Bucs have thrown too much talent into the garbage

by Gary Shelton on September 29, 2016 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Thursday, 5 a.m.

Stop me if you've seen this before.

The athlete comes in representing hope. He says the right things. He gets the big check.

And then the trouble begins. He goofs off. There isn't sufficient leadership on the team, and so he strays. Maybe he punches a cabbie. Maybe he comes to practice without knowing the plays. Maybe he is a different kind of running back than the new coach wants. Whatever, his career is more low-lights than highlights.

And the team lets him loose.

Again.

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For the Bucs, it has been a constant problem. New coaches fall out of love with the projects of old players. They have less patience. They think the headaches some players bring outweigh their worth.

And so Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a former Buc. And Aqib Talib, who comes back to town this week. And Mark Barron, who had a key interception against the Bucs last week. And Michael Bennett. And Darrelle Revis. And LeGarrette Blount. And Donald Penn. And Jeremy Zuttah. And Ted Larsen. And Josh McCown. And Roy Miller. And Adrian Clayborn. And on and on.

Go back in time and freeze the moment, and it's hard to blame the Bucs for getting rid of any of them. They were headaches. They were bad guys. No one cried when any of them left.

But, really, is it any way to run a franchise?

Hey, I'm to fault, too. I was all for getting rid of Talib, a headline in waiting. He was going to make the phone ring late at night for the coach and general manager, and that gets old. He was chaos. He was calamity. And, really, when he left, didn't you sigh in relief?

Well, guess what? Here comes Talib, a World Champion, answering questions about whether he might reach the Hall of Fame.

“When I started my career, I always kind of set smaller goals for myself.” Talib said Wednesday. “First I wanted to be a starter in the league, then I want to make a Pro Bowl, then All-Pro and win a Super Bowl, things like that. As you complete some of those goals, then you start to think about Hall of Fame and stuff. Later in my career, I started to think about it.”

Here they are, then. The top 10 talents given away by the Bucs.

1. Darrelle Revis, cornerback, Jets: Revis isn't having a great year. But in the grand scheme, of course, Talib isn't in the same career conversation as Revis. The Bucs didn't keep him, either. Revis made too much money, and he didn't fit in with Lovie Smith's passive secondary. So Revis left.

Personally, I don't think Talib makes the Hall. He's played well for Denver, but he's too far down on the list of shutdown corners. But he's in the conversation. Can the Bucs afford to throw that away?

2. Michael Bennett, defensive end, Seattle: Bennett is another one the Bucs just missed the talent on. They let him walk – despite nine sacks – so they could keep Da'Quan Bowers, who wasn't much. Bennett has become a star with the Seahawks.

3. LeGarrette Blount, running back, New England: Greg Schiano didn't need Blount because had just drafted Doug Martin. But haven't we seen that the Bucs could use some depth? Certainly, New England has found use for Blount.

4. Matt Bryant, kicker, Atlanta Falcons: The Bucs dumped Matt Bryant because they thought he was done. They replaced him with Mike Nugent, who lasted a year. Eight years later, Bryant is still kicking.

5. Donald Penn, tackle, Oakland Raiders: Penn struggled with his weight in Tampa. But he's been a top 10 tackle for the Raiders the last two seasons. Maybe the Bucs gave up on him too soon.

6. Mark Barron, linebacker, Rams: Barron's play against the Bucs last week (an interception) may have been the first he's ever made in a Tampa Bay game. He was playing for the other team, of course. The Bucs drafted Barron ahead of Luke Kuechly, a mistake that should sting ever day.

7. Jeremy Zuttah, center, Baltimore: Another of the line purge that happened when Lovie Smith came in. Another mistake. He's a starter for unbeaten Baltimore.

8. Ted Larsen, guard, Bears: He started for the Cardinals, and he's starting for the Bears. He started – sometimes – for the Bucs.

9. Roy Miller, defensive tackle, Jacksonville: No, Miller wasn't a star. But could the Bucs use him for depth? Yeah, they could.

10. Austin Seferian-Jenkins: It will be interesting to see how much he can contribute to the Jets. Will he stay brain-dead or, like Talib, will he grow up?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller September 29, 2016 at 3:14 pm

But the greater point is why can’t the Bucs develop their player’s talent more often and put it to good use while they are here? Do the players who leave wake up when they get to another team or does that team figure out a way to make them productive without disrupting the entire team? Drafting a talented player is only half the job that needs to be done to make that player productive.The Buce fail all too often on the develop side. Personally I think Talib is a scumbag who will eventually wind up in prison when his playing days are over but the Patriots & Broncos figured out how to harness his destructive character issues in order to benefit from his football talent. Something the Bucs were unable to do effectively.

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Bill MYERS September 29, 2016 at 8:57 am

Maybe it was the “culture” of the team that kept these players from showing there best stuff to the Bucs. Or was it our coaches?

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