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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What IS Working | S.S. Mailbag

This week, Buccaneers fans have questions about Mike Evans' place in Bucs history, the silver linings among the team's 3-5 start, a hypothetical 33rd franchise, and more


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a wild game in Houston last weekend when Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud threw a touchdown pass with six seconds left to make the final 39-37. That surprising last-minute drive trumped the Buccaneers own impressive go-ahead score 40 seconds earlier and robbed the visiting team of an opportunity to celebrate a very memorable victory.

While not really getting over the sting of that loss, there were a couple things in the game that we, as Bucs fans, can celebrate. One was Mike Evans getting 87 receiving yards to become just the 39th player in NFL history to top 11,000 in his career. Evans continues to put additional flourishes on what is increasingly looking like a Hall of Fame resume.

The other was Lavonte David recording 11 tackles – his fourth straight game with double-digit stops – and increasing his career total to 1,422. With seven more tackles he will pass Hall of Famer Rondé Barber for second place on the franchise's all-time list in that category, moving into second behind another Hall of Famer, Derrick Brooks.

Evans and David are clearly two of best and most accomplished players in franchise history and should eventually see their names hung in the Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium. However, while Evans will eventually retire as the team's all-time leading receiver, since he's already got that mantle, Davis is very unlikely to end up with the franchise tackle record. That's because even when he makes the tackle that surpasses Barber, David will still be 769 tackles behind Brooks, who amazingly finished his career with 2,198 of them.

At the rate he is making tackles this season (9.75 per game), David would finish the 17-game slate with 166 tackles. That would put him at 1,510 on his career, which would still be 688 behind Brooks. If David were to play four more seasons – and, he is still amazing, that's asking a lot – he would have to average 172 tackles per campaign. Before this season, his career high was 146 tackles.

Which got me thinking? David is not going to catch Brooks, but will anyone, ever? How likely is that tackle record to stand forever, no matter how long the Buccaneers franchise exists? And what of other franchise career records? Let's take a look, starting with these two we've already been discussing.

Warning: This intro gets a bit lengthy. Feel free to skip down to the questions if you sent one in and want to see if it made it.

Most Career Tackles: 2,198 by Derrick Brooks

- Broken soon? No chance. If David is too far back, there isn't anyone else even remotely in the picture

- Broken eventually? Probably not. I say this not because it's impossible for the Buccaneers to ever find another tackling machine like Brooks, but because how the manner in which tackle stats are compiled has changed through the years. Tackles didn't actually become an official statistic that outside services tracked and compiled until 2001, and even after that some teams continued to count and publish their own tackle stats for more than a decade. Now, the tackle totals you see in team publications and outside services come straight from the box scores that official stat crews compile during games. Since coaches, who recorded tackles while grading the players on Mondays after each game, could sometimes be a bit more generous with their tackle assessments, players in previous eras may have had somewhat inflated totals, but only as compared to today. I'm not saying which way is right or wrong, or that there is anything whatsoever unreal about Brooks's career totals. It's just two different types of accounting, and it should make it harder for a player in today's NFL to get to that incredible total.

Most Career Receptions, Receiving Yards: 720, 11,019 (and counting), Mike Evans

- Broken soon? I mean, yes, Evans is going to continue to break his own record ever time he plays. And we don't know what his final total is going to be (this will be influenced heavily by whether or not he re-signs with the Buccaneers after the season). Chris Godwin is second all-time in both categories but is still 234 behind in catches and 4,885 in yards. As long as the two remain teammates, Godwin can't really make up much ground.

- Broken eventually? There's potential. If Godwin, who is in  his seventh season, at some point plays five more as a Buccaneer without Evans as a teammate, he would have to average a little less than 50 catches to catch Evans on that one, but close to 1,000 yards per season to get that one. Those numbers are not impossible, obviously, but the five-more-seasons-without-Evans scenario is a little far-fetched. However, I'll say there's a decent chance of those records being broken one day because of the way passing numbers in the NFL just keep going up. We're probably talking about many more decades of Buccaneers football, and it's not unreasonable to think another star receiver will come along, get caught up in a prolific offense and stick around for a while.

Most Career Passing Yards: 19,737 by Jameis Winston

- Broken soon? Depends on the definition of soon. Winston did that in just five seasons, so if a similarly prolific young quarterback came along at some time in the near future, it could happen.

- Broken eventually? Almost certainly, and for the same reason as the receiving answers above. You have to figure that at some point, whether it's two or 10 years from now, the Bucs are going to land a potential franchise quarterback in the draft, and if he – unlike all the other ones who came before him – gets that second contract and plays eight to 10 years as a Buc, it should fall.

