Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Teddy Bridgewater

TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith frequently gets compared to Tony Dungy.

That’s understandable because Dungy was the coach when Smith first joined the Bucs as linebackers coach back in 1996. They share similar personalities and philosophies.

But maybe we’ve been comparing Smith to the wrong former Tampa Bay coach. What I keep hearing reminds me a lot more of Sam Wyche than Dungy.

Take what Smith had to say after Sunday’s 19-13 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

“If you look at the big picture, right now we’re in the same position we were before we started the game," Smith said.

Smith’s point was that the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers lost Sunday and nobody’s running away with the NFC South. But, seriously, does anyone believe the 1-6 Bucs are going to suddenly turn things around and win the division?

Wyche used to make statements like that – and this:

“As a young team, we’re seeing small improvements," Smith said.

Really? I didn’t see any improvement from an offense that didn’t do anything until the fourth quarter. I wasn’t that impressed by a defense that was decent, but far from great, against rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Dungy had a successful run with the Bucs. Wyche did not. Dungy also got off to a rough start in his first season. He stood by his convictions and things eventually turned. Things never turned for Wyche.

Whether Smith turns out to be more like Dungy or Wyche will be determined in time. But Smith doesn’t need to talk about improvement anymore.

He needs some wins.
TAMPA, Fla. -- If someone makes a lowlight film of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' season, they now have the perfect opening scene.

It came in Sunday’s 19-13 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings and it summed up the way things have been going for the 1-6 Buccaneers. It came on the first play of overtime.

Rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a pass from Mike Glennon that would have been a first down. But what happened next decided the game. Minnesota’s Anthony Barr knocked the ball out of Seferian-Jenkins' hands. Barr grabbed the ball and ran 27 yards for a touchdown to win the game.

“No excuse," Seferian-Jenkins said. “I’ve got to hold onto the ball better than that.’’

Seferian-Jenkins’ mistake might have been one of youth. He was fighting for extra yardage when the fumble took place.

“You have to get down in that situation," coach Lovie Smith said. ‘We had a positive play. In an overtime situation, when you know if you score a touchdown down there, you’ve got to protect the ball. If you take the ball right away, then you have to protect it and you can’t have a takeaway on that end of the field. That’s Football 101 and we have to correct it.’’

Seferian-Jenkins’ play was crucial. But it wasn’t the only reason the Bucs lost. The offense did nothing for three quarters and the defense didn’t do anything special against rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Bucs could have won the game in regulation if cornerback Johnthan Banks had held onto a potential interception, but he did not.

“It’s not [Seferian-Jenkins’] fault that we lost the game,’’ wide receiver Mike Evans said. “There were a lot of other plays. We only scored 13 points as an offense. We’ve got to be better.’’
TAMPA, Fla. -- They went through their bye week using phrases such as "fresh start" and pledging things would get better.

So what happened Sunday? Things got worse for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lost 19-13 in overtime to the Minnesota Vikings at Raymond James Stadium.

Despite taking a lead late in the fourth quarter, the Bucs suffered what might have been their most painful loss in a season filled with painful losses. This one came at home. It came against a bad team. It came against a rookie quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.

It was more of the same old story as the offense struggled to be consistent and the defense played well, but didn't hold up when it mattered most.

"Ideally, that's not how we wanted to start it," coach Lovie Smith said. "Fresh start, it says 'home game, home win.'"

Such talk might be getting old, especially when Smith keeps saying his team is improving. The Bucs are 1-6. But maybe that talk about a fresh start needs to continue. The Bucs need to go back to the guy who was supposed to give them a fresh start at the beginning of the season.

They need to go back to Josh McCown at quarterback.

Mike Glennon has done some good things at times. But let's be honest here: At no point this season has the offense played the way the Bucs envisioned it would. I'm not putting all the blame for that on Glennon. The offensive line has been inconsistent in its pass blocking and bad in its run blocking. Running back Doug Martin can't seem to find a hole (if there are any) and the receivers aren't doing a great job of getting open or holding on to passes.

Sunday was just another day the offense spent sputtering. The Bucs had only 72 total yards of offense -- and zero points -- in the first half.

"When you're three-and-out and three-and-out, it's hard to get anything going," Smith said.

"The defense played tremendous," offensive tackle Demar Dotson said. "We've got to help those guys out by putting more points on the board, which we didn't."

Yeah, there was the flurry of 13 points in the fourth quarter -- the same quarter as top receiver Vincent Jackson had his only catch. As has been the case too often this season, Tampa Bay's offense came up with too little, too late.

