Swearinger is a headhunter who tends to back up his smack.
So the Bucs scooped up safety DJ Swearinger off of waivers today after he was unceremoniously dumped by the Texans. Word on the street is that the former Gamecock star wore out his welcome with a high-strung, self-impressed makeup that allegedly led him to walk out of a Texans’ Special Teams meeting because he thought such duties were beneath him. Is that true? Who knows? There’s also conjecture that Swearinger was a bad influence on freakish DE Jadaveon Clowney, and that he kicks defenseless puppies.
I watched a lot of Swearinger at South Carolina, and he was one of my favorite SEC players of the last decade. I can attest to the fact that he displays epic levels of swagger, that he runs smack constantly, and that he thinks a lot of himself. And that last characteristic concerns me. The NFL has become a league chock full of annoying prima donnas, and, well, they suck. Lovie Smith seems to think that he can love the bad right out of me-first guys with dubious character (see Jameis Winston). The Bucs are gambling that in a locker room with grounded types like Lavonte David, Major Wright, Gerald McCoy, etc., Swearinger will come around. There’s probably some truth to that.
A first overall pick…not named Winston?
With the draft a few days away—and several teams reportedly in contact with the Bucs to discuss possible trades—I’ve been pondering the best possible scenarios for such a switch. I’ve narrowed it down to two somewhat plausible options:
1. Trade down with Eagles; they get 1st pick, Bucs get vet QB Sam Bradford and extra picks
2. Trade with Chargers; they get 1st overall pick, Bucs get vet QB Phillips Rivers and possibly extra pick
My guess is that both of these scenarios have been floated by Licht, if only for the purposes of discussion. If so, it’s my firm opinion that—provided enough value in the form of extra picks—the Bucs would be nuts not to jump on such an offer. Let’s examine each briefly:
So news leaked earlier today that the Eagles will be signing Tim Tebow—who has been out of football for two seasons. Now, this could just be a low-risk stab by Kelly to see if Tebow has anything to offer, or even a publicity stunt to garner attention. But let’s engage in some logic-based conjecture for a moment.
Kelly is a coach steeped in spread-option football. As a pro coach he has adjusted to the league’s decided focus on vertical passing, but there have been indications that he believes that a true spread approach and a legit run/pass threat at QB could thrive in the NFL — despite a lack of precedent. Other spread-option coaches, including Urban Meyer, have long believed that a pro team that truly dedicated itself to the scheme could be very successful. I happen to agree with them. (Not so long ago Urban Meyer was told that his offense would never fly in the speed-rich SEC—so much for that).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.