We’re now five months removed from the Buccaneers’ appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks. We went back and rewatched the series and found it to be even more entertaining the second time. Here are some of the highlights:
1. Ready for launch
Narrator: “Only it’s not the same old, same old. It’s a whole new ball game in Tampa, thanks to the right attitude and a roster that’s stacked, studded with stars and stars in the making. This is a team ready for launch.”
Launch? Like a rocket? The Bucs’ 2017 season reminds me of the Amazing Race contestant who attempted to slingshot a watermelon only to have it backfire and explode in her face.
2. Doing too much
Jameis Winston: “As far as doing too much, I just want to have a good understanding of how much is doing too much.”
Dirk Koetter: “You’ve always been a risk-taker, even if it got you in trouble early in a game, either you’ve been good enough, or your team’s been good enough to bail you out of it. And now we have a good team. We have by far the best team we’ve had since you’ve been in the NFL, and you are a guy that’s able to win a game. But also we don’t need you to lose a game for us. You’re the only guy that can really lose a game for us.”
In one of the more authentic scenes of Hard Knocks, we see Winston as a quarterback who puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on himself. Koetter tries to ease that burden, assuring Winston that he doesn’t always have to carry the team.
While Koetter overestimated the strength of the Bucs, his assessment of Winston remains accurate five months later. Two plays from this season that support his point: 1.) Against Green Bay, Winston tried to throw a pass as a pair of Packers defenders pulled him to the ground. The ball ended up in the hands of a defensive end, who ran it back for a touchdown. 2.) Against New Orleans, he threw three interceptions — including one into triple coverage — but threw a game-winning 39-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left.
Chances are Koetter and Winston will have the same conversation when training camp begins in July.
3. The Jon Gruden Ring of Honor announcement
Gruden: “I don’t forsee myself coaching anytime soon, but I do like getting as close to the fire as possible.”
That’s not an outright lie. Gruden didn’t see himself coaching … in Cleveland or Detroit. And if you believe the denials, he didn’t see himself coaching in Tampa Bay, either. But what do you do when someone offers you $100 million to go to Oakland? Forget getting close to the fire. You douse yourself in gasoline and jump in.
4. Mike Evans, future WWE superstar
Narrator: “Mike Evans is one of a kind. A 6-5, 230-pound Goliath happy to cream defensive backs.”
Especially when they’re not looking. Just ask Marshon Lattimore.
5. The Doggfather knows best
Snoop Dogg’s advice to Jeremy McNichols: “He who knows the most plays the most.”
McNichols, the Bucs’ fifth-round pick, looked overwhelmed during practice and preseason games. The running back struggled to pick up the playbook and was cut after the team’s final preseason game.
6. Brent Grimes carted off the field after suffering a deep cut to his leg
General manager Jason Licht to Grimes’ wife, Miko: “Oh, my God. My heart …”
Heading into this season, the Bucs didn’t have much of a plan at cornerback. It basically amounted to “Brent Grimes and let’s hope that everything else works out okay.” So when Grimes crumpled to the ground during practice, the only person on the planet as concerned as his wife was his boss.
While that injury didn’t cause him to miss any regular season games, a shoulder injury kept him out of action in Week 2, 8 and 9. Over those three contests — all losses — quarterbacks earned a 113.8 passer rating against the Bucs. In Grimes’ 13 starts, quarterbacks earned an 89.5 rating.
7. Folk’s the bleeping kicker
Licht: “It’s funny that Folk is the one, like, if he has a couple misses out there in practice, when you get to a game, I have confidence that he’s gonna make it. I mean, just because the way he’s wired. Whereas, it’s the opposite with Roberto. … I mean, it’s just such a bigger mistake, just to keep holding onto him, than it is to — I mean, then — he’s already — it is what it is.”
Koetter: “I mean, I just think Folk’s our f------ kicker.”
Koetter: “Everybody on the sideline! Here we go! Buckle ’em up! Buckle ’em up! Let’s go! On the sideline! That’s why we’re doing it, because we can’t f------ do anything right.”
One theory on why the Bucs faltered this season is that their training camp wasn’t tough enough. In the third episode of Hard Knocks, we see a frustrated Koetter stop practice and order the team to run gassers, a drill where players sprint from sideline to sideline. Maybe next season he should bring back Greg Schiano and put him in charge of monitoring the thermostats in team meeting rooms …
9. Meeting with Monday Night Football crew
Rex Ryan to Winston: “You have everything on this team you need to win. What else do you need? What, you need another tight end? You got two damn good ones. You got two Pro Bowl receivers.”
Gruden: “You know, you got a running back here, healthy.”
Ryan: “You got damn everything you need. All you need is each other. Don’t worry about any of this other bulls---. Protect the football, and get it done. You know, I’m jealous. I never had a quarterback like you. You know what I mean? So that’s why I’m sitting here, and I’m pissed off about it.”
Gruden: “You think you’re pissed off about it? Let me tell you. I got to live in Tampa. I got my four kids — three kids wearing Jameis Winston jerseys.”
