Well, we lost, which means we are back to being bad. Jokes aside, the win last weekend was fun, but as I think today showed, it was merely a mirage. The evidence leans toward Matt Patricia not
being a good coach, and I think it will be best that he and Detroit go in separate ways at the seasons end.
And to be clear, Patricia still
has a chance to turn the season around and get Detroit into contention. I think people forget that the Titans were 2-4 last year before winding up in the AFC Championship Game. I absolutely do not believe this will happen for Detroit, but rather, just being realistic that Detroit's schedule will ease up here soon enough, and maybe that gives them the confidence they need to make some things happen. But unless Patricia makes the playoffs, I am prepared, even eager I dare say, to move on.
Now, I am obviously not Sheila Ford. But if I were, this is how I would approach this offseason.
The biggest question, should Detroit falter is what happens to Bob Quinn. While most would probably assume that Quinn and Patricia's fates are tied together, I think it could be a little bit more complicated than that. Allow me to elaborate on this.
First and foremost, my view of the role of the GM is to work in conjunction with your head coach to create a vision for what the team will look like. The coach then goes about implementing that vision on the practice field and in games, developing and coaching the team to wins in whatever fashion they think they can. The GM goes about implementing that vision in the free agent markets, on the trade blocs, and in the draft room.
In this sense, I think you could actually argue that Bob Quinn has been effective. He has built the Detroit Lions in the image of the New England Patriots, largely by bringing in former Patriots and players with a similar skill set. In terms of swiftly restyling the team, Quinn has arguably done exactly this. He's given Patricia personnel that match the scheme both in the draft and in free agency. As the executioner of this flawed vision, Quinn has managed to reshape them. He is effective in building a wannabe Patriots. Most will focus on the wannabe Patriots, as the issue, and to a large degree, they aren't wrong. But what they miss is that Quinn has done it effectively.
Now, there are surely some poor decisions mixed in there. Quinn missed on some draft evaluations like Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor. He did ship out Quandre Diggs for pennies and missed the window to extend Kenny Golladay before it could get more expensive. This isn't to say that Quinn is perfect, in fact, I'm not even arguing Quinn is a relatively good GM, just that he effectively executed a vision. Personally, I wish he had embraced a better vision, and for that, I'd have no issue firing him. But rather, just making the case that Quinn could
stick around for another coaching hire. After all, it was Quinn who fired Jim Caldwell for his utter inability to beat good teams, only to turn around and hire buddy buddy Matty P who struggles to even beat bad teams.
If Quinn is gone, let's look at some of the names to replace him....
General Manager Candidates
The first name that usually comes to everyone's mind is Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds
. A widely regarded scout during his time in Seattle, Colts current GM Chris Ballard swiped Dodds away by making him his number two in Indy. He's played a big part in rebuilding the Colts roster, whether bringing in guys like Denico Autry or Kenny Moore, or drafting players like Braden Smith and Darius Leonard. While he's clearly a top option for just about anyone, there are some questions about whether or not he even wants the spotlight of a GM position. From Bleacher Report's
Matt Miller: "he doesn't particularly like the attention that comes with being a decision-maker and might not even have the desire to be a general manager." Personally, I don't think someone who is hesitant to take on a general manager role in the first place would be eager to go to the Lions, given our horrid history.
Dodds was from the line of Seahawks GM John Schneider, and he has a few other deputies who could be interesting candidates, notably Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer
. Originally a scout himself, he's been in Seattle for awhile now, and was huge piece of the 2010-2012 draft classes that produced Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Bobby Wagner. Additionally, he serves alongside fellow co-director of player personnel, Trent Kirchner
, who also figures to be an intriguing candidate.
Detroit may want to consider getting someone with experience running their own show, and if that's the case, Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland
could be an interesting name. Ireland was the Dolphins GM from 2008 until 2013, a time when they weren't as bad as they have been the past few seasons. Over his stretch, they peaked in year one with a playoff berth, and proceeded to go 7-9 just about every year following. So why would Detroit be interested in Ireland? Well, he has had time to reflect on the mistakes made during his time, and spent the past few years working in a better organization (the Saints) where you get an idea of new ways to approach things.
I live in Denver, and happen to be connected to a few Broncos employees out here, one of whom would actually have respectable insight, so I texted him and asked "who should Detroit consider for a new GM?". His response was 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters
who was with Denver for a few years during their Super Bowl run. He ran college scouting in Denver, and now works alongside John Lynch in building the monstrosity that is the 49ers roster. He even made one the "GM candidates to know" lists that people put out, so it seems some others would share the hype.
Looking at other successfully run organizations, the Baltimore Ravens and director of player personnel Joe Hortiz
come to mind. Horitz has been in Baltimore under both Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta, so he's clearly seen what a well-run organization looks like, one that isn't exclusively tied to a legendary head coach. He's played a large role in scouting (1998-2016), a time in which Baltimore added stars like Ronnie Stanley, Za'Darius Smith, C.J Mosley, Brandon Williams, Kelechi Osemele, and Jimmy Smith amongst plenty of others.
If Detroit wants to take a wild swing at the television personalities, like the Raiders did with Mike Mayock, the top candidate there would probably
be ESPN analyst Louis Riddick
, who was a pro scout with the Redskins for a few years, and worked as director of player personnel for both the Redskins and Eagles.
One person I just want to clearly rule out is Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio
. First and foremost, if Bill O'Brien survives the 2020 season as head coach of the Texans, Caserio will be named their new GM. Second, Detroit absolutely needs to avoid another born and raised Patriots executive. So no Caserio. If so, we riot.
I think, ultimately for me, Ireland has too much baggage, Riddick is too much of a wild card, and Dodds isn't likely to leave for Detroit. Therefore, my top target is probably going to be Scott Fitterer
, but I'd be thoroughly pleased with Kirchner, Peters, or Hortiz.
Head Coaching Candidates
Not even debating it. Matt Patricia is out. Between an archaic scheme, contentious relations with star players, and poor awareness with the media, Patricia hasn't shown he's worth it. We will be parting ways with him, and I'm sure he'll end up with the Patriots, Giants, or Dolphins in some assistant capacity.
The first name to mention is Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy
. Everyone knows the deal here, I'm not getting too much into it. Same with Michigan-native, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh
. We'll be discussing less talked about candidates here.
One name that does not get a lot of hype is Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman
. He remains one of the absolute best at tailoring offenses to create dynamic rushing attacks with dual-threat quarterbacks. While Matthew Stafford isn't exactly a dual-threat QB, perhaps a pairing of Roman and OSU QB Justin Fields could be a lot of fun to watch. Roman has called offenses for both Harbaugh brothers, in San Francisco with Jim where he created an offense for Colin Kaepernick, and now in Baltimore with John and Lamar Jackson.
One Kansas City coach who doesn't get as much hype as he probably should is Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub
. He's a trusted assistant for Andy Reid, and historically speaking, special teams coordinators actually have a fairly high success rate. He's been highly regarded for his leadership within the Chiefs franchise these past few years.
If Detroit wants to keep a defensive focus at the head coaching spot, then Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus
is one of the best in the business. Quoting CBS here, "Energetic and disciplined, he's Frank Reich's most well-rounded companion". Eberflus runs a fairly creative defensive scheme that has allowed guys like Darius Leonard to thrive, focusing on getting elite athletes across the board. His defense is so fun, that in Week 3 they actually caught
more touchdowns passes from Jets QB Sam Darnold than Darnold was able to throw to members of his own team.
Another defensive mind who should be under consideration is Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale.
He's been there LB coach since 2012, and their coordinator since 2018 as the Ravens have continued to roll out good defensive units no matter who they have at hand. Martindale's defense is quite the opposite of Patricia's, they blitz like crazy and they mix up their coverage often.
