Orlando, FL---The NFL knows exactly what they're doing and they do it well. The league's biggest strength is grabbing headlines during the offseason--making even monotonous meetings newsworthy.
Let's face it---every major sport has Owners Meetings but nobody garners more attention then the shield. It's a great idea to have ALL of the coaches (this year ALL in one room) meet the media for an hour to talk about--well whatever we want to talk about.
For the Bucs Dirk Koetter-- the topics came fast and furious. Hours later, general manager Jason Licht also faced the music on all things Bucs offseason.
There was a lot to get to, so let me deliver my five takeaways from the Bucs Brass this week in Orlando after attending both media sessions.
(1) PEWTER ACCOUNTABILITY: This looks to be a make or break year for both Koetter and Licht and they revealed the urgency of their current state yet seemed to be sticking to their script.
With all of the outside noise surrounding Koetter and Licht they both said it's a priority to know "we can't make everyone happy," but they also owned the fact they haven't gotten the job done.
Koetter said numerous times "I got to do better," especially highlighting his part in helping the Bucs make a U-turn in close games.
Last season the Bucs were 3-7 in one score games. In contrast, the Falcons were 6-4---that is the difference in making the postseason and Koetter knows it. While some coaches make excuses or cast the blame on others--give credit to the Bucs for both sticking to their offseason game plan yet knowing they are the ones to blame for past failures.
(2) MARATHON NOT A FREE AGENT SPRINT: Fans were all over Licht for not landing a marquee defensive lineman early in the free agency period. Not getting a Robert Quinn or a Michael Bennett caused some in the local and national media to wonder if the Bucs were being aggressive enough but Licht said this week he stuck to his plan and got the guy he wanted in former Giants All Pro Jason Pierre Paul.
Koetter said something interesting in that in free agency, fans and media don't know what happens in terms of how they see the player fitting into their locker room or long term plans--a lot more goes into it than just outbidding or out dealing other teams. He also acknowledged that he wasn't sure if the Bucs were going to be able to get an elite defensive lineman at all this offseason until they recently landed JPP.
Licht said he put a lot of work into the deals for both JPP and Vinny Curry and received great reaction from his peers at the Owners Meetings.
As a result, the Bucs now have A LOT more flexibility in the upcoming draft where they can likely trade the number seven pick and get more selections. I also prefer JPP over Ndamukong Suh---better locker room guy and likely a better complement to Gerald McCoy.
(3) WINSTON'S WOES: We are almost in April and still no verdict on the Jameis Winston "Uber Investigation." I asked Licht if he had heard anything from the league yet on a potential timeline and he without hesitation said, "no."
The word used by both Licht and Koetter regarding this case was "frustrated" and while the Glazer family remains confident their quarterback will eventually be cleared and not miss any time----you have to wonder why this is taking so long?
(4) MORE ACTION FOR JACKSON: Desean Jackson is surely a cautionary free agent tale. Last year's leading man failed to deliver, but whose fault was that?
Dirk Koetter says the blame is on him and the coaching staff for not finding Jackson when he could have made plays. Koetter to improve on this the staff put together an entire tape of plays where Jackson was in position to make a play but the Bucs didn't get him the ball.
Jackson had 50 catches for 668 yards and only three touchdowns and while some say he should have been more aggressive on some plays to fight for the football, Koetter will make it a point of emphasis to get the most out of his biggest deep threat moving forward.
"We didn't do a good job taking advantage of what he does," Koetter said.
(5) HARGREAVES HOT SEAT: While Koetter called himself out several times at the Owners Meetings---he defended his players, in particular struggling cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.
The Bucs former first round pick suffered from a severe sophomore jinx getting benched and then injured finding himself more effective as the nickel corner than the shut down corner last season.
Koetter acknowledged the team needs much more out of a player picked 11th overall----but still believes in the former Florida Gator who showed a lot of promise in his rookie season.
You can bet Hargreaves will get more competition this season---it will be interesting to see if this will help turn his career around.
YOUR DRAFT BONUS
Our "House of Brews" Draft coverage is only a few tight spirals away. Keep it here on pewterpirates.com. next month where we will have shows every Tuesday in April along with shows after each day of the NFL Draft.
We will deliver reaction from Koetter, Licht and the Bucs top picks along with a breakdown from our Bucs Insider Roy Cummings.
The NFL season never ends!
Until next blog,