Ask Gary: Should Bucs follow the Jags plan?

by Gary Shelton on November 25, 2017 · 3 comments

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The Jags are having the breakout year we expected from the Bucs and find themselves in first place in their division after 10 games. They are doing it primarily with a stingy defense that features an outstanding pass rush. Is this a blueprint for the Bucs to follow? Should the mantra be build the defense and wins will follow?

The Bucs have not been impressive in either game they have won in the last 2 weeks and now the schedule gets much tougher. Do you think the Bucs will win another game this season?

Larry Beller

The Jags have been on the verge for years. They've had drafts of Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack, and they made the free agent acquision of the year in Calais Campbell. The drafting of Leonard Fournett gave them an identity in a weak division.

But, sure, building a solid defense is always a good idea. You don't have to look to the Jags for that. Most successful teams -- including Tampa Bay's, if you can remember that far back -- have a

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foundation of good defense. That's always the way to build a team that slumps less than other teams. So building a team that way is wise, especially if you don't have a great quarterback. If you can add a quarterback to your roster, you're onto something.

I'd caution you, though. The Jags have had a lot of bad seasons in a row. Why don't the Bucs try to copy the Patriots? Or the Steelers? Or last year's Falcons? I think you'd go farther than trying to walk like a Jaguar.

As for the Bucs, they have certainly been disappointing. I've said it before, though: When you have a backup quarterback, you grade on the curve.

Will the Bucs win again in 2017? With six games to go, I'd hope so. But maybe not. Still, Green Bay is a different animal without Aaron Rodgers. It'll still be a cold-weather game, but Brent Hundley isn't keeping anyone up at nights. Detroit is Detroit. The Bucs may lose, but I don't think you cede that game going in.

Tampa Bay will be underdogs in all of its division game -- barring injury. But you have Atlanta and New Orleans coming to town. Again, you don't surrender those.

If I'm a member of the Bucs, I realize that blowing it up is a possibility, especially if you lose out (the Glazers have not suffered bad Decembers well). If for no other reason, I want to win because of that. Hey, it's the NFL. Most games are still competitive in the fourth quarter. If I played for the Bucs, I woud think it would be wise to win 2-3. Whether they can is the possibility.

Jameis Winston says there were 3 passengers in the car during the ride where the female Uber driver alleges that Winston touched her inappropriately.  Ronald Darby has identified himself as a 2nd passenger.  Why won’t Winston or Darby identify the third passenger?

Scott Myers

Let's break it down, Scott.

Possibility No. 1: The player doesn't want to be identified. If both Winston and Darby were in the back, and something happened, it's going to point largely at the guy in the front seat. For that reason, he may be reluctant to come forward. He may have a wife, and he may face criminal charges. At this point, I'd at least like to know if the Uber charge was for three passengers or the food receipts were for three people. That at least makes Winston's story more believable.

Possibility No. 2: He doesn't exist. If Darby was telling the story that both were in the backseat, you don't need the third guy. But if you wanted to throw someone on the fire, he'd be a convenient person, wouldn't he?  Certainly, we'll find out if there was indeed a third party.

Possibility No. 3: The powers (the police, the lawyers) already know who he is, but he hasn't yet been named publicly. That's okay. I'm not a big fan of public trials as long as those making the judgments know. I do know that if I'm Winston, and I'm not guilty, I would want the world to know.

Scott, the hardest thing for me -- and for most of us -- is to be patient. It's a hard struggle for me not to rush to judgment. But this is what a controversial past does for you. It gives life to the accusations. It makes you want to know who the third party is and if he exists.

Doug Martin looks “done." I’d say he's out of the NFL in 2018. If I’m a team’s GM, I can probably get a 7th-round pick to avg. 3yds/carry for much cheaper, then take the time for him to learn to pass block.
 
I think the Bucs O-line is not as bad as it looks. Dallas’  O-line seemed to “decline” in a week without their starting RB, I think that tells a lot.
 
Carlos Ubinas
Carlos, you could be right. It's been a disappointing year for Martin. Add in his salary, and the possible change of powers at One Buc, and he might be a short-timer.
But I haven't seen anything any better out of Martin's backups, either. Neither Jacquizz Rodgers not Peyton Barber have been any better than Martin. Coach Dirk Koetter admits that Martin has usually been hit in the backfield, which doesn't speak well of the offensive line.
I remember Warrick Dunn being frustrated with his blocking, and then he went to Atlanta and was the same back he ever was.
Basically, I agree with you. I don't think Martin has been worth the trouble the Bucs have endured for him. But I think it's more complicated than a running back's failures. I know there are backs in the league who would be doing better than Martin, but I don't know how much better.
Me? I blame the back, and I blame the line. I don't think there are any innocents. The running game has fallen, and it can't get up.

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller November 25, 2017 at 8:49 am

I agree with all of that but would like to add that I’ve heard it said the way to build your team is from the inside out. Meaning build the OL and DL first. It seems as though the Bucs have done the opposite. They traded up in the draft for a kicker. A kicker!! Then they added weapons on the offense when they should have been looking for better linemen on both sides of the ball and especially a pass rusher.

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Gary Shelton November 25, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Remember how bad this team was when Lovie was fired? It needed a lot of bricks in a lot of places.

You can’t question taking a quarterback when they took Winston. Obviously, you can question the players they took. Second round offensive linemen made sense.

But the kicker was a ghastly mistake. Not only the position, but bypassing a shot at a defensive lineman. I think the Jags drafted one afterward.

When you draft, you can’t afford mistakes. Again, I’d have to look to see if there was a defender there when they took Howard.

I’ll say this. If they had have taken an available defensive end, I don’t think they’d be great then either. I just think there have been too many holes. But what do I know?

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Gary Shelton November 25, 2017 at 7:26 am

I don’t think you can just pick a formula and have it worked. I covered Dan Marino, and there has been no finer quarterback talent in the league. But he couldn’t do it by himself. I dont think you need to be a dominant running game — the Patriots have rarely been that. But you do need a reliable defense.

Last year, there was no defensive help in the draft at where the Bucs were picking. If you remember, the value was all on offense. Looking back, the Bucs really should have left Baker alone and gone after Campbell. I wonder if they thought Spence was the answer.

Winston doesn’t have to be Brady or Rodgers for what the team needs now (playoffs). He does have to be better, however. But the Bucs have always erred on drafting a kid and hoping he could be the franchise leader. That rarely works with youth.

But you hear about what a team needs when it shows it doesn’t have it. With a team that can’t run, can’t rush the passer and struggles to cover, you’re going to hear about it. That doen’t mean the Bucs have to be the best in the NFL at any of it. But they have to be decent. They aren’t.

If I was going to priorities — and every team has differences — I’d say you need a strong quarterback, a sturdy defense built on a pass rush, good receivers, a good secondary and a strong offensive line. You need to be smart. You need to tackle. You need to force turnovers.

How much of that is on the Bucs’ roster. It isn’t all intelligence. There are only a certain number of routes, a certain number of plays. But it’s a game of matchups and attraction, and the more flaws a team has, the harder matchups become.

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