FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots

Shaq Barrett won the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for his hot start to the 2019 season, which saw him compile nine sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception in Tampa Bay’s first four games.

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett
Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I always think Shaq is going to get there every play just based on how he’s producing this season,” Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead said. “Every time we need a big play he makes it. He had the interception, he had the hit on the quarterback that led to my interception and he had the sack-strip at the end of the game. That’s four weeks in a row that he’s been able to get to the quarterback and I’m sure that’s going to continue.”

NFL analyst and former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger has an excellent breakdown of Barrett’s sensational start. Watch the video clip attached to his tweet.

• Tampa Bay wide receiver Chris Godwin is off to a tremendous start to his third year in the league with 26 catches for 386 yards and four touchdowns. That puts him on pace for 104 catches for 1,544 yards and 16 touchdowns, which would be an absolutely monster season.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin
Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Getty Images

Not only does Godwin lead the NFL in catches that result in a first down, he had a career-high 12 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 55-40 win against the Rams with 11 of those catches picking up a first down.

“That’s a pretty good stat,” said Bucs head coach Bruce Arians. “That’s the thing – when you’re running the ball and you’re blocking like he does, there are a lot of opportunities around the middle of the field to make big plays – and outside. Again, it goes back to our philosophy – mine, personally – if you’re willing to do it, I’m willing to get you the ball.”

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• Tampa Bay rookie Nick Fitzgerald has done something pretty remarkable – something I can’t remember any other Buccaneer player doing in my 24 years of covering the team. He made the practice squad after not practicing for a single play in training camp or playing a single snap in a preseason game. Fitzgerald pulled his hamstring in July while playing beach volleyball and was forced to miss the entire month of August while it healed.

“To me it speaks volumes that even though they didn’t see me in pads and didn’t see me in the games, what they saw work ethic-wise, and ability and what I can do for the team,” Fitzgerald said. “There were plenty of guys that got hurt that were cut immediately, but every day came and went and I stayed around. I was just trying to stay around until tomorrow, get back healthy and get back in to the practices and maybe work my way up to making the active roster at some point this season.”

Fitzgerald, who was a dual-threat quarterback at Mississippi State, has continued cross-training between quarterback and tight end, which was something that began shortly after the team’s rookie mini-camp back in May. He was also training to be a core special teams performer, too.

Bucs QB-TE Nick Fitzgerald
Bucs QB-TE Nick Fitzgerald – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Man, I do a lot of things,” Fitzgerald said. “I do a lot of special teams. I do a lot of scout work for special teams and I try to give the guys on special teams and defense the best look I can. At practice I split some of the scout reps at quarterback with Griff (Ryan Griffin), but at the same time I’m in the tight end meeting room. So I’m not quite sure yet what I’m going to be doing here, but when they tell me I’ll be doing it 100 percent.”

This week in practice, Fitzgerald has been assuming the role of Saints quarterback Taysom Hill, who comes in as a running, Wildcat-style quarterback in some of Sean Payton’s gimmick packages.

“Yeah – he wears his jersey [number] and that’s about it,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said. “Nick, he can throw it. He can do those things, but as far as running routes and stuff, it’s not quite the same, but he’s out there doing it.”

For now, Fitzgerald is a man without a true position, but he isn’t complaining. He’s on an NFL practice squad after missing the preseason, which says a lot about his skill set and the level of intrigue that the team has about him. Yet Fitzgerald is curious about which position his future holds so he can get to the right weight for maximum performance.

“To me I definitely think I need to put on a little more weight if that is the position they want me to play,” Fitzgerald said. “If they want me to go out there and run routes and block I need to put on weight. But if I’m going to stay doing special teams and quarterback stuff then I can stay slimmer and quicker so I can get down the field and go cover punts and kicks. Whenever they finally decide on what I’m position I’m going to play I’ll adjust my weight accordingly. My weight fluctuates with the hot weather, so I’m somewhere between 225-230.”

