Category: NFL

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Look To Take Advantage Of Rule Changes In Kicking Game

Due to several rule changes adopted by National Football League owners, kickoffs occurring in the game will look drastically different. The changes are intended to reduce the number of dangerous collisions that take place during kickoff returns and there is a list of them:

 

 

  • The kicking team must line up with five players on each side of the football

 

  • The ball must be kicked before players on the kicking team can run to cover the kick

 

  • The return team must line eight players in a set-up zone prior to the kick

 

  • Return team players cannot block opponents while in the 15-yard setup zone. On most kicks, this zone will be located from the kicking team’s 35-yard line to midfield

 

  • Wedges are no longer allowed to be formed by members of the return team

 

 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers special team’s coach Nate Kaczor is giving careful scrutiny to the rule changes in hopes of determining how they will affect his unit. Many in the league, including the man many consider to be the top coach, Bill Belichick believes the special teams game to be an integral ingredient in deciding the outcome of an NFL football game.

 

The main issue for Buccaneers players, as well as players of all the league’s teams, is to be afforded more safety in kickoff plays while not sacrificing any of the game’s excitement. Smart coaches like Kaczor also recognize that the rule changes in the kicking game can be used to improve his team’s chances of scoring more points.

 

The fact that players covering kicks of the kicking team will no longer be afforded a running start is huge. A fast running NFL player can cover approximately ten yards in a single second and by having them remain stationary until the ball is kicked will give kick-returners more room to operate.

 

Running lanes are also likely to be a little broader because by requiring that five coverage personnel line up on each side of the football teams can no longer overload the side of the field where the ball will be kicked.

 

Kaczor and other special teams coordinators will no doubt look to load up on speedy return men to take advantage of these rule changes as a team that has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in an NFL game have been victorious 62% of the time over the last ten years.

Bucs Late Round Picks Cause Some Excitement

While the focal point of many observers attention on the NFL Draft is usually quarterbacks and first round draft choices, it is often in the latter-rounds where teams are made into champions or chumps. This year, the Bucs front office brought in an electric group to hopefully help rejuvenate a Tampa Bay roster that finished an extremely middling 5-11 last season.

In the “hit or miss” category is the Bucs second round pick: Ronald Jones II. His blazing fast 40 yard dash of 4.65 seconds has got to have fans of the Bucs drooling. His speed, matched with his catching ability out of the backfield may be the exact type of complement developing quarterback Jameis Winston needs to help alleviate some of the pressure that’s constantly on him. If you’re the type of person who needs to see to believe, don’t take my word for it: watch his tape.

The Bucs used their latter second round pick to help shore up a depleted secondary that was one of the weakest units on the team last year by selecting Carlton Davis out of Auburn. Davis is a solid, low-bust potential type of prospect that NFL teams can never have enough of. Additionally, Tampa Bay added Jordan Whitehead in the fourth round which feels like a total steal for a player with his sheer athleticism. While Whitehead will need to stop searching for “the big play” and focus on consistency, he may be one of those latter round prospects that other teams around the league will regret not choosing for years to come. If nothing else, Whitehead played a variety of positions in college (at Pittsburgh) and will be able to be a plug-and-play guy for a Bucs secondary unit that I’ve already mentioned needs all the help they can get.

Finally, the Tampa Bay front office used their last pick by taking a flier on Jack Cichy a linebacker out of the University of Wisconsin. Cichy has struggled with injuries throughout his career, which is the main reason he dropped all the way into the sixth round. But, if he stays healthy and can play at full speed he may develop into a solid starter for the Bucs.

All in all, it’s way too early to say just what this Bucs draft will have entailed. But even in the latter rounds the fans of Tampa Bay should be crossing their fingers.

Bucks First Pick Draws Polarizing Grades

Sitting at number 7 in the 2018 NFL Draft it was evident that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were willing to bide their time and punt back to a few slots later to get the guy they wanted. That guy is monster defensive tackle Vita Vea (full name Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea) from the University of Washington. While many so-called experts panned the move, saying there were more pressing defensive needs and the prospects available to fill those holes, there is something to be said about a team amassing a cadre of new picks while also going out to get someone they’ve had targeted for a good long while.

