FAB 3. 5 Mistakes Licht Can’t Make In 2019

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht isn’t perfect. No NFL G.M. is, and Licht is no exception. He’s had his share of mistakes as well as his share of successes. In last week’s SR’s Fab 5, I chronicled how Licht made a mistake by not bringing J.R. Sweezy to training camp to battle with Caleb Benenoch and rookie Alex Cappa for the starting right guard spot.

Bucs RG Caleb Benenoch
Bucs RG Caleb Benenoch – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Licht and the coaches wanted either Benenoch or Cappa to take the job, and Sweezy was released prior to training camp in order to help make that happen. After missing the 2016 season due to a back injury and having a sub-par rebound season the next season that ended with a broken leg, Sweezy returned to Seattle this past season and wound up being a Pro Bowl alternate.

Aside from that gaffe, last year was a better year from a personnel standpoint for Licht, as I illustrated in my installment of the PR Roundtable this week. I think that’s a big reason why he stayed on in 2019. But if the Bucs are going to turn their ship around and steer towards the playoffs next year, there are some real pitfalls Licht needs to avoid when it comes to personnel.

The Big Takeaway
As he enters his sixth season as Tampa Bay’s general manager, here are five mistakes Licht can’t afford to make with the team’s personnel moves in 2019.

1. Don’t Expect RoJo To Rebound
Running back Ronald Jones II was a huge disappointment as a second-round pick last year, rushing for just 44 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries (1.9 avg.), as well as catching seven passes for 33 yards (4.7 avg.). Jones didn’t show any speed, decisiveness or good hands at any point during the preseason or the season.

Licht needs to treat Jones as a bust and re-sign restricted free agent Peyton Barber and draft another running back – even if it’s early. Memphis’ Darrell Henderson, who rushed for 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns with 19 catches for 285 yards and three touchdowns, and Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams, who rushed for 1,760 yards and 18 touchdowns with 27 catches for 278 yards and one TD, are two of my personal favorites. Henderson and Williams are every-down backs that have the speed and tackle-breaking ability that Jones failed to display in his rookie year.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones
Bucs RB Ronald Jones – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

If Jones does rebound and play up to his draft status then the Bucs have three talented running backs capable of running and catching the ball. If not, Licht will have tried to bring in an extra running back with talent as insurance. Perhaps a veteran like Isaiah Crowell, who could be released from the New York Jets, is someone to consider. Licht should have signed Crowell last year as a free agent.

2. Don’t Anticipate Winston Being The Future At QB
It’s okay for Licht to want Jameis Winston to step up in his fifth-year option season and for Winston to shed his label as a turnover machine and develop into a franchise quarterback, leading Tampa Bay to the playoffs for the first time. But Licht must realize that Winston will be learning a new offensive system for the first time in five years and there will be some growing pains with a new head coach.

Licht has to avoid the temptation of putting all of his faith into Winston and do what’s right, which is to draft another quarterback – perhaps even early – to safeguard the future of the franchise. Greg Schiano did the same thing in 2013 during Josh Freeman’s fifth-year option season, drafting Mike Glennon in the third round that year. That proved to be the right move as Freeman had a meltdown that nobody saw coming in 2013 and was cut before the midway part of the season.

The hope is that Winston, who passed for 2,992 yards with 19 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 90.2 QB rating in 2018, plays well enough to become the first drafted quarterback in Tampa Bay history that signs a contract extension. But Licht has to make sure that the Bucs are well stocked at quarterback with a player that is capable of taking over for the long term in case Winston falters or gets hurt in 2019.

3. Don’t Be Forced Into Keeping Smith Long-Term
Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith is a good left tackle – not a great one. Yet with Smith having played four years in the league with 64 consecutive starts, he’ll be paid like a great one due to the current NFL model. Smith is coming off a decent season, but didn’t play his best football in his contract year and that is worrisome for a player that is prone to having a few lazy plays per game – often at inopportune times.

Bucs LT Donovan Smith
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Outside of New England’s Trent Brown, the free agent market for left tackles is barren other than Smith, and the 2019 NFL Draft class features far more quality right tackles than it does left tackles. Locking Smith up to a long-term deal might seem prudent given the circumstances, but is it wise to give an inconsistent player $13 million per season with the comfort and security of a long-term deal? Is that going to make him a better tackle for the long haul?

Or is it better to place the franchise tag on Smith again, give him another contract year situation and hope a new offensive line coach and head coach can help the 25-year old take his game to the next level? The latter sounds more appealing, but Licht must give him and the Bucs another option by scouting hard and drafting a tackle this year capable of playing either the left or right side as a possible replacement in case Smith gets paid and gets lazy. Smith’s backup needs to be a potential starter – not Leonard Wester or Michael Liedtke.

4. Don’t Leave The Secondary Too Inexperienced Again
The Bucs made a huge mistake in re-signing 35-year old cornerback Brent Grimes, who had a really bad attitude in 2018 and it showed in his play on the field as he was often burned in coverage and attacked in the running game. Grimes was the lone veteran cornerback on the team and he often sucked on the field. The Bucs would have been better playing Ryan Smith all season and letting him get experience.

Smith and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who has only played in 10 games with nine starts over the past two years due to injury, are entering their fourth years in the league. But Licht can’t focus on that, as neither Hargreaves nor Smith has really established himself as a quality NFL starter. Nor can Licht look at the second-round draft status of Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart and think Tampa Bay is fine at cornerback. Neither Davis nor Stewart has picked off his first NFL pass, and Stewart really struggled at nickel cornerback. Licht needs to add a quality veteran starting cornerback to the secondary and let the young guys battle it out. Too often the Bucs’ secondary was too young and inexperienced.

