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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs couldn't stop unnecessary roughness flags

The NFL implemented rules changes this season designed to protect player safety, and few teams struggled to adjust to the new rules as much as the Bucs, who jumped from just four unnecessary roughness penalties in 2012 -- tied for third-lowest in the NFL -- to 17 this season, the second-highest total in the league.

Some of that upswing can be attributed to personnel -- the Bucs signed safety Dashon Goldson, who had four roughness penalties last season for the 49ers and had six this year for the Bucs, the second-highest individual total in the NFL behind only Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict. But at least 10 different Bucs players had roughness penalties (one was unattributed, officially), so the issue wasn't limited to one player. …

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Bucs contact Lovie Smith about their head coaching job

The Bucs could bring Lovie Smith back to Tampa Bay.

The Glazer family which owns the team has made contact with Smith about their vacant head coaching position. Smith, who was the Chicago Bears head coach for nine seasons, is considered the frontrunner to replace Greg Schiano, who was fired along with general manager Mark Dominik Monday.

Smith began his NFL career as a linebackers coach for the Bucs under Tony Dungy in 1996. He has interviewed for the Houston Texans head coaching job and is likely to draw interest from several other teams. But those close to Smith said he is particularly intrigued by the opportunity to coach the Bucs.

Multiple reports say that Smith would bring former Cal coach Jeff Tedford as his offensive coordinator.

 

 

 

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Dominik releases statement thanking Bucs for 19 years

Former Bucs general manager Mark Dominik released a statement about his nearly two decades with the franchise.

"I have appreciated my 19 seasons as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,'' Dominik said. "During that time, Tampa has become home for me and my family. We have developed great relationships with many friends and fans. I am especially proud of the strong connection that now has been built between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization and our military.

"I have been blessed over the years here to work with some of the brightest minds of the game. All told, I have worked with seven men who have served as general managers and 10 who have been head coaches in the National Football League.  Winning SB XXXVII under the direction of head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Rich McKay was an experience I will never forget.  I believe that this team is well positioned for success in the future and I would like to express my gratitude to the Glazer family for the opportunity they provided me nearly 20 years ago to grow and succeed in the NFL.”

 

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Full transcript: Schiano talks about Bucs' firing

Four hours after he was fired after two seasons as the Bucs' head coach, Greg Schiano met with the Tampa media to talk about his firing and the struggles in his 4-12 season. Here's a transcript of what Schiano had to say:

Opening statement: I want to take a chance to thank some people, first and foremost the Glazer family, for giving me the opportunity to be part of a great organization with the Buccaneers and to give me an opportunity to coach in the National Football League. It was quite an honor and I enjoyed every day of it. I want to thank Mark Dominik and the people in the front office. They were great to work with. Our coaching staff, I love our coaching staff. Tireless, came in every day and did everything they could to help us win, connect with players, sell the vision. I appreciate that. Our support staff, same thing, trainers, equipment people, just really great people. …

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Bucs fire Schiano and Dominik

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

The Buccaneers have fired head coach Greg Schiano after only two seasons, including a dismal 4-12 campaign that ended with Sunday's rout by the New Orleans Saints.

 

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Bucs players believe no coaching change needed

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said everything was business as usual Monday morning, nothing to suspect a coaching change was about to occur.

And McCoy, a team captain, says he'd be upset if coach Greg Schiano were fired, believing the team is on the right path.

"We've got the perfect formula to win championships here," McCoy said. "It takes time."

McCoy said Schiano has done a "bang-up job" since arriving, having to clean up a mess after the 2011 season, the last in Raheem Morris' tenure. McCoy, who ended that season on injured reserve, said he could sense players giving up towards the end.

"There was no give up" this year," McCoy said.

McCoy said Schiano was the most consistent thing in the building this year, never wavering despite all the "nonsense" going on outside. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas said the off-the-field distractions (MRSA, Josh Freeman saga) affected the team more than they let on, and that the team felt "lost" during an 0-8 start.

"We're a physically, mentally just beaten down," McCoy said.

McCoy said what hurt the Bucs is inconsistency, and how sometimes players would try to make plays instead of playing within the defensive schemes. …

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Monday morning: Your Bucs-Saints reading ...

