- Coach Koetter sees the potential with new additions. **Head Coach Dirk Koetter started off his last offseason press conference with his initial conclusions in what he saw from his players. The 90-man roster obviously offers a lot of different options and looks within the different position groups. Beyond the inflated roster, it was free agency and the draft that brought in a significant amount of new projected starters and Coach Koetter can already see how those new guys can potentially help the veteran players on the Bucs’ roster.
“I think what we learned is the new additions are going to help us a lot, not only the free agents but the draft picks,” Koetter said. “Jason [Licht] did an awesome job with the guys he added to our team and I think the guys that are returning are really serious about putting their best foot forward. When you’re 3-7 in one-score games, that really puts everything into perspective as to 3-7 and you’re sitting at home, 5-11 versus Atlanta [who was] 6-4 in one score games and gets in as a wild card and gets a couple of wins. So, everybody likes where they’re at this time of year. The good news is we’re pretty healthy and I’ll be anxious to get back in five weeks and start it up again.”**
- The D-line especially seems as advertised. We’ve spent a lot of the offseason covering the six new additions to the defensive line and touting their talent… on paper. OTAs and Mini-Camp provided the first look at what all those pieces physically look like together. But being OTAs, the players weren’t allowed contact and therefore it’s still hard to tell just how good this new line can be. Listening to the players and coaches talk about the unit provided a lot of optimism, though. No one more so than eight-year veteran defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. “I’m excited about the progress that we’ve made up to this point,” McCoy said. “You can see guys’ improvement, guys taking to coaching. Coach Buck (Brentson Buckner) is teaching and we’re just going to keep building off of that. There’s a lot of work to be done. We did what we could without pads. Everybody knows [that when] training camps comes, it’s just different. It’s real football then. Even then it’s not real because you can’t tackle. D-linemen, we can’t finish until we get in the game. That’s the only time we can finish. But up to that point, you can do what’s necessary, but [when] training camp comes, we’ll see what we’re made of.” 3. The rookies caught on quick. There was a heightened focus on acquiring players that not only yield elite talent, but an elite football IQ this offseason by General Manager Jason Licht and his team. His efforts paid off with the 2018 rookie class and how fast they were able to not only pick up concepts and plays in meeting rooms, but also how they were able to translate them on the field.
No one noticed that more than Coach Koetter. “I think Jason [Licht] went out of his way on everybody we added this year that that was on the checklist,” Coach Koetter said. “You can’t always tell for sure but when the coaches worked guys out, when the scouts were meeting with guys, this is a fast-paced game and you have to be able to think on your feet. I’ve been impressed with what they’ve done thus far and we’ll see when the pads start flying and there’s real hitting.”
- Gerald McCoy wants rookies to ‘live football’ during the break. Following the last practice of the offseason program on Thursday, McCoy had some advice for the rookies during the more than month-long break the players are now embarking on. * *“Young players, you live football. Don’t be happy being in the NFL. So what? What are you going to do now that you’re here. Do something with it. Make the best of your opportunity. Sixteen-hundred of us get to do this so don’t be satisfied with being one of the top 1,600 in the NFL. What are you going to do with it?” **“If I’m me talking to Vita [Vea], ‘go home, say hello to your family and get right back here.’” McCoy continued. “The only way to prepare for this Tampa heat is to train in it. You have to be in it. This is very temporary. It goes by way too fast. If you’re a young guy, until you learn how to manage it all, live football. That’s my advice to young guys.”