SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. IN NEED OF FIXING BUCS’ OFFENSE, SMITH ENTERS 2015 ON THE HOT SEAT
The Buccaneers will not fire head coach Lovie Smith after going 2-14 this season.
But the team may indeed fire him if he does not show marked improvement in 2015. The Glazers set that precedent last year by firing former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano after just two seasons despite the fact that he signed a five-year contract in 2012.
I’m sure the last thing the Glazers are thinking about right now is firing Smith, but they probably weren’t thinking about firing Schiano this past January after he finished 7-9 in his first season in Tampa Bay. Yet 12 months later after a 4-12 finish following a 0-8 start to the 2013 campaign, Schiano was relieved of his duties.
Let’s face it. The Bucs’ 2014 campaign, which will finish with either a 3-13 or 2-14 record, is worse than last year’s 4-12 season. But in many ways, this year has been even worse than just the extra loss or two the team has experienced this year.
Start with the whiffs in free agency – first and foremost left tackle Anthony Collins, who likely won’t be back next year, defensive end Michael Johnson, who doesn’t deserve to be back and hand-picked quarterback Josh McCown, who is a turnover machine not capable of carrying an offense. Throw in reserve offensive lineman Oniel Cousins, who have disappointed, and a couple of average free agent signings in cornerback Alterraun Verner, tight end Brandon Myers and center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Then add in the swing and miss with offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, an unfortunate hire that Smith could not have foreseen not working out, but nonetheless Tedford was the head coach’s choice. Tedford’s absence derailed the offense this year without question, and Smith and the Bucs were caught off guard and forced to turn to a novice play-caller in Marcus Arroyo, who wasn’t ready for that role in the NFL.
And finally throw in the bad game day clock management and coaching. Smith didn’t let rookie kicker Patrick Murray kick from just beyond 50 yards in the fourth quarter in a Week 1 loss to Carolina. Smith went into halftime of the Rams game with three timeouts and over a minute left on the clock. Tampa Bay trailed St. Louis by a field goal at halftime and wound up losing by two points.
How about not catching the 12 men on the field against Cincinnati?
How many games did Smith and his staff truly out-scheme and out-coach the opposition – maybe the Washington game?
How about all the penalties the Bucs incurred this year? For a coach that preaches discipline Smith sure had an undisciplined team this year.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan is about to get fired in New York after six seasons and a 45-50 record. The reason? Ryan has poor game management (the loss last week to New England is a prime example) and he has failed to put together a credible offense.
Look at the quarterbacks he has opted for – Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith and Michael Vick – and the offensive coordinators – Brian Schottenheimer, Tony Sparano and Marty Mornhinweg that Ryan had in New York. Ryan built a great Jets defense, but didn’t build a good enough offense to win the AFC East and produce more than two winning seasons in six years.
Will that be Smith’s fate in Tampa Bay? Working against Smith is his exact same reputation for not getting the offense right during his nine years in Chicago or his first season in Tampa Bay.
This offseason Smith is going to draft a franchise quarterback in Tampa Bay and hire his second offensive coordinator in as many years. Given his track record, that scares the heck out of me.
The thing is he has to get both right for the Bucs to have success in 2015 or Smith will wind up picking the quarterback the next Tampa Bay coach will inherit.
If Smith can show he has evolved as a head coach and can get the offensive side of the ball right, the Buccaneers could be a force to be reckoned with for a decade in time. If he can’t, Smith could be the next Ryan and will be shown the door as he was in Chicago after the Bears organization realized that he wasn’t capable enough to build a playoff-caliber offense following a 10-6 season in 2012.
I must admit I am concerned that the game has passed Smith by to a degree. It passed Herm Edwards by in 2008 with the Kansas City Chiefs. It passed Mike Shanahan by with the Washington Redskins in 2013.
In a league where the recent rules changes are designed to aid offenses, seven of the top 10 offenses (Indianapolis, Denver, Green Bay, Seattle, New England in the NFL in terms of total yardage per game are bound for the playoffs, and eight out of the top 10 scoring offenses will make the playoffs.
Conversely, only as many as four of the league’s top 10 defenses (Seattle, Detroit, Denver and possibly Carolina) will make the postseason in terms of yards per game, and only five of the NFL’s top scoring defenses (Seattle, Detroit, Arizona, New England and Cincinnati) have qualified for the playoffs.
Offense is where it’s at in the NFL, and the offensive side of the ball has been the defensive-minded Smith’s downfall in the NFL.
His offensive coordinator hire must be right.
Will he go with an experienced retread like New York’s Mornhinweg or Oakland’s Sparano, or with an offensive play-caller with experience working with mobile quarterbacks like San Francisco’s Greg Roman or former Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski that might work best with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota?
The rebuilt offensive line must be right.
