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Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer

Rick Stroud

Rick Stroud covers the Bucs and the NFL for the Times. He joined the paper in 1983 after graduating from Arkansas St., where he played baseball. He has reported on national sporting events including more than 20 Super Bowls, the NCAA Final Four, and the Major League Baseball playoffs. While working as the beat writer assigned to the University of Florida at the Times, Stroud's stories documented NCAA rules violations by the football and basketball programs. He began covering the Bucs in 1990. Since then, the team has undergone seven coaching changes, the death of owner Hugh Culverhouse and the sale of the franchise to billionaire owner Malcolm Glazer and a stadium referendum and a Super Bowl XXVII victory. He co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM.

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E-mail: stroud@tampabay.com

Blog: Bucs Beat

Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

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  1. NFL kickers showing their value in playoffs

    Blog

    If the playoffs have demonstrated anything this postseason –- aside from needing spectacular quarterback play -– it’s that the kicking game matters.

    That’s probably the reasoning general manager Jason Licht and the Bucs used to package a pile of picks and move into the second round last year to take Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo.

    It hasn’t paid off –- not yet, anyway -– for the Bucs. Aguayo missed four of his first eight field goal attempts this season, likely costing them the Rams game when he missed a field goal and an extra point, and finished making only 71 percent of his field goal attempts (22 of 31), which was last in the NFL....

    In a remarkable clutch performance, the Packers' Mason Crosby became the first kicker to make two field goals 50 yards or longer in the final two minutes of a postseason game.
  2. Common link among NFL's remaining teams? Top-tier QBs

    Blog

    It wasn’t a real play. Aaron Rodgers told each of his receivers which route to run. Get open. Schoolyard football. Then the Packers quarterback, rolling to his left, throws a dime for a 35-yard completion to toe-tapping tight end Jared Cook with three seconds remaining. The play sets up Mason Crosby’s game-winning 51-yard field goal in a 34-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

    That may not have even been the best thing Rodgers did Sunday. One play earlier, he withstood a blind side sack by Cowboys safety Jeff Heath and somehow held onto the ball with his right hand. (Are you watching, Jameis Winston?)....

    Matt Ryan was spectacular in a 36-20 win over the Seahawks, completing passes to eight different receivers while passing for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
  3. DC Mike Smith signs deal with Bucs, says he won't pursue head coaching jobs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Defensive coordinator Mike Smith signed a multiyear contract extension with the Bucs, saying that for the next couple of years, he will forgo pursuing head coaching jobs to remain in Tampa Bay.

    Terms were not released.

    Locking up Smith for several years could be big for the Bucs since the former Falcons head coach figured to be in the mix each offseason for a head coaching job....

    ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Mike Smith, defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, stands on the field during pregame warmups prior to facing the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
  4. New deal means Mike Smith with Bucs for 'next couple years'

    Blog

    Defensive coordinator Mike Smith signed a multi-year contract with the Bucs and said for the next couple years he will forgo pursuing head coaching jobs to remain in Tampa Bay.

    Terms of the new contract were not released. But locking up Smith for several years could be big for the Bucs since the former Falcons head coach figured to be in the mix every off-season for a head coaching job.

    Smith, 57, interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Jaguars and Chargers. On Thursday morning, he withdrew his name from consideration with the Chargers job, which went to Bills interim head coach Anthony Lynn....

  5. Bucs, defensive coordinator Mike Smith reach contract extension

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Shortly after withdrawing his name from consideration from the San Diego, er, Los Angeles Chargers head coaching job Thursday, the Bucs made sure defensive coordinator Mike Smith was not relocating.

    Tampa Bay signed Smith to a contract extension, keeping the cohesiveness to a unit that showed considerable improvement in 2016. Terms of the new deal were not released.

    The Bucs ranked 23rd in the 32-team league in total defense this season, but they showed noticeable progress the final eight games. They ranked third in takeaways with 29, including 17 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries. They won a league-high five games when scoring 19 points or less; they won one such game the previous three seasons....

    LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith signed a contract extension Thursday, keeping cohesiveness to a unit that showed considerable improvement in 2016. Terms of the new deal were not released.
  6. Bucs sign Mike Smith to contract extension

    Blog

    Shortly after withdrawing his name from consideration from the San Diego, er, Los Angeles Chargers head coaching job Thursday morning, the Bucs made sure defensive coordinator Mike Smith was not relocating.

    The Bucs signed Smith to a contract extension, assuring the team will continue on the improvement it showed on defense in 2016. Terms of the new deal were not released.

    The Bucs ranked 23rd overall in total defense this season, but they showed a huge improvement the final eight games. The Bucs ranked third in the league in takeaways with 29, including 17 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries....

