FAB 2. Bucs Need To Remember The Titans

Tampa Bay and Tennessee are two franchises with talented, young quarterbacks, best friends as general managers and are separated by one win over the past four years. With both teams coming off 2-14 seasons in 2014, the Bucs had the first overall pick and selected Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. The Titans, which picked second overall, drafted Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who would outshine Winston in a 42-14 thrashing in the 2015 season opening win for Tennessee in Tampa Bay.

Titans’ Record 2014-17
2014: 2-14
2015: 3-13
2016: 9-7
2017: 9-7
Record: 23-41

Bucs’ Record 2014-17
2014: 2-14
2015: 6-10
2016: 9-7
2017: 5-11
Record: 22-42

But that’s where the similarities stop. The two franchises are seemingly heading in the opposite direction of each other with the Titans on the way up and the Bucs on the way down following the 2017 season.

Both Tampa Bay and Tennessee were supposed to be teams on the rise this year and projected to make the playoffs. The Bucs failed to meet expectations and finished with a disappointing 5-11 record, while the Titans backed into the playoffs thanks to a Week 17 loss by the Baltimore Ravens and ended up upsetting the Chiefs at home in the Wild Card playoff game.

Bucs HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Bucs HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter was given another year to turn the team around and enters the 2018 season on the hot seat with general manager Jason Licht, whose contract option year was picked up over the summer, on the very warm seat.

Despite back-to-back 9-7 finishes in Tennessee and a surprise playoff win in 2017, the Titans fired head coach Mike Mularkey and could replace him with Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, who has ties to general manager Jon Robinson from their days together in New England where Vrabel was a defensive end and Robinson worked in the scouting department.

If the Bucs want to reverse course and join the Titans as a playoff-caliber team, Licht would be wise to look at what Robinson, his buddy and Tampa Bay’s former director of player personnel from 2014-15. Robinson inherited two key pieces of the Titans offense in left tackle Taylor Lewan, who was a first-round pick in 2014, and Mariota, the team’s first-rounder in 2015. But what he did next propelled Mariota and the Titans to back-to-back winning seasons.

In 2016, his first year in Tennessee, made three key free agent signings to greatly help Mariota. Robinson signed Houston Texans center Ben Jones, who blocked for quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno at Georgia, signed Miami Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews, and traded for Philadelphia running back DeMarco Murray, who was the 2014 Offensive Player of the Year in the NFL.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota and C Ben Jones - Photo by: Getty Images
Titans QB Marcus Mariota and C Ben Jones – Photo by: Getty Images

But Robinson wasn’t done building around Mariota and would add another starting offensive lineman and another premier running back in the draft. Robinson traded away the No. 1 overall pick in the draft to the Los Angeles Rams, who took quarterback Jared Goff. Robinson’s deal acquired the 15th overall pick, two second-round picks and a third-rounder. The Titans also got Rams’ first-round pick in 2017 and third-round pick that year.

With tons of draft capital, Robinson traded up to No. 8 with Cleveland to draft right tackle Jack Conklin and acquired a sixth-round pick, in exchange for the 15th overall selection, a third-rounder and a second-rounder in 2017. Armed with three second-round picks, Robinson drafted pass-rushing linebacker Kevin Dodd, who hasn’t panned out, defensive tackle Austin Johnson, who is a starter, and Heisman Trophy winning running back Derrick Henry.

Johnson and Henry were drafted with picks acquired from the trade with the Rams. In the third round, Robinson selected safety Kevin Byard, who has turned into a Pro Bowler. Granted, Robinson benefitted from a windfall situation by trading away the first-round pick, which the Titans could do because they already had a franchise quarterback in Mariota, but he absolutely nailed four of his first five picks.

Licht has had similarly successful drafts in 2015 and ’17, finding four starting-caliber players in each of those drafts, but Robinson has out-drafted him in terms of the caliber of players in his two drafts with the Titans.

