Needless to say, coming off a disappointing 5-11 season in 2017, the Buccaneers are anxious to rid themselves of that and continue a fresh start with the NFL Draft on Thursday. And, with the #7 pick, the Bucs hope to get an impact player. However, there is also a distinct possibility that they will elect to move down in this opening round.
The consensus is that three prominent quarterbacks out of the group of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfiield will be taken early, and probably by the fifth pick, which currently belongs to the Broncos.
Further, Tampa Bay appears to have a need for two key positions, if they are keeping their pick.
One is: running back. However, it looks as though the top back in this draft, Saquon Barkley of Penn State will be taken in the top five. And, it’s very possible that he could go #1 because Cleveland has two of the first four picks.
Clearly, from every angle and everyone analyzing and mocking the draft, Barkley is significantly better than the group of backs behind him that features LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, and then RB’s like USC’s Ronald Jones, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, etc.
Bottom line, the Buccaneers can trade deeper into the first round and still take one of those guys. They can also take one in the second round with their own pick and much less risk and scrutiny.
The other apparent need is pass rush help. Now, we wrote previously that all of their activity in free agency, including signing Eagles DL Vinny Curry and trading for Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul, would give GM Jason Licht the freedom to move down in the draft, if they wanted.
Again, much like running back, there is a clear cut pass rusher, who is likely going to go in the top six picks before the Bucs select at seven, and that’s N.C.State’s Bradley Chubb. The Buccaneers have met with Chubb on multiple occasions and everyone from Licht, to new D-line coach Brenston Buckner, to Buc fans will be thrilled if he’s still there to be taken.
Likely, he will not be, as the Colts, who also need pass rush help, are now selecting right in front of Tampa Bay at #6, and would seemingly take him.
And just like with the running backs, there is a group of pass rushers including UT-San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport and Boston College’s Harold Landry, who we wrote about earlier this week, that you could justify taking later in the first round after a trade down.
The biggest variable is a team or teams wanting to trade up into the top few picks, and specifically, for one of the quarterbacks. The Dolphins, the Bills, the Cardinals, and others would definitely be of the mindset to try it.
And, that’s where Tampa Bay may be a willing trade partner, specifically with a team, like Buffalo, who has two #1’s in this year’s draft.
So, they excitement and the many phone calls will be flying each direction from coast to coast this week, and don’t be surprised if the Buccaneers, especially once the first round picks start Thursday, is a willing to be a “seller” for their seventh overall selection.
Bucs staying with Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t appear to be Koetter decision only
The Buccaneers are staying with veteran backup now starter Ryan Fitzpatrick for this week’s game with the Giants. But, the bigger story Monday was surrounding the announcement that coach coach Dirk Koetter made, and it appeared it isn’t only his decision.
That’s because, anyone with any experience in watching body language and how questions are answered, could tell that Kotter was not exactly convincing that it was only his decision. Judge for yourself, if you like early in the press conference here:
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 12, 2018
“We’re going to go with Fitz this week. Yeah. That’s how it’s going to stay,” Koetter said with his voice trailing off at the end.
He was then asked to follow up of how long it was going to stay that way? And, his answer was unconvincing with a simple, “Til we change.”
Finally, he was asked about why he was sticking with Fitzpatrick? And Koetter said, “I just think he gives us the best opportunity, (to win) right now.”
Fitzpatrick was 29 of 41 for 406 yards with no TDs in Sunday’s 16-3 loss to the Redskins, but continued with the Bucs recent trend of turnovers from the quarterback position with three more of them Sunday. And, they were all killers.
The first interception came as the Bucs had moved in the red zone on their opening drive of the game. The 35 year old veteran overthrew his intended receiver and was picked off by Josh Norman.
Later in the second quarter, the second turnover was another bad interception thrown, while locking onto a receiver over the middle and it led to a Redskins field goal and a 6 – 3 lead.
Fitzpatrick could not not be completely blamed for the final turnover, when he was blindside sacked by Patrick Smith and fumbled in the fourth quarter after the Bucs have driven inside the 10-yard line trailing 16 – 3.
Nonetheless, if the primary reason that Jameis Winston had gone back to the bench after three starts was his turnovers, which were abundant, the same argument can be made about Fitzpatrick.
He has five turnovers in the last two games and both are losses.
Still, this seems to be an overall strategy by the Glazer family that owns the team and it may even have the input of general manager Jason Licht, too. A strategy that the team has moved on from Winston for the future and will utilize Fitzpatrick in the short-term. And then, perhaps they turn to young back up Ryan Griffin for some playing experience at the end of the year, if the Bucs are officially eliminated from the playoffs soon.
Again, Koetter did not get into those kind of details at this news conference, but it’s rather obvious but if the belief was that Winston had a chance to help them and had a future in Tampa Bay, they have all the reason you need to go back to the former #1 overall pick now and stick with him.