If you look at the stats that Vea put up while playing for the Washington Huskies, it is hard to be pessimistic at what you see. His 41 bench press reps at the NFL Combine was good for the second highest by a prospect this year, and the 18th highest total of all-time. To put it another way: the guy has freakish strength abilities. Still, some scouts question if the physical dominance will translate into NFL production as the defensive tackle position seems to be growing less important to a lot of NFL front offices. However, consider that the Bucs finished dead last in sacks last season and then factor in the amount of attention that Vea will demand from opposing offensive lines. In other words, it seems that Vea may be an asset in the sense that he will take away a lot of man power from other teams offensive lines, freeing up the Bucs’ edge rushers to panic the opposing Quarterback into making bad throws.

Hypothetically could the Bucs have gone with a defensive back or a safety? Sure, I suppose so. But right now, it’s far too early for anyone (even “experts) to pan the pick as a bad choice. If Vea does what he was brought into do: act like a dam against other teams running games and free up outside rushers, then this is the exact type of pick Tampa will need to continue making in order to rebound from a lackluster 5-11 season.

Tampa Bay Brings Top Talent in for Pre NFL Draft Interviews

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the seventh pick in Round one of the NFL draft this week and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding which players will be available at this draft slot and what direction the Bucs will head in.

Tampa Bay has Had several top tier recruits visit the team including RB Saquon Barkley, out of Penn Stare, who is generally considered the top talent in the draft. Whether or not he falls to the Bucs is dependent on how many teams go for one of the big four QBs; Darnold, Rosen, Allen, or Mayfield, which can push one of the top non-Qbs into the lap of the Bucs.

The Bucs may target offensive guard, Quentin Nelson of Notre Dame who is considered a generational talent and prospect at the position and also maybe the best prospect of the draft. The offensive guard position is not a premium position and Nelson is seen to be lacking the ability to flip out to the more highly desired Offensive tackle position. Still, with the move in the NFL to more 3-4 defense schemes, a top interior guard may be a great option for teams looking to build out an interior run game.

Tampa Bay may also pick one of the elite talents in the defensive secondary such as Minkah Fitzpatrick, the CB out of Alabama, or Denzel Ward, the CB from Syracuse. These CBs should provide the Bucs with the top tier secondary talent that they haven’t had since Ronde Barber.

There are other defensive possibilities for the Bucs such as defensive end Bradley Chubb, if he drops, or LB Roquan Smith from Georgia.

The NFL draft is a three day affair and starts this Thursday and continues through Saturday. The Bucs have already traded away their third round pick for the Giants Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul, and also flipped 4th round Picks with New York.

There is more uncertainty than ever for the Bucs in Round one and GM Jason Licht likely enjoys it. Licht was notorious for baiting the Browns into taking massive bust quarterback Johnny Manziel. The reality is that the Bucs will be in a mode of being opportunistic and won’t know who they are targeting or likely to get until their pick on Thursday.

Bucs Looking Forward to Big Draft Day

Like every other team in the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are using the current offseason to try and rebuild their team. The 2017 NFL season was not a very good one for the Buccaneers. After having a very strong 2016 season that saw the team win more games than they lost, most people are expecting 2017 to be another great year. However, things did not go as planned and the Bucs won just five games while finishing in last place in the NFC South Division.

Now that the NFL season is over, the Buccaneers are looking for many different ways to revamp their roster for the future. This offseason, the team has already made several big moves that show the direction they are taking. One big move that the team made was the decision to release star running back Doug Martin. Martin had made a couple of Pro Bowl teams in his time in Tampa, but also struggled to stay on the field this past year. At the same time, the team looks like they are ready to commit to the team’s passing game when they signed Mike Evans, a wide receiver, to a long-term extension.

One of the biggest days of the offseason for the Buccaneers, and every other team in the NFL, will be the NFL draft. The draft is always one of the biggest events of the offseason as many people try to predict what every team will do. Since the Buccaneers have a pretty high overall draft pick, they are a big focus of many experts. While some teams have a clear direction of what they will do with their picks, the Bucs are not as easy to predict (https://thepewterplank.com/2018/03/21/tampa-bay-buccaneers-draft-strategy-still-question).

