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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs LT Donovan Smith fires back at fan video criticism

Florida Football Insiders

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

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 will put former defensive coordinator Kiffin in Ring of Honor

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs are looking forward to their future with a second year under new coach Bruce Arians, but on Friday night, they reached back to their past to honor one of their top assistant coaches in franchise history. And. this fall they will put him in their “Ring of Honor.”

Monte Kiffin, who along with coach Tony Dungy were the architects of the Buccaneers “Tampa 2” defense will become the team’s 14th member of their Ring of Honor in the 2020 season:

The Buccaneers made the announcement Friday night as Kiffin was being honored by the organization, his former players, friends and family, as part of his 80th birthday celebration.

Kiffin who came with Dungy in 1996 to the Bucs and led the defense for 13 seasons, helped Tampa Bay’s defense become one of the youngest fastest and fiercest in all of the NFL in just a few short seasons.

Led by now Hall of Famers, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, plus Hall of Fame finalists John Lynch and Ronde Barber, the Bucs defense rose to the number one in the NFL in 1999 and again, in 2002. That season, led by new coach Jon Gruden in his first year and Kiffin’s defense, Tampa Bay won their first and only World Championship cementing Kiffin’s legacy.

Kiffin left the Bucs to go coach at the University of Tennessee, when his son Lane became the head coach for one season in 2009. He then left Knoxville after that season when Lane Kiffin took the USC  job. He has spent recent years, as a defensive coach/consultant with the Cowboys and also the Jaguars.

The last couple of seasons he had been with Lane Kiffin in an advisory role at Florida Atlantic.

The Bucs have put 13 previous former players, coaches and even owner Malcolm Glazer, in their Ring of Honor. And, that list includes Sapp, Brooks Lynch and Barber, who was inducted a year ago. Kiffin will be the first assistant coach to be honored. Previously, Gruden (2017) and Dungy (2018) have also both been put in as head coaches, with the architect of the original Buccaneers, John McKay also being inducted also back in 2010.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Should RT Jack Conklin be on Bucs free agent radar?

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As NFL teams continue to do their due diligence on not only their own potential free agents, but what others might be out there too, an interesting name has emerged that could give the Bucs, and other teams, some offensive line help.

It appears that the Titans, fresh off a tremendous playoff run into the AFC Championship game may be willing to part with former number 1 pick, starting right tackle Jack Conklin. And if they’re going to let the former Michigan State star test free agency, Tampa Bay may have a real interest.

First, the Bucs are looking at options on their line, as the senior member of their roster, right tackle Demar Dotson, who’s played his entire 11 year career in Tampa and will be 35 years old this fall, is slated to be a free agent, as well.

And while Dotson has been a mainstay over the course of the last decade on the Bucs offensive line, GM Jason lick and Coach Bruce Arians maybe looking to get younger and some better play out of that position.

Tennessee elected not to pick up Conklin’s fifth year option on his rookie deal and there are some concerns about his ability to pass block. However, there’s no doubting that with power back Derrick Henry, Conklin was part of the unit on offense that played “smash mouth football” throughout the postseason. And, they scored upsets of the Patriots and the Ravens in part behind their tough ground game before falling at Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game.

Next, earlier this week, NFL.com’s reporter/writer Nick Shook, matched Conklin as a possible free agent fit with Tampa Bay, as free agency begins in March.

Conklin did suffer an ACL injury in his second season but is fully healed from that now, and he could be a very cost-effective option four teams looking to solidify their offensive line. Conklin made only $2.7 million in the final year of his initial four year deal with the team declining his $12.9 million option.

As for the Bucs, they already have massive money invested in center Ryan Jensen, guard Ali Marpet and left tackle Donovan Smith on their line, but at the same time, the Bucs also have close to $85 million under the cap once free agency begins.

Clearly, their top priorities are figuring out whether to bring back QB Jameis Winston (and at what price?) and also, how many free agent to be defensive linemen out of Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre Paul and Ndamukong Suh they can also fit under their cap.

Still, you cannot have enough good lineman, and perhaps grabbing the Titans former starter off a playoff team would improve their run game, which sputtered a lot of 2019.

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