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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs QB Winston knows lots of winning only way to silence critics

Florida Football Insiders

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Legendary coach Vince Lombardi famously coined the phrase “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

While that mantra is easier to say than it is to live by, certainly Lombardi backed it up with the amount of games and Championships his Packers won.

Now, onto the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that hasn’t done very much winning, especially recently.

The Bucs are coming off of back-to-back losing seasons and firing their fourth head coach (Dirk Koetter) in the last 8 years. And, they’ve only had two winning season since firing Jon Gruden in 2009.

Further, for quarterback Jameis Winston, he has been given essentially one year to prove that he can make Tampa Bay into a playoff contending team or Winston will likely be somewhere else. That’s Bucs ownership and GM Jason Licht decided to bring Winston back on the fifth year option of his rookie contract for just under $21 million.

So, while Winston got a humongous raise, there is no long term commitment beyond this season.

That led us to Tuesday afternoon and Winston meeting with the media during the Bucs offseason workouts, where he made it very clear that he understands, if there is to be a future for him in Tampa Bay, it’s tied to the amount of winning this season:

Specifically, Winston talked at length about the Bucs weapons on offense and he knows that there will be expectations because of what they have:

“You look at the years, our offense has been producing here and there. We’ve always been in the top 10 so now he’s just getting these weapons and he’s using them the way that he wants to use them and we’re excited. Like I said, it’s not about rebuilding. We’re about to go out there and make some noise.” 

Obviously, part of that “noise” is new coach Bruce Arians. Arians has lengthy experience in working with former star quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and most recently, with Carson Palmer in Arizona. His track record speaks for itself in terms of those quarterbacks, their teams and the successes they have had, including the postseason.

So that’s the expectation of what Arians, and his offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, will bring to Winston in terms of guidance and leaning on past success. And, even though Winston is only had one winning season out of his first four, with a career record of 21-33, there is a lot of winning before his Buccaneer days.

He had tremendous success at Florida State, where he won the Heisman Trophy and they won the BCS National Championship going 13-0 in 2013 to draw off of. Plus, you couple that with having won an Alabama high school state championship with an undefeated team, and no one can deny Winston knew how to win when he came to the NFL.

Now, he, Arians, and everyone with the Buccaneers know what has to be done- put together a lot of wins in 2019, or else, for the QB.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Report- Bucs have extended GM Jason Licht’s contract

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hoping to practice some form of continuity, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly extended the contract of GM Jason Licht.

This after a report Saturday morning from Bucs beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times, Rick Stroud, that Licht has been given a five-year contract extension to remain with the team:

A big part of the reason why the Glazer family, which owns the team, wanted to keep Licht is: his ability to lure former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to come out of retirement and join them this past January.

Further, Stroud reports that Arians made it a condition of his coming out of retirement that Licht remain with the team long-term and that the Bucs keep embattled starting QB Jameis Winston.

Licht had been given a one-year extension for 2019 before this offseason, and the Buccaneers had already committed to keep quarterback Jameis Winston for the fifth year option of his rookie contract. Then, once former coach Dirk Koetter was fired in January, Licht’s previous relationship with Arians helped the Bucs get their new coach.

Licht was the assistant general manager with the Cardinals, when Arians was hired in 2013 and led them eventually to the NFC Championship Game in 2014.

Licht became the Buccaneers general manager at that the start of that same season, but has had a rocky tenure of results. This includes only one winning season out of five and several free agent moves and draft picks that have backfired.

None bigger than when Licht traded up in the 2016 draft for FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round, only to have Aguayo falter and be released the following year in training camp.

Licht has also had free agent busts like former Redskins defensive tackle Chris Baker and last year, Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry. Both of whom we’re paid heavily but did nothing in their one season before being released.

Licht and his staff do deserve some credit for finding unheralded players like tight end Cameron Brate, running back Peyton Barber and former wide receiver Adam Humphries. All of whom were undrafted and have been quality contributors over the last couple of seasons.

The team had no official comment on Stroud’s report of the extension.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs rookie PK Gay likely won job with clutch Friday night boot

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not over, but it’s almost over. For all intents and purposes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicking competition ended Friday night with :06 remaining in their second preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. That’s when rookie Matt Gay hammered a 48-yard game winning field goal that almost certainly confirmed that he will be the Bucs opening-day placekicker.

Relive the moment here, as the Utah rookie put it through the uprights and gave Tampa Bay a 16-14 win over the Dolphins:

“I owe it all to those game situations that we practice every day in practice. Bruce [Arians] does them for a reason and when you get out there in the game, it just feels like the practice situation because you’ve done it. So, you’re able to have the nerves calm to be able to go out there and do what you need to do,” Gay said to the media post game.

The Bucs were seemingly beaten when Dolphins backup quarterback Jake Rudock led Miami into the endzone in the final :45  and the Fins also got the two-point conversion for a 14 – 13 lead.

However, Buccaneers backup quarterback Ryan Griffin returned the favor, moving Tampa Bay into field-goal range quickly with a 27-yard completion to backup tight end Tanner Hudson that set up Gay’s game-winning attempt.

The rookie, who had made a Heinz Field record 55-yarder to end the first half in Pittsburgh in the preseason opener Last Friday Night, responded with a booming kick the curled perfectly down the middle. And, it gave Coach Bruce Arians a victory in his second preseason game as new Bucs head coach.

“We’ve done that 34-second one with two timeouts before and I thought Griff executed it to perfection and obviously Matty hit the field goal so it was a big win,” Arians told the media post game.

Gay, whom the Buccaneers drafted in April with 5th round pick, has been expected to win the kicking job from veteran Cairo Santos, who finished 2018 on the Buccaneers roster. Gay has the much stronger leg and Santos’ best hope to make the team was: if he continued to accurately knock field goals and extra points through and have Gay repeatedly misfire.

That has not happened.

And, it seems at this point academic that the rookie will be the Bucs opening day kicker.

However, what happens after the regular season begins is a whole other discussion.

As we have written repeatedly, the Bucs have been a revolving door of kickers over the course of the last five years. This includes, Tampa Bay infamously picking Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016 only to have Aguayo falter badly in his rookie year.

And, he was cut after the first preseason game of his second year in 2017.

Gay does not lack for confidence, as he’s talked throughout the build-up to preseason that he embraces the pressure that comes with trying to solidify the Buccaneers kicking woes. Now, it appears that the only thing that would prevent him from having the chance in the regular-season to do that is, if he were to somehow get injured at the start of the year.

But, after Friday night’s finish, Gay looks like everything the Bucs and GM Jason Licht hoped he would be- a stone-cold clutch performer who can deliver, when is team needs him the most.

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