Time for a little fun, folks! That’s right - it’s the return of your favorite Monday morning column as we dive into a little off-season Pick Six!
To say that a lot has happened since the last edition of this would be a massive understatement. There has been major roster changes, a draft, a pandemic, quarantine, toilet paper shortages. It’s been a wild time.
But enough chit-chat. Let’s pick six, albeit an abbreviated one.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) This team is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Yes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the off-season darlings year after year after year. “They signed Dashon Goldson!” “They traded for Darrelle Revis!” “They got Vincent Jackson!” “They drafted Jameis Winston!” Over and over again we’ve seen the Bucs “win” the off-season and be the media darlings as the “surprise” playoff pick before the season begins. This time, though? This time? This time, it’s different. This time there is legitimate reason to truly believe they will not only make the playoffs, but be actual contenders. Never before have we seen this type of championship pedigree walk in the door. Never before have the Buccaneers started a multi-time Super Bowl winning quarterback under center. Never before have they had two Pro Bowl receivers joined by a first ballot Hall of Fame tight end as just a few of the weapons for that Super Bowl winning quarterback. Never before has this level of talent been led by a multi-time Super Bowl winning coach. Anything short of double digit wins and a playoff run will make this team the biggest group of frauds in recent memory. Your reason for optimism and expectations are warranted.
2.) This draft class is exciting. The Buccaneers were able to land their biggest need in round one with one of the most freak athletes we’ve ever seen. They were able to get a ball hawk safety to add to the back end of their defense for the first time in nearly ten years. They added two running backs, a defensive tackle, a linebacker, and the Big Ten’s leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Their first four picks can be immediate contributors to the team and two of them will likely be starters come week one. Lots of work to do - from all seven picks - but this might have been the best draft we’ve seen out of Jason Licht since he joined the team.
3.) The Gronk move makes sense, with or without O.J. Howard. Rob Gronkowski joining the team happened in what seemed like the blink of an eye. It went from “the Bucs and Patriots have had some talks,” to “the deal is done” in under twenty minutes. It was a bit surprising and a bit jarring, but in the end, it makes sense. Here’s why. We don’t know when these guys are actually going to start working out with one another. We don’t know when they can get on the field and actually practice with one another. Instead we know they’re having a “virtual camp” where these guys are chatting on Zoom. That’s all well and good, but that isn’t going to help a new quarterback develop chemistry with his new receivers. Bringing in Tom Brady’s all-time favorite target gives him that build in safety valve. The two can work to learn the playbook together while Gronk helps out Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, and Tyler Johnson with what Brady likes and looks for in his guys. Having that already established, built in chemistry with a guy to bring in for your quarterback is a great move and in today’s climate makes a ton of sense. As for Howard, it’s business as usual. He may not be thrilled with his usage last year and he may not be thrilled with even more targets going away from him but let’s be honest - none of these tight ends are exactly the poster children of health. By not moving Howard over draft weekend, the Bucs believe in Howard and plan to utilize him. And let’s not forget - Gronk said he was going to honor his contract, which is only for one year.
4.) All-in means all-in. We’re kidding ourselves if we try to think that Bruce Arians is going to make it through his entire contract. In fact, the smart money is on Arians sticking around as long as Brady does. This is Bruce’s last hoorah, his last chance to get that coveted Super Bowl ring as a head coach before finally riding off into the sunset to his home in Georgia. The Buccaneers have done any and everything they can to put together a championship caliber team in just a few months. Granted, most of it was here already, but this is it. A two year window to get to the promised land. Unlike the last time the Buccaneers made it to the championship, the core of this team is pretty young. Outside Brady, Gronk, and Suh, this team is built to be a contender for quite a while. But BA doesn’t have that kind of time. It’s win now or finish a head coaching career that started far too late and do it without hoisting a Lombardi.
5.) Let’s talk about those uniforms. What a thing of beauty. I love the slightly modified update of the glory day era uniforms. New “Buccaneers” font across the chest, the black lettering on the nameplate of the white uniforms, the red accents on the pirate ship. It’s all gold. But those pewter color rush unis. Good heavens they nailed that. We’ve been asking for it for years and the Bucs 100% delivered on them. The more things change, the more they stay the same - but much like the losing during the 2014-2019 era of those uniforms, let’s just put that era in the rearview mirror and look ahead to bigger and better. Also, thank you to the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams for being the new uniform/logo laughingstock of the NFL. I only point out the logo because the Rams’ logo is abysmal and we haven’t seen their new uniforms yet.
6.) No, Jameis Winston joining the Saints isn’t a big deal. I realize there is a very loud contingency that is still not happy to see their beloved quarterback walk out the door. Even more, they’re not happy to see him go to a division rival. Look, we don’t know what the other offers were to Winston but the rumor mill was circulating that he turned down a bigger deal elsewhere (*ahem*, Pittsburgh) to go play for Sean Payton and back up Drew Brees and Taysom Hill. Whatever revenge he’s seeking or whatever intel Payton is hoping to land is much to do about nothing. Best of luck to him in his future, but it’s time to move on and by time the Bucs and Saints play, it will largely be irrelevant because he won’t be playing barring injuries. Brady is here. Winston is gone. Time to focus on the present.
Six Numbers To Consider
2 - Players drafted from the University of Minnesota to the Bucs this year
5 - Players drafted played in the Big Ten (Yes, Vaughn came from Vanderbilt, but played two years at Illinois before transferring)
3 - “Black shirts” now on the Bucs’ defense. A Black Shirt is handed out to the starting Nebraska defensemen as rookie Khalil Davis joins fellow Huskers Ndamukong Suh and Lavonte David
6 - Defensive backs taken by the Buccaneers in the first two rounds of the draft over the last five years
2 - Running Backs taken by the Bucs in the first two rounds of the draft over the last fifteen years. The Bucs have just two 1,000 yard rushing seasons over that span
14 - Years since Bucs drafted an offensive lineman in the first round (Davin Joseph, 2006)
Six Best Tweets Of Draft Weekend (In No Particular Order)
Let’s check in with @tyschmit, DIEHARD @packers fan— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) April 24, 2020
Massive thank you to all of the people that watched us tonight for 4 and half hours during our #McAfeeAndHawk Draft Super Special.
PLENTY to chat about tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/rbipkQr9eJ
Brady’s new guy:— The Big Guy (@WeAreBigGuys) April 24, 2020
- 4.85 40-yard dash: Fastest among all OL this year
- 36.5" vertical jump: OL record (since '03)
- 10'1" broad jump: OL record (T-1 since '03).
320-pound Tristan Wirfs is a FREAK!pic.twitter.com/esSiB0zswN
Jason Licht (jokingly) said he and Bruce Arians had an arrangement that Licht would get a Nebraska player and Arians would get a Temple player, and Licht went first because he hired Arians.— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) April 25, 2020
Too bad Jake Fromm wasn't a bigger draw in the draft. Could you imagine the marketing opportunities? Aaron Rodgers walks into a State Farm office to speak with Jake Fromm State Farm? pic.twitter.com/wqeW5jt6xZ— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) April 25, 2020
With every Packers draft pick: pic.twitter.com/eQafmVmG0u— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) April 25, 2020
Six (Way Too Early) Super Bowl Bets
1.) Kansas City Chiefs - To be the best, you gotta beat the best
2.) New Orleans Saints - They’ve had themselves quite the off-season
3.) San Francisco 49ers - John Lynch is really good at this GM thing
4.) Baltimore Ravens - Just added Calais Campbell and had an incredible draft. Scary team.
5.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The hype is real, folks
6.) Pittsburgh Steelers - A healthy Big Ben puts them right back in contention