FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots

• Tampa Bay’s running game ranks eighth in the NFL, averaging 121.7 yards per game through Week 3. So what’s been the biggest difference this year? I went to the Bucs’ locker room this week to find out.

“I think the biggest thing from last year is that we were down a lot of the time, so that forced us to throw a lot,” Bucs running back Peyton Barber said. “But it’s night and day. Our O-line has been doing a great job. Everything has been simplified up front.”

I had a few offensive linemen speak to me off the record and tell me that the size of the playbook has shrunk considerably when it comes to the running game this year. Less is more under this new coaching staff with far fewer running plays than the thick, complex playbook under former offensive line coach and run game coordinator George Warhop. The object is to do a few things really well rather than be really diverse. None of the offensive linemen wanted to bash Warhop, but they made it clear that they tried to do way too much last year in trying to run man and zone schemes and attacking the interior and the perimeter.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II
Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs’ rushing attack this year is more focused on power between the tackles with fewer outside runs because that’s not what Tampa Bay’s personnel does best. As a result, center Ryan Jensen is playing better, and so is Alex Cappa, who is in his first year as a starter at right guard after seeing limited playing time as a rookie.

“It’s confidence,” Barber said of Cappa. “He’s getting the opportunity and when someone believes in you the sky is the limit. It’s this coaching staff. It’s made a difference.”

Cappa isn’t the only player that is experience a career restart with Tampa Bay’s new coaching staff. Running back Ronald Jones II, who was the Bucs’ second-round pick a year ago, has shaken off a terrible rookie season to rush for 164 yards – one more yard than Barber – while averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

“It’s the same thing – confidence – because his talent has always been there,” Barber said. “His confidence is through the roof, and that’s what you want to see from a running back. Once a running back has his confidence he’s pretty hard to stop.”

By the way, Jones went to USC and is returning to the L.A. Coliseum where he had a plethora of 100-yard rushing games in college. We’ll see if he can top the century mark for the first time in the NFL at his old stopping grounds.

• Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has bounced back after a dismal Week 1 performance in which he threw for 194 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions – two of which were returned for touchdowns – while completing 55.6 percent of his passes. Winston has completed 63 percent of his passes over the last two games while throwing four touchdowns with just one interception, and has averaged 294 yards passing per game over that span.

Winston connected with Mike Evans on the deep ball last week several times as the two hooked up for three touchdowns in the first half. Winston will need to play well and maintain that productive connection with Evans again this week if the Bucs are going to have any chance of upsetting the 3-0 Rams out in Los Angeles.


• HOW MANY PEWTER REPORTERS PREDICTED A BUCS UPSET THIS WEEK? FIND OUT ON THE NEW PEWTER NATION PODCAST! – The 1-2 Bucs travel to the City of Angels this weekend to face the 3-0 Rams on Sunday. Surprisingly, a majority of Pewter Reporters picked the Bucs to win this week. Who were they and who picked against Tampa Bay? And what does Jesus have to do with Bucs and why was he mentioned on the Pewter Nation Podcast this week? You’ll have to listen to find out!

Pewter Nation Podcast Episode 148: Jesus, Take The Bucs

And if you’re a glutton for punishment – or just want to hear Mark Cook rant – listen to our Bucs vs. Giants post-game podcast where we were joined by our good friend and PewterReport.com contributor Steven Cheah, who works for Barstool Sports and host of the Surf & Turf Football Podcast, to recap the gut-wrenching loss like only Pewter Report can.

Pewter Nation Podcast Episode 147: Kick In The Gut With Steven Cheah

There is no better time to listen to a new Pewter Nation Podcast, which is presented by Chris Garrido of Westshore Financial, than on your drive home from work on Friday or early Saturday morning at the gym before college football begins. Enjoy your weekend and know that the next Pewter Nation Podcast will be up just hours after the Bucs vs. Rams game on Sunday night as Cook, Trevor Sikkema and Matt Matera will be covering the game from Los Angeles.

The popularity of the Pewter Nation Podcast continues to grow. In addition to listening to the Pewter Nation Podcasts on PewterReport.com you can also subscribe to the free podcasts at PodBean by clicking here and on SoundCloud by clicking here. And of course the Pewter Nation Podcast is also available on iTunes. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode.