If Detroit is willing to give a head coach a second chance (the results on this trend are pretty mixed btw), then Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier
would probably be the most intriguing second chance candidate. Quoting SBN here, "His three-year stint as the Vikings' head coach saw him lead the team to the playoffs in 2012 followed by a sharp fall in 2013. But it's hard to blame him too much when he was choosing between Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassel at quarterback". While Sean McDermott is a defensive-minded head coach in Buffalo already, he's credited Frazier with a major role in turning the Bills into one of the top defenses in the NFL.
Turning to offense, we have another Bills coordinator, Brian Daboll
calling the shots on offense. Daboll was with the Patriots for a few years as their tight ends coach, before departing and finding success away from Belichick
, winning a national title during his time as Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2017, before coming to Buffalo and molded the raw potential of Josh Allen into the dominant player he has been this year.
Former Lions backup QB Kellen Moore
, now the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys at only 32 years old figures to be a hot name soon. He's helped Dak Prescott continue to build his game, going from a steady game manager to a playmaker himself. Moore's a little young, but is one of the most prolific offensive minds in CFB.
Also in the rising star mold is Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich
, a former star QB himself. Leftwich has worked under Bruce Arians for a few years now, and helped create an offense that put up prolific numbers with Jameis Winston (and a lot of interceptions as well). Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni
has also gotten some hype from people in coaching circles, as he's helped the Colts manage the unexpected fallout of Andrew Luck's surprise retirement. If he can milk the remaining production out of Phillip Rivers, he'll be an intriguing candidate who has worked under a few quality head coaches already.
Another offensive coordinator that merits some consideration is Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith
. He played a major role in transitioning the Titans from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill, a move that helped propel them all the way to the AFC Championship game behind the effective duo of Derrick Henry's rushing ability and Tannehill's effectiveness off the play action pass,
Usually teams don't hire position coaches, but it's not entirely out of the blue, especially if that position coach does have interim head coaching experience like Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell
. Campbell was Miami's interim head coach in 2015, going 5-7 after Joe Philbin was fired. Campbell also played TE for the Lions back in the second half of the 2000's, posting one of the better seasons a Lions tight end had at that point in 2006. He's considered an exceptional leader in the Saints organization.
The Panthers brought in college head coach Matt Rhule this past year, and if Detroit is looking to do something similar, the three names to watch would probably be OSU head coach Ryan Day
, a former Chip Kelly protege who has somehow made the Buckeyes even more deadly and efficient than they were under Urban Meyer, Oklahoma heisman producehead coach Lincoln Riley,
who is responsible for getting Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray drafted #1 overall, and lastly Florida head coach Dan Mullen
, a former Urban Meyer protege who has had immense success at Mississippi State and now at Florida so far.
There's probably some other candidates I did not dive into. Though similar to Caserio and the GM tree, absolute pass on Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels
. No need to try that one a second time.
Personally, I like a lot
of these candidates. There's plenty of diversity in schemes, backgrounds, leadership styles, etc. My favorite, however, is Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
The work he's done with Josh Allen is fantastic, as he's crafted an offense that fits Allen's style, and whether he'd want to keep Stafford or draft his replacement, I'd have the utmost faith that he'd mold that QB in similar fashion.
For the current personnel, it'll be important to identify which players have a future in Detroit. Whether that's based on scheme fit, age, health, cap implication, etc. Taking a look at the roster, here's my best guess, outside of one position, which is detailed in a separate section below.
Running back is a good spot for Detroit, regardless of what happens to current starting RB Adrian Peterson
. I like RB Kerryon Johnson
, but I am absolutely against a sizeable contract extension. Personally, I don't think paying running backs anything more than like $5 mil per year is a good investment, regardless of what back it is. So, he's fine for another season under contract, but may end up parting ways after that. Drafting his replacement in RB D'Andre Swift
was a wise move. I actually like the idea of taking good running backs (2nd-3rd round) every other season. That way you never have to pay them and always have fresh legs.
Wide receiver will require some effort this offseason. Quinn massively screwed us by not extending WR Kenny Golladay
prior to the season. Only leaves more time for larger contracts to be signed. For example, his spotract market value went up from $16 mil per season to almost $19 mil per season because of additional deals being signed. And with a lowered cap, that's gonna be problematic. The Lions should have at least a WR3/4 in WR Quintez Cephus
, and WR Geronimo Allison
opted out, meaning Detroit retains his contract for 2021. They'll likely need to draft someone early and sign another veteran, maybe even bringing back Jones or Amendola for a 1-year deal.
Tight end is pretty straight forward. TE T.J. Hockenson
was a top-10 selection, and is starting to look like a very good weapon for the offense going forward. His backup, TE Jesse James
is also simple: his contract is too large to retain him if he continues his mediocre play. If he can more consistently play like he did against the Cardinals, they may keep him. If not, cut for cap space. Bryant and Nauta are sort of unknowns at this point.
The offensive line may be Detroit's best
spot going forward. LT Taylor Decker
has been earning that contract extension so far, looking very good at this point. C Frank Ragnow
will need his own contract extension soon, but he's been performing as one of the best centers in the NFL, and should remain an integral part of the unit. G Jonah Jackson
looks promising as well in his rookie campaign. Detroit will have LG Joe Dahl
under contract for one more year, and has G Logan Stenberg
developing behind him. The bigger question comes with RT Hal Vaitai
and RT Tyrell Crosby
. If Vaitai continues to play poorly, he'll be cut after 2021. Crosby could easily be replaced with a better player by that time as well, but for now serves a valuable role as a decent enough spot starter.
Defense is almost entirely dependent on who a new head coach would bring in to call the shots. Many of the players on Detroit's roster are scheme-specific to the old Patriot 3-4 scheme that Patricia loves to run. Let's just assume that, regardless of the new coach, it'll be a bit more diverse, modern scheme.
On the defensive line, DE Trey Flowers
is pretty scheme versatile funny enough. He can play SDE in a 4-man front or iDE in a 3-man. His contract will also pretty much require the new coach to make it work with him. And who knows, Flowers has had the intentional misfortune of playing under no-blitz Patricia, so chances are a more aggressive scheme could give him some help in pass rushing. DE Julian Okwara
is also pretty versatile. He could be a 4-3 WDE or a 3-4 OLB and was a good pass rusher at Notre Dame. His brother, DE Romeo Okwara
is frankly just not very good. If Detroit goes to a 4-man front in a new coach, they'll definitely want a replacement for Romeo, who is serviceable depth, but not much more. DE Austin Bryant
hasn't shown enough to warrant an opinion one way or the other.
Interior, DT Danny Shelton
is probably not gonna fit in a new scheme. He's an inconsistent run defender who offers little in the pass rush department. DT Nick Williams
is a bit more versatile, but the issue is that he's just not very good. His career is as a pretty bland back-end rotational piece. One good season in Chicago would appear to be an anomaly. Cutting either of these two (each set to make around $5 mil cap hits in 2021) would save a net $4 mil in much needed cap space. Behind them, DT Kevin Strong
is relatively versatile, but not that good. He's still young and cheap, however, so could still find a role as depth. The big question will be DT Da'Shawn Hand
, who has had an inconsistent, but promising career thus far. He can fill a pretty similar role to Flowers, perhaps even being able to play as a 3-tech DT in some schemes (cough, Dan Quinn defensive coordinator). He's a piece that could at least find a useful role under a new regime, but expect Shelton and Williams to be purged within 2 years.
