SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL:

FAB 1. WINSTON AS GOOD AS BUCCANEERS HOPED HE WOULD BE
Admit it. You were wrong about Jameis Winston.

I’m not talking to the Florida State fans or the Winston loyalists who were begging the Bucs to draft him. I’m talking to the Winston doubters – the Bucs fans I was trying to reach on January 9 in my second SR’s Fab 5 of the year when I stated the case for Tampa Bay drafting Winston with the first overall pick.

I’m talking to those that were undecided between the Bucs taking Winston or Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota – the Bucs fans I was trying to reach with five straight, unwavering Bucs mock drafts with Winston as the only choice with the No. 1 pick starting on January 12.

To those Bucs fans I say that Tampa Bay selected the right quarterback in Winston, and it’s pretty apparent. This guy is a star in the making. Josh Freeman he’s not.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

Seven games into the 2015 campaign and the Bucs have three wins, which has eclipsed their 2014 total of two victories. Winston has only had two bad games – against Tennessee and Carolina – in which he combined to throw six of his seven interceptions, including two pick-sixes. Winston has played well enough that the Bucs could have been 5-2 if the defense hadn’t collapsed against Washington, and had Connor Barth been Tampa Bay’s kicker against Houston – not the departed Kyle Brindza.

If you doubted Winston and wanted Mariota, who was drafted second overall by Tennessee, throughout the mock draft season in the months leading up to the draft you’ve changed your mind, right?

If you booed the selection when Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht made the call on the night of April 30 that made Winston a Buccaneer, you’re now a Winston believer, right?

If you groaned as Winston’s first NFL pass was a pick-six against Tennessee and you second-guessed Licht and the Buccaneers for not picking Mariota, who threw for four touchdown passes in his NFL debut in trouncing Tampa Bay 41-14, you’ve now seen the light, right?

The Tampa Bay Times’ Tom Jones recently said that he thinks Mariota could be the second coming of Colin Kaepernick. The truth is that he’s not as good of a runner as Kaepernick, evidenced by just 72 yards on 10 carries through five games. But there is something to be said for teams drafting non-pocket passers from spread offenses like Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, Kaepernick and Mariota and not finding much success with them at the helm trying to run a pro style offense in the NFL. I think Mariota may be heading down that road.

Carolina’s Cam Newton, whose name is being tossed around as a potential NFL MVP candidate this year, has probably made the best transition to the NFL of any spread offense quarterbacks. But he’s really making an impact as a runner, evidenced by his 286 rushing yards and four touchdowns this season, which leads all NFL quarterbacks.

As a passer, Winston has actually outperformed Newton.

QB COMPARISON
Cam Newton 117-of-216 (54.2 percent) for 1,523 yards with 11 TDs and 8 INTs 78.1 QB rating
Jameis Winston 123-of-210 (58.6 percent) for 1,648 yards with 10 TDs and 7 INTs 85.6 QB rating

I don’t think Mariota will be the second coming of Kaepernick or Newton. I think he’s the second coming of Alex Smith, and for that the Buccaneers made the right choice.

I recently saw a stat online where Winston has a passer rating of 123 on passes that travel 20-plus yards in the air, which is second among NFL QBs that have at least 10 such attempts, trailing only San Diego’s Philip Rivers (127.7). Mariota has a passer rating of 5.0 on such passes, which is the lowest in the NFL.

Winston has hit 11-of-23 passes (47.8 percent) with 13.3 yards per attempt and two touchdowns and no interceptions. Mariota is 3-of-21 (14.3 percent) with 4.2 yards per attempt and no touchdowns and three interceptions.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Titans QB Marcus Mariota – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

What about Mariota’s 52-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright against Tampa Bay in Week 1? That pass was a quick slant and didn’t travel at least 20 yards in the air. In other words, that touchdown was more Wright than Mariota.

Before he suffered an MCL sprain against Miami, Mariota was having a fine season, completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,239 yards with nine touchdowns and five interceptions. But Mariota doesn’t throw the ball well downfield, or at least he didn’t under Ken Wisenhunt, who was fired on Tuesday after starting the season 1-7.

That’s one of Winston’s strength, in addition to his leadership ability, which was on full display prior to the start of the Bucs vs. Falcons game on Sunday as he gave an impassioned speech to fire up his teammates. It’s that fire, in addition to his stellar on-field record at Florida State, his physical traits and his football I.Q. that made Winston an easy choice over Mariota for the Buccaneers. It wasn’t even close.

Tampa Bay didn’t care for Mariota’s quiet demeanor and his vanilla personality was a turn-off. Licht had been around fiery quarterbacks like Dan Marino in Miami and Tom Brady in New England. Lovie Smith had witnessed Brett Favre’s passion while playing against Green Bay in his coaching stops in Tampa Bay and Chicago. Koetter had been exposed to Matt Ryan’s intense presence in Atlanta.

The fact that it’s only taken a rookie quarterback seven games and eight weeks to take over the Buccaneers is nothing short of amazing, but that’s what Winston is. This guy will be a team captain next year. This guy will be in the Pro Bowl soon. And this guy will have the Buccaneers back in the postseason as early as next year.

I don’t think the Titans are going anywhere as a team and I think it’s going to take Mariota a while to become a playmaker in the NFL. So much of his hot start was attributed to his debut at Tampa Bay where he threw for four touchdowns. In his last three games – all losses – Mariota has thrown just three touchdowns and five interceptions as the league has begun to identify his limitations and exploit them.