Left tackle Demar Dotson will be back, and left guard Logan Mankins and Dietrich-Smith will likely return in 2015, but need to have some competition. The right side of the offensive line must be rebuilt through a combination of free agency and the draft.
The quarterback must be right.
It’s hard to imagine that a conservative coach like Smith would want to run a spread offense like the kind that Mariota ran at Oregon. Would he want to take a chance on Mariota and whether his skills will translate to the NFL? How long would that transition last – two or three years? Does Smith have that much time?
Would Smith want a playmaking pocket passer like Jameis Winston that has all the intangibles, but also has a penchant for getting in trouble off the field?
The Buccaneers don’t have to make the playoffs in 2015 for Smith to keep his job. Tampa Bay probably doesn’t even to go .500 or 7-9 for Smith to survive. But the Bucs have to show real, tangible progress, especially at the end of the 2015 season – especially on the offensive side of the ball.
The quarterback has to show promise. The offensive line has to do a better job of protecting the passer and opening holes for the running game. The offensive coordinator has to be imaginative and effective.
The game day management must improve. The penalties have to be reduced.
That’s a lot of areas that Smith has to get right in the span of one year, and I hope he does it, as I happen to like him. The offensive side of the ball is Smith’s mountain to climb in 2015.
It’s always cooler on the top of a mountain and that’s where Smith needs to be at the end of next year. After a disappointing 2014 season it’s starting to get a little hot where Smith is standing right now at the base of that mountain.
FAB 2. WARHOP MAY NOT SURVIVE BUCCANEERS’ BAD O-LINE PLAY
The Buccaneers’ 2014 season will go down as one of the most disastrous of all time, especially if Tampa Bay finishes 2-14 by going winless at Raymond James Stadium with losses to Green Bay and New Orleans to end the season. That will mark the first time since the inaugural season of 1976 that the team has gone winless at home.
There will be some personnel changes next year as a result, especially along the offensive line, which was without a doubt the Bucs’ weakest link this year. Left tackle Anthony Collins has already been benched and if doesn’t resurface this Sunday at guard or right tackle – positions he also played in Cincinnati – Tampa Bay may take a $3 million cap hit and he could be cut this offseason.
Right guard Patrick Omameh hasn’t shown much improvement and doesn’t appear to be an ideal starter in the NFL. He’s split time this season with Garrett Gilkey and Josh Allen.
Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, who was signed this offseason to replace Jeremy Zuttah, hasn’t showed much marked improvement and is an average starting center in the league. The Bucs knew what they were getting in a desperate trade for former Pro Bowler Logan Mankins, who is a 32-year old tough guy that is still a solid starter, but one who in the twilight of his career.
Demar Dotson, the team’s best and most talented offensive lineman has had the most penalties of his career with 12 – with two games left in the season. In his fourth year as a starter, Dotson’s previous high was seven during the 2012 season.
Penalties are often the result of poor technique and have been a huge problem in Tampa Bay this year, particularly along the offensive line. Poor technique can be the result of poor coaching.
The Bucs offensive line has accounted for a whopping 43 penalties this season through 15 games – led by Dotson’s 12 and Collins’ nine. Gilkey, a seldom used backup, is third along the line with seven infractions.
To put that number in perspective, the Bucs offensive line had just 31 flags last year and only 30 in 2012. Tampa Bay is ranked 27th in penalties this year with 114 for 916 yards, and the offensive line is clearly the most undisciplined unit on the field. The offensive line is on pace to finish with 46 penalties this year. To put that in perspective, the entire Jacksonville Jaguars team only has 69 penalties this year.
While the Bucs’ offensive line lacks ideal talent across the board, some of the poor play by the front five has to be attributed to the coaching those players are receiving. Looking at each position group in Tampa Bay there has been at least one player in nearly every group that has been developed and is playing much better than he did last year or at the start of this season.
Cornerbacks coach Gil Byrd has overseen the development of second-year player Johnthan Banks, whose four interceptions lead the team. Linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson has developed linebacker Danny Lansanah, who is the most improved player on the team from a year ago. Safeties coach Mikal Smith has helped groom the play of promising young safety Bradley McDougald. Defensive line coach Joe Cullen has coached up unheralded defensive end Jacquise Smith, whose 6.5 sacks are second on the team.
On the offensive side of the ball, tight ends coach Jon Embree has played a role in rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins being the second-most productive rookie in the NFL this year in terms of receiving yards (221 yards and two touchdowns on 21 catches). Wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker has guided Vincent Jackson to the verge of his third straight 1,000-yard receiving season in Tampa Bay and rookie Mike Evans is on course to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving, too.
What about the offensive line? None of Warhop’s starting five can truly claim to have improved in 2014 and that’s quite damning.