So let’s get this straight: Gruden expects quarterbacks to remember play-call verbiage like “Scatter to West Right Tight F Left 372 Y Stick Z Spot,” but he can’t remember how many children he has? You have three children, Jon. Their names are Deuce, Michael and Jayson.
10. Chris Baker taunts Jaguars fans
Baker: “You crazy, boy. We out here destroying, y’all. Y’all got to be the angriest fans in the world. Because y’all — everybody — y’all gonna get at least three wins.”
Welp. Perhaps Baker was predicting three playoff wins.
11. Winston’s rhyme
Winston before the Bucs played the Jaguars: “One, two, three and to the four. The Bucs Qs and Cs coming out that door. Now we don’t know how to do these rhymes. We know about pancake blocks and throwing dimes. Now the time has come for us to compete. Now, we got to do it one way. One team. One heartbeat. Let’s go out here and let’s have a great day. And let’s kick some Jag a--, Tampa Bay.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick: “I felt like your rhyme was a little long. Maybe it ran a little over. I liked it.”
That’s some sound advice from the backup quarterback. Too bad Winston didn’t heed it. The pregame speeches only got worse.
12. Mystery solv — no, it’s not
Gruden during ESPN broadcast of Bucs-Jaguars: “They have solved the mystery of who the placekicker is gonna be.”
Jacksonville blocked Folk’s first kick of the night.
13. Greed takes over
Narrator: “The Bucs offense has the talent to take the team a long way. But for all that prowess, there are still lapses. It’s a simple fact: Not every pass will be caught. The bigger problem is understanding that not every pass should be thrown.”
On a third down near the goal line, Winston was nearly on his back when he threw a pass toward the end zone. The Jaguars appeared to come away with the interception, but after review, officials ruled that Winston was down before he released the ball.
On the sideline, Koetter ripped into him. “You’re f------ playing a great game, and then your greed takes over. If this is real football, that’s a f------ stupid — That’s guaranteed points. You’re so much better than that.”
14. Winston has advice for Fitzpatrick
Winston after Fitzpatrick threw an interception: “Just don’t take that chance.”
Winston said that. With a straight face. Less than an hour after he recklessly threw a jump ball into the end zone.
15. Gerald McCoy has advice for rookie Chris Godwin
McCoy: There’s ups. There’s downs. But all your failures you gonna think about what you learned from them. And when you go out there, perform on Sunday, when you make that big catch. When the game is on the line and they know they can depend on you, when you make that play, everything’s gonna go through your mind that’s gonna feel so much better because of days like this, where you did drop the ball, where it felt like ‘Ah, I couldn’t get it together.’”
Godwin’s emergence was one of the bright spots of the season. He caught 34 passes for 525 yards. His first touchdown was the Week 17 game winner against the Saints.
16. Licht says he “lost it” after drafting Winston
Licht: “He’s, like, unbelievable. Like, really … He’s the best leader I think I’ve ever been around. … He inspires me. So once we did the, uh, Mike and his guys did all the vetting — you know, outside sources and everything that we paid, on the quarterback, I literally, after we took him, I closed the door, and I, like, just lost it, you know?”
Licht is so effusive here that it’s hard to take him seriously. The best leader he’s ever been around? He spent three seasons in New England. What about Bill Belichick? Tom Brady? He spent five seasons in Philadelphia. What about Andy Reid? Brian Dawkins? He lost it after drafting Winston? Really? You lose it when you walk your daughter down the aisle, not when you acquire a quarterback.
17. The prequel to “Eat a W”
Winston before Bucs played the Browns: “We already facing adversity because of this rain. But then I had a flashback like That’s So Raven ...”
First time that an NFL quarterback has ever cited That’s So Raven. Should be the last, too.
“... And I remembered we practiced in the rain our first few days of camp. So the time is here. I’m not about to do that big rah-rah stuff …”
He then proceeded to do the big rah-rah stuff.
“... because I don’t know nobody that’s gonna let another man walk in they house and take something from ’em! I don’t know nobody that’s gonna let another man walk in they house and take something from him! So take that to heart! This is personal to me! Nobody believe that they can walk in my house and take something from me! ...”
What? Since when was a preseason visit from the Browns equivalent to an armed robbery?
“... What I got right now in my pocket is a W. Y’all got it, too ...”
“... Bawitdaba da bang da bang diggy diggy diggy shake the boogie said up jump the boogie bawitdaba da bang da bang diggy diggy diggy shake the boogie said up jump the boogie.”
The last quote is actually from a Kid Rock song. Incoherent, right? So are some of these pregame hype speeches. And, like Kid Rock, they must be stopped.
18. Winston has advice for DeShone Kizer
Winston to Kizer after the game: “Patience is the easiest way. All right? Take my word because I’m a risk-taker. All right, have patience. You got Coach (Hue) Jackson. So listen to him. Let him guide you. But patience is the easy way. Checking that ball down, even though you got that cannon, listen to me — because they ain’t gonna tell you that.”
Know who else should take Winston’s word? Winston.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.