Category: Tampa Bay

Mike Smith Knows His Buccaneers Defense Much Play Better Football In 2018

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith does not need to be informed of the need of his defense to perform much better in 2018. The unit performed dismally a year ago and was dead last in both sacks and passing defense among the 32 teams that compete in the National Football League.

While addressing the media on Wednesday Smith stressed that his defense must perform better and says that the process starts now. Smith also explained that the numbers the defense posted a year ago are not close to representing an acceptable level of production.

The organization has been supportive of Smith’s rebuilding efforts with multiple personnel moves made this offseason. The team totally revamped the defensive line by signing defensive end Vince Curry along with defensive tackles Mitch Unrein and Beau Allen. The later trade of a third-round draft pick netted the team former pro bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

The theme continued during the recent NFL draft as three of the top four picks of the team was used on the defensive side of the football. These selections included defensive tackle Vita Vea in the first round followed by cornerbacks Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, both selected in the second round of the draft.

Smith is hopeful that by both upgrading and adding depth to the defensive line will allow his linebackers the needed freedom to make plays on the ball. He also wants to see the line put much more pressure on the quarterback which will help his much-maligned defensive backfield.

Mike Smith told the media that he believes in the character of his defensive players and was proud of the way they fought through the adversity of injury and two five-game losing streaks while continuing to play hard during the 2017 football season.

Smith is confident that the will to fight he has seen in the players signed in the offense will combine with the resiliency the defense has already shown to produce an extremely fiery group.

Both Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans and team management hope that the assessment of their defensive coordinator proves to be true.

Rays Lose To Tigers In Strange Fashion

It is certainly not every day that a Major League Baseball game ends on a bunt, but believe it or not, that is what happened when the Detroit Tigers took on the Tampa Bay Rays a few days ago. It was a close fought game through 12 innings of play, a true pitcher’s duel thanks to a great outing by Tampa Bay pitcher Blake Snell who went nearly 7 innings, giving up only 2 earned runs and allowing just 5 hits to the Tigers.

However, in the bottom of the 12th, Tampa Bay reliever Matt Andriese got into some early trouble and quickly found a runner on third. It was at that point things got a bit strange. Backup Tigers catcher John Hicks took basically everyone at Comerica Park by surprise when he laid down an absolutely perfect “suicide squeeze bunt” that allowed the run to come in from third base — thus costing the Rays the game. To make matters even more strange, Hicks said after the game that his manager had not even signaled for the bunt, he made the decision on his own based on where the Rays fielders were lined up. While it is certainly a heartbreaking way to lose a game for Rays fans, you at least have to tip your cap to the charisma of a backup catcher willing to take such a risk at a critical juncture in the game. The Tigers have made a concerted effort to play a quicker game under their new manager Rod Gardenhire, and you have to imagine the skipper was proud of Hicks there.

The loss dropped the Rays to 13-16 on the season putting them 8 games behind the scorching hot Boston Red Sox in the American League East division. While certainly not a glowing record, it is at least slightly better than many MLB prognosticators had the Rays begged before the season. A roster that is retooling and rebuilding, the young players on Tampa Bay learned a valuable lesson in this particular extra innings loss: never take anything for granted on the diamond and always be ready for the bunt.

Lightning Bolts in Tampa Bay Aimed at the Stanley Cup

In a city where the average year-round temperature is above 80 degrees, one might not expect to find an ice hockey team, but that is exactly what you will find in Tampa, Florida. The Tampa Bay Lightning Bolts are not just an ice-hockey team, but they are playing against the Boston Bruins in the second round of the playoffs for the Stanley Cup.

Fans thundered after the Bolts won the first round series against the New Jersey Devils. The Bolts now face the Boston Bruins in the Second-Round.

The Bolts started the series with a disappointing 6-2 loss to the Bruins in the first game. There was concern from the start since the Bolts have only won 10 out of 57 games against the Bruins in the past. They found their aggressive edge, turned things around and won in games 2 and 3. Fans are hopeful as the Lightning are set to face the Bruins in Game 4 on Friday, May 4, 2018.

During an interview, Jon Cooper, head coach of the Bolts said one of the biggest assets of the team is their ability to skate. Cooper further described the Bolts by saying, “I guess, use the word relentless. That’s what they’ve been. And, there’s been no quit in them. They don’t give up on plays, and it’s been really effective for us.” Cooper also acknowledged that this is not a time to stop and relish in their victories.

