National Spotlight for NFC South

As much as the NFL schedule-makers like Peyton Manning and any matchup between two NFC East teams, no division is going to get more exposure on Monday Night Football this season than the Buccaneers’ own group of four.

The 2013 NFL schedule that was unveiled on Thursday included 48 nationally-televised prime-time games – three per week, but an extra Monday-nighter in Week One, no Thursday games in Weeks 16 or 17, no Monday night game in Week 17 and a still-to-be-scheduled Sunday night affair in Week 17).  That’s 96 prime-time spots for teams to fill and, for the most part, those spots are divided pretty evenly among the eight divisions.  Here are the prime-time game appearances per division so far (Sunday night games can be “flexed” into other matchups later in the year):

NFC East: 16

NFC South: 13

AFC North: 12

NFC North: 12

NFC West: 12

AFC East: 11

AFC South: 10

AFC West: 10

Besides favoring the NFC overall, that’s fairly well-distributed.  The various Cowboy-Redskin-Giant matchups push the NFC East to a clear lead, with much of that concentrated on NBC’s excellent Sunday Night series.  NFC East teams get eight Sunday night spots (again, often against each other); no other division gets more than five.

It’s on Monday Night Football where the South takes the lead.  The Bucs, Saints, Falcons and Panthers combine to make a league-high six appearances on Monday night; moreover, that’s six different dates because none of those games are between two NFC South teams.  Essentially, you’ll be watching an NFC South team on Monday Night Football one out of every three weeks.  The NFC South, NFC East and NFC North are the only divisions which get all four of their teams on MNF at some point this season.  The NFC South is the only division in which all four of its teams have a home Monday night game this season.

In an effort to get appealing matchups on prime time, the NFL schedule-makers must annually make some educated guesses as to which teams are on the rise.  The 6-10 Jets get a Monday night date, but the 6-10 Bills do not.  The 4-12 Lions make it onto MNF, but the 5-11 Cardinals do not.  The fact that all four NFC South teams made the MNF list – three of whom finished 7-9 last year – is an indication that the schedule-makers know what fans of the Bucs, Falcons, Panthers and Saints have been seeing for more than a decade: The NFC South is utterly unpredictable from year to year, but often competitive from top to bottom.

Doug Martin Twitter Takeover on April 23

Doug Martin was one half of the Buccaneers first round prizes coming out of the 2012 NFL Draft. And with the primetime first round of the 2013 NFL Draft quickly approaching, we think it only fitting to let the Dougernaut take the stage and take your questions.

That is why, on Tuesday, April 23, from 1-1:30 PM, Doug Martin will be taking over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Twitter handle, @TBBuccaneers.

This event is your chance to ask Doug Martin (@DougMartin22) your pressing questions about his experiences from the 2012 NFL Draft and his phenomenal rookie season. Doug will also be giving away some special autographed memorabilia to some of the best Tweets that hit his inbox.

From 1-1:30 PM, send the Dougernaut your questions by tweeting at @TBBuccaneers, using the hashtag #itsabucslife to ensure your comment can be seen.

And as if that isn’t enough to get you fully excited to learn the 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie class, don’t forget to join us on Thursday, April 25, to watch the primetime first round at Raymond James Stadium for the Official Draft Party!

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

Share your VIP Experience at the Official Draft Party

The Buccaneers are throwing the 2013 Official Draft Party presented by Miller Lite on Thursday, April 25, at Raymond James Stadium. And as if watching the primetime first round of the NFL Draft with thousands of Bucs fans on the home turf of your favorite team wasn’t enough, you now have the chance to upgrade your experience and share it with thousands of Bucs fans worldwide!

Click here to enter to become the Bucs Life First Mate. Follow the link and simply send us your Twitter handle, your best fan picture and explain what the Bucs Life means to you in 120 characters or less.

The winner will get the VIP treatment at the Official Draft Party and the Buccaneers will showcase your tweets and photos through Bucs social media. Entries will be accepted until Monday, April 22. Enter today to live the Bucs Life in style at the Official Draft Party presented by Miller Lite.

Sapp to Call Bucs’ Second-Round Pick

A year ago, Super Bowl XXXVII MVP Dexter Jackson was the one who led the world know that his former team had just drafted Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David.  Jackson had the privilege of calling what appears to be a very successful pick; David looks like a star in the making after a huge rookie season.