Some might argue that a coach can’t make chicken salad out of chicken (crap) in defending Warhop. But at a position like the offensive line where there is not one or two, but five starters, an offensive line coach like Warhop has more chances to get it right and at least have one player show marked improvement.
But that hasn’t been the case, and that prompts the question, “Will Warhop be relieved of his duties after just one year?”
Warhop doesn’t have the background with Bucs head coach Lovie Smith like running backs coach Tim Spencer and special teams coordinator Kevin O’Dea have from their days in Chicago. Although both of those units have underachieved in 2014, Spencer and O’Dea have a greater chance of staying in Tampa Bay because of their history with Smith.
Warhop was signed in the offseason after he was released by Cleveland, which is where he had spent the last five years. Warhop was credited with the development of Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, the team’s first-round pick in 2007, and Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. But Warhop hasn’t had any measured success in his first – and perhaps only – season in Tampa Bay.
The fact that two of Warhop’s Cleveland players – Oniel Cousins and Gilkey – have been busts in Tampa Bay doesn’t help his case, either.
Also, consider the Buccaneers rushed for an embarrassing 16 yards on 14 carries last week in a day in which the offense generated a disgraceful 109 yards of total offense and scored a season-low three points. The offensive line was a big-time culprit, especially after the unit allowed a season-high seven sacks to Green Bay.
Tampa Bay ranks 29th in sacks surrendered with 49 and has allowed a league-high 118 quarterback hits. That’s unacceptable and will call for yet another overhaul of the offensive line in the offseason – likely with a high draft pick or two. Do the Bucs want Warhop to have the responsibility of grooming those players?
The reality is that the Buccaneers will have a new offensive coordinator in place for 2015 and that person may want to make some assistant coaching changes with Smith’s blessing. No position group is more vital to the offense’s success than the offensive line, and the new offensive coordinator may want to have his own guy coaching that unit.
That means that Warhop may not be the only coach that gets relieved of his duty as the second most important position is the quarterback where Marcus Arroyo has had his struggles in play-calling and coaching the turnovers out of starter Josh McCown, which is something he admitted to last week.
Former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy was fired in Tampa Bay after a 10-6 record in 2001 after being too loyal to his assistant coaches and not making the necessary changes that the Glazers demanded. Smith may have to bite the bullet and make some changes to his coaching staff – even some changes he may not initially like or believe in.
FAB 3. 2015 FREE AGENCY APPEARS TO BE WEAK FOR OFFENSIVE LINE
The entire offseason will likely be spent pondering the question of which quarterback – Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston – will Tampa Bay draft in the first round, or will the Bucs trade the pick for a bounty of picks that could greatly help overhaul the roster.
While getting the quarterback position solidified for the future with a franchise signal caller is vitally important for head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht, so is solidifying the offensive line in front of that QB.
The Bucs made a splash in free agency last offseason by importing starting left tackle Anthony Collins and starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith in free agency, and signing Oniel Cousins, Garrett Gilkey and re-signing Jamon Meredith as reserves. The team also traded for left guard Logan Mankins prior to the start of the season.
Most of those moves backfired as the rebuilt offensive line actually regressed in 2014. That means that Smith and Licht will need to overhaul the unit again, although left tackle Demar Dotson, left guard Logan Mankins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith will likely occupy those starting spots in 2015.
The crop of offensive linemen in free agency looks weak with the lone headliners being Green Bay’s Bryan Bulaga and San Francisco’s Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati. A strong right tackle, the 28-year old Bulaga would great in red and pewter playing that position if Demar Dotson sticks at left tackle, but the Packers are expected to keep him. After that’s it’s unheralded St. Louis right tackle Joe Barksdale, who is 26.
Iupati will likely be seeking a rich contract due to his Pro Bowl status, and while he is a very good run blocker, the left guard’s pass protection leaves a lot to be desired. And how much of Iupati’s game is a product of playing next to another Pro Bowler in left tackle Joe Staley?
Iupati would be a very strong addition to help boost Tampa Bay’s ground game, but after shelling out a lot of money in free agency for offensive linemen over the years with the likes of Todd Steussie, Derrick Deese, Carl Nicks and Anthony Collins and not getting much in return, do the Glazers have the stomach to do it again?
Seattle’s James Carpenter, a former first-round pick, has never become an elite player in the NFL and the team declined to pick up his fifth-year option during the offseason. That doesn’t mean he won’t re-sign with the Seahawks, but it could mean he’s headed for free agency. The 26-year old guard could be considered a modest upgrade in Tampa Bay, but he won’t be as heralded as a savior.
The Bucs will need to turn to free agency to fill a couple of holes on the offensive line because Tampa Bay will likely use its first-round pick on a quarterback in the 2015 NFL Draft and may not have the realistic opportunity of drafting an offensive lineman until the second round at the earliest.