The Tampa Bay community has come together to support their team. For Friday night’s game, there will be watch parties at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Friday night’s event will take place from 4-10 p.m. The starting time for the game is at 7 p.m. The public can expect plenty of family-friendly activities, food, live music, and beer for the adults.

In session 2003-04, the Bolts won the Stanley Cup championship. Fans are looking forward to seeing their team win to continue the series and have another opportunity to bring home the Cup.

Tampa Bay Bucs’ Lavonte David Excited About Bringing His College Teammate And Friend To Town

The NFL draft has concluded and the season is still months away, but for the Tampa Bay Bucs the optimism is pretty high right now. It’s high not only because they picked a big high-ranking defensive tackle to strengthen the middle of that defensive front, but also because linebacker and defensive captain Lavonte David will once again be playing with his old college teammate, Jason Pierre-Paul. The Tampa Bay Times caught up with David during spring conditioning workouts to get his take on what it would be like having Pierre-Paul now playing in Tampa and he was absolutely thrilled with it. The way David described it was that he and Pierre-Paul were always in sync and that the defensive end’s long arms allowed him to shove offensive linemen right out of the way and wreak havoc on the QB.

The Bucs have their work cut out for them as they come into the 2018 season, and their hope is to get back to what they failed to do last year which was build on their 2016 season. They surprised the NFL in 2016 when they finished 9-7 and second in the NFL South under first-rate Head Coach Dirk Koetter, but they failed to meet expectations in 2017 when they dropped to last in their division with a 5-11 record. The offense had its share of problems contributing to that with injuries that included quarterback Jameis Winston for several weeks, and the suspension of runningback Doug Martin who is no longer with the team. But David points the finger at himself and the defense.

The Bucs ranked last in 2017 in two main categories which were sacks and passing yards allowed. In David’s words, those results were “embarrassing” and there is now a sense of urgency with his teammates to get better in all of that. The confidence that they can do that certainly has risen since the arrival of Pierre-Paul who David played with at both a Kansas junior college and the University of South Florida before the defensive end was drafted in 2010 by the New York Giants. He now enters his 9th season in the league.

Buccaneers Investigate Threat Made By Angry Fan Toward GM

NFL pundits are high on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after what most consider is an impressive performance in the 2018 NFL Draft. Team security is on high alert, however, after a disgruntled fan in Florida posted threats via Twitter that was directed toward General Manager Jason Licht.

Licht acknowledged that he had been made aware of the Tweet made by the irate fan but declined to give any further comment on the matter.

The angry fan was upset with the team’s decision to trade down in the first round from the 7th position in the draft to the 12th and draft to then select Vita Vea, a defensive tackle that played at the University of Washington. The fan felt that the team should have used the number seven pick to secure the services of safety Derwin James who played in the state for the Florida State Seminoles. James would be drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 17th pick in the first round of the draft.

The fan, Mike Rogers, took to Twitter shortly after the Buccaneers used the 53rd pick in the second round of the draft to select the defensive back, M.J. Rodgers. One tweet from Rodgers caught the attention of authorities when he used an image from the 1990 movie King Of New York that showed a drug dealer murdering a police officer in New York City. Rogers posted a caption above the image suggesting that it depicted what would happen when he “sees Jason Licht.”

Rogers reached out to the Tampa Bay Times to explain himself and was apologetic about sending the Tweet. He went on to explain that he was just caught up in the moment and having fun before saying that in no way was the Tweet a serious threat to Licht.

The Twitter account of Rogers has been suspended but the Naples, Florida man, who now lives in the city of Houston is hoping that no legal action is to be taken against him. He says that he has been a Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida State Seminole fan since the 1980’s. “I’m not a psychopath,” Was Rogers simple analysis of himself and his actions.

Better Than Expected Start for the Rays:

A record of 13-15 may not sound all that great . . . unless you’re the Tampa Bay Rays. Considering the way they looked before the start of the season, being two games under .500 little over a month into the season is quite the accomplishment.

In 2017, the Rays ended the season 80-82 in third place in the American League East Division. Soon after that began a major roster shakeup. Gone were Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza, Jr., Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter, Lucas Duda, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, and the face of the franchise, Evan Longoria. Manager Kevin Cash announced his plan to use his bullpen every fifth day instead of a dedicated starting pitcher. Most fans and analysts looked at 2018 as a rebuilding year for Tampa Bay, with the team destined for a last place finish.

