of the spectrum and a 14-13 heartbreaking loss to Cincinnati last Sunday on the other end. Of course that could change with an upset win over Green Bay or New Orleans during the last two weeks of the season.
Yet with the Packers and Saints leading their respective divisions by just one game and focused on making the playoffs, it’s highly unlikely that Tampa Bay will catch Green Bay or New Orleans overlooking the Bucs as the 2014 campaign draws to a close.
It’s highly unlikely that Smith gets fired at the end of his first season in Tampa Bay – even with a 2-14 mark and a 0-8 record at home. The Jeff Tedford debacle will grant Smith another year to turn the Bucs around.
But the Glazers are like every NFL owner and are in the ticket sales business. A 0-8 record will further dampen the enthusiasm for season ticket sales in 2015 and that will put Smith squarely on the hot seat entering next year.
The drafting of a high profile quarterback next year might be the only thing that helps push the season ticket sales needle from this disgruntled Bucs fan base next year.
FAB 4. SHEPARD BECOMING A GREAT PLAYER ON BUCS’ SPECIAL TEAMS
Tampa Bay fans shook their head when Buccaneers wide receiver Russell Shepard made the roster. After a lackluster rookie season in 2013 after being claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay on September 1, Shepard did nothing to impress last year with no catches on offense, and just five special teams tackles in addition to a botched reverse that led to a fumble on a kick return against San Francisco.
In the 2014 preseason, Shepard did little to excite the fan base, catching one pass for 22 yards and making one special teams tackle. So why in the world did the former LSU receiver claim one of the Bucs’ five wide receiver spots to start the season?
Because Shepard was Tampa Bay’s most consistent special teams performer in practice, capable of starring in all four phases – kickoff coverage, kick return, punt coverage and punt return. Shepard has done just that in his second season with the Buccaneers and leads the team with 11 special teams stops.
Shepard had two tackles against the Bengals, pushing Adam “Pacman” Jones out of bounds on a first quarter kickoff and nailing Brandon Tate for a loss of one yard on a punt return in the second half. Shepard also hustled and downed Michael Koenen’s 44-yard punt at the Cincinnati 1-yard in the first quarter.
“Russell Shepard has played well, but he really played well yesterday,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said. “He had about as high of a grade you can get on special teams yesterday with an ‘A.’”
Shepard has embraced his role on special teams the way former Bucs special teams aces Corey Ivy, Dwight Smith, Will Allen, Aaron Stecker, Earnest Graham and Adam Hayward did during their time in Tampa Bay.
“The biggest thing I take pride in is my effort,” Shepard said. “On special teams you have to want to do it to be successful. I want to do it. I thank the coaches for the great opportunity to go out and make plays.
“On special teams it’s a collective group of guys that contribute to the success. There really isn’t a lot of individual success on special teams or in football, really. The offensive line has to block for the quarterback. The receivers need the quarterback to throw them the ball. I’m just thankful for my teammates and the coaching staff that I’m able to have success on special teams.”
It’s not uncommon for reserve defensive backs like Ivy, Smith, Allen and Hayward to have success covering kicks and punts because they are used to making tackles, but a 6-foot-1, 187-pound receiver like Shepard?
“It’s different for sure, but my special teams coordinator in college, Thomas McGaughey, who actually is the special teams coordinator for the New York Jets, taught me. He and Coach Lovie have told me that the more you can do in this league the longer you’ll stay. That’s one of the first things Lovie said when he got down here. Guys that have the best opportunity to make this team are the guys that can do the most. That’s one of the biggest things to me when it comes to doing something different – it’s the opposite of what I do on offense – if I can get used to it and adjusted to it, it will be something that can help me stick around a little bit longer.”
Smith knows the value of good special teams play and has praised Shepard’s effort throughout the season.
“We’ve gotten great play from him throughout, not only as a special teams player, but when he’s had to play receiver for us, [and] of course a little quarterback,” Smith said.
The athletic Shepard is still developing as an NFL receiver after splitting his playing time three ways at LSU as a receiver, running back and Wildcat quarterback. He scored 10 touchdowns (five rushing, five receiving) for the Tigers, while rushing for 733 yards and posting 565 yards receiving on 58 catches. Seeing one snap as a Wildcat quarterback against Atlanta a month ago and being used as an emergency fill-in wide receiver against Pittsburgh, Shepard has gotten a small does of playing on offense in the NFL.
