FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• While the Bucs were essentially robbed of their bye week thanks to Hurricane Irma prompting the NFL to postpone the Tampa Bay vs. Miami game to Week 11, the team is looking for positives heading into its season opener this Sunday against Chicago.
“If you are looking for positives the fact that they won’t have any season tape to watch of us is a positive,” Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson said. “They don’t have much to go off of except for the preseason stuff and we didn’t put a lot out there. We’ll get to watch more of them because when Sunday comes they will put everything on the table to try to win a football game.
“The real disadvantage may not even be not having the bye week [in November], but we can come out rusty because he haven’t played in three weeks now. There are some pros and cons to it. At the end of the day we have to be professionals and take it for what it is. We can’t control the weather. We’ll just have to come back and play when they tell us to play. We can’t have any excuses.”
Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries also saw some silver linings to an early, unexpected bye week.
“Happy Bye Week,” Humphries said with a smile. “Anytime you have extra time to prepare for an opponent it’s an advantage, no matter when it comes. To get a little extra time off your feet and sit back and watch your opponent and watch other teams that you will play later in the season, it’s an advantage. Regardless, it was a situation we couldn’t control. We’ll use this week to get our legs back after camp and watch some football.
“We’ve already prepared for Miami, so we’re going to have to lock that away until Week 11, and of course some things will change personnel-wise, but not scheme-wise. The good thing is that before we’ll have played a game we’ve already studied for two opponents.”
In fact, the Bucs coaches got together on Sunday and Monday to not only watch the Dolphins vs. Bears game, but also the Vikings vs. Saints game. Tampa Bay plays at Minnesota in Week 3.
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• Tampa Bay signing Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward was an unexpected bonus prior to the start of the season. Bucs safety Chris Conte welcomed Ward’s addition.
“For us, it’s just keeping doing your job and stay focused,” Conte said. “It doesn’t change anything for me personally. I’m going to show up and do my job the same way I always have. He’s got a history of being a good player and he can help our team, so adding a player like that does nothing but help. It’s a good thing for our team and the direction we want to go.”
Don’t be surprised if Ward is inactive for the Bears game as he is still learning the playbook and will have only practiced for three days prior to Tampa Bay’s game against Chicago on Sunday. With good communication a must in Mike Smith’s defense, one wrong call can lead to a touchdown for the Bucs’ opponent. Ward must master the terminology before he steps on the field as a starter and that will take more than a week’s worth of practice to accomplish.
• With everyone in the state of Florida recovering form the effects of Hurricane Irma, I urge you to take the time this week to support PewterReport.com’s advertising partners – many of whom are local businesses owned and operated by Bucs fans. Now more than ever, I need you to click on their banner ads to show your support for our efforts here at PewterReport.com, visit our advertising partners’ websites and become a customer or client. Please rally behind these great Florida companies and dine at their restaurants, and purchase their products or services. Thank you for your support.
• Defensive tackle Chris Baker will play a big role in Tampa Bay’s defense this year despite getting a negative rap on Hard Knocks for not liking to practice. The Bucs knew that Baker was not big into practice before the team signed him, which is why only this year’s salary is guaranteed. But the Bucs believe he’ll show up on Sundays, which is why they signed the talented 320-pound run stuffer.
“I think a lot of the things that we portrayed on Hard Knocks – it’s TV,” Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald said. “It’s not so much exaggerated, but it’s focused on and keyed on. They could be saying he’s not a hard worker, but when I’m watching film on him in Washington he’s clogging up the gaps and shooting up the field. He’s doing that here, too. A certain perception becomes some people’s reality – if they perceive you to be good or bad, a hard worker or lazy, that becomes people’s reality. I think on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays when it comes down to it, I think this guy will be ready to play.”
• Speaking of Hard Knocks, undrafted free agent middle linebacker Riley Bullough was a surprise star of the show because of his intensity. While he didn’t make the Bucs’ 53-man roster, he did earn a spot on the practice squad. Tampa Bay defensive tackle and team captain Gerald McCoy wasn’t surprised.
“Riley knows the defense better than anybody and that’s what is going to keep him around,” McCoy said. “He’s always on edge. He loves the game and loves to play. Everything you guys have been seeing on TV is real. He’s like that every single day in the locker room, in the meeting room. I can hear him yelling. Coach Smith will say, ‘Hey, call out the strength and call this out in the meeting room,’ and Riley is yelling it out. Golly, buddy! That’s him.”