So how do you solve that?

You start from scratch. McCown, who suffered a thumb injury in Week 3, is healthy now. He was the guy the Bucs went through the whole offseason and preseason thinking would be their quarterback.

McCown wasn't very good in his three starts. But something dramatic has to happen for the offense to get on track.

Before this season gets too far out of control, it's time to go back and start things over. Let Glennon go back to being the quarterback of the future and let McCown try to give this team a lift.

W2W4: Buccaneers vs. Vikings

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
Five things to watch in Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings:

Tampa Bay pass rush: This has been the most disappointing area for a team filled with disappointing areas. The Bucs haven't recorded a sack in the last two games and they have only nine on the season. It's critical for the Bucs to put strong pressure on Teddy Bridgewater to try to force the rookie quarterback into making mistakes. The good news is that defensive end Michael Johnson, who has been playing with an ankle injury most of the season, had a chance to get healthy over the bye week.

Minnesota pass rush: The Vikings have 20 sacks and defensive end Everson Griffen has seven of them. Tampa Bay's pass blocking had been decent up until the Baltimore game in which the Bucs allowed five sacks. The offensive line needs to bounce back and slow the Vikings.

Bridgewater: He has played like a rookie with ups as well as downs. He has only one touchdown pass to go with five interceptions. Tampa Bay's secondary is back at full strength with safety Dashon Goldson back to full health. The secondary has been quiet all season, but this is a game where it can make noise.

Mike Glennon: This game is critical for Glennon. He's played fairly well since taking over for an injured Josh McCown. But McCown is getting close to being fully recovered from his thumb injury and he was the hand-picked starter by coach Lovie Smith. Glennon needs to play well to keep his hold on the starting job.

Doug Martin: The running back has been bottled up all season. Martin is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. You can put some of the blame on the offensive line, but not all of it. Backup Bobby Rainey is averaging 4.9 yards a carry and Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the most elusive back in the league. The Bucs could start using more of Rainey and less of Martin.
TAMPA, Fla. – If Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David and Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater cross paths on Sunday – which they almost certainly will – it won’t be the first time.

When David was a senior at Miami’s Northwestern High, Bridgewater was a freshman there. With David playing a significant role, the school won a mythical national title. Bridgewater didn’t get to start until the next year, but David said he saw something special in the quarterback.

“From the time he was there we always knew he was going to be a superstar in the making," David said. “Great kid. Quiet, humble and a hard worker. I knew him quite a bit.

“I saw him my senior year when I was leaving out and got a chance to watch the spring game. All the old guys came back and we knew he was going to be the next starter at our high school."

David said he’s been impressed with the film he’s seen of Bridgewater this year.

“He’s trying to manage the game, trying to be careful with the football," David said. “He’s making his right reads. He’s just still trying to fit in. He’s doing good so far."

But David and his teammates will be looking to make Bridgewater look bad on Sunday. The defense has been taking a lot of criticism and is ranked last in the league. David, a team captain, said it’s time for the Bucs to get things right on defense.

“We’ve got to fix what we need to fix and that number will go down," David said. “We’ve got a lot of talent and a lot of skill. It’s about putting it all together and that’s what we’re trying to do coming off the bye week."

Don't expect any fine offensive displays Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

That's because the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both are struggling on offense. The Vikings (2-5) and Bucs (1-5) are starting young quarterbacks and ranked near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories.

The Vikings, led by rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, rank No. 29 in overall offense and are last in passing offense. The Bucs have been starting second-year pro Mike Glennon and they're ranked No. 30 in overall offense.

ESPN Vikings reporter Ben Goessling and ESPN Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas preview the matchup:

Yasinskas: Ben, I know the numbers aren't pretty. But has Bridgewater been showing any signs of progress?

Goessling: He has shown some. He hit 12 of his 15 throws after a pair of interceptions in Buffalo on Sunday, and I thought he did a better job of trusting himself to find his receivers downfield than he has in recent weeks. He has looked great at times, especially in the Vikings' win over Atlanta last month, but he's still figuring a lot of things out.

He needs to be better about throwing on target, and he has fallen victim to the same problems that plague many rookies, when he has held the ball a little too long or thrown late because he didn't make up his mind soon enough. But it's important to remember Bridgewater doesn't have Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph and an offensive line that can protect him. The Vikings have given up 27 sacks this season, which is the second-most in the league, and they've forced Bridgewater to run for his life on a number of other occasions.

Speaking of quarterbacks, will Glennon remain the starter or will Josh McCown get the job back now that he's getting healthy?