While the Bucs will be looking for two new starters to man the right side of the offensive line in 2015, none of the other expected starters – Dotson, Mankins and Dietrich-Smith would be considered to be Pro Bowl-caliber players based on their play in 2014. It would be wise for Tampa Bay to use the combination of free agency and the draft to upgrade the offensive line.
But with a less than stellar crop of free agents available, any impact players along the offensive line may come from the draft.
FAB 4. 2015 DRAFT PRESENTS OPPORTUNITIES TO UPGRADE TAMPA BAY’S O-LINE
The Buccaneers will either have the first or second overall draft pick in 2015 depending on the outcome of Tampa Bay’s season-ending finale against New Orleans on Sunday. While there appears to be two top-5 talents at the quarterback position with Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, there is not an elite, franchise-caliber offensive tackle in this draft as there has been in years past with Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel two years ago and Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews last year.
Stanford junior left tackle Andrus Peat, who is 6-foot-7, 312 pounds, might be the closest to fit that description, followed by Iowa’s Brandon Scherff. While the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Scherff might be the better all-around player, scouts feel that his game would transition better to the NFL as a guard where he could be a multi-year Pro Bowler due to his lack of elite athleticism and shorter than ideal arms. That could hurt Scheff’s draft stock, as most teams don’t want to draft a guard in the top 10.
As a result, this year’s crop of offensive linemen is solid, but not spectacular, although there could be as many as five tackles taken in the first round, including Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi, who underwhelmed at left tackle in 2014 and La’el Collins, a road-grading left tackle that may have to switch to right tackle or guard in the NFL.
One of the potential prospects rocketing up draft boards is Notre Dame’s redshirt sophomore Ronnie Stanley, a 6-foot-6, 318-pound athletic left tackle that excels in pass protection as well as run blocking. Currently forecasted as a late first-round pick, Stanely could be a fast-rising player if he decides to forego the final two years of his eligibility with the Fighting Irish and head to the draft.
Perhaps the most solid tackle prospect in the entire draft is Pittsburgh’s T.J. Clemmings, who makes run blocking look easy due to a combination of technique, power and athleticism. At 6-foot-5, 308 pounds, Clemmings isn’t a mauler, but he is an aggressive athlete that has started at right tackle the last two years after starting his career at defensive end.
Without a first-round caliber guard or center, the second round will feature Florida State center Cameron Erving, who is also capable of playing left tackle, in addition to South Carolina guard A.J. Cann and Colorado State left tackle Ty Sambrailo, Auburn center Reese Dismukes, Florida State guards Josue Matias and Tre’ Jackson and Alabama guard Arie Kouandijo, and a pair of underclassmen left tackles in Miami’s Ereck Flowers and Baylor’s Spencer Drango. Erving accomplished the rare feat of being named first-team All-ACC at offensive tackle and second-team All-ACC at center.
Clemmings, Collins, Erving, Dismukes, Sambrailo, Jackson, Matias, in addition to third-round prospects Oregon left tackle Jake Fisher, Oregon center Hroniss Grasu and Boston College center Andy Gallik, will all take part in the 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl. The Buccaneers will most certainly be watching and taking detailed notes.
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• A lot of Bucs fans didn’t take too kindly to last week’s SR’s Fab 5 and my assertion that Tampa Bay’s ground game needed an infusion of better running backs and that the team should spend a premium pick (second or third-round selection) on a play-making rusher. The critiques focused mostly on the fact that without a strong offensive line any running back would struggle to gain yardage.
While this edition of SR’s Fab 5 focuses on the offensive linemen that will be available to Tampa Bay in free agency and the draft, please note that the Buccaneers are on pace to have the worst running game in team history in 2014. The Bucs entered last week with 1,176 yards on the ground, which ranked 29th in the league. After rushing for a paltry 16 yards last week against Green Bay, Tampa Bay now has only 1,192 yards rushing and needs to rush for 99 yards on the ground versus New Orleans to surpass the 1,290 yards that Tampa Bay rushed for back in 1993.
An upgraded offensive line is one part of the equation, but so is adding more talented running backs that are capable of breaking tackles and making defenders miss. Charles Sims hasn’t demonstrated the ability to do that on a consistent basis yet, and Doug Martin has shown that shown that since his rookie season two years ago.
A prime example of what I’m talking about is the Beastquake 2.0 run by Marshawn Lynch against Arizona two weeks ago. You can watch the highlight video right here.
Seattle’s offensive line really only gives Lynch about three yards on the play, and he even steps out of a tackle attempt by linebacker Glenn Carson a yard past the line of scrimmage. After that broken tackle, Lynch gets to the second level where he fakes left and then cuts right to juke Arizona’s Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Lynch then violently breaks Peterson’s tackle attempt 20 yards later and then bowls into safety Rashad Johnson and runs him over without breaking stride. Then he steps out of a tackle attempt by linebacker Alex Okafor at the 21-yard line before leaping into the end zone for a career-long 79-yard touchdown run.
