TAMPA – No one can deny that the NFL’s very wise Hurricane Irma-induced decision to put family and safety first and move the Buccaneers-Dolphins season opener to their shared bye week in November has left the players on those teams with a daunting physical challenge.
The mental challenge those players are now dealing with could prove to be just as daunting, however.
The mere thought of playing 16 games in a row is already freaking a lot of the players out. At least in Tampa on Wednesday, it was the talk of the locker room and most of the players, as you might expect, were lamenting the fact they now must try to get through a full NFL season without the work break they’ve become accustomed to.
Clearly no one is thinking about #playersafety no one knows how it feels to medicate yourself all week to just to play on Sunday ???
— Chris Baker (@cbakerswaggy) September 6, 2017
— Chris Baker (@cbakerswaggy) September 6, 2017
To be fair, there were a few who posed more or less dissenting opinions. Though clearly not happy about the situation, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and quarterback Jameis Winston agreed that this is simply the hand they’ve been dealt and that the best way to deal with it is to approach it like the “pros’’ they are and do what they’re paid to do, which is “play ball.’’
You get the feeling, though, that for a lot of the players, perhaps even the majority, the idea of playing so many games in a row will be weighing on their minds and possibly even effecting the way they practice or play from this point on. And that’s in spite of the fact that neither team was slated to have a week off until Week 11 in the first place.
The real challenge for the players then is to try to approach the first two and a half months of the season, at least, as if nothing has changed. That, in fact, will almost certainly be what Bucs coach Dirk Koetter urges his players to do upon their return to work next week, because that’s how he intends to approach that stretch.
“Our Bye Week was going to be until Week 11, and it’s not like I was going to try to save up any time for Week 11 before (this happened), so why would I do it now,’’ Koetter said. “I mean, don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then, so we’ll just see how it all goes.’’
Koetter added that typically, he and other coaches usually begin shortening their practices and making them a tad lighter late in the season anyway and that he will almost certainly do that this year in keeping with a lesson he learned back in the day from Jack Del Rio.
“When I first came into the league (with the Jaguars) I was working for Jack Del Rio, a former player, and his whole deal was, ‘Get the players to the game fresh,’’’ Koetter said. “So we always try to do that here. We try to do it at training camp and we will try to do it in Week 11. But I’m going to be worried about Week 11 then. Right now, I’m worried about Week Two.’’
Koetter would like his players to be thinking the same way and some probably are. Many, however, will have a hard time getting the grind ahead out of their mind, but perhaps they can find some solace in the fact that they won’t be the first to go through such an ordeal.
After first adopting the 16-game schedule in 1978, the NFL went 21 years without giving the players a bye week to rest up physically and re-energize themselves mentally.
Granted, the game has changed a lot in the 27 years since then. It’s faster now and in some ways more physical and wisely the NFL has made changes to accommodate for that.
Adding the bye week was one of those changes, but as Koetter pointed out, playing 16 straight has been done before and the best way for the players to deal with it is to get the negatives associated with it out of their minds.
“We’ve got to adjust and we’ve got to deal with it,’’ he said. “I mean, no one’s going to feel sorry for us. Again, this isn’t going to affect us one bit until we get to Week 11.
“And if we’re 10-0 at that time, we’d probably want to keep playing anyway. If we’re 0-10, I probably won’t be standing here. But let’s just be real about it. We’ve got a hurricane, so let’s deal with that and then move on.’’
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.
Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.
Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,
Arians on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:
“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”
“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option?
The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.
After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”
While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.
Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.
The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:
“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”
As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.
This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,
The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.
NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.
It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.
The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.
Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.
So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.