TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have grown accustomed to having one of their linebackers step up as arguably the best player on the field on any given Sunday during the regular season.
It was that way again during their last preseason game last Thursday night against Washington, except that the linebackers who stepped up weren’t the two who usually carry that “best-player’’ distinction.
While Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander watched from the sidelines along with 35 other Bucs regulars, Kendell Beckwith, Adarius Glanton and Cameron Lynch easily stood out as the Bucs best players during a 13-10 loss.
The trio of Beckwith, Glanton and Lynch solidified their place on the Bucs roster by combining for 21 tackles, including three for a loss, a sack, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
Though it came against the Redskins second-and third-stringers, the outing nevertheless confirmed for Bucs coach Dirk Koetter something that’s been rolling around inside his head for a few weeks now.
A position group that at the start of training camp was considered to be perhaps one of the weakest on the team has suddenly proved to be one of the strongest, Koetter said.
“Yeah, I thought those three guys were outstanding (against the Redskins), Koetter said. “With those three, I think we’re the deepest we’ve been at linebacker for sure.’’
NFL Network analyst Peter Shrager took it a step further. A big step further, assessing the overall talent of the Bucs linebackers and rating perhaps the “best’’ group of linebackers in the NFL.
Shrager based his assessment not so much on the depth of the group, but the two players that are clearly at the top of the depth chart and will be on the field the most, David and Alexander.
In fact, among non-skill position players throughout the league, Shrager chose Alexander as his No. 1 breakout candidate for the 2017 season, saying “I think he’s going to be a household name this year.
“Entering his third season,’’ Shrager added, “he led the NFL in (solo) tackles last year, 108; he had 145 combined, third in the NFL, and he had 21 tackles in that Sunday night game against the Cowboys last year.
“In the first preseason game this year he had five tackles on the opening drive. He’s a tackle machine and when you combine him with Lavonte David and the rookie, Kendell Beckwith out of LSU, the Buccaneers linebacking corps could be the best in the NFL this year.’’
Again, it’s remarkable how quickly opinions of this group have changed. After all, David is coming off arguably his worst season and there was little to suggest back at the start of training camp that Beckwith was going to make an early impact.
He was just eight months removed from reconstructive knee surgery and playing like it at the time. The expectations for Glanton and Lynch weren’t all that great either back then.
Glanton was coming off a third-straight NFL season in which he spent most of his time working on special teams, where he got 308 of his 332 snaps last year. Lynch, meanwhile, looked like even more of a longshot.
He was coming off an undrafted rookie season spent on the Bucs practice squad, which is where he landed after being let go by the Rams in their final roster cut-down last September.
Each has found a way to stand out since the first day of training camp, though, and now they’ll go into the season as one of the most intriguing position groups in the entire NFL.
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
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?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
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 on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
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.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
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?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
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.