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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. Licht Must Think The Worst About The Bucs This Offseason

This is a dangerous time for Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter. It’s the offseason and both men enter 2018 on the hot seat. Licht had an option year picked up by the Glazers in the summer, so he’s in a contract year, while Koetter has been given one more season to see which season was the fluke – last year or the 9-7 record he produced in 2016.

My advice to Licht, who is largely in charge of personnel acquisition as it pertains to free agency, the NFL Draft and re-signing the Bucs’ own players?

Think the worst.

Don’t assume the best.

Remember that the Bucs were actually 5-11 – not could have been 10-6 if not for a missed field goal or two here, and defensive stop there.

You could look at some of Tampa Bay’s close losses – the team was 3-7 in one-score games – and suggest they should bounce right back in 2018. I could look at the games the Bucs’ won and remind you that it took a last-second field goal to beat the New York Giants, they beat the Jets by just five points, they scored 10 points in the final minute to beat the Dolphins, and it took a miraculous deep throw to beat the Saints on the last play offensive play of the season finale. Tampa Bay could easily have been 2-14 in 2017.

Licht has to think that the Bucs aren’t close to getting to the playoffs, and that a roster tweak here and there just won’t do. He tried that last year, bringing everybody back, adding two free agents in wide receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive tackle Chris Baker along with a draft class, and thinking that would get the Bucs over the hump and into the playoffs.

It didn’t work and he can’t make that mistake again or he won’t be drafting any more players or signing any more free agents in Tampa Bay.

If the Bucs are going to keep the coaching staff in place, then a lot of the players need to go. It’s foolish to think that if everybody comes back from a disappointing 5-11 season that it will simply yield better results in 2018 – and if that is the thinking, then why?

Licht needs to go for broke this offseason. I’m not saying that he needs to go crazy with the Glazers’ money like he and Lovie Smith did in 2014 signing the likes of defensive end Michael Johnson, quarterback Josh McCown, offensive tackle Anthony Collins and cornerback Alterraun Verner to huge contracts, rather he needs to do what Jon Gruden and Rich McKay did in 2002 while overhauling the Bucs offense.

That year, the Bucs signed Joe Jurevicius in free agency to team with Keyshawn Johnson and Karl Williams then signed Keenan McCardell and drafted Marquis Walker in the third round and Aaron Lockett in the seventh round, too. Although Tampa Bay signed tight ends Marco Battaglia and Ken Dilger in the offseason to pair with Todd Yoder, drafted Tracey Wistrom, and then Rickey Dudley was added at the start of the season.

The Bucs already had quarterbacks Brad Johnson, Shaun King and Joe Hamilton on the roster, but Rob Johnson was added. Tampa Bay had offensive tackles Jerry Wunsch and Kenyatta Walker, but re-signed Pete Pierson and added Roman Oben and Lomas Brown. The Bucs had Jeff Christy at center, but re-signed Todd Washington and drafted Zack Quaccia in the seventh round. Running backs Michael Pittman and Byron Hanspard were signed in free agency and the Bucs drafted Travis Stephens in the fourth round to compete to suit up next to fullback Mike Alstott.

Tampa Bay had cornerbacks Ronde Barber, Brian Kelly and Dwight Smith on the roster, but added Corey Ivy and Terrell Buckley through free agency and Tim Wansley through the draft in the offseason. The Bucs had starting defensive ends in Marcus Jones and Simeon Rice, but signed Greg Spires and drafted John Stamper.

Too much was never enough for Gruden and McKay that year it served them well in winning Super Bowl XXXVII.

Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Licht and Koetter have to think the worst to make the Buccaneers better this offseason. Here’s what they need to do:

Don’t think for a minute that running back Doug Martin will ever come close to rushing for 1,000 yards again. It’s not going to happen, and Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter would be fools to think otherwise. Martin hasn’t rushed for more than 500 yards in four out of the last five seasons. He doesn’t deserve any more chances in Tampa Bay, especially at age 29. Time to move on.

Don’t assume Jameis Winston is going to magically commit less than 20 turnovers next year. Winston is a gunslinger that came into the NFL with the reputation for turning the ball over. Yes, the coaches should continue to work with him on that area, but Koetter needs to accept that in some games Winston is going to have as many bad plays as he does good plays and have to work around that with better coaching and win in spite of Winston on occasion.

Don’t expect Ali Marpet to be a better center than he was a guard. If Marpet is considered to be an A-minus guard and a B-minus center, put him back at right guard to bolster that position and find a B-rated (or better) center to help upgrade the interior of the offensive line. Make a play for Baltimore’s Ryan Jensen to upgrade the center position.

