FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• I hope you enjoyed my sort of spoof-filled Fab 1 section about the Bucs being cursed. Is Tampa Bay really cursed or just really bad? You be the judge.
Here’s something else to ponder. Since changing their uniforms in 2014, the Bucs have compiled a record of 25-47 (.347) in the new jerseys, which feature digital clock-looking numbers that a great number of fans despise. Tampa Bay’s record in its original red and pewter jerseys from 1997-2013 was 122-118 (.508).
• In Sunday’s 2-Point Conversion, I mentioned how the Glazers should be keeping an eye on the situation in Baltimore where John Harbaugh might be on the hot seat if the Ravens fail to make the playoffs this year. Harbaugh has compiled a 95-66 record (.590) in the regular season and is an impressive 10-5 (.667) in the postseason, including winning Super Bowl XLVII against his brother Jim, who coached the San Francisco 49ers.
Jim Harbaugh had a successful careers at San Diego (29-6 from 2004-06) and Stanford (29-21 from 2007-10) that he parlayed into a very successful stint with the 49ers from 2011-14 (44-19-1), leading San Francisco to the Super Bowl in 2012. He left the 49ers in 2015 after an 8-8 season to return to his alma mater, Michigan, where he is 36-12, including an 8-1 mark this year. He makes $7 million per year and it would take a significant increase to lure him away from a Wolverines program he is building into a national power.
With Urban Meyer’s health concerns a factor at Ohio State, the Buckeyes dominance in the Big 10 might be over and Harbaugh knows it. I don’t know that Harbaugh would want to leave Michigan and the potential success on the horizon for a job like Tampa Bay. It’s not attractive enough and the Michigan boosters can pony up as much money as the Glazers could offer in order to keep him in maize and blue.
If the Bucs are going to make a coaching change and have a shot at either Harbaugh as a candidate to replace Koetter, it will likely be the Ravens’ John Harbaugh. The Ravens, by the way, have the league’s No. 1 defense, which would make pursuing John Harbaugh a wise move in Tampa Bay if he were available and able to bring his staff of assistants to the Bucs.
• The holiday shopping season is rapidly approaching and there is ONE PLACE to turn for all of your Bucs, NFL, NCAA, NHL and NBA shopping needs and that’s Fanatics.com. PewterReport.com has partnered once again with Fanatics.com to provide our readers with the best online shopping experience and widest array of team merchandise and apparel found on the Internet.
The best part about it is that when you click on the Fanatics.com banners or links on PewterReport.com a portion of the sale goes to PewterReport.com to help pay for operating costs of the website you’ve come to love and trust for your Bucs news. So whether it’s NFL, college football, college basketball, NHL or MLB gear you are looking for, you’ll find it at Fanatics.com where they have the retro Starter pullover jackets now in stock. Click here and shop today.
DRAFT DIAMOND: WASHINGTON CB BYRON MURPHY
PewterReport.com is the undisputed leader in Bucs draft coverage each year. During the 2018 draft, we accurately forecasted the selection of three Tampa Bay draft picks as defensive tackle Vita Vea, offensive lineman Alex Cappa and wide receiver Justin Watson were all Bucs’ Best Bets.
Draft season for the PewterReport.com staff starts in September as we do a great deal of scouting during college football season. Trevor Sikkema, who also provides content for TheDraftNetwork.com, will provide SR’s Fab 5 with a weekly segment called Draft Diamond where we focus on a different draft prospect each week. This week’s Draft Diamond is Washington CB Byron Murphy.
The Buccaneers have invested a lot of resources in their secondary over the last few years, but when you’re on pace to be one of the worst defenses in NFL history, statistically speaking, you have to keep yourself open to investing even more.
The secondary for the Bucs has been a major problem. Outside of rookie cornerback Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay does not have a reliable player right now. Cornerback Brent Grimes, who is 35, is in his final season – you can just see it. Former first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves has been hurt all year and has been on injured reserve since Week 2. Third-year cornerback Ryan Smith has been better but still has struggled, and rookie M.J. Stewart might not have the athleticism for the position and be moved to safety in the future.
If the Bucs are looking for a player in the secondary to keep their eyes on with a Top 50 pick, Washington’s redshirt sophomore cornerback Byron Murphy is their guy. He’s currently a first-round pick in many mock drafts.
