Ask Gary: Should the Bucs consider Kareem Hunt?

by Gary Shelton on February 2, 2019 · 2 comments

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Ian Rapoport is reporting the Bucs will be one of the teams that is expected to consider trying to sign Kareem Hunt. Would this be a good move on the Bucs part? How do you think the fans would react or is that even important these days?

Larry Beller

Larry, before I answer, let me point out that I'm one of those guys who wants their team to be clear of all troublemakers. Maybe I'm kind of naive, but I think you can be a great player and a great citizen at the same time. We've seen Lee Roy Selmon and Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott and Derrick Brooks and Gerald McCoy through the years, so we know it can be done.

But I fear my number is fading. For every fan who never wanted Jameis Winston because of his troubles at FSU, there is a fan who still gets upset that the Bucs let go of Aqib Talib, for instance.

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Talib has had a great year, but if I'm honest, I'm the guy who was passing out pitchforks and torches to get him out of town. I've always thought a player owed it to his community to be a stand-up guy.

Like I said, though, I think that is changing. The more years the Bucs struggle, the less I think fans give a darn about character. They just want to win. They see that Bill Belichick has rolled the dice on a few players (including Talib), and because he's so successful, those players fall in line. It's only in bad organizations that their problems seem to re-occur.

Remember when Richie Incognito was let go by the Dolphins. There was a chorus of fans who wanted him here. They wanted a tough guy, even if that guy is a bully, even if that guy was guilty of saying some of the most vile things imaginable. I've seen fans cheer for other bad acts over the years. As long as the team wins, fans will pass out pardons.

Now, as conservative as I am, I'd probably take a chance on Hunt. There is no forgiving what he did, of course. But he's a talented player in a position where the Bucs have a need. A new coach could promise him a fresh canvas and a re-start.

Yes, it would come with a risk. All troubled players do. But with the right kind of contract (incentive-laden), I think Bruce Arians could get away with it.

The trouble you would have is a huddle that has Jameis Winston (and his history with women) and Hunt (and his history). Someone on the staff would have to work overtime to help those guys stay clean, because if they err again, it isn't just on the players. It's on the whole organization.

Still, if you assign a draft pick to every trouble spot on the Bucs, you'll see that the team isn't likely to draft a new guy very high. Hunt could help make a potent offense even more dangerous.

The Bucs would have to do their homework, and they'd have to be convinced there wouldn't be another problem. They'd have to stay away from other troublemakers, or this is going to look like a halfway house.

But is it worth investigating Hunt?

Of course it is. But if I'm the Bucs, I proceed with caution.

MLB teams used to average over 2 pitchers per season with 200 or more innings. Now they average about 1/2 of a pitcher per team. Is this trend going to end well?

Scott Myers

Scott, it isn't going to end well if you think your pitcher should throw a lot. The game has turned into one where the second half of every game is all about matchups. I dread thinking about Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax getting pulled so early, but they would.

The benefit is twofold. One, there is less wear-and-tear on the starter. Two, you get those matchups, which is 90 percent of managing in today's game.

For instance, last year, Blake Snell -- who won the Cy Young Award -- pitched 180.2 innings. This year, BaseballReference.com projects him to throw only 163 innings (and go 13-7 along the way).

When we grew up, the rule of thumb was that the starter went as long as he could. I think I've written this before, but check out the stats of the 1971 Baltimore Orioles, the team that had four 20-game winners on it. Those four guys -- Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson and Dave McNally -- all threw at least 224.1 innings. Heck, take McNally out of the mix, and the other three all pitched at least 282 innings.

Last year, Max Scherzer of Washington led the big leagues with 220.2 innings. He was one of only eight players who threw two complete games all season. No one threw three.

I think it's going to get worse. With the Rays leading the way with their designated "opener," I think we're heading toward a day when only one or two pitchers throw 200 innings.

Of course, they'll want a $200 million contract for their efforts.

Who do you think would have the better career alone....Tom Brady without Bill Belichick, or Bill Belichick without Tom Brady?

Jim Willson

Would Starsky have been a better cop than Hutch? Would Butch have prospered more without Sundance? Would Laverne have been funnier without Shirley?

Jim, you've hit on a question that is impossible to answer, because the only real proof we have is the time they've spent together.