Meanwhile, the Bucs are 2-1 in their last three games (and should be 3-0 if not for the defense choking away a 24-point lead against the Redskins) while Winston has accounted for six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) in his last three games.

In an interview with NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah on his Move The Sticks podcast, Licht raved about Winston’s development and called him the Bucs’ leader.

“His progression is fun to watch,” Licht said. “It’s so exciting that everybody here in the building feels it. He’s a winner. He’s a natural leader. He’s incredibly smart – one of the smartest young quarterbacks. Maybe the smartest young quarterback at this stage I’ve ever been around. And he’s the hardest worker on the team. The team already knows that this is the leader.

“He’s doing some veteran things out there on the field right now that you rarely see a rookie do in terms of flipping the formation, changing the call, changing the play, being aware of the play clock – all those things you expect out of a veteran. The sky is the limit.”

Prior to the draft there were concerns about Winston’s lack of speed and mobility. Did you see his 21-yard dash and his subsequent 4-yard touchdown run against Atlanta? Winston has rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Prior to the draft there were concerns about Winston’s character as his youth and immaturity got him in trouble at times at Florida State. Ever since Winston was suspended for the Clemson game last September he’s grown up and been incident-free, and has embraced being a role model for kids in Tampa Bay.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

Prior to the draft there were concerns about Winston throwing too many interceptions after throwing 18 picks his junior season at Florida State. After throwing four interceptions, including a pick-six in a loss to Carolina, Winston said it was a wake-up call and he had to work harder. Since that game he’s been turnover-free.

“He’s the first one in,” Licht told Jeremiah. “It seems like multiple times per week somebody will come stop by my office and say, ‘I came in a little extra early today to get a work out or whatever at 5:30 a.m. and Jameis was here already.’ Or I’ll see it myself. He doesn’t advertise it. It’s just natural for him. He wants to get every edge that he can – like the Aaron Rodgers of the world and the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys.

“I’ve seen him chew out the scout team defenders for not giving him the right look. And then I’ve seen him go apologize to them and say, ‘I went and looked at the tape and you actually are giving me the right look.’ He’s got a veteran moxie to him that we could see in the evaluation process – and that’s why we honed in on him and zeroed in on him. That’s why I wouldn’t have traded that first overall pick for anything because it’s hard to find these guys.”

Winston is one of a kind, and he’s just getting started in Tampa Bay.

FAB 2. BUCS AREN’T DEALING GLENNON
It came as no surprise that the NFL trading deadline came and went and that backup quarterback Mike Glennon remained in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers haven’t received a call in over a month even inquiring about Glennon.

The Buccaneers have made it clear to a league that simply doesn’t have enough good NFL starting QBs – let alone backups – that they aren’t going to give Glennon away. Not this year, and likely not next year.

Now a second-round pick would likely do it, but that’s probably too rich for a team to fork over, especially with an upcoming draft class that could feature Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, California’s Jared Goff, Michigan State’s Connor Cook, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, and potentially Ohio State’s Cardale Jones.

Bucs QB Mike Glennon - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs QB Mike Glennon – Photo by: Getty Images

Maybe a high third-rounder would do it – but certainly not a mid-round pick. That’s how valuable Glennon is, and that’s why he’ll likely remain in Tampa Bay until his rookie contract expires after the 2016 season.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht saw what happened to his good friends in Arizona, head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim, who saw the Cardinals race out to a 9-1 start behind quarterback Carson Palmer, only to finish 2-5 down the stretch after Palmer tore his ACL and exit the playoffs in a first-round loss to Carolina. Arizona struggled mightily at the quarterback position without Palmer as Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley didn’t get the job done.

This year in Dallas, the Cowboys started off 2-0 with NFC East division wins against the New York Giants and Philadelphia before quarterback Tony Romo broke his collarbone against the Eagles. Since then, the Cowboys have lost five straight and have received poor play from quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel.

In Pittsburgh, the Steelers began the season 2-1 with only a 28-21 opening day loss at New England before Ben Roethlisberger went down with an MCL sprain. The Steelers have gone 2-3 in Roethlisberger’s absence, relying on aging veteran Michael Vick and unproven backup Landry Jones.

The current plan in Tampa Bay is to not only have Glennon around as insurance during the 2015 season, but also in 2016 – unless a team blows the doors off One Buc Place with a can’t-refuse trade offer in the offseason. Licht has surveyed the current landscape of the NFL and knows the true value of a good, experienced backup like Glennon, who has played in 19 games (18 starts) and thrown for 4,025 yards with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

If an injury strikes and Jameis Winston misses any time later this season or in 2016 the wheels don’t necessarily fall off the wagon in Tampa Bay with Glennon at the helm the way they have in Pittsburgh and Dallas this year. Winning games is more important than trading a backup quarterback for a third-round pick, and the Bucs have a lot of confidence in Glennon, especially in Dirk Koetter’s offense.

There’s a good chance that Glennon could fetch a decent-sized contract as a 27-year old free agent quarterback in 2016. The bigger the contract the better for the Bucs, which should receive at least a fourth-round compensatory pick in 2017. Don’t rule out a third-round pick, either, if Glennon starts and performs well for his new team.

In this scenario, the Bucs would receive the best of both worlds. Tampa Bay gets Glennon’s services for the next year and a half as Winston’s insurance policy and Licht still gets a draft pick for his backup quarterback for his patience, albeit in 2017 – a year later than some might prefer.

FAB 3. GRIFFIN’S DEVELOPMENT IS UNDERWAY
The Buccaneers are enjoying the fact that they have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league in Mike Glennon, but know that he will leave for a shot to become an NFL starter when his rookie contract expires following the 2016 season. To prepare for that inevitability, Bucs general manager Jason Licht, director of player personnel Jon Robinson and the personnel department were eager to claim former New Orleans backup Ryan Griffin off waivers on September 5.

