The offseason is brutal for football fans. Going more than 8 months without live Buccaneer football is torture. Fans get bored. They start to hallucinate and fantasize. They start breaking down, tearing apart and rebuilding the team’s roster. The boredom is bad enough, but then some start to criticize Jason Licht and question why he signed this free agent or didn’t sign that free agent. They ask why he drafted this guy instead of that guy. Then training camp starts and you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Finally some football in sight. Preseason games start and you’re elated to see the Bucs on the field again. That is until the bitching starts. That draft pick is a bust. That guy sucks. This coach is terrible. That guy just got released so we should sign him.
Which is what caused me to start this now annual series last season where I debunk some of the craziest and/or dumbest things I’ve seen Bucs fans say in person or on social media. So here are the “Top 10 Craziest Things” from this offseason and preseason. Let the fun begin!
1. EVERY BAD PLAY ON DEFENSE IS CHRIS CONTE’S FAULT!
This debate is exhausting. The argument is nonsense. The “Conte sucks!” army is already out in full force now that it appears that he will be returning for his fourth season as the Bucs starting strong safety. I’m not saying that he’s a great safety, or even a really good one. However, he’s about to enter his 8th straight season as an NFL starter. Players don’t do that UNLESS they’re pretty good at what they do. Here’s my personal take on this whole Conte debate. Jason Licht and his front office staff along with Dirk Koetter and his coaching staff watch hours upon hours of broken down film from every game. They have full knowledge of every single thing that happened or was supposed to happen on every play of every game. They know and understand the game better than any of the fans ever will. And they are around Chris Conte all day almost every day during the football season. They know him. They know what he’s done. They know what he’s capable of doing. And they know what he’s not capable of doing. So if ALL of those guys decide that Chris Conte is the best player to be the Bucs starting strong safety, then who am I to argue? Who are any of you to argue? And I’ll definitely trust their judgment over someone who thinks they see Conte “get burned deep” on live TV without knowing what exactly happened on the play. MJ Stewart may be the future for this franchise at strong safety, but right now Conte is the man, so deal with it.
2. RONALD JONES IS A BUST!
So after just three preseason games where he’s had 18 carries total, some people think this kid is a “bust”. Granted he only gained 18 yards on those carries for a 1 ypc average, but it’s still way too early to start calling him a “bust”. The kid has the talent. He has the speed. He has the explosiveness. He couldn’t have ran for 3,600 yards and 39 touchdowns with a 6.1 ypc average at a powerhouse school like USC without having some serious skills. He will probably get plenty of work on Thursday against the Jags and hopefully, it gives him a better chance to showcase his abilities. I think this kid will be fine once he starts getting more touches so to start calling him a bust this early on is just ignorant.
3. VITA VEA IS INJURY PRONE. THE BUCS SHOULD’VE DRAFTED DERWIN JAMES!
The first half of this statement is just dumb. Vita Vea never missed a game in college and he hasn’t missed an NFL regular season game yet. He sustained a calf injury early on in camp and hasn’t practiced since. I think the Bucs are being overly cautious with this injury trying to make sure that it completely heals and it’s not something that lingers around all season. Vea is a big dude and that calf is carrying around 350lbs. so it’s not something the team wants to rush.
Now on to the second half of this statement. The Bucs have admitted that Derwin James was ranked pretty high on their draft board and had Vea not been available then he would’ve been the pick. After the way the defensive line performed in 2017, Jason Licht made this offseason all about stopping the run and rushing the passer so drafting the best defensive tackle in college football definitely took precedence over picking a safety despite what all the FSU homers think.
4. THE BUCS SHOULD TRADE FOR TEDDY BRIDGEWATER!
Why? No seriously…why? I don’t understand the logic behind this one at all. Especially after the way all three of the Bucs QB’s have played this preseason. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 17 of 28 (61%) for 183 yards, no touchdowns but also no picks. So far, Ryan Griffin is 34 of 48 (71%) for 367 yards, 3 touchdowns and zero picks. And Jameis Winston is outplaying both of them with 30 of 41 (73%) for 388 yards, 3 touchdowns and zero picks. Fitz is entering his second season in this offense and appears to have a total grasp of it at this point. Griff is entering his fourth year in this offense and he’s outplayed Fitz in my opinion. If he had ANY experience playing in a regular season game whatsoever, there’s no doubt that he’d be the starter during Winston’s suspension.
Teddy Bridgewater on the other hand, missed almost all of 2017 with a serious knee injury that nobody knows whether he’ll be able to truly come back from. He hasn’t had a bad preseason so far completing 28 of 38 (74%) for 318 yards, 2 touchdowns and a pick. However, this is NOT happening…period. The Bucs won’t trade for him. They’re not going to sign Colin Kaepernick. They’re not going to bring any other QB’s in for anything. They have two very capable backups on this team that know the offense very well and they don’t need anyone else.
5. THE BUCS SHOULD TRADE FOR KHALIL MACK!
Ok, there’s a couple of reasons that this will not happen. First, the Bucs only have about $9 million in cap space available. They still have to think about re-signing Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Kwon Alexander by next season and also re-sign their franchise QB Jameis Winston at some point soon. Khalil Mack is reportedly seeking a contract similar if not better than the one Von Miller signed for 6 yrs/$114 million. Mack has more sacks (36.5) than Miller over the last three years and is two years younger. The Bucs can’t afford him even if they wanted to trade for him. It’s that simple.