Linebacker is where you can pretty much just get rid of everyone. LB Jamie Collins
is clearly the best player in the group, but I still wouldn't bet he'd be a for sure keep for a new regime. He struggled outside the Patriots system, during his exile to Cleveland. I think he could find a role as a 3-4 OLB, rather than the 4-3 ILB/OLB hybrid, but it's still hard to peg him in other schemes. He'll be with Detroit regardless in 2021 because of his contract however. LB Jarrad Davis
should just walk at this point. Detroit is better when he's not on the field. LB Christian Jones
is similar to Collins, in that he's a poor fit for most schemes, but the difference is he's not nearly as good as Collins. Could probably just trade him to whatever team Matt Patricia ends up on.
The hardest part about a transition to a new scheme would be giving up on younger guys like LB Jahlani Tavai.
He's shown some flashes, but really isn't much of a pass rusher and is too old school for modern schemes. Trading Tavai this offseason to a Patriots-style team (Giants, Miami, Patriots, etc.) would be best for both groups.
Now, two guys who could be interesting to bring back are LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
and LB Elijah Lee
. Both are currently fish out of water, as they're not great scheme fits for Patricia's defense. They both are on expiring deals however. I'd probably like to see Reeves-Maybin brought back in a new regime, simply because the chance for him to actually find success would go up in a scheme that fits his strengths a bit better.
At cornerback, you have a pretty good foundation. CB Jeffrey Okudah
and CB Amani Oruwariye
are both pretty fluid athletes with the ability to thrive in multiple schemes. In fact, Oruwariye could potentially be even better in a Cover 3 scheme, should Detroit find someone who deploys that philosophy. Similarly, CB Justin Coleman
is pretty versatile, especially out of the slot. He's excelled in the Seahawks Cover 3 scheme (which is honestly my recommendation for what kind of defense to run), but is still good in man coverage. Those three give Detroit a great start. CB Darryl Roberts
is built more for Patricia's scheme, so probably won't be back, but I'd expect Detroit to find another veteran like him to fill out the two deep. CB Desmond Trufant
is definitely a man coverage corner, and is also old and with a checkered injury history recently. We always knew Trufant was more of a veteran bridge to Okudah and Oruwariye taking over.
Safety is interesting. S Tracy Walker
is a rising star and honestly can play any scheme. He's a baller. S Will Harris
is not. Maybe a new scheme gets him sorted out, but at the same time, his biggest issue is that he can't cover in man and he can't tackle. Kind of hard to be a slot safety when you struggle with that. S Duron Harmon
is a quality Cover 1 free safety, but he's on an expiring contract. Detroit will likely need to find a new starter there, as Harris isn't ideally suited to free safety, and S C.J. Moore
is more of a special teams piece than a starting caliber player. We still need to see more from S Jayron Kearse
looks like before making decisions there.
Special Teams will require some investment this offseason. Detroit's punting god, Jack Fox
, is an ERFA, meaning Detroit can bring him back for pretty cheap. They may just want to reward him and sign him to a deal for a few seasons (though COVID cap implications may prevent that). Both K Matt Prater
and LS Don Muhlbach
are on expiring deals, so either new deals for them, or replacements. Lions backup LS Steven Wirtel
has gotten some praise as a future NFL LS, so perhaps they hand the reins over to him, given that he'd cost half what Muhlbach would, and the Lions will need every penny this offseason.
Quarterback 2021 and Beyond
If there is a new regime change, then it's not out of the realm of possibility that they look into the prospect of finding Matthew Stafford's successor. Stafford will be 33-years old in 2021, and while QB's are still able to continue playing at a high level into their late 30's, for example, Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan and Brady and Brees have all put together quality seasons lately, despite their older age. However, 35 is traditionally the drop-off age, and for a QB who relies on arm talent, it is most definitely something to watch and consider.
I'll say this first and foremost, if Detroit ends up in a position to select QB Trevor Lawrence
out of Clemson, you pull the trigger on that and sort things out later. The two options behind him are QB Justin Fields
, a dual-threat option out of Ohio State, and QB Trey Lance
, an athletic, efficient QB out of North Dakota State. Now, personally, I'm a bit skeptical of Trey Lance. I think NDSU sets everything up for him on a platter, and the more film you watch on Lance, the more I find he struggles on full-field reads. If you can isolate his playbook to a half-field read, then I think he crushes it, but the troubles outside of that, added into the large talent gap between NDSU and literally anyone else in the FCS, makes me hesitant. To me, Lance is a slightly higher upside version of Titans QB Ryan Tannehill
. In that sense, I don't really think he'd be worth the investment if Detroit is selecting in the top-15.
Now, Justin Fields is growing on me, admittedly. Rewatched a handful of his OSU games and continue to find his ability to dissect coverage to be a lot more advanced than I recalled during the season. He has a big arm, and has one of the most coveted traits nowadays: the ability to make plays when the original structure breaks down. I think, at this point, I'd probably be sold on Fields, but not on Lance, though honestly, if they did hire a competent offensive mind like Bieniemy or Daboll, I wouldn't object to it, as I think anyone who can get such massive leaps out of Josh Allen could probably get the most out of Trey Lance as well.
The bigger issue I do have is whether or not Detroit should
move on from Stafford at this point. A few things can all be true at the same time, and four things I'm going to mention all are true.
- Matthew Stafford is not playing as well as he was in the first half of 2020, and the issues don't exactly seem to be tied to any injury.
- Despite not playing as well as 2020, Stafford is still one of the better QB's in the league, ranking 11th in passing yards (1,017) and 7th in touchdown passes (8). That kind of production wins games with a better defense.
- Detroit would be marginally restricted in the ability to build a roster around a large QB cap hit like Stafford's.
- The issues holding Detroit back most (its defense) would not be solved with a new quarterback. There are plenty examples of promising young quarterbacks being broken because they were put in less than ideal situations....Sam Darnold in New York being just the latest example. Unless Detroit can build a competent defense, it will not actually matter who the quarterback is.
All that just to say, let's all chill out a bit when dealing with each other's takes on what to do at QB. We don't have
to draft a new QB, that denies so many of the bigger issues. We also do not have
to keep Matthew Stafford, that denies the reality that plenty of teams have found a new QB can elevate the play of the team, helping them go from good to great (see Chiefs moving Alex Smith for Mahomes), and that even with Stafford, Detroit remains mediocre.
Personally, I think it's better to build a good roster and then
make the change at quarterback. Right now, I think Detroit is set-up well for its OL going forward, and probably will be decent at WRB with Golladay and Hockenson and Swift and Kerryon, but the defense will continue to lose us games, and I'd hate to waste the early years of a cheap rookie QB still trying to build the roster around him. And personally, I think every bit as good as Fields and Lance is USC QB Kedon Slovis
as a potential QB to target in the 2022 draft class.
2021 Free Agency Complications
Now, truly, I have no clue what's going to happen with this, but Detroit, along with the rest of the league, is not going to be overflowing with cap space. Minimal fans in the stadium means no ticket revenue. Some doomsday predictions have the cap going down as far as $175 million. Realistically speaking, I wouldn't anticipate Detroit entering the offseason with anything more than $15-20 million in cap space. If you're trying to overhaul a new scheme with new personnel, that'll be kind of tough.
Detroit has a few pieces it can cut, however. Some have been mentioned....Jesse James, Danny Shelton, Nick Williams. All could open up a little bit of change (over $10 mil if all 3) which would be majorly beneficial. Another one who could go is CB Desmond Trufant
, which would free up $6 million. QB Chase Daniel
could easily have a restructured contract to open up in between $1-2 million. G Joe Dahl
would save $3 million if he was cut, but I don't see that really happening, as Dahl's a good bargain for a quality enough starting G. Maybe if Logan Stenberg develops into a quality piece Dahl could be traded, but that seems unlikely.