Carrying three quarterbacks is a luxury not every team pursues in the modern day NFL, but for the Bucs’ long-term plans at the QB position it’s a no-brainer for them to carry Griffin in addition to Glennon as a backup to rookie Jameis Winston. Provided the Bucs can keep him around, 6-foot-5, 210-pound Griffin has a chance to replace Glennon as Winston’s primary backup in 2017 and give the quarterback position long-term stability for the long term.

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“As a general rule we would carry two and put one on the practice squad, but when there is a good player out there – we have some positions that are flexible,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said when Griffin arrived. “We’ve liked him as a player for a while. Dirk [Koetter], Mike [Bajakian] [like him], I don’t know a lot about him. All of the guys that really know and then watching him throughout, he’s a guy that we kind of had our eye on all along. We thought he was worthy of that. What we ask our quarterbacks to do – make good decisions and be smart. Again, the things we are looking for in a quarterback we think he has. It’s going to be a lot of fun seeing exactly what he can do. The times he did play that we’ve seen him, he’s looked pretty good doing it.”

Since arriving in New Orleans as an undrafted free agent out of nearby Tulane University in 2013, Griffin starred in August. Over the past three preseasons, Griffin completed 104-of-177 (58.8 percent) passes for 1,174 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions, and at times outplayed current Saints backup Luke McCown.

In 2014, Griffin completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 530 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. This past preseason, Griffin connected on 58.5 percent of his throws for 264 yards with one touchdown and one pick. When the Saints spent a third-round pick on Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson to become Drew Brees’ eventual replacement it all but sealed Griffin’s fate in New Orleans.

“I appreciate the Bucs picking me up and I’ll do whatever I can to prove them right,” Griffin said. “It is a big deal for them to carry me [as a third quarterback]. I really appreciate it.”

Griffin got a first-class education on how to play quarterback in the NFL sitting next to the legendary Brees and learning from one of the top offensive minds in the league in Saints head coach Sean Payton.

“I try to bring over Drew Brees’ work ethic and I kind of have a layout of what it means to be a successful quarterback in this league,” Griffin said. “I was with him for two years and I saw how he prepares and carries himself.”

Koetter believes in developing young quarterbacks like Griffin – the more the better.

“Like any other position you are trying to build the depth of your team,” Koetter said. “Most teams only have two quarterbacks and then a third guy either on practice squad or you always want that third guy as somebody that can ascend to hopefully at least be a two someday and hopefully even be a starter. You are always wanting that guy in the pipeline. We’ve had our eye really hard on a couple of guys that we were hoping they would pop. Ryan was one of those guys. Even back to his days in college at Tulane and then his time with the Saints, he’s a guy we had our eye on. We’re happy to have him.”

Griffin was a four-year starter at Tulane where he set several Green Wave career records in pass attempts, completions, completion percentage and single game passing. Griffin finished his career with 9,026 yards, which ranks second in school history, along with 56 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.

Bucs OC Dirk Koetter & QB Ryan Griffin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs OC Dirk Koetter & QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Ryan’s a really good player,” Glennon said. “You can see why so many people put a waiver claim on him. He’s very smart from being around Drew Brees and Sean Peyton in New Orleans. He throws the ball well and we’re lucky to have him. He brings an extra dimension to the quarterback room. He’s a good player and hopefully he gets some time to get more reps – that probably won’t be until next year, but he’s a really good player.”

Because Griffin didn’t join the Bucs until a week before the season opener, he didn’t have the chance to play in Koetter’s system and likely won’t until the OTAs next offseason. Until then, he’s relegated to playing scout team quarterback and playing in Tampa Bay’s opponents’ offense.

“He’s in a number three role right now,” Koetter said. “We haven’t had a chance to work with him enough. Coach Bajakian has been meeting with him around the clock trying to catch him up. When you come out of the New Orleans system, he’s obviously been well-coached and his college numbers speak for themselves. We’re happy to have him there. We’re probably not going to get a great look at him until the offseason unless we have an injury situation.”

I asked Griffin if a part of him was already looking forward to the offseason when he would have the chance to really dive into Koetter’s playbook on the field.

“I’m focused on this year and doing whatever I can to help this team win,” Griffin said. “Whether it’s breaking down film or giving a good look on scout team – I’m only worried about this year. We’ll get there when we get there.

“I’ve been able to work on it after practice and I take a lot of mental reps whenever Jameis or Mike is in during practice. I feel pretty confident that I could go in and run things right now. I don’t know how smooth it would be right now, but I could get it done. It’s tough picking up the nuances. You can pick up the offense, but the little checks and calls you have to make – that’s what I need to learn through repetition.”

Glennon has been impressed with Griffin’s intellect and how quickly he has absorbed the offense despite working exclusively with the scout team.

“He doesn’t get the full-speed reps in practice, but when he got here he dove right into the playbook,” Glennon said. “He really hasn’t done it on the field, but he knows our offense. He’s a very smart guy and works really hard with our quarterbacks coach. Those two will go out there and just go through plays and reps versus air so he can get the procedure of it all. It’s a tough thing to do to come in and play quarterback in a system where you haven’t gone through all of the installs. But he’s picked up on it and knows the offense really well.”

Bucs rookie wide receiver Donteea Dye used to be on the practice squad and spent a good deal of time catching passes from Griffin.

