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Bucs DC Smith has done the math; says it adds up to improvement

Roy Cummings



TAMPA – The Buccaneers got off to a miserable start defensively last year, allowing an average of 394 yards and 27 points per game through the first eight games of the season.

A lack of understanding of coordinator Mike Smith’s complex scheme and poor communication among the players on the field were the primary culprits, but Smith is confident those issues are now in the past.

The fact the Bucs whittled their yards and points allowed to 332 and 17 per game respectively in the second half suggests Smith is right, but there’s more fueling Smith’s confidence than stats.

Less than a month into the offseason program, Smith says his returning players have retained a lot of what they learned a year ago and that their retention should allow the Bucs to come out of the gate humming in 2017.

“We’re not starting at 2+2 is 4,’’ Smith said. “We’re into calculus. And that’s a good thing. We’re going to able to install things lot quicker and add a few more wrinkles, and hopefully we’ll be more effective.

“The big thing for us is, we know these guys now. We know what they’re capable of doing and we’ve also added some guys that are going to help us at all three levels, so we’re very excited.’’

The Bucs added defensive tackle Chris Baker and safety J.J. Wilcox in free agency and safety Justin Evans (second round) and linebacker Kendell Beckwith (third round) in the draft.

All four could wind up starting as soon as opening day, but they’ll have to get up to speed with the defense and learn how to communicate with their new teammates before that happens.

The second part of that equation may seem like the easy part, but based on what he experienced with the Bucs early last season, Smith suggested it could prove to be the more difficult of the two tasks.

“When you’re not sure what your job is, you don’t to talk because guys don’t want to be wrong,’’ Smith said. “But I’ve told the guys, we’ve got to get over that. We’ve got to be more verbal.

“Unfortunately, in our society today, we don’t talk enough. We text a lot. We snapchat. But we don’t talk a whole lot. And I told the guys (last year) that we’d have probably been a lot better if we all took our phones out there and texted one another, that we probably wouldn’t have had the same mistakes that we had.

“But that’s why we made a conscious effort after the Atlanta game last year to communicate better and collaborate and we’ve gotten into a groove with that. Now, we’ve had to go back over it just to make sure everyone understands how we’re doing it here during our offseason program, but that (communication) part is critical for our guys.

“The game has gotten very complicated. Two backs, a tight end in a normal alignment and two wide receivers – that offense doesn’t exist anymore. Teams are putting people all over the field and the offense is working on spacing, so we have to be able to communicate, and the guys have really bought into that.’’

It’ll be months before we see the payoff, but if the Bucs can pick up where they left off defensively, they’re going to be a very hard team to beat on both sides of the ball.



Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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New Jersey authorities charge Janoris Jenkins brother in homicide at his home

Florida Football Insiders



Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

It only took a little over 24 hours for authorities in Bergen County, New Jersey to make an arrest in the homicide at the home of New York Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins. And as it turns out, Jenkins older brother William is being charged aggravated manslaughter in the death of 25-year-old Roosevelt Rene.

Rene, who had been staying at the Jenkins home as a guest and friend of the family, was found by a worker in the basement of the home on Tuesday morning.

The 34 year old older brother, William Jenkins had been taken into custody early Tuesday in New Jersey and was sent to Ontario County, New York on a parole violation. He is in the process of being extradited across the New York/New Jersey state lines to Bergen County to face the manslaughter charge.

On Monday evening the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Rene had been strangled or suffocated to death.

Meanwhile. Janoris Jenkins, who just completed his second season with the Giants after signing as a free agent, is reportedly still in Florida. And, he has yet to comment either himself or through a spokesperson about the death at his home.

Janoris Jenkins was not believed to have been home this weekend as neighbors  reported that he and his girlfriend had gone to Florida two weeks ago after Giants mini-camp at concluded.

The Giants have had no comment other than they are monitoring the situation.

As we wrote on Monday, Jenkins is a former star at Pahokee High School where they won the state championship and was part of the Gators National Championship season of 2008 as a freshman in Gainesville.

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Is there a referee crisis for the NFL?

Florida Football Insiders



Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the past couple of weeks a story has developed that isn’t getting nearly as much attention as it probably should.

Yes, whether or not Bucs QB Jameis Winston is suspended for at least the first three games of the season is a big deal.

Whether or not Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski are happy or unhappy with the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick is also a big deal.

And yes, whether or not players, like Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, can get new contracts or will be holding out come training camp next month is again, a big deal.

However, we haven’t seen nearly as much coverage on something that is also very significant once the game start being played. There are four former NFL referees from a year ago that have all resigned/retired and that’s a big number all at once.

As is laid out here, with the NBC official announcement Thursday that former referee Terry McAulay will be joining NBC Sunday Night Football in the booth, that means three of them will be in the Network TV booth this fall:

There has already been some eyebrow raising at Triplette going to Monday Night Football as a rules expert for ESPN, but they obviously had a need when Gerry Austin agreed to go join former MNF analyst Jon Gruden in a newly created position with the Raiders.

And as for Steratore, who worked Superbowl 52 last year, he will serve not only in the booth with the Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, but will be used as a college basketball rules analyst this winter for CBS’ hoops coverage. He’s shown above dealing with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll being on the field and flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct in their December loss at the Jaguars.

The fourth referee is Ed Hochuli, who is retiring and yet to have a TV role, if there is one for him.

The bigger point is that everyone of these head referees are long time veterans and represent approximately 25-30% of the referees who work weekends in the NFL.

And in the cases of Steratore and McAulay, they are younger than Triplette and Hochuli, and could have conceivably been referees another 10 years or so, had they wanted.

So, why didn’t they want to continue?

Former supervisor of the NFL officials and now Fox TV rules analyst, Mike Pereira, has repeatedly expressed that due to the micromanaging that HD replay reviews have caused, that many of the “rank and file” are disgruntled and discouraged.

And, if several on field officials can follow his lead and end up with a high paying network TV gig, then who can begrudge them?

Still, we at F.F.I. can’t hope but wonder if this kind of turnover with head referees will have some effect with the new ones taking over botching calls or situations come this fall.

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Former Bucs first round pick McCants arrested, again

Florida Football Insiders



Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The sad tale of former Buccaneers number one pick Keith McCants continues, as early Monday morning he was arrested, yet again, this time in St. Petersburg for drug possession.

McCants, who was taken fourth overall as the Bucs first round pick in 1990, was booked in the Pinellas County jail for felony possession of crack cocaine.

According to jail records, this is the ninth different time that McCants has been arrested on some charge in the Tampa Bay area in the last eight years.

McCants, now 50 years old, never lived up to the billing of being taken in the top five, as he played only three seasons in Tampa Bay,. He battled weight and knee problems and only registered 12 sacks in three seasons. He also played for the Oilers and the Cardinals in subsequent seasons, but was out of the NFL by 1995.

McCants has repeatedly tried to get his life in order, including giving motivational speeches and writing an essay in the Sporting News in 2011 warning younger players about dangers with drugs, etc. and his troubles. 

The former Alabama All American was also featured on the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Broke” in 2012, where he detailed how he had lost all of his $4.5 million dollars from his playing career.

McCants was booked at 4:24 a.m. in the Pinellas County Jail Monday morning and bonded out at $2,000  on the felony charge for drug possession, and also for driving with a revoked or suspended license.

One of McCants previous arrests was for driving with a suspended license in January of this year and he was to have stood trial on July 10th on that charge.

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