Most Career Rushing Yards: 5,957 by James Wilder

- Broken soon? Nope. Rachaad White is the active leader in rushing yards for the Bucs, and he's 30th in team history. He's still working his way towards his first 1,000 yards. If he proves to be a long-term answer for the Buccaneers in the backfield, he might eventually had a shot, but the relative brevity of most running backs careers makes that a bet I wouldn't want to take.

- Broken eventually? I think so. Several guys have gotten close. Mike Alstott finished with 5,088 and might have gotten there if a neck injury hadn't led him to retire. Warrick Dunn got to 4,986 and would have easily shot by Wilder if he had re-signed with the Buccaneers in 2002, instead of in 2008. Doug Martin got to 4,633 and that was with several injury-plagued and disappointing seasons sandwiched between some monster campaigns. Nobody's close now, but some stud back should come along eventually and break this record with a six or seven-year span of production.

Most Career Interceptions: 47 by Rondé Barber

Broken soon? Not a snowball's chance in hell. Before Barber, Donnie Abraham had the record with 31, but that was only two better than the previous recordholder, Cedric Brown. Barber's mark is more than 50% better than Abraham's total. And the game has changed dramatically. In 1999, Barber's third season, there were an average of 2.2 interception per game. Last year, that number was 1.5 per game. Quarterbacks, on average, throw a lot fewer picks than they used to.

- Broken eventually? I doubt it. Even Barber, the best ball hawk in franchise history, only had five or more interceptions in two of his 16 seasons. He put the record out of reach due to his longevity. Sixteen-year NFL careers, especially played exclusively with one team, are very uncommon.

Most Career Sacks: 78.5 by Lee Roy Selmon

- Broken soon? Not too likely. Shaq Barrett is the leading active player on the list, and he's fifth with 43.5. Let's be modest and say he's at 48.5 by the end of the season. That means he would have to record three more 10-sack campaigns with the Buccaneers to catch Selmon. Only Simeon Rice has five double-digit sack campaigns as a Buccaneer.

- Broken eventually? Probably. Selmon's career sack total is the seventh lowest for a franchise all-time leader among the current 32 teams. If I were writing this for, say, the Bills (Bruce Smith) or the Giants (Michael Strahan), I wouldn't be nearly as bullish on the possibility. Warren Sapp nearly caught Selmon with his 77.0 sacks, and definitely would have if he hadn't gone to the Raiders for his last four seasons. With decades of Bucs football to go, at some point a star edge rusher is going to come along and spend most of his career in Tampa, long enough to break that record.

Most Points Scored: 592 by Martin Gramatica

- Broken soon? Very possible, if "soon" means within the next couple seasons and if Evans remains a Buccaneer beyond 2023 (fingers crossed). He currently has 530 points and has been finding the end zone pretty regularly this year. If he scores 10 more touchdowns as a Buccaneer he'll be at 590 points. Throw in a couple two-point conversions or an 11th TD and he's there.

- Broken eventually? If by Evans, yes. If not, I'd say the chances are low. Evans is not getting there the normal way. Six of the Bucs' top eight all-time scorers are kickers. Not sure we're going to see another touchdown scorer as prolific as Evans anytime soon, given that he's tied for 17th in NFL history in that category. So it would more likely have to be a kicker, and it no longer seems the norm for a kicker to stick with the franchise long enough to have a shot at 600 points.

Man, even by my standards that was a long intro. Now, finally, on to your questions.

A reminder that you can send questions to me any time you want on Twitter (@ScottSBucs) and they're easier to find if you include the hashtag #SSMailbagBucs. We are also now soliciting questions each week on our Instagram page; look for that story on Wednesdays. As always, if you want to get a longer question into the mailbag and would prefer to email your question, you can do so to

View pictures from Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice on 11/9/2023.

Is Mike Evans the best Buccaneer ever?

- @jedscottyy (via Instagram)

Welp, might as well start here given the discussion in the intro.

Clearly, Mike Evans is in the discussion of the best player in Buccaneers franchise history. He has the most touchdowns (at this point, by a pretty wide margin), the most yards and receptions by far, the most 100-yard receiving games, the single-season records for yardage and touchdowns, and so on. There is no debate that he is the greatest offensive player in team history. There are no offensive players in the Hall of Fame who played the majority of their careers as a Buccaneer…yet. The fact that Evans has a very good shot at being the first pretty much ends that debate.