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: Getty Images

“I like Ryan a lot,” Dye said. “He came from New Orleans where he was around Drew Brees getting a lot of experience from the mental aspect. He’s really smart and he’s really cool on and off the field. I like the way he throws the ball. It’s perfect. He’s got perfect touch. He and I go will throw a lot together and I really like his overall game.”

It’s been quite a contrast for Griffin from going to a quarterbacks room in New Orleans that featured two signal callers age 34 and up in Brees and McCown to Tampa Bay where it is incredibly young as he and Glennon are both 25.

“It’s a lot different, but it’s very exciting being in a young room,” Griffin said. “Seeing Jameis’ development week to week has been unreal. I’ve been very impressed with his work ethic. He’s a student of the game. He’s passionate about the game. He’s been a lot of fun to work with. Drew is pretty steady, very reliable and very consistent. With Jameis he’s improved a lot in span of games we’ve had. I enjoy it because you get to collaborate a little more. In New Orleans I was listening and paying attention, but I get to collaborate more and talk more here.”

So what can the Buccaneers and their fans expect from Griffin whenever he gets the chance to suit up in red and pewter?

“I expect the best out of myself, so that’s what I would expect you would expect out of me,” Griffin said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done. I’m accurate, I move the ball down the field and I make good decisions.”

So far it looks like Licht and the Buccaneers made a good decision in claiming Griffin and developing him for the future.

FAB 4. THE CURRENT STATE OF THE BUCCANEERS
Sunday’s game against the New York Giants marks the midway point of Tampa Bay’s 2015 schedule. Here are some of my observations as the Bucs try to even their record at 4-4 with a win on Sunday.

• Of Tampa Bay’s final nine opponents, only three (Atlanta, St. Louis and Carolina) have winning records and two have .500 records (New York and New Orleans).

Bucs vs. Giants (4-4)
Bucs vs. Cowboys (2-5)
Bucs at Colts (3-5)
Bucs at Eagles (3-4)
Bucs vs. Falcons (6-2)
Bucs vs. Saints (4-4)
Bucs at Rams (4-3)
Bucs vs. Bears (2-5)
Bucs at Panthers (7-0)

How the 3-4 Buccaneers fare in Sunday’s game against the Giants could go a long way in determining how many wins Tampa Bay can pile up this year. The Bucs, who are coming off a victory against the Falcons, haven’t won back-to-back games since they beat the Dolphins on November 11 and the Falcons on November 17 during the 2013 season.

• It’s easy for some Bucs fans to suggest this team could be 5-2 right now. They say that Tampa Bay should have beaten Washington if not for a collapse by the defense after a 24-0 start, and should have beaten Houston if not for Kyle Brindza’s meltdown, which cost the team 10 points in a 19-9 loss to the lowly Texans.

But one could easily make the case that the Bucs could be 2-5 after another blown double-digit lead (17 points), this time to the Falcons. Yes, the Bucs defense did make a critical stop in overtime on fourth down, but gave up nearly 500 yards and had a plus-4 turnover ratio and still needed overtime to win in Atlanta.

I’m glad the Bucs won, but good teams get up on a team and stay up. Tampa Bay is still not a good team. They’re exactly what their record says they are – a 3-4 team.

• Even though Gosder Cherilus has played well filling in for Demar Dotson at right tackle and the offensive line appears to be clicking I have to agree with head coach Lovie Smith. If there is a better player available to play, you play that player. I believe that Dotson, who has fresh legs coming off the injured reserve designated-to-return list, is a better player than Cherilus and should be reinserted in the starting lineup.

Demar Dotson played left tackle in the last three games of 2014 – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs RT Demar Dotson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

It may take a game or so for Dotson to get acclimated playing next to rookie guard Ali Marpet again, but the Bucs will be better off later this year and next year with Dotson getting necessary experience in Dirk Koetter’s offense. Nothing against Cherlius, who has done an admirable job filling in, but Dotson will likely be motivated by the fact that he wants a contract renegotiation next offseason and will want to earn it with great play.

• I want to see more of young, fast tight end Cameron Brate and less of Brandon Myers. Brate, a former practice squad player, has gotten an extended look on the 53-man roster due to an injury to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and has made the most of it. Brate hauled in a 28-yard catch against Atlanta, in addition to a 20-yard touchdown – the first of his career.

Myers is a better blocker and has 20 pounds on Brate, but the more experience the young tight end gets the better. I think Seferian-Jenkins and Brate can make a real nice one-two punch in the passing game for the Bucs in 2015 and beyond.

• Let me chime in on Bucs head coach Lovie Smith’s questionable fourth-and-1 call to go for the first down on offense from Tampa Bay’s own 40-yard line last week in Atlanta instead of punting with under two minutes left. First of all, I have no problem with Smith wanting to go for it. I don’t trust Tampa Bay’s pass defense, either. Whether it is making the Falcons go 40 yards or 60 yards with 1:53 left, who cares? Matt Ryan was going to do his thing.

What I object to is Smith calling a timeout as Jameis Winston snapped the ball, which gave the Falcons a sneak peek at the Bucs’ play-call, which was going to be a bootleg by the rookie quarterback. Then Tampa Bay ran the same play after the timeout, which was stupid. It’s just poor game management by Smith, and quite frankly, it’s getting old. I’ve had plenty of Bears fans tell me Smith was like this in Chicago, too, which concerns me because I don’t know if it will get any better any time soon.

You don’t see Bill Belichick do that in New England. You don’t see the Patriots giving up onside kicks like the Bucs did to the Redskins. And you don’t see New England getting called for 12 men on the field on offense as Tampa Bay did last year at the end of the Cincinnati game.