Don’t think that Evan Smith or Kevin Pamphile is a starting-caliber guard. As much as Licht might want to burn it, there is plenty of game film of them failing at left guard last year. If he wants to sign Pamphile back due in a reserve role due to his versatility that’s fine, but don’t pay him starter money or expect him to play like a starter in 2018.

Don’t assume that guard J.R. Sweezy is going to see his level of play return to form from before his back injury. If the Bucs want to keep Sweezy in 2018 it’s only under the condition that he needs to compete for a starting job. Don’t pencil anyone other than Marpet (at either center or guard), Demar Dotson and Donovan Smith as starters along the offensive line. And don’t let Sweezy prevent this team from drafting Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, either. If Sweezy is a backup or is released because he couldn’t win a starting job, so be it.

Don’t think that defensive tackle Chris Baker is going to play any harder or be more productive than he was last year. If a player is going to prove he’s worth a big contract it will be in his first year. It didn’t happen last year. Don’t expect it in 2018. Re-sign the harder-working and more productive Clinton McDonald to replace Baker, who should be released, but don’t pencil in anyone as a starter on the defensive line except for McCoy. No one else has earned that right.

Don’t assume McCoy is going to get more than six sacks next year. McCoy will be 30 this season and his sack production is on the decline and injuries are taking their toll. McCoy had 9.5 sacks back in 2013, then had 8.5 in back-to-back years before posting seven in 2016 and then six last year. At some point, McCoy’s production is going to fall off a cliff. It could be this year, or the year after or three years from now. Expect it will be this year and be prepared with capable defensive tackles just in case.

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Don’t think that Noah Spence’s twice surgically-repaired shoulder is going to hold up. Believe that his shoulder is finally healed after he’s suited up for 16 games in 2018 – not before. Do you know how many sacks to expect from Spence next year? Expect somewhere between one sack and 5.5, because that’s all he’s shown in two injury-riddled seasons thus far.

Don’t expect Winston to suddenly hit DeSean Jackson with deep passes. Jackson will earn an $11 million base salary this year and the team will face a $7 million cap hit if he’s released. So Jackson will get one more year to prove he’s worth the money. Although he was signed to run go routes and deep post patterns to take advantage of his 4.3 speed, the recommendation here is to use more slants and intermediate post patterns as they have a higher chance of success as Winston is not a great deep ball thrower. Koetter needs to rethink how to use Jackson and take advantage of his yards-after-catch ability rather than having Winston keep throwing incompletions his way deep down the field.

Don’t assume that Brent Grimes will continue to play at a high level if re-signed. Grimes will be 35 this year and Tampa Bay desperately needs better cornerback play. Grimes is only part of the answer – not the whole answer. The Bucs need to find two more cornerbacks in free agency capable of starting – in addition to Grimes, who missed some time with injuries last year.

Don’t pencil in Vernon Hargreaves III as a starter. The reason why the Bucs passed on signing former Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden was because Grimes and Hargreaves were the projected starters heading into the season and there wasn’t any room for Haden. That’s nonsense because Hargreaves hasn’t proven that he’s a capable starter yet – regardless of him being a first-round pick.

The Bucs don’t need a pass rushing defensive end and a defensive tackle. They need two pass rushing defensive ends and two defensive tackles. Tampa Bay doesn’t need a running back to replace Martin. It needs an entire new stable of running backs to compete with Peyton Barber for the starting job.

Licht has done this at some positions, such as tight end where he spent the team’s first-round pick this past year on O.J. Howard despite having a star tight end in Cameron Brate. Then he signed undrafted tight end Antony Auclair as a priority free agent. The Bucs had Mike Evans, Adam Humphries and Jackson at wide receiver heading into the draft and still selected Chris Godwin in the third round.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and WR DeSean Jackson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Tampa Bay re-signed safety Chris Conte to pair with Keith Tandy, and then signed J.J. Wilcox in free agency and drafted Justin Evans in the second round. Once T.J. Ward became available after training camp, Wilcox was traded to Pittsburgh and Ward was signed. Although Ward didn’t make nearly the impact the Bucs expected him to make, the aggressiveness shown by Licht adding Ward was the right call.

Licht and Koetter can’t make the mistake of believing in young players like Hargreaves and Ryan Smith anymore. They need to believe in them once they’ve proven themselves.