2021 Free Agency Targets
To remake the team, I'm first going to identify a few veterans who could help accelerate a quick turnaround defensively. Assuming I've gotten my wish of Detroit Lions head coach Brian Daboll
, then the offense wouldn't need much reconfiguration.
There would honestly be two players I'd want Daboll to bring with him from Buffalo. They are... Bills G Jon Feliciano
- a powerful run blocker, Feliciano could either compete with Dahl outright, or simply serve as the first back-up at guard...the new and improved Kenny Wiggins so to speak. Bills LB Matt Milano
- Detroit will need modern linebackers, and Milano would be an excellent one to start with. He can cover, get sideline to sideline, and make plays in the box. I think Buffalo ends up re-signing him however.
Now, I don't want to simply switch from the Patriots West to the Bills West. But I do generally believe that any
new coach should try and bring 2 or 3 players who are familiar, if for nothing more than putting pieces in place that can help introduce the new system to the current roster.
Some others however.
Detroit will probably need another starting wide receiver in free agency, and while I would absolutely love
to get Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins
to Detroit, he'll probably be a bit out of the price range, given how many pieces Detroit could need on defense. Some of the more financially plausible options would likely be Jags WR Chris Conley, 49ers WR Kendrick Bourne
, Rams WR Josh Reynolds
, or maybe Bengals WR John Ross.
Similarly, I'd love to go after Bills TE Tyler Kroft
as another piece to work with Hockenson, but he'd probably be too pricey, and I imagine Buffalo will retain him rather than let him hit the market. Jags TE Tyler Eifert
, Titans TE MyCole Pruitt,
or perhaps Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister
would all make a bit more sense. This would be dependent on cutting Jesse James in search of an upgrade.
Detroit is set on starting OL, but could use a depth piece with Wiggins and Aboushi both on expiring deals. Chargers G Dan Feeney
has starting experience, though most of the options here are pretty mediocre. Could actually argue that retaining Wiggins would be the wisest course of action.
Defensive Tackle will be a MAJOR spot to address, as Detroit currently doesn't have a quality group there, and scheme change could make it worse. There are some big names like Saints DT Sheldon Rankins
or Michigan-native Raiders DT Johnathan Hankins,
whom Detroit should've brought in awhile ago. Broncos DT Shelby Harris
is a good interior pass rusher who can play multiple roles. I'm guessing Detroit doesn't pony up the money for Giants DT Dalvin Tomlinson
but I wouldn't hate that.
Defensive end would be a need if Detroit went to a 4-man front, as you'd want an upgrade over Romeo Okwara. Assuming Detroit isn't going for the big names like Vikings DE Yannick Ngakoue
or Titans DE Jadeveon Clowney
, a more sensible option would a stopgap option like Washington EDGE Ryan Kerrigan
, who can play really any edge spot well. Colts DE Denico Autry
would be plenty of fun, and if the Lions hired someone like Matt Eberflus, I'd want them to for sure make that move. One of the more under-the-radar pieces that could be more fiscally responsible would be Saints DE Trey Hendrickson.
If they go more of a traditional 3-4, then adding an upgrade over Christian Jones would be the move there. Kerrigan would still fit that one well, but other options could be Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram
. Perhaps a head coach Martindale would want to bring GVSU grade OLB Matt Judon
to Detroit? Though both those options would be pricy. A cheaper option would Jets OLB Jordan Jenkins
or maybe Rams OLB Samson Ebukam
Off ball linebackers, we already mentioned Milano. Bucs LB Kendall Beckwith
would make some sense, as would Saints LB Alex Anzalone
or Chiefs LB Damien Wilson
. None of these guys would be stars, but most teams hang onto good LB's who can play off ball and cover backs, so you're probably looking for a veteran stopgap to hold over until you can draft a guy.
2021 NFL Draft
We're getting deep into this. Depending on where Detroit is drafting and who they pulled in with free agency, these would be the guys I'd be most interested in acquiring. DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State -
Like I said, Detroit needs to be a lot better at DT, and Wilson is a monster. DE Aidan Hutchinson/Kwity Paye, Michigan
- If one of these two could slip to you in the second round, that'd be great. Both very good edge rushers. Would love to grab Carlos Basham
out of Wake Forest if Detroit is mid first. I also like Quincy Roche
as an OLB in a 3-4.
A starting caliber WR. If they miss out on Ja'Marr Chase,
then one of the Alabama wide outs (Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith)
would suffice just fine. I mentioned the other day that Waddle is my current preferred choice for the draft at this point
. Gophers WR Rashod Bateman
could also be a fun addition. If they need to hunt for a starting wide out in the 3rd or 4th, Michigan's Nico Collins
is an excellent deep threat, not too far from the mold of Golladay and Jones. OSU WR Chris Olave
would be a clean replacement for Amendola in the slot.
I think Detroit could use a free safety like Trevon Moehrig
or Andre Cisco
to either immediately start, or develop behind a veteran. Moehrig may end up as a late first round option, but Cisco could be a day 2 pick that pays off immediately. G Wyatt Davis
may not stick out as a clear need, but y'all know I am an OL coach, and I think this kid is the best G prospect since Quentin Nelson, so I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger, trade Joe Dahl for a pick, and call it a day. If C/G Josh Myers
dropped to the second, I'd also be a very big fan of that move as well. I'm guessing most wouldn't like that, as OL is a relative strength to other spots on the roster, and that's understandable, but if we're truly talking best player available mentality, then Davis has
to be considered right after guys like Micah Parsons, Ja'Marr Chase, and Lawrence.
As far as linebackers go, either LSU's Jabrill Cox
or LB Chazz Surratt
out of North Carolina could be guys who can slide into starting roles quickly. Same goes for Micah Parsons
but unless Detroit's drafting top-5, they don't get him.
Few others who have appeal right now as later round prospects...TE Matt Bushman (BYU), WR Dazz Newsome (UNC), LB Dmitri Moore (Vanderbilt), CB Camryn Bynum (Cal), WR Tutu Atwell (Louisville), LB Ventrell Miller (Florida), S Reed Blankenship (MTSU), and LB Rayshard Ashby (VaTech).
Overall, a lot of different ways to go, but this would be my proposal at least. Bring in Brian Daboll, get him a veteran defensive coordinator, and then go about building a modern defense. See what you can get out of Matt Stafford, and prepare for a transition down the road if needed at that point.
Division: submitted by
NFC South (7-9 2nd in the Division) Head Coach:
Bruce Arians Offensive Coordinator:
Byron Leftwich Defensive Coordinator:
Intro: Let me Get Something off my Chest
A couple of months ago, I wrote the Buccaneers 32 Teams/32 Days Post
. Looking back a it, I’m sticking to my guns on most of my analysis. There’s just…one….little….thing….we need to talk about. Regarding Jameis’s pending free agent status, I said:
There's also the question of QB. Jameis is also a UFA and I'd say there's a...40% chance we re-sign him. So who replaces him, and would an aging veteran QB like Brady or Rivers really be a marked improvement?
[Sneezes in Boston accent] The answer is yes, Fencing Coach, you fawkin dumbass!
Did you really think that Jameis Winston was a bettah option than Tawm Fawkin’ Brady 6-time supah bowl champion and enemy of Rawjuh Fawkin’ Goodell? You were fawkin’ wrong!
Admit to the good people of Aw/NFL that you wuh just another paht of the fake news media that tried to say Tawm Bwady deflated the footballs and that Bill Belichick used the video cameras for the SpyGates!
