Point/Counterpoint: Which Buc makes “The Leap” this year?

Last season, Gerald McCoy played in 16 games for the first time in his three-year NFL career, racked up five sacks, 16 quarterback pressures and nine tackles for loss and became the first Buccaneer defensive tackle to make the Pro Bowl since Warren Sapp.

Gerald McCoy made “The Leap” in 2012.  Now, it’s true that it was mostly freak injuries that had held McCoy back from his potential during the first two NFL seasons, following the Bucs’ selection of him third overall in 2010.  Still, whatever the circumstances, the 2012 season will be remembered as the one in which McCoy transformed his career and became a much more important player for the Buccaneers.

McCoy was probably the only player that fell into that category for Tampa Bay last year, at least among those who were already on the Bucs’ roster the year before.  Doug Martin and Lavonte David put up huge numbers but were rookies; they simply established their NFL bona fides right away.  Vincent Jackson had put up big numbers for years in San Diego.  Josh Freeman set the Bucs’ single-season records for passing yards and touchdown tosses, but you could argue that 2010 was still a better season for him.  Players such as Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah, Michael Bennett, Roy Miller, Mason Foster and Ronde Barber obviously had strong seasons, but were essentially playing up to their already established standards.  Adrian Clayborn didn’t get the chance after a promising 7.5-sack season; he got hurt instead.

Hopefully, there will be more than one Buccaneer who will make “The Leap” in 2013…but for today’s exercise I’m only going to ask you to name one, Andrew.  That’s this week’s debate: Which player who was on the Bucs’ 2012 roster and is still with the team in 2013 is poised to take his career to another level?  Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: Which NFC South foe has most thoroughly addressed a weakness from last season?

I’ve heard, from multiple sources, that using the NFL offseason to analyze your football team, identify your weak points and address your team needs through free agency, trades and the NFL Draft is a good strategy.

I’m no general manager, but this theory does sound pretty good to me. And taking a look at a couple numbers from the Buccaneers in the last few seasons shows that Mark Dominik, Greg Schiano and company are certainly making the moves to make this a better team and make the push to the next level. Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: Which 2013 Buccaneer Opponent Improved the Most During the Draft?

Nowadays, everyone agrees that instant-reaction draft grades are essentially meaningless…and, of course, everyone does them anyway.  So if nobody is really being held to these grades in the long run, then here is my assessment of the Buccaneers’ 2013 draft: A+++.  Full scholarship to Harvard in the mail.

I might be a bit lacking in objectivity, however, so let’s turn our attention to something draft-related that, hopefully, we can address with some fairness and neutrality.  Specifically, let’s look at the 13 teams on the Buccaneers’ 2013 regular-season schedule and try to determine which one(s) just got harder to beat.  Forget about how these teams have helped themselves two or three years down the road; we’re only worried about which team made themselves a more formidable foe for the Buccaneers this fall by their actions on draft weekend.

Andrew, I will let you go first, since your accuracy rate is a bit south of that of a broken clock (twice a day!). Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: First Annual Captain’s Blog NFL Mock Draft!

Less than a week left until the beginning of 2013 NFL Draft. Needless to say, we are all getting a little antsy. With big news coming out yesterday with the NFL schedule release, we at least have something to tide us over for the long week of waiting ahead.

However, since we have already speculated about which opponents we are most excited about seeing and which game we want to see for our opener, I say we spend this week working out just how this draft might go down.

Since January, we’ve been seeing and reporting on the experts from ESPN, NFL.com, and countless other mock draft about who the Buccaneers could potentially snag with the 13th selection. So, I propose that we make our own.

Ladies and gentlemen: the First Annual Captain’s Blog NFL Mock Draft (FACBNFLMD)! One-by-one, pick-by-pick, let’s conjure up our own 2013 NFL Draft opening round.  As a gentleman, I’ll let you get the first overall pick with the Kansas City Chiefs. I’ll take the Jaguars at number two and send it back to you with the Raiders at pick three. Et cetera, et cetera.