Yasinskas: Coach Lovie Smith has been coy about his plans. My best guess is Glennon will get at least one more start because McCown returned to practice only this week and was out for more than a month. I think Glennon has played well enough to be the full-time starter, but I'm not sure Smith sees it that way. McCown was Smith's hand-picked quarterback and the two have history together from their Chicago days. Smith's history has shown he prefers to go with veterans. Back in Chicago, he once benched Kyle Orton, who was playing well, as soon as Rex Grossman got healthy. It wouldn't surprise me if Smith goes back to McCown.

You mentioned Minnesota's offensive line. I know it has been banged up. Will it be any healthier this week, and can it at least give Bridgewater some protection against a Tampa Bay pass rush that hasn't been good?

Goessling: It's hard to say at this point if it will be healthier. Guard Vladimir Ducasse is optimistic about his chances to play after injuring his knee on Sunday, but John Sullivan is still going through the concussion protocol, and his loss would be a big one. He's the Vikings' most reliable blocker, and does plenty to help Bridgewater set protections.

The biggest problem, though, has been left tackle Matt Kalil, who got beat again several times on Sunday and has struggled in pass protection all season. Kalil was the No. 4 pick in the draft in 2012 and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but got hurt last year and hasn't looked like the same guy. The Vikings were able to protect Bridgewater effectively against Atlanta, another team with an underwhelming pass rush, so I'd expect they'll fare better this week than they have against Detroit and Buffalo.

Shifting to the defensive side of the ball, how has the Vikings' old coach, Leslie Frazier, fared as the coordinator? The Bucs have obviously been shredded on defense; how much of that do you think is Frazier and Smith's old Cover 2 scheme and how much is personnel?

Yaskinsas: Tampa Bay ranks last in total defense and also is No. 32 in pass defense. That's shocking since Smith and Frazier are supposed to be defensive gurus. I think this team has good defensive personnel, especially with tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. But the pass rush has been non-existent, and that has taken a toll on the secondary. The main problem might be Smith's stubbornness. He's sticking with the Tampa 2 scheme even though it looks like it might be outdated. I'm not saying he should totally ditch the Tampa 2, but it might be wise -- and productive -- to mix in some man coverage at times.

The Vikings lost a last-minute game against Buffalo last week. That reminded me that the Vikings lost a lot of games in the final minutes last season. Is there some sort of flaw there or is this just a young team that needs to learn how to win?

Goessling: They believe it's the latter. The approach the Vikings took on the final drive on Sunday didn't look like what they did last year, when they sat back in coverage on a lot of those final drives. They were aggressive with their fronts, blitzing Orton four times on the drive and sacking him twice. But there were breakdowns that probably can be traced to inexperience. Josh Robinson needed to reroute Sammy Watkins when he pressed him on third-and-12, Xavier Rhodes misplayed Watkins' game-winning touchdown, and first-year coach Mike Zimmer said he probably should have called a timeout before a fourth-and-20 play -- like Frazier did in a couple games last season -- to get the defense settled. The Vikings gave up a first down there after Chad Greenway was trying to get Captain Munnerlyn in the right spot in a no-huddle situation. Greenway had his head turned at the snap and didn't get deep enough in coverage to keep Orton from hitting Scott Chandler for a first down.

The Vikings are young in the secondary, especially, and I think that showed up Sunday, but I continue to see progress in what they're doing. They have Pro Bowl-caliber players in Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith, and Rhodes has continued to improve as a corner. It'll take another year of player acquisitions, but they're headed in the right direction.

To wrap this up, why has the Buccaneers' ground game struggled so much? It might be a function of playing from behind as much as they have, but it seems like they've struggled to run the ball in closer games, too. What do you think the problem has been there?

Yasinskas: It's true they have had to abandon the running game at times because they've fallen so far behind. But even at the start of games, they've struggled to run the ball. That's puzzling because they have a rebuilt offensive line and running back Doug Martin is healthy after missing much of last season with a shoulder injury. I put the majority of the blame on the offensive line. But I also put some blame on Martin. He is averaging only 2.9 yards per carry. His backup, Bobby Rainey, is averaging 4.9 yards a carry. Martin needs to make more out of his opportunities.

TAMPA, Fla. -- If you're looking for an under-the-radar player with a chance to make Tampa Bay's roster, you might want to consider wide receiver Tommy Streeter. But look quickly because Streeter might not be an unknown for much longer.

Streeter already is catching the eyes of his teammates and coaches.

