FAB 4. An Open Letter To The 2019 Buccaneers

Tampa Bay’s 2019 training camp begins in just two weeks, and most have you, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as the favorites for the NFC South cellar – again.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Despite coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons, talent isn’t really the issue in Tampa Bay.

Bucs OL Alex Cappa
Bucs OL Alex Cappa – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

No, the Bucs roster isn’t perfect. The secondary is awfully young and inexperienced. The running back stable is far from being the envy of the league. The right side of the offensive line, especially the right guard position, looks to be the Achilles heel of the offense.

But former head coach Dirk Koetter said talent wasn’t the issue just an hour before being fired after the last game of the season in 2018, and new head coach Bruce Arians said talent isn’t the issue upon watching film from last year’s Tampa Bay team.

We’ll see.

Keep in mind that this is a Tampa Bay squad that split games with New Orleans and Carolina last year, and lost both games to Atlanta by a combined seven points. The Bucs also had three-point losses to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and the New York Giants, and lost by seven points at Dallas and by eight points at Baltimore.

Close losses – but losses just the same in a 5-11 season.

Tampa Bay was also competitive in a 16-3 loss at home to Washington, and actually had a halftime lead against New Orleans in what turned out to be a 28-14 home loss.

Believe it or not, Buccaneers, the division is there for the taking. Yes, I’m talking about the rough-and-tumble NFC South.

This Bucs team has to dare to be great.

You have the talent. Now you need the willpower.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Just ask the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have met their playoff demise the past two years – first at the hands of Alex Ovechkin, who willed the Capitals past the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals and then willed Washington to the Stanley Cup in 2018, and then at the hands of the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets, who had never won a playoff series before and swept the Lightning this past season in one of the biggest playoff upsets of any sport.

The Lightning proved to be one of the best NHL teams of all time – in the regular season – last year, winning a franchise-record 62 games, which was the second-most victories in NHL history. Yet the Blue Jackets had the will to win and proved to have the killer instinct that the Lightning lacked.

Will Arians instill a killer instinct and a will to win in the 2019 Buccaneers? He needs to.

A week ago, Americans celebrated their independence on the Fourth of July, remembering its forefathers, who were out-manned and out-gunned, yet defeated the world’s greatest army in the Amercian Revolutionary War with willpower, ingenuity and a burning desire to end England’s tyranny and to fight for freedom.

The Bucs appear to have the ingenuity with Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles at the helm. Do you, the players, have the willpower to win and the burning desire to end a decade-long playoff drought and fight to make the playoffs?

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: PewterReport.com

Hey Bucs, let’s change the narrative.

I’m just as tired of writing about the same double-digit losing Buccaneers (with a couple of teases in 2010 and 2016 mixed in) as the fans are watching it.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy just left after nine years of pretty remarkable play – yet no playoff berths. Right tackle Demar Dotson has been in Tampa Bay for 10 years and has never experienced a playoff season.

You think this town goes crazy over the Lightning? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Florida is a football state and Tampa is a football town.

If you weren’t following the Buccaneers in 1997 you don’t know about the magic that the Buccaneers brought to this area under Tony Dungy and the Super Bowl that Jon Gruden helped deliver a few years later. You didn’t see Dale Mabry Highway painted red and pewter in ’97 with Bucs car flags waving from so many vehicles.

To the Buccaneers players, I’m tired of seeing you underachieving. So are the Bucs fans.
You have to be tired of it too, especially the veterans.

Losing has to disgust you. It can’t be acceptable. It has to hurt like a pain you don’t want to experience again – even if it’s just a loss in Week 4.

There can no longer be a “Well, it’s a long season, we’ll get ‘em next week” mentality.

That can’t be tolerated anymore in Tampa Bay – not at One Buc Place. And I think that’s why Arians was brought in here and why he’ll eventually succeed at changing the losing culture.

But I’ve believed in this team’s talent too much over the past couple of years. I’ve predicted winning seasons only to be burned with your underachieving 5-11 results. That’s why I’ve adopted the Missouri state slogan when it comes to my Bucs coverage this year.

Show me.