Lynch is a complete back with speed, the ability to break tackles and make defenders miss. He has the ability to create plays on his own, which is something Tampa Bay’s current stable of running backs struggle to do with the exception of Bobby Rainey, a backup that is currently leading the team in rushing with 406 yards. If you don’t believe the Bucs need better running backs then you are fooling yourself, and don’t be surprised when Tampa Bay drafts another one in 2015.
• The Senior Bowl is loaded with talent at the skill positions, especially at wide receiver as the class features Florida State’s Rashad Greene, Auburn’s Sammie Coats, West Virginia’s Kevin White, Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett, East Carolina’s Justin Hardy, Michigan State’s Tony Lippett and Stanford’s Ty Montgomery. Both Lockett and Montgomery are also dangerous return specialists that the Bucs need to have their eyes on.
While the Bucs recently re-signed Louis Murphy to a three-year contract extension, he’s ideally a third or fourth wide receiver on most team’s rosters and Tampa Bay could use another dangerous receiver to complement Murphy, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson as the cupboard is kind of bare at the position. The team likes how Robert Herron and Tavarres King have practiced down the stretch, but both players are inexperienced and have yet to really prove what they can do in the NFL.
There are a couple of really good running backs at the Senior Bowl, including three that were profiled last week in Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Northern Iowa’s David Johnson and Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford.
• While Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans has lost some momentum in terms of production down the stretch and will probably be overtaken by New York wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, Bucs receiver Russell Shepard still believes that Evans is the top rookie wideout.
“For us to say that Mike is having a great season among all these great receivers in this league – especially the rookie receivers – is amazing,” Shepard said. “You can say this is probably one of the greatest receiving draft classes of all time. I think a lot of those guys are going to be playing for a long time and will be breaking a lot of records and be special players. For us to say that he is having the best season out of all of them – that speaks for itself. I’m just so proud of him. I played with Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry at LSU. Mike is just as good – if not more talented – than them.”
• With head coach Jason Garrett’s contract coming up in Dallas after this season, it will be interesting to see if defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s contract is up in January, too. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has seen his unit make big strides since the bye week, but in my opinion, Marinelli would be considered an upgrade.
Marinelli and Smith are best friends and coached together in Tampa Bay from 1996-2000 and in Chicago from 2009-12. Bucs defensive line coach Joe Cullen occupied the same position under Marinelli from 2006-08. In my 20 years of covering the Buccaneers, the fiery Marinelli is one of the finest coaches I have ever witnessed and I think he’s got one of the brightest defensive minds in the game. We’ll see what happens.
• Sunday will conclude my 20th season of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I began my career as a Bucs beat writer in 1995 – the same year future Hall of Famers Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks would become Buccaneers – fresh out of Kansas State University where I worked covering Bill Snyder and the Wildcats football team in the KSU sports information department, as well as the Kansas State Collegian student newspaper and Wildcat Weekly.
I’ve covered six head coaches – Sam Wyche, Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden, Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith – and four general managers – Rich McKay, Bruce Allen, Mark Dominik and Jason Licht – in Tampa Bay and have shared a lot of special conversations with them throughout the years.
I’ve seen the rise and fall of the Buccaneers over the last two decades and have been fortunate to cover some of the most legendary Tampa Bay players of all time, including Brooks, Sapp, Mike Alstott, John Lynch, Simeon Rice, Shelton Quarles, Donnie Abraham, Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David – and my all-time favorite, Ronde Barber.
I’ve had the distinction of working with some fantastic people at Pewter Report throughout the years, including our vice president of business operations, Kim Roper, Cliff Welch, who is the best NFL photographer, and a great up-and-coming photographer in Mark LoMoglio. I am honored to work for the best boss I could ever imagine in PewterReport.com president Hugh MacArthur, who helps make all of this possible for myself, the PewterReport.com employees and to the over half a million Bucs fans that visit our site each year.
Working alongside some very gifted writers and great friends like Jim Flynn, Charlie Campbell, and Mark Cook, the most passionate reporter of them all, has made my job easy, and has made the last 20 years fly by so quickly. I am indebted to their help in growing PewterReport.com over the years, as well as other fantastic writers that have helped us throughout the years, including our current contributors – Eric Dellaratta, Eric Horchey, Andrew Scavelli and Zach Shapiro.
I would also like to thank the Glazer family and the several Bucs public relations staffs I have worked with over the past two decades for the opportunity to cover the team and for all their support.