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

30 COMMENTS

  1. I think you’re spot-on withe the defense Scott. “Built to stop the run”. We have really 1 pass rusher, and 4 other guys on the line (Suh, Vea, Nassib and Gholston) typically that have fewer sacks in their career than Barret has through 4 games 🙂

    That’s not a knock – it’s a very interesting strategy to playing defense that I think Bowles is pushing quite well…However (there’s always a “however”)…that means teams are going to pass….and our secondary is abysmal. This should be the flashing red light that warns the GM to get some help….unfortunately our GM is like Homer Simpson at the switch watching the red light flash and commenting on how pretty it looks.

    Anyway, on to RoJo…it’s amazing what a young kid with talent can do if you let him touch the ball more than 30 times in a season.

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    • That same “Homer Simpson GM” is also the same guy who brought in Suh, Nassib, Gholston oh and wait…Shaq Barrett.

      But you have got to be right, huh?

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      • Well, Gholston was brought to Tampa (in the 2013 draft to be specific) by Dominik….so maybe no more needs to be said about your post, and your need to be right, huh.

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        • …and was kept by Licht with a second contract.

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          • the statement was “brought in” by Licht….Gholston was “brought in” by Dom…but if we want to give Licht credit for re-signing guys, then I guess we need to ding for not re-signing guys like Donald Penn who made two pro bowls after Licht got rid of him and is still starting in the league, still rating higher than Donovan Smith (unbelievably!!); like Bradley McDougald who made the pro bowl last year….TBH, the list should really be a long one, but he’s done so poorly bringing guys to town, that there aren’t more good ones who have moved on.

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    • You obviously missed the whole point of the article. Bowles & BA wants you to throw the ball 70 times BA quote “I have never lost to it”. The philosophical belief is when you throw it that much it will force turnovers. The CB’s are on an island the whole game, there job is to make an open field tackle, not necessarily Pass Breakups.

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      • Not sure if your comment Captain was directed at me, but when I said “it’s a very interesting strategy to playing defense that I think Bowles is pushing quite well”, what I meant was,

        it’s a very interesting strategy to playing defense that I think Bowles is pushing quite well….sorry if that was confusing.

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        • I am referring directly toward your comments “our secondary is abysmal” and our GM starring at a “flashing red light”….

          The GM allowed BA & Bowles to draft the CB’s that fit their scheme. Why are you beating up on Licht when we are winning with the new scheme and players?

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          • Not defending what East said, but the Bucs DBs have to start getting better at following #54’s lead and jumping routes now. They do that, and they’ll become a secondary which opposing teams will have to take seriously.

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          • ok – I’m not trying to be a downer. It’s great that we won last weekend, and that we’re now 2-2.

            But any casual observer can see that turning the corner with our franchise, as we’ve been trying to do for the better part of two decades, is not going to happen with the secondary we have. We can get better – indeed we are much better, but we just got torched for 500 yards (by a guy with the 25th best QBR)…we’re 31st in pass defense! On any given Sunday that Jameis doesn’t have the best game of his career (as he did last Sunday) we are in trouble, and that’s not fair to Jameis, the offense, or the run defense.

            Why? Our GM has spent 5 of our last 11 premium picks (round 1 and 2) in his 5-year draft tenure, on the secondary!!!…which is 31st in the league. I’m hard on him, because he has spent a lot of resources – as our supposed expert in this area – and whiffed repeatedly. In fact, the best player to come through our secondary during his tenure, is a guy he decided to let walk….and made the pro bowl last year for Seattle.

            So, if I’m going to jump on the Jason Licht bandwagon, I’m going to need much more in the results department…10 wins, playoffs, some of the guys he’s drafted actually making the pro bowl, a better track record in FA (I know Barrett is great – he is, but I haven’t forgotten Michael Johnson, Anthony Collins, Swaggy Baker, Vinny Curry, Robert Ayers, and on and on)….you could take as many swings as Licht has and eventually find a diamond…I need something more consistent to jump on that bandwagon.

            At the moment – I’m leaning much more towards all of those fans that said 2019 was going to be better because of coaching.

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  2. Exactly. Suh brings the attitude McCoy never did. Respect from opponents and teammates. McCoy was soft and a cry baby and that tainted the defense. Always excuses and now its stout. Sunday is a big test!

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  3. I won’t play my greatest hits on why McCoy was so overrated. Suh was always going to be an upgrade over McCoy on the field. This team was always going to have to stop the run first to be successful.

