Welcome to another installment of SR’s Fab 5 Reaction where every Tuesday 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.
Fear no one! The Panthers, with their attention-craving QB, now departed attention-craving cornerback, fresh off an embarrassing Super Bowl defeat in which their overly confident offense was completely dismantled by speedy defenders, are going to come into their Monday Night contest against the Bucs treating it as their homecoming game. There’s little doubt that while our Pewter Pirates are currently focusing on taking down the Panthers; the Carolina Kitties are thinking about redeeming themselves in their first game in Denver facing the Manning-less (and maybe QB-less) champions.
The ill-prepared Panthers will be stunned when our newly schemed, super quick and attacking defense unleashes “shock and awe” on the unsuspecting Carolina Pouters. As a famous Carolinian from Mayberry named Gomer Pyle might say, “Surprise, surprise!” – scubog
I love your colorful descriptions, scubog. I too think there is a chance of the Bucs pulling an upset on Monday Night Football if Tampa Bay can gain some early-season momentum with a few wins prior to October 10.
What I liked was that the Bucs players I spoke with have a keen awareness of how dominant the Panthers have been in the series, but they weren’t willing to concede anything to them, noting how close the first game was last year heading into the third quarter despite the lopsided score at the end.
I also liked the fact that the Bucs realize that they can acknowledge Carolina’s greatness, but aren’t dwelling on it. They recognize that the Panthers are the three-time champs in the NFC South, but are focused on making this Tampa Bay team better and aren’t focused on what Carolina is doing. That’s how you hunt. Know your target, but worry about what you’re doing to get the right shot.
That was another outstanding article, Scott. It shows great team-first chemistry that our experienced players are unselfishly helping rookies develop despite the fact they are competing against each other for starting jobs. – owlykat
Thank you, owlykat. There is nothing but friendly competition across the board in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers definitely have a “family” feel to them as the players have formed a strong brotherhood over the last couple of years thanks to tremendous leadership from the likes of Gerald McCoy, Vincent Jackson, Jameis Winston and Clinton McDonald.
Despite players competing for starting jobs and even roster spots against each other, there is a strong willingness to help out your competitor and teammate here in Tampa Bay. It’s a great locker room culture that has been cultivated through strong leadership. It’s great to see and it’s something Buccaneers fans should be proud of.
Any chance the Bucs sneak up and catch the Panthers unprepared like what happened to us the second game in 2003? Warren Sapp told the Panthers they weren’t worthy and didn’t belong on the same field as the Bucs. The result was an absolute dogfight and three blocked kicks, including what would have been the game winning PAT.
That was an ugly, ugly game for the defending champs and the start of a losing season. The Bucs have been the automatic win on the Panthers’ schedule for so long, I really hope that changes this year! I’m really looking to next week’s SR’s Fab 5 after a week of camp observations! – dfk68
I remember that game vividly in 2003 when guard Cosey Coleman got manhandled on those field goals and extra point attempts that led to Carolina stunning Tampa Bay at home. That was the beginning of the end to the Bucs’ dominance, finishing 7-9 that season and snapping a four-year playoff run.
The Panthers have owned the NFC South the last three years, but it’s truly been more of New Orleans, Atlanta and Tampa Bay underwhelming than the Panthers being dominant. Remember, Carolina won the division with a 7-9 record just two years ago.
The Panthers are a good team and head into 2016 as the favorites to repeat again as NFC South champions, but I don’t think they will be as good as they were last year, especially losing Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman. I think this is the year the Bucs split the series with the Panthers and end a three-year streak of being swept.
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair
That was a great SR’s Fab 5, Scott. Don’t know if there are any hunters perusing this site, but there are really two ways to hunt panthers. Quietly lay in wait or the stealth method. Or, you can get all your buddies to bring their dogs out and run the dogs on them. I prefer the dogs. So, bring on the dogs!
I’ll give the Panthers credit for drafting. They have done well. If they have had a plethora of good picks, we have been abysmal for a while. For example, with the No. 8 pick in 2012, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Mark Barron. Just imagine if someone with a brain said Luke Kuechly? The tide is turning. Kudos to you, Mr. Jason Licht.
Of course I wasn’t born here, and was transplanted like most folks. It took some time before I rooted for Tampa teams instead of the Lions, Tigers or Wings. Now I’m a firmly entrenched Tampa fan – all the teams.
