Ask Gary: How badly do the Bucs need OL help?

by Gary Shelton on April 15, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Rays

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

How high on the list of needs do you think improving the offensive line ranks with the Bucs? It seems to me that Winston doesn’t get adequate time in the pocket way too many times and the ineffective running game is a least partly the fault of the O line. Just look at what the Cowboys were able to do with their stellar offensive line. Do you expect the Bucs will address that in the draft?

Larry Beller

Personally, I think the Bucs could use another road-grader. The thing is, though, Dirk Koetter constantly talks about how much he likes his offensive line. He singles out Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith and Kevin Pamphile, and the team still thinks highly of J.R. Sweezy.

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I know a lot of analysts aren't wild about Smith, but the Bucs' like him a lot.

At some point, the Bucs are sure to add another offensive lineman, but it isn't as high a priority as many of us would place it. I think the fact that Winston is hit a lot, coupled with Doug Martin's fallout of a year ago, make us all skeptics.

I'd say third round, maybe fourth, if you're prioritizing needs. The Bucs need a running back and a safety more than they need another lineman.

Still, it wouldn't hurt my feelings if the Bucs addressed it immediately, but I don't think they will. I think the Bucs are deciding between a running back, a tight end and a safety in the first round. But it seems they could have value on the offensive line if they chose to go that way. Both Ryan Ramczyk and Forest Lamp could be interesting. But unless Koetter is fibbing, I think the Bucs initially go elsewhere. Maybe in the second or third round or so, the Bucs might find one they like.

The Rays’ dugout at Tropicana Field is currently on the first base side.  As the Rays do not have to worry about shadows and sunlight for their home games, if you called the shots, would you keep the Rays’ dugout on the first base side or move it to the third base side?

Scott Myers

Scott, I'd stay on the first-base side. Remember, you have a batting cage behind the dugout, and the Rays' clubhouse (where players filter in and out all game long) is connected. The dugouts themselves aren't that different.

At this point, why would you move? The Rays clubhouse is more spacious than the visitors. You have more creature comforts. And, somewhere, you have the ghost of Freddie McGriff. Joe Maddon's penguins messed on this carpet, remember?

I read a survey that said there are no current MLB players in the top 60 athletes. IT is what it is, I suppose. So, I’ve thought about it and decided that my favorite all-time athletes are Mickey Mantle from my youth, Muhammad Ali from my teens and twenties, Jack Nicklaus from my 30s-40s, and Tiger Woods from my later years. And No. 1? Jack Nicklaus in a very close one. I lived and died each time any of them competed. So how about you?

Cecil DeBald

Like a lot of kids who followed sports, I had a list. Johnny Unitas was my boyhood hero without question. I bought a black-and-white jersey once because it bore No. 19. At a time when the world loved the Green Bay Packers, I loved the Colts. I lost my lunch money for a year after Super Bowl III. In my later years, I met Earl Morrall, and it was all I could do not to yell at him.

I loved Mickey Mantle, too. I think there was something about that name, as if it had been torn out of the comic books. I spent some time in a Yankee Fantasy Camp once, and Mick was there. I found him a great guy with a fine sense of humor. He drank too much, and he was crude, but he was an endearling sort. I have a pic somewhere of Mick and I together. And a thousand stories.

Like all children of the 60s, I loved Ali. I revel in the stories that older journalists tell about being entertained by him.

I loved Tommy Nobis and Mark Spitz and Wilt Chamberlain. I loved Gale Sayers and John Havlicek and, later, Joe Montana.

For me, however, it started with Unitas.

I read that the Rays have hired a Director of Performance Science, Director of Pitching Research, Director of Analytics, are working with nutrition and sleep experts, and have purchased all kinds of high-tech neato gadgets. Hmm, I wonder which spreadsheet evaluated Matt Duffy's feet? I would think some of these salaries could have been better invested in a lefty reliever or a player with healthy hamstrings. Do you think baseball will ever curtail the emphasis on analytics?