"We kind of have a running joke, 'Man, that dude is catching the ball right and left, over and over,'" quarterback Josh McCown said after Thursday's practice. "It's like one of the better camps I've been around for a receiver. He's just got so many dang catches. And he's just doing his job. He's just a humble, hard-working guy that comes out here every day and gets after it. He catches the ball when it's thrown to him and that's all you can ask for as a player."

[+] EnlargeTampa Bay's Tommy Streeter
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsTampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown said Tommy Streeter's performance this summer is "one of the better camps I've been around for a receiver."
Streeter's talent flashed again in Thursday's practice when he made a nice catch when matched up against veteran safety Major Wright.

"He's another guy with good size, good height, good speed and he's been catching the football," coach Lovie Smith said. "You talk to him and he doesn't want a whole lot of complements, he's just 'Hey, I'm just trying to do my job, trying to get better very day,' saying all the right things, just making plays. That's all you have to do as a player. You don't have to worry about, am I going to make the roster, am I going to get enough plays. If you get one play, you do something, you'll continue to get more. We've noticed him. When we initially came to camp he's wasn't one of the guys we were talking a lot about. But he's been pretty steady every day."

Streeter seems to be putting himself in line for a roster spot in a receiving corps in which the only sure things are starters Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.

A sixth-round draft pick by Baltimore in 2012, Streeter has been unable to make an impact in the NFL so far. But he's not a stranger to the big stage. Streeter played at the University of Miami.

"No, I'm not afraid," Streeter said. "I've been doing this since age 7. I don't see any difference at any level. It all comes down to, at this level, how much goes into the preparation before the dance."

Streeter has been preparing for the dance by paying close attention to Jackson. That's a wise choice because Streeter is the same size (6-foot-5) as Jackson.

"I talk to him every day," Streeter said. "I ask him different questions on how do you run this route based on different leverages and techniques. Basically, what little tricks and crafty moves he has that he uses to get open. I try to incorporate that in my game as well."

Streeter said he already has learned a lot from Jackson.

"His ability to drop his weight and get in and out of his cuts," Streeter said. "He comes downhill and he's aggressive to the ball. That's something I always continuously try to improve on. At the University of Miami, I was always the deep ball guy. When you come here in this offense there's a lot of route running involved. That's something I continuously work on and something I always try to get better at."

Streeter may not have the NFL pedigree, but he came out of one of the nation's top high school programs. That's Miami Northwestern.

"They used to call us the University of Northwestern," Streeter said.

Streeter's high school team also featured two other Buccaneers, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Anthony Gaitor. Streeter wore the same jersey (No. 5) as previously worn by Kenbrell Thompkins, who now is with the New England Patriots, and later worn by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

"My coach, when he gave it to me, he was like 'Son, I'm going to give you No. 5. You might have to do a little history to understand the importance of this number and the guys who wore it before you and what they did,'" Streeter said. "I was kind of nervous, like 'Does the No. 5 jersey glow or something? Is everybody watching me?' But nonetheless, I thrived in that environment."

If Streeter can continue doing what he has been doing in practice, he might be able to thrive with the Buccaneers.
The steady parade of quarterbacks into One Buccaneer Place likely isn’t a smokescreen.

Every action we’ve seen out of coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht so far has been very deliberate. That’s why Johnny Manziel's visit Thursday is the latest sign the Bucs might be serious about taking a quarterback in this year’s draft.

They’ve already had visits with Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo and they still could bring in another quarterback or two. On the surface, the Bucs seem to have bigger needs than quarterback.

They seem to have a decent quarterback situation with veteran Josh McCown backed up by Mike Glennon. McCown is scheduled to make nearly $5 million in guaranteed money this season, so he’s not a guy the Bucs want carrying a clipboard.

In the modern NFL, if you draft a quarterback early, you’re expected to play him right away. But maybe the Bucs are thinking about going against that trend. They could draft a quarterback and let him sit for a year behind McCown.

Most mock drafts have the Bucs going in another direction. But I’m not ready to write off the possibility of them drafting a quarterback.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hosting one of the biggest names in this year’s NFL draft this week.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is visiting the Bucs, according to The Tampa Tribune’s Roy Cummings. Manziel will be the third quarterback to visit with the Bucs. The team previously hosted Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo.

I never like to read too much into these visits because teams can bring in 30 players and some of them are nothing more than smokescreens. But it’s pretty obvious the Bucs, who already have veteran Josh McCown and second-year pro Mike Glennon, are at least doing their homework on this year's crop of quarterbacks.
Although they have signed veteran Josh McCown and still have Mike Glennon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have repeatedly said they still might draft a quarterback at No. 7.