At this point, many people seem to think that the Bucs will try and improve their defense. The team already has to compete with three of the top quarterbacks in the league in their division so finding ways to slow down passing attacks is crucial. Because of this, many seem to think that they will go after a safety or corner back if one of the top players falls to their slot. Another option they are considering is finding a way to improve the offensive line by adding a tackle high in the draft.

Buccaneers Sign Mike Evans to Largest Wide Receiver Contract in NFL History

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed wide receiver Mike Evans to a five-year contract extension with $82.5 million, with $55 million injury guaranteed. The deal is set to keep Evans, 24, in Tampa Bay until 2023 and would see the receiver average $16.5 million a year, making him the second highest-paid wide receiver in the league behind the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown. Worth a maximum of just over $95 million, counting bonuses, the new contract has also set a record for the highest agreed upon sum for a wide receiver in NFL history.

Talks of a new deal between Evans and the Buccaneers had begun before the 2017 season, but intensified during the off season with Evans approaching the option year of his entry-level contract, which could have seen him become a free agent. With the young Pro-Bowler already in the franchise top three for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, securing him with a long-term contract was one of the Buccaneers’ priorities. Evans announced the new deal on Instagram, pledging to “continue to strive for greatness on the field as well as in my community.”

Since being selected out of Texas A&M with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft , Evans has tallied more than 1,000 yards every season, establishing himself as one of the league’s foremost offensive players. Last season saw him tally up 71 receptions for 1001 yards and five touchdowns in 15 appearances. This run puts him behind only A.J. Green and Randy Moss for consecutive seasons with 1000 yards or more after being drafted; Green had five and Moss had six. In 2016, Evans set his career high in receptions (96), yards gained (1,322) and touchdowns (12), earning selections to the Pro Bowl and the second-team All Pro list.

Despite Evans, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and quarterback Jameis Winston combining to lead Tampa Bay to fourth in the league in yards per game with 272.9, the Buccaneers are looking to rebound from a disappointing season that saw them post a 5-11 record and finish bottom of the NFC South.

Bucs Make Big Roster Move

During the 2016 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked like they were well positioned to be one of the most promising teams of the future. That year, the team did very well under the guidance of quarterback Jameis Winston, wide receiver Mike Evans, and running back Dough Martin.

While 2017 was supposed to be a year in which the team would take another step forward, they had a surprisingly bad season and finished with a record of just 5 wins and 11 losses. Furthermore, they looked completely outmatched by the other three teams in their division, each of which made the NFL Playoffs. While the Buccaneers did not have a great year in 2017, the team is already making moves to help prepare the team for the future.

Earlier this week, the Buccaneers announced that they were parting ways with running back Dough Martin (https://www.forbes.com/sites/vincentfrank/2018/02/20/tampa-bay-buccaneers-release-doug-martin-saving-6-8-million-in-cap-room/). Doug Martin was originally drafted by the team with the second to last pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft after he excelled at Boise State University. During his time with the team, Martin amassed about 4,600 yards rushing and scored 28 touchdowns. He was also named first-team All Pro in 2015 and is a two-time Pro Bowl player.

While Martin has been very good when he has been on the field, he has struggled with injuries. He has missed at least five games in four of his six NFL seasons and looked far less effective on the field this past season. At this point it appears that Tampa Bay is more focused on going with a younger unit and this move will help to save the team over $6 million in cap space over the next year.

This will likely not be the only move that the team makes during the offseason. The team also released defensive tackle Chris Baker. Baker has been in the NFL for 9 years, but only spent one in Tampa Bay. The team is also looking forward to the upcoming NFL draft in which they hold a very high selection. The team is rumored to be considering going with a defensive star and have their eyes on a couple of different defensive backs that should be available at their pick.

Players That May be Cut from the Bucs this Offseason

Discussing Which Bucs Players Should be Cut This Offseason

 

Every offseason in the NFL, there comes a point where teams have to decide which players will stay on the team and which ones will either be traded or cut in free agency.

 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the 2017 season with a disastrous 5-11, after being hoisted as one of the teams in contention to make the playoffs this past year. After such a disappointing year, it’s obvious the Bucs have a lot of work to do this offseason, and on top of everything else, comes the daunting task of deciding which players need to be let go during free agency.