TITANS’ 2016 DRAFT
1. OT Jack Conklin – Starter – First-team All-Pro
2. DE Kevin Dodd
2 DT Austin Johnson – Starter
2 RB Derrick Henry – Starter
3 S Kevin Byard – Starter – First-team All-Pro
5 WR Tajae Sharpe – IR
5 CB LeShaun Sims – IR
6 G Sebastian Tretola – no longer with team
7 LB Aaron Wallace – IR
7 CB Kalan Reed

BUCS’ 2016 DRAFT
1. CB Vernon Hargreaves III – Starter
2. DE Noah Spence – Starter
2. K Roberto Aguayo – no longer with team
4. CB Ryan Smith
5. OT Caleb Benenoch
6. LB Devante Bond
6. FB Dan Vitale –  no longer with team

TITANS’ 2017 DRAFT
1. WR Corey Davis – Starter
1. CB Adoree` Jackson – Starter
3. WR Taywan Taylor
3. TE Jonnu Smith – Starter
5. LB Jayon Brown
6. G Corey Levin
7. LB Josh Carraway
7. OT Brad Seaton – no longer with team

BUCS’ 2017 DRAFT
1. TE O.J. Howard – Starter
2. S Justin Evans – Starter
3. WR Chris Godwin
3. LB Kendell Beckwith – Starter
5. RB Jeremy McNichols – no longer with team
7. DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu

Robinson has the advantage, not just with two All-Pros in Conklin and Byard, but also the benefit of more picks due to the Rams’ trade. Licht’s biggest gaffe remains drafting Aguayo in the second round of 2016. The Bucs had obtained an extra pick in the fourth round by trading down two spots from No. 9 to No. 11, but burned that pick, in addition to their third-round pick to move up in the second round to select the Florida State kicker.

Bucs C Ali Marpet – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs C Ali Marpet – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Licht has invested similar capital in the Bucs’ offensive line – with three high-priced free agents that haven’t panned out in left tackle Anthony Collins, center/guard Evan Smith and right guard J.R. Sweezy, two second-round picks in left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard/center Ali Marpet, and a decent contract extension to right tackle Demar. Yet Tennessee has the advantage due to the fact that Lewan and Conklin were both first-round hits and are Pro Bowl-caliber players.

The biggest difference between Licht and Robinson’s approach has been the weapons that they have acquired for their young franchise quarterbacks. The Bucs have invested in weapons for the passing game for Winston, while the Titans have built a strong ground game for Mariota to lean on.

Which approach has worked better? Tennessee has the edge for several reasons. The first is the formulaic approach outlined in Fab 1 – building a top 10 running game. The Titans are close with a top 15 rushing attack thanks to the one-two punch of Murray and Henry, in addition to Mariota’s scrambling ability.

Titans RB DeMarco Murray – 6-1, 220
2016: 293 carries for 1,287 yards (4.4 avg.) and 9 TDs with a long of 75
53 catches for 377 yards (7.1 avg.) and 3 TDs

2017: 184 carries for 659 yards (3.6 avg.) and 6 TDs with a long of 75
39 catches for 266 yards (6.8 avg.) and 1 TD

Titans RB Derrick Henry – 6-3, 247
2016: 110 carries for 490 yards (4.5 avg.) and 5 TDs with a long of 22
13 catches for 137 yards (10.5 avg.)

2017: 176 carries for 744 yards (4.2 avg.) and 5 TDs with a long of 75
11 catches for 136 yards (12.4 avg.) and 1 TD

2017 playoffs: 35 carries for 184 yards (5.3 avg.) and 1 TD with a long of 35
5 catches for 56 yards (11.2 avg.)

Robinson got a steal in trading for Murray as the Titans and Eagles simply swapped picks in the fourth round in 2016. That’s a trade that quite frankly the Bucs should have made, pairing Murray with Doug Martin – regardless of the fact that both were high-priced running backs.

Bucs RB Doug Martin - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

If Licht has a fault, it’s thinking that a position is filled when probable starters are acquired. Keep in mind that Licht was backed into a corner and essentially forced to re-sign Martin, who had two previous sub-500-yard rushing years prior to 2015 when he rushed for 1,402 yards and made the Pro Bowl in the first year in Koetter’s offense.

What was Licht going to do – not sign the league’s second-leading rusher, especially in Koetter’s first year as a head coach? He would have been chased around town by Bucs fans with pitchforks and torches for letting Martin walk in free agency. Licht did have his doubts about re-signing Martin because he waited until the eleventh hour, held his nose and got the contract done.