Bucs SS Jordan Whitehead
Bucs SS Jordan Whitehead – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

It’s the same situation at safety where veteran Chris Conte, who was placed on injured reserve after Week 3, probably won’t be re-signed. Jordan Whitehead, the team’s fourth-round pick, started 11 games in place of Conte and played well, but didn’t force a single takeaway. Justin Evans has just 21 starts in his first two years and missed six games last year due to injury. He’s not an accomplished veteran yet. Licht would be wise to target a veteran like New York’s Pro Bowl strong safety Landon Collins if he doesn’t get the franchise tag. Collins would bring plenty of experience and playmaking ability to the secondary while young players like Whitehead, Evans and Stewart, who may be moved from cornerback to safety, continue to gain experience and develop.

5. Don’t Believe The Bucs LBs Will Be Healthy
Tampa Bay had some unreal luck last year at the linebacker position as Kendell Beckwith, who had an impressive rookie season playing the middle and strongside spots, didn’t play at all after breaking his ankle in an offseason car accident. That injury, combined with torn ACLs that afflicted starting middle linebacker Kwon Alexander and rookie strongside linebacker Jack Cichy, left Mark Duffner’s linebacking corps weak over the last 10 games.

Licht can’t hope that Alexander, Beckwith or Cichy will be ready to go by the start of the season. Whether it’s adding a cheaper starting-caliber linebacker in free agency or in the draft – even early – Licht has to shore up the linebacker crew for 2019. Even if all three players return from their lower body injuries this year, will they need a full season to round back into form?

Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith
Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The reality is that Beckwith has only played one season in the NFL, and Cichy, who tore an ACL in college, didn’t even make it through his rookie season. Licht needs to pretend as if the Buccaneers won’t have either player back in 2019 – or the long term – and act accordingly. If Beckwith bounces back this season and winds up starting and Cichy makes a speedy recovery, then great – the team has even more talent and competition at the linebacker position moving forward.

The FABulous Ending
Licht did a great job of throwing a ton of bodies at the defensive line last year, trading for Jason Pierre-Paul, signing Vinny Curry and claiming Carl Nassib at the defensive end position, while signing defensive tackles Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein and drafting Vita Vea. It’s a good thing Licht went overboard on the defensive line, as Unrein suffered a massive concussion in training camp that kept him out all season and Vea suffered a torn calf that cost him most of camp, all of the preseason and the first three games of his rookie season. Curry missed four games and only started seven due to a high ankle sprain.

Licht needs to go overboard on several more positions, including running back, linebacker, offensive line, quarterback and in the secondary in 2019 and continue to stockpile talent by not believing in the health and ability of some of the current Buccaneers. By duplicating what he did with the defensive line last offseason, the Bucs will only be deeper, more talented and more competitive in 2019.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

95 COMMENTS

  1. I think the free agents currently on the roster and future free agents are waiting to see who they get as a coach makes a big difference if they get a good coach or just another follow the orders coach also it doesn’t help that Desean is out there bad-mouthing Winston potential receivers are going to listen to him and that could hurt them getting any more receivers out of free agency.

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    • I know a lot of people give you a hard time bucassbob but I know you just want the bucs to win too like the rest of us.

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    • Luckily FA doesn’t start until March so it should be settled (of course not counting the side deals). Bucs should hold out on releasing DJack until the last minute when they need his salary or slot and hope someone is willing to pickup his contract for a 7th round pick – though doubtful. Sure he’s hoping it is sooner so he has more interest. Anyone would be nuts to sign him to half his salary, speed regardless. Wanted one WR who is a known cancer, selfish, who can’t run a consistent route despite years in the league.

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    • BUC-ASS-BOB, you make a valid point there. But, we don’t need any more WR’s right now, as long as they extend Humphries. So, valid but pointless. Awesome job. That is not an easy thing to accomplish

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  2. Wow and did anyone see what Grimes said on his wife’s show?! This organization just lets player do what the fuck they want. Koetter was soft as tissue and let players run all over him. He didnt want to shadow AB because he wasnt paid like someone who does?! Jesus what a shit show. We have players like him and mesean and people wonder why we only won 5 games. Jpp called it, there is some real fake ass players in this team. Problem is I dont think licht can see it. I mean why have mesean and Grimes punk ass still in the team? It worries me greatly that licht is still our gm.

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    • I think you have to be very careful about what Grimes says. Also, it really does not matter what he says because he is old and he is out in Tampa. They thought they could get one more year out of him – and the could not. He is a free agent now and he won’t be resigned by Tampa – or anyone else. That show was his last chance to say something and he just crapped on everyone. It is what he and his wife did in Miami as well. Didn’t you see what she said on her show then? “Miami is a classless organization that does not know talent,” don’t you know that?

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      • It does matter what he said. It shows a massive lack of accountability on this team. Yes him and his wife are known to be clowns about stuff like this, but this begs to a much deeper issue on this organization. Thay makes 2 highly paid players asked to do something and flat out said no. There is absolutely something to take away from this.

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        • So you are saying you trust what he says about Miami and Tampa? You are very trusting then for a guy who complains a lot (and his wife) about how unprofessional each organization is. You can read into it what you like – I expected this considering what happened in Miami previously.

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          • By the way, I don’t disagree about what JPP said. I just think both Grimes are completely classless and it is hard to trust them.

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          • Yes actually I do trust it 100% hes saying he didn’t play because of his contract, he has zero reason to lie about that. Hes making himself look bad so why even say that? Hes talking some crap on the coaching staff, but also saying why he didnt want to shadow brown. There is no reason for him to lie about that. Zero. You saw how koetter tip toed around mesean and you dont thonk this happened? I’m not reading into anything, I’m literally reading his words no sub context.

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          • I agree they are classless, but this is part of a bigger problem, but as you said, he won’t be around anymore so that’s good. But there was clearly a disconnect between players and coaches last year

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          • Yes, that I can agree with – but that disconnect I think was known already. Probably part of the reason Koetter was fired.