But, man, this franchise has a very rich history of stars on the other side of the ball. There are five player who were primarily Buccaneers in the Hall of Fame, and they all played defense: Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Rondé Barber. They are all in the Hall; Evans is not (yet). As such, it would seem a bit like hubris to put Evans above all of those players right now, while his career is still going on. If you go by the Bucs' all-time AV (approximate value) list on Pro Football Reference, Brooks remains number one, and by a pretty good margin.

Talk to me again, however, when Evans has finally hung up his cleats. If he remains a Buccaneer and adds to his legacy, we will probably end up with a very healthy debate on this one. (We might throw Lavonte David into the argument, as well.)

Some people are too negative, this team feels like they are close to being really good. What are some things this team does very well?

- @grphix_ (via Instagram)

I don't know, negative talk about your favorite team is generally born out of frustration, and it's pretty easy to be frustrated after a four-game losing streak that had multiple games come down to the wire. I don't necessarily enjoy listening to negativity about the Buccaneers, but I can understand why it's happening at this moment in time.

Of course, I'm sure there are people all over the spectrum right now, from too negative to somewhat blinkered. I appreciate that you are more on the positive side of that spectrum, grphix, and it's certainly a reasonable exercise to point out a few things that this iteration of the Buccaneers is doing quite well. Here are some high points, in no particular order:

For one thing, the Bucs' defense is stopping the run pretty well…not quite as well as it did from 2019-21, when it was the best run defense in the NFL, but good enough for ninth in the league at 92.9 yards per game. There have been a couple blips, like the 201 yards Philly got in Week Three, but five of the Bucs' eight opponents have finished with 70 or fewer rushing yards.

The pass blocking has been good, and when it hasn't been good, more often than not Baker Mayfield has saved the play with a scramble or a tough throw under pressure. The Bucs are allowing sacks on just 4.69% of their pass plays, which is the third-best mark in the league. Left tackle Tristan Wirfs has been the best pass-blocking tackle in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, and new right tackle Luke Goedeke has graded out quite well, too.

Meanwhile, Mayfield's passing numbers when under pressure are shockingly good, at least relative to the norm. Against Houston he completed seven of the 11 passes he threw under pressure for 85 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. His expected points added (EPA) while under pressure this year so far is 0.9, which doesn't sound that impressive until you note that he is the only starting quarterback with a positive EPA on such plays. The second-best mark in the league is Josh Allen's -7.5

The Bucs are not generating as many takeaways as they would like, particularly in the secondary, but they're also not turning it over often, which has led to a +8 turnover ratio that is tied for third best in the NFL, just one behind the league-leading Chargers and Bengals. The Bucs have committed just seven giveaways in eight games, which is very good, and Mayfield has not thrown more than one pick in any outing. When the Buccaneers have turned the ball over, the defense has made sure it hasn't hurt the team. Tampa Bay has only allowed six points off turnovers this season, the lowest mark in the league.

The kickers have been very good. New placekicker Chase McLaughlin has made 15 of his 17 field goal tries and all 13 of his extra point attempts, and his only two misses were blocked. He's already four of five from 50 yards or longer, including two 57-yarders and a 55-yarder. Punter Jake Camarda leads the NFL with a gross punting average of 52.3 yards. That and his frequent touchbacks on kickoffs has allowed the Buccaneers to hold their opponents to an average drive start of the 24.0-yard line. That's also number-one in the NFL.

The goal-line offense has been outstanding. The Buccaneers have had seven first-and-goal situations from the five-yard line or closer and all seven have resulted in touchdowns. There are still nine teams that are perfect in that situation, but only two of them had more first-and-goals from the five or closer than the Bucs.

There's more but I'll stop with this one: The Bucs' red zone defense has been phenomenal. It had its first real blemish in the Houston game but otherwise had been the best in the league up to that point. They still rank second in the NFL in touchdown percentage allowed on red zone drives (34.62%), their four takeaways in the red zone are the most in the NFL.

How'd that hit you? Feeling better? Me too.

What would you say this teams identity is right now?

- @marlonserbin (via Instagram)

On offense, I'd say Baker Mayfield is the focal point of that identity taking shape, and it has to do with the way Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales wants him to run it. He wants Mayfield to take what the defense is giving and keep the football out of harm's way as much as possible, but to take the big swings when the time is right. It's a pass-first attack based on what is working best, with short throws to running back Rachaad White to approximate the gravity that a good running game can have on defenders. The idea is to get the ball in the hands of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as much as possible, but when the defense is trying especially hard to take that away, Mayfield has to make it work through the trio of White, tight end Cade Otton and third receiver Trey Palmer. The last game in Houston was an excellent example of how that can work.

