Ask Gary: Does Jackson have a place in the huddle?

by Gary Shelton on January 12, 2019 · 4 comments

in general

Might the Bucs keep DeSean Jackson?/CARMEN MANDATO

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With the new coaching staff there is bound to be a lot of turnover in the Bucs roster. Do you think it's more or less likely that DeSean Jackson will return given that Bruce Arians likes to throw the deep ball? Also do you think the Bucs might try to go all in for 2019 and take a flyer at signing Le'Veon Bell? Finally, will Gerald McCoy and JPP fit in if the new DC installs his preferred 3-4 defense?

Larry Beller

Good question, Larry. Different coaches view different players differently. I do know that in answering a question about the Bucs' weapons Thursday, Arians referred to the "three receivers." I don't know if that was because Mike Evans, Adam Humphries and Chris Godwin had been mentioned in the discussion, or if -- to Arians -- that was the sum of their wide receiving corps.

I would imagine it will start with a single conversation and the possibility of coming back. But Jackson has rarely been happy for very long where ever he has been, and the hiring of Arians doesn't solve his pouting over Jameis Winston. Remember, Jackson's problem wasn't with Dirk Koetter; it was with Winston. And Winston isn't going anywhere.  Which means that Jackson might be.

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But you know what? I think the market for Jackson is going to be thinner than he anticipates. He's a 32-year-old who has griped throughout his career. Naturally, the Bucs will want compensation. So it won't be an easy move unless the Bucs just cut him.

It's fashionable to blame Winston for everything these days, but I blame Jackson for this. At any point in the season, he could have ended the speculation by simply saying "I believe in Winston." He didn't have to be sincere. But what did it profit him to keep whining about how he wants out.

Jackson can still run, and no, the Bucs haven't taken full advantage of him. But at this point, Arians has to decide between trying to win him back or to cut his losses. I'd probably cut my losses. You?

I think Bell is interesting, but he comes at a heavy price.  One report had him asking for more than $17 million a season. Bell is good, but in an age when running backs are devalued, I wouldn't spend that kind of coin. Think about it: you'd have 37 million spent between your quarterback and your running back, and the Bucs have a lot of holes to fill.

Granted, Bell is better than anyone the Bucs have. But he's not worth spending the farm on him. Now, I saw a report that the Jags' Leonard Fournette could be had. That interests me. Fournette isn't Bell, but he's pretty good when he's not banged up.

As far as McCoy and Pierre-Paul, Arians endorsed both on Tuesday. His explanation was that a team is in a nickel 70 percent of the time these days, and that calls for a four-man line. I still think McCoy's contract will figure into whether the Bucs keep him or not, but I'd wager heavily that Pierre-Paul will be here. Even if you take his sacks away, he was the Bucs' best lineman.

Will the Bucs players be allowed to use their cell phones during half time next season now that Bruce Arians is head coach?

Scott Myers

Yeah. Maybe they could call cabs to get to the airport.

Seriously, you and I both know that you have to weigh the moment when you use a cell phone at work. If the team is down 17-14, and there has just been a controversial play, and Arians is yelling and ticked off, well, no, I don't think it's the time to call your girlfriend or to squeeze in a game of Fortnight. There is context to everything.

It's a cell phone world. I pick up my kid from school, and she's on her cell phone. I get that. But the game has to mean something to players, too. If you can't stay away from social media for a three hour game, or a 15-minute halftime, then maybe you should call your agent and ask for a trade. What's next? Calling from the sideline? Texting during running plays?

