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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Winston/Smith praise Panthers LB Luke Kuechly

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In advance of the NFL releasing its “Top 100” players for 2019 later this month, the Bucs rivalry with the Panthers came to the forefront in a promo released by the league on Friday.

In that online promo, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and left tackle Donovan Smith are both seen praising the skill, instincts and overall disruption that Panthers All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly causes for them twice a year, year after year.

Kuechly a former 9th overall pick by Carolina in the 2012 draft is a five-time All-Pro, including each of the last two seasons, and he’s therefore widely regarded as one of the best inside linebackers in all of the NFL

And as Winston and Smith detailed, his film study and instincts serve him well, especially on being able to predict what plays are coming next. In fact Winston said in promo, “about 60% of the time,” you can count on Kuechly knowing the play that you’re about to run and being somewhere in the vicinity of trying to break up the pass over the middle or clobber the back out of the backfield.

The Panthers overall have enjoyed some recent success against the Bucs, including winning 7 of the last 10 games in the series. Now, Kuechly hasn’t played in all of those, primarily due to concussion issues that he’s had throughout the last few seasons.

And, it should be pointed out that Winston and the Bucs swept the Panthers in 2016. And, they also pulled off a December win a year ago, where the Bucs QB helped lead them to a 24 – 17 win at Raymond James Stadium that kept their faint playoff hopes alive, at that time. (Kuechly had 5 tackles and a fumble recovery in the loss).

Further adding to the intrigue of this rivalry is: Kuechly is now being joined by former Buccaneers Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was released by Tampa Bay in May and signed by the Panthers the following week.

And, it’s further interesting on the NFL schedule, the two Rivals of the NFC South will meet on Thursday night of week 2 in Charlotte. They will also play later of the year in October in a stand-alone Sunday morning National Television game from London.

It’s almost assured that Panthers QB Cam Newton will also be part of the NFL’s 2019 “Top 100” list voted on by the players.

However, the real question is: will Winston, Mike Evans or any of the Buccaneers make a list this season? Coming off back to back losing seasons, the Bucs have been shutout in the “Top 100” in each of the last two years.

The full list reveal will begin, in descending order, on NFL Network on July 22nd.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.

Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?

Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.

Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,

Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:

“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”

“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option? 

The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.

After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”

While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.

Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.

The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.

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Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?

First, the team released another video with clues about them intending to change their uniform and potentially alter their logo:

The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:

“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”

As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.

This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,

The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.

NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.

It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.

The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.

Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.

So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.

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