Bucs HC Lovie Smith- Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs HC Lovie Smith- Photo by: Getty Images

That’s a big part of the reason why I called for Smith to be fired after the Washington game, and still believe he’s not the right coach for the Buccaneers. Even as the personnel department continues to stockpile talent in Tampa Bay, and it’s done a pretty good job over the past two years, Smith’s poor clock management and game day coaching will but a low ceiling on this Buccaneers team – just watch.

Hey, if Smith changes his ways and becomes a better game manager I’ll be the first one to give him credit and squelch my call for him to be fired. But given the fact that Smith has a 5-18 record in Tampa Bay there’s a lot of improvement he needs to show first.

• And finally, I got a lot of great feedback from last week’s SR’s Fab 5 that featured my interview with Simeon Rice. The legendary Bucs defensive end said there weren’t any killers on Tampa Bay’s defense before last Sunday’s game at Atlanta, and he was right.

Then rookie middle linebacker Kwon Alexander stepped up and made 11 tackles, picked off Matt Ryan and stripped Julio Jones of the ball en route to winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week award and helping Tampa Bay to defeat Atlanta, 23-20 in overtime. The Bucs have been waiting for someone to rise up and take control of a game and Alexander finally did that.

Meanwhile, linebacker Lavonte David had five tackles against the Falcons, which matched his season-low total from Week 1. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had one tackle against Atlanta, and this was coming off a two-tackle effort in Tampa Bay’s 31-30 loss at Washington the week before.

Tampa Bay’s two highest-paid players reside on defense, and it’s time for McCoy and David to start earning their paychecks with more splash plays and better production. And perhaps more importantly, they need to develop a killer instinct like Alexander showed in Atlanta.

FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• As well as Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is running the ball this year he’s doing an even better job catching the ball. Martin is the fourth-leading rusher in the NFL with 612 yards and three touchdowns, but he’s also caught 15 passes for 136 yards and another touchdown through seven games. That’s the most receiving yards he’s had since catching 49 passes for 472 yards and a touchdown as a rookie in 2012.

“He’s working hard on catching the ball,” Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “He had some good catches. The thing that’s most impressive to me – and I don’t know if this is different or not, because I didn’t watch him that close before – but he’s breaking a lot of tackles. Yards after contact, he’s doing a really nice job.”

What’s even more impressive is that Martin has caught everything thrown to him. He’s been targeted 15 times and caught every one.

Doug Martin had his second 100-yard game of the season on Sunday – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

• Speaking of Bucs running back Doug Martin, it’s a good thing that Bucs general manager Jason Licht didn’t trade him last year or during the offseason, right? Sometimes the best deals for NFL general managers are the ones that aren’t done. In reality, Licht didn’t have much of a choice. Martin’s play over the past two years had diminished his trade value to the point that the Bucs were only offered a late-round pick.

Licht, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who lobbied hard for the veteran running back, and the organization wisely decided it was better to have a motivated Martin playing in a contract year than a late-round draft choice – especially since only seeing Charles Sims for only half of his rookie season. Martin got some extra incentive when Tampa Bay didn’t pick up his option year, came into the offseason in the best condition of his four-year career and is running as hard as ever.

Despite Martin’s great start in 2015, don’t expect the Bucs to talk about a contract extension until the offseason. Although he’s stayed healthy through seven games, Martin has only played in 17 games over the 2013-14 seasons. Tampa Bay wants to see if Martin can play in all 16 games first, and rightly so.

• Bucs general manager Jason Licht also showered some praise on rookie offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet on the Move The Sticks podcast with Daniel Jeremiah.

“They’re both playing great,” Licht said. “I can’t sit here with a straight face and tell you that Ali Marpet would be starting and playing at this level this quickly when a year ago he was getting ready to play the Merchant Marines or whatever.

“The left tackle usually gets scrutinized and critiqued a little more than any other position on the offensive line. Donovan is getting better and better and probably played his best game [in Atlanta]. He is playing like a starting left tackle in this league.”

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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e
e
6 years ago

Wow! Great article… Looks like it was tailored to Pink in the beginning, but in his defense; I feel really good about Winston at this point, but I don’t think that it’s going to be as clear sailing to the Pro Bowl as you imply, Scott? I still think there will be dry spells, ups-and-downs, fans suddenly calling for Winston’s head, etc… But, the Bucs organization and the fans need to be patient. He’s a young kid at this stage. I also think that Mariota has shown that he could probably do some damage in a Gruden-esque west coast system… Read more »

JW4Lyf36
JW4Lyf36
6 years ago

I love this post! Alot more positive than usual and I’m loving this progress we are making. I hope we can somehow get to .500 this week and I’m looking forward to us slowing the Giants offense. Jaboowins! Go Bucs!

