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  • The Crow’s Nest: Reactions to the Suh deal and some OTA notes
    by Gil Arcia on May 24, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Web links on the Buccaneers. Key Numbers, Respect For Ndamukong Suh - JoeBucsFan.comWhat do these numbers — 51, 38, 40, 40, 24, 40 and 55 — have in common when it comes to manbeast defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and his expected arrival to the Buccaneers for the 2019 season? Bucs Make Offseason Splash with DT Ndamukong SuhThe Buccaneers agreed to terms with free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on Thursday as he enters his 10th NFL season. Source -- Suh to get $9.25 million deal from BucsThe Buccaneers reached a one-year, $9.25 million agreement with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Takeaways from Bucs OTAs: Day 6The Bucs wrapped their second week of OTAs on Thursday. Take a look at a few notes and observations heading into the long weekend. Is the Bucs' addition of Suh an attempt to change the culture? - The Paywall TimesA lot of factors impacted the decision including contracts, cap issues and performance. But is there more to the acquisition? Keyshawn Johnson: Bruce Arians Is "Sending A Message" With Suh Signing - JoeBucsFan.comKeyshawn likes the Suh-McCoy swap for the Bucs and believes it is a bit of a wash on the field but more valuable for culture change. SR's Fab 5: Suh Brings A Needed Edge To Bucs Defense | Pewter ReportInsight into the Suh deal. […]

  • Bucs announce the signing of Suh
    by Gil Arcia on May 23, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    The veteran DT gets a one-year deal worth $9.25-million, $10-million with incentives. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to terms with free agent defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, the team announced today. Buccaneers officially have reached agreement with former Rams’ DT Ndamukong Suh on a one-year, $9.25 million deal that with incentives is worth up to $10 million, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 23, 2019 Suh (6-4, 313), a nine-year veteran, is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time Associated PressAll-Pro choice (three first team, two second team). Since entering the league as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Nebraska, Suh has started all 142 regular season games he has played, including the last 115 consecutively. For his career, Suh has registered 481 tackles, including 107 for loss, 56 sacks, 166 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, four fumbles recoveries (one touchdown), 32 passes defensed and one interception. He has added 20 tackles and five sacks in six career postseason games, including 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks in helping the Los Angeles Rams reach the Super Bowl last season. In his first season, while playing for the Detroit Lions, Suh notched 10 sacks on his way to earning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro nods. He repeated as a Pro Bowler and AP All-Pro in 2012, 2013 and 2014 with the Lions, and in 2016 as a member of the Miami Dolphins. In that season, his second of three in Miami, Suh collected a career-high 72 tackles, the fourth-highest single-season total among defensive tackles in the last 10 years. Since entering the league, among defensive tackles, Suh ranks second in tackles (478), first in tackles for loss (107), third in sacks (56), first in quarterback hits (166) and first in passes defensed (32). Among all players during that span, his 107 tackles for loss rank fifth and his 166 quarterback hits rank seventh. As a member of the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams in 2018, Suh recorded 59 tackles, tied for second among defensive tackles, 4.5 sacks, four passes defensed and 19 quarterback hits. A native of Portland, Oregon, Suh enjoyed a decorated career at Nebraska, culminating in a senior season in which he was earned the AP College Football Player of the Year, Nagurski, Bednarik, and Lombardi Awards, the Outland Trophy and unanimous All-American distinction. (Courtesy of the Buccaneers Communications Department.) […]

  • The Gerald McCoy vs Ndamukong Suh Opposition
    by David_Harrison on May 23, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    One thing doesn’t have to equal another What if I told you appreciating the (impending) signing of Ndamukong Suh by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was not a sign of not appreciating the nine years Gerald McCoy spent with the same franchise? How about if I told you a person could like both moves? Or even dislike both moves, yet have their disdain for both stem from unconnected reasons? At some point during the 2010 NFL Draft a comment about Suh and McCoy being connected for the duration of their careers was made. Perhaps multiple comments about the topic. And they were correct. However, as much as they were polar opposites as football players, they are just as polarizing as Buccaneers; one former and one soon to be (or newly signed, depending on when you read this.) However, this does not mean opinions of these two players have to be forever tied and opposing to each other. A point apparently lost on some. Throughout the saga which has been the release of McCoy, there have been two factions. One fighting for the tenure of the Batman Buccaneer, and one fighting for the reality of age