 

A lot of opinions and names are out there, and according to ESPN one of the names that should be on the chopping block is defensive tackle Chris Baker, and for some good reasons. One major reason was that when the team brought in Baker, the plan was for him to be an improvement in the defense alongside Gerald McCoy. Baker simply didn’t fit the 4-3 defensive scheme and it showed when he only registered a half a sack on the year, compared to Clinton McDonald notching five sacks.

 

But his playing style isn’t the only reason, as his personality also didn’t mesh well with some others on the team. A prime example took place during a week 16 matchup against the Panthers, where Baker seemed to not care at all about a very costly penalty against the team, which led to them losing the game. Both Jameis Winston and Kwon Alexander confronted him over it and in previous years, his effort kept being a problem for the team.

 

The Bucs signed Baker to the team from the Washington Redskins last year in free agency, but he simply wasn’t good in his role on the team. As a result, the team finished last in the league in sacks, notching only 22 on the year. For now, he remains on the team but unless he has a good offseason and shows something good in training camp, he may not be on the team roster by the time the regular season starts.

What Kwon Alexander Got From His Pro Bowl

Kwon Alexander’s Lessons from His First Pro Bowl

 

As far as the end of the NFL season goes, it’s quite an honor to be nominated to the Pro Bowl, whether it’s the first or tenth time doing so.

 

Enter Kwon Alexander, a linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl this year as a replacement for an injured player. Despite this, he didn’t feel as though this took anything away from his first Pro Bowl nod in Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

 

When asked about it, Alexander said it was both amazing and a blessing to be there on the same field as other top players in the NFL who earned similar accolades during the year. He added that he had a great time being on the field, enjoyed the practices and just the overall feeling of the game itself.

 

Alexander is only 23 years old, just finishing his third season in the NFL. He’s totaled 335 tackles in that time, as well as six sacks and six interceptions. In the Pro Bowl game he ended the day with six tackles, which actually tied for the most of any other player for the NFC. Granted, the AFC won the game 24-23, after the NFC managed to get a 20-3 lead at one point but at the end of the day the game is just about players having fun, all the while during a rainstorm.

 

Teammate and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was one of the many to sing praises for Alexander, saying that “Kwon deserves it” after he asked McCoy what did he have to do in order to get there. Now it appears that Alexander now knows what it takes and would like to get an All-Pro nod added to his football resume. McCoy himself just notched his sixth straight trip to the Pro Bowl this year.

 

McCoy wasn’t the only older player to spend time with Alexander this past week, as former Bucs players like Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn were also around. Both former players were titled as “Legends” captains for the NFC side of the game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Look for Ways to Improve

As everyone prepared for the 2017 NFL season, there were many different teams that people expected to take a step forward and become one of the top teams in the league. One team that was widely considered to be a favorite to make a major Improvement for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers, which had not made the playoffs in more than 10 years, showed a lot of Promise during the 2016 season. A significant amount of this promised had to do with the fact that they had a Young quarterback in Jameis Winston and strong wide receiver in Mike Evans.

During the 2016 NFL season the Buccaneers looked as if they were going to finally fulfill some of their promise. The team had a very promising finish with 9 wins and 7 losses. While the team was not good enough to make the playoffs, they were considered one of the favorites for the 2017 season. While the Buccaneers were expected to be better, the season did not go the way that they thought it would.

The Buccaneers ended up finishing the 2017 season with a record of five wins and 11 losses. In the very top NFC South Division, this was good for last place by more than four games. As the season has now come to a close, the team is looking for unique ways in which it can improve its team. The team will end up having a very high draft pick do to their low finish and is likely to look for ways to improve their defense. The team struggled mightily to keep up with the strong pass attacks of the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Carolina Panthers. It is widely expected that Tampa Bay will try and draft a safety or corner back high in the draft.

After the draft, the team will also have to look for ways to improve its depth. The team ended up having some struggles with injuries at the wide receiver position and it seem to have a big impact on them the entire year. While Jameis Winston had a very strong and promising 2016 season, he appeared to take a step back and it is believed that it was because he did not have enough weapons to throw the ball too. He will likely look for some more veteran support to provide more weapons and also leadership for the team.