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          • I don’t see why it’s hard to trust what grimes has said about the bucs. Our team hasn’t been in the playoffs for over a decade now so is it really hard to believe that there might be some major issues that the team keeps away from the public?

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        • Give us a freaking break, cg – you are spouting nonsense.

          In his several seasons with the team, Grimes never made one negative comment about the Bucs, the coaches, his fellow players, the GM, or the owners. Now, on his way out the door, as virtually everybody knows he is retiring this year, he says some stuff, and you have got your teeny tiny panties in a massive knot.

          What a snowflake you are!

          SMH squared.

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        • I agree Grimes is an ass wipe, but he said something telling that I think people are missing. The DC Smith could not match his people to his scheme.

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    • I did see what grimes said..I’m sure there’s some truth to what he said but what’s also true is that grimes played like trash this year. Didn’t get paid enough to cover top receivers? Lol I’m glad he’s leaving along with his wife, he couldn’t cover top receivers anymore. Also, don’t be surprised to hear more about the bucs once Desean Jackson is moved..I think he’s also going to say something about the bucs too.

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      • While not a fan of Grimes’ attitude or some of the decisions he evidently made, have no problem with guys speaking out honestly. Prefer it actually if it sheds light on issues that are happening within the team or locker room. Am on the “OK with Licht for 2019” side, but his comment that they “have a great locker room” in his end-of-the-year interview with Casey Phillips rang a bit strange to me. Especially considering the JPP comments and what seems to be a brewing issue with GMC,Grimes’ comments, as well as Jackson’s situation which we’ll surely hear more about. While the overall vibe might be fine, there definitely seems to be enough disconnect within that “great” isn’t a word I’d use to describe it personally at least. Understand and try and lean on the positive side too, but lets “keep it real”, as JPP likes to say.

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    • In what universe do head coaches control what player say?

      Not in the real universe.

      Turn that around … how can Jason Licht allow Grimes to say such stuff?

      Or, how can the Baby Glazers allow Grimes to say such stuff.

      You guys are just so wrapped up in your stupid Koetter hate/Winston love that you spout nonsense nonstop.

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    • It’s not Lichts fault: “Sometimes it was Licht drafting promising players without the coaches seeing eye-to-eye on talent and having a specific plan for developing those players, other times it was the assistant coaches not effectively communicating what traits they favored in players, which led to a few unfortunate personnel moves.”

      What’s a GM to do?

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  3. My issue with Arians is that it looks good on paper, but is he going to come back with real fire with his age and health? I’m a Canes fan and watch Mark Richt come from Georgia and Canes fans thought this was the answer. He quit suddenly last week and shocked everyone. I’d go after a guy like Brent Venables, Clemson DC. Culture changer, fiery, best college DC in the country, young enough, but experienced. Tripling his salary may get him to move. I know everyone is in love with Arians, but I’m not so sure about the timing.

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    • I would hope that Licht and Arians have a backup plan because even if they hire him, they have to have someone in the wings to take over. If Arians is hired the most Tampa will get is three years, and that is if they are lucky. It is a short term solution at best. I would not be surprised they talk and he decides not to re-enter the NFL. It is a very hard job and he is past retirement age. There are very few coaches in their late 60s who are successful because of the amount of work involved. It is not impossible but their are obvious risks going in this direction – it is their job to figure it out.

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      • Solid point, though I’d take 3 years of a proven 2-time coach of the year over an unknown with the current state of the team. Would seem to be a given that an Asst HC would be added who could take the reins if anything were to arise, and would seem to be a perfect situation to grab a guy like Beinemy or Richard as that guy to get a couple years of tutelage under a guy like Arians. Kitchens seems like he’d be a logical choice too if he was allowed to interview, maybe with the Asst HC title available the Browns would be unable to block a move.

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        • Kitchens and Bienemy are both HC candidates themselves. Are the Glazers really going to pay full salaries for two HCs?

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          • Where are you guy pups getting the 3 year number? I know guys in their 80’s and 90’s that work 70 hour weeks.

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          • Being that the Glazers have fired multiple coaches over the last 10 years with years remaining on their contracts, and still paid them NOT to coach the team, yes I think they’d pay whatever’s needed for the right coaches to get them back to relevancy.

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  4. “Licht needs to go overboard on several more positions, including running back, linebacker, offensive line, quarterback and in the secondary in 2019 and continue to stockpile talent by not believing in the health and ability of some of the current Buccaneers. By duplicating what he did with the defensive line last offseason, the Bucs will only be deeper, more talented and more competitive in 2019.”

    While I don’t disagree at all with this, it also shows the shortfalls of what Licht has done. He threw everything he had at the defensive line and it did improve this year. He won’t be able to focus on four different position, although two are just one person (QB, RB) and two are multiple positions (Linebackers, offensive line). My guess is he will look at QB, RB, and the linebackers this offseason – and whatever he has left then focus on the offensive line. Not because he does not need to focus on it, but because there are only so many draft picks available and free agents – and Bell from the Steelers is not a viable answer for the reasons he gave in the article (there are no other worthwhile free agent QBs or RBs available – these are going to have to come from the draft).

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    • I just think he focused too much on offense in the early drafts.

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  5. I will be furious if we give Donovan Smith any kind of long term contract or the franchise tag. He’s terrible. He’s not a Top 15 left tackle. Teams that lost their starting tackle signed guys off the street mid season that played better than Donovan Smith. If they want to give him a prove it deal of like $8 million to play right tackle and move on from Demar who has lost two steps, I’d be on board with that. He’s not a starting left tackle and considering his laziness and inconsistency, I’d prefer just move on from him altogether. Some dumb team will give him a big contract in free agency…but that happens every year and those guys don’t work out. Let’s have it not be our mistake for a change.