  7. Bucs kicker Aguayo working to improve on rookie struggles

    Blog

    Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo chalked up his disappointing rookie season to a "learning" experience and said he needs to become more of a pro both on and off the football field.

    Aguayo’s struggles began almost as soon as the Bucs selected him in the second round from Florida State. He began the season 4 of 8 in field goal tries before connecting on nine of the next 10. Overall, Aguayo made only 71 percent of his field goal tries (22 of 31) with a long of only 43 yards....

  8. Jameis Winston: Bucs could have won at least 3 more

    Blog

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston said Monday there were at least three games the Bucs could have won to qualify for the NFL playoffs, something he said he wishes he was a part of.

    Appearing on ESPN’s Mike and Mike, as part of their coverage of tonight’s College Football Playoff national championship game, Winston addressed a wide range of topics, from preparing for the title game, to college players boycotting bowl games after entering the NFL draft to breaking down the Falcons, Seahawks, Chiefs and Cowboys, the first three of those teams he beat this season....

    Jameis Winston greets fans following the Bucs' season-ending victory over the Panthers.
  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers season rewind: Opportunity lost

    Bucs

    On the day after the Bucs' season died, Gerald McCoy wore a black hoodie with a yellow emoji encircled by the words that matched his mood: I'M NOT EXCITED. After a 9-7 season, only the 12th winning record in the 41 years the NFL has played in Tampa Bay, there would seem to be plenty for McCoy and his teammates to look forward to. But the star defensive tackle knows this was a big opportunity lost. After watching all 16 Bucs games again, away from the din and deadlines, this much is clear: For a team that needed one more win — or the right win (over the Rams or Saints) — the Bucs had their chances. "We thought we had a lot of opportunities we missed out on," McCoy said. "It was a better season, but we know we should be getting ready to play again. Nobody's really happy about that." A few observations:...

    The Bucs’ Jameis Winston might’ve been leaned on too heavily early in the season, throwing 102 passes in losses to the Cardinals and Rams.
  10. Chargers also will interview Bucs' Mike Smith

    Blog

    Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith will have at least two opportunities to make his case for becoming a head coach again.

    The San Diego Chargers will interview Smith, who already planned to meet with the Jacksonville Jaguars to discuss their head coaching position.

    On Monday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter almost sounded resigned to losing Smith.

    "Obviously, when we brought Mike here we knew that this day might come and this day would come," Koetter said....

  11. Coach Dirk Koetter considers giving up Bucs play-calling

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was a startling admission, and maybe he was just thinking out loud. But after watching his offense take a few steps backward this season, Dirk Koetter said Monday he is contemplating giving up play-calling duties so he can spend more time on other obligations as head coach.

    "I'm contemplating, 'How does our team get better in all areas?' " Koetter said. "And when we look at everything, is there someone out there who can do a better job to help us than me calling the plays? Then that's something we have to take a look at."...

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter says his other chores might be detracting from his play-calling.
  12. Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith to interview for Jaguars head coaching job

    Bucs

    TAMPA — If Dirk Koetter does give up calling plays, the Bucs could have new coordinators on both sides of the ball next season.

    Defensive coordinator Mike Smith will interview for the Jaguars head coaching job. Smith went 66-46 as head coach of the Falcons from 2008-14, reaching the playoffs four times including the NFC Championship Game in 2012. Smith was the defensive coordinator under Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville from 2003-07....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith is seen before an NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.
  13. Koetter says he might give up Bucs' play-calling in 2017

    Blog

    Dirk Koetter said he is contemplating giving up the play-calling duties so he can spend more time with on other obligations as head coach.

    In his season-ending press conference Monday, Koetter said he has several members of his coaching staff that are capable of calling plays but that he wants to be sure of his decision before turning those duties over.

    "I’m contemplating how does are team get better in all areas. And when we look at everything, is there someone out there who can do a better job to help us than me calling the plays, then that’s something we have to take a look at," Koetter said....

    Dirk Koetter said he is contemplating giving up the play-calling duties so he can spend more time with on other obligations as head coach.
  14. Bucs' Mike Smith to interview for Jaguars job

    Blog

    Mike Smith may get his chance to be an NFL head coach again.

    The Bucs defensive coordinator will interview with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their vacant head coaching job.

    Smith went 66-46 as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2008-14, reaching the playoffs four times including the NFC Championship game in 2012. Smith was the defensive coordinator under Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville from 2003-07....

    Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith will interview with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their vacant head coaching job.
  15. Bucs close out season with win over Panthers

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The pre-game handshake took place near midfield, just two NFL head coaches whose teams seemed headed in different directions when Sunday began.

    A year earlier, Panthers coach Ron Rivera was 15-1 in a season that ended with a Super Bowl 50 loss to Denver. He had been to the league's mountain­top, has an appreciation for the climb and — with only six wins this season — the steep fall....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) scrambles during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]