Shepard posted his first two career catches for 30 yards in the fourth quarter against the Steelers, including a clutch 22-yarder to move the ball into Pittsburgh’s red zone. That experience will serve him well as he heads into the offseason next year when he can use the team’s OTAs and mini-camps to dig deeper into Tampa Bay’s presumably new offense rather than giving the starting defense a look as a scout team receiver.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” Shepard said. “I knew coming into this league that if I was going to make it that special teams was going to be a way for me to create a name for myself with the hope of one day becoming a receiver that can contribute to the offense. But right now this is a role that they have asked me to do and I take great pride in it. I want to help this team out any way possible.”
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• Don’t be surprised if the Buccaneers are one of the two NFL teams that gets picked to coach in the 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl. The teams with the worst records are usually tabbed for that distinction, but only franchises that haven’t had a head-coaching change are eligible.
That means that Oakland (1-11) and the NY Jets (2-10) will likely be out of the running as Tony Sparano and Rex Ryan could expect to be fired at season’s end. The other candidates in addition to Tampa Bay are Tennessee (2-10) and Jacksonville (2-10), but Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley could be in trouble after posting a 6-22 record over the last two seasons.
Coaching at the Reese’s Senior Bowl would give the Bucs coaching and scouting staffs additional insight to the game’s participants and help the team in their 2015 NFL Draft preparation.
• Independent NFL draft scout Matt Miller noted this week that while Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is a junior, he already has his degree and could participate in the Senior Bowl. However, Mariota is slated to be a top 5 pick and possibly the first quarterback and will likely decide not to play.
But don’t be surprised if Mariota makes a trip to Mobile, Ala. to do some interviews with NFL scouts, coaches and general managers. If he does, expect Tampa Bay to be among the teams interested in meeting with the Ducks star.
• The Buccaneers coaching and scouting staffs are pretty fired up about the play of reserve strong safety Bradley McDougald, who saw a lot of playing time last Sunday against Cincinnati due to Major Wright’s shoulder injury. McDougald had four tackles, and now has 14 stops on the season, in addition to two pass breakups.
McDougald’s play against the run is one of the reasons why the Bucs parted ways with strong safety Mark Barron, a former first-round pick.
“Well he came up with some big tackles for us in that ball game [against Cincinnati],” Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “That was a good run offense – they were coming off, I think, a game where they rushed for over 160-something yards. So to see him come up and help us in our eight-man front and make some good open-field tackles, that was a plus. He was where he needed to be when we were in pass coverage. It didn’t seem like the game was too big for him in the role that we had him in on Sunday. He did some things to make you believe that he’ll get better with the more snaps that he gets, and we felt that way going into the game and his play kind of solidified that.”
• With Tampa Bay tied for the lead in the NFL in penalties with 102 for 807 yards, one would think that head coach Lovie Smith would pull out all the stops in trying to put an end to the continuing infractions that keep the Bucs beating themselves this season. When penalties began to pile up for Tampa Bay under former head coach Jon Gruden he would hire local officials to come in and referee the team’s practices to help the players avoid making penalties on game day.
On Monday, I asked Smith if he would consider employing such a practice that other NFL teams use as a way to lower penalties. He dismissed the idea.
“I don’t think that helps much,” Smith said. “They call a penalty. They call a flag after the fact. You have to eliminate that before you throw the flag. I don’t think that necessarily – we know when we commit a foul, and that’s the part that we need to clean up. I’ll just say we’re working on it, but I don’t think that necessarily does it – having college or high school guys coming out to do that.”
Instead, Smith wants to continue to talk to the players about penalties regardless of the fact that it hasn’t worked all season – at least on the offensive side of the ball.
“I think you correct it the same way you do any mistake that’s happened: you keep working on it, you keep bringing it to their attention,” Smith said. “We start in the video session. You see it there, you keep preaching it throughout the week and just keep hammering it home. And eventually, it gets through. We’ve talked an awful lot about a player (center Garrett Gilkey) that started for the first time – it gets better as you continue to play. A couple of others – we had a couple of players that hadn’t really played an awful lot. Had a lot of those yesterday and you just keep working on it and eventually, it gets through. Just like everything else. We have seen our team improve through the course of the year on a lot of different things, and the way we got improvement? Constantly working on it. That’s what we’ll continue to do here.”