The argument for Belichick: He coaches both sides of the ball, not just Brady's. His Patriots have evolved from the point where they played around Brady to one where he is the face of the franchise. He's adapted well with his other players. Remember, Belichick was a tremendous defensive coordinator for Bill Parcells when he won titles with the Giants.

The argument for Brady: Belichick actually failed in Cleveland, remember. It was only when Brady took over the offense that the Patriots built a true dynasty. Brady plays the most important position in football, and it's impossible to think of the Patriots winning if he has a lousy day.\

So before we try to answer the question, let's acknowledge that there is a great argument to be made for the other side. Coaches don't usually last long in the NFL, and Robert Kraft was warned about Belichick's lack of a personalty

Got it?

Look, both Belichick and Brady are overachievers. Most coaches don't last the way Belichick has, and if you go back, he didn't succeed in Cleveland or early in New England. If he hadn't found his quarterback, who knows if he would have lasted. And Brady was a skinny sixth-round draft pick. Who knows if he would have become anything at all with another coach?

Now, that said, I'm going to go with Belichick. To me, the tiebreaker is the 2008 season, where Brady was injured. He played only one game all year. That means that the Patriots went 10-5 behind Matt Cassel, who later proved he isn't a great quarterback. In 2016, Belichick went 3-1 with his backup quarterbacks while Brady was suspended.

So he's done well without Brady when he has had to. Obviously, both men are successful, and both are talented. But at the end of the day, Belichick has the headset. Right?

I’m a bit young to remember the Joe Montana/Bill Walsh days. How would you compare the expectations from the media and fans during SB week between them and Brady/Belichick?

Carlos Ubinas

I think the expectations are about the same, Carlos. Both teams, and both fan bases, expect to win all of their games all of the time. Demands are probably greater than ever with all of the highlight shows, so you might give the Patriots a slight edge there.

Unfortunately, I'm not too young. I remember Walsh's era quite well. He was more of an offensive coach, and his West Coast Offense was groundbreaking. Joe Montana was terrific, and the defense was better than some people remember it.

But here's the thing when you're debating the two. Free agency wasn't the deal back then that it is today. Bill Belichick has succeeded after letting go of some talented players -- Chandler Ward and Jamie Collins and Jimmy Garoppolo and Wes Welker and Randy Moss and Richard Seymour. Walsh knew his teams were going to stay pretty much intact unless he decided (as in the case of trading Montana) to make a move.

I think they're both top five coaches of all time. Remember, Walsh didn't play in as many Super Bowls, but he won them all. Belichick can't say that.

In all, I'd give Belichick the edge. I'd follow him with Don Shula, then come with Walsh, Lombardi and Chuck Noll. That leaves Tom Landry, Joe Gibbs and Jimmy Johnson on the outside. Of course, you can make your own list.

As long as Lovie Smith isn't on it.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller February 2, 2019 at 6:34 am

I appreciate your reasoned response on the Kareem Hunt matter and I’m sure you’re right that the Bucs will try to get him. I keep coming back to 2 things. Why didn’t KC keep him? They want to win a badly as any other team and with the team they have a top player like Hunt could have got them to the Super Bowl. And second, how many games will he be suspended? If Hunt is signed we will have another season of waiting for a star player to sit out a suspension while backups play in that spot. Hunt’s suspension could be much longer because his actions are on film. Winston’s case was a he said, she said matter.

It’s a bad look for the Bucs if they were to sign this guy but if wins were to follow all will be forgiven. Until the next time he gets in trouble. And more often than not there is a next time.

This is the seedy side of sports. Fans have grown accustomed to looking the other way because winning is really the only thing that truly matters anymore. We may not like it but that’s the way it is. The Tony Dungy level of social conscience is long gone.

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Gary Shelton February 2, 2019 at 8:31 am

You had a great point about the suspension. Arians is going to want to set a tone early, not wait on a guy.

But I’m always weary of the winning-is-all attitude out there. I remember seeing Latrell Sprewell cheered in an NBA game long after he went after his coach. I wrote then that if O.J. Simpson’s charges had come during his career instead of after it, fans would still be buying his jerseys.

It doesn’t make a nice comment about us, does it?

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