and the science behind performance balancing with paychecks. Neither is completely right, because neither is inside the situation and those inside the situation aren’t taking (public) sides. In the end, those in favor of separating McCoy and Tampa Bay claim a small victory for the moment. But the war is not over. From the ashes of this debate rose another. And the two factions raised new flags. One side vying for the further football canonization of Gerald McCoy through tribute while villainizing Suh the west coast invader, and the other crowning Ndamukong Suh as the veteran Prince of aggression riding in to rid the Florida gulf coast football franchise of smiles and apologetic quarterback pressures. Again, neither is completely right. Specifically, this isn’t a Suh versus McCoy situation. Suh didn’t release McCoy. The Buccaneers didn’t release McCoy specifically to sign Suh (as far as we know) and there is no evidence to indicate they did. Simply, the team and McCoy no longer fit and the team happened to find his replacement in Suh. This is really all it boils down to. There’s no villain to the story other than father time and nearly a decade of losing for the time McCoy and the Bucs spent together. But here we are. Recently, an ESPN report commented Suh was a contradiction to Bucs ‘culture’ tying him to previous failed signings like DeSean Jackson and Chris Baker. Meanwhile, the same report grazes over McCoy’s shortcomings while immediately tying those flaws to his well-documented charity work providing an interestingly descriptive account of Suh as a player and teammate while leaving little detail about McCoy; the player covered by Jenna Laine for the duration of her time with ESPN up to this point. A link to a 2012 player votes naming Suh the ‘dirtiest player’ in the league are provided. But the link to the 2012 NFL Top-100 naming Suh the 38th best player in the league as voted by players in the league, is absent. McCoy didn’t make that list. In fact, McCoy didn’t make any NFL Top-100 lists until 2013 when he landed at 93. Suh was making his third appearance on the list that same year, and was ranked 40th. Speaking of charitable contributions. A 2011 article titled, “Ndamukong Suh May Be Dirty, But He’s Also The Most Charitable Athlete In The Country”, stated, “According to The Giving Back Fund, no athlete in the United States gave a bigger charitable donation in 2010 than Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions.” In 2016, Bleacher Report published a column titled, “10 Current Athletes Who Are Ridiculously Charitable”. Russell Wilson, Lebron James, John Cena, and Ndamukong Suh are all named. “Other than throwing large sums of cash at programs....the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation has worked to help provide children with school supplies, offered scholarships and committed to attendance programs.” These things are not mentioned. Instead, the lone piece of evidence used in the reporting is a 2012 poll. From the year following Suh’s two-game suspension after stepping on the arm of then Green Bay Packers and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Evan Smith. Since serving his two-game suspension, Suh has missed as many games in the NFL as I have played in. None. Now, I want to be clear here. Jenna Laine is a well connected reporter who is well respected and I have no direct issue with her as a reporter and certainly not as a person. While her recent work is the focus of this, she is not the lone example. It’s everywhere. My point is this, Ndamukong Suh has made some mistakes. Who hasn’t. He hasn’t been suspended since 2011 and has less money spent on fines than Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots and a slew of other NFL players. McCoy not being on the NFL Top-100 until 2013 is not a reason why McCoy should not be in Tampa Bay. Similarly though, Suh being suspended in 2011 is not a reason he should not be either. I can not find a single report saying Suh was a problem on or off the field with the Miami Dolphins or with the Los Angeles Rams. Every report I find says he was moved from Miami for monetary reasons, and Rams articles about his not returning are largely focused on age and minimal impact during the 2018 regular season. No, I haven’t read everything, but I read a lot. Every negative comment or article about Suh is tying back to things that happened in 2011, 2012 or near the same timeframe. If we’re to use these dates as a gauge of who to or not to add to 2019 NFL teams, then I can’t wait for Ray Rice (2011 NFL All-Pro and 2012-13 AFC Pro Bowl running back) to sign with someone. Gerald McCoy did a lot of great things for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was often times the lone bright spot in some dismal days for Bucs fans. Nobody should take this away from him. He did a lot of work in and around the community and has a smile that you can’t help but smile back at. His love of comic book characters and his willingness to keep a loose attitude even in storms could frustrate some, but is one of the reasons he was an ambassador of the team. Nobody should undersell or minimize those characteristics. Ndamukong Suh made a lot of mistakes early in his career and derailed his time with the franchise that drafted him. Nobody will ever forget it. He also took the opportunity to learn from those and start fresh in Miami with minimal success as a team, but consistent success still as an individual. He was then signed by a team with a young coach to help improve a defense and contributed to a Super Bowl run as recent as last year. While nobody should take away what McCoy meant and did while he was in Tampa, nobody should take away Suh’s demonstrated production and improvement in his on field conduct either. And certainly his off-field contributions shouldn’t be hidden away while targeting his character while accentuating McCoy’s own charity and foundation work in an effort to prove your devotion to McCoy either. No matter where you work. No matter what your platform. No matter how you feel about a football player past, present or future, this doesn’t have to be Ndamukong Suh vs Gerald McCoy. It just doesn’t. […]