Maybe Warren Sapp can do his former Super Bowl teammate one better.  A brand new Hall-of-Famer calling the name of a future Canton-mate?  It’s far-fetched – 77 NFL drafts and 267 Hall-of-Famers so far doesn’t make for good odds – but it could happen.

The possibility at least exists because this year it is Sapp, the 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who will take the Buccaneers’ card to the podium in the second round of the draft.  The former Buc great will be in New York next Friday night for the second evening of the three-day draft along with 31 other former NFL stars, one for each team.  Each former player will announce his former team’s second-round pick, unless that team does not have a selection in the round.  Those players will instead announce their teams’ picks in the third round, which will also take place Friday night. Continue reading

Prime-Time Possibilities

The NFL will reveal its 2013 regular-season schedule on Thursday – timing this big announcement exactly one week before the offseason’s biggest event, the draft – and there’s a lot to look forward to.  That’s 256 long-awaited pieces of information, all dropped at exactly the same time, to a public hungry for any and all NFL news.

Buc fans are eager to find out quite a few specifics on Thursday.  Where will the season start?  When do those dang Falcons come to town?  How soon will we get a chance for revenge against the Eagles?

Here’s another question: When will we be able to watch the Bucs in prime time? Continue reading

McCoy Won’t Rest on Accomplishments

In 2012, his third NFL season, Bucs DT Gerald McCoy played well enough to be selected to his first Pro Bowl.  The league’s all-star game was actually played in 2013, a week before Super Bowl XLVII, but as far as McCoy is concerned it doesn’t belong in this calendar year.

McCoy’s NFL bio will always display that first Pro Bowl honor, and hopefully many more, but it has no bearing on his approach to the upcoming season.  If anything, he’s determined not to take any satisfaction from it, lest it convince him that’s already arrived.  On Tuesday, after the second day of Tampa Bay’s 2013 offseason workout program, he refused to let a visiting reporter refer to him as a Pro Bowler.

“No I’m not,” he corrected.  “It’s 2013.  I haven’t done anything.  That’s my motivation.  I’m not a Pro Bowler; that was last year.  This year I haven’t done anything.  We’re in Day Two in our workouts and right now I ‘m just a guy.” Continue reading

Reinforcements from I.R.

The Buccaneers have added 10 men to the roster since the start of free agency (S Dashon Goldson, WR Kevin Ogletree, LB Jonathan Casillas, TE Tom Crabtree, DT Derek Landri, K Nate Kaeding, DE George Selvie, FB Brian Leonard, WR Steve Smith and WR Eric Page).  Next week, they’ll bring in another handful of players through the 2013 NFL Draft, just before the offseason workout program kicks into higher gear with the arrival of OTAs.

The Crabtrees-and-Draftees won’t be the only significant additions to the depth chart since the end of the 2012 season, however.  There’s another group of players from whom the Bucs hope to get a lot more in 2013 than they did last fall, including a pair of proven Pro Bowlers.  For these players, the start of the offseason program on Monday was a long time coming.

The Bucs finished the 2012 season with 13 players on injured reserve.  Of that baker’s dozen, nine are still with the team, and most are eager to get started immediately on their comeback campaigns.  Those nine men coming back from I.R. are: Continue reading

No Schedule Just Yet

A story on Buccaneers.com in late March regarding scheduling trends noted a tweet by a Sports Business Journal reporter who believed the NFL’s 2013 schedule would be released on April 16.  By the way, that’s tomorrow.

Not going to happen.

On Monday, the league announced on NFL.com that there is, as of yet, no date set for the schedule to drop.  Given that it is now April 15 (hope your taxes are in the mail!) and there has been no pre-drop hype from the NFL, this comes as little surprise.  The best guess now is that the 2013 schedule will be released next Tuesday, just two days before the draft begins, on April 23.  It’s becoming difficult to wait. Continue reading

Bucs About to Hit the Field

The vacation is over for the wide swath of grass behind One Buccaneer Place.

The three football fields at Buccaneer headquarters have been quiet for three-plus months, save for a lonely coyote that apparently emigrated from the airport grounds that are relatively nearby and, for a few weeks, made periodical appearances behind One Buc.  The coyote is gone now, but the Buccaneers are about to start using those fields themselves for the first time since the 2012 season came to an end.

They’ll start slowly.  During Phase One of the strictly-outlined offseason program allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players may engage only in strength and conditioning activities and physical rehabilitation at team headquarters.  Thus, the only coaches they will work with on the field are Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Jay Butler and his staff. Continue reading