Ask Gary: Assessing the Bucs after one game

by Gary Shelton on August 11, 2018 · 0 comments

in College Sports in Florida, general, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Rays

Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports. Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 4 a.m.

From what you have seen in training camp and now in the first preseason game, do you feel the Bucs are a better team than last year? What newcomers have impressed you the most at this point?

Larry Beller
Larry,  I definitely believe the Bucs are better than they were last season. Their talent level is better, and they're a more complete team. But are they good enough to compete in a loaded NFC South?
That's the question, isn't it? It's tough to compete league-wide unless you can stand up in your own division. So better might not be good enough. Heck, six wins is better, but I don't think that's going to save Dirk Koetter's job. We'll have to wait to see if they're significantly better.
As far as the newcomers, I really like Carlton Davis, the rookie cornerback. I haven't seen Vita Vea yet, so I'll withhold judgment. When he's played, Jordan Whitehead has been a surprise.
If you're talking about free agents, I think there is still some tread on Jason Pierre-Paul's tires. I like Ryan Jensen. I like Beau Allen.
I thought the Bucs were fairly impressive against Miami. They were ahead 16-3 when the important players were playing, and all of their quarterbacks played well. I still want to see more pass rush, and I want to see Ronald Jones establish himself as a runner.
Of course I'd like to get past one week -- just one -- where we aren't vexing about the kicker.
Who do you think will be the surprise breakout player of this season for the Bucs?
Jim Willson
Good question. A couple of parameters: The "breakout" player can't have been a very good player at another stop. That would eliminate Jason Pierre-Paul, Ryan Jensen and Vinny Curry. They've been good before. Right?
So we're talking about young players. To be the breakout star, of course, you have to have opportunity. Someone like Justin Watson, for instance, won't see the field enough to qualify, even if he makes the team.
I'm going to go with Carlton Davis. I don't think much of incumbent cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, so I think Davis will see the field a lot. I'd think he'll play more than fellow defensive backs M.J. Stewart or Jordan Whitehead.
A few weeks ago, I would have guessed that runnng back Ronald Jones would be that player, and he still might be. But Jones looked pretty far away from pushing Peyton Barber, and Barber looked better than I expected.
I'd like to think that Vita Vea will get some consideration once he gets healthy. But Vea is headed for heavy rotation.
Count me as a guy in Davis' corner.
Stacy Elliott (Ezekiel Elliott’s father) recently said Urban Meyer took his son when he was a young man and provided the "principles, morals, the standards to him becoming a man.”  Imagine how Ezekiel would have turned out without Meyer’s guidance!  Do you think with that ringing endorsement, that Urban will get his job back?

Scott Meyers

That's funny in hindsight. I wonder what Aaron Hernandez would have said about Meyer? Or any one of the other 31 players who were arrested while he was at Florida.

I learned something a long time ago, Scott. Players who succeed love their coach. It doesn't matter what kind of drill sergeant he might be. The Junction Boys who survived Bear Bryant's brutal training camp all loved him. They had to, to justify what they went through.

I would question the standards of Elliott, and I would doubt that he got any of them from Meyer. Meyer cares about winning, not people. He'd French-kiss a snake if it got him past Michigan.

Think of the biggest snakes in the history of the game. I bet you'd find successful players who swore by them, who gave them credit for their successes, who think of them as honorable men. They aren't .Most of them are coaches trying to figure out another way past the first-down marker.

We have wasted so many years talking about a new Rays stadium.  It would have cost much less several years ago, and will cost over a billion if we wait much longer.  It seems unreal that Ray Jay was built for $168 million.  Why don't they just have an up or down vote: Do you want baseball in the area or not?   Lets settle the issue and get this thing built....or not.  
Jim Willson 
Here's the main reason they don't call the question right now, Jim. Neither the Tampa politicians nor the Rays want them to call it. Right now, all the momentum seems to be with a negative vote.
Much of that is because of this: We have no earthly idea how much money the Rays would put in, how much the politicians (through a tax) will be responsible for and how much will fall on the public.
Building a stadium is hard. If you remember, the RayJay barely passed in its vote. I was in Miami when Joe Robbie finally got the Dolphins' stadium built, but it wasn't easy.
There is such a step-by-step process to getting a stadium built, and every step is treacherous. Sure, we can look back and say that it would have been a lot cheaper if the Rays had built their stadium at Al Lang when that was proposed, but you can't put toothpaste back in the tube.
The way I figure it, there are two shots left for Tampa Bay, and I may be overestimating things. I think either this stadium gets built, or St. Petersburg seizes on Tampa's indecision and swoops in to try to keep the Rays on this side of the Bay.
Frankly, there doesn't seem to be a lot of mometum toward building a stadium. It's an expensive stadium, and it would be built for small crowds. In other words, it might cost a lot of people money for the benefit of a few.
You know me. I'm a baseball guy. I think it's worth spending a lot of money to keep the sport in Tampa Bay (if the Rays go, baseball won't come back). But I wouldn't write a blank check. There are limits, and that's what is going to make this so difficult. And time consuming.
But you know what they say. If baseball didn't cost so much, they wouldn't play on a diamond.
The Rays are 59-57 (after Friday night). But this time last year, they were also 59-57. Why does this season feel better?

Paul Walker

I think it's because youth equals potential, Paul. Frankly, last year's team was about as good as that bunch was going to be, with a couple of exceptions in Steven Souza Jr. and maybe Corey Dickerson.

This year, you've had a lot of rookies who should get better in the future. Jake Bauers is a big-timer (his average will be lower than you might want because of the shift). Willy Adames is going to be special. There are some big-league arms in the bullpen.

Frankly put, this team should get better next year, and better the year after that. They should really be able to make a run at one of the wild-card spots very soon.

Oh I know. Players get hurt. Players slump. Things don't go according to plan.

But I like this team. And, yes, it feels like the start of something.

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