Bucs WRs Russell Shepard and Mike Evans - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs fans and SR’s Fab 5 readers showed their appreciation for Bucs wide receiver Russell Shepard, who has touchdown catches in back-to-back games and serves as Tampa Bay’s hype man, and for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who helps the Bucs’ young offensive linemen develop in practice. What does PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds have to say? Find out right here.
Welcome to another installment of SR’s Fab 5 Reaction where each week I take the time to answer your questions and respond to your comments from the previous week’s SR’s Fab 5 column. Due to time constraints from my responsibilities as publisher, I am unable to respond to every reader comment each week, but I do read every one of them.
Comments have only been edited for clarity and grammar. Now on to your comments.
Here are the topics in this week’s SR’s Fab 5: Shepard Is Bucs’ Hype Man; Will Bucs Trade For A Receiver; Rookie Spence Is A Football Junkie; Benenoch Developing Rapidly Behind The Scenes
Russell Shepherd’s enthusiasm, hard work, and willingness to do whatever it takes to help his team has to be a hugely positive influence on his teammates. Though he’s had few chances to shine on offense, while working mostly on special teams, he’s always been clutch, just doing his job.
I would expect Shepard to be exactly the kind of player that Bill Belichick loves to have around. “Just do your job!” That Dirk Koetter obviously appreciates Shep speaks well of Koetter and tells us also why Lovie Smith flamed out.
When I read last year about Lovie buzz-killing his locker room by shutting down Shep, that was when I concluded Smith was “two and done” in Tampa Bay. I think that was also what finally put the Glazers on notice that their experiment in a throwback head coach was going down in flames.
Bucs WR Russell Shepard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The smartest thing the younger generation of Glazers ever did (after an avalanche of sequential bad decisions) was to admit their error and move on. Stability be damned. Who the hell would prefer stable bad performance, other than the residual Lovie apologists –many of whom populated the national media and gave a collective thumbs down to the Smith firing last January? – Naplesfan
If you haven’t noticed I usually go to Russell Shepard for a lot of support quotes for different sections of my SR’s Fab 5 columns. He’s one of my go-to guys because he is always accessible, has great insight into just about anything and gives great quotes. I’ve known for years why this guy has been voted as a team captain.
Although he is making over $1 million and might get some attention on the free agent market, the Bucs will do well to make a strong push to re-sign Shepard given all that he means to this team from a special teams perspective, from a wide receiver perspective and from locker room perspective. He’s very valuable in so many ways that it’s hard to put a dollar sign on it. – SR
One of the best Fab 5’s I have team in a long time. However I was surprised to discover NFL players knew about profane language. Even worse, I was shocked and appalled that they actually use it.
For years Buc fans have been screaming for a player or players to be more passionate about the game. Then, when we have one, he is silenced publicly in front of his comrades in arms by a dunderheaded Pollyanish coach. What a buffoon.
That would have been enough reason right there for me to fire the oafish Lovie Smith. Always praise in public and critique in private if you desire loyalty and performance. – drdneast
Thank you, drdneast. I appreciate the kind words. As most of you know, I was the first – and only – Bucs beat writer to call for Lovie Smith to be fired last year and for Dirk Koetter to replace him. I did this based on his record as head coach, the lack of improvement on the defensive side of the ball, and his defensive scheme. When I learned about him shutting Russell Shepard’s pre-game speech before the Saints game that was the final straw. I know that also upset the powers that be at One Buc Place and didn’t help Smith’s cause.
You make a good point about praising publicly and criticizing privately. I didn’t object to Smith taking issue with Shepard’s remarks. He should have just let him finish and pull him aside privately to voice his concerns. That would have been better coaching and might not have led to the pre-game buzz kill. – SR
Scott, thanks for the insight on some critical players adding depth to the team. I like to hear these positive efforts to overcome difficult challenges and achieve success. It is hard for fan looking from the outside to know what’s going on within the organization.
I personally thought Luke Stocker would be cut every year for the past three years. I’d like to know how a slow oft-injured tight end that doesn’t catch well keeps making the team. In fact the team plays better when he’s healthy and in the trenches.
We don’t and probably shouldn’t know the whole story behind the release of Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The coaches obviously felt it was better to release ASJ, who has a huge upside potential, than deal with his negative baggage. It was great for the team to admit a mistake and move on.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to tell a similar success story about Roberto Aguayo at some future point. He seems to be working hard to improve his accuracy and is a good bet to do so. – Oberlon
You’re welcome, Oberlon. I do like to report on some of the young, developing players and the behind-the-scenes guys to keep our PewterReport.com readers informed. You bring up a good point about Like Stocker, who doesn’t get enough credit for doing the dirty work in the running game as a blocker at the point of attack. Stocker has survived four different head coaches in Tampa Bay for a reason. He brings an underrated value to the team.