But most importantly, I want to thank you, the hundreds of thousands of Buccaneers fans that visit PewterReport.com each year and have supported my efforts dating back to the days of Buccaneer Magazine, for the privilege of serving you with my information, insight, analysis and observations of your favorite team. You have helped my family and I earn a living for the past 20 years and I am eternally grateful.
I think I’ve got another 20 years worth of covering the Buccaneers left in me, and as I embark on that endeavor in 2015, my gift to you I’ll be dishing out some of my own personal anecdotes and behind-the-scenes stuff that I think Bucs fans will really enjoy over the next 20 SR’s Fab 5 columns. There will be some light-hearted moments included, in addition to some real inside scoop that Bucs fans will surely find to be quite fascinating.
I’m taking next week off to celebrate the New Year and to watch my Kansas State Wildcats take on Alterraun Verner’s UCLA Bruins in the Alamo Bowl on January 2, so the next edition of SR’s Fab 5 will be published on January 9, 2015. Thank you once again, Bucs fans. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season. Have a safe and Happy New Year!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
They need a wrecklng ball on our offense it needs a major overhaul with the exception of the wr’s
Warhop needs to well…..just hop! And it won’t be strange territory for him. He’s had to hop several times before!
Warhop was hired by the Arizona Cardinals as the offensive line coach on February 10, 1998. His contract expired at the conclusion of the 2002 season, and was not re-signed.
Warhop was hired by the Dallas Cowboys as their offensive line coach on January 16, 2003. After two seasons with the Cowboys, Warhop was fired on January 7, 2005.
On January 27, 2005, Warhop was hired by the San Francisco 49ers as the offensive line coach. In 2006 Warhop’s offensive line allowed a league-worst 55 sacks, and the 49ers hired a second offensive line coach, Chris Foerster, to share the duties. Warhop was fired in-season on October 23, 2008 after his offensive line gave up a league-worst 29 sacks to that point.
Warhop was hired by the Cleveland Browns as their offensive line coach on February 4, 2009. Warhop was a popular coach at the Browns but was let go when Rob Chudzinski was fired. He signed the with Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January 18, 2014. He brought Oniel Cousins with him and later brought in Garrett Gilkey.
This is the worst O-Line in the NFL. Warhop should be fired – as my friend Shakespeare said “hoisted by his own petard”!
First of all Scott, congratulations on 20 years of Buccaneer coverage. I’ve enjoyed the ride as a reader and Pewter Report Insider for many of those years and will tell any Buccaneer fan who will listen that a Pewter Report subscription is essential, a must, for any fan who really cares. Thanks for a job well done and I look forward to many more years!
What I worry most about concerning St. Lovie Smith is that the game has passed him by. I seriously question his judgement based on so many fails this season and bad FA moves last winter. You pretty much laid them out and it is more than a disappointment, it was a colossal failure!
The OL is a mess and I only hope it can be address enough to even be average by next season but it’s obvious we need a QB and an OC. The biggest question most fans have is who those two men are going to be. Right now, honestly, I do not trust St. Lovie to make those calls though I have little doubt he will. Hopefully he will pick an OC to go with whoever the Buccaneers decide will be their QB in 2015. Hopefully that OC will make the call on which assistant coaches go, stay and are hired. Going to wait and see and really hoping to be pleasantly surprised. I will be shocked and dismayed if the Buccaneers don’t draft a QB in the first round and imagine the already declining interest in the team will take a serious hit. But with St. Lovie, you never know.
I do think he makes a good DC and there are some signs the defense is coming around. But is that enough?
Finally, we are supposed to be happy with maybe 6-7 wins next year? Well IMO that’s just another indicator of how bad things have gotten since St. Lovie’s ill advised and costly hire.
So let’s see more walking this winter and next season because all we got in the last 12 months was a lot of talking from St. Lovie and the Bucs and I’m pretty damn sick of listening to empty promises and piss poor results.
Says the man a couple of weeks from being halfway done with paying for 2015 season tickets. It’s a Bucs Life.
Congratulations on 20 great years. You are Pewter Report.
Why do you keep saying that Lovie wouldn’t run an Oregon style of spread offense? People assume it is some pass happy and risky offense…but it is actually quite the opposite. It is an extremely balanced offense and Mariota has thrown just 2 interceptions all season. You just need a QB who can run the offense and take care of the ball. I think Rainey and his burst is tailor made for this style –
Also – my stomach turns when I keep hearing you even suggest that the Bucs would pass on a QB and pick an offensive lineman. That would be the biggest mistake they could ever make. Look, we all have to recognize that this team is not going to turn around in one season. We have to rebuild. And when you have sucked bad enough to have a top 2 pick and can get a player the caliber of Mariota or Winston – with how awful your QB play has been – you absolutely positively have to do it. We should just stop talking any other silliness. We will have to do our best in later rounds, in free agency, and in the following year’s draft to rebuild our O line. But there will be plenty of more opportunities to do THAT than to fond a franchise QB. Those opportunities are extremely rare.
