Announcement: Welcome to ScrappyBuc!

Aaargghhh, mateys, the Scrappy One is back! I took a long hiatus because, well, I felt like it. I’ve deleted all of the prior posts except for my Ode to Selmon since the goal is a fresh start. My loyal readers have long since left the building, shuffling their feet in sadness as they went. But take heart, my scrappy ones. Free agency is in full swing, the draft looms in early May, and a new season for our hapless Bucs will be here before you know it. Bookmark this site and be sure to leave your comments below each post.

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Trading Mike Glennon: A Study in Empty Arguments

A bird in the hand, folks.

A bird in the hand is, well, your franchise QB.

Rumors are running rampant that the Bucs will trade 3rd-year QB Mike Glennon, either prior to the draft or on draft day. When Glennon’s detractors are pressed they spout a cursory list of “reasons” why he is not worth retaining. Allow me to detonate each false objection, in turn.

“HE’S NOT MOBILE ENOUGH”
I love this line of logic best. A few mutts loudly proclaim that Glennon is a product of old-school thinking, of an age when QBs wore expensive fur coats and had nicknames like “Broadway Joe” and handlebar mustaches and never, ever posed a threat with their feet. “Look at Kaepernick and RGIII and Newton and Wilson”, they lisp. “Those guys are the wave of the future.” Well, if that’s the case, the future sorta sucks. Three of those four had 2014 seasons that ranged from crappy to just average. Wilson, of course, played very well, but here’s the deal: he’s not a true dual-threat QB. In college he played first at NC State then at Wisconsin, both pro-style schemes rather than spread-option offenses. His mobility is an undeniable asset, but he is succeeding as a pro primarily due to good decision-making and accurate pocket passing. Need more proof that the “mobility is a must” thing is hogwash? Check out this list of the top passing QBs in the NFL last season. Now find me a mobile or dual-threat or former spread-option QB anywhere near the top of that list. You’ll find exactly one: Mr. Wilson, all the way down at #15. The top guys — Brees, Roethlisberger, Luck, Manning, Ryan, Manning, Rodgers, etc. — are all pocket passers who seldom hurt teams with their legs. So wake up, already. Manning moves like he’s in thick mud. Brady takes five minutes to jog to the sidelines. Dan Marino had the escapability skills of a salted slug. Yet they’ll all be in Canton together. Mobility is overrated in pro QBs, folks, which means it’s hardly a disqualifier in the young Glennon. Indeed, Glennon’s size, intelligence and arm strength make him far more likely to join that elite list than any “mobile” QB you can name.

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2015 Bucs’ Mock Draft: A Winston-less Approach

winstonless

Aw, HELL naw.

So by now the Bucs off-season strategy is clear: bolster the defense via free agency then stock up the offense via the draft. That approach makes a lot of sense for two reasons: 1) this class is loaded with good offensive players at spots where the Bucs have needs (especially along the OL) and 2) it’s difficult for first-year defensive players unfamiliar with the demanding Tampa2 scheme to contribute early, which is why Lovie/Licht signed seasoned Tampa 2 vets Carter, Moore, Melton and Conte. As for offense, I do expect at least one more free agent to be added soon, and odds are it will be former Raiders OG Stefen Wisniewski, who visited the Bucs recently. Adding Wisniewski across from vet Mankins would ensure acceptable levels of OG play in 2015 no matter how the team fares in the draft, and would free the Bucs to focus on OT come draft day.

How do I think the Bucs will approach the #1 pick? If I had to place a wager I’d bet that (despite reports to the contrary) they’ll pass on Winston (for reasons I’ve detailed) and fall in love Mariota during his pending visit. I know that’s not a popular prediction, which makes it all the more enjoyable. I’d be OK with Mariota as the top pick since he has many intriguing qualities. But as noted in other posts, my hope is that the Bucs find a suitor enamored of either Winston or Mariota and trade down for extra picks. That’s unlikely, admittedly. Regardless, I’ve believed Glennon can be the starting QB since he was drafted—and a damn good one. With that in mind, here’s how I would approach the 2015 draft if I was suddenly named GM, an appointment that is frankly long overdue:

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Winston the #1 Overall Pick? Surely You Jest

It's simple: just say no, Bucs.

It’s simple: just say no, Bucs.

A few shorts months ago the pro football world was a relatively sane place. Jameis Winston, a talented QB with highly suspect character, was widely viewed as a troubled player some NFL team might gamble on well down the draft, but certainly not a top 5 pick. Fast forward to today, and Winston is suddenly the draft’s celebrated darling and the odds-on favorite to go #1 overall to my beloved Bucs, with NFL pundits gushing about his intelligence and skill set. How in the hell did that happen, you ask? Great question. How is that many informed football fans—and most of the respected, alleged NFL “experts”—are turning a blind eye to the kid’s off-the-field antics? You with the good questions again.

Let’s take a quick look back at some of Winston’s conduct-related highlights:

• Accused of raping a young woman in his college apartment
• A second woman later alleges sexual abuse
• Stole soda from a fast food joint while mocking the manager’s protests
• Along with friends used pellet gun to cause $4K in damage on campus
• Stole merchandise from a local Publix store
• Skipped a code of conduct hearing related to the rape case
• Jumped on a table in a public area screaming sexually charged expletives…while rape charges were pending
• Investigated for accepting money for autographs (but never charged)
• Accused of shaving points in Louisville game to help friend win a wager
• Defied a suspension by dressing out and taking the field against Clemson

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Sterling Moore: Budding Talent at Cornerback

The latest addition at CB will upgrade the nickel spot...and then some.