As for Austin Seferian-Jenkins, it should come as no surprise that he’s injured (again) in New York. The Bucs were right to get rid of him because the best ability is availability. You can’t hang on to potential in the NFL. That’s what gets head coaches and general managers fired. It’s not about potential. It’s about production. – SR
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Wow, how valuable is Gerald McCoy? Can’t talk about a Bucs player, without some mention of how much No. 93 has helped them on and off the field. From the low man, to the top team guys, McCoy’s influence is there. The latest is rookie guard Caleb Benenoch. McCoy doesn’t get enough credit.
Speaking of the O-line, with Kevin Pamphile’s success and players developing at guard behind the scenes, if J.R. Sweezy ever shows up we seem stacked. What about center? Any chance Ali Marpet moves to center? – surferdudes
I know Bucs fans get frustrated when they see one of the highest-paid players come away with just one tackle, as Gerald McCoy had against Oakland. But McCoy does bring a lot of value that doesn’t always show up on the stats sheet. McCoy has played a huge role in the rapid development of both young guards Ali Marpet and Kevin Pamphile, and is doing the same for rookie Caleb Benenoch behind the scenes.
As to your question regarding Marpet moving to center, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens. What has to happen for that to occur is J.R. Sweezy coming back completely healthy either this year or next year. If Sweezy returns from his back injury at 100 percent then I could see either Marpet or Pamphile possibly move to center if Tampa Bay doesn’t re-sign Joe Hawley, who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017. – SR
Very good Fab 5, Scott. Maybe I’m really off with this player, but I believe Ben Gottschalk will be involved in the center challenge next season. He’s big, quick, and appears to be a fast learner.
I know Joe Hawley is out there playing aggressive and Evan Smith is his backup, but both these guys are small and we do have problems with the pocket collapsing from the middle out. Scott, keep an eye on Gottschalk. – Horse
Thank you, Horse. Ben Gottschalk had a very good preseason for the Bucs, and that’s why he’s on the practice squad. Gottschalk is taller than either the 6-foot-3 Joe Hawley or the 6-foot-2 Evan Smith, but he’s not heavier. At 295 pounds he’s actually seven pounds lighter than Hawley (302) and 13 pounds lighter than Smith (308).
With Hawley entering unrestricted free agency and Smith turning 31 next year and entering the final year of his contract making $3.5 million in base salary with a $1 million roster bonus, Gottschalk could be a factor in the competition for not only a roster spot, but perhaps the starting center job if Hawley isn’t re-signed. – SR
Scott, for two-plus decades I had to crank out a critical weekly corporate report for the local office of a NYSE company – good week or bad week, busy or not. So please accept this heartfelt “thank you” for your SR’s Fab 5 effort every Friday morning. And even with your passion for your work, it is never easy.
I get so emotionally caught up in the Bucs that when they play bad I cannot read anything that week except your Fab 5 – and now your new 2-Point Conversion and SR’s Fab 5 Reaction. No, I am not your agent but just “One Buc Nut” who relies on your weekly writings. Thanks again. – arick1010
Thank you, arick1010. That means a lot. It is a labor of love as I enjoy producing the SR’s Fab 5 column, which typically is between 5,000-8,000 words each week, but it is a lot of work. I spend between eight and 14 hours on each SR’s Fab 5 and it can be quite mentally taxing, as you suggest.
I’m usually up until 2:00 a.m. each Thursday night with some last minute typing, and then wake up early Friday mornings around 6:00 a.m. to put in pictures and give it a final once over. I’m glad you like the new 2-Point Conversion post-game column and SR’s Fab 5 Reaction, too. – SR
Former Bucs WR Karl Williams – Photo by: Getty Images
Scott, your story about Russell Shepard reminds me of how I used to feel about Karl Williams. For several years toward the end of his career I used to have Williams not making the final roster. And then the final roster would come out and Williams was there and always seemed to have a good season.
I really underestimated what he brought to the team other than what you saw on the field on Sundays, but also what he did do on Sundays was to be utterly reliable. Shepherd is this team’s Karl Williams. Truth! (See what I did there?) – nitey
Nitey, Karl “The Truth” Williams was one of my all-time favorite Buccaneers to cover. What an underdog! And yes, Russell Shepard reminds me of Williams in that way, and also because of his special teams contributions and occasional touchdowns on offense. That’s a very good comparison. – SR
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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