And who would have evah guessed that we’d end up with Gronk! What a yeeyah! What an offseason you fawkin’ pessimist! We got the GOAT! Get ya Covid immunity TB12 pills and shove ‘em up yuh asshole!
[Snaps out of it]
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get serious for a moment. This is the final Hail Mary of the underwhelming Jason Licht era, and aggressive moves were made this offseason, because the excuses have finally run out.
Since taking over the team in 2014, Jason Licht is on his third head coach (to be fair, Lovie Smith was not his choice) and only has a 34-62 (.35) record to show for, 0 playoff appearances, and only one winning season.
Meanwhile, a select list of his GM peers hired since include:
- Brett Veach (Chiefs – Hired 2017): Super Bowl Champions, 3x playoff appearances, 34-14 record.
- John Lynch (49ers – Hired 2017): NFC Champions, 23-25 record.
- John Robinson (Titans – Hired 2016): 2x Playoff Appearances (Lost divisional in 2019), 36-28 record.
- Brandon Beane (Bills – Hired 2017): 2x Playoff Appearances, 25-23 record.
Big moves were made this offseason at the Quarterback position, bringing in a certain 6th round pick out of Michigan to compete with the ethereal and legendary Blaine Gabbert. Jameis was shown the door. And the result is about a case of beer’s worth of cap space and little depth across the roster. Buckle your Bucs, this is going to be a helluvah ride.
Top Offseason Stories The Tompa Bay Gronkeneers:
The biggest news of the offseason was giving Tom Brady a 2 yeaar, $50M contract (fully guaranteed). I won’t be blind to the fact that Tom Brady is 43 years old and clearly on the decline. But Tom Brady on the decline doesn’t have to carry the team on his back when he has Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, and Oterius Jabari Howard to throw to. Not to mention, people will be sleeping on the Buccaneer defense. They shouldn’t be (more on that later).
Had Jameis Winston cut his 2019 turnovers in half, the Buccaneers would have been a playoff team and he would have been in the MVP discussion. Of course, if my mother had wheels, she’d be a bicycle. The real value of the Brady deal will be in his accuracy and more conservative approach to quarterbacking. Let’s exclude Tom Brady’s rookie year and his 2008 season cut short by injury, and Tom Brady has averaged ~10 interceptions. In five seasons, Jameis averaged ~18 interceptions per season (and dozens more fumbles).
Numbers aside, Brady’s value will come in the swagger he brings to the locker room. The 2019 Bruce Arians signing brought in a coach with a track record of winning. Brady’s window is obviously short…very short. But the ride should be fun while it lasts.
Then of course, there’s Rob Gronkowski, one of football’s most beloved meatheads. One year post retirement, Gronk put the cleats back on and chose to follow Brady to Tampa (in exchange for a 4th and the Patriots’ 7th round pick). With OJ Howard and Cameron Brate already on the roster, the Gronkowski trade was a luxury move, but will give Brady his favorite all-time target in an offense largely unfamiliar to him.
Jason Licht’s approach of building from the outside-in has often worked to his detriment for a team that has always excelled at receiving skill position players…but little else. The Tompa Bay Gronkeneers will be fun to watch. Let’s hope Brady can capture lightning in a bottle. The Jameis Winston Cult of Personality Ends:
When Jameis Winston first entered the league, I declared
that his ceiling was Brett Favre and his floor was Jay Cutler. Five seasons in and I feel like he got a quarter of the way past Cutler. So how will I remember Jameis? For those of you who were old enough to watch the Jerry Springer show and see a big reveal that Cletus’s wife was cheating on him with the next door neighbor, it sure was entertaining for everyone watching, except for Cletus himself. For five years, Bucs fans were Cletus. Fans of the NFL marveled at his “eating W’s” meme while many of us cringed in embarrassment. You saw 5,000 yards and 30 TD’s. We saw 30 INT’s and 6 more fumbles.
The worst part of the Jameis Winston era wasn’t the embarrassment on-field, but the divisiveness he generated off the field. Post-game discussion threads on Buccaneers
were riddled with personal attacks should anyone have dared mentioned that perhaps we would have won the football game had he not thrown 18,000 picks. But the worst of all? The discussion that came from his third sexual assault allegation (no, this is not a typo. People forget there were two
allegations at FSU). Three allegations were not enough to keep a large contingency of the fan base from defending him, justifying his actions, and of course the classic Redditor “she was just in it for the money” trope.
Jameis Winston signed with the Saints this offseason, becoming a division rival’s embarrassment. I still believe he has an on-field future in the league. Perhaps, for now, the comments section will allow for smoother sailing. Perhaps not.
Hard to believe that I’m now in Year 6 of writing these offseason reviews for Tampa, and outside of 2017 where I was wildly off
on predicting our record, I’ve managed to fall within one victory/loss in each of the other four. The past two seasons, I’ve predicted our exact record. While Covid delays could impact the 2020 season itself, I predict the Tom Brady Bucs will go 10-6, win the wild card, and lose in the Divisional round.
|Year ||My Prediction ||Actual |
|2015 ||7-9 ||6-10 |
|2016 ||10-6 ||9-7 |
|2017 ||10-6 ||5-11 |
|2018 ||5-11 ||5-11 |
|2019 ||7-9 ||7-9 |
|2020 ||10-6 ||??? |
Things I Like About the Bucs in 2020
- The Defense: The Bucs finished 2019 with the top ranked run defense, led by beefy Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea. Sack Ferret had a breakout year and led the league in sacks, and Jason Pierre-Paul added 8.5 sacks off the edge despite starting only 8 games. Our ILB unit of Lavonte David and Devin White should be among the best tandems in the league. GM Jason Licht has drafted a fine trio of CB’s in Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Jamel Dean, and the addition of Antoine Winfield Jr. will add an instant performer. Suddenly, defense isn’t a concern when it’s been in the past.
- People on Offense who Touch the Football Through the Air: If you told me a few months ago that Tom Brady would be throwing footballs in Tampa to Rob Gronkowski, I would have recommended you go see a shrink. But in the year 2020, anything happens. The receiving corps of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, and OJ Howard is the best in the NFL, and I can’t be convinced otherwise.
Things That Scare me About the Bucs in 2020:
- The Kicking Game: Matt Gay was a 77.1% kicker as a rookie and missed big in some clutch situations. The Jason Licht era has brought in names like Roberto Aguayo, Nick Folk, Chandler Catanzaro, Kyle Brindza, and Cairo Santos (to name a few). None have gotten the job done. Kicker simply can’t be a liability. Gay has to get that % up to the high 80’s. Kickers have lost us numerous games in the last few years. We’re becoming the Minnesota Vikings of the NFC South. A team will only be as strong as its weakest link, and the kicking link has been dreadful.
- People on Offense who Run the Football: I’m not sold on Ronald Jones, mostly because his blocking is still horrid and his vision is suspect. He also goes down if he gets hit with the force of a butterfly landing on his shoulder. Shady McCoy was brought in at the veteran minimum, but he was old enough to fight in the Revolutionary War. 3rd round pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s ceiling seems like a low one to me and he crosses me more as a utility back than a feature one (more on him in the draft analysis section). The running game is far less important in the NFL of the 2020’s, but there isn’t anyone on this roster who I think can carry the load.
- People on Offense who are Supposed to Protect Tom Brady from Dying: Donovan Smith improved in 2019 from abysmal to below average, but below average is what people like Cameron Jordan make mincemeat out of. Tristan Wirfs is a rookie, and rookie OT’s are liabilities more often than not. Ali Marpet is still a stud, and Ryan Jensen improved mightily in year 2 in Tampa. Alex Cappa (RG) is a work in progress and it’s too early to dismiss the guy yet, but progress needs to be made there. For Brady’s sake, this unit has to keep him upright. 43 year olds aren’t meant to withstand hits made with the force of an 18-wheeler.
