Learning to Win

The Buccaneers under Greg Schiano purposely view each game as its own one-week “season,” refusing to let the developments of one Sunday affect the preparations of the following week.

Week 17 is a little bit different.

That doesn’t mean Schiano’s crew prepared any differently, or dwelled on last week’s loss to the Rams, but this is one case in which a game’s result might have a more lasting effect.

It’s the old “finish strong” idea, the notion that a win to cap the season, even if it doesn’t lead to the playoffs, can provide momentum heading into the offseason.  It’s not a quantifiable thing, of course, but many Buccaneer players suggested the idea of finishing strong as an extra motivation this week.  The Bucs, once 6-4 and feeling robust about the playoffs, obviously believe they are better than their current five-game losing streak would indicate, and they can prove that to themselves in a small way on Sunday.

Schiano sees a slightly more concrete advantage to finishing the season with a win.  He knows that the most lasting lessons are learned on game day, and that there aren’t too many of those to go around.

“Any time you have an opportunity to get better at winning football games, which this is – you’ve got 16 of them this year and this is another chance to go win a football game – whenever you can do that, you get better,” said Schiano.  “When you don’t do that, somehow, someway you slip back.  We have a chance to do it today and I really think it’s important to go out and win the game.  The way you do that is trust your training and play one play at a time.”

Lynch Impressed by Bucs’ Culture Change

The Buccaneers finished 6-10 in 1996. They will conclude the 2012 season at either that same record or 7-9, depending upon Sunday’s outcome in Atlanta.  John Lynch, who was a fourth-year safety and rising star on that ’96 team, is now a color analyst for FOX who has seen more than his share of 2012 Buccaneer football.  While neither of those teams aspired to a sub-.500 record, obviously, in Lynch’s mind they also share something far more positive, something that bodes well for the future of the current squad.

And a lot of that has to do with first-year Head Coach Greg Schiano’s insistence on establishing a new culture at One Buccaneer Place.

“I think of Tony Dungy in Tampa in 1996,” said Lynch.  “What did we start, 1-8 or 1-9?  One of Tony’s great strengths was that he was stubborn.  It may not have worked right away, but it did work, and eventually it was going to be sustained success.  I see much of that here.  I say that in a positive way.  That stubbornness was a great quality of Tony’s – he believed in certain things and he would never deviate from them.  I see a lot of that with Greg.” Continue reading

David a Second-Round Gem

On the afternoon of April 27, just about eight months ago, the Buccaneers were getting ready for the second day of the 2012 NFL Draft and feeling pretty good about bringing home both Mark Barron and Doug Martin on Day One.  To a man, the Bucs’ personnel pros felt as if they had executed their plan perfectly the previous evening.

Still, one Buccaneer scouted had a minor lament that essentially echoed the one frustrating part of any draft: There’s no way to get all of the players you really want.

Specifically, this scout figured that the Bucs’ trade up into the bottom of the second round to get Martin, while the right move, had cost them the chance to nab Nebraska LB Lavonte David, considered a high second-round pick on most charts.  Ah, but not so fast. Continue reading

Friday Injury Report: Two Falcons Ruled Out

The Falcons had six players on their official injury report this week, and it’s still possible that all six will miss Sunday’s regular-season finale against Tampa Bay.

Two of those six – S William Moore and CB Christopher Owens, both with hamstring issues – have already been ruled out by Atlanta.  The other four, including WR Roddy White (knee) are all considered questionable.  The fact that the Falcons have already locked up the number-one overall seed in the NFC playoffs has obviously led to speculation that the Atlanta coaching staff will take a cautious route with any ailing players.  On the other hand, White did return to practice on a limited basis on Friday after sitting out the first two days completely.

The Buccaneers’ final report of the week is more favorable, though reserve G Roger Allen is considered doubtful to play due to a groin injury.  The other seven players on Tampa Bay’s list are all marked as probable, including starters CB E.J. Biggers (hip), TE Dallas Clark (illness) and G Jeremy Zuttah (ankle).  Starting LT Donald Penn has also been on the injury report all week due to a (happy) family situation, but he returned to practice today and is expected to play Sunday.

Here are the full Friday injury reports for both teams:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Player Injury Practice Status Game Status
G Roger Allen Groin Did Not Participate Doubtful
CB E.J. Biggers Hip Full Participation Probable
DE Da’Quan Bowers Hamstring Full Participation Probable
TE Nate Byham Illness Full Participation Probable
TE Dallas Clark Illness Full Participation Probable
CB LeQuan Lewis Knee Full Participation Probable
T Donald Penn Not Injury Related Full Participation Probable
G Jeremy Zuttah Ankle Full Participation Probable

 

Atlanta Falcons

Player Injury Practice Status Game Status
DE Jonathan Babineaux Ribs Limited Participation Questionable
DE Cliff Matthews Hamstring Limited Participation Questionable
S William Moore Hamstring Did Not Participate Out
CB Christopher Owens Hamstring Did Not Participate Out
DT Corey Peters Knee Limited Participation Questionable
WR Roddy White Knee Limited Participation Questionable

 

2013 Opponents Becoming Clearer

As we discussed a little over a week ago in the Captain’s Blog, the Buccaneers have known most of their 2013 list of opponents for quite some time.  Fourteen of the 16 games are decided well in advance by intra-division play and a rotation of AFC and NFC divisional matchups.  The final two games, however, are determined by the standings.