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    • You know what they say…

      Your best ability is your avail-ability. Smith has started every game since drafted.

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      • great, he started all games and all that showed us is that he can’t be an elite tackle. Let him walk.

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        • Elite or bust, huh? There’s plenty of room on this team for a good player who is also a good teammate. Let’s hope the Bucs fix the real problems…RG, RT, RB on offense and DT, DE on defense.

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          • LT is a real problem..Donovan smith can stay healthy but he is not a good LT..let him walk.

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          • Elite or bust when you are talking about elite money yes. Salary cap league buddy. I’d be shocked if Smith is re-signed. He isnt in the top half of LTs yet thinks and says he is. Thats the attitude we need to rid. A real head coach will come in here and clean this mess up. Thats why the Glazers will finally focus on finding a HC with proven winning head coaching experience. They went after 2 proven guys last offseason and missed so they stuck with Dirk. Sucks for us. The guy hasnt a clue on what makes a team a team. Man I hope they hire a real coach this time. And if they dont take a DE in round one it will definitely be Smiths replacement. Half the price and an upgrade. Gota work the cap and rid the crap

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          • I understand it’s a salary cap league. Nate Solder went to the Giants last year in free agency. No pro bowls in his career. Average left tackle. 15.5m per(62m/4yrs). Donovan Smith earned 1.5m last year. Smith is gonna get paid and there isn’t a rookie in the draft that will be more prepared than Smith will be. Will earning more money make him better? No, but it won’t make him worse either. He is serviceable.

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          • And Nate Solder had a better season this year than Donovan Smith has ever had. Donovan Smith isn’t elite, he isn’t good, he isn’t solid. He’s BAD.

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  6. I hope we let Donovan smith walk..he seems like the kind of guy who would get paid and check out.

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    • Its a strong draft for defense, not offense and definitely not OT. That’s part of the reason the price tag for Smith is so high. It’s hard to find good tackles, much less elite ones. Give him a franchise tag or sign him to a reasonable deal with incentives. BPA at #5 and #39 is going to be a defensive player this year. Let’s hope the Bucs don’t fumble that fact.

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      • I’d much rather go with a franchise tag if we have to, I just don’t think Donovan Smith is the guy I want at LT..I’d be ok if he’d try out at rt maybe but after watching Smith this year I am more than ready to move on from him if we have to.

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        • Move on from him to who? A rookie? Someone else’s player that wasn’t retained?

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          • Anyone not named donovan smith? I’ve seen enough of the guy lol..Draft someone..sign someone..anything but keeping Smith at LT again is a mistake.

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          • Anthony Costonzo in Indianapolis makes about 11m/year. Donovan Smith is better and younger. I would put Lewan, Bahktiari, Tyron Smith, Okung, and Peters in the top 5. If the Bucs aren’t landing one of those guys, its better to stick with Smith IMO.

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  7. Jason Licht needs to sit down with the players individually and find out if they are here just to draw a paycheck or are they here to win. I think most of us can guess which ones are which. The players who just want a check or glory or whatever if its not winning the super bowl then they need to be traded for whatever we can get for them.

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    • Bullshit. That’s what tape and metrics are for. I wouldn’t ask any of them anything. He knows what plays were called and what the players responsibilities were on the play for every play of the entire season. If the players keep making the same mistakes, or are getting pushed over, then they got to go. Stop being a fan of McCoy’s “get off” and start holding him accountable to PERFORMANCE. He’s a nice guy, and Im sure we would all love to be friends with him, but as a dominating defensive leader, he has been crap for a decade.

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      • Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed LOL I am not on anyone’s bandwagon. I want the Bucs to win another super bowl bandwagon. It was reported earlier that Desean Jackson doesnt want to be in Tampa anymore so trade him and get a draft pick. Grimes needs to go and Im sorry but Winston is running for his life half the time because of OLAY smith. There are players who need to be cut there are some who could be traded for draft picks is all I was saying above.

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        • Didn’t mean to come off as grumpy. I just don’t think a one-on-one sit down conversation with each player to gauge the level of love for the game matters as much as on field performance.

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          • no problem…I want the bucs to win too….Maybe he doesnt need to gauge their love for the game but it would be nice to have a bunch of players who love playing the game and not just a bunch who wanna grab a paycheck. I would like to see some trades. Your right about the draft not being very strong on Tackles, but I dont think the draft list is complete yet, their are still a bunch of players trying to decide if they are going pro. Perhaps smith would improve under a better line coach.

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        • Winston DOESNT run. It’s a huge part of the problem. He’s too afraid of getting hurt, the shoulder last year and a hit low has made him very tentative. The Cowboys game he had all day rolled to his right with 4 yards right in front of him and got strip sacked from behind and returned for a TD. Look at his good games… he uses his legs. It’s just not as often as it needs to be.

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  8. This just came out on Yahoo! Sports. They listed all the coaches the teams are looking at and have interviews set up. I don’t think the Bucs list is complete as Pewter Report has some other names, but this is what they had on three coaches:

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    It’s hard to get ahead in the NFL when you switch head coaches so quickly. The Buccaneers’ next head coach will be their sixth in the last decade.

    Eric Bieniemy: The Buccaneers are the fourth of four teams Bieniemy is interviewing with; he declined the chance to meet with the Cardinals.

    George Edwards, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator: Mike Zimmer hired Edwards five years ago, when he was named head coach of the Vikings. Together, they’ve made Minnesota into one of the best defenses in the NFL, top-9 in points allowed in each of the last four years, including 2017, when the Vikings were No. 1 in points and yards allowed.

    Kris Richard: The 39-year-old Richard is also a former NFL player (six seasons as a cornerback for four teams), which usually helps with those he’s coaching because he’s been there.

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  9. I know Arians and his entire former coaching staff seems to make sense to the color-by-numbers crowd considering the connection between Licht and all of them, but isn’t this flawed thinking?