It’s going to take more than another good draft class to help the Bucs rebound in 2018. A rookie can’t be counted on to rush for 1,000 yards. A rookie can’t be expected to boost the team’s pass rush with 10 sacks. A rookie can’t be relied upon to become a lockdown corner in his first year in the NFL.

The Bucs need to stack proven veterans – plenty of them – ahead of the young players and draft picks and let them battle it out. The cream will always rise to the top, as it did when fourth-round draft pick Kwon Alexander beat out high-priced veteran Bruce Carter for the starting middle linebacker job in Tampa Bay in 2015.

By expecting the worst this offseason, hopefully Licht can help the Buccaneers become their best in 2018.

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44 COMMENTS

  1. Scott- I hope Licht isn’t on the hot seat. I think he is a good GM, and will get the talent where it needs to be. Anyone who didn’t think the Bucs were draft classes away last year was crazy.

    The problem with your article is that without a miracle or luck Licht is a goner. It will take drafts not a draft & FA to get the lines were they need to be. Coughlin had/has years your article gives him a year.

    I do believe this team is a 8 win team and not a 4 win team. It does have big holes on both lines and cornerback that will take time.

    I’m a huge advocate to use our 2nd round pick on Sony Michel, he passes the eye ready for what you want in a RB. If Chubb not at GA he would be a great stat leader.

    All other picks should go defense & OL.

    I hope the Glazers don’t dump Licht after 2018 if they don’t make the playoffs (which is likely). NFC south is the hardest division in the NFL, and as stated before TB has a lot of work to do to have a complete team.

    Look at the teams in the playoffs, all are here due to a solid D except NE (they do it with smoke & mirrors D and the GOAT). Bucs have years of work ahead, but the core is in place.

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    • Well said, MudMan!

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    • Jason Licht is going into his 5th year as the GM of this team. Even with a first overall pick earned by creating the worst roster in football in 2014 (2-14) which allowed him to draft a franchise QB, you openly admit this team still is not playoff ready into said QB’s 4th year.

      So if a GM has 5 years, “earns” himself the top pick in the draft and never makes the playoffs, what praytell is so great about this GM?

      The roster, as noted in this article is filled with holes. The GM, as noted, is filled with a horrific record of free agent signings. There is little expectation that any of this will change in year 5, but there are fans out there that want to look beyond all of it and keep the schmuck around? Please defend your guy with something objective, like record, personnel strength, Pro Bowlers acquired etc. Then I would happily compare it to the rest of the league’s decionmakers. I promise I won’t even use the Patriots as an example.

      Also Tom Coughlin turned the Jags around in ONE year.

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      • Not quite true. Jax and Coughlin have done a great job this year. Some of their studs on D were drafted the last few years, not under Coughlin’s watch. He’s done an amazing job for sure. But, it wasn’t all this year’s work.

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        • The Jaguars were 3-13 last year and 10-6 this year with a playoff victory to boot. Not only had the Jags not been to the playoffs since 2007, they had won more than 5 games in a season only TWICE in that span (7 games in 09, 8 games in 10).

          Coughlin certainly didn’t build the entire roster, but that’s a pretty stark contract from one year to the next and the man who has coached two super bowl victories deserves a lot of credit for the one year turnaround, given it coincided with him taking a senior VP role and implementing significant changes to the team.

          I’m not sure how much you want to gauge his impact on a 3-13 to 10-16 turnaround, but I wouldn’t minimize it given the previous years were 5-11, 3-13, 2-14 and Blake Bortles is still their QB.

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      • Well, to be honest. He did well by signing of Michael Johnson as the DE in 2013 he is/was at the time very talented. However, we over-paid the guy to be THE MAN when he had never been one before..He was coming from a STUD Dline in Cincy it was a very talented DLine!

        So, when you still only have McCoy and a single guy from the outside in Johnson at the DE position and not much else then you are back to a Tackle & A TE helping out on the DE and a double team in the interior to hold McCoy for a few seconds the other 2 spots were almost non-existent.

        Same with Ayers did well in 2016 we also had a little more talent on that line also! which included Akeem Spence & Noah Spence for most of the year.

        I agree, with all of the article regarding the DE position. And it’s what I’ve been talking about for 3 years! We consistently put all of our eggs in 1-2 players at the position and hope they can be successful and stay injury free! That is a recipe for disaster!….

        I like the idea of going after 2 DE’s Ziggy & Bennett (I would love Lawrence but he will be tagged by the cowboys) and a situational pass rusher in FA (or maybe keep Ayers at that spot he also provides some flexibility to be used at DT) or sign a situational guy like Okafor/Gallett then go after in the Draft if Chubb is there go get him and add Bryan in the 2nd!