2020 Draft Analysis
|Round/Pick ||Player ||Analysis |
|Round 1, #13 Overall ||Tristan Wirfs (RT – Iowa) ||Admittedly, I always struggle with evaluating OL positions. I thought Chance Warmack, Robert Gallery, and Jason Smith were generational talents. They were far from that. So take what I have to say with a grain of salt, and listen to people like Barian_Fostate who did an excellent breakdown of Wirfs and Jedrick Wills, with the evaluation noting some glaring flaws in Wirfs’ footwork and hand technique. There’s no denying that Wirfs’ athletic ability is deity level batshit. At 6’5, 320 pounds, he ran a 4.86 forty at the Combine, had a 36.5” vertical, and a 10’1 broad jump. Not to mention, the kid can straight up jump out of a pool and casually hang clean 500 pounds. I wanted to watch how Wirfs performed against some of his incoming peers in the NFL, so I watched his matchup against Pedophilia State University to see how he’d fare against Yetur Gross-Matos, 2nd round pick of the Panthers and future division opponent. The results were…underwhelming. YGM brought constant pressure throughout the game, and seemed to have Wirfs beat from his first step onward, but in the same game, his ability in the run game was eye opening (Example). But then you had cases of sheer lack of awareness on blitzes and also stunts that showed deep areas of weakness for Wirfs. One way or another, this was a necessary pick, and even if he doesn’t pan out at RT, Wirfs’ athleticism and gifted abilities in the run game will make him a long-term key part of the Bucs and a potential Guard candidate. |
|Round 2, #45 Overall ||Antoine Winfield Jr. (S – Minnesota) ||Antoine Winfield Jr.’s entrance into the league was a “you’re an old man” moment for us Redditors in our 30’s who grew up watching his “Hall of Very Good” father. This was a pretty pick. While Winfield is of course a safety, the very first thing that stood out to me watching his tape was his pass rush ability. Yes, his pass rush ability. The first couple of clips I put on of Winfield had him perfectly timing a snap from the box and immediately in the backfield by the time the QB had the ball in his hands. The second thing that stood out was his nose for the ball, particularly in clutch situations. As Joe Theismann simply stated: “big players make big plays,” and that couldn’t have been more true of Winfield, who had big time game saving interceptions against both Fresno State and Penn State. Winfield was my favorite pick of the Buccaneers draft class, and what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed and an excellent nose for the ball. Keep an eye out for this one. |
|Round 3, #76 Overall ||Ke’Shawn Vaughn (RB – Vanderbilt) ||Ke’Shawn Vaughn was one of the harder players to scout from this Buccaneer class, simply because it looked like he would have been better off with an offensive line of obese, beefy toddlers than whatever Vanderbilt rolled out for him. Nearly every snap I viewed of him, he rarely had a clean hole and was hit in the backfield the moment he touched the ball. Like, seriously, what is this? Vaughn’s biggest strengths to me showed up on tape with designed outside runs. Between the tackles, he showed little elusiveness, and a similar issue I saw with former Buccaneer pick Jeremy McNichol is that Vaughn tended to make multiple cuts before turning upfield. Not a good thing. Unlike a glaring weakness I saw in McNichols’ complete inability to block, it’s an area where Vaughn succeeded with flying colors. This, along with his adequate pass catching abilities (28 receptions for 270 yards in 2019) will make him a valuable 3rd down back in the beginning of his career (assuming RoJo is anointed the feature back). There are some traits in a RB that can’t be coached, like vision. There are other things like running upright with high pad level, a weakness I frequently saw with Vaughn that can be taught. Vaughn crosses me as a valuable utility player who may get looks as a feature back should RoJo continue to struggle. The value was there with his 3rd round selection, but expectations for his upside should be kept in check. |
|Round 5, #161 Overall ||Tyler Johnson (WR – Minnesota) ||A lot of the Buccaneers crew is pretty high on the Tyler Johnson pick. Pro Football Focus (PFF) had him top 50 on their big board and a Round 2 grade. I just don’t see it. Not at all, in fact. For a guy who stands at a mere 6’1 and is expected to play slot receiver, his speed and separation stand out as glaring weaknesses on tape. What I do like however, is his footwork coming off the line. Most of the time he’d beat his receivers within the first 5-7 yards off the line, but when it came to the deep ball I didn’t see a lot of “wow” factor. Tyler Johnson, I think, will be a reserve WR, which is exactly what you want from a 5th round pick. But I don’t see him as the massive steal many other fans did. |
|Round 6, #194 Overall ||Khalil Davis (DT – Nebraska) ||Played alongside his twin brother Carlos at Nebraska (who went one round later to the Steelers). I watched Davis’s game against Wisconsin and he looked to me like he’d fit best as a backup 5-tech. Not particularly explosive with a slow first step, and there were numerous occasions when he did penetrate the backfield but had terrible angles on the RB. Mind you, he was playing against Jonathan Taylor and a stalwart OL, but you want to see flashes of brilliance, even against good competition. Did not see anything that made me say: “this guy’s going to make our final roster.” |
|Round 7, #241 Overall ||Chapelle Russell (LB – Temple) ||I was able to find little tape of Russell, but one area where I do trust Jason Licht is in his ability to scout LB’s. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Russell. I don’t. |
|Round 7, #245 Overall ||Raymond Calais (RB – Louisiana Lafayette) ||Calais’s best shot to make the roster will likely be as a return man, where he excelled at Louisiana Lafayette. Based on the limited tape I saw of him, I saw flashes of Felix Jones for his ability to get big gains off of draw plays in the shotgun. Obviously a longshot to make the roster. |
|Week ||Opponent ||Prediction ||Analysis |
|Week 1 ||@Saints ||27-24 Bucs (1-0) ||Bucs pass rush finds a way to get to Brees. Fun fact: this will be the oldest matchup of QB’s ever in NFL history…until the Bucs play the Saints again in week 9. |
|Week 2 ||Panthers ||34-20 Bucs (2-0) ||Panthers are no doubt in rebuild mode right now. In the past two matchups, Bucs run game has managed to stifle Christian McAffrey. Keep an eye on rookie Yetur Gross-Matos. I think he’ll have a more immediate impact than even 1st round pick Derrick Brown. |
|Week 3 ||@Broncos ||37-28 Bucs (3-0) ||Always a challenge to play at Mile High on the road, but I think the Bucs defense will manage to shut down a young and budding Broncos offense. On a Broncos note, I’ll never understand Jeudy being the 2nd WR off the board (let alone the 2nd Bama receiver taken). Best route runner I’ve seen enter the league since OBJ. |
|Week 4 ||Chargers ||28-21 Chargers (3-1) ||No, I’m not too high on Justin Herbert, but when the Bucs play a rookie QB, I’m usually prone to pick the other team. For some reason, no matter the Head Coach and/or defensive coordinator, the Bucs crumple into fetal position against rookies. |