    First of all, why are they all available? Arians is one foot in the grave and had to step away for health reasons a few years ago. Everyone else was fired because of their respective results. Getting that band back together seems desperate and lazy. Before the “Buckner For DC” crowd gets their panties in a bunch, no, he hasn’t been fired. He wasn’t a difference maker though. JPP was the same JPP he always was. McCoy too. Spence too.

    Second, how does an Arians offense fix the Bucs problems? The Bucs already have a good offense. Any coach can come to Tampa and put up points with those players. They can run a vanilla scheme and score 27 every week. Its the turnovers and the defense that needs work. Arians doesn’t check that box.

    Last, if the Bucs need to hire an heir apparent to Arians before he even gets here, why(WHY!?) would they even consider this move? It just seems counterproductive.

    The Bucs have always needed (and obviously continue to need) a disciplinarian like former coach Greg Schiano. He is the only kind of guy that will ever get anything out of this lazy group of linemen(offense and defense).

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    • sorry to say Schiano had his chance and got fired. Tony Dungy wasnt really a disciplinarian and it was his TEAM that won the super bowl.

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      • Tony Dungy was absolutely a disciplinarian.

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        • And as a Bucs fan, shame on you to give Gruden’s championship to Dungy.

          Malcolm Glazer and Rich McKay gave two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks, and a suitcase filled with 8m to secure Gruden’s services from Oakland. Gruden reshaped the team. He brought in Pittman, Jurevicious, Dudley, Oben, Dilger, Jenkins, Spires and McCardell while letting key players leave, like Warrick Dunn and Donnie Abraham. Monte Kiffin obviously remained under contract and called the defense.

          Related: It would be nice if Monken could stay and run the offense while a defensive minded coach could come in and reshape the defense.

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          • what about Sapp brooks and company on D, they didnt have anything to do with winning that super bowl? LOL Tony built that D. He also went to the Colts and won a super bowl there. Gruden never repeated. Yes Gruden did a few things on offense but the Bucs payed a very heavy price for him and the offense did not win the super bowl it was the Defense that was already on the team before that trade that won.

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          • Rich McKay built that D. Sapp was drafted when Sam Wyche was the coach.

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          • Brooks and Sapp drafted in 1995. Lynch in 1993. Dungy named the coach in 1996.

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          • Also, Dungy inherited Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Edgerin James in 2002 when he took over for the Colts. Ultimately he lost in the first round of the playoffs(as usual for Dungy).

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          • my bad…it was Rich Mckay, Monte Kiffin, Tony Dungy that built most of the defense on the winning super bowl team. Im not sure but it was probably Mckay who signed offensive FA’s and drafted some in 1996, and yes your right about Sapp and Brooks being drafted before Dungy. But Gruden inherited a very good defense and he might of tweaked the offense but it was the defense that won the game. Dexter Jackson was the Super bowl MVP. good chatting with you but gotta go away for awhile. Catch you some other day

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          • I like Dungy a lot too. He was a disciplinarian, even if he was soft spoken. Their toes weren’t on the line, but their jobs were if they were late to meetings or practice, fell asleep during meetings, or didn’t perform. He didn’t yell like Schiano, because he didn’t have to. He commanded respect. Gruden also commanded respect.

            Good conversation. Pick it up again some other article.

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          • Donnie Abraham was already gone. Ronde and Brian Kelly were our starting CBS. We had Brad Johnson already and Keyshawn plus the entire defense n Monte Kiffin who was the foundation to that team. It took them until November to get the offense even going.He dumped Brad Johnson but was the key to TB offense. Underrated player – made Pro Bowls with Minnesota and Washington- was beating us 13-0 in 99! vs Wash.. Brad Johnson was accurate and professional…with the Jeff Garcia exception, he tried thinking he could win with any QB ever. Desperate to prove he’s the ultimate “ QB” whisperer.Every week it was someone new .They let Sapp n Lynch go who were TRUE leaders. Lynch still was productive with Den n Sapp had 10.5 sacks with Oak.Rich McKay built that team.

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    • You want a Schiano clone?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      • I don’t know about a clone of Greg Schiano or even Greg Schiano himself, but I know one thing: Under Raheem Morris, Lovie Smith, and Dirk Diggler the players seem to be having too much fun losing and collecting a paycheck. As a fan, that has SUCKED. So if that means that “Mr. Apology” GMC and other fun guys need to get their toes on the line to win football games, then put their damn toes on the line.

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        • Agree.

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  10. Whatever I think of Grimes as a professional I think there is something to what he has said. I take what JPP has said even more so because of the ethic he has displayed. He definitely practises what he preaches.

    Koetter was fired because he was not a successful NFL head coach. He failed to instill a winning culture. This showed up in his coaching assistants’ failures. He should have replaced Mike Smith, Nate Kaczor, George Warhop and Brett Maxie during the off season last year. Koetter needed to be tougher and not accept the status quo after the 2017 season.

    The team did play with desire and commitment to Koetter. The team failed on discipline, consistency and getting the best out of the talent supplied. I regard all of these things as coaching problems.

    We will now see how a new regime handles many of the same cast.
    __________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  11. $14 million for Donovan Smith??? You must be kidding me! He is among the bottom 15 in the league at LT, not top 15. I would let him walk. In my opinion Smith is emblematic of the mediocrity that has been allowed to flourish in this organization for way too long. Let some other under achieving franchise be duped into overpaying for him, but this time not us.

    Licht also failed miserably, in my opinion, to renegotiate the final year of Jameis’s contract. In light of his off-field issues and inconsistent play when he came back as a starter, Licht had all the leverage in the negotiation and should have been all over that contract. He should have got Jameis to agree to cut that salary in half. He is not worth $20 million per season as a QB, although he did play much better down the stretch and certainly deserved to be brought back.