        1. re-sign Clinton Mac Donald *Cheap*
        2. re-structure Baker (I believe with the added outside pressure we would bring in (in my example) he would be successful paired with McCoy in the middle) Or go after Richardson/Poe DT
        3. re-structure Ayers due to his flexibility DE/DT or go after a situational pass rusher like a Okafor/Gallett
        4. re-sign Will Clarke – I like his motor (he could also be placed on the PS “next man up”)

        So, your DE/DT’s would look like this the start of an actual Dline with players fighting for playing time.

        1. Ziggy DE
        2. Bennett DE
        3. Noah Spence DE
        4. Chubb DE —- 2018 Draft Pick
        5. Gholston DE/DT
        6. Ayers DE/DT or 1 of Okafor/Gallett DE
        7. Bryan DE/DT —- 2018 Draft Pick
        8. McCoy DT
        9. Baker DT or 1 of Richardson DT/Poe DT
        10. MacDonald DT
        11. Stevie T DT
        12. Clarke DE
        13. ______ Late 2018 Draft Pick
        14.______ UDFA

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      • Yup, devasher … if people are still after 5 seasons saying that Licht still needs many more seasons to get right what he should have gotten right within the first four or five seasons, then there litearlly is no way Licht can ever be held accountable or fired for incompetence, because it’s always going to be “several more seasons”.

        There is literally no limiting principle to this kind of thinking – just permanent excuses in a league where numerous teams go from worst to first in a single season, or two.

        The Glazers are going to regret not firing Licht and Koetter now, when other teams, like Jax and LA and the Eagles and Vikings are all turning around completely in one or two seasons of work by a competent team of GM and HC.

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    • It’s now Monday, and I just read the synopsis in the Tampa Bay Times of Licht’s post-2017 media conference… it was a crock of shit, full of excuses and whining and complaining that people had “unreal expectations for the Bucs offense”, gave an example that everyone expected 50 points a game (???????), and that the Bucs themselves didn’t have very high expectations, it was all imposed by outsiders (yeah, you damned fans, who the hell are YOU to set the bar at making the playoffs for the first time in a decade?”).

      The Bucs plans to get better? Nothing specific, I guess it’s just sposed ta get better out of magic or something.

      Jason Licht needs to be fired for that media conference alone, let alone four years of getting it wrong in doing his job.

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  2. I don’t see any reason for Licht not to go all out this off season. I’m not talking spending crazy money as you have to pay big Mike, Kwon , Jameis and other soon. But this defensive line cannot be fixed just through the draft. That and the fact that LIcht and Kotter are basicaly on one year deals, why the hell not go for it! The problem is that LIcht and Koetter have been too loyal to some guys, Doug Martin comes to mind, and counted too much on unknown commodities, like Spence.
    I personally think we do get chubbs in this draft as the QB’s have all declared and there will be at least three or 4 taken in front of us. But we have a lot of holes and I just don’t see this team as a playoff team just yet. We were close in a lot of games this year, we almost seemed snake bitten at times the way the ball bounced at times. But we absolutely have to get better in both trenches and at RB. Free agency is going to be a necessity to us this year.

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    • cg – we may well get Chubb, or Key (who is also quite capable). But I am not confident in Licht’s ability to rebuild and entire defensive line, or to rebuild an entire offensive line – both of which are crying out for total rebuilds, as they are the most incompetent elements of the Bucs these days.

      And I am not confident that Mike Smith will ever give up on his pointless and silly d-line stunting. It frustrates the players, and it produces ugly results. If we don’t change any of the coaching or design of the two lines, we are going to get the same results again and again,

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  3. Meathead is doing his job. Continuity is what will bring winning to Tampa. Cutting a bunch of players and bringing in a bunch of new players is not going to work in the short term… and then off with Koetter’s head. The Jags have been accruing highly talented defensive players over the last few years because they have been drafting near the top of the pile in those years. Licht started with the offense in his first two drafts. I hope that he drafts DL & OL early and often this year. I also don’t think that it’s necessarily a good idea to sign FAs from successful team, which know how to evaluate talent. Pull from teams like the Browns that don’t have a clue about player potential. If the Steelers & Patriots don’t want to resign a player, it’s probably for good reason.

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    • The only Super Bowl this team has ever had was filled with free agents, coaching and player turnover. The offense that helped the Bucs get over the hump was essentially reconstructed by Gruden. The very same team in 2003, with far less turnover missed both expectations and the playoffs.