• The Bucs have several starters dealing with injuries this week, including center Ryan Jensen (back), wide receiver Chris Godwin (hip) and nose tackle Vita Vea (groin). But one player who should be returning to action is outside linebacker Devante Bond, who missed last week with a hamstring injury he suffered in Carolina. Bond, a Sacramento native, has never played a game in California and is looking forward to this week’s game in Los Angeles.

Bond, a core special teams contributor and reserve pass rusher, has witnessed Shaquil Barrett’s hot start to the season with eight sacks in three games, and realizes that he’s going to start drawing a lot more attention from opponents in the weeks ahead.

Bucs LBs Devante Bond and Kevin Minter
Bucs LBs Devante Bond and Kevin Minter – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

“Especially being from our room, I love to see how productive he’s being – it’s crazy,” Bond said of Barrett. “We’ve seen it in practice – what he’s capable of. But in games he turns it on and takes it to another level. I know Shaq is going to get a lot more attention, but he’s going to keep going. He’s got a lot of moves. He’s special. I study him as I try to improve my pass rush.

“But the more sacks he gets the more attention he’s going to get, too. That’s going to create some one-on-ones for the other guy, whether it’s Carl [Nassib], Anthony [Nelson] or me. If you get an opportunity to have a one-on-one you’ve got to win them.”

Bond had one sack in the preseason and is ready to get his first career regular season sack – perhaps as early as Sunday against the Rams.

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• Tampa Bay’s run defense has performed well at stuffing the run this, holding opponents to just 69.7 yards per game, which ranks sixth in the league. The Bucs have done a phenomenal job of stopping two of the game’s most explosive running backs in Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey and New York’s Saquon Barkley to under 50 yards in each of the last two weeks.

Now comes yet another test in Rams’ Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley, who has rushed for 203 yards and a touchdown while averaging 4.6 yards per carry through three games. Los Angeles has the league’s seventh-ranked rushing attack, and the Bucs know that in order to contain Jared Goff and the Rams’ play-action passing game, Gurley must first be stopped.

Rams RB Todd Gurley
Rams RB Todd Gurley – Photo by: Getty Images

“The play-action comes off the run game,” Bucs inside linebacker Kevin Minter said. “If the run game isn’t going, how the hell do you play-action? You’ve got to have that type of run game, which they do with Gurley and obviously Malcolm Brown back there. The yards they’re putting up and with them being in the Top 5 right now, with them having those type of stats, you have to honor [the run] or play-action isn’t going to work.”

Because the Rams like to use play-action as much as the Bucs do, eye discipline and being assignment sound this week will be paramount for Tampa Bay’s defense, especially its young secondary, which was torched by rookie quarterback Daniel Jones last week in a 32-31 loss at home to the New York Giants.

“This is going to be all like knowing your rules and knowing your fit, pretty much at all times,” Minter said. “Not much mano-a-mano. It’s going to be scheme versus scheme.”

Rookie free safety Mike Edwards had a bad game last week and several of the Giants’ big plays in the passing game were due to him being out of position. Edwards, who also dropped an easy interception last week, needs to rebound and play much better against the Rams’ potent aerial attack this week in L.A.

• And finally, join me at the Bespoke & Co. 5th Annual Signature Event next Thursday, October 3 at Armature Works in Tampa. This Casablanca-themed event will be lots of fun – as every Bespoke & Co. Signature Event has been over the last four years. Dress up in your formal wear or business attire and enjoy open bars, heavy hors d’oeuvres, live music, casino gaming tables, and much more.

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Get your tickets to Bespoke & Co. 5th Annual Signature Event today by clicking here. We look forward to seeing you at Armature Works on October 3 from 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.

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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]

27 COMMENTS

  1. Well we stopped Barkley, and the Giants running game last week, and still gave up 35 points to a rookie QB getting his first start. I think it’s getting old saying we have to shut down the run every week when the NFL has become a passing league. I said last weeks game would come down to what the QB’s did, not just stopping Barkley, and it did. Spin Jameis’s numbers all you want, but he was completely out played by Jones in the second half last week. In the home opener he handed the 49ers the game with two pick six’s. He did enough to win at Carolina, but more importantly he didn’t give the game away with picks, or fumbles. Last week as I said he had an impressive first half, but sure didn’t do enough in the second half to secure the win. Don’t hate me, I don’t hate Jameis, but he hasn’t shown me so far he’s the man we should give 30 plus million a year to. Now to this game. Yeah Gurley needs to be held in check, but the game will come down to which QB does better. There’s a reason QB’s are paid the most, and every team want’s ( that guy). So will Jameis tear it up, and not be the reason we lose, or will Goff do it. Most weeks that’s what it comes down to. Which QB puts his team in the best position to get the win.