In the latest sign the Bucs might be serious, NFL Network reports that Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is visiting One Buccaneer Place on Monday. Bridgewater is widely viewed as one of the best quarterbacks in the draft and could be a top-10 pick.

Just because Bridgewater is visiting the Bucs doesn't mean the team will draft him. But it's a sign the Bucs are doing their homework on all possible scenarios.

Generally, you don't find a franchise quarterback beyond the top-10 picks and the Bucs are hoping they're not in that position in future years. This might be their shot to get a franchise quarterback and they have to know all they can find out about Bridgewater.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: Buccaneers

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
After a 4-12 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the seventh overall pick in the draft.

It's hard to predict what the new regime of general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith will do with that pick. But the Bucs definitely have options as they start a new era.

Even after signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown, Smith said it remains possible the Bucs could use their first-round pick on the position. That could come into play if Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr remain on the board when the Bucs pick.

If the Bucs don't go with a quarterback, there are other options on offense. Tampa Bay is overhauling its offensive line and tackles Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson could be options. If the Bucs really want to spice up their offense, wide receiver Sammy Watkins could be a possibility.

But Smith is a defensive coach and he might go with what he knows best. Outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr have been tied to the Bucs in some mock drafts.

Check out ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's latest mock draft to see which players he thinks Buccaneers should target with their first pick.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have their latest mock drafts out, and they’re in agreement on who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take at No. 7.

Kiper and McShay have the Bucs choosing Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack. But unless the Bucs are planning to convert Mack into a defensive end, I don’t think this would be a good move. The Bucs already have one star at outside linebacker in Lavonte David, and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to invest a lot more in this area.

Personally, I think the Bucs should go with Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy. He’d be a natural fit opposite Adrian Clayborn. The addition of a pass-rushing defensive end might be all that separates the Bucs from having an elite defense.

If Ealy isn’t there or the Bucs want to go in another direction, I easily can see them taking Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson. The offensive line wasn’t very good last season and needs some new talent.

Of course, there’s another scenario that’s at least a possibility. The new regime has been saying nice things so far about quarterback Mike Glennon. But it remains to be seen if the Bucs are content to go with Glennon. If they have a shot at Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Derek Carr, they might not be able to pass on a quarterback.

Derek Carr a fit for Buccaneers?

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
TAMPA, Fla. -- It’s Senior Bowl week and that means it’s time for the guessing game about the 2014 draft to start.

You’ll start hearing rumblings about which players teams are watching and interviewing. You’ll start to get a better idea about which positions teams may be addressing in the draft and you’ll hear that stock is rising and falling on certain players.

For the Buccaneers, the biggest question is what, if anything, they’ll do at quarterback. The new regime has had some nice things to say about Mike Glennon so far, but coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford have stopped short of firmly saying he’s their starter.

If the Bucs decide Glennon’s not their quarterback, they could look to free agency where the prospects aren’t overly attractive. It’s more likely they would look to the draft, where they hold the No. 7 overall pick.

Scott Reynolds throws out an intriguing scenario in his mock draft. He has the Bucs using their first-round pick on Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr. Reynolds is going on the assumption that Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles already will be gone.

Carr makes sense for a number of reasons, starting with talent and athleticism that may give him a higher upside than Glennon. But there’s more than that. There’s history and familiarity here.

Tedford coached Carr’s brother, David, at Fresno State. David Carr flopped in the NFL, mostly because he was stuck behind one of the worst offensive lines in history with the Houston Texans. But Derek Carr has more mobility than his brother.

He could be a logical fit for the Buccaneers. Carr will be taking part in the Senior Bowl and it’s a safe bet to say the Bucs will be watching him closely.
Mel Kiper Jr. revealed his first mock draft, Insider and his pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers isn't a real shock.

Kiper has the Bucs taking Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack with the No. 7 overall pick. A traditional outside linebacker isn't Tampa Bay's biggest need, but there's plenty of logic there because the Bucs desperately need an edge rusher and Mack has freakish athletic skills. He may be too small to move to defensive end permanently, but he has great pass-rush skills and that's reason enough why I could see the Bucs taking him.

I also could see them taking UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, who Kiper has going one pick sooner to Atlanta.

But that doesn't mean the Bucs are locked in on a pass-rusher. The new regime has to decide whether Mike Glennon can be the starting quarterback. If the answer is no, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater would be available in Kiper's scenario.

The Bucs could decide to stick with Glennon and that could lead them to use this pick on an offensive lineman. Auburn tackle Greg Robinson and Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan are available in Kiper's mock.