Category: NFL

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.

Charlie Strong is the Man

Many remember Charlie Strong as the coach the University of Texas settled on when they could not get the coach they wanted. Some would say he was sabotaged by the UT boosters. However you perceive his previous tenure, Strong is a leader in the collegiate ranks. He holds his players and staff to the highest of standards. He cleans up the program first and makes an immediate impact on and off the field.

He is highly regarded as a stand up coach and most importantly a man. He understands where his players come from and takes extreme pride in helping them become better men. His ways are unmatched, and his players seem to always respond well personally and on the field. He has outstanding values and his players respect that.
During his time with Texas he took a stand to change the culture, while gutting the players that didn’t comply and applying standards that many programs lacked. The wins didn’t come as he would have liked but he made an impact on his players and their families.

One thing I think is overlooked, is his strength and consistency in recruiting. In his time with Texas he still brought in strong recruiting classes, even with the lackluster record. His strong male presence, leadership qualities and respectful nature has stood out to recruits and to their families. One thing his players know is that Charlie demands full effort on a daily basis. He drives his team to get better every time they step foot on campus. The talent pool in Florida is somewhat endless and with the big time programs all battling for their pick of the best, Strong’s impact will be felt across the region. It says something when players leave Strong’s teams with not just NFL draft numbers but an increase in graduation rates.Your text to link…

Charlie Strong has shown again that he a superior collegiate coach in his first season at the University of South Florida. Everyone involved in the program have and will continue to feel his positive presence, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He has lead USF to a 9-2 record in his first season and they can expect this program to consistently thrive under Strong.

Dirk Koetter Your Time is Up

Many were surprised by the change of power from Lovie Smith to Dirk Koetter. The players did not hesitate to voice their opinions at the time of the change. We see after a solid start to Koetter’s tenure the team has gone in downward spiral. They have under-performed in many ways to say the least. For all the weapons they have acquired, it has got to be time to say something has gone very wrong. It starts with leadership and is now time for a change.

We have to start by going back to when and how the head coaching change was made. Lovie Smith was coming off a 6-10 season after going 2-14 in his first season. Although, they did not make the playoffs we all could see the potential and trajectory of the team. In Lovie’s last season it was evident the team was in a tough conference with Drew Brees and Cam Newton. They competed and fought hard through the last game of the season. As a young team in all areas you could see the fight and drive within the locker room. They laid it on the line for their head coach. One important thing to think about is, Lovie represented his players well and they followed him into battle every week.

I think the way the change was made goes overlooked. The word was that the owner did not want to lose Koetter to other head coaching opportunities, given his so called specialty in running an offense. Doing so, I feel the players observed that their needs were overlooked by ownership’s personal agenda.
The media and some around the league applauded the move, but now we see the result of following in line with outside pressure. They got rid of the coach that the players responded to and felt was the best option for the team.

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Why are we not talking about the lack of leadership qualities that Koetter lacks? They have given him the best overall team talent wise, the Bucs have had since the Tony Dungy Jon Gruden changeover. After adding Desean Jackson and other offensive weapons through the draft, the expectations were high this season to say the least. The talk this year was this team would make a playoff push. We have to exam the leadership and the team’s overall results. The offense has looked sub-par to put it nicely. The talent on defense has gone to waste. Lovie had the defense turning a corner and now they are back to their old ways.

Let’s be real! This team has not responded well to Dirk Koetter and it is time for a change. Go out and get a coach that is what we call a player’s coach. This is a young team with minimal veteran leadership. This has been a major issue with NFL ownership. Stop hiring guys that are in the owner’s circle and really think about what the players need to be successful. This is the opposite of the Dungy era. Jon Gruden took Tony’s players and won the Super Bowl. The players were cited saying they wanted to do it for Tony. In this case it has not happened. Ownership cut the team deep with the move and here is the outcome of that.

O.J. Howard Avoids the Rookie Wall

O.J. Howard Dodges the Rookie Pitfall

The life of a rookie player in the NFL is all about learning and adjusting to any situation, where some players find themselves hitting the rookie “wall” and never picking up steam again. O.J. Howard is not among those players.

For Howard, if there was ever any reason to suspect that he hit the wall then he hasn’t shown it at all because his progress hasn’t slowed down at all with the season dragging on in its final few weeks. In fact, instead of slowing down he’s actually starting being more productive as of late. None of this is a big surprise for Howard, since he has made it a point to improve his gameplay with every passing week.

When asked, Howard simply stated that everything was going as he figured it would, and that there were a lot of learning experiences still going on and he needed to take them all in. He added that every week something new would occur and it was up to him to perform on the field and cut back on making the same mistakes over and over.

Howard is a former Alabama tight end who was the 19th overall selection in this year’s draft, his size, speed and route-running skills being a major contributor to that. In his first nine games, he only caught 14 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns, most of which happened in one game. However, in the last four weeks he managed 11 more catches with 175 yards and another two touchdowns, making him one of the better tight ends in the league over the last months.

Howard has managed to become a very efficient target for the Bucs, bringing in a ton of receiving yards in the last month despite doing so with the lowest number of targets in that time frame. Although he didn’t have many catches earlier on in the season, he did manage to average 16.2 yards per reception at the time, and currently he has the highest receiving average for tight ends in the last month, at 15.9 yards catch.

In short, Howard’s rookie season has been quite productive but according to him he just wants to continue and get better.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Evans Brings Christmas Smiles To 5th Graders

Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans and wife Ashli, along with the couple’s one-year-old daughter hosted a Christmas party for 13 5th graders from an area school. The party was complete with games to play, snacks, and gifts for the young fans.

The party was but a part of a larger three-day effort on the part of Evans to launch his Mike Evans Family Foundation. Evans and his wife have worked on launching the foundation for some time now and both are proud and active members of the Tampa community.

A fundraiser Monday featured a number of Evans’ teammates including quarterback Jameis Winston and fellow wide receiver Deshaun Jackson. And on Tuesday, Evans visited a Tampa area shelter for abused women and their families.

Both Evans and his wife watch their mothers be subjected to domestic abuse as children being raised in Texas. For Evans, the cycle of violence culminated with his uncle murdering his father.

The couple expressed that their understanding of domestic abuse issues caused it to become impossible for them to not provide whatever help they could for others.

Mindy Murphy, CEO, and President of the non-profit Spring was present at the Christmas party hosted by Mike and Ashli, Murphy had nothing but good things to say. She even commented on the genuine admiration the kids had for the towering NFL star saying they followed Mike Evans around like he was ‘the pied-piper.’

Wednesday’s party put lots of smiles on the young faces attending. The kids were students of Sulphur Springs Community School and were chosen based on academic performance.

The children played games alongside the Buccaneers practice field and Evans, a father of two young children of his own could be seen helping young Adrianna Earnest during a game of bag toss.

When it was time to open presents Evans led the children to a room complete with a tree and wrapped gifts. His simple instructions to the thirteen kids were: Go for it!

Evans reflected on his on upbringing while watching the children. He spoke of how his mom ‘worked three jobs’ and sometimes struggled but always provided Evans and his siblings with ‘the best Christmas’ that was possible.