Monday, November 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers look more serious than they have in years

RECOMMENDED READING


Today, the Bucs look faster. They look stronger. They look infinitely more interesting.

More than anything, however the Bucs look more serious than they have in years.

If you are going to cheer anything about their latest shopping excursion, start there.

Vincent Jackson.

Carl Nicks.

Eric Wright.

And who's next?

For the Tampa Bay Bucs, this has been one of the finest weeks in years. After years of pleading from their fans, they have gone to the wallet, and they have added a sensational wide receiver, a superb offensive lineman and a very good defensive back.

This is the kind of week than can start to restore faith. This is the kind of the week that can improve an image. Yes, this is the kind of week than can sell tickets.

And bully for the Bucs.

Let's be honest. This may not work out. It didn't pay off for the Eagles, and it never has for the Redskins. Free agency is like panning for gold, except that the gold goes to the new employees, and it can be difficult to tell what effect a few million dollars in the wallet can have on a team. A lot of players have been worth two cents on the dollar after a big contract.

On the other hand, the Bucs are a much, much more talented team today than a few days ago. Josh Freeman should be more dangerous when he drops back to pass, and the holes should be wider when LeGarrette Blount starts to run, and the secondary should be better in a division filled with quarterbacks and wide receivers.

The Bucs needed an offseason like this. Hey, no one has ever argued against the idea of building through the draft, but there were far too many holes from those awful drafts in the early 2000s to fill through one aspect of talent evaluation. This has a chance, at least, to be the kick-start the Bucs need.

To be honest, the Glazer family needed an offseason like this, too. Just glance at the empty stands, and you could tell how much momentum had been lost. Once, the Glazers seemed willing to invest in winning. Lately, that hasn't been the impression.

This week, however, has made good on Joel Glazers' promise to spend what it takes to produce a winner. Remember when the Bucs fired Raheem Morris? As hard as it was to defend Morris, and it still is, the front office deserved some blame, too. There wasn't enough talent. Now, there is more.

So where else? The Bucs could use a linebacker. Maybe two. They could use a running back. A safety. A right tackle. A tight end. For now, they are better.

You know who got better this week? Freeman got better. Mike Williams, who should see less doubling, got better. Blount got better. Connor Barth, who should be kicking more extra points, got better.

You know who else got better? Greg Schiano got better, and so did his chance of winning. Coaches need players. That's never been a secret. Schiano now has better chess pieces to move around.

You know who else got better? The Bucs' front office, which has more options as it goes into the upcoming draft. It seems you can scratch Justin Blackmon off the Bucs' list of possibilities, doesn't it? Don't be so quick to erase Morris Claiborne, however. If he's still the value at the position, the Bucs should still be interested.

On the other hand, the Bucs have just added flexibility, too. If they are not sold on, say, running back Trent Richardson, they can entertain thoughts of trading down for extra picks. Maybe that gets them a linebacker and a tight end. Or a safety and a running back. The more strength a team has, the more creative it can be in the draft.

It's odd. Even in the offseason, the Bucs have always been the loudest debate in the room. In recent years, that seems to have lessened

For the Bucs, this is a step toward taking back the buzz. The team has found its wallet. It has gained your attention. Good.

On the other hand, has anyone seen a good linebacker looking for work?

Comments
Fennelly: Hope glimmering through the gloom of Bucs’ season

Fennelly: Hope glimmering through the gloom of Bucs’ season

ST. PETERSBURG — It isn’t easy avoiding The Jameis Winston mess.But it’s worth a try. If only to see some thin shafts of light.It’s worth considering that the 2017 Bucs, their death certificate already signed, have shown signs of life. Okay, near lif...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Bucs QB Jameis Winston not medically cleared to throw; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start again

Bucs QB Jameis Winston not medically cleared to throw; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start again

Doctors would not clear Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to begin throwing after an evaluation of his shoulder injury Monday and he could miss one or two more weeks.The Bucs have gone 2-0 under backup Ryan Fitzpatrick since Winston was shut down to gi...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Buccaneers-Dolphins Turning Point, Week 11: Cool, calm Fitzmagic

Buccaneers-Dolphins Turning Point, Week 11: Cool, calm Fitzmagic

On Sunday, the Buccaneers and Dolphins played one of those football games that gets only an obligatory mention at the end of highlight shows. In that spirit, this week’s Turning Point will focus mostly on the final three minutes of Tampa Bay’s 30-20 ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: One last look at Bucs-Dolphins

Cannon Fodder podcast: One last look at Bucs-Dolphins

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman looks back on Tampa Bay’s wild 30-20 win over the Dolphins, their second straight win and first on the road this season, the good and bad of that, plus a major off-field story now surrounding QB Jameis Winston. List...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh and why this man is smiling

Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh and why this man is smiling

The topic for the Times' set-up package  for Bucs-Dolphins in Sunday's editions was Gerald McCoy vs. Ndamukong Suh.Admittedly, it's not James Winston vs. Marcus Mariota, but the two defensive linemen were taken back to back in the 2010 NFL Draft...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Trump calls out Marshawn Lynch, who sat for the U.S. national anthem but stood for Mexico’s

Trump calls out Marshawn Lynch, who sat for the U.S. national anthem but stood for Mexico’s

President Donald Trump on Monday added Marshawn Lynch to the list of sports figures he has criticized on Twitter.Lynch has been regularly sitting during the national anthem this season and did so again when his Oakland Raiders played the New England ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: As Jameis Winston faces another accusation, Bucs win with Ryan Fitzpatrick

Rick and Tom podcast: As Jameis Winston faces another accusation, Bucs win with Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Bucs win again behind backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a defense that creates five turnovers against the Dolphins. In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the game, including the calm that Fitzpatrick has brought and ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

MIAMI GARDENS — That was one ugly football game.The Bucs had a bad game. The Dolphins had a really bad game. And who had the worst game of all? The officials.In fact, the best part of Sunday’s game was before the game even started, thanks to a stirri...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

MIAMI GARDENS — A dark cloud is hanging over this football team.It’s a heaviness. A dread. A dread for what might have happened in the past and what might happen in the future.And that makes it hard for fans to truly enjoy what happened Sunday.The Bu...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

MIAMI GARDENS — For chaos, there was Jameis Winston missing his second game with a shoulder injury and an NFL investigation swirling around him.For calamity, there was the Bucs forcing four of their five turnovers in the first half and building a two...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17