But what Licht should have done immediately there after is not believe that the real Martin was the 1,400-yard guy in the contract year, but rather the sub-500-yard guy the two previous seasons in 2013 and ’14, because that’s who he is – evidenced by two more sub-500-yard seasons in ’16 and ’17. He should have signed Martin and then signed another highly talented running back or do what the Titans did and draft Henry with a premium pick even though they just acquired Murray, who signed an extension worth $6.3 million per season.

Another example of this faulty thinking is when the Bucs had the chance to sign former Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden when he was released from the Browns last September, the Bucs passed because Licht had Brent Grimes, who made $8 million per year, and Vernon Hargreaves, a former first-round pick, penciled in as starters. Haden would command a huge contract averaging $9 million per year for three years in Pittsburgh, and where would he play in Tampa Bay Licht thought – nickel cornerback?

That’s the wrong approach. The right approach would have been to sign Haden and let him and Hargreaves battle it out for the right to start – even if it meant that Hargreaves, the 11th overall pick the previous year, would be forced to play nickel, which is what ultimately happened in 2017 anyways when Hargreaves failed outside. Doesn’t a lineup of Haden, Grimes and Hargreaves sound way more appealing than Ryan Smith, Grimes and Hargreaves?

Bucs QB Vernon Hargreaves - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves – Photo by: Getty Images

Now the Bucs have to either spend a premium draft pick this year on a cornerback – instead of another position of need like defensive end, defensive tackle, guard, safety or running back – or spend a good chunk of change in free agency signing a quality starter instead of doing it last year.

The same faulty approach was applied at running back in Tampa Bay where Martin was re-signed in 2016 to a lucrative contract extension, but failed to produce due to injuries and drug usage, which prompted a four-game suspension. When healthy and focused, Martin has proven to be a quality starting-caliber running back. But Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber aren’t in Martin’s league when it comes to talent, and Licht didn’t find another running back with a similar caliber.

So when Martin failed to produce at a high level, Tampa Bay’s ground game became a weakness. That meant more passes for Winston, and more passes for a young quarterback means a greater likelihood for interceptions and fumbles, which has happened.

Remember, the easiest thing for a young quarterback to do is turn around and hand the ball off to a running back. Despite the fact that Winston has broken several passing records in his first three years in the NFL, unless your last name is Marino, Brees, Manning or Brady, it’s not necessarily a good thing to throw for 300 yards a game and over 4,000 yards in a season. It often means that a team doesn’t have a good enough running game, and as we’ve seen this year, the teams that are in the hunt for the Super Bowl all have top 10 running games.

In Tennessee, Robinson acquired a Pro Bowl-caliber player in Murray and then spent a high second-round pick on Henry a month later to give Mariota a significant one-two punch that would better aid in his development than an extra tight end or wide receiver would. Those players would come later a year later in the 2017 draft when Robinson drafted Davis, Taylor and Smith for Mariota to throw to – after he shored up the ground game in 2016.

Alabama RB Derrick Henry – Photo by: Getty Images
Alabama RB Derrick Henry – Photo by: Getty Images

Over the past two years Murray and Henry have combined to have nine 100-yard games between them (Murray 6, Henry 3) in Tennessee, while Tampa Bay has produced just three 100-yard games over the same span with Rodgers producing two in 2016 and Peyton Barber with one last year. Martin’s last 100-yard game came in November in 2015. He will be released this offseason as a result.

Over the past two years the Bucs have given Winston plenty of weapons in the passing game at wide receiver with Godwin and free agent DeSean Jackson, and another tight end in O.J. Howard to complement Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans and tight end Cameron Brate. But Tampa Bay has failed to give Winston a very good ground game to rely on. As a result, more pressure has been put on the young quarterback in the second and third years of his development and that has led to more turnovers by Winston and fewer wins by the Bucs as a result.

