Connect with us

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Koetter says DE Smith still not game ready

Roy Cummings



Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

TAMPA – You have to go all the way back to opening day of last year to find the last time the Buccaneers had the option of throwing defensive end Jacquies Smith at their opposing quarterback.

They finally have that option back at their disposal, but it’s still a mystery as to whether they’ll use it.

After missing more than a year because of a season-ending knee injury and another week last week because of the flu, Smith says he’s ready to give the Bucs pass rush a much-needed boost.

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter isn’t so sure. Koetter watched Smith in practice all week and liked a lot of what he saw but suggested Smith might still need a little more work before he’s ready for game action.

“Jack looked sharp at times,’’ Koetter said after the Bucs wrapped up practice for the week Friday at One Buc Place. “He had a real nice spin move one day.

“But at the same time, and this is just my opinion. he needs just a little more contact work. You can’t expect this guy to be ready to go at his former self without having full-speed football. He just hasn’t had it.’’

Smith works mostly in sub-packages so it’s possible he could still get a helmet on Sunday. If he does, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that even as rusty as he is, he could still be a difference maker.

Before he went down with that knee injury in the opener against the Falcons last year, Smith produced 13.5 sacks while playing 998 snaps across 27 games during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

That works out to one sack for every 74 snaps. To put that into perspective, Gerald McCoy led the Bucs with 17 sacks over that two-year period but averaged one sack every 144 snaps.

“When he was at his best,’’ Koetter acknowledged, “he was a pretty good pass rusher.’’

It’s not all about sacks, of course. As Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith said this week, it’s about affecting the quarterback, getting him off his spot, making him throw early and out of rhythm.

The Bucs have been a bit inconsistent in that area this year. Though it resulted in just one sack, their pass rush was strong in the opener against the Bears. It was nonexistent against the Vikings, however.

The hope of course is that Smith can eventually help the Bucs develop a little more consistency. Whether he’s given a chance to provide the Bucs with that help this week or not remains to be seen.

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 DE Barrett basked in first Pro Bowl appearance Wednesday

Florida Football Insiders



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Off the best pass-rushing season in Buccaneers history, potential free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett was soaking things in Wednesday in Orlando.

That’s where the NFC and AFC top players have congregated for the 2020 Pro Bowl coming Sunday.

Barrett, who set the Buccaneers single-season sack record with 19.5 this past season, ended up being the lone Buccaneer able to play in the game. This, after receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both had to bow out due to hamstring injuries.

Barrett got props on day one from one from Cardinals DE Chandler Jones, whom he battled for the sack title all the way down to the final Sunday of the season:

Barrett then got to hangout and sign autographs with the fans assembled at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The sixth year player out of Colorado State, who was originally undrafted but signed with the Broncos in 2014, then told the media, he’s looking for a big-money free-agent deal. And, further, his preference is that he stays in Tampa Bay.

After all, Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectation in 2019, while playing for a modest one-year free agent deal and betting on himself to cash-in. And now, after his agent Drew Rosenhaus and Bucs GM Jason Licht are done, it appears he will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year just like the top pass rushers in the NFL.

The Bucs also have the possibility of putting the franchise tag for 2020 on Barrett which would also be valued around that same amount for just the one season.

One final cool moment came Wednesday, where Barrett got introduced to a young Buccaneers fan who’s enduring tremendous family hardship with one parent battling cancer and another suffering from the debilitating ALS disease. After signing an autograph for the young man, Barrett gave him the surprise of his young life with two tickets to next weekend’s Super Bowl in Miami:

And just like that fantastic reward, Barrett will soon be similarly rewarded for his fantastic year and upcoming potential. And most likely, it will be in Tampa Bay for a long time.

Continue Reading

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Evans got respect from LeBron James Saturday night

Florida Football Insiders



Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The new present day cliche’ for respect among athletes/opponents in sports is: “Game Recognizes Game.” And, there was a neat example of that Saturday night, as the Houston Rockets of the NBA hosted the L.A. Lakers. That’s when iconic NBA star LeBron James of the Lakers came over to acknowledge Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in the seats behind him.

As you probably know, James is arguably the most recognizable and successful NBA hoops player worldwide in the last 10+ years. He’s a 15 time All Star, a four time MVP, and helped the Miami Heat win two World Championships. And, then came back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who originally drafted him out of high school, and led them to the city’s epic first professional title in any sport in over 50 years back in 2016.

And, LeBron has the Lakers rolling at 34-8 with another win in Houston last night.

As for Evans, he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest offensive weapon and was having a tremendous 2019 season statistically until it was cut short with a hamstring injury in the Bucs early December win over the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s when Evans suffered a severe hamstring injury on a 61 yard touchdown catch from Jameis Winston and did not play another down in 2019. Still, he joined teammate Chris Godwin, as they both went over 1,000 yards for the season, which was the first time in Tampa Bay history that that happened.

Evans is also only the second player in league history, besides Randy Moss, to have 1,000 or more yards receiving in a season in his first six years in the NFL.

Further, it’s also well-known that Evan is a huge fan of the NBA and he’s originally from Galveston, Texas and play in college at Texas A&M. So, it’s only fitting that he would be courtside during the off-season and the Rockets game against the Lakers.

Evans has made mention earlier in his career that he had met and talked to LeBron James on previous occasions. One reason that Evans brought that up during the season, was his touchdown celebration dance when Tampa Bay outgunned the L.A. Rams in late September.

In that 48 – 40 win Evans caught this clinching fourth-quarter bomb touchdown from Winston and then, celebrated with LeBron James’s signature dance move

James has previously and frequently used that on the court after a big moment, a big win or a championship.

Again “Game recognizes Game,” and clearly James wanted to give some recognition to the Bucs star whiteout Saturday night courtside at his own game.

Continue Reading
Advertisement Shop thousands of officially-licensed NFL items at