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    • Which qb puts their team in postion to win you say? So having a fg from about 27 yards to win the game isnt putting your team in position? Spin it how you want dude ,but you just made your own comments look stupid.

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      • A quarterback who scored no TDs in the second half, but throws it to the other team in the second half, completely negates any possible effect of any kicker.

        If you are depending upon kickers to win games, you have a losing team. Period.

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        • A qb that throws for 380 yards and 3 tds is more than enough naples. It was a chip shot fg to win the game, spin it how you want. But that is a fact. And how is jameis supposed to do anything when he passed the ball 1 time in the 4th quarter? I know i know, its hard for you to grasp, but again youre making zero point here as usual. Fg was a chip shot to win, jameis put us in position to win. You cant change that to fit whatever narrative you want.

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    • Agreed CG. Surfer, I used to enjoy your posts. They were always informative. Now you sound like a kid who got his ball taken away from him. Jameis doesn’t call the plays, jameis didn’t give up 35 points to a rookie, jameis didn’t miss two extra points and a field goal. Take the hate elsewhere because your credibility is about as high as BAB and that’s not a good thing

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    • You know nothing about football so please watch more games so you can learn thank you

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  2. Hoping Jensen, Godwin, and Vea all get to play Sunday. They’ve all made their presence known so far this season. I like the idea of locking up Barrett and Nassib long term. JPP prefers to play in a 4-3 anyway. Glad we’re likely to have that extra 13 million in cap space next season.

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  3. So the Bucs will have close to $79 mill next offseason? Winston, Barrett and Nassib extensions. Also need to get a vet CB, let VH3 go, and sign a LT, move Smith to RT.

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    • You think Donovan smith will be better at RY? I never thought about that. I agree with everything we need too add a Veteran CB and Safety to this team

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  4. Winston extension? Hold on there fella, maybe you’ve seen enough to extend him, but I’m still waiting. Read my last post, it’s going to come down to which QB plays better as it usually does. Winston has to prove he can win more games then he loses to get a big pay day, that’s why he’s hasn’t been locked up yet. This is prove it year, and so far he’s proved jack shit. Let’s see how it plays out before signing that check.

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    • Since you seem to think it’s all on the QB, I guess Rodgers was the reason they lost last night huh? We all know if Jameis did that, you’d be calling for his release. You can’t have it both ways.

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    • I’m an FSU fan. I’ve been watching Jameis since like 2012. I know the QB he is and the potential is still there.

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  5. Can’t believe you waisted an entire page talking about “Captainship”. Listen Nassib may be a nice guy, vocal leader, hard worker and everything else but what Nassib has shown me the 1yr he’s been here is that he is just a guy. Nassib still haven’t figured out how to get off a block, he’s drawing on every play a single blocker and once they get their hands on him he’s stuck. Nassib is a decent rotational player but that’s all. Nothing against him it’s just my opinion.

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  6. A win Sunday and we are right back in the thick of things. I hope Daniel Jones lights it up to help mend another QB having there career game against the Bucs. Pound the rock and let Rojo have a great homecoming. Defend the run, keep Gurley under 75 yards and lets see if we get a couple breaks for a road win on the dreaded west coast.

    Go Bucs
    Bucs 24-17

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  7. Well, as always, the bottom line is the bottom line. And in football and other team sports, the bottom line is winning. Everything else is just explanation for the winning or losing.

    To date this season, at 1-2, the Bucs on “on pace” to win 5 games, repeating the sorry results of the previous two 5-11 seasons.

    Unfortunately for the Bucs, most expect the “pace” to go lower not higher.

    But we’ll see come the end of the season.

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  8. Soooo is anyone else concerned that Jameis has never thrown a reciever open to get YAC when the ball has to travel 30+ yards in the air ? If that throw to Mike is a little bit better, Mike gets into the endzone. We’ve never seen that kind of throw from him!