Could be a busy Monday morning for Bucs news -- or, just as easily, could be a simpler day reflecting on a long 4-12 season for Tampa Bay -- but first we'll give you all our coverage from Sunday's 42-17 Bucs loss in New Orleans. Players have a 10 a.m. team meeting at One Buc Place (typical end of season meeting) and should be talking to the media around 10:30, with Greg Schiano scheduled to speak at 2:30 p.m. ...

-- Here's Rick Stroud's game story, appropriately focusing as much on Schiano and his uncertain future as the minutiae of Sunday's loss. 

Used to controlling his environment right down to the thermostat, he knows the heat is going to be turned up on the Glazers, the team's owners, by frustrated Bucs fans. • But Schiano didn't believe he needed to explain why he believes he still is the best man to lead the Bucs.

 

"I don't think I need to say anything," Schiano said. "That's not being smug in any way. I come and do my job the best I can, and that's other people's decisions to make. That's how I've always approached it. That's not going to change." …

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McCoy, Revis disappointed with 'terrible' defense

NEW ORLEANS -- The Saints have a reputation for a prolific offense, especially at home, but that didn't keep the Bucs' defensive leaders from feeling the disappointment of Sunday's loss, which saw the most yards the Bucs have allowed all season and the most points surrended in Greg Schiano's two years with Tampa Bay.

"We just played terrible on defense," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "Gave up too many big plays, people not doing their assignment, trying to make something happen instead of doing what we were supposed to do. We messed up a lot of stuff."

The Saints' final four touchdowns all came on third-down plays, and the Bucs gave up four touchdown drives of 80 yards or longer.

"It's tough, especially the way we lost, it's even harder for us, for me, for my side of the ball," McCoy said. "We just didn't play well."

Bucs safety Dashon Goldson said there were breakdowns and communications problems in the secondary, something he was surprised to deal with in the final week of a season. As much as the Bucs respected Saints QB Drew Brees, they didn't expect to give up 321 passing yards and four touchdowns in the first half as they did Sunday. …

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Bucs' Lansanah savors first NFL game in five years

NEW ORLEANS -- It barely registered with most fans and didn't result in so much as a single tackle, but Bucs linebacker Danny Lansanah made a long-awaited return to the NFL in Sunday's loss, playing in his first game in more than five years.

Lansanah, 28, was on the field for the opening kickoff return and also played on the kickoff coverage team, as well as playing the final possession on defense at linebacker. The former UConn linebacker played in five games as a rookie with the Packers in 2008, but hadn't been active for a game since, with stints with the Hartford and Las Vegas teams in the UFL before making the Jets' opening-day roster this fall. He was inactive in his only game with the Jets, as he was for his first two games with the Bucs before injuries pressed him into duty Sunday.

"It was great to get back out there -- it was mind-boggling," said Lansanah, who was working as a youth counselor in his Pennsylvania hometown when the Jets called him this summer. "We came up short, but I tried my hardest, gave my all like I always do. ... You work for so long, to finally get back out there in an NFL game, it felt good." …

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Bucs' offense had promising start with flea-flicker TD

NEW ORLEANS -- The Bucs wouldn't be able to keep up with the Saints' prolific offense, but early on, Tampa Bay answered New Orleans' first touchdown with a big play of their own on a flea-flicker touchdown on their opening drive.

On a first down at the New Orleans 48, having uncharacteristically thrown the ball on their first three plays, the Bucs handed the ball off to RB Bobby Rainey, who stopped and pitched the ball back to rookie QB Mike Glennon, who found WR Tiquan Underwood wide-open deep for a 48-yard touchdown and a 7-7 tie.

"Mike just gave me a chance -- great play call by Coach (Mike) Sullivan, our offensive coordinator, and we nailed it," Underwood said. "We knew they were very aggressive, and we've been running the ball pretty well. We knew they would be conscious of coming up for the run game, so it was a nice wrinkle."

Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins bit hard on the run play, allowing Underwood to get wide-open behind the New Orleans secondary and catch the pass at the goal line for his fourth touchdown of the season. If anything, he said he was so open he got nervous about dropping the easy ball. …

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Bucs set team record for most penalty yards

NEW ORLEANS -- It's a telling footnote in a disappointing season, but the Bucs were flagged for 78 yards in penalties on Sunday, enough to reset the franchise record for most penalty yards in a season.

