Category: Tampa Bay Buccaneer

Warren Sapp Excoriates Tampa Bay’s 2017 Defense

Following a disastrous 2017 season in which they lost 11 games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are receiving harsh criticism from one of the franchise’s most beloved personalities. Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp called out the team’s defense, referring to it as “absolutely disgraceful.”

The brash defensive tackle knows a thing or two about good defense given that he led Tamps Bay on that side of the ball for nine seasons. His tenure included a victory in the 2002 Super Bowl.

He most certainly has a right to be disgusted given that the Bucs were dead last in the NFL with just 22 sacks. Sapp himself notched 16.5 sacks during the 2000 season. In 2017, no member of Tampa Bay’s weak pass rush had more than 2.5 sacks.

Overall, the Bucs were at the bottom of the basement in the NFL in numerous defensive categories. For example, they allowed offenses the most total yards and most passing yards in the entire league.

Sapp’s frustration probably results from the fact that Tamps Bay’s offense, led by quarterback Jameis Winston, was actually quite good. Overall, the Bucs finished in the top 10 in the NFL in terms of offensive yards gained, and fourth overall with respect to passing yards.

The Buccaneers probably could have been a playoff contender if their defense had been even just average. Instead, Tampa Bay players had to stay at home and watch all of its NFC South rivals play in the postseason on television. The New Orleans Saints, the Carolina Panthers, and the Atlanta Falcons all made it to the playoffs.

As recently as 2015, Tampa Bay had a strong defensive identity. Despite not making the playoffs at that time either, the team at least had a defensive unit that ranked in the top 10 in terms of yards allowed.

Having drafted Winston first overall in 2015, expectations for the Bucs have been raised with each season that passes with him under center. While he has yet to live up to his promise, it is still early in his career, and he has shown some flashes of offensive greatness.

However, as Sapp’s harsh words suggest, a pathetic defensive can most certainly stymie a team’s success, regardless of how well the offense performs.

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.

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.

Mike Evans Celebrates Christmas by Launching New Charity

The Buccaneers’ playoff hopes may be fading, but wide receiver Mike Evans is doing his best to spread Christmas cheer in spite of the team’s difficulties. On Monday, Evans realized a lifelong dream by launching his new non-profit organization, the Mike Evans Family Foundation. The foundation provides college scholarships for underprivileged teenagers and support for victims of domestic violence. Evans and his wife Ashli kicked off a three-day Catch for Christmas event this week to raise money for their new non-profit.

Evans, who grew up in Galveston, Texas, witnessed the results of domestic violence firsthand in his own family. He attended Ball High School where he excelled at basketball and dabbled in football. Texas A&M University then offered him a football scholarship, a school Evans say he never would have been able to afford on his own. After an impressive two-year stint on the Aggies, Evans was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2014. Now in his fourth season on the Buccaneers, Evans is ready to give back to the communities that helped him achieve his dreams. His new foundation will help people in both his hometown of Galveston and in his adopted city of Tampa.

The Evans family kicked off their Catch for Christmas event on Monday with a fundraising dinner at 717 South. The event was attended by such luminaries as Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon. Evans was also supported by teammates like Jameis Winston. Part of the proceeds of the fundraising dinner will go to the Spring of Tampa Bay, a local domestic violence shelter. On Tuesday, Evans and his wife visited the shelter for a private dinner with survivors.

In the last stage of the foundation’s holiday event, Evans invited 15 children from Sulphur Springs Elementary to the team’s headquarters at One Buccaneer Place. The children knew they were being given a tour, but learned to their surprise that the famous wide receiver and his wife would be their guides. Evans told the children jokes, juggled and gave them Christmas gifts.

Evans is not the only Buccaneer to have a charitable foundation. Former teammate Vincent Jackson has his Jackson in Action 83 Foundation to benefit military families, and Jameis Winston launched his Dream Forever Foundation earlier this year. Although the Mike Evans Family Foundation is launching on small scale, Evans hopes to expand the non-profit in the coming years.

Jon Gruden in Bucs Ring of Honor:

It’s been a dismal season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the team and its fans did have one big thing to celebrate. Monday night, the Bucs added the coach who led them to their one and only Super Bowl win to their Ring of Honor. That would be Jon Gruden.