6. THE BUCS ARE GOING 0-3 WITHOUT JAMEIS!
I’ll admit. When I heard about the suspension and saw the schedule, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic. I felt as though the hopes of this season were already getting swept away. The Saints, Eagles and Steelers on Monday night without Jameis? It wasn’t looking too good. Since 1980, there have been 168 teams start 0-3 and only 5 of them have made the playoffs. That’s less than 3%, so it’s imperative that the Bucs get off to a good start somehow. They did beat the Saints in that final game last season and historically, they do play well in the dome up there. I like their chances of stealing a division win in New Orleans in Week 1. As for Week 2, I think they can beat the Eagles in RayJay. I might be one of the few people who think Philly won’t even make the playoffs this season after winning the Super Bowl last year. And if the Bucs are 2-0 heading into their Week 3 matchup with the Steelers on Monday Night Football, then anything can happen. I think they’ll go 2-1 during this stretch and it wouldn’t shock me if they win all three games.
7. WHY IS MIKE SMITH STILL RUNNING THE SAME SOFT ASS COVERAGE!
If we were a few games into the regular season and still seeing these soft serve vanilla looks on defense, then I would agree with this one. However, we’re three games into preseason. Coaches don’t scheme against teams during preseason. And they definitely don’t show other teams anything before the regular season starts. There’s not much blitzing. There’s not much creativity at the line of scrimmage. There’s no disguising coverages in the secondary. There’s not much creativity in the playcalling. It’s just plain. So I’m not sure how anyone could judge this defense from the preseason, when they haven’t really seen the real thing yet.
8. THE BUCS NEED A NEW KICKER BECAUSE CATANZARO HAS ALREADY MISSED TWO EXTRA POINTS!
Well first, let’s correct this false claim. He has only missed one extra point which was the very first one in the very first game against the Dolphins. The other “miss” Friday night against the Lions was due to a bad snap and hold. Not his fault. Other than those two miscues, he’s 6 of 7 on field goals with the only miss being from over 50 yards. Chandler Catanzaro is a seasoned kicker who made all 29 of his extra points and 83% of his field goals last season. Not only that, but he’s also getting touchbacks nearly every kickoff which was also an issue last season. Instead of bitching about one miss, Bucs fans should be ecstatic that this team may have finally found a dependable kicker to lean on in tight games.
9. KWON ALEXANDER IS OVERRATED!
Yes, I’ve actually seen this posted on social media recently. The complaint was that he “takes too many bad angles”, he goes for the big hit too much instead of wrapping up which causes him to miss too many tackles and “his vision and instincts aren’t that great”. I don’t know what this individual is talking about to be honest. When I look at Kwon Alexander, I see a guy who just turned 24 years old and already has three seasons under his belt where he’s totaled 335 tackles, 6 sacks, 6 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles. He’s a leader. He’s the quarterback of the defense. He’s fast. He’s still learning. And he’s still getting better. His best football is still ahead of him and that is something that Bucs fans should be excited about. Now all Jason Licht needs to do is find a way to re-sign him by next year.
10. JAMEIS IS A THUG! JAMEIS IS A RAPIST! JAMEIS IS A SEXUAL PREDATOR! TRADE HIM! RELEASE HIM!
I’m sure we’ve all heard or seen these comments numerous times since the whole Uber driver allegation happened. It’s ridiculous. This guy has been a pillar in the community and a star on the football field ever since he set foot in Tampa. People are freaking out about a minor incident involving lots of alcohol that happened two and a half years ago. I know what some of you are thinking. “Minor incident”… what if that was your daughter??? Well, since you asked – would I be mad if a highly intoxicated young male made a move (that may or may not have been encouraged by her) and touched my daughter on the outside of her blue jeans? Sure. The father in me would be infuriated simply because I don’t want any boy/man touching her anywhere in any way at any time or anyplace. On the other hand, the guy side of me says if that’s all that happened then so what. He was drunk and did something stupid. We’ve all been there to some extent. Look, I don’t know what happened. None of us do.
Jameis Winston is not going anywhere. He’s not getting released. He’s not getting traded. He’s not going to be benched. He is the franchise quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he will be for the next decade. The Glazers have his back. Jason Licht has his back. Dirk Koetter has his back. His teammates have his back. Most Bucs fans have his back. The only fans that don’t have his back, are the ones who didn’t want him in Tampa in the first place and have been waiting for something like this to rear its ugly head. It finally happened, and he’s still here, and he will be for a long time to come.
Well, there’s my top 10 list. There have been other things I’ve read that made me pause and scratch my head for a second, but these are probably the most amusing ones. Especially after just three meaningless preseason games. At least wait until after the first quarter of the season to start the whining and bitching like I do. I am encouraged and excited by what I’ve seen so far and even though I’m looking forward to the Thursday night game against the Jaguars so I can see these younger guys play for their NFL lives, I can’t wait for the real deal in Week 1 at New Orleans.
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!