Remembering Lovie’s top 10 hits, misses

by Gary Shelton on December 31, 2015 · 1 comment

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

After two years, shouldn't the Bucs have  more progress?/ANDREW J. KRAMER

After two years, shouldn't the Bucs have more progress?/ANDREW J. KRAMER

Tuesday, 6 a.m.

There have been good choices. Jameis Winston, for instance.

There have been wise selections. Dirk Koetter comes to mind.

There have been building blocks on the way to a better day. Ali Marpet. Kwon Alexander. On some days, Donovan Smith.

But have  they been enough?

Have they come fast enough?

Ah, as the Tampa Bay Bucs close in on another forgettable year, another season in which you have to remind yourself this isn't an expansion team, Winning shouldn't take years. Not in the NFL.

You have to wonder if whatever progress the Bucs have made has been

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enough. Or is the team still taking a stride backward for each one it takes forward.

It has been a long time since the playoffs, and unless the team makes a dramatic improvement, it will be awhile yet. Will next year's rookies make an impact? Next year's free agents?

Winston's acquisition led to tripling the win total.

Winston's acquisition led to tripling the win total.

Look, those who suggest that the Bucs haven't improved under Smith are seeing only one side of the discussion. The question is whether it is satisfactory.

This is the thing that frustrates you with Lovie. Not that he's so calm or so conservative. Not that he's so secretive, like he has a secret. It's that the progress of a football team isn't coming any faster. It's that the defense is pretty much the same as last year's.

In too many positions, the Bucs still look like they have duct tape and spackle. Their secondary is filled with guys who proved they weren't good enough a while back. Their defensive ends are castoffs and waiver claims.

So let's review. Lovie Smith has been here two seasons. Are the Bucs better since he arrived?

Lovie's top 10 hits.

1. Jameis Winston: If there is one player who is primarily responsible for tripling the win total this year, it's Winston. Of the six wins, two were because of fourth-quarter comebacks and one was a game-winning drive. He has made plays with his arm and with his feet, and already is the unquestioned leader of the offense.

2. Mike Evans: Yeah, he was terrible at hanging onto the football this year, a maddening factor for an otherwise likable guy. But he still had another 1,000 yard season, and he's still the go-to guy in this receiving corps.

3. Dirk Koetter: The Bucs still don't score often enough. They've failed to score 20 points six times, and only late touchdowns against the Bears and Rams keep that from being eight. But Koetter has added an identity to the Bucs, and Winston is loyal to him.

4. Ali Marpet: The Bucs reached into small college football, and they found a brawler in Marpet. Marpet should be at guard for a long time.

5. Kwon Alexander: Alexander waited a whole week before taking over the middle linebacker spot. Alexander didn't play the last four weeks because of PEDs, however, a stain on his first season.

6. Logan Mankins: A year ago, Mankins seemed as if he didn't want to be here. But this year, he was good enough to be a Pro Bowl alternate and a leader in the offensive line.

7. Austin Seferian-Jenkins: He has still only tapped his potential, and he has a propensity for committing penalties at the wrong time.

8. Donovan Smith: Koetter calls Smith and Marpet "home runs.'' And Smith has had a good year at keeping some of the best pass rushers in the league off of Winston.

9. Charles Sims: Sims has been a marvelous weapon out the backfield. He isn't as proficient from the line of scrimmage, but he isn't a bad change-of-pace back from Doug Martin.

10. Jacquies Smith: Smith isn't the complete defensive end, but with 13.5 sacks over his last 18 starts, he's as close as the Bucs' have. His future may be as a pass-rushing specialist.

Lovie's 10 biggest missteps.

1. Anthony Collins: An unforgivable error. The Bucs gave Collins a five-year, $30 million contract to protect the blind side of the quarterback. Instead, the team got only 10 starts before sending Collins on his way. Collins was so bad he couldn't even find a job this year.

2. Darrelle Revis: When the Bucs are playing mix-and-match, trying to find a cornerback who can stay in the picture frame with a receiver, do you ever think about Revis? The Bucs had him, remember, and let him go. Just a guess, but I think he could find some playing time.

3. Michael Johnson. He was going to be the next Simeon Rice, remember, when he signed a five year $43.75 million contract. Instead, he was vapor. Should that have surprised anyone? Johnson had 3 ½ sacks the year before coming to Tampa. He had four while he was here.

4. Jeff Tedford. It's no one's fault that Tedford fell ill, but shouldn't Smith have reached out for an experienced offensive coordiantor? In hindsight, of course he should have. The offense was a mess his first season.

5. Blowing up the offensive line. One of the first things Smith did was nuke his offensive line. But Donald Penn, Ted Larson and Jeremy Zuttah all became solid starts elsewhere, while the Bucs created a hole it took most of a draft and visits to the waiver wire to heal.

6. Josh McCown. This was the first quarterback that Smith hired, and he was immediately proclaimed the starter with a $5 millon contract. McCown went 1-10, however, and was shuttled off to Cleveland.

7, Mark Barron. Yeah, the Bucs messed up when they drafted Barron (Luke Kueckly was still on the board), but the Rams this year proved that Barron was still a useful player. Meanwhile, the Bucs' safeties haven't been anything to brag about.

8. Mike Jenkins. The Bucs signed him as a free agent. Twice. Which begs this question: Why? And furthermore, why?

9. Mike Evans. Evans is a good player, drops aside. But Aaron Donald is better.

10. Kyle Brindza. No excuses. He couldn't kick. Period.

alterraun verner

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bill Myers December 31, 2015 at 8:32 am

So the Bucs are still rebuilding. And we still get no respect. There are too many holes to fill. Too many for one draft and free agent season. So has Lovie made this team a competitive NFL product yet? Unless you believe in magic, look for 2016 to be a repeat of 2015. But maybe Lovie can pull the rabbit out of the hat and get more than 10 hits!

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