Marcus Mariota Career Stats
2015: 12 games – 230-of-370 (62.2 percent) passing for 2,818 yards
19 TDs / 10 INTs with 10 fumbles, 3 fumbles lost and a 91.5 QB rating
34 carries for 252 yards (7.4 avg.) with 2 TDs, 2 fumbles, 0 fumbles lost

2016: 15 games – 276-of-451 (61.2 percent) passing for 3,426 yards
26 TDs / 9 INTs with 9 fumbles, 2 fumbles lost and a 95.6 QB rating
60 carries for 349 yards (5.8 avg.) with 2 TDs, 7 fumbles, 3 fumbles lost

2017: 15 games – 281-of-453 (62 percent) passing for 3,232 yards
13 TDs / 15 INTs with 2 fumbles, 1 fumble lost and a 79.3 QB rating
60 carries for 312 yards (5.2 avg.) with 5 TDs, 2 fumbles, 1 fumble lost

Mariota’s 3-Year Totals
787-of-1,274 (61.8 percent) passing for 9,476 yards
58 TDs / 34 INTs with 21 fumbles, 6 fumbles lost and a 88.6 QB rating
154 carries for 913 yards (5.9 avg.) with 9 TDs

Jameis Winston Career Stats
2015: 16 games – 312-of-535 (58.3 percent) passing for 4,042 yards
22 TDs / 15 INTs with 6 fumbles, 4 fumbles lost and an 84.2 QB rating
54 carries for 213 yards (3.9 avg.) with 6 TDs, 3 fumbles and 1 fumble lost

2016: 16 games – 345-of-567 (60.8 percent) passing for 4,090 yards
28 TDs / 18 INTs with 10 fumbles, 3 fumbles lost an 86.1 QB rating
53 carries for 165 yards (3.1 avg.) with 1 TD, 4 fumbles and 1 fumble lost

2017: 13 games 282-of-442 (63.8 percent) 3,504 yards
19 TDs / 11 INTs with 15 fumbles, 7 fumbles lost and a 92.2 QB rating
33 carries for 135 yards (4.1 avg.) with 1 TD, 4 fumbles and 1 fumble lost

Winston’s 3-Year Totals
939-of-1,544 (60.8 percent) passing for 11,636 yards
69 TDs / 44 INTs with 31 fumbles, 14 fumbles lost and an 87.2 QB rating
140 carries for 513 yards (3.7 avg.) with 8 TDs

Jon Robinson and Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Jon Robinson and Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The big takeaway is that in the passing game, Winston has 270 more pass attempts in two more games than Mariota and has thrown for 2,160 yards and 11 more touchdowns, but also 10 more interceptions and accounted for 10 more fumbles and eight more fumbles lost. Yards don’t win games, and for every extra touchdown Winston has thrown versus Mariota it has come with twice the amount of turnovers.

The biggest way the Bucs can help Winston reduce the amount of turnovers is to remember the Titans, and give him a stout ground game with two elite starting-caliber running backs who are each capable of rushing for 1,000 yards. Licht needs to look west to Tennessee and see how Robinson has built a ground game to aid Mariota’s development and help the Titans make the playoffs even when Mariota has a bad year, as he did this past season.

1
2
3
4
5
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: [email protected]
Subscribe
Notify of
39 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pete Wood

I’m just not buying that the Titans are any sort of model of NFL success. I would argue that the Bucs had a better draft in 2017. If the Titans have more starters from 2016, it is solely because they had so many second round picks. I am not convinced that the Titans are on the way up and would not be surprised if they are out of the playoffs next year with a losing record. The team I think the Bucs should look to is Jacksonville. Those guys, thanks to perhaps the best drafting in the league, are going… Read more »

FLBoy84

Curious if the Jags fans are going to start contributing to Chris Baker’s charity since he inspired their team with his “3 wins in the playoffs” comment in the preseason. Wait.. what.. he didn’t say playoffs??

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Horse

Don’t forget they are in a weaker conference too than the NFC and especially NFC South.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Horse

I meant NFC South being the toughest to play in.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Buc 1976

Horse I agree NFC south is a much better Division and will be for years to come.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
FLBoy84

Definitely agree Scott that LIcht has seemed to miss the boat when it comes to stocking positions with more than one potential starter for depth. Koetter likes to use the “our guys” line a lot. Team might need to do a better job evaluating “our guys” and grade them more on actual production than perceived promise and potential. Something’s wrong with the current formula. New England seems to be one of the few teams that can plug in their no-name depth guys and not lose too much production. Maybe Licht needs to remember he doesn’t have BB on the sidelines… Read more »