  • An Introduction To Todd Bowles’ Defense
    by Jon Marchant on May 23, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    The Bucs will have a radically new - and modern - scheme this season and possibly for the foreseeable future. This is the introduction to a multi-part series that will dive into the various schemes, disguises, and other elements Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will employ in 2019. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for more. Jon: You could argue that Tampa Bay’s legacy is built on defense. Their first Hall of Fame player was Lee Roy Selmon, a defensive end. The Bucs rode a historically good defense to their first Super Bowl championship, and the players from that defense are now legends in their own right, with some of them also in the Hall. But the defenses in Tampa Bay haven’t been good lately. In fact, they’ve been awful. They haven’t had a top ten defense since 2013. The closest they’ve come recently was in 2016, when they were 13th. And even that was a bit of a mirage, as an unsustainable interception rate provided cover for a defense that was still among the league’s worst in giving up yards. One of the big reasons for the lackluster defense, besides an arguable lack of talent, is the evolution of the game. The Spread has finally reached the NFL. It started slowly at first, in an upwards trickle from the college game over a decade ago, but after the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018 the floodgates opened. Everyone has spread concepts in their playbook now. The Kansas City Chiefs have been running a completely “college” offense. Even the Buccaneers last year had spread concepts sprinkled in. What is the spread, though? To put it simply, the spread attempts to get the ball to dynamic skill players in the negative space of the defense - the holes in the coverage. That’s what all defenses try to do, but the spread does this by creating easier and quicker reads and throws for the quarterback, while still designed to create opportunity for skill players to make big plays. Instead of the thousands of static plays in the old West Coast playbooks of Bill Walsh that all had to be learned, the Spread has a handful of concepts, sometimes multiple ones packaged into a single play, it can run from a multitude of formations and personnel groups with runs and play-action passes and the like all designed to appear the same to the defense. Then it is often repped over and over to perfection and sometimes run as quickly as possible to force defenses into mistakes and coverage busts. Many of those concepts resemble ones you’d find in basketball. It looks to make things as simple as possible for the offense (like reading just a single defensive player instead of the whole field) while still making it difficult and complex for the defense to figure out and stop. Defenses in turn have adopted many of the same principles. So how do you stop the Spread? Lovie Smith had a spot-dropping zone coverage that mostly played a soft Cover 2 shell that tried to keep everything in front of them. But when they faced teams with spread concepts, like the Tennessee Titans in the opening game of the 2015 season, they were woefully unprepared. Second-level RPOs destroyed Smith’s scheme as it put linebackers in conflict and targeted the open holes in the coverage. It turned into a rout. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Marcus Mariota and the Titans throttled the Bucs in 2015.Mike Smith adopted a similar soft coverage don’t-give-up-the-big-play philosophy, but with Cover 3 and Cover 4/Quarters as his base. He fared even worse than Lovie. The game against Chicago last season, a 48-10 brutalization, was reminiscent of Lovie’s 42-14 Titans game. His scheme had checks for every scenario an offense could throw at it, but the secondary didn’t communicate and the Bucs either didn’t have the talent or the coaching staff couldn’t teach the system; likely a little bit of both. After Smith was fired the scheme was “dumbed down” to make it easier and faster for the players to execute. Smith may have lacked a true or comprehensive vision for the Bucs’ defense and the types of players he wanted in each position, but he did want to build the defense from the inside-out, starting with interior defensive linemen. Both coaches saw their antiquated and over-matched units repeatedly torched by modern offenses, and they never adapted. If I were building a defense, I’d build it from the back to the front. In steps new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. So what is Bowles’ philosophy? What can Bucs fans expect to see from their new defense in the fall? If we had to choose one word, it would be aggressive. Bowles wants to be as