Bucs LB Lavonte David - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Getty Images

Buccaneers, I’m not saying you won’t rise up and make the playoffs this year, or that you can’t do it this year. Just show me.

Make me – and others – believe in you.

Impose your will on your opponents – and also on this Bucs fan base.

Make those fans fill the stands at Raymond James Stadium and want to cheer you on. Make them wear Bucs jerseys and red and pewter attire again. Make them break out the car flags once more.

Will yourselves to victory, Buccaneers.

It’s not as much about skill as it is about will in pro sports, especially the NFL where parity reigns. Willpower can’t be measured by analytics, nor does it show up on spreadsheets. Willpower isn’t data-driven.

It’s heart and belief.

Show me. Show us.

It’s time.

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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]
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Alldaway 2.0
10 months ago

Evans, Godwin, Howard, Brate, Perriman, Watson, Miller. Bucs offense has great potential but that o-line has to hold up. I wouldn’t rule out R. Smith yet. However, the rookie DB’s are pushing hard for playing time. C. Davis has a year of NFL experience under his belt and VH3 is a clear starter when healthy. I don’t see much daylight for Smith even though he is an excellent special teamer. Time will tell. Bucs are not stacked with elite talent everywhere. But the Bucs have a lot of talent that is very young and need guidance aka coaching. Most outside… Read more »

BUC-ASS-BOB
10 months ago

Bucs are only Minus a couple O lineman , a replacement for JPP, a couple really good D backs, a Running Back a New top 10 quarterback, Deep threat receiver, backup QB , Good OC and this team could certainly break .500.

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surferdudes
10 months ago

Don’t let the new Fitz’s Q.B. numbers fool you. He played in the SEC against the likes of Bama, Fla, GA, LSU. He’s played against some of the best players, and defenses in college football, not like he’s some division 3 walk on. You don’t even get recruited to the SEC without being good let alone start for three years. I like the fact BA has the imagination to use this kid like Peyton uses his jack of all trades. Imagination is something that was surely lacking in Koetter’s offense, and I believe contributed to our red zone woes. I… Read more »

Wright
10 months ago
Reply to  surferdudes

Lol “This QB played in the SEC so he must be NFL material.” Couldn’t be more wrong. Check out this article from last year. Interesting stat for you. Last year, of all the QB positions, only 11 spots were filled by SEC QBs. That is dead last among Power 5 and it’s even behind the total number of QB’s who played in Division II and lower. “The SEC’s current total of 11 NFL quarterbacks puts the league behind the other leading collegiate conferences in producing pro signal-callers. The ACC and Big 12 have 17 former quarterbacks apiece (including North Carolina… Read more »

Wright
10 months ago
Reply to  Wright

You sound like you *don’t* have a clue

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BUC-ASS-BOB
10 months ago

Positive Post Born in Fort Myers grew up in in Tampa moved to Denver during the Elway years being in Denver 10 years so I am listing top 10 advantages to be a Bucs fan and not broncos fan 1. Can get a good seat 1 hour before game at 25% face value ticket. 2. Can get a good parking spot for tailgate without getting tio stadium night before game. 3. If you do not like your seat there plenty others to chose from. 4. Do not need ear plugs to save ears from crowd noise. 5 Meet many interesting… Read more »

pinkstob
10 months ago

Fab 4: You’ve got your 3rd sentence wrong and it’s the key to everything. Talent really is the issue in Tampa Bay, relative to the rest of the league anyway. The most of the local Buc media and most of the Bucs fans are also wrong on this important point and it’s why we keep losing every year. When get more talent relative to the rest of the league we will beat the rest of the league, plain and simple. Most of the coaches shuffle around every year so only a few head coaches truly can add a boost to… Read more »

Horse
10 months ago

Can tell this is mid July and not much news for anyone to write about. Go Bucs!

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macabee
10 months ago

There is a great deal of enthusiasm among Buc players this season. The offense needs no props, it’s top ten. I really like the way the Bucs defense is coming together and here is my upbeat analysis of what I see happening. The D-Line in the Todd Bowles 3-4 defense is essentially gap control. With Beau Allen at the nose position and Suh and Vea at the DE positions – either one will attack depending on which one draws the double team. William Gholston now has rocks in his pocket at 308lbs will be in rotation. Brutal! The attack and… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0
10 months ago

I don’t think it is a lack of talent given the long playoff drought for the Bucs. Bucs have had talent the last decade in most years to be a .500 ball club.