Barry McDowell​
I'm afraid analytics are here to stay. And I don't mind many of them. Whip is a very good stat. ERA is a very good stat. Batting average against is a very good stat.
But, yeah, the guys who believe in analytics can do so to their detriment. I recently read an article that said that Chris Archer was one of baseball's true aces. I almost spit up my breakfast. I like Chris, a lot, but he had a terrible year last year no matter what analytics you use. He gave up too many homers, too many leads and he lost 19 games.
Those are the kind of uses of stats that drive me crazy, the ones that say "Hey, don't trust your eyes, we have numbers that tell you that a bad season was a good one (or a good one was a bad one)."
Remember this: whatever the Rays are paying their Director of Performance Science wouldn't buy a utility infielder's batting gloves. You aren't going to to be able to hire a doctor who can look at Matt Duffy's foot and say "it'll be next May before he's ready." Or a bullpen performer with good hammies.
Ira Kaufman wrote this week that it is time for the Bucs to get another Super Bowl.  I don't see it happening.  Soon there will be billion dollar plus palaces opening in L.A.  and Las Vegas joining the billion dollar plus stadiums already open: Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York (N.J.), Santa Clara and Dallas.  I think Vegas will become the new New Orleans...the preferred site.  I dont think that we see another Super Bowl at Ray Jay.   What say you?
Jim Willson
I say it's all guesswork. There isn't a committee that can tell you with any certainty whether a city is due or overdue for a Super Bowl event. To me, it's the kind of feel-good story that no one will come out and deny, so why not go with it?
Personally, I think Tampa Bay will get another Super Bowl, but the NFL isn't going to be in a big hurry. I do think the improvements (especially the locker room size and the oversized scoreboards) will help.
But Tampa has never been one of those cities that gets a Super Bowl every 3-4 years (like New Orleans, for instance). We had one in 1984, another one seven years later, then 10 and then eight. Now, it's been eight years.
One thing I've learned from the NFL is that they go to different cities to reward different owners, and different communities that built new stadiums. I don't know that Minneapolis will get one soon because it's an outdoor stadium. I thought New York was a tragic mistake; the league dodged a snowstorm by a few hours. But Dallas, Atlanta and Santa Clara probably get one before we do.
My guess? Yes, you'll see another Super Bowl. By then, the tickets ought to be the price of a new home.
Do you think the latest "fluffer" quotes from the Bucs Head Coach Koetter that they would welcome HBO's Hard Knocks is just "team speak" to stay in good graces with NFL and especially Emperor Goodell?  The history of how teams have fared after this burden (my opinion) is poor at best.  If I were a Bucs fan fanatic in lower Nova Skotia, I would love to see them on HBO.  Locally, not as much so - that's my opinion anyhow.
Bruce Brownlee
Bruce, I can't see the benefits for any team to endure the prodding and poking from Hard Knocks, especially a "none of your business" team like the Bucs. I'm not saying I blame them, but it doesn't mesh with the attitude the team has had since Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen brought it from Oakland.
My own suspicion is that the league said "this is good for us, and we have to rotate." And so the Bucs decided that now is better than later when the team might be better.
There is a story that Lovie Smith, when he was here, actually chastised a reporter for writing about who the nickel back might be on the following Sunday. Can you believe it? Wouldn't you think that the Bucs, or any team, would play their best player at the position? How many plays does that take for the opponent to figure out.
Obviously, I'm biased, but I can't wait to see the differences in the information the teams gives out to HBO and the difference it gives to local reporters.
If it was me, I'd say yes to the Bachelor and yes to Survivor and yes to Supernatural. I'd say no to Hard Knocks.
It's so odd to watch and hear news about 49ers new general manager,  career Bucs fan favorite John Lynch.  Although I think John could succeed in anything he sets out to, I wonder if he will be given the time and resources necessary while also saddled with a first time head coach.  Why is that we do not see more former Buc greats become position coaches, talent scouts, front office etc, in the NFL or even Division 1 college football?  While we didn't have much gold fall from the tree in the 80's and 90's, the last decade has seen some very competitive, successful, and intelligent men retire their pewter and red that we rarely hear from again.  Bruce Brownlee
Bruce, I agree with John, and I've written that the 49ers owner is as much on trial as he is. Fortunately, John has a six-year contract and a franchise that is bound to show improvement. I think he'll get enough time if the blend is right with the owner-g.m.-coach-quarterback. That's true of any team.
I certainly think Derrick Brooks could be a  head coach. And Ronde. Shelton Quarles has done some good front office work. But I think it's the old measuring stick. Great players don't always make great coaches. They expect the players to be able to do the things they did, and by nature, great players are impatient men.
Ask yourself this: Would John have ever have had a chance to be a head coach? Probably not. He'd have to work as a position coach, then a coordinator, then land with the right opportunity. There are only so many g.m. positions.
Joe Montana never had that position, and he was one of the best ever. Jerry Rice or Barry Sanders or Anthony Munoz never had that chance. It's a different skill set.
You know who I always thought would be a great head coach if he would work his way up to it? Earnest Graham. I think Joe Jurevicius would be good. Paul Gruber, maybe.
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