aggressive as possible. But another just as important tenet shines through - his defenses are positionless. As offenses began to put more skill position players on the field they also began to collect tweeners - WR/TE and WR/RB hybrids (even TE/FB). In response, defenses have done the same. Linebacker/edge rushers, cornerback/safeties, safety/linebackers. To stop athletes in space you need your own versatile athletes that can play in space, that are big enough to stop the run but also have the athleticism to run and cover. Not to beat a dead horse, but that’s probably why the Bucs should have taken Derwin James in last year’s draft. He’s perfectly made for this era of football. He can rush the passer off the edge, drop into coverage, line up at nickel, play the box safety role or as the overhang defender, or even single-high in a pinch. The game is about matchups, and he can match up with just about anyone, lined up just about anywhere. Bowles appears to understand this. Being positionless also means Bowles’ scheme can be extremely multiple. He can and does mix and match different personnel in the same role (say, switching out a linebacker for a third safety), allowing him to run the same calls and blitz packages from different looks and alignments. He will let a player do what they do best. All of that also helps with disguise. He loves to play man coverage, especially on the outside, but he does mix in some zone-matching too, especially in the middle of the field (MOF). Defenses coordinated by Bowles often lead or nearly lead the league in blitzes, as pointed out by Jenna Laine: From 2015 to 2018, Bowles’ Jets blitzed 936 of 2,501 dropbacks (37.4 percent), second most in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Those blitzes resulted in 125 quarterback hits and 26 interceptions, ranking third most and second most, respectively, of any team when blitzing. When he was the defensive coordinator of the Cardinals from 2013 to 2014, Bowles’ defense blitzed 620 of 1,333 dropbacks (46.5 percent), which was the most in the NFL. Quarterbacks were contacted on 92 of those dropbacks and threw 17 interceptions, both numbers more than any other team in the league. Over the last three seasons the Bucs only blitzed about 23 percent of the time, probably because they got burned worse when they did blitz. Bowles especially likes blitzing on first downs and off the weak side. But he’s creative with his blitzes and stunt games, and because they disguise what they’re doing (who’s rushing, and in what gap, and who’s dropping) he often gets free rushers at the quarterback. One problem the Bucs have often had is they don’t have the players to win their 1v1 matchups, and they weren’t creative enough to manufacture a rush. So, far too often you saw Bucs defensive linemen get stoned at the line of scrimmage off the snap. It is probably also why the Bucs made inside linebacker Devin White the 5th overall pick in the draft. Especially with Jason Pierre-Paul’s status up in the air, the Bucs will be sending White early and often. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Devin White will be a crucial piece to the defense in 2019.The scheme places a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility on its cornerbacks. Bowles likes to use them in press man alignments, though he’ll also have them play off-man at times. They need to be big, long, and can run, as they are often left on islands in coverage. I believe that is probably the biggest reason why the Bucs targeted multiple defensive backs in the draft. At its core, it is a single-gap system, so the hybrid-gapping from Mike Smith is gone, except for the occasional play. Don’t let the 3-4 label fool you. The Bucs won’t be two-gapping like in traditional 3-4s. The DL aren’t there to eat blocks. The Bucs might have only three down linemen on most snaps (and sometimes just two) but they could easily be lined up just like how a 4-3 defense would be. It’s just that one edge rusher from an outside linebacker spot is standing up where a defensive end is normally found with their hand in the dirt. It looks to create penetration in the backfield just like any other traditional 4-3 system. There is still a defensive tackle often lined up as a 3-tech in this defense. It’s also a big deal that Bowles will build his scheme around the talent he has, whatever he has. Not a lot of good edge rushers? Bowles will put more safeties on the field, and blitz. He will also switch his scheme up from week to week if not in-game. Playing a run-heavy team this Sunday? Bowles will come out and play with four down linemen the whole game, and then go back to three the following week. If his personnel dictates it he will play with four down linemen the whole year. Because of Mike Smith the Bucs already have a mix of traditional 3-4 and 4-3 players, but some of their roles will change. Vea won’t be asked to eat up blockers anymore as a nose tackle. And while he still may line up in a nose tackle’s 0 or 1 tech alignment, he’ll be asked to get upfield in the quarterback’s lap just like everyone else. This isn’t all to say that Bowles will be a sure-fire success. Just that Bowles understands the way things are, and how to build a defense, especially in today’s game. He understands being scheme flexible, getting talented versatile players, and doing his best to marry the scheme to the personnel. And that’s a lot more than the last guys could say. Evan: Versatility. Adjustments. Blitzes. Disguise. Adaptability. All of these words have been absent when discussing the Bucs’ defense over the past two decades. The infamous Tampa 2 that helped them win a Super Bowl is no longer a defensive scheme that can be relied upon in today’s NFL. Dropping up to seven into coverage and relying on a four-man pass rush simply doesn’t get the job done like it once did. What you have to love about this defense, like Jon mentioned, is the fact that it won’t be the same type of defense from week to week. Bowles will take a page from the Book of Belichick and have his defense adapt to whatever offense the Bucs play that week. Frankly, that’s what the Bucs must do this year if they want to be effective on defense. There is not enough experience and depth for this team to remain stagnant scheme-wise. But let’s get on to Bowles’ defense. For context’s sake, let’s take a look at his 2014 season with the Arizona Cardinals, when he was voted the first-ever AP Assistant Coach of the Year. According to Football Outsiders, Bowles’ defense was seventh overall in DVOA against the sixth-hardest offensive schedule in the NFL. And this was without players such as Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby, and Daryl Washington - three key players that helped the Cardinals finish second in defensive DVOA in 2013. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images Bowles found a way to overcome Daryl Washington’s suspension.Arizona’s defense was hit hard with injuries that season, but they still managed to be one of the best units in the NFL. The Cardinals finished 24th in the league with 35 sacks that year, but Bowles’ scheme and disguise still gave quarterbacks fits. This was evidenced by the Cardinals finishing just outside of the top-10 when it came to quarterback rating allowed. He was still able to find ways to scheme around the players he had, putting them in the best position possible to compete, which is the complete opposite of the Lovie/Mike Smith regimes over the past few years. Take a look at Lavonte David, the Bucs’ senior defensive player now that Gerald McCoy is gone. David had 13 sacks in his first three years because believe it or not, Lovie Smith knew that he can get after the quarterback. When Mike Smith was brought on, David racked up just eight sacks - including a goose egg season in 2017 - in three seasons under Mike Smith. (side note: David finished with 3.5 sacks in 2018, but all of those came after Smith was fired) 16 Cardinals finished with at least one sack in 2014. The Bucs haven’t had anywhere close to that type of production from that many players, eclipsing a dozen players with sacks just twice since 2010. This is a big deal because as we all know, Tampa Bay will be without its leading sack master from 2018 in Jason Pierre-Paul for a good portion of the season. Players are going to have to step up to fill the void and it’ll be up to Bowles to make it happen. The misuse of players will change under Bowles. He has shown that he know how to use his players correctly and won’t attempt to fit any square pegs in round holes. And with the addition of Ndamukong Suh, the defense should be better. Suh will bring more versatility to the defensive line than McCoy offered. While McCoy is a better pass rusher at this point in his career, Suh will allow players like Vita Vea, Devin White, and David to create havoc all over the field, which is something that McCoy wouldn’t have been able to do. McCoy may be the better player at this point in his career, but Suh is the better fit. Deone Bucannon is also another player to look out for. I mean, hell, we as may as well go ahead and start learning every defensive player’s name now! Despite the challenges ahead, it’s an exciting time to be a Buccaneers fan when it comes to this new era of defense. I can’t wait to see what’s in store. […]

  • As second week of OTA’s begin, Ronald Jones catches praise from Bruce Arians
    by Alex Salvarezza on May 23, 2019 at 12:00 am

    Second year player starting to hit his stride with the new coaching staff The second week of OTA’s have begun for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the last 24 hours have been incredibly busy for the franchise. The team released Gerald McCoy, who was the franchise’s longest tenured player of nine years. A short twelve hours later, they signed Ndamukong Suh as his replacement. While many were talking about the Suh signing today, Bruce Arians made a promising comment surrounding second year player Ronald Jones III. It’s not secret that RoJo had a forgettable rookie season in 2018 and his confidence was clearly shaken heading into the off-season. With that being said, since the day Arians has taken over, he has had nothing but positive things to say about Jones and that continued on Tuesday. Arians has unsolicited praise for RB Ronald Jones: "Some really young players really stepped up, especially Ronald Jones. He had a really good (day) today. I really enjoy watching where he's at right now."— Greg Auman (@gregauman) May 21, 2019 This recent news should be music to Buccaneer fans ears, because if Jones can be that pass-catching back that the Buccaneers desperately need, it can take the offense to another level. Of course, results need to be seen on the field, but to get praise from a coach who has no problem criticizing his own players, should be a big confidence booster to the former Trojan. […]


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