      There is a degree of turnover and change that can give a team a new direction and players with “something to prove”, stagnation is the enemy of good. Stagnation of a bad 5-11 team is not likely to bring about positive change. Imagine you have a poorly performing restaurant, you keep all the same employees and management with the same teaching style. Is that a good strategy?

      The Patriots gave up on Jimmy Garrapolo and Chandler Jones in the past year, you wouldn’t want those players? They also let Aquib Talib walk, do you think the Broncos regret that signing? The smarter teams are more likely to be right, but they, like everyone else have made their mistakes.

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  4. I’m keeping McCoy, Sweezy and Quizz. Everyone else on this list, cut.

    Add the numbers of those I would cut to the $61, 476, 282 = 85,601,282

    Sign LT Nate Solder and Center Ryan Jensen. New O Line – Solder/Sweezy/Jensen/Marpet/Smith

    Sign DE Ansah and Michael Bennett. Bennett/McCoy/McDonald/Ansah, back up D line – Chubb/Clarke/Nnadi(draft pick)/N Spence

    Secondary: Sign CB Kyle Fuller, S Mike Mitchell, draft Tarvarus McFadden. Start Fuller and McFadden, Evans and Mitchell, VGII Nickel/Slot

    Resign Fitz

    Draft:

    Rd1) DE Bradley Chubb
    Rd2) RB Sony Michel
    Rd3) CB Tarvarus McFadden
    Rd 4) DT Derek Nnadi
    Rd 5) RB Kyle Hicks
    Rd 6) K Eddy Pineiro
    Rd 6) OT Jamarco Jones

    QBs- Winston, Fitz, Griffin
    FB – Stocker
    RB – Michel, Quizz, Barber, Hicks
    WR – Evans, DJax, Godwin, Humphries, Reedy
    TE – Howard, Brate, Auclair
    OL – Solder, Sweezy, Jensen,Marpet, Smith, Jones/Pamphile/Hawley/Benenoch/Wester

    DL – Bennett, McCoy, McDonald, Ansah, Chubb/Clarke/Nnadi/N Specne
    LB – David, Alexander, Beckwith, Bullough/Glanton/Bond
    CB – Fuller, McFadden, VGIII, McClain, R Smith, J Robinson
    S- Evans, Mitchell, Conte, I Johnson

    LS – Sanborn
    P – Anger
    K – Pineiro

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    • No too shabby. Not a fan of your draft, but the FA pickups on DL would work. I gotta disagree with keeping Sweezy. He’s shown nothing that warrants the Bucs paying him any more money. Need to replace Quizz too. All our backs, besides Barber, will be 28+ next season. Get younger, better players and build for the future. And why are you moving our best OL in 2017, Dot, out of the starting rotation? D Smith can’t play RT. Also, Reedy was cut and signed with the Patriots.

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      • Oh damn, my bad I thought he was a FA. Forgot he got a 3 yr extension in 2016. Ok so cut Sweezy.

        Solder/Smith/Jensen/Marpet/Dotson

        I like my draft. Bucs get the top pash rusher. They get one of the best RBs in the draft. They get good value in round 3 with McFadden, while also getting longer at that position with him and Fuller in FA. Hargraves hasn’t lived up to a #11 pick going into his third year. He should be the Nickel CB.
        Bucs need to add to DT depth, someone who can challenge for a starting spot. Nnadi is good value there too, 3 yr starter out of 4 years at FSU. 6’2 315 can squat 750.

        Bucs need to bring in another RB with Martin and Sims not returning. So I like Hicks there. Bucs need to finally solve the Kicker spot, Patrick Murray was 2-5 of FG 50+ yards in 2017. 7-12 50+ in his career. He doesn’t have a very strong leg. Pineiro out of UF is one of the best in the draft. And finally grab OL depth with Jones in second pick of round 6.

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    • Demar Dotson missing.

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      • Dotson is a FA….

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    • Alan Cross would be your FB. Stocker was released because he wasn’t effective out of the backfield and Cross was.

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    • Yours is the sort of well reasoned approach I hope the Bucs take this year. Alan Cross and Demar Dotson have been mentioned.

      I do not agree with walking away from Grimes. First, I enjoy watching him play. Second, we need depth. And, third, plugging in a free agent and a rookie does not guarantee success.

      For your draft, I am hoping for Chubb to be their. If not, Scott may be right about taking G Quenton Nelson from ND. Solder/Smith, Nelson/Pamphile, Jensen/Hawley, Marpet/Smith, Dotson/Jones.