Yet another complication in the decisions being made is: the Bucs have picked up the fifth year option on Winston rookie deal. That option is only guaranteed for injury in the event that he cannot pass a physical next March. And with Tampa Bay now 3 – 6, the discussion may be centered around “no need to risk it” in that scenario with a team that is not going to end up making the playoffs, anyway.
It’s entirely possible to Fitzpatrick could be really bad next Sunday in New York and if he is, we will very quickly find out whether Koetter alone can make a decision during the game to put Winston in. However, if that scenario plays out and he doesn’t bench Fitzpatrick during next week’s game, then you definitely have the answer that it’s not just “best chance to win” with Winston.
And it isn’t only Dirk Koetter’s decision.
No, the bigger question that would asked would be: have we seen the end of Jameis Winston, as a starting quarterback in Tampa Bay or not?
Redskins take classless social media “dig” at Bucs coach Koetter
As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Buccaneers suffered through the humiliation of having 500 yards of offense and scored only three points in a loss to the Redskins Sunday, Washington’s digital staff decided to “rub the Bucs and their head coach’s nose in it,” even more.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) November 11, 2018
Koetter had jokingly tossed “Bit-o-Honey” pieces of candy to members of the media saying that it was his favorite candy and he had gotten so much of it after Halloween that he wanted to share it with them by tossing it to them.
As you can see above in the doctored “spoof video,” the Redskins decided to insert an “L” for losses that Koetter would be tossing.
Most will view it as a childish classless move that is usually reserved for “wacky morning radio shows” and fans to put something like that on social media.
UPDATE: Sometime after 8 p.m. Eastern time the Redskins digital team, probably on orders from owner Dan Snyder, deleted the tweet.
Still for over two hours, the Redskins, who pulled out the victory to go to 6 – 3 on the season apparently, felt they needed to gloat about it and had the tweet out there for tens of thousands to see.
As of 9:00 p.m. Eastern time Sunday night, four hours after the social media dig, the Buccaneers still had yet to react publicly to their opponent clowning them on Twitter.
Maybe, they just decided to take their medicine and let their defeat (their fifth in six games) sink in Sunday, and figured the Redskins would take it down, which they did.
Remember – Give us 17 points and we’ll take care of the rest?
Back in the good old days, when Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch were protecting the Buccaneers end zone and the Bucs won more often than they lost, the Bucs defense made a weekly promise.
“Give us 17 points and we’ll take care of the rest.”
The current Bucs finally played a lot like those Bucs of old on Sunday. Now, they weren’t special in any way, but for the first time all year, the current Bucs gave up less than 21 points.
And guess what?
They still lost. The final score was a very un-Buccaneer-like 16-3 and it came despite the offense racking up 496 yards. So how did they manage to drop this one?
Here we go
This game came down to red zone play. In particular, it came down to the play of the Bucs offense in the red zone, where we’re going to say Tampa Bay went 1-for-6 on the day. And it was a bad 1-for-6.
The Bucs first red-zone opportunity, which came on their first possession, ended with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing an interception on a ball he underthrew for running back Shaun Williams at the goal line.
Their second red-zone opportunity ended with kicker Chandler Catanzaro missing a 30-yard field goal. Their third resulted in Catanzaro actually making a 33-yard field goal, but then the real fun began.
On their fourth trip inside the Redskins 20, the Bucs got as far as the 16. Then on third-and-7, center Ryan Jensen fired his snap past Fitzpatrick for a 14-yard loss to the 30. Catanzaro then missed the ensuing 48-yard field-goal try.
The Bucs next advance into the red zone won’t go down as an official red zone possession because they never ran a play from scrimmage inside the red zone but we’re going to call it a red zone opp anyway and here’s why.
On a first-and-10 play from the Redskins 28, Fitzpatrick hit running back Jacquizz Rodgers with a short pass over the middle that Rodgers ran 10 yards with to the Redskins 18.’
It was there that linebacker Zack Brown came up from behind and popped the ball out of Rodgers arms so hard that the ball rolled in and out of the end zone for a touchback.
Finally, Fitzpatrick finished off the kind of game that got Jameis Winston benched as the Bucs starting quarterback by losing a fumble at his own 7 with a little more than three minutes left on the clock.
Score there and the Bucs have a chance to win this game, but that ended all hope of the Bucs winning what was yet another winnable game against yet another beatable team, which doesn’t bode well for coach Jason Licht’s future.
The Bucs are a team that simply can’t seem to put all the winning ingredients together on the same day. If it’s not their defense that lets them down, it’s their kicker and if it’s not their kicker it’s their red zone offense.
On Sunday it was the kicker and the red-zone offense, and given that Fitzpatrick was responsible for two of those blown scoring chances, you have to wonder if the time has come to go back to Winston.
The belief here is that it has. The switch back to Fitzpatrick has not provided the Bucs with the spark it was designed to and he’s not playing any worse (better) than Winston was when he was benched.
Granted, the Bucs lost on Sunday for reasons that stretch far beyond quarterback play. But that’s been the case all year.
So why not go back to Winston right now?
It certainly can’t hurt.
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