    As for Gerald McCoy, great guy, but he is past his prime and at $13 million the salary cap room is needed elsewhere. I have also never really felt he set the right tone for a Bucs defense, he’s just too respectful and too nice. Give me the menacing presence of #99 any day. I used to love the way Sapp would do his warm up through the oppositions lines, pure intimidation. You would never get that from Gerald.

    Saving $27 million on Smith and McCoy is a start. The basic principle should be to reward those who deserve to be rewarded and be ruthless in cutting those who don’t deserve to be here. This organization needs to turn over a new leaf fast. It has had a weak mind set since Gruden left, really stemming even earlier from the unfortunate illness which deprived us of the leadership of Malcolm Glazer. The ownership group subsequently have failed miserably in their recruitment, both in the front office and in the HC department and those personnel failures have permeated the organization at every level. Elite franchises, like the Patriots, do not tolerate mediocrity and under performance like the Bucs, nor do they reward it.

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    • Just an FYI…The Bucs couldn’t renegotiate Winston’s contract for less money. Licht had NO LEVERAGE. They picked up the 5th year option in March of 2018. The only way to renegotiate any guaranteed contract is to offer a new one. Jameis would have to agree to it also. So unless the team is extending Winston to a long term deal, you just let this one play out and then NEXT YEAR, you can negotiate based on market value and past performance.

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    • Exactly right as to Winston, the deal was made on his rookie contract and the only decision was whether to pick it up. Arguably, you could have traded him, but you open negotiations you have to extend him which I doubt either side wants at this point. Question – McCoy’s salary is not guaranteed and doubtful he gets 13 million salary at this age from anyone. Once the new HC evaluates the roster and determines if he still has the ability to be a serviceable starter or rotational starter, you could easily restructure an amount he would accept into a signing bonus, spread it out 2-3 years and have the actual salary be as low as NFL minimum which doesn’t count against the Cap. Not to mention bonus money if he winds up healthy, out-performs, etc. The experts always say a team doesn’t allow a player to leave they really want, and on McCoy’s side, can he find a team who will make the playoffs once or twice as his career comes to an end as he has made (and apparently kept) plenty of money. Again time will tell how a new HC evaluates, what scheme a new DC employs for all these FA’s.

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  12. Holdout wanting money you’ve earned now you’re a locker room problem. That’s complete BS! I would put money on him being a great teammate. The Bucs LOVE players that won’t cause a ruckus the ones that won’t speak up when grimes is crying cus his old ass isn’t getting more money to do his job, or confront a fat ass DT who jumps offsides to lose a game then laugh about it. Unlike the cancerous players you named Bell knows what it’s like to win this isn’t a claim that he’s perfect to you losers but our offense would be virtually unstoppable if we keep opposing offenses to just 18-20 points per game we’ll have a great chance at making the playoffs. To say no just because of a holdout and the drama that ensued after is awful our locker room isn’t close to that shitshow in Pittsburgh Bell was about to get used and tossed to the wolves and you’re punishing him for noticing it. He’ll get a fresh start and players that’ll gravitate towards him.

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    • When Leveon Bell signs with a team, they will be getting a player who won’t have the same line or system he had in Pittsburgh and who hasn’t taken a hit or handoff in almost two years for 17m/year. HARD PASS. That’s a very risky situation that sets the franchise back 5 years if he’s a chump.

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  13. Here’s your 10-point offseason plan Jason:
    1) Get Arians

    2) we have the 5th overall pick…solving the Donovan Smith issue is not hard, let him go as a FA and select whichever of Little or Williams you prefer.

    3) not paying Smith $14m, means we can keep GMC for $13m and can release some cap space on all of the backup DTs we have. While GMC is 31, his production dwarfs that of Smith as LT and Unrein ($4m cap saved), Allen ($5m cap saved), and Gholston ($4m cap saved) as DLs. Would you rather have GMC (1 year removed from a pro bowl) backed up by 2 rookies/low-cost FAs; or Allen Gholston and Unrein?

    4) this draft is deep at CB – if (and it’s as big an if as there ever was) Licht can finally figure out how draft someone in the 2nd round, we could add a quality CB (maybe a guy like Trayvon Mullen is still there, or Amani Oruwariye – there will certainly be better talent available at pick 39, than last year when he reached and missed on Stewart with the 53rd pick)

    5) go after Tyrann Mathieu to roam the secondary (an Arians guy)

    6) add 2 more OLineman through the draft (a 3rd round OG can still be quite talented – i.e., correct the Gabe Jackson 3rd round miss finally – maybe a guy like Lindstrom from BC is still available) and/or FA, where there are some reasonable players available (e.g., Bobbie Massie).

    7) re-sign Humphries – Winston loves throwing to him and that’s worth the $5m.

    8) Don’t break the bank on Alexander (I like him of course, but the position is diminished in importance, and you cannot get caught up in “caring too much” again)…in 2019 the hybrid-LB is becoming more in bloom (think Jabrill Peppers)…Alexander is not great in pass defense and we could look for a hybrid at some point (finding a faster, somewhat undersized MLB in the 4th round is exactly what we did with Kwon in 2015, and in the 6th round with Cichy last year…try it again), using Beckwith and/or Cichy in the interim.

    9) don’t toss out RoJo yet…I find it a little hard to move on from the guy when he only touched the ball 30 times all year. Yes he was terrible, but that’s a very small sample size…let’s actually get him in the game (maybe give him meaningful pre-season reps) before we move on.

    10) add a veteran RB just in case…how about TJ Yeldon (he’s perhaps closer to RoJo’s style than the bruising Barber…maybe he can give him some pointers)

    That should all be very reasonably achievable. It improves the 2 weakest aspects of our team (secondary and OL), gets us depth at RB, and retains keys FAs. Yes there are a bunch of other/cheaper FA issues to deal with (e.g., Alan Cross and so forth)…do those as you can on the cheap.