Iabucfan
Iabucfan
6 years ago

Living in Iowa, I didn’t know much about Winston or Mariota, other than what I saw on TV. Scott, it was your Jan. 9 Fab5 column that got me on board for Winston. I think Winston should get the “C” on his jersey this year. The same goes for Alexander. They’ve earned it. E, I am with you. I do feel that weight being lifted. Winston is the main reason. But, the next 3 draft picks are doing well also. Go Bucs!!!!!

jongruden
jongruden
6 years ago

So Fab 1 was an “I told you so” article? Ok, well congrats on seeing Winston playing well the past 3 games, I wanted Mariota too and to be honest I don’t think anyone can claim anything after 8 games of a rookie yr, maybe put this article out after yr 3 then I will say Nice call Scott. I am a Bucs Fan first not a Mariota Fan so Winston is my guy and I wear his Jersey and I’ll be more than happy to say yep you and Mark Cook and CG Master were right I was wrong… Read more »

westsidekidx
westsidekidx
Reply to  jongruden
6 years ago

Also not mentioned… Winston has rbs! Winston has for the most part 6’5 recievers.. What does mariota have? And last week’s win was luck and not Winston who won us the game… If he would not underthrows deep passes and underthrow the td pass then I would be like OK I was wrong… I’ll give him props he hasn’t turned the ball over and a win is a win but to say he’s better than mariota this early… No.. Get us to the playoffs.. Win some playoffs.. Win a superbowl.. Get 7tds in a game lol then I’ll agree with… Read more »

westsidekidx
westsidekidx
Reply to  jongruden
6 years ago

Also not mentioned… Winston has rbs! Winston has for the most part 6’5 recievers.. What does mariota have? And last week’s win was luck and not Winston who won us the game… If he would not underthrows deep passes and underthrow the td pass then I would be like OK I was wrong… I’ll give him props he hasn’t turned the ball over and a win is a win but to say he’s better than mariota this early… No.. Get us to the playoffs.. Win some playoffs.. Win a superbowl.. Get 7tds in a game lol then I’ll agree with… Read more »

westsidekidx
westsidekidx
Reply to  jongruden
6 years ago

Also not mentioned… Winston has rbs! Winston has for the most part 6’5 recievers.. What does mariota have? And last week’s win was luck and not Winston who won us the game… If he would not underthrows deep passes and underthrow the td pass then I would be like OK I was wrong… I’ll give him props he hasn’t turned the ball over and a win is a win but to say he’s better than mariota this early… No.. Get us to the playoffs.. Win some playoffs.. Win a superbowl.. Get 7tds in a game lol then I’ll agree with… Read more »

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
Reply to  jongruden
6 years ago

JG, I’m with you. I preferred MM and will concede that I am really impressed with JW so far. I would love to be wrong on this but agree with you it’s WAY to early. He is making great progress but he has been consistently late throwing the deep ball. ME would have 3 more touchdown passes had JW delivered the ball on time. I love his talent and fire but I agree, it’s way too early to say he’s a Probowl QB. I will readily admit that the is MUCH better than I thought he would be. Hope I’m… Read more »

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
6 years ago

Definitely a bit early for Pro Bowl talk but Jameis has shown why he was taken #1. I won’t waste time bashing Mariota bc the flaws in his game are obvious to anyone who chooses to look. His play aside Jameis is the leader this team desperately needed and his play is only validating how special this kid could be if he keeps progressing.

jongruden
jongruden
6 years ago

Keep in mind guys Freeman had 27 td’s and 6 int’s one yr, ONE YR! That’s my point you have to evaluate guys in a 3 yr period not one yr, esp not in one half of a yr

Garv
Garv
6 years ago

GREAT read Scott! And you are so right about Jameis Winston, the franchise QB we have always wanted. I know the “I told you so” deal will annoy those who refused to believe but you DID tell us and though most listened and agreed, a very loud minority did not. As a fan I cannot help but hope the young Buccaneers make a playoff run next year. But you know what? I have no doubt that Jameis himself is hoping to do the same THIS season. I like that, I really do.

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
6 years ago

Here we go….FAB1) I’m on record with “whichever QB we take will become my new favorite Buc”. But, I’ll take a much more even-keeled approach to my evaluations after 7 games…I didn’t proclaim JW a bust after the Tenn game, and I’m not proclaiming him a phenom at this point (58.6% and 10TD/7INt is not a phenom). He is progressing nicely and that’s what I wanted to see….I expected some sort of 4 INT game early (perhaps more to come), but I don’t want to see multiple INT games in the second half of the season, and that will be… Read more »

pinkstob
pinkstob
6 years ago

I would say that since time is on Mariota’s side in terms of who will prove to be the better QB that now is the perfect time to put out articles like this, so I commend you for that SR. Before and after the draft I said multiple times that I didn’t expect Mariota to draw even with Winston and start winning games until about Week 8. That fact that Mariota has one win under his belt means he is ahead of where I thought he’d be. Winston started out worse than I thought he’d be and now he’s about… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

Loved the Rolling Stones quote Pink.

Dbuc63
Dbuc63
Reply to  scubog
6 years ago

Agree, can’t get it out of my head now, not a bad thing..

buclover1988
buclover1988
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

lol whatever. your just pulling stuff out of the air now pinkstob. how is time not on winstons side too ? . last time i checked, winston is 21 years old. hes only going to improve. hes the first one in, last one out. hes shown maturity. hes shown the ability to LEAD. their are things beyond skill sets that also are important to the qb position and winston oozes of those qualities. i believe mariota will be fine and to be honest i have nothing but good things to say about him. but winston is showing everyone that hes… Read more »

Horse
Horse
6 years ago

For me it’s been about no DE rush or push which is the reason why we are 3-4. I agree about Lovie, but if he gets us 5-6 wins then he deserves that third year to prove he is the right coach. Winston is a bonus for me as I have felt all along that if we have a average or a little above average QB, we will make the playoffs when we get our Defense straightened out. Besides not enough quality DE’s on this team, we can also say the same at Safety. This draft should be all about… Read more »

buclover1988
buclover1988
Reply to  Horse
6 years ago

completely agree horse.