The Bucs drew eight flags for 78 yards on Sunday, giving them 1,132 yards for the season, surpassing the 1,104 yards set by the 2003 team. Tampa Bay entered the weekend third in the NFL in both penalties and penalty yards.

The Bucs had just two flags for 10 yards in the first half, but had 30 yards of penalties on the opening drive of the second half -- a hold by lineman Gabe Carimi, a false start on TE Tim Wright and the first of two 15-yard penalties on guard Ted Larsen, this for a facemask to set up a third-and-26 situation. Tampa Bay's defense was nearly flag-free, with a single penalty coming on an encroachment call against Gerald McCoy.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano prides himself on having a disciplined team and has said throughout the season that he wouldn't want a team to be among the five least penalized teams in the league, which might point to players not trying hard enough to make plays. 

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Schiano on fake FG: 'Obviously, it didn't work'

NEW ORLEANS -- Perhaps the strangest play from the Bucs in Sunday's 42-17 loss at the Saints came late in the first half, when coach Greg Schiano opted to try a fake field goal, with disappointing results.

Facing a fourth down at the Saints' 25, the Bucs lined up with the "swinging gate" formation -- long-snapper Andrew Economos and punter Michael Koenen in the middle, with kicker Rian Lindell shifting to the left slot as a receiver and four linemen lined up to the right, with four players behind them. Koenen rolled to his right, but couldn't find anyone open and only attempted a pass as he was being dropped for a loss.

"In retrospect, I probably would like to have it back," said Schiano, who could have cut the Saints' lead to 11, with the ball to open the second half. "I thought that we would have an opportunity to stun them. ... Obviously, it didn't work. In retrospect, bad call. If it works, it's genius and you go down by a score." …

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With loss, Bucs will pick 7th in NFL Draft

NEW ORLEANS -- After finishing a 4-12 season with a 42-17 loss to the Saints on Sunday, the Bucs will have the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The Bucs were one of five teams to finish 4-12, along with Jacksonville, Atlanta, Oakland and Cleveland, but the Bucs will pick last out of those five teams because of strength of schedule -- their opponents collectively won 57.3 percent of their games, slightly ahead of the other teams.

Sunday's outcomes also lined up the final two opponents for the Bucs' 2014 schedule -- after finishing fourth in the NFC South, losing a tiebreaker with the Falcons, the Bucs will face two other last-place teams, with a home game against the St. Louis Rams (who beat the Bucs last week) and a road game at the Washington Redskins.

Tampa Bay has its six division games against Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans in 2014, along with five home games: Green Bay, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cincinnati and St. Louis; and road games at Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Washington.

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Saints trounce Bucs 42-17

NEW ORLEANS — Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for four touchdowns and ran for a fifth, carving up the Bucs defense and ending Tampa Bay's season with a dominating 42-17 win that clinched a playoff spot for New Orleans.

The Bucs (4-12) had played the Saints (11-5) close in a Week 2 loss, but there was nothing close Sunday as Brees threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns in the first half. Brees finished the game with 381 passing yards, surpassing 5,000 yards for the season for the fourth time in his career.

The fate of Bucs coach Greg Schiano remains unknown after his second season, but Sunday's 42 points were the most allowed by the Bucs in his two years. The Bucs failed to make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year under general manager Mark Dominik, whose job may also be on the line.

Tampa Bay answered the Saints' first touchdown, as Bobby Rainey pitched the ball back to Mike Glennon for a 48-yard flea-flicker touchdown to Tiquan Underwood. A second Glennon touchdown pass cut the lead to 21-14 in the second quarter. …

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No Barron, Watson for Bucs vs. Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- The Bucs will play today without two key defensive starters, as safety Mark Barron (hamstring) and linebacker Dekoda Watson (groin) are inactive for the game, with Keith Tandy and Adam Hayward stepping in as starters.

It's Tandy's fifth start of the season, having started three times in place of Dashon Goldson and last week for Barron. Hayward, the Bucs' special-teams captain, will have a busy day with only four linebackers active for Tampa Bay. Those four include Danny Lansanah, who is active and in position to collect his first NFL tackle since his rookie year in 2008.

Other inactives for the Bucs: guard Carl Nicks, who has been injured since October; fullback Lonnie Pryor, defensive linemen Scott Solomon and Matthew Masifilo.

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