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    • Rewatch Godwins last catch of his rookie season vs NO. That’s the throw you’re looking for. Can Winston do it? Yes. Would we like to see more of it? Absolutely!

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  9. This article is close on JPP but not quite right. Yes, the Bucs hope he can come back this year but the odds are stacked against him. They are cutting their potential losses by paying him more but cutting the contract for one year. There is a story out there saying the Bucs doubt he will be able to play again. That is the reality of JPP. https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/jason-pierre-paul-agrees-to-restructured-contract-with-bucs/ar-AAHPtYd

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  10. IDK Scott – I find it amazing no matter how hard it’s raining on him, you can always find a ray of sunshine around Jason Licht.

    How much better would our offense be with Humphries ($5m cap in Tenn), instead of the horrible Perriman ($4m cap in TB) and his 4 drops this year? That’s $1m difference.

    You also missed noting his biggest financial move of the offseason – swapping out Donovan Smith at $1.93m of cap, for Donovan Smith at $12.5m of cap…a negative to the cap of $10.5m!!!! All to sign the worst LT in the league…..and it’s not just me, or pff saying that….you guys put Donovan Smith on your Worst Performers list more than any other Buc.

    Face it – the guy is not good at this GM stuff….

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  11. The fact still remains that we can win any game if everyone shows up. Just like the past couple years we could be 3-0 just as easily as 0-3 so far this year. If we can bring both ‘fences together at once we can win any game. We have seen improvements in some areas and weaknesses in others and it’s all about how they learn and improve. For al we know, this long road trip will allow them to focus on nothing but their game and it could go a lot better than expected. Nothing wrong with Hope!!!

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  12. Thank you Scott for the information.
    I will be recording the Bucs and will not be watching them live for a while until I feel like they can be winners. I’ve been disappointed so many times, but this last one has really got me.
    I have been a Buc fan since 1976. I have gone through two 15 year no playoffs games time-frames. I’m not wasting my time anymore for a while. I’m not giving up on Bucs, but I’m not going to put myself in a position again where hope is scratched just like that! Presently we are no better than what we were last season or many past seasons. You all enjoy the game; I’ll watch them if they win the game via recorder; much healthier for me right now.

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  13. Blaming Jameis Winston for the loss to the Giants is just another attempt to spew the anti-Winston agenda with virtually no supporting data other than the “L”. Typical Naples who, while far more rational than Bob, usually emerges to enlighten the rest of us about #3 after a loss. To be sure, Jameis has his faults and his play hasn’t been consistent enough or spectacular enough to overcome the shortcomings of his teammates. But in this game against the “Gints”, Jameis’ play contributed to the 18 point lead and put the team in excellent position, with but a few seconds to travel the length of the field, to kick what should have been the game-winner.

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  14. Much less drama without GMC. The D-line seems to work as a unit not individuals. Good future.

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  15. Great work by Licht!!

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  16. Licht releases free agent mistakes (though weren’t your examples really Lovie’s?), but he does hold onto draft picks (Spence and Hardgraeves come to mind). To me having a guy money for the really, really important kicks (40 in) who *can* bang a long one (Santos) is more important than spending a draft pick on a guy who’s iffy from closer but can bang from far (and don’t give me Gay’s 39-40 ratio within 40 in college. Look at how the ball comes off his foot. If it’s straight and true (think Justin Tucker), it doesn’t matter if he makes it, it’s HOW he made it. With Gay and Aguayo, even though the field goal was made it was always drifting to one side or the other. This will manifest itself in the pros and has).

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  17. Let me see if I understand. We’ve lost of three games to the worst two teams in football and the answers provided by the coaching staff are platitudes as follows:
    1. It takes 60 minutes to win games.
    2. We just didn’t make plays.
    3. I took a penalty to move back.
    4. I took a lot of sacks.

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  18. Fab 3 is incorrect. Arians said in his presser Matt Gay “is our kicker and isnt going anywhere.” So no they will not be releasing Gay of course

    The kid bounced back and nailed 4 straight FGs including a 50 + yarder. He wasnt the reason we lost. It was obviously on the defense and specifically the Secondary is to blame.

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