Murphy is a 6-foot, 180-pound outside corner who plays the position with good athleticism and instincts. He has 63 tackles, 19 pass breakups, three career interceptions, two forced fumbles and one sack in his two seasons as a starter, and is a cornerstone for the Huskies defense. Murphy plays the position with good awareness and a lot of confidence. Though smaller, he can still lay some hits, though consistency in common talks is obviously not his strong suit at his weight. Murphy can play man coverage and Cover 3 assignments well, and would be a good option for the Buccaneers to replace Grimes.
• Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith is making progress, but he still might be a week away from being able to be cleared to suit up and play. Beckwith was limited in practice last week in his first return to action since breaking his ankle in the offseason.
“It was cool, it was great being back out there,” Beckwith said. “That was the most exciting part for me, is just getting back out there, it’s just like, it’s so long. It felt good. I didn’t go too hard with it being the first week. It’s a process, but it felt good. So far, so good.”
Beckwith said the ankle held up well and he was able to do a little more work in practice this week.
“It’s definitely steady, it’s definitely getting better,” Beckwith said. “It’s definitely feeling it’s best, so just got to keep continuing to improve, continue to work on it, because it’s something that I’m always going to have to work on as far as the flexibility part of it. It feels fine. That feels fine, it feels strong.”
Beckwith has had success recovering from a serious injury before. He tore his ACL in November 2016 at LSU, but was able to be cleared to play by training camp after being drafted in the third round last year. Beckwith had 73 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble as a rookie.
“That’s one of the main hurdles to get over – just the mental side of it,” Beckwith said. “I mean that just takes repetition and going through it. I feel like once I’m back at 100 percent, I’ll be fine. It’s like two different deals, I never dealt with like ankle injuries and don’t even get them wrapped. So it’s different, it’s a different deal. Man, I’m close to one hundred (percent). I’m damn close.”
Tampa Bay has until November 21 to determine if it wants to activate him to the 53-man roster or whether to place him on injured reserve.
• PewterReport.com’s Trevor Sikkema and Mark Cook are joined by Tampa Bay Times veteran Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud for the latest edition of the Pewter Nation Podcast, which was taped on Thursday. Stroud, who filled in for yours truly on Thursday, brings his unique insight to the table and has some pointed opinions about Jameis Winston and the QB debate between he and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Good stuff from Stroud. Be sure to listen to Pewter Nation Podcast Episode 100 Part 9: Adventures Of Rick And Not Morty by clicking here.
If you missed out on Monday’s Pewter Nation Podcast, Episode 100 Part 8, which came out Monday after the Bucs’ loss at Carolina against the Panthers, make sure you listen to that one as I dish out some inside scoop on Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who was almost Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator at one point. You can listen to Pewter Nation Podcast Ep100 Part 8: Bucs Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn by clicking here.
Listening to the Pewter Nation Podcasts on your drive home from work on Fridays or on Saturdays while doing some chores around the house or running errands this weekend is just smart. So do it. The next Pewter Nation Podcast will be taped after the Bucs – Redskins game on Sunday, so stay tuned for the post-game thoughts from Sikkema, Cook and yours truly on Sunday night as Tampa Bay tries to stop a two-game losing streak.
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• Contract talks between the Bucs and injured middle linebacker Kwon Alexander have stalled for the time being. Alexander tore his ACL against Cleveland and that has created a tough situation for Tampa Bay. On one hand, the Bucs will have missed half a year’s worth of evaluation of Alexander to determine his worth. Yet with the way linebacker Adarius Taylor has played, which hasn’t been good at all, can up Alexander’s value during his absence.
Because of his injury, there is no sense of urgency to get a contract extension done during the season, and this might be done in the offseason prior to free agency. Aside from Alexander’s play, the Bucs also miss his energy and leadership as he’s a team captain and the heart and sould of the defense.
Tampa Bay is still pursuing a contract extension with left tackle Donovan Smith. He’s not one of the top 10 left tackles in the league, but he is a top 15 left tackle and it’s hard to find good players at that position. Smith hasn’t been stellar this year in pass protection and has had two mediocre showings against Cincinnati and Carolina, which haven’t helped his cause for a greater pay day.
The advantage to doing a deal now with the 25-year old left tackle is that he would come cheaper in average salary per year than if Tampa Bay waits until the offseason and uses the franchise tag on him he’ll make $14 million per year. The Bucs could strike a deal now and possibly get him for $12-$13 million per year instead over the long term, which would be more beneficial to Tampa Bay’s salary cap for 2019 and beyond.