Dbuc63
Dbuc63
Reply to  Horse
6 years ago

Horse, agree in part but if a QB can throw a quick slant for big gains 90% of the time any teams DE or DL would have a hard time.

tharris42
tharris42
6 years ago

Very good article, I am glad that Pinkstob can finally stop hating on Winston. Mariota, is showing the world that he is not an NFL caliber QB. At best, he will become a career backup in the next 3 years. This is not a popularity contest, Winston’s is the real deal.

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  tharris42
6 years ago

Mariota a career backup, lol ok buddy, I guess they say the same thing on Tenn Publications about Winston

Horse
Horse
Reply to  tharris42
6 years ago

In Pinkstob defense, I think Mariota will be an above average and just as effective as Winston because all teams discover how to beat the other QB. Neither QB is ready to be evaluated yet.

drdneast
drdneast
6 years ago

Always look forward to reading this column every Friday. That was a good write jonguden and appreciate what you wrote and how you feel. Actually I think both QB’s will probably be good and each has their plus and minuses early on in their careers. One thing that is abundantly clear is Winston’s dynamic alpha leadership traits are off the chart. After seven games the guy seems to have taken control of the team which is a good thing. Don’t mind PR picking on McCoy and David but don’t forget McCoy fought through a double team to get to Ryan’s… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
6 years ago

Well I must say this was another great read Scoot. It’s like breakfast for the mind. AS for Fab 1, everyone knows where I stand. We picked the right QB based on the things shown so far. His leadership is something you can’t teach and something Mariota will never have. This team sorely needed that as we have no alpha dogs on this team. And I’m not even going to get into the scheme we run, which Mariota would look even worse in. Everyone was well in their right to doubt Jameis as he did some pretty bone head things… Read more »

DrT1066
DrT1066
6 years ago

Scott
What is going on with Lavonte David?
Lovie’s lousy defensive calls?
Illness?
Albert Haynesworth disease?
What?

76Buc
76Buc
6 years ago

I was going to jump all over Fab 2, but then I read about the compensatory 4th round or better pick in’17. That changes things a little, but for me trade Glennon for a 3rd and package it to get Joey Bosa, or the Nole’s CB, or the other CB (LSU)?).I want to win sooner, not later!

scubog
scubog
Reply to  76Buc
6 years ago

76 Buc: I have an expired Florida Bucs license plate that reads “76BUC”. Would you like to have it?

BK
BK
6 years ago

Your persistent attacks on Lovie and your insistence that he be fired every week is getting very old. This website used to be the goto for insightful articles and exclusive information. We are 3-4 by the way. We won last week but somehow you couldn’t wait to call for the coach’s head. When we screw up on offense it’s Lovie’s fault (the play on 4th and 1). When the offense does well the “head coach” get’s no love, all the credit goes to your man crush Dirk. Your hate for Lovie is becoming a writers block for you. We are… Read more »

niko521
niko521
Reply to  BK
6 years ago

Bravo BK. Bravo!

buclover1988
buclover1988
Reply to  BK
6 years ago

thank you BK and Niko521. im happy im not alone in feeling that way.

Dbuc63
Dbuc63
Reply to  BK
6 years ago

Did you comprehend the article? Disagree is fine but your comments on SR suggest ignorance on your part.

macabee
macabee
6 years ago

I read Scott’s assessment of Lovie’s game management skills and felt compelled to call Lovie and let him know in no uncertain terms exactly terms exactly how Scott feels (cause I don’t think Lovie reads PR). The phone rings and the following conversation ensues: ________________________________________________ Lovie, is that you? Yes, this is Lovie, how can I help you? You don’t know me, but I wanted to call and let you know exactly what Scott said. He said “Hey, if Smith changes his ways and becomes a better game manager I’ll be the first one to give him credit and squelch… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  macabee
6 years ago

macabee; still laughing. Good one.

e
e
Reply to  macabee
6 years ago

Ha ha! I’m guessing that if we’re talking Buccaneers, we’re talking rum? Cheers, Matey!

buddah
buddah
6 years ago

Scott, very disappointed in you. What a ego? I’m not impressed by writers who express no doubts about their opinions. I don’t live in a state of such certainty. Really, you want to go on record to say that Mariota won’t be an elite quarterback after he’s played 5 games. Please. Winston has shown leadership skills, no doubt, but his footwork and accuracy has been mediocre. He missed an easy throw that would have clinched the game and he was way too hyped early on, consistently throwing high, even should have been picked off twice. I like the kid s… Read more »

bueller
bueller
6 years ago

How do you let Josh McCown go for free, when he is starting, and then Glennon is too valuable to trade? That is terrible decision making for a Bucs roster with so many holes.

niko521
niko521
6 years ago

Scott, I just wish you would take a more objective look at Lovie …for example, are you sure Lovie ordered the same play? Koetter took responsibility for the 3rd n 1 call , maybe it was koetter? Last years too many men, u don’t think the cluster &?$@-- that was our OC wasn’t to blame? I agree Lovie has improving to do on clock mgmt, but at the cost of having to replace a 4th coach in 6 years, we can live with it for now. There’s only one bill belichick. Obviously Lovie has changed: drafting 13 of 14 players… Read more »

artpac
artpac
6 years ago

look, I was a Winston supporter heading into the draft….but it is WAY too early to declare us the winner of that sweepstakes. Very little of the problem with Winston was on the field.