But rebuilding might be going a bit more quickly for the Rays. Along with a 13-15 record after one month of play, they rattled off an eight-game winning streak, which included taking two of three games from one of the hottest teams in the league, the Boston Red Sox. So Tampa Bay does not appear to be the pushover many expected.

One reason for this pretty decent start is the offense. Seven of the nine everyday players are hitting better than .260, with Joey Wendle and Mallex Smith both batting over .300. Even at .178, Carlos Gomez can be dangerous, as demonstrated by his four home runs. Two newcomers have led the way for the Rays offense, Denard Span (.266, 3 HR, 21 RBIs) and C.J. Cron (.269, 7 HR, 19 RBIs). Your text to link…

Pitching has been good enough to get Tampa Bay its current record, but certainly needs to get better if they want to give other teams headaches. While Blake Snell is 4-1 with a 2.52 ERA, many others in the starting rotation and bullpen have ERAs above 4.00. This includes Chris Archer, who is 2-2 with a 6.05 ERA.

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.

Update On Bucs Draft Plans

It is truly hard to believe but we are just six days away from the NFL Draft when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and the rest of the NFL) try to locate the next team superstar out of a particularly deep field of prospects. At this point in the draft cycle bloggers are pumping out mock drafts at unprecedented frequencies, so I thought this would be a perfect time to wrap up what some of the experts are thinking the Bucs will do with their coveted #7 pick.

For Florida State fans, there will be a familiar face going to the Bucs in a handful of mock drafts — the safety Derwin James (former Seminole) is one of the names being linked to the Bucs, including in Chad Reuter of NFL.com’s mock draft. James made headlines by refusing to meet with teams for private workouts, though he is certainly not the first prospect in recent years to do that as Christian McCaffery made the same decision just a year ago. However, the skinny on James is that he boasts NFL-ready coverage skills as well as the toughness and motor to get after the opposing team’s runningback.

However, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has another idea of who may be wearing the Bucs uniform on draft night: Saquon Barkley. For fans of college football, Barkley is a household name. He was an absolute workhorse for Penn State University and is widely regarded as perhaps the most NFL-ready prospect in the entire draft. The Bucs will benefit from the team’s in front of them not having a real need at runningback, giving them the potential to select one of the most exciting prospects in the class. Saquon Barkley is the undisputed best player at his position and it is a position that the Bucs could use a boost in and teaming a player of Barkley’s caliber with quarterback Jameis Winston may elevate the Bucs to playoff contender nearly instantaneously.

As cliche as it sounds, we just do not know how the first round of the NFL draft is going to shake out. However, I hold firm to my position that if Barkley somehow drops to #7 the Tampa Bay front office will have an impossible time passing up on him. He would bring an aura of excitement and optimism to a Bucs team that so desperately needs it.

Rays Win Series, Bounce Back From Sweep

Sadly, at 5-13 the Tampa Bay rays record is staying pretty true to the expectations put on the team. According to ESPN, Tampa is the 7th youngest team in the league and perhaps their inexperience was showing when they got swept by the Phillies over three games — failing to score higher than 4 runs in any of the ballgames. However the Rays seemed to find their stride a bit in their most recent series against the Texas Rangers taking 2 out of 3 games from the Rangers team who is off to a slower start than their fans may have expected. Blake Snell pitched a gem of a game in the first against the Rangers, going 6 and 1/3 innings while striking out 9 opposing hitters. Snell should have Tampa fans excited for the future at just 25 years old he has been putting together a great start to the season and posting a sub 3.00 ERA.

Up next for the Rays is the Minnesota Twins, who will be coming to Tampa for a three game series. The twins, who are currently in first place in the American League Central Division with a record of 8-5, have had only 13 games due to a whopping 4postponements due to the weather already. Fresh off an impressive series against the Rangers, the Rays fans are certainly hoping the Rays can take the field with energy going into the Twins series — hoping to take advantage of a potentially rusty Minnesota squad.

To spark the offense the Rays management will be counting on Carlos Gomez to turn around what has been a slow start to his first season in the Rays uniform. Batting a .162 average and only homering twice the Rays will certainly be hoping to see some of the power that netted him 17 homeruns last season. Additionally, it would be nice to potentially see Gomez get a tad bit more aggressive on the basepaths as he has had over 10 stolen bases in his last 3 seasons — but has not take a single base yet this year.

At home against a respectable but potentially rusty Twins team allow the Rays to make up a bit of ground in the American League East Division. Currently they are 11 games behind the scorching hot Boston Red Sox but this early in the season there is still plenty of time to turn things around.