You fix the piece of c**p OL . Improve the QB play. Then you will see the run game improve – with Doug Martin!
Logan Makins got knocked around and gave up sacks and pressure. Evan Dietrich Smith wasn’t any better.
Doug Martin is not Marshawn Lynch, but he is not the buffoon you seem to think he is.
The defenses didn’t need to be concerned about our passing game and loaded the box.
Before I draft a RB I am going for two OLs in the first 4 picks. Toss in a DE and I am not considering a RB before the 5th round if then.
Fun thing about it all, we’ll see in a year.
And Congratulations on your 20 years! Has it been like a Clint Eastwood movie with the Bucs?
“The Good, the Bad , and the Ugly”?
Congrats Scott and thank you for the great job covering the Bucs! I still disagree about picking a RB early tho lol. My counter to your “draft Marshawn Lynch/Adrian Peterson” is the Dallas Cowboys offensive success with a 3rd round RB & undrafted QB (but only after drafting OL for a few years). From media reports, drafting those OL required a team of stallions to keep Jerry Jones from turning in the “Manziel” card. He was also reported to have broken out in “the hebie jeevies” because OL “just aren’t splashy enough dammit!” Happy holidays & enjoy your bowl game!
Thanks Scott for all your Articles. I’m glad you’re opening up more. We have no choice, but to take a QB if one of these two QB’s prove to be worth the pick. I sure hope so; I would hate to see us bomb on another 1st round QB like another Vinny or Josh. The OL Coach has not done what we need in Tampa Bay. Next to QB; it’s the main problem. Would I be surprised if we took a big RB in the 3rd or 4th round; of course not. We should trade Martin for something like a 4th or 5th rounder to Dallas, Patriots, Philly, Saints.
Horse, don’t forget Dilfer:)
I was here when McKay had a 3-4 defense and was proud when Monty brought in the Tampa 2. Now I watch as QB’s pick us apart and Ronde Barber so much as says “one of its weaknesses. My hopes for Lovie to be the answer are two and thirteen in the twilight of a season.
Another of your outstanding articles, Scott! We definitely need Mariota in the first round and Warhop must be FIRED!. You are right about needing a back who can break tackles and make his own holes–and Stupid Schiano gave away two thousand yard Big Backs or we already would have two on this roster already. Get a proven one in free agency, but our present backs would do well with an excellent OL.
Congratulations on reaching that milestone Scott. I first met you and had dinner with you at a Tampa Bay Bucs Booster Club meeting when you were right out of college working for Jeff Fox. The years have been good to you. Looking forward to many more but I’m not sure I can get to 20 before crossing the creek.
This season has been more frustrating than most since we all had such high hopes. After our enthusiasm was met with disappointment time after time; we could see the depths to which our team had fallen and our mood shifted to apathy. Slowly we have become “comfortably numb”. I can’t wait until this season is over. I’m really not sure how to act at the Saints game. I’d sure like the options having that first pick offers; but I’m also not looking forward to the Who Dat crowd celebrating victory in our stadium. As Dorris Day would say, “What will be, will be.” All of our youthful readers are now asking, Dorris Day, “Who Dat?
Watch Erving #75 on new years. He’s rock solid at center, and would be a long term fix in the middle of our line. Here’s an idea, Winston first pick, his center with our second pick. They play together now at a higher level then McClown, and EDS.
I’m worried Erving won’t last that long. I was shocked when they said he was a second round pick. Him and Winston would be a dream come true.
Lovie Smith will turn this offense around and the Buccaneers will be a dominant football team for the next ten years to come, and when I wake up on New Years Day 2015, I’ll be 25 years old again.
Good read Scott. Congratulations on your tenure. It’s good to see someone who can enjoy his work and produce at a high level, although this year must have been a challenge.
When Jim brown came out of Syracuse we all knew he would be a star. He was. When Archie left Ohio State same thing, but he wasn’t .
The draft is and always has been a crap shoot. And free agency is certainly as unpredictable. Winning teams do so with average players and dependable backups, plus a lot of luck. You hear a lot of players and teams simply “Willing,” themselves to win. That in my opinion comes from good coaching. I still believe in Lovie, however I hope that management takes a seriou look at our coaching staff before we start evaluating players. We are not going to get a bunch of Jim Browns in free agency and the draft. We need people with that “Will” factor and coaches that can make it happen.
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Wow lot of info to digest. Not sure I agree at all about the RB’s. I see that as least of our issues. Didn’t martin and Rainiey both do well with different O lines in the past? I’d agree the game has passed Smith by. Wish I was wrong, but don’t think I am. He always was clueless about offense. The comparison with Ryan is a good one. I think now he’s even somewhat clueless about defense and evaluation of talent, schemes, and time/game management as pointed out. Depressing last few years as a Bucs fan and don’t see much light around the corner.
