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A Wrap on the 2018 Buccaneers! – Now What?

Roy Cummings



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

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

Several Bucs and Jaguars make PFWA All Rookie Team

Florida Football Insiders



Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Pro Football Writers Association unveiled their 2019 All-Rookie team Tuesday, and there were four state NFL players on the list.

The PFWA selected 22 total players for offense and defense, plus skill position players for special teams.

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two of their defenders made the 11-person defensive list. First round pick outside linebacker, Devin White, who was named the Rookie of the month by the NFL for both November and December is there. White came on strong in the second half of the season, including scoring two defensive touchdowns on fumble returns down the stretch.

Also on the list was Buccaneers rookie defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting, who’s play improved as the season went on. Murphy-Bunting also recorded a game-clinching interception return for a touchdown against Detroit in December.

For the Jaguars, their first-round pick Josh Allen is also part of the all-defensive unit. Allen recorded 10.5 sacks and had another 11 tackles for loss in his inaugural season in Jacksonville. The PFWAA also placed Jaguars right tackle Jawaan Taylor on their all rookie offensive team. Taylor was solid as a starter on the right side of the Jags line.

Although it’s not surprising is that the writers selected former number one overall pick Kyler Murray of Arizona, as their top rookie quarterback, there was an argument to be made for Jaguars rookie Gardner Minshew at that position.

Minshew won six games as a starter, including leading the Jaguars to three different last-minute victories, which was one more than what Murray had this season despite him having better stats and more starts.

PFWA did not place a Dolphin on any of their all-rookie teams. Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, whom they took in the first round, could have received some consideration as he played solidly this season.

The writers selected defensive end  Nick Bosa of the 49ers, not only at their Defensive player of the year, but their overall Rookie of the Year for 2019. They did choose Oakland running back Josh Jacobs, as their offensive Rookie of the Year.

The NFL will announce its own all-rookie teams and Rookies of the year prior to the playing of Super Bowl 54 in Miami next month.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Booger McFarland out of Monday Night Football booth?

Florida Football Insiders



Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Big changes are apparently coming to ESPN Monday Night Football coverage, and it looks as though after two seasons former Buccaneers and Colts player turned broadcaster, Anthony “Booger” McFarland, will be out of the Monday night booth.

First there was a report on Tuesday from New York Post sports media writer,  Andrew Marchand, that ESPN was intending to make serious changes, first with the lead producer of Monday Night Football, Jay Rothman.

Rothman, who still has a deal with the network, will apparently be re-assigned and perhaps, to college football.

Marchand theorized that Rohman’s departure on Monday Nights signals significant change, including putting new broadcasters in the booth, as well.

Marchand also wrote that ESPN, which has tried for the last couple of years to hire Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning to be in the booth may have success this time. That’s because, Manning’s younger brother Eli, who is a free agent, may very well retire at 38 years of age after this past season from the NFL. Peyton Manning hosted a series of lighthearted half hour feature shows this past season on the ESPN+ app.

Next, Marchand wrote about CBS lead analyst and former Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, who is also slated to be a broadcasting free agent. Marchand said that Romo could be a possibility to enter the Monday Night booth, however, he’s wanting a significant raise from his reported $3 million salary.

And, it seems that CBS, which will have Romo with Jim Nantz on it’s Sunday coverage of the Kansas City- Houston Texans playoff game, will try to keep that tandem together, even if it means paying big for Romo.

A source has told F.F.I. that McFarland has mentioned that he may be moved off of the Monday Night Football broadcast, but that he could be kept with partner Joe Tessitore on a college football package. Marchand also wrote this in his New York Post Tuesday item.

Tessitore previously broadcasted college football for ESPN before landing the Monday Night play-by-play gig two years ago. That’s when the network put Sean McDonough, who had done the play-by-play the previous two years on Mondays himself, back on college football.

So, this would obviously be following a similar pattern.

McFarland, who still lives in Tampa, was previously a studio analyst for the launch of the SEC Network in 2014 and later on Saturday ABC football coverage in 2015 and 16, as well.

2019 was McFarland’s first year full time in the Monday night booth. The previous season he was the “field analyst” riding on a specialized elevated golf cart (shown above) behind one of the team benches.

That was while, Tessitore was joined by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten in the booth for game analysis. It definitely provided for some awkward moments with Tessitore and Witten not having McFarland with them and the three couldn’t see each other to find out whom should be talking next.

Eventually, at the end of last year, ESPN put McFarland in the booth with Tessitore and Witten, as a try out. Witten then decided to return to play in the NFL this past season with the Cowboys, and ESPN left Tessitore and McFarland together, as its broadcasters for the 50th season of Monday Night Football.

McFarland spent eight seasons in the NFL, and was part of two Superbowl winning teams with the Buccaneers in 2002 and the Colts in 2006. He’s a former #1 draft pick of the Bucs in 1999 out of LSU, and was also, one of several analysts on the ESPN set for their coverage of the 2019 NFL Draft.

McFarland has drawn recent criticism for on air blunders, where he got confused doing a Vikings game late in the year that they had lost the “Minneapolis Miracle” game. However, Minnesota won that playoff game two years ago dramatically in the final seconds vs. the Saints on a Stefon Diggs TD catch and run.

Then, on the larger stage Saturday, and as Marchand referenced in the Post Tuesday, McFarland got confused at the end of the Bills vs. Texans playoff game frantic finish with the Bills driving.

McFarland suggested that the Bills run the ball on the next play  to set up a tying field goal (which was 3rd down) and then, hurry to spike the ball-stop the clock. And, that would have obviously been on fourth down ending their possession and chance to tie. The Bills eventually got the clock stopped and kicked the tying field goal for OT.

It’s unclear whether the network would seek another significant name for the Monday booth, if neither Peyton Manning nor Romo are available?

But, if they’re moving both Tessitore and McFarland to college football together for this fall, they may end up swapping spots with longtime ESPN SportsCenter anchor and play-by-play man Steve Levy, and his partner and former NFL quarterback, Brian Griese.

Levy and Griese worked the second half of the Monday Night Football opening week doubleheader this past year, as the Raiders played the Broncos. Levy and Griese have also been the preseason broadcasters for Bronco games the last couple of years with Griese’s natural tie of having quarterbacked in Denver.

It is also believed that ESPN wants to promote former front office executive Louis Riddick, whom they have used as a studio analyst over the last few seasons. Riddick currently serves in that role pregame and post game at the stadiums for Monday Night Football.

ESPN used Riddick in the booth with Levy and Griese for the regular-season game that they did back in September.

ESPN generally announces their broadcast teams for the fall in late April or early May.

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