|Week 5 ||@Bears ||31-13 Bucs (4-1) ||If Foles’ performance against the Bucs last year is any indication, they have his number. Pray that Mitch Trubisky doesn’t start. In his last outing against Tampa, he threw 6 TD’s. He did that as a rookie, mind you. Remember what I said about Bucs against rookie QB’s? |
|Week 6 ||Packers ||28-24 Packers (4-2) ||Rumors of Aaron Rodgers’ demise are greatly exaggerated. It’s a team that’s just complete enough on both sides of the ball that I find it surprising so many are writing them off. |
|Week 7 ||@Raiders ||34-31 Bucs (5-2) ||Here’s another team that is starting to form well under the cracker Mike Mayock. Raiders will be as good as Carr is in Gruden’s offense, and while he improved somewhat in Chucky’s offense by the end of year 2, this is a team at the tipping point between playoffs and an outright QB replacement. |
|Week 8 ||@Giants ||37-17 Bucs (6-2) ||Though rookie Daniel Jones (sense a trend here?) shredded the Bucs with gusto last year, Bucs run defense should be able to neutralize Saquon, and despite a good rookie showing, I don’t have much faith in the long term prospects of Daniel Jones. |
|Week 9 ||Saints ||20-17 Saints (6-3) ||Can usually count on the Saints and Bucs to split the division series. And once again, the oldest QB matchup ever. Put on some episodes of MASH. Get your Bingo cards ready. It’s geriatric QB time. |
|Week 10 ||@Panthers ||41-21 Bucs (7-3) ||Will there be a season by this point? I don’t know. But I still like the Bucs to sweep the series with the Panthers this season. |
|Week 11 ||LA Rams ||24-17 Rams (7-4) ||Rams offense is all of a sudden looking less like the powerhouse it was from a few years ago, but their defense is still nasty. Aaron Donald will make any QB poop their pants, including Tom Brady. This will be a violent defensive battle and I think the Rams will take the edge. |
|Week 12 ||Chiefs ||37-27 Chiefs (7-5) ||For years on NFL going back to his time at Texas Tech, I told you all to get on board the Mahomes canoe. Love seeing him already building his Madden legacy. I’m just not going to bet against him right now. |
|Week 13 ||Bye ||N/A ||I have no way of confirming this, but I’m fairly certain during the bye week Bruce Arians clears out his office and runs an illegal cockfighting ring with his assistant coaches. You can’t convince me I’m wrong. |
|Week 14 ||Vikings ||31-28 Bucs (8-5) ||Vikings remain a balanced team on offense and defense and the Zim Zamm still can’t be flim flammed. Close game here that will be a defensive battle with a few big time plays on offense sprinkled in. |
|Week 15 ||Falcons ||34-27 Falcons (8-6) ||I’m glad to see Raheem Morris back in a DC position after seeing him work his way back up the coaching ranks. Always one of my favorite Buccaneer coaches despite his (many) flaws. I pick the Falcons in our first matchup because of one man and only one man: Julio Jones. Jones has now played a full 16 games in his career against Tampa, coming up with a staggering 116 catches for 1,841 yards and 11 TD’s. That’s cruelty. |
|Week 16 ||Lions ||41-14 Bucs (9-6) ||I have a feeling by this point in the season, Fat Patricia will be one of the first Head Coaches fired and the Lions will be staffed by Interim Head Coach Darrell Bevell. The Bucs will be playing a team with a wounded ego ready to be put down like Old Yeller. |
|Week 17 ||Falcons ||28-3 Bucs (10-6) ||Bucs fight hard to squeak into the playoffs, their first appearance since 2007. |
Bucs win wild card, lose in the Divisional Round
Projected Starting Lineup & Analysis: Offense QB- Tom Brady:
See above analysis. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 4,438 yards, 67.1% completion percentage, 33 TD’s, 13 INT’s WR1 – Mike Evans:
At only 26 years old, Mike Evans already sits at 128th all-time on the career receiving yards list, and has a chance to pass [checks notes] Michael Crabtree on the all-time list this season. In every season in the league, Evans has surpassed 1,000 yards and has become a hallmark of consistency, even with the suspect supporting cast around him. Having an accurate
QB for the first time in his career will be a huge benefits to Evans. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 70 receptions, 1,213 yards, 6 TD’s WR2 – Chris Godwin:
Godwin had a brilliant breakout last season, earning 2nd Team All-Pro honors (that probably would have been 1st team had his season not been cut short by injury). While Evans might be the bigger threat, Godwin is among the most complete receivers in the league. A fantastic route runner with sure hands—and perhaps his most overlooked quality is his blocking. Find me a WR who does it better right now. You won’t. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 77 receptions, 1,387 yards, 7 TD’s RB – Ronald Jones:
RB is one of the few positions where fans can reasonably expect instant production from a player when he transitions from the college ranks to the pros. As a rookie, RoJo was a mega dud who could barely find the field in the Koetter era. He took a huge step forward in year 2 (724 yards, 4.2 ypc) but still often disappeared in games and lacked the pass protection skills that are so necessary in Arians’ offense. RoJo will have Vaughn to take off some of his workload, but I still see RoJo as one of the weakest links on an otherwise complete offense. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 808 Rushing yards (4.2 YPC), 5 TD’s TE – Rob Gronkowski:
See above analysis. Probably Wrong Projected Stats: 41 receptions, 614 yards, 6 TD’s LT – Donovan Smith:
Donovan Smith provides as much protection as Jeffrey Epstein’s guards when he was on suicide watch. While Tom Brady tends to release the ball far faster than Winston, the Arians offense designed for Brady better be getting the ball out fast. 43 year old QB’s aren’t meant to take the kinds of hits Winston did. Let’s hope that Tristan Wirfs is able to prove himself a viable option on the left side. We’ll be able to get out of Donovan Smith’s contract after this season with no cap ramifications. On a side note, there’s a decent
change Donovan Smith will opt out of his contract due to Covid concerns. And I wouldn’t blame him one bit. LG – Ali Marpet:
Marpet continues to be the most reliable piece of our OL. Like Lavonte, a continually unheralded player who you can rely on to go toe-to-toe with the league’s best interior DL while manhandling the dregs of the NFL. I thought last season would be Marpet’s shot at a 2nd Team All-Pro, but he was passed over once again. Love Marpet. C – Ryan Jensen:
Jensen’s first year with the team was free agent bust material. He seemed to thrive more in the Arians offense and we saw marked improvement in all facets of his game last year. Overpaid for his value? Definitely. Living up more and more to the contract we gave him? Yup. RG – Alex Cappa:
When Jason Licht rolled the dice on small school Humboldt State product Alex Cappa, he may have been expecting the next Ali Marpet. In his first full season as a starter, there were things to be encouraged by and I’m a little more bullish on Cappa than most of the fan base. Though he allowed 31 pressures on 562 pass snaps (roughly 6% pressure rate), I saw Cappa’s confidence growing as the season went on. His third season will tell us what his true ceiling in this league is. Right now, his floor isn’t Garrett Gilkey, but his ceiling ain’t Earl Grey. RT – Tristan Wirfs:
See above analysis.