• Would you like to get the inside scoop on the Buccaneers and have your Bucs-related questions answered in person? I do several public speaking engagements throughout the year and am willing to come to your business, group or function and bring 20 years worth of behind-the-scenes Bucs stories to your event, in addition to a lively question-and-answer session. Forget the water cooler at work. Let’s talk Bucs in a group setting and get the scoop straight from the source. If you or your company is interested in having me as a guest speaker, please e-mail me at [email protected]
• And finally, I hope all of you Bucs fans had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We appreciate you supporting PewterReport.com, and the biggest way you can show your support this holiday season is by clicking on our advertising partners’ banners on the website and giving them your business. I had Holy Hog BBQ cater my Thanksgiving dinner with delicious smoked turkey and honey ham. The PewterReport.com staff holiday party will be catered by Grimaldi’s Pizza. Going to a holiday party or New Year’s Party? Let Bespoke & Co. help outfit you with custom-fitted shirts, pants and suits for the big occasions. Tax season is right around the corner as we head into 2015 and Gil Munoz is a licensed CPA that can help you deal with the I.R.S. and do your taxes. There are dozens of great businesses that help sponsor PewterReport.com. Please take the time to click on their banners and patronize them this month. Thank you.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
Reading these articles have become very depressing to read, lets see we lead the league in penalties and haven’t been winless at home since 1976 the innagural season sigh.
We need a new O.C. you avail.?
Thanks Scott – nice read as always. On FAB1, I suppose it becomes a question of what the second-best option is…while Lovie may agree with you on accountability, if he is just as scared by the “next guy up”, maybe it doesn’t matter. What puzzles me more than anything is how a team like San Diego manages to find its 5th (YES 5TH) center of the season (all of whom seem to do okay, maybe not great but certainly okay) and our GM/Scouts/FrontOffice can’t find one…
the bucs are my team wear something buc everyday so people know, I hate rooting for them to lose but at this point you have too. don’t screw it up bucs and win one down the stretch. you have to have a qb in a qb driven league, winless for Winston say what you want but the guy has talent mm is a system qb and really not the leader Winston is. people screw up and should get another chance, and by the way I would still be happy with mm, when you have a chance at the best qb coming from college you have to pull the trigger, I just believe Winston to be the better player, just my opinion, stay winless for winston
stone1- Winston has 17 ints this yr and has play pedestrain all season, Marcus Mariotta has 34 td’s and 2 int yes that right two and btw way Marioota has less int’s in three yrs than Winston does this yr and its not even close, and to say ” Mariota is a system qb” shows your football iq
stone1 – people have bent over backwards ignoring and minimizing JW’s transgressions. He has had numerous chances. He has also had a lot of support. Derrick Brooks has talked to him to try and turn him around – to no avail. JW keeps screwing up. Sorry dude, but the kid is trouble and once he gets handed a big paycheck, it will only get worse because he has no self-control.
tjhuth- agree 100%, fans of teams let their bias views effect their thinking
Sorry stone1 not to pile on, & Go FSU and all, but JW isn’t anywhere near the NFL QB prospect MM is. I keep expecting JW to take off his helmet & Jamarcus Russle be there. Someday good coaching & some years of maturing could turn JW into the NFL QB he has the potential to be. But it’s going on 13 years for us poor Bucs fans…we need something to work with now.
Winston supporter here. When comparing Winston to Mariota, you can’t just look at the interception discrepancy. Winston plays in a complicated, pro-style offense with only two experienced receivers (Greene and O’Leary). When one of Winston’s freshman WRs doesn’t diagnose coverage properly and runs the wrong route, you can’t blame that pick on Winston. Same goes for when his inexperienced Receivers don’t fight hard enough for 50/50 balls when they’re in the air. Mariotta comes from a simpler spread/speed attack with athletes across the board. All Mariota needs to do is get his guys the ball in space and they do the rest. Being wowed by Mariota’s numbers would be similar to saying we need to sign Mark Sanchez this off-season – any QB could succeed in that system with those athletes. Furthermore, Mariota is a lean guy compared to the stocky Winston. I view Mariota as an RG3 type player while Winston has the pocket ability of a Ben Rothlisberger. While Winston might be an immature nucklehead, he hasn’t been found guilty of anything, and has a very high football IQ. As long as the NFL team that drafts Winston has handlers supporting him off the field, Winston will have the more successful NFL career than Mariota.
Mariota not Marioota, lol
What are the odds of us signing Iupati from SF in the offseason? Im not usually in favor of signing high-priced free agents but he is a beast and we need a solid guard. Not to mention that we need to draft an OL early regardless.
