It seems that the Buccaneers are garnering some national attention for how well quarterback Jameis Winston could fit into Head Coach Bruce Arians’ system. From the NFL Scouting Combine, Arians said he’s looking forward to working with Winston, not only because of his talent as a player, which he’s known since Winston was in the ninth grade and participated in an Arians-led football camp, but now also because of the work ethic Winston has as an NFL athlete. National media outlets, including the beloved show Good Morning Football, weighed in and the breakfast table had some great things to say.
I also wrote about why this pairing could work back when Coach Arians first got hired in the beginning of January. After reading his book, The Quarterback Whisperer, there were quite a few things that stuck out to me, aligning his ideal quarterback with who Winston already is. If you didn’t read it then, you can read it now – no hard feelings on my part. Better late than never, right?
Some position changes could be coming for current Bucs players under this new staff. When speaking at the podium in Indianapolis, General Manager Jason Licht commented on possible position changes for the likes of defensive back M.J. Stewart and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch. After getting most of his NFL work at nickel back, Stewart was being tried out at safety in practice at the end of last season and it seems that could continue. Benenoch had a forgettable season as right guard for the Buccaneers, but Licht said he thinks Benenoch’s natural position is at tackle, instead. More on those two, plus an increased role for defensive lineman Noah Spence here from Scott Smith.
This shifting of current personnel also makes sense given something else Licht said. He mentioned how free agency for the Buccaneers would be focused on retaining the players set to become free agents that are currently on the roster. That means guys like left tackle Donovan Smith, linebacker Kwon Alexander and wide receiver Adam Humphries, all three of which made the Top 100 Free Agents List from Pro Football Talk, won’t be cheap to keep. The issue is that the Bucs are already short on cap space, so plugging holes with existing personnel allows you to fill needs without any extra cost and therefore leaves you more cash to retain the guys you want to retain. The Bucs made a splash in free agency last year but given the talent they already have and their meager cap flexibility, free agency may not end up being all that eventful this year. The exciting part will come in the implementation of a new offense and defense under Head Coach Bruce Arians, promising plenty of changes and improvements even if the personnel stays relatively the same.
There was more where that came from as both General Manager Jason Licht and Head Coach Bruce Arians took to the podium from the NFL Combine, providing myriad more nuggets to digest. I broke out a few that both Licht and Arians said so you don’t have to watch the entire press conference.
One thing (of the many) I found candid was Licht talking about when Arians first saw tight end O.J. Howard in person. Apparently, Howard was rehabbing on the field of the facility on one of Arians’ first days in the office. Licht pointed Howard out to Arians and when he did, Arians’ eyes ‘went like this’ as Licht widened his own eyes, mimicking Arians.
Speaking of Howard, I think Arians has fallen victim to a little bit of a mischaracterization when it comes to tight ends. A common sentiment going around is how his offense doesn’t utilize tight ends well. To that, I have to wonder if everyone just forgot about tight end Heath Miller in Pittsburgh, who was in Arians’ system when Arians was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers from 2007-2011. Miller had some of his most productive seasons in that time period, racking up an average of 602.4 receiving yards per season in that span with 14 touchdowns, even earning himself a Pro Bowl nod in 2009. He had 98 targets that year. Howard was on pace for 76.8 targets last year before his season was cut short, for reference. The point is, if you have the personnel, a do-it-all Heath Miller-type ‘Y’ player, you use him. And what do you think O.J. Howard is?
Darcie Glazer Kassewitz and Bruce Arians spoke at the Women’s Careers in Football Forum in Indianapolis this week. The separate panel discussions were all about encouraging women to pursue careers in football, especially in operations and on the scouting and coaching side. Arians employed the first female coach in the NFL back in Arizona, when he hired Dr. Jen Welter to the Cardinals’ staff. Glazer Kassewitz is extremely involved in the day-to-day operations of the Buccaneers and attended the same forum last year when it was held in Orlando.
For the full recap of the forum, check out Scott Smith’s coverage here.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation matched a $15,000 donation made by a Bucs Legend toward a scholarship fund at the University of South Florida. Jerry Bell, a former tight end in Tampa Bay, along with his wife, Ruth, contributed $15,000 to grow the Black Leadership Network Bell Family Scholarship at South Florida earlier this month. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation matched that contribution through the Social Justice Fund, used to aid social justice initiatives by not just current, but former players, as well.