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Thomas Bassinger, Times Staff Writer

Thomas Bassinger

It all began late 1991 with a Nintendo controller and a game cartridge that read, in gold block letters, "Tecmo Super Bowl" (Ready! Down! Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut!). That's when a young Thomas Bassinger discovered the fearsome Ronnie Lott, the dominant QB Eagles and the superhuman Bo Jackson and spent countless hours taking their 8-bit counterparts up and down the football field (Remember Wayne Haddix, Bucs fans?). He's been hooked on football and statistics ever since. Today, he contributes to coverage of the Buccaneers and the NFL for the Tampa Bay Times. He is the author of the Turning Point postgame analysis and studies All-22 game film for the weekly scouting report of the Bucs' upcoming opponent. Follow him on Twitter during the games @tometrics.

E-mail: tbassinger@tampabay.com

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  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering into the future.

    ...

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Behold, the size and strength of Yankees phenom Aaron Judge

    The Heater

    This is no exaggeration: You have never seen a baseball player like the one visiting the Rays at Tropicana Field this weekend.

    There have been plenty of tall players (Randy Johnson) and plenty of wide players (Bartolo Colon), but no one has possessed a greater combination of height and weight (6-foot-7, 282 pounds) than Yankees slugger Aaron Judge. Even George Herman Ruth would look miniature standing next to him....

    Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, center, is 8 inches taller and almost 100 pounds heavier than teammate Brett Gardner, left. [Getty Images]
  3. Why the Buccaneers hope new backup Ryan Fitzpatrick never has to throw a pass

    Bucs

    Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't dead, but his arm is.

    And if Jameis Winston suffers a severe injury, the Buccaneers' season might be, too.

    On Friday, Tampa Bay, in need of an experienced backup quarterback, signed Fitzpatrick anyway. The deal is for one year and $3 million.

    RELATED STORY: Bucs opt for experience behind Winston...

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started for the Jets in 11 games last season, threw an interception on 4.2 percent of his passes, the NFL's highest rate. [Getty Images]
  4. Football Outsiders' 2017 NFL projections: No playoffs for the Buccaneers

    Bucs

    The Buccaneers as a playoff team?

    Don't bet on it.

    The empirical thinkers at Football Outsiders have joined Las Vegas oddsmakers in casting Tampa Bay as an underdog this coming season.

    The football analytics website released its post-draft projections this week, and it has the Bucs going 7-9 and finishing last in the NFC South. Tampa Bay, which won nine games last season, is ranked 13th in the NFC, ahead of only the Bears, Vikings and 49ers....

    Bucs safety Chris Conte celebrates after returning an interception for a touchdown against the Bears in November. Tampa Bay recorded 29 takeaways last season, its most since 2013. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. The Buccaneers are underdogs in 10 games this season

    Bucs

    Hopes are high in Tampa Bay that the Bucs are on the verge of ending their playoff drought.

    But that's not the way the nation's gambling capital sees the 2017 NFL season unfolding.

    CG Technology, a sports book operator in Las Vegas, released lines Wednesday for every game this season (excluding Week 17 games, which are difficult to project because team strategy varies based on playoff seeding), and the Bucs are favorites in only five games....

    Running back Doug Martin and his Bucs teammates celebrate a touchdown against the Saints in December. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  6. No love for the Buccaneers: Las Vegas sets over/under at eight wins

    Bucs

    With free agency and the draft in the rear view, it's time to look ahead to the Buccaneers season and play everyone's favorite game: How Many Games Will They Win?

    The South Point casino in Las Vegas recently released its projections. It set the over/under for Tampa Bay at eight wins.

    Eight? For a team that won nine last season and narrowly missed the playoffs? After it signed receiver DeSean Jackson and drafted tight end O.J. Howard, you'd think it'd be projected to win more....

    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  7. Buccaneers got their running back in Jeremy McNichols. Will he be good?

    Bucs

    In what was widely regarded as a deep running back draft, the Buccaneers waited until the fifth round to take a ball carrier — Jeremy McNichols from Boise State. He was one of four drafted in the round Saturday.

    Teams usually don't expect fifth-round picks to be much more than productive backups. They hope, though, that those picks surprise, exceed expectations and develop into productive starters....

    Running back Jeremy McNichols, the Bucs' fifth-round draft pick, was a workhorse at Boise State. He had more touches over the past two seasons than 13 of the 16 running backs taken before him. [Getty Images]
  8. 2017 NFL draft, Day 3: Buccaneers take a running back (finally) and a very big and very old man

    Bucs

    Here are some things you should know about running back Jeremy McNichols and defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, the Buccaneers' final two selections of the NFL draft:

    Jeremy McNichols

    ...

    Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols catches a 76-yard touchdown pass last season against Brigham Young. With the 162nd overall pick, the Bucs drafted him Saturday. [Getty Images]
  9. 2017 NFL draft, Day 2: Buccaneers add a safety, a receiver and a horseman

    Bucs

    Day 2 in a word? Toughness.

    With their first selection Friday night at the NFL draft, the Buccaneers added an aggressive safety in Justin Evans (50th overall), a competitive receiver and capable run blocker in Chris Godwin (84th), and a hard-hitting linebacker in Kendell Beckwith (107th). This team is going to be physical....

    Justin Evans was the seventh safety taken in the NFL draft. [Icon Sportswire]
  10. NFL draft: The Buccaneers and the value of a fourth-round pick

    Bucs

    Fourth-round picks might seem like middling assets. There is more to their value, however, than meets the eye.

    Every now and then, teams land a starter in the fourth round, as the Buccaneers did in 2015 when they drafted linebacker Kwon Alexander. Often, though, teams use the pick to move around the draft board.

    Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht has done just that in each of the past three drafts. The one year he didn't — 2014 — he didn't have a fourth-round pick. That pick went to the Jets as part of the compensation for the Darrelle Revis trade that predecessor Mark Dominik executed. Late Friday night, Licht packaged the Bucs' 125th and 204th picks (fourth and sixth rounds) to move back into the third round to take LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith....

    Bucs general manager Jason Licht [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  11. O.J. Howard wanted to bring his white girlfriend to prom. His school said no.

    Bucs

    One of the biggest unexpected developments of the first night of the 2017 NFL draft was tight end O.J. Howard's fall out of the top 10 to the Buccaneers at No. 19. Here are some things you should know about Howard, some of which might surprise you:

    1. Howard's high school headmaster told him he couldn't bring his white girlfriend to his prom: According to an al.com report, the Autauga Academy (Prattville, Ala.) headmaster said he was following instructions from the school's board of directors. Howard's parents confronted the board, but no one admitted to the discrimination. The headmaster later apologized at an assembly, and Howard ultimately took his girlfriend to the prom....

    Three of O.J. Howard's seven touchdowns at Alabama came in national championship games. [Getty Images]
  12. 2017 NFL draft: Bucs can't bet on Brent Grimes and Robert Ayers repeating 2016 success

    Bucs

    Good morning, and happy NFL draft day!

    No more mock draft critiquing and big board tweaking. At last, we're about to learn what the Buccaneers will do with their No. 19 overall pick. In today's Tampa Bay Times, columnist Tom Jones listed 19 things they could do, from drafting Dalvin Cook to taking a … kicker?...

    Cornerback Brent Grimes celebrates after intercepting a Cam Newton pass during the Bucs' 17-16 win over the Panthers in last season's finale. He and safety Keith Tandy led the team with four interceptions each. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  13. 2017 NFL draft: Why it's a bad idea to wait on running backs

    Bucs

    You can find a running back here.

    Jordan Howard and Jay Ajayi in the fifth round.

    You can find a running back there.

    Alfred Morris and Latavius Murray in the sixth round.

    You can find a running back anywhere.

    Ahmad Bradshaw and Rashad Jennings in the seventh round.

    It seems good running backs are easy to find in the NFL draft. In the fifth round. The sixth. The seventh. The nonexistent eleventh. Wave a magic wand! They appear, like coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond!...

    From left: Latavius Murray, Jordan Howard and Ahmad Bradshaw. [Times photo illustration/Getty Images]
  14. 2017 NFL draft: Of the top running back prospects, Dalvin Cook is the most explosive. Here are the numbers.

    Bucs

    It can be easy to overthink football.

    Allow Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter to stop you.

    "I've said many, many times that we believe — besides turnovers — explosive plays are the next biggest factor in winning and losing."

    It's that simple: Make more big plays than the other team.

    Tampa Bay didn't do that last season. The defense allowed more explosive plays than every team except the 49ers. The offense, which was expected to take a step forward, saw a 20 percent drop in such plays....

    Former Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, widely regarded as one of the draft's top home run hitters, could be in play for the Bucs when it's their turn to pick Thursday. [Icon Sportswire]
  15. The problem with the Buccaneers' 2017 schedule that needs to be fixed now

    Bucs

    Some thoughts on the Buccaneers' 2017 schedule, which was unveiled last night:

    Danger ahead

    Because Tom Brady and the Patriots need the help, the NFL schedule overlords have offered the Bucs as a Week 5 sacrifice in front of a national audience on Thursday Night Football.

    The problem with this stretch of Tampa Bay's schedule isn't that it plays the Super Bowl champions just four days after it plays the New York Giants. It's that the game against the Giants is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. instead of 1 p.m....

    The Bucs host the New York Giants on Oct. 1. Four days later, the Patriots visit Tampa. [Getty Images]