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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday is reminder of Bucs playoff drought continuing

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With the Wild Card Weekend of NFL Playoffs continuing with four NFC teams battling on Sunday, fans of the Bucs can’t help but being struck but it’s another year a postseason with their absence.

This January marks the 12th consecutive one, where the Buccaneers are golfing, fishing or doing anything but, playing playoff football.

Yes, not since the Jon Gruden lead Buccaneers of 2007, who won the NFC South that year, has Tampa Bay played in the playoffs. By the way, Eli Manning and the Giants beat them on the wildcard Sunday in Tampa that day and went on to their shocking upset of the unbeaten Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Back to the Bucs, if you need some references on how long it’s been to be one of the playoff fortunate, the country had not heard really heard of, much less elected, Barack Obama yet, to be president.

Also, no one knew in January of 2008 what Uber was, because it had not been invented and taken to market, yet.

And, even more disheartening for fans in Tampa Bay in these last 12 years, every other NFL team with the exception of the Cleveland Browns, has now been there at least once.

Yes, 30 other franchises have had their teams in the postseason over the last dozen playings, except for the Buccaneers and Cleveland. That’s pretty astounding.

Even in our state, the Jaguars rose up and won the AFC South two seasons ago and even won two playoff games. And, as dysfunctional as the Dolphins have also been at times, Adam Gase got them into the Wild Card round with a late-season surge to capture the final playoff spot in the AFC in 2016.

Over the last 12 years the Bucs have had a couple of near-misses. That included, Raheem Morris and his team getting to 10 – 6 in 2010 only to lose out to the Packers on a three-way wildcard tiebreaker. Morris was fired after the next season, when they lost the final 10 games of 2011.

And, it was not until Dirk Koetter’s first season as head coach in 2016, that the Bucs would, once again, threatened to play football in January. That’s when his Buccaneer team won five straight games in late November and mid-December to get to 8 – 5 and in the hunt for the division or a wildcard.

However, that team quarterbacked by Jameis Winston in his second season, failed to win in Dallas or the next week in New Orleans and their playoff hopes were dashed, eventually finishing 9 – 7.

Winston hasn’t had a winning season since. And, Tampa Bay has fired four head coaches since firing Gruden in January of 2009. And now, Bruce Arians has stepped in.

However, his team never sniffed the playoff race even after winning four straight to get to 7-7  late in the year. Tampa Bay was simply too far behind Minnesota, Seattle and the 49ers, who all clinched playoff spots with a couple of weeks remaining.

Now Arians, GM Jason Licht and team ownership has to decide what to do with bringing Winston back and try to figure out the surrounding talent, too?

They hope with Arians previous success in the postseason in Arizona and, as an offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, is that they will find it. And, Buccaneers fans will enjoy the playoff promised land, soon.

A lot sooner than we they thought, when Eli and the Giants eliminated them 12 Januaries ago.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DE Barrett basked in first Pro Bowl appearance Wednesday

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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

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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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