On defense, I think we have to throw out the Houston game because there's nothing positive to learn from it, virtually nothing worked in the second half and the plans the Bucs did have were not well executed. Other than that, the identity is to be aggressive – Todd Bowles generally calls one of the highest percentages of blitzes in the league, and that's true again this year – and to try to confuse opposing passers with different looks. To me, Antoine Winfield Jr. is the tone-setter, the one who hustles all over the field in search of big plays. They want to stop the run first to make the opposing offense one-dimensional, and then get after the quarterback.

If you were to create a new NFL franchise, where would it be, what would the mascot be and who would be your rival? Maybe include like who'd you supplement draft?

- Max B (via email)

I spent entirely too much time thinking about this after the email came in yesterday. It really is a fun exercise.

I believe I'm being asked to add a 33rd team, not move or replace and rename a current franchise. We'll just ignore the fact that the NFL probably doesn't ever want to go back to an odd number of teams after dealing with that from 1999 through 2001. It almost certainly would need to be in a city that doesn't already have an NFL franchise, though there are plenty of people (the Bears not among them) who think Chicago could support two teams like New York/New Jersey does. I considered Chicago, but I'm going to give a currently unoccupied city a chance.

My first thought: San Diego. I plan to be around my new franchise, and so I want to live in a nice place. I've always found San Diego to be beautiful, and the California cost of living wouldn't be a problem since I'm apparently wealthy enough to own an NFL franchise. And San Diego is wide-open after the Chargers move to Los Angeles.

The problem for me: I don't think I could come up with a team name or a set of uniforms better than what the Chargers had in San Diego. I feel like from aesthetic and coolness factors I wouldn't be able to clear the bar that the Chargers set. I'd always feel like second fiddle. So I'm going to back away from that one.

Some other cities I considered: Toronto. If the MLB, NHL and NBA can all thrive there, why not the NFL. I'm not talking about London here, which would be complicated logistically. Toronto is only an hour and 40 minute flight from New York and two hours from Chicago. Salt Lake City, Portland, Oklahoma City and San Antonio are also cities that have supported other major sports well. Three teams in Texas seems like a lot but there are three teams in Florida and Texas is bigger than Florida.

But none of those is my answer and I'm afraid my actual answer is going to be underwhelming for the questioner and most readers. That's because it's a true homer pick through and through: St. Louis. I grew up in St. Louis and the Cardinals left just as I was starting college. That hurt, but then Rams came and, while I was already with the Bucs and thus in no danger of being a Rams fan, some of my family members got really into them. But then the Rams left, too, and St. Louis has been without a team since 2016. I'm sure there's a certain portion of the St. Louis populace that simply doesn't want to deal with the NFL anymore, but I noticed that their XFL team, the Battlehawks, was verypopular. I think there would be enough support for my team, and I would be a beloved figure in St. Louis for bringing the NFL back to my hometown. That would be nice.

So the team name. I'm a fan of feline nicknames but we already have the Bengals, Lions, Jaguars and Panthers. So no St. Louis Snow Leopards, even though I like the alliteration. Instead, I'm going to draw inspiration from perhaps the most famous thing in St. Louis: the Gateway Arch. I can call the team the Archers and our imagery would be based around actual archers (you know, bow and arrow) but it would also pay homage to the Arch. You could put an alternate Arch logo on the shoulders of the uniforms.

As for those uniforms. I want a distinctive color combination, and I want to steer away from reds because I want to be distinct from the baseball Cardinals in St. Louis. They already have one of the most iconic uniforms in sports. As noted, I've always admired the Chargers' uniforms and would like to include some kind of light blue. I don't want it to look anything like the Chargers, though, so I'm going to stay away from yellow and white and have my designers come up with some other light blue that we can give a proprietary name and claim it's nothing at all like the Chargers. The other colors would be navy blue and silver…and now I'm realizing that sounds an awful lot like the Titans. Shoot, this is hard. Okay, how about our proprietary nothing-at-all-like-the-Chargers-or-Titans light blue color and taupe. I just looked it up. Sounds weird but they look good together. And nobody else is doing taupe (I think).

So that's my team, the St. Louis Archers, and we would there to be an expansion draft in which other teams leave Myles Garrett, Justin Jefferson, Jeffery Simmons, Christian McCaffrey, Tristan Wirfs, Aaron Donald, Sauce Gardner, Patrick Mahomes and Antoine Winfield Jr. unprotected. I don't think that's too much to ask.

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