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Hard Count Episode 18-14: Coaching drama and short receivers

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One writer’s thoughts and opinions about whatever he chooses

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been about a month since we last discussed some of the news and events surrounding the NFL. Last we met, we reviewed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first half of the season.

Since then, we’ve seen the Bucs win back-to-back games and we’ve also seen them drop back-to-back games.

We’re entering the final stretch of the season, so let’s see what’s been going on and drop some biased opinions!

OFFSIDES: MAKING BUSINESS, PERSONAL

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Now, I say this without knowing the inner-workings of how the Cleveland Browns operate or exist in the locker room and meetings. Meaning, take this with a grain of salt.

From where I stand, Hue Jackson was fired from the organization after failing to show cause for the franchise to have any long-term confidence in whatever process he was involved in towards turning the franchise from zero-to-hero.

It was deserved. Jackson’s tenure as an NFL head coach just wasn’t good or effective in any way, shape or form.

His inner squabble and inability to snuff-out the petty back-and-forth between he and offensive coordinator Todd Haley was flat-out embarrassing.

So, yes, he deserved to be fired. However, he also deserved a chance at working in the league again. When the Cincinnati Bengals gave him the chance to do so, he took it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Quarterback, Baker Mayfield, apparently didn’t see it that way and all but called Jackson a traitor following their Week 12 win over the Bengals by saying,

“That’s just somebody in our locker room asking us to play for him and then goes to a different team we play twice a year.”

There’s a lot wrong with Mayfield’s assessment of Jackson. First being, Jackson didn’t leave, he was forced out.

The next being, there are 32 possible organizations to offer positions working in the NFL. Being fired from one means the number is now down to 31. This isn’t Wal-Mart. It’s the National Football League.

What did Mayfield expect? Jackson should turn down another opportunity to continue his life’s work in the NFL because....they play in the same division?

I expect we’ll revisit this someday should Mayfield leave Cleveland - willingly or not - and play for the Pittsburgh Steeler, Baltimore Ravens or - gasp - Cincinnati Bengals.

Mayfield is young, and this undoubtedly plays a part in it. The likelihood Mayfield will ever need Jackson during his career is slim-to-none, so I don’t see any long-term issue from how he approached the situation.

But the lack of appreciation towards a coach who had a hand in making him the first overall pick this very offseason - a pick many criticized and referred to as ‘Browns Browning’- is unprofessional and immature.

Mayfield hasn’t shied away from his reputation as being unapologetically him, which is fine. But there comes a point where people don’t like you because you’re unlikeable rather than you’re being underestimated.

Underdog’s are admirable for their fight and determination, a—holes are disliked because they think their unwillingness to show appreciation for success is the same thing.

Actions like this one have ticked him one notch in the wrong direction for me.

FALSE START: WHAT A DIFFERENCE TWO WEEKS MAKES

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I listened to the Locked on NFL Draft podcast with Jon Ledyard and Trevor Sikkema. They have a feature in their programming where they ‘bury’ NFL teams with bad records, basically saying their post-season hopes are dead.

Sikkema balked at the idea of burying the Buccaneers despite the fact their win in Week 12 over the San Francisco 49ers still left them with about a 1% chance of reaching the playoffs.

Now, following a Week 13 win over the Carolina Panthers, there’s even talk around media and fan outlets everywhere that maybe Dirk Koetter shouldn’t be fired after the conclusion of the season.

Prior to Week 12, there was at least one ‘dead man walking’ themed podcast or publication coming from most sites, including this one.

I’m not knocking the turning tide of opinion surrounding coach Koetter. We are a fickle bunch and winning streaks involving divisional rivals will turn tides faster than anything.

This is one reason I’ve adopted the resistance to calling for any coach’s job publicly. There just simply isn’t enough known about what’s going on behind closed doors for me to feel smart enough to call for firings.

I’d be lying though if I didn’t admit that just two weeks ago I was about 98.5% certain coach Koetter would be employed elsewhere in 2019.

Now, I’m about 70% certain. Still not good odds, but much better.

A win against the Saints will help those numbers. A win against the Saints and then on the road against the Baltimore Ravens and we may see public outcries from the fans to the Glazers to keep Koetter on another year.

We’ll know in two weeks. And what we’ve learned this last two weeks is, we know nothing about how we’ll feel when Week 16 rolls around.

FREE PLAY: MOST VALUABLE RECEIVER UNDER 6’

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We started with business, let’s end with business.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have three wide receivers under six-feet tall. DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries and Bobo Wilson.

Jackson and Humphries have a combined 93 catches this season for 1,356 yards and nine touchdowns. They are earning a combined $13.914M against the cap this year.

The percentage split is 57/43 in catches for Humphries and 55/45 in favor of Jackson in yards while Humphries has one more touchdown catch (5) than Jackson (4) in 2018.

While the two are each producing around half of their combined output, Jackson is earning 79% ($11M) of the money the two are splitting.

In 2019, the pair is set to make $10M combined. With Jackson holding 100% of the purse as it stands. (Humphries is a free-agent entering 2019 as of now)

Some of us don’t really like to think of football as a business, but it is. And if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers allow half of this production tandem walk while paying Jackson about five times what they could likely pay Humphries for similar production, it’s bad business.

Many fans and media outlets commented on how the Bucs offense didn’t seem to miss Jackson much against the Carolina Panthers.

If the team is moving forward with Jameis Winston then there’s just no justification for bringing back Jackson at his current salary. And I doubt asking him to take a pay cut is going to make his Instagram traffic any more pleasant than it has been.

Any argument for keeping Jackson would rely solely on liking his swagger, speed and persona - which are all things I’m a fan of, by the way. Because his production with Winston just doesn’t carry water as a viable argument. Whether scheme or player fit is the problem, it’s not working.

Meanwhile, clearing his due money in 2019, shifting some of it to Humphries and bringing in - or re-signing - a contributor with the remaining funds could make sure the money spent in 2019 would work much better for the franchise.

Now that sounds like good business all around.

Poll

What should the Bucs do?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Keep Jackson, Humphries doesn’t have the speed
    (0 votes)
  • 90%
    Keep Humphries, he’s more consistent and is cheaper
    (209 votes)
  • 5%
    Keep them both, they’re worth a combined $10-15M
    (13 votes)
  • 3%
    Drop both, draft or sign a guy with Humphries’ effort and Jackson’s speed
    (9 votes)
231 votes total Vote Now