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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Wrap on the 2018 Buccaneers! – Now What?

Dec 30, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) reacts after being sacked during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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And now we wait.

For how long, only the Glazers know. Or do they?

The Buccaneers owners have waited beyond the NFL’s infamous “Black Monday” to make a call regarding the future of their head coach before. They did it with Jon Gruden and Lovie Smith. Could they do it with Dirk Koetter as well?

It seems unlikely given Koetter’s record the past two seasons. At 10-22,  Koetter seems to fit best as an offensive coordinator, not a head coach, so his run as the latter, at least with the Bucs, is likely over.

But, given even the list of candidates the Bucs will have to wade through to find a replacement, it might make some sense to wait a while before making a call on Koetter. After all, it’s possible they could do much worse.

The general consensus around the NFL is that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh are the top candidates to fill head coaching vacancies in the NFL.

Sorry, but the feeling here is that this is not a very impressive group, and here’s why:

McDaniels has failed as a head coach before, and while that was years ago in Denver where he was forced to play Tim Tebow at quarterback, he seems a lot like Koetter, meaning he’s probably best suited to be a coordinator.

Fangio has never been a head coach and has never really been in the running for such a job until now, and the only reason he’s hot now is because the Bears defense just wrapped up its best season in years.

That alone tells you how weak the head coaching candidate pool really is. One good season for a career-long and seldom celebrated coordinator makes him a head coach candidate? Sorry, but I’ll pass.

Riley is 35 and on the rise in the college rankings, but he’s never coached in the NFL, which he says not interested in jumping to right now. Again, the fact his name is even on the list suggests this is a shallow pool.

McCarthy is an option because he’s available and he’s got the experience the Bucs need, but if you can’t make it work in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers, how are you going to make it work in Tampa Bay with Jameis Winston?

And then there’s Harbaugh, who has already said he plans to stay at Michigan for now. Now, it’s possible he could change his mind for the right job, but does anyone really think the Bucs are the right job?

There are other names out there, to be sure, and it’s possible the Bucs could pull off some miracle maneuver the way they did with Gruden and somehow pull Brian Kelly away from Notre Dame or Bill Cowher out retirement.

But barring just such a miracle, you get the feeling the Bucs would be firing Koetter just to fire Koetter and move on, which may not be the best reason to fire Koetter at all.

Dec 30, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter looks on during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 30, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter looks on during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Granted, he’s failed as a head coach. He has at least since starting off his head coaching career with a 9-7 finish three years ago. But he is the architect of the franchise’s two most potent offenses (2015 and 2018).

Given where the NFL appears to be headed, it might make a lot of sense to hold on to a guy who seems capable of producing a playoff-caliber offense and simply arm him with the pieces to build a playoff-caliber defense.

And a kicker. Let’s not forget that much of the Bucs struggles this year stem from their confounding inability to find a kicker who can consistently make extra points and even routine field goals.

It may seem like a lot to some, but shoring up the defense, finding a competent kicker and bolstering the offensive line can all happen in an offseason, and if the Bucs do that 2019 could look a lot different than 2018.

It can if Koetter’s around. It could if someone else in charge, too, but a newcomer would likely seek to make even more changes, which could actually set the franchise back a year or two.

The bottom line here is this. There is no easy answer to the Koetter question. A good argument can be made for him to go and a good argument can be made for him to stay. Which will it be?

We can only wait and see.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs pass rusher Barrett named NFC Defensive Player of Week

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Off their impressive Road win last Thursday night against division rival Carolina, the Buccaneers also got an individual accolades on Wednesday morning.

That’s when the NFL announced that edge pass-rusher Shaq Barrett had been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week:

Barrett had a tremendous game, or should we say third quarter specificall,  in the win over the Panthers. This as, he registered not one, but three quarterback sacks, in the third quarter of Tampa Bay’s 20 – 14 victory.

Barrett became the first Buccaneer since Simeon Rice in their Super Bowl season of 2002 to have that many sacks in a single 15 minute period. He’s also the first Bucs pass rusher to get three sacks in a single game since the 2015 season.

Barrett also had a sack in Tampa Bay’s week one loss against San Francisco and obviously, leads them now with four of them through the first two games. The four sacks in two games has matched the best start in sacking the QB in Buccaneers franchise history.

The last time the Bucs had a defensive player win player of the week honors, was also 2015. That’s when linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander each took home the honor in separate weeks.

The six year veteran came to Tampa Bay after having spent his first five years with the Denver Broncos. This included his being part of the Broncos Super Bowl 50 winning season of 2014.

Barrett had 14 career sacks coming into this season and is already thriving early in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ defense. The Bucs are pairing him on the outside with Carl Nassib in Bowles’ 3-4 scheme.

He is also the former Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year at Colorado State, where he had 12 sacks and three forced fumbles in his senior season and was eventually signed with Denver, as an undrafted free agent.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Arians rightfully fearing Giants RB Saquon Barkley

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of the Giants starting rookie Daniel Jones at quarterback on Sunday, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians knows the real key for New York resides deeper in their backfield.

That’s where second-year running back Saquon Barkley is expected to be busy, especially early in the game. And, he may very well be the reason or not that New York has a chance to get their first win of the season Sunday in Tampa.

Arians made it clear right away at his Tuesday press conference that Barkley will be a challenge for a Buccaneer defense that has been stingy so far this year against the run:

“He’s got more 50-yard runs than anybody I’ve seen in a long time,” Arians said.  “He’s hard to bring down. He doesn’t run over many people – he runs around them and runs past them. The size and the speed combination are extremely rare.”

The Bucs held the 49ers in check for just 77 yards on the ground in their opening loss two weekends ago, but then, played even better against Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers running attack last Thursday night. They held McCaffrey to only 37 yards on 16 carries, including the biggest moment of the game. That’s when DB Vernon Hargreaves stopped McCaffrey one-on-one from getting the one needed yard to keep Carolina’s final drive alive and hopes of winning the game.

As for Barkley, he comes off a tremendous debut season with a 1,300 yards rushing and another 700 receiving. He’s arguably the best dual threat back in football.

And, with a 120 yd rush game on just 11 carries in the opening week game at Dallas, Barkley followed up with another 100 yard game last week against Buffalo registering 107 yards on 18 carries. Still, the Giants dropped both games and at 0- 2 and have decided to shake it up at QB.

Giants second-year coach Pat Shurmur will try to establish the run early on in the game to take the pressure off his rookie quarterback making his debut.

The Bucs know that as well and looked at stuff to run with Pro Bowl veteran Ndamukong Suh and former first-round pick Vita Vea. Both guys have been big keys in clogging up the middle and helping the Buccaneers stop the 49er and Panther backs.

And if they do so Sunday at home, it will be a big key for a second straight win.

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