Well, there seem to be a lot of moving factors there: Harbaugh looks to be leaving (he has no friends amongst players); who will replace him as coach (and will Iupati want to stay for the new guy); what sal cap moves will SF make; we certainly have a lot of room right now; do we finish with a top-2 pick (and look at a QB) or a top 10 pick (and look at OL); what happens to Wisniewski (I wouldn’t mind him at center) and could that make EDS a Guard….I guess I’m saying it looks like we would have a chance but there’s lots of room to run still…
The one with the LEAST amount of “accountability” seems to be the condescending and arrogant St. Lovie Smith himself. It seems to be a foregone conclusion he’ll be back and the local media is just fine with it. Wonderful.
I was on the Winston bandwagon but after seeing all the interceptions added to the immaturity and character issues I think the Bucs will have to go after Mariota, and should. But will St. Lovie allow it? After destroying the OL and bringing in Josh McCown what’s next? 0-8 at home is absolutely unacceptable and the man should flat out be fired for it. Not that anyone else seems to give a damn.
Coach Schiano was not a winner but he at least demanded the discipline it takes to play the game. Smith is used to having players govern themselves and the kids he has here are not up to the task.
Thanks Scott. Good read.
For the past several weeks I have been calling for the BUCs to draft linemen and not a QB, but I can see how a QB would be the sexier pick and more likely to get fans back in the seats. If the BUCs do go after a QB, they better make some big moves on the OLINE in FA. My QB vote has to be for MM, I just don’t trust JW to do the right thing and to stay out of trouble. We can’t afford to miss on this year’s first round pick. It has to be SOLID, with a high probablility of success. JW just doesn’t fit that description.
I disagree with what most of you are saying about the draft (going mostly offense again). Yes, our defense is developing, but has no depth. I say use the draft for defense this year to develop depth, and obtw, that will improve our special teams. On offense we need OL; we all agree on that. But, not rookie draftees. We need to go out and get the cream of the FA market for our line-and get it right this time. Guys in their late 20,s with a lot left. Spend the money.
Look at the Packers; the top of the NFC right now. Out of 53 men on their roster 5 of them were not drafted by the Pack. And they pick sub 15th overall almost every year. If you have good scouts, and know how to evaluate talent, the draft is the only way to build a team. (Evans or Jackson this year? Who cost more?) FA’s still need time to gel in a new system & with a new team. They aren’t magic band-aids.
Fab 1: I agree with you on this. Gilkey should no longer be on the team and cutting him would demonstrate accountability. What’s puzzling me and one thing I want to make clear is that the O-line is the only part of the team Lovie hasn’t held accountable. He started replacing D-linemen after their pitiful performance in the Week 1 loss to Carolina. He benched L. Johnson when he did like his NCB performance. He traded a #7 overall pick in Barron. On offense he got rid of C. Owusu after the Carolina game and brought back L. Murphy. He benched a healthy M. Glennon for poor performance. He eventually made A. Seferian-Jenkins a starter over the underperforming Myers. Like you said, he put J.Smith as a starter at LDE. He replaced KR/PR’s week after week. It’s not like Lovie doesn’t hold players accountable for poor performance this year and isn’t sending messages. It’s just that for whatever reason he’s turning a blind eye to the O-line. I would ask the question does Warhop have some level of influence over Lovie that he shouldn’t, is Lovie a moron when it comes to O-linemen, or both?
Fab 2: Interesting, I wasn’t aware of that.
Fab 3: I couldn’t care less about the home vs. the away record. I care about whether we made the playoffs or not and ultimately winning the Super Bowl. Nothing else matters. The owners should focus solely on the same thing. If we’re making the playoffs every year the fans will show up. If I were the Glazers I would take a Mulligan on 2015 when it comes to the number of fans in RJS and focus on building the team through the draft, starting with Mariota. They’ll make up the money they’ll lose in 2015 when we’re in the playoffs every year.
Fab 4: That’s great to hear; I wasn’t aware of that either.
Fab 5: Interesting info. I love it when we coach the Senior Bowl!
Regarding Fab 3, I agree. NFL owners still want the gate, but it is not where they make their money now. there is a new paradigm and revenue model.
The economics of the NFL have greatly changed, as well. TV contracts — and the massive at-home audience — now fuel the mighty NFL financial machine.The FCC has eliminated the “black out” rule and Congress has threatened to take away Anti-Trust protections if the NFL does not concur.