The latest addition at CB will upgrade the nickel spot…and then some.

Sterling Moore, you say? Who the hell is that? Good question. He’s certainly no household name. In fact, he wasn’t even drafted coming out of SMU in 2011, fighting his way into the league as a college free agent with the Raiders before ending up in Dallas by way of New England. So why did the Bucs make a virtual unknown a priority free agent? Dig a bit deeper with me:

In 2012 Dallas Cowboys’ owner/GM/flaming-rectum Jerry Jones traded both his first-round pick and his second-round pick to St. Louis to move up and draft cornerback Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick. The Cowboys were desperate to add talent to their flagging secondary, and Claiborne was considered the cream of the crop. Well, I disagreed with Jones over-extending for Claiborne then, as I do now. Ya see, as an SEC fan I watched a lot of the hyped LSU cornerback. And while his cover skills were impressive, I thought he gambled too often and lacked punch as a tackler.

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Bruce Carter: Versatile Freak at Linebacker

Can Carter's mental game catch up to his sick physical gifts?

Can Carter’s mental game catch up to his sick physical gifts?

The Bucs added former Cowboy LB Carter this month. I anticipated them adding a LB in free agency but I did not have Carter on my wish list. I should have. And here’s why:

In a league full of physical marvels Carter is a legit freak. His speed and cover ability make him a great fit in a Tampa2 defense that has always valued undersized, physical, fleet LBs. Once again Licht and Lovie have focused on a guy who has extensive experience in the scheme, meaning he should contribute quickly. Carter’s ability to play all three LB spots is a big asset, as injuries inevitably push starters to the sidelines. Best of all, the Bucs seem to be landing Carter at a point in his career when the light has finally gone on, allowing him to match his rare athletic gifts with a confident, intuitive approach to the game. Coming out of UNC he was intriguing but raw, and the Cowboys did the Bucs the favor of getting some of the kinks out.

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Chris Conte: Safety in Numbers

Conte's addition means the Bucs are playing it safe at safety.

Conte’s addition means the Bucs are playing it safe at safety.

The Bucs recently inked Conte, a former Cal Golden Bear and third round pick of the Bears in 2011. If you Google his name you’ll find a lot of unflattering comments concerning his allegedly poor play in Chicago. Are those comments valid? Well, first you must consider that the disparaging remarks were made by Bears fans, a group notorious for inbreeding. That said, Conte has certainly not justified his 3rd-round pedigree, and film of the guy reveals that he has struggled mightily at times versus both the pass and the run. But here’s the deal: if you’ve studied Tampa2 defenses for any amount of time you know that young DBs struggle to find their feet within it. Even Buc greats like Kelly and Lynch and Barber experienced considerable growing pains as they adjusted to their responsibilities within the scheme. Simply put, it takes time to be a consistently good DB in the Tampa 2.

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Henry Melton: Impact and Insurance at DT

Melton-Cowboys

The Bucs finally have legit redundancy at the vital 3-tech DT spot.

 

We’re going to take a look at the free agents the Bucs have signed so far this off-season, starting with former Bears and Cowboys DT Henry Melton:

Melton is a former Texas Longhorn and 4th round pick of the Bears in 2009. A college DT, his functional strength, quickness and thick frame led the Bears to move him inside—much like former Sooner and current Buc Gerald McCoy. Melton played very well in Chicago and was an impact player and rising star until he tore his ACL in 2013. He ended up in Dallas last season and many wondered how well he’d recover from his injury. He played well, racking 5 sacks, 15 or so tackles and considerably more havoc than those numbers might imply.

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Goodbye, Great One

Hall of Famer Selmon was a man among men.

I remember seeing him take the field at Tampa Stadium, his big orange jersey brilliant under a merciless sun. His college coach, Barry Switzer, said he was the best player he’d ever seen, and claimed he’d never had a bad game. Expectations were high. That was in the mid-to-late 70s, back when life was ageless and verdant, and back when a hint of the Old South still lingered in the crannies of my small Florida town. The Bucs were to be a ready-made punchline for every comic running low on late-night fodder, but the heralded first-round pick proved a soothing balm on that lingering wound. Sitting high up in the Big Sombrero—resigned to wilting heat and losing ways—I watched an orange-clad titan single-handedly defy his team’s blundering profile with superhuman play.

He was a revelation, a wonder. At the snap he morphed into a whirling orange blur, an unstoppable force who obliterated blockers and mauled hapless passers. Opponents would double-team him on practically every play, but all for naught. They ran at him and he stacked their futile bodies like cord-wood, they ran away from him he closed on their tailbacks like a missile. Given the dearth of talent on those early Buccaneer teams he saw more devoted blockers than any player of his era—or possibly any era—with no noticeable effect, save the dejected faces of opposing coordinators. Scores of NFL coaches, players and analysts attest that he was the best ever at his position. I confess brimming levels of bias, but I certainly agree…

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