      From the prospect rankings at CBS Sports, your third and fourth round picks should be swapped, but who can say?

      QBs- Winston – Fitz/Griffin
      FB – Cross
      RB – Michel, Quizz, Barber, Hicks
      WR – Evans, DJax, Godwin, Humphries, Reedy
      TE – Howard, Brate, Auclair
      OL – Solder, Smith, Jensen, Marpet, Dotson – Jones/Pamphile/Hawley/Benenoch/Wester

      DL – Bennett, McCoy, McDonald, Ansah – Chubb/Clarke/Nnadi/N Specne
      LB – David, Alexander, Beckwith – Bullough/Glanton/Bond
      CB – Grimes, Fuller, McFadden – VGIII/McClain/R Smith/J Robinson
      S- Evans, Mitchell – Conte/ I Johnson

      LS – Sanborn
      P – Anger
      K – Pineiro

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  5. I absolutely cannot agree more with the Fab 1. I’ve felt Licht overvalued the talent on the team the last 2 years. We’re not one or two players away from contending. There is a lot of work to be done and cutting dead weight and gaining cap equity for signing guys this FA will make or break his tenure as GM. His 2016 draft is a major anchor on the team right now. Our outlook on FA & the draft needs would look vastly different if he’d have gone DT, DE, DE or DT, DE, S or S, DT, DE in 2016. We’re playing catchup from that draft.

    Still, a lot to look forward to in the coming months. Fingers crossed we get some luck in FA and the draft.

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    • One of the key problems have been the failures in free agency. Had the Bucs paid for Calais Campbell instead of William Gholston and Chris Baker, I think you see a notable difference in some of those close games.

      It’s good to be able to see promising rookies at safety and strongside linebacker but you have to be able to supplement it with NFL talent from around the league who can contribute. You can’t have the epic failures Licht has had over his tenure and expect to compete in a division like this with people who know what they are doing.

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      • There have been some misses in FA at key areas. No doubt. Calais would have been nice, but his production wasn’t a guarantee. He was turning 31, had only averaged 7 sacks a season in Arizona and was commanding a huge contract. His cap hit this coming season is $17.5M! That is a ton of cap space for a soon to be 32 year old DE to eat up. He had a monster year, but he also played next to studs to help him get his numbers. Bucs don’t have anything on the DL like his situation in Jacksonville. We can’t assume his numbers would have been the same under Smitty’s scheme.

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        • roots – you hit on it. With our coaching, don’t see big improvements no matter we have. When Smith and Hays call for all the stupid line stunts that the players hate and which we know kills the pass rush, but they’re too stubborn to live and learn, then we will just produce the same results with different bodies.

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  6. Not bad Scottie. Some good advice for Jason.

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    • Cheveliar; agree with you.

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      • Although I will say seeing the “Trade McCoy” thing bout made me puke a lil. I get the premise, just couldn’t personally pull that trigger. I don’t think you get as much back as you lose with Gerald being Gerald in that locker room.

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    • cheveliar this is one of the best articles I have read in some time. About a RB to draft this year maybe I am missing something. The kid out on the west coast Penny has not been talked about IMO he looks good.

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      • No he mentioned him in another article. I’m on the Sony Michel campaign. Love for us to grab him with the early 2nd

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        • I don’t see him lasting until 2nd rd.

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  7. Scott; Fab 1,2 really good. Not turned on in signing Free Agents from 3-4 Defenses. Also I’m totally against signing Talib or Bennett as they will cause locker room issues. Rounds 1 & 2 should be DE’s. Maybe they might be a reach or not; the point is Koetter, Smith, Licht, know they have to improve the Pass Rush including signing a DE via Free Agency. This is the highest priority and fastest way to obtain additional wins; just my opinion.

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  8. Let’s see what the Meathead does. Let’s see what Koetter does. Some things have to change, right? This will be the first full training camp with an indoor facility. Will this allow Dirk to practice harder now that oppressive heat isn’t a factor? I think Dirk was a bit paranoid about the physical effects going to hard in the heat had on the players. Soon as it gets hot I’d hold all practices indoors except for one outdoor practice a week, just to stay used to the heat as you will need to come preseason on. No matter how they practice it won’t matter if talent isn’t brought in, and then coached up. I think we need to move on from McCoy. I don’t want to debate how good, bad important he is, he’s all those things. I just think it’s time for when the new parts of the D line come in there’s a different leader waiting for them. Get what we can or let him go either way it’s better for both parties to move on.