“That’s a lot of areas that Smith has to get right in the span of one year, and I hope he does it, as I happen to like him. The offensive side of the ball is Smith’s mountain to climb in 2015.”
Lovie has already had that year and screwed it up beyond all recognition and you want to give him and his pimp Licht, another year?????
Maybe that’s why Lovie got the Red Carpet treatment from PR, cause you like him, and why PR seemed to take every opportunity to demean Schiano and helped to heap all the damnation on Schiano while he was here. Schiano was never welcomed by PR anywhere near like Lovie. Lovie was treated like the 2nd coming, he could do no wrong, and it was weeks before I read any serious writings from PR questioning Lovie. Lovie got away with a lot of half truths/non answers for weeks. No one from the local media seemed to want to rock the boat” asking the hard questions.
Why is Lovie being still treated like someone special after the disaster he was responsible for this year. The so called “you don’t fire a coach after 1 year” is ridiculous after what Lovie did to us this year. Why is the special teams coach not under the microscope like the OL coach? Odea, IMO, has done nothing to develop any type of a return game. Why isn’t he on the hot seat like Warhop?
Disappointed in your tenor about Lovie, felt is should have been a lot stronger. A history of 10 years without an offense and he is still not questioned – even with Martz (one of the best in the business)
But you like him. So that should affect you writings? Apparently it appears that it has, at least to this reader.
Uncle Stan – I liked Greg Schiano, too, and Raheem Morris before him. The reason I said that is because I didn’t want anyone to get the impression I have an axe to grind with Lovie Smith. I think I’ve been plenty hard on Smith. I’m basically the first media member to suggest that he’s on the hot seat in 2015, which isn’t exactly flattering. I also said that Smith’s 1-5 Bucs were irrelevant, which is quite damning (https://www.pewterreport.com/articles/smiths-1-5-buccaneers-are-irrelevant/).
Scott- Since joining PR back when there were “Insider” days, I’ve appreciated the insight and perspective and continue to enjoy the information. You, Mark and the rest of the PR staff (and former) have done a great job for us fans who want a solid source for their team’s coverage. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe any other team that has a dedicated source like the Bucs and if that’s true, I find that unique. Keep up the good work.
Congrats Scott. All the offense really needs is a top flight OC with a free reign. He will fix the rest.
Mariotta Is the Pick. He proved in the Rose Bowl that he is the superior player. Great Decision making, great athletics, great accuracy. And a well balanced, good hard working kid. Bucs pick him up and get some OL help and this team will be something in the future.
Well I rarely have an opportunity to say much (too busy) but let me say as a long-time Buccaneers fan having the #1 pick this year to me is the worst thing that could have ever happened to the team. I’m normally a glass half-full individual, but Tampa is going to select either Winston or Mariotta with it’s first overall pick, which is the worst thing they can do. Way too many fans have fell in love with QB’s who have success at the college level, and to me these two guys are prime examples. Winston is the most NFL ready of the two, as most experts I’ve heard have agreed, however he’s the least mature, and doesn’t appear to possess the leadership qualities you must have at the QB position. Noone on Planet Earth coming from that system in Oregon can accurately predict whether Mariotta will succeed at the NFL level. NOONE. And if anyone acts like they know for sure they’re an idiot. In college, QB’s throw to open WR’s. In the NFL, QB’s throw WR’s open. And that’s the difference. Oregon’s system creates major advantages for Mariotta to throw to wide open WR’s, which makes him extremely difficult to scout/predict how his transition will be. The only thing anyone can accurately point too is the fact the guy is a solid kid. He’s a class act, much like Russell Wilson on and more importantly, off the field.
I simply feel the Bucs are going to take 1 of the 2 guys, and nothing jumps out at me suggesting that either player is anymore than average at the NFL level.
I’ll leave you with this. Think about this for a minute. There are arguably 5 (maybe) QB’s on Planet Earth that you look at and say, that guy is a legend. Period. I’m talking about I can build my team aroudn this guy and he can simply carry me to the playoffs. (Brady, Rodgers, Luck, Manning).
Did you watch Andrew Luck at Stanford? He literally jumped off the page as being a can’t-miss. Do you really feel these two supposed ELITE guys jump off the page? Put down the Kool-Aid that is Oregon’s offensive system, which inflates players stats and makes them appear 100x better than they are, and then ask yourself, is he really the guy?
I don’t think so. I hope I’m wrong. I’m not even sure Tampa picks him. I’m kinda convinced at this point they will draft Winston. I think it sets the team back for years. Just my two cents. Go ahead and boo me.
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