The days of threatening not to buy season tickets to get owners to respond to your wishes have gone by!
when you are 2-10, it is definitely not too soon to take out the trash. if there were hope of contention, you might worry about the talent level of the replacement, but a player who is in over his head but willing to work and be accountable sends a better message at this point in the season than a marginal player whose lack of discipline undermines the team. and if the guy who replaces gilkey gives his best but is a lesser player, so be it, our march to the top of the 2015 draft carries on
Our OL has been terrible from the start. We have an OL coach(Warhop) that picked or went along with bringing in these duds from the Browns,C’mon MAN, the Bowns? This was a mistake from the start listening to Marinelli the so called friend of our HC to pick Warhop. Next year we need a OC and an OL coach.I would suggest let the new OC select his OL coach as it seems our HC has very little knowledge what is needed to get an offense to perform at a NFL level.
the way to solve penalties is players holding their teammates accountable in the huddle and on the sideline, like warren sapp or nickerson back in the day or like mike evans did to gilkey last week. at some point you have to stop patting a guy on the back and saying “you’ll get them next time” and start looking him in the eye and saying, “you’re hurting your teammates and we are sick of it.” coaches can only do so much, the great teams are great in part because of accountability among the players themselves.
I would vote this the best post in a long time.
Now if only the local media would follow suit, instead of being afraid of rattling the players AND the coaches cages.
The 2009 season. That was the year I cancelled my season tickets after 3 years and lost my deposit. I’m glad I never renewed. For me watching the game on tv and eating the food I want, and not having to wait in line for the bathroom, beats the stadium experience
Fab 3 has Luke McCown instead of Josh.
Why don’t some of you Schiano lovers and Lovie Smith downers ask the Owners to bring back Schiano as he is still under contract. At No. 2 Spot you have to still ask the Question is Mariota a Franchise QB. We already know Winston isn’t and have still have doubts about Mariota. My problem is that I know we need a QB.
Hey SR, if we most likely will be revamping our OC and offensive staff does that mean we WONT be eligible to coach the senior bowl?
lalvarad: The worst part of the “stadium experience” since so many season ticket holders sell their passes on the various exchanges, is the number of fans wearing the opponent’s colors. No longer are they tucked away in a corner of the upper level like the first ten years of Ray Jay. Now they are enjoying some of the best seats in the house. That’s what makes a season like this even more unbearable. Having never missed a home game since 1976, I have to carry on the tradition even if doing so is somewhat of a gauntlet. I’ve never even missed a play taking a trip to the bathroom because I take my leave by watching the TV Timeout guy. There’s a guy on the sideline that wears a big orange glove. When he raises his hand to his chest I know they are going to a TV timeout and I will have enough time to take a leak before play resumes.
So Russell Shepard Makes two clutch catches against Pitt that helps win the game, so he’s rewarded by not seeing him again on offense the rest of the year? He made a couple of plays as a receiver in the pre season too. He makes plays, I’ve wanted to see him more on offense but for some reason no. Gilkey who hasn’t earned anything in the NFL gets to start a game at center where he’s never played, but Sheppard who makes plays doesn’t?
Watched the Arizona-Oregon game, Mariota sure looked good. He is much more then a system QB. I was more a Winston guy for our pick but I have no problem taking Mariota. He looks like the real deal and no off field problems. The only problem I see is he might run a little to much but when no one is open it’s nice to see he is also very mobile.
I watched it too – and have seen all of his games this year….the really amazing thing is that if you thought he looked good, IMO, the first half was his worst football of the year….if that’s what bad looks like for this kid, we must find a way to get him in Pewter!
I’ve been very critical of PR, holding them accountable so to speak, but I have to agree with several others that this is the best article in a long time, one that is a more genuine reflection of what is wrong with this franchise (glad to be past all of all that pro McCown BS
Rest of my post disappeared. Anyway, it’s a scary topic because we may be trapped in mediocrity until Lovie (and Licht BTW) are held accountable. We need OL help so badly, would still go that way unless we have the #1, then draft MM, otherwise trade down.
I’m proud to have been against hiring Lovie from the start. Nevertheless, if he gets us Mariota and then gets fired next year, it might turn out to have been the only good decision the Glazer boys have made since taking over from Malcom, may he rest in peace.
I stopped reading after SR was pointing out everything he was right about.
We don’t need a new Q.B. we need O.L. & D.L.
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