FLBoy84

Don’t get me wrong guys, I’m a fan of most of what Licht has done since he’s been here, but stocking positions with players actually capable of pushing the starters for playing time isn’t one of them. While the need to maintain salary cap space for upcoming contracts is understandable, missing the playoffs for the past 10 plus years while consistently being in the Top 5-10 in available cap space each year doesn’t seem to be working. Understand FA is a crap shoot as well, as most pundits lauded the under-the-radar signing of Baker as a great move. Doesn’t mean… Read more »

ahenneke

I agree that NFL teams can sometimes make the play-offs with a great defense, and a solid running game helps. But to make the play-offs on a year-to-year basis, teams need a franchise QB. That has been proven over and over. It also helps to play in traditionally weak divisions like New England, but that’s another story. I would be willing to wager that the Jaquars and Vikings don’t have the same success next year, although the Eagles will with Wentz returning. New England gets by with a mediocre defense because they are often playing with a lead, making the… Read more »

FLBoy84

Might wanna throw RB in there with OG as an offensive need.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
cheveliar

We like the “Informative” Scott Reynolds!!!! Nice read dog. I always knew you had it in you. LOL

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
surferdudes

I think making the playoffs in your fourth season as a Q.B. is living up to expectations. Bortles was key last week in the Jags win, you act like the Jags defense won that game Scott, they didn’t, Bortles did, to me he is a franchise Q.B.. Should’ve promoted Robinson, and fired Licht. Licht has shown he doesn’t know how to build a team. His first draft was Evans, over Donald, big mistake. You build from the front back, Licht hasn’t shown in anytime in four years he gets that. When Coughlin was with the Giants he’d draft 2 D… Read more »

FLBoy84

Enjoyed the Licht/Robinson comparison as well, well researched (ht to Trevor I’m assuming). And noticed Joe Flacco’s name was missing in Fab 1. Are we really considering him “elite” now?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
e

I agree, Scott, that I hope that Koetter has a more “nose to the grindstone” approach this offseason. It seems pretty obvious that the OL & DL are where the upgrades need to take place. Nelson seems like a great prospect, but why not a guy like Ohio St. C Billy Price who is the unquestioned captain of that O-Line and shows all of the leadership that you look for, beyond simply a guy that blocks? Moving Ali back to his natural guard position would help set up both the running game and passing game. Last thing, not a huge… Read more »

chefboho

Agreed. And I feel like markcwalton will get lost in the shuffle because of so many good rb’s entering the draft this year. Would love to get him in the third round. He can catch the pass out of the back field and has great wheels

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Graham

Hindsight articles are fun. “But what Licht should have done immediately there after is not believe that the real Martin was the 1,400-yard guy in the contract year, but rather the sub-500-yard guy the two previous seasons in 2013 and ’14, because that’s who he is – evidenced by two more sub-500-yard seasons in ’16 and ’17. He should have signed Martin and then signed another highly talented running back or do what the Titans did and draft Henry with a premium pick even though they just acquired Murray, who signed an extension worth $6.3 million per season.” Tell me,… Read more »

Pete Wood

It’s funny to me that most of the pundits and fans seem very happy with Bucs free agent moves and draft picks at the time. Graham is right about twenty twenty hindsight. There was universal relief when Bucs signed Martin to a new contract. Most fans were thrilled to keep him. And, pundits from the local to the national level all praised the signing of DJax. Let’s be real here. The only draft picks that I have not liked the past few years were Hargreaves and that second round picker. Would I have preferred more defense overall? Sure. But, I… Read more »

Naplesfan

The best running backs often get drafted well back of the first half of the first round. All the hype and PR went to Leonard Fournette last spring … but the guy who will win OROY this year is Alvin Kamara, a third rounder. Good drafting isn’t just about picking decent first rounders … it’s about finding talent throughout the draft, particularly in the mid-round Day 2 picks. Licht has been pretty uneven in finding value. He’s had a couple of good ones, like Justin Evans and Kwon Alexander , but he’s also had some stinkers, like ASJ and Noah… Read more »

Devasher

Licht, who gave Doug Martin a top 5 leaguewide contract for a RB with the first two years guaranteed didn’t believe in Martin at all? So when he kept Doug at his inflated top 5 salary even though it wasn’t guaranteed this year due to his drug suspension and still had to serve the remaining 3 of his 4 game suspension this year you think that shows a lack of belief in a him? 😂 If we want to go the hindsight route, then Jason could have merely drafted Devonta Freeman in the third round in 2014 instead of Charles… Read more »