Projected Starting Lineup & Analysis: Defense EDGE – Sack Ferret:
The Sack Ferret was brought on a 1 year, $4 million deal last season. I predicted he’d be a 5.5 sack guy and then probably hit free agency again. Just like we all expected, he went off and led the league in sacks with 19.5 (more than his previous five years in the league combined) and earned himself the franchise tag. Barrett has quickly become a fan favorite, and while I don’t see him replicating his majestic 2019 season, I still think he’ll be the same terror he’s been off the edge. Probably wrong projected stats: 12.5 sacks. 0-Tech - Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea:
Running on the Buccaneers in 2019 was damn near impossible, so much so that the team only allowed 73.8 rushing yards per game. That success started up front with Vita Vea, who has quickly emerged as the league’s top 0-tech. Unfortunately, like his forefathers in Vince Wilfork and Casey Hampton, he’s likely to spend his career as a valuable defensive cog who receives few to no career accolades due to the “unsexiness” of being a two-gap space eating defender. So NFL
, here’s a homework assignment for you. Watch Vea on All-22 if you have some time while on Covid lockdown. You will see one of the most absurdly athletic big men in the league who is your definition of immovable object. His progress last year was a joy to watch and he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite players. Oh, and he’s the best TE on the Bucs. By far. Probably wrong projected stats: 2.5 sacks, 2 receiving TD’s. 5-Tech – Ndamukong Suh:
We brought Suh back on another 1 year deal. No, he’s not the player he once was (he’s even refrained from curbstomping genitals in Tampa…so far), but his attitude he sets on the field has been a welcome change compared to the namby-pamby milquetoasts on our DL from the past. Suh’s value will come mostly in the run game. His sack producing days are long gone. Probably wrong projected stats: 3.5 sacks. EDGE – Jason Pierre-Paul:
It’s [checks notes] August, and Jason Pierre-Paul hasn’t had an offseason accident. Praise the football Gods. Despite starting in only 8 games last year due to a serious auto accident, JPP managed 8.5 sacks. At 31, father time hasn’t quite caught up with him yet. Probably wrong projected stats: 9.5 sacks. ILB – Lavonte David:
The good part of Lavonte David bouncing inside last season to Will is that he no longer got grouped in the same bucket as sack-producing 3-4 OLB’s who beat him out for All-Pro nods nearly every year. Even at 30, Lavonte only seems to be getting better, and his instincts and smarts continue to essential to the defense. Though Lavonte is one half of the Mike tandem and has been one of the league’s best LB’s’ for all of 8 seasons, I don’t think he’s going to be the centerpiece stud. Keep Devin White’s name at the forefront of your mind, which leads me to... Probably wrong projected stats: 3.5 sacks, 3 INT’s ILB – Devin “Get Live 45” White:
If you’ve read any of my posts here for the last 5+ years, you would see I don’t take a blind homer approach with player evaluation. Not once have I predicted a Buccaneer would win the MVP award, nor have I predicted a Buccaneer would win DPOY. In fact, only once have I ever predicted we’d be a playoff team. Now that preamble is done, let me say it outright: Devin White is going to win Defensive Player of the Year in Year 2. What? Mikes never win,
you say. And you’d be mostly
correct. In fact, Vegas odds don’t even have Devin White listed in their top 10. Here’s what I saw from Devin White in the last half of his rookie season: an absolutely insane nose for forcing the fumble, excellent pass rush abilities, and smarts that put him in the backfield often before the RB even had the ball in his hands. I saw enough from him to believe his leap in year 2 is going to be similar to that of Luke Kuechly’s where he won DPOY in his second year in the league. Wherever the ball is, Devin White will be there. You’re going to see one of the league’s dominant defensive enforcers for a long, long time. Probably wrong projected stats: 6.0 sacks, 5 INT’s, 6 FF’s. FS – Antoine Winfield Jr.: See above analysis. I think we’re also going to see Justin Evans get cut Probably wrong projected stats: 2.0 sacks, 2 INT’s SS – Jordan Whitehead:
Jordan White is the most underrated player on the Buccaneers defense, in my eyes. No, not Lavonte, because people talk about how underrated he is all the time to the point he’s not so underrated anymore. Whitehead’s mistakes went down drastically last year and he has a knack for being where the football is. Really like him and could see some big plays from him this season. Probably wrong projected stats: 1.0 sacks, 3 INT’s CB – Carlton Davis:
Bruce Arians doesn’t give empty praise, but he recently called Carlton Davis a top ten CB in the league, an assessment I’m inclined to agree with. He was battle tested big time in year 2, getting targeted 105 times and only allowing 52.4% of those balls thrown his way to be completed. He was able to shadow the best, and his 18 pass breakups are indicative of a guy with great awareness. And the funny thing is, he’s not even the CB I’m highest on with this roster. Probably wrong projected stats: 4 INT’s CB – Jamel Dean:
For a guy who came in as a 3rd round rookie, Dean exceeded expectations and then some. His first game as a starter came against the Seahawks, there’s no sugarcoating it—he got owned. But what I saw was a guy who stayed stride for stride with his receiver with little help over the top. By the end of his rookie season, he was looking like a shutdown corner. This is the CB I’m most excited for in 2020. Kid’s got a bright future. Probably wrong projected stats: 3 INT’s CB – Sean Murphy-Bunting:
When I’m wrong, I admit I’m helluh wrong, and with Murphy-Bunting, I was helluh wrong. Yes, it’s been only one season and things could still go south, but I was baffled
when we passed on Greedy Williams in favor of SMB.
Non-Buccaneer Predictions for the Season
- My 2018 breakout player prediction was Patrick Mahomes. Last year, it was Joshua Jacobs and Corey Davis (oops). This year, you need to watch J.K. Dobbins (rookie, Baltimore), N’Keal Harry (2nd year, NE). Perhaps not a true breakout, but I think Calvin Ridley will surpass 1,000 yards and become an even bigger complement to Julio Jones.
- MVP will go to Russ Wilson. DPOY will go to Devin White (and if you’ve been reading these posts long enough you know I don’t usually go the homer approach). OPOY will go to Patrick Mahomes. COTY will go to Cliff Kingsbury.
- The NFC Championship will be played between the 49ers and the Cowboys. The Cowboys will win. The AFC Championship will be played between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots. The Chiefs will win. The Chiefs will repeat in the Super Bowl, defeating the Cowboys.
- Last year I wrote: “Sam Darnold isn’t going to amount to much as an NFL QB. Not this year, and probably not ever.” I’ll repeat it this year too. But let me add one guy to that list: Tua Tagovailoa.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire isn’t the superstar you think he is. I think his career will wind up like Joseph Addai’s: a guy who had a few flash in the pan seasons but never among the top backs. That’s not a bad thing, I would just cool expectations on him.
- The teams with the highest potential to land a top 5 pick, in no particular order: Lions, Jaguars, the Washington Football team (I feel like an idiot even typing that), Bears, Jets. Dark Horse: Eagles.
- Coaches who have the hottest seats: Fat Patricia, Dan Quinn, Adam Gase, Doug Marrone, Bill O’Brien (as coach and GM).
Shoutouts to my fellow mods on Buccaneers
. It's a pleasure working with you all every day and shooting the shit with dank memes. And of course, much love to platypusofdeath
who puts an insane amount of work into this series every year. Thank you for all you do.
Aaron Rodgers’ passing yards line is set at 4,050.5 with -110 odds on either side. Seven QBs have a higher projection. He’s projected for 26.5 passing touchdowns. Topping that line with 27 or more TDs would be his highest total since 2016 and would result in a profit of $9.09 on an Over bet. Super Bowl 2019: Odds, Vegas betting lines, moneyline and fun props for the NFL's thrilling climax ... So Vegas has settled on a line of 2.5 points for this game, with plenty money backing the ... With Super Bowl 50 less than a week away, it looks the game will feature its largest point spread in years. The betting line varies at different Las Vegas casinos and online sportsbooks, but the ... We’ve researched all the betting lines from every Super Bowl to give you point spreads, totals (over/under), results, and winning bets from the 53 NFL title games played since the 1966-67 season.. Also, if you want to bet on this year’s big game, Super Bowl LIV (54), then look no further than our reviewed online sportsbooks. Each betting site we recommend is legally licensed, safe, and ... Super Bowl odds 2016: Broncos opening betting underdogs vs. Panthers Peyton Manning and the Broncos head to Levi's Stadium as opening betting underdogs against the Panthers on the Super Bowl 50 odds.
Check out the BIGGEST and BEST Super Bowl 2019 ads! WHERE HAVE I BEEN??? https://www.twitch.tv/mediocrefilms Top 30 Superbowl Ads of ALL TIME https://w... Steve and Matt Bourie, from the American Casino Guide, discuss 8 things to never do in a casino. They explain why you should never do these eight things and,...