I am on the side of the argument that argues that coaching matters and the NFL has created enough parity where talent levels of teams are relatively similar.

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Spitfire
10 months ago

Scott, you’re the man, but you never mention Watson’s speed when you talk about him. Humphries ran a 4.53, Wilson ran a 4.58 and Watson ran a consensus 4.41-4.42. He’s one of the fastest receivers behind Perriman and Miller. He may not be the fastest but it should be noted.

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Spitfire
10 months ago

Also, I Love It when Trolls expose themselves!

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drdneast
10 months ago

There you have it, DumbAssBob reveals he is actually a Broncos fan and troll. What an idiot.

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drdneast
10 months ago

Scott, Ienjoyed your open letter to the Bucs and feel like it confirmed what a few of the Bucs players and what tCoach Koetter felt at the end of the year, The Bucs did have the talent to be a better than .500 team, but a number of players were happy enough to be picking up big checks and not to concerned if they won or lost. Word is that JPP pointed out to Gerald McCoy in a huddle he was one of those players. Apparently BA saw this as well which is why McCoy is no longer here. MeShawn… Read more »

What the Buc
What the Buc
10 months ago

Spitfire that’s slower than Evans or OJ.

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EastEndBoy
10 months ago

@pinkstob took the words from my mouth….you can’t have the WORST RG in the league, not a single DLineman on the roster that has ever recorded double digit sacks (apart from Suh who got 10 one time a decade ago), no RB that has ever recorded even 1,000 yards (never mind 1,500) in a season, your best DB is…… and say you don’t have a talent problem. Yes this team does. It also has several very talented players, and the potentially for some of those players to make plays together (e.g., Winston to Evans) that make the team look respectable… Read more »

EricNV
10 months ago

DRDNEAST: “I’m sure as training camp starts and BA picks up on anymore of those attitudes, they will be issued a home version of the Buccaneer game as well”

From your keyboard to BA’s ears.

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76Buc
10 months ago

Good stuff macabee, but you forgot VHIII. I think he breaks out.

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76Buc
10 months ago

Excuse me What the Buc , but OJ ran a 4.5 and evans, I believe, ran a 4.52. Anyway he never ran a 4.41 in his life.

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EricNV
10 months ago

Eastendboy – You really need to study US history in more detail. Economics was a driving force, but there were many other grievances the colonists had as well. The US Constitution’s Bill of Rights addresses several of them. Also, freeing the slaves was greatly and heatedly debated during the summer of 1787, when the US Constitution was being written and debated. In the end, the northern states had to let slavery be a state’s right issue in order to keep the country whole. An unfortunate thing for the slaves, to be sure, but the early years of the USA depended… Read more »

76Buc
10 months ago

Wow Scot. You got the commiecrats to show there true colors. I’m feeling some pink. LMAO. By the you mentioned J. Watson being smart because he’s an Ivy Leaguer, the biggest product those schools produce are communist.

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EastEndBoy
10 months ago

As you said, EricNV…the decision to free the slaves was not a matter between the British and the colonists (as you point out in your comments regarding 1787 and so forth). The revolutionary war was not fought for their (or anyone’s) freedom….my point, as clearly stated – and as you reiterated, despite then also claiming that I “needed to study US history in more detail”, for some strange reason. True, as with all wars, there were many issues at hand, but it is indisputable that, at the very least, the last and significant straw was “taxation without representation”. Rate this… Read more »

Spitfire
10 months ago

What The Buc, Sorry Bud But Mike Evans tan a 4.53 and OJ Howard ran a 4.51. Don’t get me wrong they are still great at their position, but I just feel like Watson’s speed isn’t recognized enough.

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Spitfire
10 months ago

EastEndBoy,

free·dom
/ˈfrēdəm/

• the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

• absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.