I wonder how Shula would handle the cell phone issue. I think he would throw a few across the room

I'd like to chime in on our ole Bucs and their "latest-greatest" hire.  I like the choice, might even love it one day. He's got a great first name too.  Considering the other options (McDaniels? Bleh; Bienemy? Eek; Richard? Yuck, yuck, yuck; Edwards? cluck, cluck; Kelly? Gag me), I think they could have done much worse (how's that for positive?).  I remember the Leeman Bennett & Sam Wyche hires all too well — head coaching experienced as well as playoffs (PLAYOFFS? Do we remember what that means, much less what it felt like?).  I didn't like either of those hires but I like this one.  Ok, he's 66 and will be 70, etc.,  but come on. Sixty-six is the new 46, right? My dad is 82 and would have commanded more respect in that Bucs' locker room than Koetter did.  Do you think Arians would have kept or tolerated divas DJax & Grimes and their self-absorbed ways? (I pray that's the final time I ever have to mention either of those two players... ever).

Some are concerned that since he retired he must be already borderline burnt out but ... Parcells retired THREE times and almost came back again and (this is hard to admit) but like Parcells, Arians is a winner.  Just adding the caliber of Todd Bowles as our new DC makes Arians' hire a no-brainer. Arians will command respect necessary to bring in able assistants, trainers, etc.  Can he make a winner out of Winston? I like his odds compared to Koetter.  He was the only HC to make a competitive QB out of Carson Palmer.  

No doubt there's work to do, lots of it, but better with a proven winner than someone unproven (been there, cried at that).  Have I softened your skepticism or am I just an atypical "glass half full" Bucs fan and as clueless as the organization?

Bruce Brownlee

Bruce, my skepticism is alive and well, but it was somewhat softened Thursday when I went through two press conferences with Arians. I'm still a glass-is-half-empty-and-the-rim-is-chipped-and-the-water-has-something-floating-in-it-type-of-guy, but I'm certainly more impressed now. I know that most coaches come across well at hello, but Bruce was sharp and confident. He comes across as a head coach; I have friends who never saw Koetter that way.

Hey, it might now work. Arians was 15-16-1 his last two years in Arizona, which doesn't mean he's stuffing the trophy case.  But he has a better plan, and a better staff, and a better chance of getting out of the cellar. I like that he didn't blame it on a lack of talent. Anyone can do that, right?

I'll say this about Bowles. I like him better than I like some of the head coaching hires this year. He has a chance to be the new Monte Kiffin, right?

The more I hear about Edwards, the more I like him. I understand why he didn't get the job as a first-timer, but they weren't all rejects. Richard will get a head-coaching job. Bienemy might, too. And I never bought into the Bucs hiring Brian Kelly and certainly not paying him $10 million a year.

I'll be honest. This is the 10th coach I've covered with the Bucs. I thought Perkins was a dumb guy acting like a smart one. I hated Williamson's hire. Who else in the state would have given him a head coaching job? Not even the local colleges. I didn't like Wyche's hire; I preferred Buddy Ryan, who wanted the job. I saw possibilities with Tony Dungy, but he was even better than I thought. I loved the hiring of Gruden, although we didn't always get along. I didn't like the hiring of Raheem Morris (great guy) or Greg Schiano (strange guy). I liked Lovie Smith, and I shouldn't have. I wasn't crazy about Koetter

In all, I'd rank Arians as the second-favorite hire by the Bucs, behind Gruden and ahead of Dungy (who had never been a head coach). Looking back, I like Dungy first and Gruden second.

I think you touched on one of the keys for Arians. It's Winston. He has to be better, and he cannot throw so many interceptions. It will be interesting to see how Arians handles him. They call him the "quarterback whisperer" but with Jameis, there might be some shouting involved, too.

I don't think Arians is burned out. But he's no Parcells (who won Super Bowls), either. But he's a good risk.

You know the key here as well as I do, Bruce. Will the offense play better? Will Winston? Will Jason Licht draft better? Will the scouts make fewer mistakes? Will the front office be smarter? It isn't all just about the head coach.

As far as age, did you see this the other day? The reining Nobel Prize winner in physics is older than Arians ... by 30 years. If a guy is smart enough to win a Nobel Prize, isn't he smart enough to figure out third-and-three.

So, yeah, we're all hopeful. We'd all like to see another run by this team. Think of all the teenagers who have never seen this team win a playoff game.