Gruden came to Tampa Bay in 2002 following a successful stint leading the Oakland Raiders. In four seasons with the Silver and Black, Gruden compiled a record of 40-28, with three playoff appearances and a trip to the AFC Championship Game. His arrival in Tampa Bay came under unusual circumstances for a head coach. The Bucs actually traded to get Gruden, giving up several draft picks and $8 million in cash. The deal paid off, as Gruden changed up the offense and led them to a 12-4 regular season record. He reached the conference championship game again, this time winning it over the Philadelphia Eagles, whom Gruden worked with for three seasons as offensive coordinator. Tampa Bay went on to Super Bowl 37, with Gruden facing his old team, the Raiders. The game turned out to be a one-sided affair, with the Bucs winning it 48-21.Your text to link…

Gruden said he was “overwhelmed,” “appreciative,” and “humbled” at going into the Tampa Bay Ring of Honor. Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander even made up special cleats to honor Gruden on his big night. One shoe has a picture of Gruden’s face, the other shows the killer doll from the Child’s Play movies Chucky, Gruden’s nickname due to his intense facial expressions.

Gruden coached the Buccaneers until the 2008 season, leaving team with a 57-55 record. The year after, he was hired by ESPN as a color analyst for the Monday Night Football broadcasts. Between Oakland and Tampa Bay, Gruden’s career record as a head coach is 100-85, including the post-season.

Gruden was inducted into the Ring of Honor with late Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer. That brings the number of Ring members to eleven. Among the honorees are Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch.

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.

Losing Season for Buccaneers Causes Speculation of Rift Between Star QB Jameis Winston and HC Dirk Koetter

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL’s NFC South division were expected to do big things this season.

At the end of the 2016-17 season, the Buccaneers missed the playoffs, but had a respectable 9-7 record at the end of their most recent 16-game stretch. Jameis Winston, their franchise quarterback, also threw for over 4,000 passing yards last year. He successfully completed 28 touchdown passes with an overall passer rating of 86.1 percent.

This year, things have not necessarily looked as promising for the Buccaneers or their starting quarterback. As of December 12, 2017, the 2002 NFL World Champion Buccaneers had an overall record of 4-9. Winston’s passing yard total is also down. So far, the former Florida State standout has less than 2,000 passing yards with three games left.

However, the less than stellar play of Tampa Bay’s storied football team cannot be blamed on Winston alone. The disarray going on in the Buccaneers culture falls on the shoulders of one man: Head coach Dirk Koetter. Koetter took over the organization in 2015 after previously serving as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.

According to ESPN, the relationship between Koetter and Winston is being closely monitored. Word is circulating about there being a rift between the two due to the fact that the Buccaneers’ 2017-18 season is not going the way many fans had hoped for. This kind of scrutiny is common in the NFL when seasons start to go south.

However, Winston denies that there are any problems between himself and his head coach. “I’ve been with Coach Koetter since I got in this league, and he has not wronged me since I stepped foot in those doors. I believe in what we have as an organization,” Winston said, according to ESPN.

When Koetter was asked by the press about his relationship with the team’s franchise quarterback, he gave a more coy answer stating simply that he and Winston had an “extremely consistent” chemistry. The comradery of a head coach and starting quarterback is always aggressively analyzed when problems with the team mount.

Winston understands this and said that he has no influence when it comes to his head coach’s job security. “”I don’t control that. That’s not my place. When you lose, everything gets blamed on … the head coach and the quarterback and I’m OK with that … All we care about is each other, our family, and trying to win,” he said.

The Buccaneers will face off against their division rival Falcons at 8:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 15, 2017 on their home field.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Looking for a Win in Green Bay With the Return of Winston

After a deep playoff run last year the Green Bay Packers were hoping for another great season, but after Aaron Rodgers was injured earlier in the season the team has been struggling to get wins. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished last season strong with a 9-7 record and barely missing the playoffs, they were hoping to build on that success this year but so far it has been very disappointing. The teams will meet on December 3, 2017 in Green Bay for a much needed win for both teams. Green Bay still has a slim chance to make the playoffs if they can win the rest of their games. Tampa is pretty much eliminated from the playoffs but would like to finish the season on a high note.

The Buccaneers will get Jameis Winston back from injury after a three week absence due to a shoulder injury. They hope his return will give the team a spark, although the team did go 2-1 while he was out. Tampa was supposed to take that next step this year and challenge for the division, but the team has underachieved. The Buccaneers have a good passing attack which should fair well against a Green Bay pass defense that has been playing poorly. Teams have been averaging over 300 yards passing against the Green Bay defense and the Buccaneers hope to continue that streak.

Unfortunately for Tampa, their defense hasn’t been much better. The defense was one of the best last year and this year it is rated last. The Buccaneers have struggled to get pressure on the quarterback and the secondary has been inconsistent. They hope to correct some of these problems against Green Bay. Injuries have continued to plague both teams so this should be an interesting matchup. The loser of this game will have more questions than answers as the season comes to an end.