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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs LT Donovan Smith fires back at fan video criticism

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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It’s been a tough last couple of months for the Buccaneers and specifically, their offensive line. And one player in particular who was singled out on social media Tuesday for having some bad plays in Sunday’s loss against the Saints, had had enough.

It’s no secret that Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith has struggled over the last couple ofsSeasons at the most important pass protection position for a right handed quarterback in the NFL. Smith’s job is to protect the famed “blind side,” when his quarterbacks can’t see what’s coming at them.

He and his teammates struggled in particular in the second half Sunday, when the Saints cranked up their pass rush, including Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan and rookie first round pick Marcus Davenport repeatedly beating the Buccaneer tackles to pressure and sack Jameis Winston.

After leading 14 – 3, the Bucs offense did virtually nothing for the final two quarters and the Saints stormed back with 25 unanswered points to win 28 – 14.

Further complicating things for Smith and bad timing, he’s in the final year of his rookie contract after being drafted in the second round in 2015. So, he now has three games remaining to try to help solidify his position, and convince the Bucs to re-sign him at the most lucrative offensive line position of the five spots.

The criticism, and frustration have both been mounting against Smith on local sportsradio and the internet. And, finally on Tuesday night, Smith decided to respond to a fan who takes a deep look at coaches tape and posts videos critiques on the internet of players and their play good and bad.

Steven Cheah is a self-professed Bucs fan and amateur game tape evaluator. Cheah is not a former player or coach, but simply someone that has a lot of time on his hands to go through game tape and give his thoughts to other fans, etc.

He’s obviously passionate and thorough with what he does.

And, a week ago off the win 24 – 17 against Carolina, he was even complimentary of Smith and his ability to block. Here is an example:

However it was his critiques of Smith’s seemingly poor performance at times in the second half vs. New Orleans and not being able to block one on one, and Cheah questioning Smith’s effort, too, that finally drew a response from the massive tackle.

First, for context Cheah put this video up showing Jordan beating him easily and sacking Jameis Winston in the third quarter:

And that’s when Smith responded later on Tuesday evening putting Cheah in his place:

Cheah then stood up for himself, saying that he had praised and critiqued Smith and numerous other players, repeatedly. And it should be noted, that he’s been doing this online after Buccaneers games for four seasons: either praising or at times criticizing, specific players and using video to back up his analysis. He seems to be fair with that.

Still, when the player elects to respond, it’s obviously newsworthy and a sign that Smith is feeling the pressure of the criticism of his play from everywhere.

Smith has a tight relationship with fellow offensive lineman Ali Marpet, as they were drafted together in that 2015 second round. And, they have been former roommates and actually, also, co-host a weekly television show during the season in the Tampa Bay Market, too.

However, Marpet got a new contract extension earlier this year to solidify his future in Tampa Bay, while Smith has not.

So goes the life of a player under scrutiny.

You want the big money? It comes at a cost of having criticism if you and your team are not succeeding.

Whether you choose to respond is up to you, and we at F.F.I. like it, when players do.

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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