Jameis Winston and Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans worked through countless routes and were together on and off the field. Winston invited Evans over to his house several times this offseason to break down film before watching Golden State Warriors games.
Tim Grover, who has worked with NBA greats Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, received a call in early February. Grover agreed to meet and establish a preliminary workout but under one condition: Winston would have to abide by strict guidelines and show improvement by Grover's next visit.
"I have to put my stamp on him," said Grover, who is very selective about the high-profile clients he trains. "When it's actually time to follow up on it, sometimes athletes don't do it. I wanted to make sure not only was he saying the right things but was doing them."
Grover was pleasantly surprised when he resumed workouts with Winston a month later.
Without depriving Winston of his favorite foods but rather modifying his eating schedule, Grover helped him drop 18 pounds since February. Grover would prefer Winston lose about five more pounds to reach a goal weight between 225 to 229 pounds.
Winston was the #13 fantasy quarterback in his rookie season thanks in large part to his six rushing touchdowns. He may not be able to repeat that feat, but he should be able to improve as a passer and post a similar finish in 2016.
With Austin Seferian-Jenkins battling injuries a year ago, TE Cameron Brate stepped in to become the Bucs’ leading receiver at the tight end position. Brate, who was waived at the start of last season and briefly claimed by the Saints, has looked strong in both of the Bucs’ open OTA practices. He caught several passes during each of the two practices, including a one-handed catch behind his back on Thursday.
Earlier this month, HC Dirk Koetter implied that Brate has a chance to start ahead of Seferian-Jenkins if he has a good summer.
Though the Buccaneers spent a second-round draft pick on Austin Seferian-Jenkins two years ago, HC Dirk Koetter isn’t ready to hand the oft-injured University of Washington product a starter’s job just yet. Cameron Brate is the reason.
A two-time All-Ivy League first-teamer, Brate slowly emerged as one of Winston’s go-to targets last year, eventually finishing his second full season in the NFL with 23 catches (two more than Seferian-Jenkins) for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
That has Koetter thinking he may have a better option at the pass-catching tight end spot than Seferian-Jenkins, who first has to prove he can stay healthy and then may have to prove he’s got a better connection with quarterback Jameis Winston than Brate.
“Yeah, we talk a lot about chemistry, because you never know how or why certain guys connect, but Jameis and Cam, they really connected last year,’’ Koetter said.
“They had a real good feel for each other in the red zone and on seam routes and just all over the field really. And Cam, well, he really made the most of his opportunities.’’
ASJ will likely start for the Bucs this year, but the takeaway here is that it's no sure thing, so early drafters should pick accordingly.
Jackson struggled with a knee injury in 2015, but produced as a fringe fantasy WR2 (3.9-66-0.38) in the eight games that he was able to finish. Ageism is real in fantasy football, and given his 11th-round ADP, owners are already writing him off in early drafts. If his knee looks healthy this offseason then he'll be a nice value later on in the draft.
Martin, 27, is coming off a huge bounce-back season in which he finished second in the NFL in rushing (1,402 yards) and in yards after contact. He also caught 32 passes for 271 yards and scored seven touchdowns (six rushing) to make his second Pro Bowl.
In 2015, Martin was the #5 RB in standard formats (#6 in PPR), so his decision to re-sign with the Bucs will keep his value high. He will enter the season as a fantasy RB1 and will likely be drafted in the first two rounds once his ADP catches up with the news of his signing. His return to Tampa is obviously bad news for Charles Sims, but Sims will remain a good value in the middle rounds, especially in PPR formats.
Related players: Doug Martin
Stroud also reported that the Bucs were optimistic that they'll be able to re-sign Doug Martin. Sims quietly finished as the #22 RB in standard formats and #17 in PPR leagues, catching at least three passes in 10 of 16 games. He also averaged 4.94 YPC on 107 carries, so he showed the ability to be effective as a runner as well. He's currently the 32nd running back off the board in early PPR drafts (i.e. MFL10s and MyFantasyLeague), so he's a good target in the 6th/7th round for those utilizing a "wait on RB" strategy.
The Pro Bowl was full of fun and games, but one unfortunate moment occurred in the fourth quarter when Tyler Eifert attempted to haul in a deep pass from Jameis Winston. As he went to the ground, the ball popped out and he got up gingerly, holding his left leg. Eifert was seen soon after being tended to by trainers on the sideline. The update of his injury on the scene given on the television broadcast was that Eifert came down hard on his ankle and needed to get it wrapped, but the true extent of the injury wasn’t known.
Hopefully, the injury isn't serious, but we'll keep an eye on Eifert's status over the next few weeks.
Buccaneers and OC Dirk Koetter now closing in on deal to make him Tampa's HC, per league source. Done shortly.
Koetter's Bucs were 5th in yards but only 20th in points scored in 2015. Still, the yardage is encouraging, and it's good for Jameis Winston that he'll remain in the same offense in Year Two.
Friday, January 8, 2016, 6:38pm
Thursday, January 7, 2016, 6:15pm
Buccaneers have informed DC Leslie Frazier his option will not be picked up for 2016.
Although the Bucs defense gave up the 23rd-most yards, it yielded the 7th-most points in the league.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have announced that Head Coach Lovie Smith has been relieved of his duties.
Statement from Buccaneers Co-Chairman Joel Glazer:
“After careful consideration, we informed Lovie that we have decided to make a change. I want to thank Lovie for his hard work and dedication to the Buccaneers during his time here. This decision was difficult on a variety of levels. I am disappointed that we were not more successful these past few seasons, but we are committed to doing what is necessary to give our fans the winning team they deserve. As we move forward, General Manager Jason Licht will oversee the process for finding our next head coach.”
Smith was 8-24 in two seasons with the Bucs, but the team was competitive (6-10) in his second season. The departure of his run-first mentality may end up hurting Doug Martin if he re-signs with Tampa Bay, though if the Bucs promote OC DIrk Koetter, the offense probably won't change too much.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016, 6:16pm
Sunday, January 3, 2016, 3:23pm
Martin sits No. 2 in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,354 on 273 carries. With a big game Sunday versus the Carolina Panthers, Martin could leap Adrian Peterson to become the first Bucs player ever to lead the league in rushing. Sims is an underrated dual-threat back, compiling 1,001 yards from scrimmage (514 rushing, 487 receiving).
Martin, 26, is set to become a free agent this offseason, but the sides are already working on keeping the back in a Bucs jersey.
"We've already talked a little bit,'' general manager Jason Licht said, via the Tampa Tribune. "We will definitely be talking (more). We'd love to have Doug back.''
Last offseason, it looked like the Bucs might dump an ineffective Martin, but the 5-foot-9 pinballing runner bounced back in a big way, the story said. Martin has carried Tampa's offense for long stretches this season, taking some pressure off rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. This season was kind of an audition for Martin, who had struggled the past two seasons. But, Martin was getting positive reviews all the way back in the offseason.
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