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

Winston is CURRENTLY the QB we hoped we drafted- still gonna need some time to PROVE he is the QB he currently appears to be.hes played well,hats off to that. I’m not gonna take a bunch of shots at Marcus as it’s too early to call with him too- the kid has talent- will he develop that talent and go to the next level? That remains to be seen.i wish him luck. I have always been concerned with his build and if it can stand up to the pounding of an NFL career. He doesn’t seem to have he frame… Read more »

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  cremdonado
6 years ago

“slight build” Mariota is 6’4 212 lbs, may want to look up Randal Cunningham, Drew Brees, Russel, Doug Flutie, Phil Simms, Wilson and joe Montana and countless others who are around the same height and weight

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

Yes- 6’4″ and barely above 200 is slight-he doesn’t have much muscle mass and is quite thin – I don’t see him adding the 20lbs needed to protect himself. Winston is close to the same height and weight but has a much sturdier frame and more potential to gain more muscle mass and strength- I’m 6’2″ and 210 and I’m not nearly as big as Winston but am close in size to Marcus-and I wouldn’t last in theNFL at my current weight and muscle mass… Some of you guys just want to find problem or issue with anything posted as… Read more »

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  cremdonado
6 years ago

Yes Montana and Randall and Brees are thick with muscles ha be accurate with what you say and you won’t be corrected

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

Now waiting for the douchy response- perhaps point out spelling and grammatical issues next…

jongruden
jongruden
6 years ago

I think your name calling pretty much sums up who you are as person thx for letting everyone else know who you are too

cremdonado
cremdonado
Reply to  jongruden
6 years ago

Your passive aggressive behavior shows you are nothing but one of the countless internet cowards who hide behind avatars and other peoples name – you are a big man in a forum but likely a spineless douche in your everyday existence.keep up all those stats of other peoples accomplishments since you unlikely to do anything worthwhile yourself …there is something wrong with longing to wear another mans name as your own-

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

Hey jongruden- go fuck yourself ! Funny u choose the name of one of the most overrated blowhard coaches in history- you are a troll- go back to your bridge- I’m surprised your know it all behavior hasn’t cost you most of your teeth you jackass..

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

And if PR has a problem with my words and comments- they can cancel my account and refund my money .

scubog
scubog
6 years ago

Wow JonnyG, you sure got Crem fired-up. Since I’m probably the only one who has had the opportunity to meet you and your fine son, I’ll stick up for your character and loyalty to the team. Winston is displaying the swagger that I thought was the biggest difference between the two QB’s. What I don’t know is if Mariota is taking such a leadership role. There’s no reason they both cant be good. If we can garner a first round pick for Craig Erickson, Mike Glennon should be worth a three. The great Ron Wolfe always believed in having a… Read more »

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  scubog
6 years ago

Scu- Thx, but no need to stick up for me against posters like Crem others see what class the guy represents

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
6 years ago

Well Scott, you certainly fired up the trips with this one. Haha As for Lovie, I will say the guys are playing hard for him and that’s all we can ask. Does his bears rejects and defensive play along suck? Yeah, but the players love him. We are going to win a couple more games this year and Lovie will stay. Give him a. Real strong defensive draft and next year will be his make or break year. As for mariota , he really does have a slight frame, and he hasn’t made it a year since college without getting… Read more »

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  cgmaster27
6 years ago

CG- Mariota hurt his knee it has nothing to do with his size may want to look how big “Big Ben” is and he was also hurt, Brees is a shrimp nuff said

drdneast
drdneast
6 years ago

Listen folks, I support Lovie because he is the coach of the Bucs, just like I used to support (gulp) Schiano. I also realized Lovie came into a team that was talent challenged due to 10 to 12 years of bad drafting. But Scott makes some valid points about Lovie and especially his game management skills. Besides for that, he doesn’t just write or say something and hide out of sight, he is at the facility every day facing Lovie like a man. That takes a set. I’m not ready to jump on the fire Lovie bandwagon yet, but I… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
6 years ago

Boys, boys, lets not let this site get to be like another popular one which is full of stupid name calling and acrimonious behavior.
Lets can the “f” bombs and any other type of foul language directed at one another.
Agree to disagree. Make your points without the name calling.
I really like this site much better than the other one because there are more genuine fans here and the tone is much more civil.

fredster
fredster
6 years ago

Good article. I have reluctantly supported the Winston decision since before the draft when we learned Bucs were going this route. I actually said a couple times here I’m not sure either is worthy of 1st overall and maybe we should trade down. Looks like I may have been wrong, but time will tell. Winston is progressing nice and if we have have our future franchise QB I’ll be so happy. My gut says we do, but again I’m not making dumb predictions after 8 games. As far as Mariota goes Never liked Him, but he had some good things… Read more »

fredster
fredster
6 years ago

Cremdonado, I agree with you about Mariota as to his size and holding up. He’s not a big guy. Especially when you factor he wants to run around a lot and the Titans O line. I will not take any other shots at him either as the kid has something to him for sure. Better than I expected I must say, but I still feel Bucs made the right choice. History just has shown the read/option guys don’t work out long term. Maybe he’s different and learns how to operate under center just fine. Who knows I don’t care what… Read more »

Gulfstrings
Gulfstrings
6 years ago

The vilification of Winston pre and post draft will serve many meals of crow, yet (I’m sure) many still refuse to dine waiting instead for their “I told you so moment.” I pulled for the kid then and continue to do so. I also don’t understand the “fire Lovie” rhetoric. He’s almost halfway thru the second year of rebuilding what remained of a terrible team and anyone (except Sott) can see the glaring holes that remain to be filled. Equally glaring – and deserving more credit than is being given, is the team’s ability to draft quality players. He deserves… Read more »

jongruden
jongruden
6 years ago

PR- Please cancel cremdonado subscription, he has the personality of an Eagles or Raiders Fan this site is for fellow Bucs Fans