I’m going to be doing something new here on Buccaneers.com and catching you up on some of the happenings around AdventHealth Training Center along with stuff around the league that affects our beloved Bucs. They’re just some morning musings for when you get to work or are driving the kids to school – wait, scratch that. Don’t read and drive. But you get what we’re doing here so welcome to the first edition of Carmen Catches Up.
-Yesterday was an off day for players, as Tuesdays usually are, but one very important player was still in the building. Left guard Ali Marpet signed a five-year contract extension that keeps him a Buccaneer until 2023. And no, I don’t want to talk about how 2023 is only five years away.
The significance of Marpet’s deal is two-fold. It first lets the Bucs hang on to a homegrown guy and perhaps one of those ‘diamonds in the rough’ General Manager Jason Licht seems to be so good at finding. Marpet came from Division III Hobart College and has developed into one of the most consistent and reliable offensive linemen in the league. He’s now paid like it, too. The second thing to consider is that his deal was spread out over multiple years to allow for the Bucs to preserve some cap space. Marpet isn’t the only member of the 2015 draft class that is due for a new deal and so the Bucs will have to navigate the salary cap waters over these next few months for the benefit of those guys and the team. But for now, congratulations to the big man Marpet. Even Walmart was excited.
-The Buccaneers’ bye week consisted of a lot of self-scouting for Buccaneers’ coaches, especially. After a lopsided loss at Chicago, the bad taste in the mouths of players and coaches lingered and was made productive by what Coach Koetter asked everyone to do. Before the players left the building last week, he gave them a sheet to fill out with their feedback as to what the Bucs need to address going forward. He said the answers he received were honest and plentiful. If you want to read more about that, Scott Smith has you covered here.
-The Bucs made assistant coaches available this week to the media and defensive assistants Brentson Buckner (defensive line) and Jon Hoke (secondary) spoke about what they had seen so far this season from their respective units. Buckner is always going to shoot you straight. It’s how he is with his guys so he’s not any different when he hops in to answer questions in front of the camera. He was candid about how despite pressures and sacks being up from this time last year, his unit needs to do a better job plain and simple. He mentioned that some of the guys are being asked to do things that are drastically different from what they’ve done their whole careers for the good of the team. That takes time, but he also said he couldn’t be more satisfied with their work and effort. No red flags there.
Coach Hoke had somewhat of the opposite issue to address. His guys may also have a lot to learn, but that’s because the secondary is so young. He mentioned that for the rookies especially, of which there are three that are seeing significant playing time, every play is somewhat of a new experience for them. The NFL game is so much faster than the college game, no matter what program you were a part of. They’ve been through one quarter of their very first NFL season and are having to get comfortable quickly. Coach Hoke couldn’t say enough about how hard they’re all working to pick things up. We’ve also seen cornerback Ryan Smith kind of turn a corner in how well he is playing. Hoke said that the game against Philadelphia in Week Two was probably Smith’s best game. It’s good news to hear that older players (despite that this is only Smith’s third season) are also developing to lead the way for the younger guys.
-For some around the league news, Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees broke the all-time passing record, surpassing Brett Favre and Peyton Manning on Monday Night Football. Not only did he manage the 210 yards he needed in the game to break the record, he got 153 more for 363 total passing yards and three touchdowns on the night. It amounted to a 156.3 passer rating and the highest completion percentage in a single game of his career (89.66) in route to a Saints’ win. That’s just insane. Brees and New Orleans’ only loss this season has actually come at the hands of the Buccaneers in Week One when the Bucs went into the Superdome and shocked the entire league, quite frankly, with a 48-40 upset of the Saints. The two teams are never predictable and Brees still put up a stellar performance so congratulations to the ‘short-guy’ signal caller as he goes down in NFL history this past weekend. I still wish he didn’t have to be in the Bucs’ division.