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Dman
10 months ago

Interesting and didn’t remember this, Watson is a legit 4.4 guy.

https://www.thedp.com/article/2018/03/penn-football-justin-watson-senior-pro-day-nfl-hopeful-40-yard-dash-speed-draft

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Alldaway 2.0
10 months ago

Yes Watson can run. Like I said the oline shows up the receivers will feast. And maybe the running game becomes at least average. I would like to see the defense and special teams actually look decent for a change as well. Special teams slipped year or show it seemed. Kicking woes are well documented but the punting also put the defense in precarious situations. And the inability to flip the field with punts also hurt the chances for the offense to have favorable field position even if the defense made a stop. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No… Read more »

BucFan circa76
10 months ago

You know it’s getting late in the offseason when comment/topics include war history, SAB coming out of the closet as a Broncos fan, and debating receiver speed times by tenths of seconds.

None-the-less, enjoyed the FAb 5 as always, especially after a week off. Hope you all had a great holiday, 14 more days until training camp…..!!!

Go Bucs!

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scubog
10 months ago

Good grief, can we please just stick to football topics? As Dr.D noted, Buc, or is it Bronco, Ass Bob has finally revealed his true colors as burnt orange and blue instead of red and pewter. The Bucs played the Broncos at Ray Jay a few seasons back. There were an awful lot of Bronco fans at that game. I suspect Bronco Ass Bob was one of them. Fess up Bob. Where were your loyalties that afternoon? Perhaps you should saddle up and ride that little white horse back to Colorado so you can burn one legally. There are plenty… Read more »

fredster
10 months ago

Ass Bobber, I Bob for Ass, etc is mentally challenged. Quit reading his idiotic troll rants.

They stay healthy this team will be competitive and very capable of winning season.

Go Bucs!

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Dave
10 months ago

East. That would be a hell of an accomplishment. The Bucs would have been the first team ever to have gone 1-16 lol and I totally agree with you surferdudes. Coaching was a MAJOR issue with this team. Offensive play calling, the use of the weapons on offense, the type you of plays that were being called, who was being used at which parts of the field. All of it was monumentally wrong. It was so bad I don’t even know where to begin. Between using DJax as strictly a deep threat and nothing else was a major fail. Why… Read more »

Dave
10 months ago

WR*

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1eyepiratemofo
10 months ago

I’m new to this post but have been a fan since the creamsicle days. I played football from peewee thru sophomore in high school then a rough and tumble Marine Corps team in Cali back in late 70s. I learned a lot about self discipline, teamwork, espirit de corps, commitment, Leadership, loyalty, perseverance, and determination. From my humble perspective comes my humble opinion. I’m not going to point out the who’s who and how good they are, were or can be. The individual is over emphasized within the team, the media, the fans and even coaches and management. If our… Read more »

bucianco
10 months ago

Koetter said numerous times how good Watson was, but just look at the talent in front of him. With Hump and DJax gone he’s definitely a front runner for WR4 in a high flying vertical attack offense. Should put up some respectable numbers this year. I’m anxious to see him finally play. Fitzgerald is a gadget player at best. 3rd string everything. He’s a great athlete, but if he can’t be a legit #1 or #2 for any position then I would think his roster spot would be best used on the O or D Line. If we were loaded… Read more »

chetthevette
10 months ago

I thought Scott learned not to drag political rhetoric into his column after the great freak out over Trump a year and a half ago. Correlating events that happened 250 years ago to today is ridiculous. The great patriotic army that wrested the control from Britain, with help from the French I might add. was always about money. People can drape their greed with a stars and stripe flag do their self a disservice by not questioning what it always about. Call me a commiecrat , snowflake or a lefty libtard if you must. The fact is that the oppression… Read more »

martinii
10 months ago

13 days and counting. Lot of good post above with a few exceptions. I think Watson will have a good year. Insurance against injury. Really curious to see a couple of these UDFA’s in action. Lived in Denver during the Floyd Little era, much rather sit in the sunshine than freeze my butt off at Mile High.

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owlykat
10 months ago

Maccabee knows football and especially the Bucs and his post on this subject says it all to you of no faith in these Bucs or BA. Get ready to hear the canons to fire frequently and the Buc’s flags to fly around our stadium.

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