Graham

What kind of contract do you think Doug was going to get elsewhere as a free agent coming off his 2015 season? You think he would have signed here without any guaranteed money?! The fact Licht was smart enough to put language in the contract that got the Bucs out of it if Martin got himself suspended was brilliant. My guess is they were all set to take Dalvin Cook with the 19th pick and release Martin until OJ Howard fell. When that happened they made the decision to give Doug another chance. Justin Evans, Chris Godwin, and Beckwith are… Read more »

Devasher

NFL contracts ALL have clauses for outs when a player is suspended due to drugs/PDA’s. Remember Eric Wright? Do you think Mark Dominik was just really shrewd when he magically inserted that into Wright’s contact? No, it’s common for ALL NFL contracts to included clauses like that. LOL First, Licht failed to take on Martin’s option year, which would have been the one year he played well, allowing Martin to become a free agent when he otherwise would not have. THEN he compounded his previous mistake (par for the course for him) by keeping Martin around and not renegotiating his… Read more »

macabee

A few thoughts regarding free agency and the up-coming draft. I do not believe the Jason Licht strategy of waiting until the end of free agency to get value (not hiring top dollar free agents) has worked – we get Chris Baker instead of Calais Campbell. Incredibly, six of the top 10 2017 spenders in free agency, a period formerly reserved for desperate teams to throw money at anyone, made the playoffs: the Patriots, Titans (yes Jon Robinson, a Licht understudy), Rams, Vikings, Panthers, and the Jaguars (who spent $20 million more than any other team). Maybe it’s time to… Read more »

Naplesfan

Certainly agreed that a strong running game and a strong defense are keys to championship football. But let’s not make the same mistake the Bucs have repeated over and over again since the Super Bowl team of relying upon superstar running backs and failing to build and maintain the strongest possible offensive line. A super running back like Cadillac Williams or Doug Martin may temporarily boost the running game, but when these backs are continually running into brick walls they inevitably get injured too much and their productivity drops off the proverbial cliff. Been there done that twice now. But… Read more »

Bob Will

The biggest thing that gets me about all of this is adjustments. Look at all the playoff teams, look at the teams that just lost and they are making adjustments. They fire some coaches and hire others, special teams, OC’s, DC’s. They evaluate why they didn’t make the Super Bowl and they are making changes. I agree with keeping our head coach but when we look at the rest of the staff and say, “Oh no we did fine this year we are keeping everything as it is.” Are we crazy? If you make no changes you will get the… Read more »

FLBoy84

Had a similar reaction when no changes were announced, but in hindsight, it’s easy to see how some of the coaches might’ve gotten a little complacent after the D in particular started to come around during the last half of 2016. Hard to imagine they all just magically forgot how to coach overnight. Thinking they’ll have a better approach in 2018. And hard to put all the poor production and results strictly on the coaching staff, as most of the players, if they were being completely honest. would probably say they could’ve executed their assignments better and left some plays… Read more »

Pick6

the biggest difference between the bucs and titans is that 2015 season. while the bucs ascended to mediocrity under lovie smith, the titans continued to be horrible. that led to them getting a king’s ransom from the eagles for the right to draft wentz, and they turned that incredible haul into multiple starters and all pros. while the titans parlayed the #3 overall into multiple premium picks over the next 2 drafts, the bucs took their smaller quantity of picks and used 2 of them to trade up for a kicker who is no longer with the team. Rate this… Read more »

Horse

I could care less about comparing Titians and Bucs; I’d stay focused on NFC and especially the South. I’ll stick to the only thing I have heard out of Licht’s mouth, ” our need is DE and RB”. We shouldn’t be discussing any Center or Guard under 6’2″; same for DE’s. I’m hoping Licht will find a way to pick up more draft picks and not for trading back up. Time for GM and Head Coach get tough with their players in how they practice in 2018. I remember we practiced very hard in Orlando during the preseason of our… Read more »

JustaBuc

Wow. I know this wasn’t the point of this Fab 5, but Mariota is starting look very suspect right now. Not a bust, but suspect af. How the heck are you going into a complete nosedive in production on a playoff team that’s supposedly built around keeping as much pressure off of you with a good line and a great running game? 15 games – 281-of-453 (62 percent) passing for 3,232 yards 13 TDs / 15 INTs with 2 fumbles, 1 fumble lost and a 79.3 QB rating. Like what?!! That’s getting close to like Blake Bortle’s rookie numbers. Not… Read more »