• According to the odds maker website Bovada, Jameis Winston’s chances of becoming the NFL MVP went from 66:1 on June 22, 2017 to 16:1 by the end of August, which was the biggest jump of any player. The reason? Winston’s exposure on Hard Knocks, of course.
• When Tampa Bay takes the field against Chicago on Sunday it has a chance to extend its winning streak to five at Raymond James Stadium, dating back to last year’s four-game winning streak at home.
“It’s most important,” Bucs linebackers coach Mark Duffner said. “As we like to say, there’s no place like home. That’s where all the focus has to be. The most important game is always our next game, but to establish a tradition of winning and winning championships you have to win at home. That’s our house and you hear people talk about defending our house. It has to be more than words. It has to be action – an action that this group embraces. I think our group understood that at the end of last year and that it will carryover into this year.”
Not only is winning on Sunday important in terms of continued home-field advantage, it also greatly aids Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes. Teams that start the season 0-1 only make it to the postseason roughly 25 percent of the time.
“It’s real important to start fast at home this year,” Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith said. “Coach is always saying that we need to start faster and we need to be more consistent in doing that. It’s important to do that because it gives you that energy early. That helps so you don’t have to gather it midseason when other teams already have it. The more energy the better.”
• If you haven’t already, make sure you read the PewterReport.com staff predictions for the Bucs’ 2017 record. You can read mine here, Trevor Sikkema’s here and Mark Cook’s ambitious record prediction for Tampa Bay here.
And make sure you read PewterReport.com’s 2017 Pewter Predictions to find out who we think will be Tampa Bay’s MVPs and Most Improved Players this year. You can read that story right here.
• I recently read Martin Fennelly’s Tampa Bay Times column about Lovie Smith’s return to Tampa when his Illinois team faces USF at Raymond James Stadium – two days before his former teams, the Bucs and the Bears, battle in Week 2 of the NFL season. Smith, who is still getting paid millions by the Glazers this season and has former Bucs Hardy Nickerson and Donnie Abraham on his staff, was credited by Fennelly for a few things that he didn’t quite do, so a little fact checking is in order.
Fennelly wrote: “Smith’s hiring by the Bucs made sense at the time. He brought stability, at least as much as you can while going 2-14 your first season. In his first draft, he took Mike Evans, now one of the best receivers in the NFL. In his second draft, he took [Jameis] Winston, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Kwon Alexander.
“Did Smith make bad signings in free agency? Yes. But [Jason] Licht was in on those, too. Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson come to mind, as does quarterback Josh McCown, though two other teams have hired McCown at quarterback to do exactly what Smith hired him to do.”
While Smith might have pined for free agents like McCown and Johnson, he had little to do with the draft, which was handled by Licht, former director of player personnel Jon Robinson and current director of college scouting Mike Biehl. Licht was on Winston’s trail dating back to his time in Arizona before Smith even considered him to be an option for the Bucs in the 2015 draft. And Licht and the scouts knew about Marpet and Alexander long before Smith even knew who they were.
It’s a little disingenuous to suggest that Smith gets more credit than Licht and the Bucs scouts do for the recent successes of Tampa Bay’s drafts. The Glazers certainly know better, opting to keep Licht and the front office intact while canning Smith after two dreadful seasons.
If Smith, who is one of the worst coaches in Bucs history, deserves credit for anything it is hiring Licht, putting such a terrible product on the field in 2014 that it put Tampa Bay in position to draft Winston first overall and hiring Dirk Koetter, his eventual replacement, as the offensive coordinator in 2015.
• After a week off due to Hurricane Irma, the Pewter Nation Podcast returns Sunday night following the Bucs vs. Bears game with post-game analysis. And don’t miss the debut of PewterReport.com’s weekly Pewter Preview and Predictions column on Saturday, September 16. The Pewter Preview and Predictions columns are authored by Mark Cook, Trevor Sikkema and yours truly and are up on PewterReport.com every Saturday morning to preview the upcoming Bucs game.
• And finally if you are ever in an accident or are hurt due to someone else’s negligence, there’s only one person to call – attorney Jim Holliday of the Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, which is the official personal injury law firm of PewterReport.com. I’ve known Holliday for years and he’s a personal friend of mine. He’s an incredibly knowledgeable, personable attorney and I highly recommend him. He’s a big Bucs fan, too.
Check out the video below for more information on his practice. Call Holliday for a free consultation at (813) 868-1887 or visit the Holliday Karatinos Law Firm on the web at HelpingInjuredPeople.com