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  9. Outstanding Fab 5 SR, one of your best. I will add a bit of logic here:

    Licht is wearing a Roy Williams jacket.
    Roy is governed by planning for the worst.
    Therefore, Licht will heed your advice.

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  10. Draft Chubb with first pick. Draft C Billy Short with 2nd rounder. Sign Ansah and Lotuleli in Free Agency. Bring back Grimes and McDonald too. Ansah, Chubb, Gholston and Spence would be great on the edges! Lotuleli would be perfect next to McCoy and it would weaken a divisional rival at the same time! This would be a very good start at addressing the trenches and I don’t mind seeing the team pay GOOD money for Ansah and Lotuleli. Maybe go for Malcolm Butler if we miss on Grimes. And I’m ok with listening to offers for McCoy if it means we can draft someone like Mo Hurst in the 2nd round and draft Center Frank Ragnow in the 3rd.

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  11. It is fun to talk about the draft and free agency, but none of it matters much unless Winston develops into a franchise QB. Consistent play-off contenders have franchise QB’s, other teams do not. You can have a good season with a journeyman QB, but it never lasts, and you are always chasing that QB of the future. My heart really wants Winston to become the leader and offensive weapon that we all hope for, and my brain says there’s a 50/50 chance, but my gut says that it is not going to work out.

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  12. The Coughlin stuff was excellent SR.

    Licht is the anti-Coughlin. He should have been/should be the first to go.

    Devasher is all over it. The continuity we seek will come from not drafting busts or bringing in FA busts. Licht has had a slew of both. If the new players we bring in are worth keeping around it’ll go a lob way toward consistency.

    I don’t see how the Glazers sign off on bringing another batch of expressive 30+ year olds in just because the coach and GM have walked themselves onto the plank. We’re not playing for just this year we are trying to go on a multi- many-year run with our young QB and as noted we have too many holes to fill in one offseason. Let’s not bring in a bunch of players we’ll just have to replace in a year or two at the most; that dynamic plus Licht’s >50% bust rate is a prescription for disaster.

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  13. I’ve been saying the same thing countless times on numerous sites – great article! In my opinion, the Bucs need to go ALL IN on fixing both lines this offseason, bringing in 8 new faces to compete with the incumbents, improve the starters, and bolster the depth.

    Fix the trenches, fix the Bucs!!

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  14. The Glazers should hire their own Tom Coughlin. Pay someone from outside the organization who might help Jason Licht fix things. If you’re not going to subtract anyone for our past failures, at least add someone to help make better personal decisions moving forward. I wouldn’t put the full trust on Licht alone to get it done.

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  15. As I have said all along Licht was the culprit to our failed year. I hope he heeds your advice Scott. You have done a great job with this article. However my hope is that our DC suddenly realizes you were right when you proposed we need to switch to the 3-4 because the real strength of our defense is our Linebackers. Get an experienced huge Nose Tackle, keeping McCoy as our 3 technique end and get a 5 technique other end in Free Agency, put our two LSU LBs as our inside backers, with our other starting LB outside and our new pass rusher from the draft (second rd) as the other OLB, then on Offense get a LT with our first pick while we can so we can move our present LT to his best position LG, draft a Center in the third round, move our former All Pro Guard back to RG from Center, and start Dotson at RT. All of Your ideas for depth and reworking of of the backend of the defense would work great Scott. We do need Florida’s place Kicker too (who hit an 87 yard field goal in practice) and can kick the ball deep every time on kick offs and can kick long field goals too and let him compete with our present kickers. You also showed there are a lot of good DE’s in this draft. Take one who is 250 or lower pounds in a later round and move him to play outside LB for depth. Get a proven RB in the FA market.

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  16. This article speaks point black to the many issues of why Licht and Koetter have to think the worst to make the Buccaneers better this off-season. It is obvious the defense has the most work to be done. The Bucs need to find two more Cornerbacks in free agency capable of starting – in addition to Grimes, which may be difficult with cap space available. The Bucs have 23 Free Agents this year with their former contracts worth around $32,000,000 with $61,478,000 available. Cameron Brate, Charles Sims, Adam Humphries and Kevin Pamphile will be looking for a larger payday. With the limited cap space you are in almost a must situation to cut Baker, Sweezy and Martin. Which frees up around $17,000,000. Depending on the FA market it would be nice to see those four players stay in Tampa. Leaves around $40,000,000 in cap space. Which will leave two or three top tier FA signings. That makes drafting G Nelson so important. It is his style of play and he is the most dominant player coming out of college. Then draft the best available RB in the second round. Which means Licht needs to land a starting DE and CB in FA at all costs. Draft a CB in the third, then fill the trenches from there on out. Sign a third FA player at DT.