    I’m as happy as a puppy with two peters over the performance of the defense so far, even including secondary play. Fast, physical, and swarming to the ball.

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  4. Good information Scott.

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  5. Our run defense is incredible with those 2 big boys taking up space. Its not even close if you ask me who id rather have, suh or mccoy. It also speaks to how coaching can make a huge difference, although some don’t believe that. Im looking at you naples.
    Amazing when a coach has faith in you what it can do, in the cases of jameis and jones in particular. Barret is just an animal and you cant say enough about this guy. And hes only going to get better once jpp gets back in the thick of it.
    As for the cosching staff, anyone looking at Atlanta and seeing things eerily similar? A crappy run game and a qb that has the most picks in the nfl? Thats koetter in a nut shell and he looks worse by the day. I have a ton of faith in this staff, stack a win this week and we will be in great shape!

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  6. Suh brings an attitude that permeates the defense. Sure he’s past his prime, but there’s no mistaking his impact on the run defense and he looked pretty fast on the scoop fumble. Listened to an interview with Jordan Whitehead this week and he said Suh is pretty quiet, goes about his business but works hard. Then vs. the Panthers Suh speaks up in the huddle late fourth quarter and said they were gonna stop ’em and everyone took notice. I like that.

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    • Licht and his guys in the front office are going to have some tough decisions to make this off season. It seems like we’re finally going to spend some real money on defense (Shaq and hopefully Suh as well), justifiably so based on the first 4 games of this season. However, I’m thinking it will only come at the expense of cutting or trading some solid players on both sides of the ball. If we keep getting better as the season wears on, it just makes the off season next year more interesting.

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  7. “I’ve learned a lot from watching him play,” Vea said of Suh. “He’s all about his business. He’s a real professional and I’ve learned a lot from him on and off the field. He gets a lot of double teams for us. He does a lot of the dirty work and I get a lot of the one-on-ones because of him. Obviously they are going to double Suh before they double me.”

    Mic drop on Geraldini.

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    • I would like to see Suh run at the goal line with Vea as his lead blocker!

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  8. The secondary is young you don’t fix it overnight. It will get better but calling it abysmal and trashing Licht is stupid imo. They will get better and can’t fix every issue on this team in one draft.

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    • Reps will turn our inexperienced speedy young  DBs into experienced, speedy and competent professionals.  They are still “terribly” young.

      ___________
      Go Bucs!!!

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  9. Suh is a beast I don’t care about stats he’s one of big reasons for run defense being number 1. Vea been stout as well.

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  10. Suh is everything we all hoped McCoy would be, but never was, or could be. Glad we got him, and he’s rubbing off on the rest of the defense in a good way. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a carry, or lead block near the goal line like Sapp used to. His speed on that scope, and score was impressive. He sure doesn’t look past his prime to me. Rojo has put on some muscle this season, but Koetter’s offenses just don’t commit to the run game. Just look at Atl. Freeman only had 12 carries last week while Ryan threw 60 something times. The last time Freeman’s numbers looked this bad was his rookie season, when Koetter was his O.C.. Backs have to get carries to be effective, and O linemen have to get opportunities to run block to wear down defenses. I’m glad we’re finally doing just that.

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  11. I agree that the secondary has left a lot to be desired. I do not agree that they are hopeless. Football Outsiders rates Carlton Davis as the 10th best cornerback in the NFL based on the first four week and with a 65% success rate. He has played very well as have the two safeties who show a lot of potential.

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  12. Bucs need another CB to step up. Edwards, Whitehead and Davis will be fine long term.

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    • Don’t forget Justin Evans. That Safety’s room is looking pretty solid as it stands, but add Justin back to the mix….. MJ’s snap count is gonna be WAY down.

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  13. Good read!

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  14. That Baldinger video of Shaq Barrett has me laughing and laughing and laughing! How can you not get excited watching what SB has done in the first quarter of the season?! INCONCEIVABLE! Baldy is right, defensive ends around the league would love to end a FULL season with Shaq’s stats 1/4 of the way through! GO BUCS!!

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    • Not sure if it was intended, but I definitely heard Vizzini’s voice when I read this

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      • Definitely the intended implication! LOL! Funny moment in that movie!

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  15. The Lams had a very young coach and we had an old pro. The results are to be expected.

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