    Make it happen.

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    • Some good thought out stuff in your list. Really like #9. Guy had limited carries behind a poor line and needs some time to work on his hands.

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    • I agree with point #7. The rest…not so much. I won’t harp on any of your points except one…

      GMC has never been a dominant player. Name ONE game that his performance was the key to the contest. He’s been in Tampa for 8 years and has ZERO signature plays. None. He will look great in a Bills uniform. Buh-Bye.

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      • A couple thoughts:

        1) if we get rid of GMC, we still need to find a replacement- is that going to be Beau Allen..I’d rather have McCoy. If it’s going to be in the draft, then solving both CB and OL (two areas I consider much more worrying) becomes quite difficult. Is there a better DT in FA that we should try to lure to town?

        2) saving the $13m doesn’t matter if we’re under the cap. Unless Licht completely abandons his tendency, we aren’t going to spend big in FA. So, cutting McCoy would only make sense if we thought Beau Allen or a FA was an improvement.

        3) I understand you’re struggling to recall his impactful games (he is DT and that’s not always a highlight reel position)…I would recommend just relying on his colleagues who voted him to 6 straight pro bowls and 3 All pros. They noticed whatever it is he’s doing that’s impactful.

        There are lots of ways we could go – I think fixing the OL and secondary are really important this off season. If we don’t, I think 2019 will be a long season.

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        • The last time McCoy played in all 16 games was 2013. His sack numbers have fallen every year since he got 9.5 in 2013. The last 2 years he has had 6.0 sacks.

          The excuse was always that he didn’t have any help. He was facing constant double teams and triple teams supposedly.

          Last year the Bucs added Vea, Nassib, and JPP of course. GMC results? Worse than the previous year…same number of sacks(6.0) but less tackles for a loss(from 13 to 6) or tackles in general(47 to 28). He wasn’t the best lineman on his own team, much less the rest of the league.

          Think about it like this…If he was a Patriot, they would trade him or release him. The Patriot Way. I remember Vince Wilfork going to the Texans. Wlfork started all 16 games for 8 of 9 years in NE. He was truly a beast.

          GMC must GO.

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          • I understand the Belichick approach – but what you’re forgetting is that Bill lines up replacements before he moves on from a guy. Even if McCoy is aging, if we cut him, who is going to play DT better? Is Lining up Vea and Allen better than Vea and GMC? I don’t think so, and since cap has never been an issue for Licht (as he’s allergic to FA spending), how would cutting McCoy make us better? Maybe there’s a point to be made that we should start planning now to cut McCoy next year…take this year and look for the Carl Nassib of DTs on practice squads, draft a 7th round project NT (and eventually move Vea to 3T)…I’m okay with that plan, but cutting GMC now would just seem to make us worse now.

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  14. I am all in on the Arians hire, especially if he brings Bowles and Kitchens with him to run the defense and offense respectively. I saw Arians say that he would not be calling plays if he comes back and that makes it even more important to get a guy like Kitchens to come with him.

    Also, this is just a random idea I have not sure if its actually plausible or not. But I think it’s a real possibility that another team offers Humphries 4 years at about the 7-8 million/year mark where we may only willing to go 3 years at 5 million/year. So, if we lose Humphries and have Arians as a head coach what do you guys think about bringing Larry Fitzgerald in as that slot role/veteran leader on the offense? He could be a big part of the change of culture we all want.

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    • Fitzgerald has said he wants to finish out with cardinals.

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  15. This Grimes article is all on Licht. You signed him, you kept him. If Licht doesnt get a real coach in here like Arians say goodbye to attendance next year. I am waiting Licht. I can spend 2500 dollars a lot of other ways.

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    • Isn’t Grimes on Smith and Koetter? Licht signed him at the coaches urging.

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  16. Director of player personnel Spytek and director of scouting Biehl should be rewarded for the job they have been doing: Getting a Blood Angel done to them. Then drawn and quartered and fed to the sharks.
    After all we have had all of those fabulous high draft picks like Aguayo and Jones II and the legion of others too long to list. Major reason for ultra lousy performances- Yep.
    You might actually fill RJ to watch.

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  17. Whoops! In my excitement it is not Blood Angel but Blood Eagle.

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  18. Assuming we don’t trade down, you want to waste 2 of our 7 picks on a QB and RB? In this weak QB draft? That is the biggest mistake Licht could make. OL, DL, CB give us best value long term and should be the only thing we consider this draft. Case closed. Pick up a free agent RB on the cheaper side.

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  19. How does resigning D.Smith, Kwon Alexander coming off an ACL, Humphries, for more money make them play better? We’ve won ten games with all off them, Brate included the last two years. So paying these same players more money will all of a sudden make us win more? Did Brate have a better season in 2018, then he did in 2017 because we gave him 7 million a year? No it was worse. Will D.Smith get better with a bigger paycheck, will Kwon coming off an ACL? The answer is NO! I don’t care what Reynolds says anymore, Kwon wasn’t playing that good before his injury. Missed tackles, didn’t fill the right gaps, had a hard time in coverage. This does not jibe with the fact that we had one of the worst defenses in the NFL, and again with all Lichts fantastic F.A. signings, and high draft picks could not muster one more win on the season. To me they’re all expendable, Licht most certainly at the top of the list.

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    • I will answer your question.

      How? One word. Continuity.

      Players in their first contract have room to grow. Changing scheme and leadership might help. Signing D.Jax was always a mistake that would hamstring Humphries and the emerging offenses development. It was also gonna put extra pressure on Winston and the OL to give time for long bombs to DJax to develop. The BUcs should have signed a thumper like Latavius Murray instead and given the OL a chance to runblock and given Winston a solid rushing attack. Kwon regressed last year but he’s a downhill player, not a coverage linebacker. New scheme fixes him too, as long as the knee is ok.

