Welcome to The Hook, my weekly column that hooks you into a different Tampa Bay Buccaneers topic each Thursday, as well as some of my thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL at the end in a section called Cannon Blast.
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Doing this full-time now going on my 11th season, I’ve learned a little bit. One thing is to hear what the coaches and general managers say, but also don’t forget to listen.
There is a big difference between hearing and listening, and while coaches and those in the front office don’t like to tip their hands, head coach Bruce Arians made a couple things clear on Monday when speaking to the media – Chris Godwin isn’t going anywhere, and after that it is all about the defense.
“He brings so much more than targets,” Arians said. “When you look at what he does as an outside receiver and a slot receiver, he’s so unique in that regard, and then you put the blocking in there. He’s a huge part of what we do offensively. It’s more than stats. It’s also what the guy brings to the huddle. I think with all these guys, each and every one is so different because of what they bring into the huddle, but Chris is very, very unique.”
Arians could have just said that Godwin was a good player, works hard, good in the locker room and so on, but Arians has never been one to throw a lot of smokescreens to the media – probably to the chagrin of Licht and the Glazers sometimes.
You can bet Godwin’s agent will have that quote ready when the two sides meet again to talk numbers.
During the boat parade celebration speeches at the Port of Tampa earlier this month, we all remember a very “happy” Arians grabbing the microphones during a number of those speeches and telling free agents, “Your ass ain’t going nowhere!” including to Godwin.
But that is Arians for you, and you know what?
The players love it.
If you ask most players what they want in a head coach, it isn’t the scheme, or their weekly practice schedule they mention most of the time, it’s honesty. Shoot straight, tell them where they stand and you’ll have their respect.
Arians shoots straight. You’ve never heard anything different from any of his coaching stops. From being a grad assistant at Virginia Tech, to his days with Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama to coaching the likes of Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck or Carson Palmer.
After the Godwin comment, Arians was asked about making a run at another Super Bowl and what the biggest hurdles are.
Again, we heard what Arians said, but did everyone listen?
“Well we cleared the first hurdle and that’s that we kept our coaching staff intact, other than [Antwaan Randle] El, and we’re happy for him,” Arians said. “The next thing now is to keep the players intact, keep the team intact as much as we possibly can without risking future years. Jason and I will work together as hard as we can to keep the core guys. We started last year saying, ‘If we could keep the defense together, we would have a chance’. We kept the defense together and then all of the sudden we got Tom Brady and that was the icing on the cake. It led to a Super Bowl. For me, it’s still keeping the defense together and then whatever is left – we’ll score enough points. It’s a matter of, for me, keeping the defense as solid as we can.”
Did you catch that?
“We’ll score enough points. It’s a matter of, for me, keeping the defense as solid as we can.”
Arians wants Godwin back and then this defense back.
“We’ll score enough points.”
He didn’t mention running back Leonard Fournette, wide receiver Antonio Brown or even tight end Rob Gronkowski. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t welcome those offensive free agents back, and Gronkowski will likely return, but Arians made Godwin and then the defense the priority.
While Licht was non-committal on who the Bucs would franchise tag, saying the team isn’t even sure yet, Godwin is the most likely candidate.
But signing Godwin to a long-term deal this offseason would likely be advantageous to the team. You can tag Godwin now and still work out a long-term contract up until mid-July. Godwin’s production was cut some this season (65 receptions, 840 yards with seven touchdowns) because of injuries. Say he comes back on the tag and duplicates his 2019 season (86 receptions, 1,333 yards, nine touchdowns). Now Godwin might be re-setting the entire NFL receiver market during the 2022 offseason. His price is more likely to go up, then down after the 2021 season.
Buckle up, Bucs fans. It’s going to be an interesting offseason. Repeating isn’t easy, but Arians told us what the plan is. We heard him, but did we listen?
• We are going on three weeks now since the Bucs won the Super Bowl. Has it really sunk it yet? It is starting to sink in for me, but it was still such an unlikely ride that it is crazy to think it really did happen. And to do it in your home stadium? Unbelievable.
I think I’ve watched every feature and review on the internet, from the highlight videos to the Mic’d Up segment, but one I missed was former Bucs standout Ronde Barber with his breakdown. This is really good and of course having a former player give his thoughts lends even more legitimacy to it, at least for me.
Check it out below.
• Playoff Lenny? Well now according to Leonard Fournette, it’s Lombardi Lenny! And you know what? He earned it and no one can take it away from him.
Fournette this week offered up his perspective on the incredible season in ThePlayersTribune.com and it really was a nice, peel-back-the-curtain moment when I read what Fournette had to say about the journey, but also his growth as a player. Below is a sample.
A lot of people been asking me what it feels like, after everything I’ve been through, to be a world champion. And honestly … I still don’t even know what to say. It doesn’t even feel real.
But here’s what I do know: People always say that it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey.
I feel that now more than ever.
And since we got the job done and got that ring, that’s all I think about. Not the game itself. Not anything that happened on the field. I think about the journey. Everything I’ve been through. Everything we’ve been through. And the joy that we took, as a team, in the whole process. Because that’s what got us here.