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  17. Every single player on the roster should be under consideration for cutting or trading, top to bottom, skill players and linemen, offense and defense. That does not mean 100% turnover, but nobody associated with Bucs management should approach this season with a sense of just a tweak here or there will get it done and produce a playoff team.

    Ditto with the coaching and GM. It’s still not too late for the baby Glazers to change their minds and fire Licht and the coaching staff. After all, they fired Dungy on January 14. But it also seems unlikely too.

    In any event, the dumpster fire that the 2017 season turned out to be should put every single person in the Bucs organization on the hot seat and subject to termination or trade.

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    • Great post. Winston’s the only untouchable IMO. For now. He’s just too young. Too much talent that we’ve already invested in him. We just gotta be real careful giving up on 1st round #1 picks until we’re much more sure that it’s time to move on.

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      • I’m not advocating getting rid of Jameis Winston. I AM in favor of putting him on a hot seat this coming season, along with every one of his teammates. We should also think hard about drafting a developmental quarterback in the mid rounds, because Fitz is probably only going to play another season, and I am not confident that our third stringer is NFL material, certainly not starting caliber. If Jameis is backed up only by an old guy on his last legs and a young guy who could never be starter, he’ll feel entitled. Nobody on this team should ever feel entitled, not when we’re stinking up the joint as the team did this past season.

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  18. I think one thing that deserves highlighting a bit more concerning the likes of Calais Campbell and Julius Peppers still doing it in their 30’s is they have tons of help and can rotate in situationally. Ayers being an every down DE is too much for an older player. But this absolutely supports SR’s point: We can’t be satisfied with what we think are 2-3 foundation players on D-line as we’ve done way too many times in the past. We need another couple of draft years like 2010-11 where we drafted McCoy & Price in a row, then Clayborn & Bowers the next. Only this time we need to hit on at least 3 of them instead of just 1 of them.

    I do like the idea of signing an LT like solder and moving Smith to RT where he probably should have been from day one. If we can do that, then I think we can go D-line first two rounds and get an RB in the 3rd. We should also sign Carlos Hyde or Dion Lewis if he’s a FA. I’ll even take Alfred Morris. We need somebody signed AND to draft an RB. Again, supporting SR’s point.

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  19. Raise your hand if you’re at (or long past) the nausea caused by all this Coughlin chatter (BOTH hands raised here). He is not a genius and if I could choose someone in Jacksonville’s front office to steal for our own it would (hands down) be GM David Caldwell. He beat Coughlin to this Jaguars rebuild by 4 seasons – yet its amusing Coughlin is largely the media & fan focus of the team’s amazing turnaround.

    Caldwell has been associated with the Panthers, the Colts (during their championships seasons), and spent five seasons as the Falcons director of player personnel prior to becoming the Jags’ GM in 2013. Caldwell was with teams that went to the playoffs in 13 of his first 17 NFL seasons. Doubt Coughlin can match that.

    I dont doubt Coughlin was a solid hire – imagine what the New York papers are writing about the Giants’ forcing him into resigning in Jan 2016. Then again, the G-men had a losing record his final 3 seasons as head coach and missed the playoffs the last four. Not so genius looking in 2016……at least according to John Mara and Steve Tisch.

    One more thing: the Jags defense has been better than ours for several seasons now, this is fact not opinion. Thus, when they added Calais Campbell it made more sense than us doing so. They were 1-2 players short of being a dominant defense, we were (and still are) 4-5 players short of a dominant defense. I dont fault Licht for not signing Campbell. GM’s miss more than hit on pass rushers over age 30.

    So Cal Buc Fan nailed it when he reminded us that we signed Michael Johnson away from the Bengals to BE THE MAN (also, see Alvin Harper, WR from several years ago on free agent hiccups), clearly Johnson was a talent but not THE MAN and Licht overpaid him, etc. I dont believe Campbell would have made any difference for us this past season, and I bet you a Culverhouse orange jacket that he wont match this season’s numbers in 2018.

    The Jags will see a first place schedule in 2018, including the NFC East, the Patriots, Steelers, and Chiefs. Then again, they play in the sad sack AFC South with the rebuilding Colts, the under achieving Texans, and overrated Titans. They made it thru this season with no major injuries which cannot be taken for granted, ever. They have drafted early (and well) the past 5 seasons so they’re young and should be competitive for several seasons to come; however, count on them being “circled” on opponents’ schedule in 2018

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