At times like this, even the doubtful are hopeful.

I was surprised that Arians didn't keep Brentson Buckner. Do you know the story behind that decision?

Jim Willson

Jim, I don't. I'm not even sure if Buckner is out. I get the feeling that if Kacy Rodgers -- the former defensive coordinator for Todd Bowles in New York -- joins the staff, it will be because Arians (and Bowles) preferred Rodgers to Buckner. But Rodgers also interviewed with the New York Giants, so he isn't 100 percent in the fold yet. If he doesn't come, I'd imagine that Buckner will come back.

Putting together a coaching staff is an intricate deal. If Bowles likes Rodgers over Buckner, I doubt that Arians would think twice about it.

Buckner had some positives, didn't he. Jason Pierre-Paul had a great season, and Vita Vea had a promising run down the stretch. But it wasn't Gerald McCoy's best year, and Vinny Curry didn't make an impact.

I doubt this was about job performance. I really think that you just have so many coaches, and the staff prefered Rodgers.

Were you surprised that the Lightning's Brayden Point didn't get into the All-Star game?

Paul Walker

I was surprised he didn't get in on the initial vote, but I think the last-man-in-fan-vote is just a popularity contest. It's not a real comparison of talent.

Put it this way: There is no way under the sun you would ever trade Point for Jeff Skinner. I think Skinner is good, and he has one more goal than Point (they'd be tied if Point's disallowed goal stood on Thursday night).

But Point is sixth in the NHL in points. Skinner is 37th. Any questions?

I'll go this far. I would think that Point should have been the first Lightning player named to the team, even over Nikita Kucherov. Remember, he plays both ends of the ice. This team gets a lot of milage out of him.

So, yeah, Pointer should be there. It is the All-Star Game's loss that he is not.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller January 12, 2019 at 10:45 am

Most definitely. It feels like the coaching staff has had a significant upgrade. But I liked the Lovie and Koetter hires at first too so it’s easy to be fooled. Might as well be optimistic though and watch what they do. I want to see some upgrades to the OL, RB and DB. Then I’ll get excited.

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Gary Shelton January 12, 2019 at 9:40 pm

I also want to see some better chemistry. It disappointed me to see what an ass Brent Grimes turned into. I want to see better performances from the front office and the scouts. I want to see Bowles be an impact coach. We could keep going, couldn’t we?

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Larry Beller January 12, 2019 at 5:37 am

I think Arians might have a meeting with Jackson and then decide. Improving Jackson’s negative attitude may not be possible but he does have the kind of talent I would think Arians wants on the team. If the market for Jackson isn’t that great like you say then Jackson may have to rethink the situation.Yes a lot of his problems here have been self inflicted but the key issue has been Winston’s inability to throw the deep ball well and that’s Jackson’s key asset.

Arians answered the question about JPP and McCoy in his press conference. He said he will fit the system around his players which is a good approach. It will be interesting to see if they feel McCoy is worth his contract. I’m not sure he is at this point although I like the guy and hope he stays. It could depend on who they can get in free agency but I agree going after Bell is not a good idea. I’d like to see the Bucs look for some under the radar guys like the Carl Nassib who they picked up after he was cut by the Browns. The high priced free agents are available for a reason and it’s often that their best playing days are behind them.

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Gary Shelton January 12, 2019 at 9:01 am

These days, you can pick up a running back for $2 and an expired fishing liscence. I think the Bucs need an upgrade, but I wouldn’t want someone in Bell’s price range.

I agree that a face-to-face with Jackson is the next step. You need to gauge whether he will lay down when he isn’t invested in a team. I certainy don’t think you’d do better than a fourth-round draft pick in return, but I’ve been wrong before.

I like McCoy, too, and I think the Bucs have let him down in his prime. There is a price you keep him, and a price you let him go, knowing that he will contribute for a contender. Can you live with that?

Still, it’s the most interesting time for the Bucs since they were 2-0. Agree?

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