Garv

When we saw how much better the running game was with Peyton Barber in there over Doug Martin, even with a depleted OL minus the Bucs two best starters, doesn’t it seem likely that a good running back can make an OL better just as much as the other way around? Imagine having great running back? If Barkley happens to fall to 7? Bucs have to take him IMO. Right away Jameis gets better. One of his strengths is play action. Imagine it with a legitimate threat! Of course if he’s not there and the only one of the top… Read more »

Horse

Garv, agree with you. It is one of the priorities.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
scubog

Gee, a lot of really nice comments respecting each others’ opinions and philosophies on how to construct a play-off team. Bravo fellow commenters! Fact is, there are a number of ways to achieve success. To me, having a stout Defense that can limit the opponent’s ability to score, makes having a high scoring offense of our own a lesser priority. As Sapp used to say, “Just give me 17 points.” That said, having a great ball-control running game that maintains possession of the ball, also limits the opponents’ ability to score. Do both and victory will be a much easier… Read more »

Horse

Scubog, Amen!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
drdneast

This was really a great read, Scott and it solidified many of my preformed opinions. First off, it really clarified the performances of Mariota’s and Winson’s last three years. Mariota has really benefited from having a solid running game and defense to play with. In the meantime, Winston has had to shoulder the burden of carrying the offense himself while not being able to rely on a defense that has been lackluster except for an 8 game stretch in 2016. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t worry to much about Winston’s INT’s, it’s the fumbling that drives me nuts.When… Read more »

Horse

Drdneast, do you think you were the only one who said the same thing? Despite the pleads for the last couple years to draft defensive ends, it could have easily been the correct moves that they chose except they chose the wrong players. We got to live in the now, not the past. Let’s hope they do better this time in drafting.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
jvato24

I agree, Get a Beast Running game and every stat on Offense and Defense will Improve .. Get some Big Backs

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
martinii

Nice thing about this time of year is that everyone is right and no improvement idea should be ignored. If you choose you can Bash everyone and everything about the Buc’s or you can focus on minor improvements that in your mind would push the Buc’s into the playoff’s and possibly beyond. Remember what reality hands us at the end of the season may be totally different. That being said, I agree with Macabee, Defense has historically been our strong suit as proven by the Dungy years and the very chemistry of the team. Until the last few years offense… Read more »

surferdudes

Since there has been no change to the coaching staff, or front office, I’m not expecting much change to our record in 2018, 7-9, 6-10 seems reasonable. I believe the Glazers should’ve brought in an outside consultant to assess the whole organization. They could use a Tom Coughlin type, vice pres of football operations, to at least make some recommendations on F.A., and the draft. Maybe the Glazers should mend fences with Dungy, and just pay him for some different opinions. Licht, and Koetter seem fixed on certain players, like Martin last year. While we were screaming for Barber, they… Read more »

Freeman Strickland

The Bucs do a good job limiting the commitment of guaranteed money to the first year or two of a contract. That makes it all the more puzzling that they do no “overstock” more. CB Haden mentioned in the article is such a failure to overstock. The one that has made me crazy all year is LT Andrew Whitworth who left the Bengals for the Rams in 2017 and had his third straight Pro-bowl year. I still hope for the best with Donovan Smith, but “overstoking” with a guy like Whitworth could have helped Smith’s professional development and allowed a… Read more »

drdneast

I have no reason to doubt your word Horse. But the overwhelming number of and Pewter Report wanted the Bugs to draft Bargreaves. This year they wanted the FSU kid who had a history of injuries in college. Not surprisi fly, they followed him to the NFL.
I also have blundered as a GM. I urged the Bugs to resign Martin and then ,esp hi for another year. Unfotunaly since Martin got his big money, I believe he has lost his hunger for the game

Ll

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
owlykat

If you study Licht’s philosophy in our drafting most of the time he ignores our real needs such as great linemen on both sides of the ball and instead drafts trying to take the best player available. So we had a great TE and could get another TE in later rounds who could both block and catch, Auclair, just as big as his first choice last year but he still used his first choice on another TE we didn’t really need, instead of taking the highest rated DE which we badly needed. Remember his first draft when he spent a… Read more »