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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich to Jaguars?

Florida Football Insiders



Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As the Buccaneers prepare to play their final game of the 2020 season, their offensive coordinator will be getting some attention about a 2020 head coaching job. And, one probable vacancy in North Florida may be just the opportunity that fits for Byron Leftwich.

More on that in a moment.

First, Leftwich came aboard with Coach Bruce Arians to start the year in Tampa Bay and in his first full year as play caller has an offensive attack with quarterback Jameis Winston and WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, that has done damage weekly throughout this season.

The Bucs are currently third in the NFL in yardage and also third (29.1 avg) in points per game and they have had 11 games where they have put at least 30 points on the board.

One could even argue that with Winston’s awful league-leading 28 interceptions, Leftwich has done an even more remarkable job of calling plays and putting the Bucs in position to succeed despite repeatedly being in a hole early in games.

Now, we come to the NFL “coaching carousel” that is about to commence starting next week. There is already a vacancy in Carolina and will probably be at least 3-4 more by the time the Cowboys, Giants and yes, likely the Jags make moves.

And, because the obvious trend has been recently to hire young offensive coordinators, as first time head coaches (McVay in L.A., LaFleur in Green Bay, and Taylor in Cincy to name three), things are lining up at the right time for Leftwich.

And, particularly, for him in a place where he was the former number one pick at QB himself, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It’s not for certain that owner Shad Khan will make a coaching move but, as we wrote on Saturday he’s had to deny that Doug Marrone is already already fired before their final game is played with the Colts Sunday

We do know the VP of football, Tom Coughlin, is already gone. And, a bad showing Sunday by the Jaguars in their finale at home with the Colts, could mean a coach search will start.

Leftwich would definitely be a popular move with the fans who remember him leading them to his the playoffs in his third season a 2005.

And, in working with Winston and the Bucs, he obviously has now demonstrated his abilities as a coordinator to possibly work with Nick Foles, rookie Gardner Minshew, and possibly a draft pick next year, too.

Does Leftwich want to leave the comfort zone with Arians so soon? Would he covet the Jaguars job over another possible opening?

The carousel will be spinning soon.

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.

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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.

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