Things are much clearer now, with only one weekend of play left.  However, there are still a handful of possibilities depending upon h a couple of Week 17 outcomes.  Surprisingly, the Bucs game in Atlanta has little to do with it, however. Continue reading

Pro Bowl Would Be a Thrill for Rookie Martin

Doug Martin isn’t a Pro Bowler…yet.

There’s a good chance the Buccaneers rookie will be officially an all-star before he even starts his second NFL season.  While Martin was not one of the three running backs named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad on Wednesday, he was identified as the first alternate behind a trio of established veterans – Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore.  Should any one of those three (or more than one) be unavailable on pro Bowl weekend, either due to health concerns or their teams still being alive in the playoffs, Martin would be the first back to get the call to Hawaii.

On Thursday, Martin called that alternate selection “a great honor,” and he’s right.  It’s relatively rare for a rookie to make enough of an impact to vault him ahead of the many veterans with more established Pro Bowl pedigrees.  There are only two rookies on this year’s Pro Bowl teams so far, in fact: Washington QB Robert Griffin III and Minnesota K Blair Walsh, both of the NFC. Continue reading

Miller Thrilled for His Pro Bowl Teammate

The NFL world found out on Wednesday that Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy is a Pro Bowler.  Roy Miller, McCoy’s fellow starter in the middle of Tampa Bay’s line, has known it for years.

Miller was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2009, one year before the team brought in McCoy with the third overall pick.  Both players have had career years in 2012, forming the immovable wall in the middle of the line that has been so critical to the league’s best run defense.  Both players have appeared in all 15 games so far, which was a victory in itself for McCoy, who missed 13 games in his first two seasons due to a pair of freak arm injuries. Continue reading

Thursday Injury Report: Improvement for Bucs

The most significant news regarding the Buccaneers’ injury report on Wednesday was that CB E.J. Biggers and G Jeremy Zuttah, two starters who sustained injuries in the Week 16 game against St. Louis, were not on the practice field.  Similarly, the key development on Thursday was that both Biggers (hip) and Zuttah (ankle) returned to action.

In fact, both players were full participants in the week’s second practice, as were TEs Dallas Clark and Nate Byham, who sat out on Wednesday due to illness.  The only Buccaneers who did not practice on Thursday were G Roger Allen (groin) and T Donald Penn (not injury related).

The Falcons’ injury report did not change at all from Wednesday to Thursday, with starters DE Jonathan Babineaux (ribs), S William Moore (hamstring), and WR Roddy White (knee) all sitting out another day.  Atlanta Head Coach Mike Smith has already said that Moore, who has missed the last three games as well, is unlikely to play on Sunday.

Here are the full Thursday injury reports for both teams:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Player Injury Practice Status
G Roger Allen Groin Did Not Participate
CB E.J. Biggers Hip Full Participation
DE Da’Quan Bowers Hamstring Full Participation
TE Nate Byham Illness Full Participation
TE Dallas Clark Illness Full Participation
CB LeQuan Lewis Knee Full Participation
T Donald Penn Not Injury Related Did Not Participate
G Jeremy Zuttah Ankle Full Participation

 

Atlanta Falcons

Player Injury Practice Status
DE Jonathan Babineaux Ribs Limited Participation
DE Cliff Matthews Hamstring Did Not Participate
S William Moore Hamstring Did Not Participate
CB Christopher Owens Hamstring Did Not Participate
DT Corey Peters Knee Limited Participation
WR Roddy White Knee Did Not Participate

 

Pro Bowl Just the Beginning for McCoy

At the end of his third NFL season, and his first complete pro campaign, Gerald McCoy made the Pro Bowl.  In his mind, that is just the launching point of his career…and that isn’t a reference to any future Pro Bowls or other individual honors that may come along.

McCoy intends to be even better in 2014, but with a different sort of postseason action in mind. Continue reading

Wednesday Injury Report: Zuttah, Biggers Sit Out

Head Coach Greg Schiano said on Monday that he was hopeful that two of his starters, left guard Jeremy Zuttah and left cornerback E.J. Biggers, would be able to return from recent injuries to play in the season finale at Atlanta.  On Wednesday, neither player practiced.

Zuttah (ankle) and Biggers (hip) were among five players held out of the week-opening workout, but they are obviously the top concerns.  Tight ends Dallas Clark and Nate Byham both missed the practice due to illness and left tackle Donald Penn was out for a non-injury related reason, but they are not likely to be serious issues for Sunday.

The Falcons held out four players, as well, and considering the fact that they have already clinched the top seed in the NFC playoffs, one might expect them to play it cautiously with their banged-up starters.  Those who missed practice on Wednesday included starting safety William Moore (hamstring) and starting wide receiver Roddy White (knee).

Here are the full Wednesday injury reports for both teams:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Player Injury Practice Status
G Roger Allen Groin Limited Participation
CB E.J. Biggers Hip Did Not Participate
DE Da’Quan Bowers Hamstring Full Participation
TE Nate Byham Illness Did Not Participate
TE Dallas Clark Illness Did Not Participate
CB LeQuan Lewis Knee Full Participation
T Donald Penn Not Injury Related Did Not Participate
G Jeremy Zuttah Ankle Did Not Participate

 

Atlanta Falcons

Player Injury Practice Status
DT Jonathan Babineaux Ribs Limited Participation
DE Cliff Matthews Hamstring Did Not Participate
S William Moore Hamstring Did Not Participate
CB Christopher Owens Hamstring Did Not Participate
DT Corey Peters Knee Limited Participation
WR Roddy White Knee Did Not Participate