Without further ado… With the first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs (via Scott Smith) select… Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: Can we find a hidden gem still on the free agent market?

A few weeks before free agency started, you and I took a look at the list of big-name players who could possibly hit the market, trying to predict which ones would be most coveted league-wide.  Since I know you’re going to throw it in my face anyway, I’ll go ahead and remind the readers that you’re first choice was safety Dashon Goldson, who is now a Buccaneer.  We weren’t specifically trying to pick good free agent targets for Tampa Bay, but the Bucs’ instant and successful wooing of the former 49er made it clear that, yes, Goldson was quite coveted.

Both of my picks in that particular point/counterpoint exercise – Bears DT Henry Melton and Cowboys DE Anthony Spencer – got franchise-tagged before they could hit the market, which left me with a big bowl of fail soup.  On the other hand, your second choice, former Miami running back Reggie Bush quickly found a new home in Detroit.  Aargh.  Why am I still writing about this?

Like Goldson and Bush, most of the biggest names got the biggest contracts within the first few days of free agency.  (And like Melton and Spencer, some of others never even made it to the market.)  That’s the way it is every spring, of course.  Last year, the Bucs had Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson and Eric Wright in the bag before free agency was 36 hours old.  However, it should be noted that a whopping 524 players began some sort of free agency on March 12, most of them of the unrestricted variety.  Some of them undoubtedly will be riding off into the sunset, and new careers, but many others will quietly either re-sign with their original teams or find a new opportunity that is accompanied by little fanfare.

These are the players I want to talk about today, Andrew.  Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: Who will be the Buccaneers’ MVP in 2013?

The Buccaneers had a nice rebound season in 2012 under new Head Coach Greg Schiano, after a very tough 2011 campaign.  While the team faded from the playoff race down the stretch after a heady midseason run, it definitely sparked a lot of optimism heading into this year’s campaign.

When the dust had settled on 2012, it was legitimately hard to decide which player was the team’s MVP.  While there were a number of potential candidates, it probably boiled down to five men: Lavonte David, Josh Freeman, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin and Gerald McCoy, the latter three of whom ended up in the Pro Bowl.

If you think it was hard to pick the one winner from among that group last year, I’ve got an even tougher task for you, Andrew: Predict who will be the Buccaneers’ MVP this coming season.  Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: What would be the best opening-game matchup for the Buccaneers this season?

Andrew, the NFL schedule is due to be released on April 16, less than three weeks from now.  When that happens, we’ll find out such things as when the bye week falls, how often the Bucs will play in prime time and how the intra-division games are distributed.  And the first thing everybody looks for, of course: Who’s the opponent on opening day?

That’s anybody’s guess.  There’s no real formula to it.  Here are the Bucs’ last 10 openers: Carolina, Detroit, Cleveland, Dallas, at New Orleans, at Seattle, Baltimore, at Minnesota, at Washington, at Philadelphia.  That’s a mix of AFC and NFC, in and out of the division, home and away.  The last time the Bucs’ opening game was somewhat easy to predict was 2003, when they were defending champs and a rematch against the Philadelphia Eagles, their NFC Championship Game foes, on a Monday night was too good to pass up.

So, rather than try to guess who might be on the Bucs’ schedule on Week One, let’s debate which game we would like to see in that spot.  Like every team in the league, Tampa Bay has known who all 16 of its opponents would be and where those games would be played since the last game of 2012 ended.  So, choosing from that list, pick the destination – or the home opponent – that would be the ideal way for the Bucs to begin the 2013 season. Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: Do You Like Any of the Proposed NFL Rule Changes Being Considered by the Competition Committee?

Every offseason, amid the free agent acquisitions and mock drafts, in some corners of the NFL it is time to get down to a different kind of business. The NFL is always searching for ways to make the league more entertaining and, especially, safer for all of the players, as is illustrated so beautifully in one of my favorite commercials.

