The Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcomed the 12th head coach in franchise history on Thursday afternoon, as Bruce Arians was formally introduced.
The former two time NFL Coach of the Year with the Colts and the Cardinals is coming off a one year retirement and will be trying to breathe life into a franchise that’s only had two winning seasons in the last 11 years.
And, make no mistake, Arians “won the press conference” with his cool demeanor flashing a Superbowl ring on his right hand (above), and talking about what it will take to turn the Bucs into a winner:
LIVE: Tune in for Head Coach Bruce Arians' introductory press conference. https://t.co/DYy4Th2hDf
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) January 10, 2019
Now the question becomes: what’s next?
Yes, Arians has put together much of his Cardinals coaching staff, including former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles agreeing to rejoin him. And yes, the Bucs have great optimism that they will be able to lure free agents and change the view of a franchise that has floundered, since firing Jon Gruden.
And speaking of Gruden, Arians is arrival and debut in front of the microphones for the Tampa Bay media and fans was much like the fan fair around Gruden 17 years ago.
The Glazer family had famously traded two number one and two number two draft picks, as well as $8 million to pry Gruden away from the Oakland Raiders. However, from the first day he stepped behind that podium and spoke to the Buccaneer fans, Gruden looked and felt in charge.
And, in storybook fashion, the Bucs won the Super Bowl later in his first year and his credibility was validated.
Recent history though, has shown the other Tampa Bay coaches had impressive press conferences, too. But, not much else.
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano preached about “Trust, Belief and Accountability” to the media upon his hiring. However, the Buccaneers quickly unraveled at the end of his first season, and he was fired after a disastrous 0-8 start in year two resulted in 4 – 12.
Former Bears coach Lovie Smith came back to coaching to clean up after Schiano’s mess and he too was impressive in his opening day, talking about linking to the past. That’s when, he was an assistant under Tony Dungy in the late 1990’s and the Bucs turned their fortunes from laughingstock around.
Unfortunately for Smith, all the talk about turnarounds fell flat. The Bucs on the field were a disaster at 2 – 14 his first season. He was gone a year later.
His offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, however was promoted largely based on his work with rookie QB Jameis Winston in 2015.
And Koetter too, was impressive at his opening news conference. Koetter not only promised more improvement with the offense, but announced that he had hired former Falcons head coach Mike Smith to come in and run his defense. That got Tampa Bay fans excited about the future.
But while the Bucs did have a winning 9-7 season his first year, it all unraveled, again, especially on defense in year two. The Bucs never recovered, as Koetter lost 22 of his final 32 games (firing Smith mid-season this year), and he became the latest Buccaneer coach to be shown the door.
And that leads us back to Thursday. And, Bruce Arians taking to the mic, and talking about one of his favorite phrases “No risk it, no biscuit,” which means: if you’re not willing to be bold, not willing to take chances and have some confidence in what you’re doing, you’re never going to succeed at the highest level.
Arians knows exactly how to succeed, but there are question marks about his age and his health, and whether or not he can pull Tampa Bay out of the perennial losing that’s going on for over a decade.
That’s going to take a lot more than just winning words for the media and fans on your opening day.
Buccaneers fans have seen that all too many times already.
Bucs Evans got respect from LeBron James Saturday night
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.
Always a pleasure watching the 🐐 https://t.co/79bRp1hoxp
— Mike Evans (@MikeEvans13_) January 19, 2020
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
The @Buccaneers offense is putting the smack down on this Rams D…
It’s now 45-27 after this touchdown pass to Mike Evans.
(Via – @NFLonFOX)
🗣 Comment if you played any Bucs today! pic.twitter.com/pt2QJVWbcP
— FantasyDraft (@FantasyDraft) September 29, 2019
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.
Several Bucs and Jaguars make PFWA All Rookie Team
The Pro Football Writers Association unveiled their 2019 All-Rookie team Tuesday, and there were four state NFL players on the list.
The 2019 PFWA All-Rookie Team and rookie honors: pic.twitter.com/mmHVHWWQFx
— Pro Football Writers (@PFWAwriters) January 14, 2020
For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two of their defenders made the 11-person defensive list. First round pick outside linebacker, Devin White, who was named the Rookie of the month by the NFL for both November and December is there. White came on strong in the second half of the season, including scoring two defensive touchdowns on fumble returns down the stretch.
Also on the list was Buccaneers rookie defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting, who’s play improved as the season went on. Murphy-Bunting also recorded a game-clinching interception return for a touchdown against Detroit in December.
For the Jaguars, their first-round pick Josh Allen is also part of the all-defensive unit. Allen recorded 10.5 sacks and had another 11 tackles for loss in his inaugural season in Jacksonville. The PFWAA also placed Jaguars right tackle Jawaan Taylor on their all rookie offensive team. Taylor was solid as a starter on the right side of the Jags line.
Although it’s not surprising is that the writers selected former number one overall pick Kyler Murray of Arizona, as their top rookie quarterback, there was an argument to be made for Jaguars rookie Gardner Minshew at that position.
Minshew won six games as a starter, including leading the Jaguars to three different last-minute victories, which was one more than what Murray had this season despite him having better stats and more starts.
PFWA did not place a Dolphin on any of their all-rookie teams. Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, whom they took in the first round, could have received some consideration as he played solidly this season.
The writers selected defensive end Nick Bosa of the 49ers, not only at their Defensive player of the year, but their overall Rookie of the Year for 2019. They did choose Oakland running back Josh Jacobs, as their offensive Rookie of the Year.
The NFL will announce its own all-rookie teams and Rookies of the year prior to the playing of Super Bowl 54 in Miami next month.
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