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    • Don’t need many players. Need coaches.

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  20. IDK what Jones would look like in space, where he excels because he never got there. IDK what Smith would look like w/ good coaching or at RT, where he was evaluated to play his best. I take exception to SR’s statement for Licht to find players that fit scheme. This was Mike Smiths greatest failing in my opinion. It separates good teams from bad. Coaching to a players strength, not trying to fit a player into your scheme. Watch Bradley Mcdougald play for the Seahawks this weekend. Mahomes is good, having Andy Reid makes him great. How much better do you think Marpet was at RT then at Center or LT? Examples are everywhere. Sure, a coach comes to a team & brings an identity to that team. But good coaching pulls that identity from their players, not their notebooks.

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    • My Bad, Marpet was at RG & LG not T. Still, besides the typos, I still feel the point is sound. Unfortunately bourbon seems to kill brain cells.

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      • Yes, but makes the mundane more bearable

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  21. 1. Hire A Coach To Replace Koetter
    – If not Arians because of health then make him VP of Football Operations.
    2. Align Personnel With Coaching Philosophy
    -Great coaches align their schemes to fit the personnel they have and add their kind of guys as they go
    along.
    3. Create Salary Cap Room
    -Get rid of all players that were having fun while losing.
    4. Figure Out If Smith Gets An Extension Or The Franchise Tag
    – make him a guard and offer him a guard’s franchise. Gives him a year to prove he can play the position.
    5. Offer Contracts To Alexander, Humphries And Santos
    – Agree although I think Beckwith is a better MLB. I would add McCoy (unless it’s proven he was part of #
    3 above) because I don’t know where we could replace his talent in the short term.

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  22. Malcolm Glazer

    “Leadership comes from the top and then down. Not the other way around.”

    Businessman, Professional Sports Team Owner. At age 15, Glazer took over the family’s watch-parts company, which was only worth $300.00 at the time, following the death of his father. He started the growth of his business by buying several trailer parks in the 1970s and later, became president of the First Allied Corporation, which specializes in the ownership of shopping centers located throughout the United States. His first step into the sports world was in 1995, when he purchased the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a staggering $192 million, at that time a world record fee, and turned the fortunes of the team around. Under his ownership, the Buccaneers franchise earned seven playoff berths, five playoff wins, and in 2002, captured its first Super Bowl championship. In 2005, Glazer purchased Manchester United Football Club. Since then, the club captured five Premier League titles (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013), as well as the 2008 Champions League title. Glazer died of natural causes three days after his 86th birthday.

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  23. Please don’t sign Smith to long term contract. He is not good. I can’t believe we can’t do better for 13 million per year.

    How is Noah Spence on this team still? Guy couldn’t do anything in pre season playing against 3rd and 4th string players. Crazy how bad he is for whatever reason.

    Grimes and his wife are idiots and garbage.

    Please hire Arians. Nobody else available is proven.

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  24. I always read the Fab 4 plus 1 on Saturday mornings. First thing I do is see how many comments, which tips me off that the article may be more or less controversial. Eighty plus made me think there must be some political or religious reference, but alas, the number of comments was due to the on-line conversations between Bucs’ fans. Some of you folks must not have “spit” to do. Wish I was so fortunate. I always seem to have a Honey Do List that rarely includes “Relax”.

    I am on record as thinking our best choice for HC is Bruce Arians. We need someone who has immediate respect and credibility. Let him “right the rudderless ship”.

    In spite of Donovan Smith’s inconsistent play, he’s at least serviceable. There will not be a better LT in free agency. Wouldn’t mind drafting a true LT and moving big #76 to the RT spot.

    I have been a Brent Grimes fan since his days in Atlanta. I often marveled at his skills even as he aged. Those skills may still be there, but his desire to use them faded quickly this past season until the Falcons game last week. So now we learn that he was unwilling to cover the opponent’s top WR because he wasn’t “getting paid” enough even though he agreed to his salary. Knowing that, why wasn’t he sent packing like any of us would be if we displayed the same attitude at work? And that’s the “culture” that needs changed.

    I’m hoping the new coaching staff can resurrect the careers of some players who have not lived up to their draft position and/or salary. Players like Ron Jones, Cameron Brate, Donovan Smith, Ryan Jensen, Noah Spence, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Vern Hargreaves and perhaps Jameis Winston. Doing so would allow Jason Licht to save his own career beyond 2019. If not, it will be hard to justify retaining our GM unless the roster and won-loss record improve drastically.

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    • Scubog, I can understand why the Glazer’s kept Licht because of fear of the situation getting worse rather than looking at it as the possibilities it could get much better. Licht has his last chance to make it better; I hope he has the strength to make some major releases and trades. This is the time for Licht to take chances as long as it doesn’t put the Bucs in future salary cap restrictions. Go Bucs!

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  25. Retaining the same players for more money because they are serviceable, or for continuity, makes zero sense. continuity, as in continue to keep losing? The Bucs need to do something they’ve never done before, use a first round pick on the O line. Williams from Alabama should be the pick. We can’t afford to pay D. Smith 14 million a year. If we did we’d have 45 million in cap devoted to the same left side of our line that under performed last year for less, how would that make us better? Let some other team set Smith’s market value, Licht over pays for every F.A. he’s ever signed. Did the Ravens miss Jensen this year? Only Licht is stupid enough to throw big money at average players. It’s time to stop that nonsense starting with Smith, and Alexander. We over paid for Brate. Rookie T.E.’s making a couple of hundred grand out played him this year. The Bucs are the very definition of insanity.

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    • Nope. All defense in the first 3 rounds unless a stud RB falls in their lap in the 2nd or 3rd.

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  26. Licht’s to do list? OOOOOHHHH GGOOOOODDDD!!!!!!!!!

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