Something tells me that Alterraun Verner will have a better year. The telling statement in his interview is “contest everything.” I hope Mike Smith contests every ball that gets thrown. Sure, we will get burned sometimes, but contest everything. Turn the dogs loose.
This attitude that the new coaching staff is instilling to the team is very fun to watch. Because in the end, football should be played by players that have a point to prove and don’ just shrug and say, “I did my best.” There are just a few players that can pull the nice guy routine and still be great. Think of all the great ones – mean and nasty.
I loved the Ric Flair reference. So I’ll throw another wrestling quote out there. Can you smell what the Bucs have cookin’? Go Bucs! – chetthevette
Thanks, chetthevette. When you’ve got Jameis Winston quoting “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, I had to include the graphic. It made sense because I think Flair lives in North Carolina and is a Panthers fan.
The Bucs are catching up to the Panthers for the same reason why Carolina has ruled the NFC South lately – good drafting. Tampa Bay got its franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston last year and finally has a player that can go toe to toe and throw for throw in the division with the likes of Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. It’s not just Winston, though.
It’s Jason Licht building on some of the cornerstones that Mark Dominik was able to lay as a foundation with this team in Gerald McCoy, Doug Martin and Lavonte David. As bad as whiffing on Luke Kuechly was in the first round in 2012 in favor of Mark Barron was, Tampa Bay did draft Martin in the first round and David in the second round that year, so all was not lost.
And yes, Alterraun Verner is correct in saying that everything will be contested. The first week of Bucs training camp has seen Brent Grimes come away with multiple interceptions, as well as picks by safety Chris Conte and Verner himself. It’s a great start towards being a more aggressive defense.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
We need Mike Evans to be dominant to beat Carolina. It was too easy for Josh Norman to provoke him in the last game. Evans needs to learn how to handle aggressive defenders.
He could emulate Michael Irvin, who would always use one hand to pull down a defender when going up for a jump ball. He would jump just a bit higher while the defender was a bit lower without altering the defender’s momentum enough to draw a flag using intelligence and skill to gain an advantage. Hopefully, Evans will gain the same intelligence and skill with maturity. Evans is still very young. – Oberlon
That’s a good observation. I agree that Mike Evans really needs to step up versus Carolina as he only had three catches for 32 yards in the first meeting last year and four catches for 99 yards in the season finale where he was tossed out of the game after drawing two 15-yard penalties for mouthing off to Josh Norman and an official. In his rookie season, Evans caught only nine passes for 50 yards and one touchdown, so he hasn’t had a lot of success against the Panthers. Perhaps that will change with Norman’s departure.
Keep an eye on Carolina rookie cornerback Zach Sanchez, though. He’s a playmaker like Aqib Talib. He’ll take some chances and get burned on occasion, but he has great ball skills and was a great interceptor in the Big 12.
Ex-Bucs K Kyle Brindza – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
I remember this one play when the Bucs played Carolina last year at home. A back was running with the ball when Chris Conte came up and nailed the guy. The ball was fumbled and it bounced right into a Panther receiver’s hands for a touchdown. I threw up my hands knowing that it wouldn’t be the Bucs’ day.
I hope the Bucs wipe that stupid grin off Cam Newton’s face like the Broncos did in Super Bowl 50. He’s all happy, cocky and rubbing your face in it when he wins. But, man, he is a sore loser when it goes bad. To be gracious in defeat doesn’t mean you like losing.
Alterraun Verner is a talented corner who was a Pro Bowl player for the Titans. He didn’t just forget how to play. So, it had to be poor coaching and their lack of understanding the strengths of a player. Happy to see he is motivated. Thanks for a great SR’s Fab 5, Scott. Glad training camp is finally here! – Iabucfan
The Panthers are cocky and full of swagger, and as much as Tampa Bay fans want to see Carolina get beat, I can assure you that the Buccaneers want to wipe the smile off Cam Newton’s face even more.
There was a lot of fluky stuff going on in the first Bucs vs. Panthers game last year from missed field goals to forced fumbles by Tampa Bay’s defenses that wound up being Carolina touchdowns instead. That, coupled with four interceptions from Jameis Winston, prevented the Bucs from winning. I believe Tampa Bay will get a win against Carolina this year, though. I think the Bucs are due.
I agree that Alterraun Verner didn’t forget how to play cornerback. He’s back in a familiar scheme that he had success with both in college and at Tennessee where he was a Pro Bowler for the Titans. So far so good for Verner, who has clearly shown he belongs as a starter opposite Brent Grimes.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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