On tap this season, we see six proposed rule changes that the NFL’s Competition Committee have either already voted on or will likely do so at some point. Some have already been past in the last 24 hours.

  1. The Jim Schwartz Rule. Basically, if a play is supposed to be automatically reviewed, it will still be reviewed even if the coach illegally tosses his red flag. This was not the case last year, which baffled some Thanksgiving football viewers. The coach will, however, be either charged a timeout or penalized 15 yards.
  2. On field goals and extra points, no more than six defensive players can be lined up to either side of the snapper. (This one has already passed.)
  3. Get rid of the tuck rule. Long time coming, Raider Nation.  (Also passed already.)
  4. Allow tight ends and H-backs to wear numbers 40-49. (Goodness, it’s about time, don’t you think?!)
  5. Offense not allowed to block low when going toward their own end lines in the tackle box. Can’t go low when peeling back. (Also passed already.)
  6. The one you’ve likely been hearing about all week: Runners may not initiate contact with the crown of their helmet when outside the tackle box. (Passed)

If you’d like to get more in-depth descriptions, or really want to nerd out and read the proposed bylaw changes and emphasis points, you can check it out here on NBCSports.com’s Pro Football Talk. But for this exercise, I think I did a decent job summing things up.

So, Scott, I’ll let you be the first to take a crack at the proposed rule changes. The question is a simple one: Do you like any of the proposed (or already accepted) rule changes being considered by the Competition Committee?

Have at it. Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: Early Free Agency Moves We Like and Dislike

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson during the first 24 hours of free agency…Grade: A+.

Andrew, I’m sure we can both agree that the Bucs made a bold and impactful move in the early hours of free agency, which is typically when the biggest names in each free agent class make their moves.  Goldson has a sterling resume and the Bucs had a real need in the secondary; it’s a very good thing that the former 49er never made another visit after starting free agency with a flight to Tampa.

There really isn’t much room for debate between us on that signing, and we’d certainly be accused of homerism anyway.  So, now that free agency is close to 48 hours old, let’s take a wider view and assess what everyone around the league has done so far.  Many of the most coveted players have already landed in new locations, such as Cliff Avril in Seattle, Mike Wallace in Miami, Wes Welker in Denver, Paul Kruger in Cleveland and your man-crush Reggie Bush in Detroit.

These moves were made by intelligent and well-prepared general managers, with their respective ownership’s approval to fling the cash, and by players who knew their value and where they wanted to play.  As quickly as they all came together, they were surely not rushed deals in the sense of the teams’ and players’ motivations.

But, heck, why let that stop us from critiquing them?  That’s the Point/Counterpoint I’m proposing here: How about each of us identifies one early-free agency deal we really like, and one we don’t…not including the Bucs’ Dashon Goldson deal, of course.  I’m feeling as generous as a G.M. with $40 million of cap space, so I’ll let you go first.  Use any criteria you like. Continue reading

Polling the Krewe: Which Under-the-Radar Free Agent Would You Sign?

In the past few weeks, we’ve been putting a lot of attention on Free Agency, and even wrote this masterpiece on who we think will be the most coveted member of the 2013 free agent class.

In our most recent Point/Counterpoint discussion, we tackled the idea of a “sleeper” free agency candidate that we think could very well call Tampa Bay home. We’re talking about a player who isn’t garnering much nationwide attention, but could still come in and perform at a high level at one of the Bucs’ positions of need.

We laid out a few names, and now we want to hear from you. Let us know which selection you most agree with. Got a name that we didn’t talk about? Share it with us in the comments. Fire away!

Which, if any, of the "under-the-radar" free agents mentioned would you most like to see in a Buccaneers uniform?

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Remember, if you have a question for an upcoming “Point/Counterpoint” debate or a poll that you would like to discuss? Let us know in the comments below!