Tough Talk On D-Line’s FutureFebruary 26th, 2014
During his WDAE-AM 620 morning show, Tampa Bay Times Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud has spent a chunk of time this week letting listeners know how he peered deeply into the eyes and expressions of Jason Licht and Lovie Smith during extended chats about all things Bucs at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Stroud’s primary point of emphasis was just how seriously the Bucs’ leaders are taking the misdeeds of receiver Mike Williams.
Essentially, Stroud wants anyone saying his recent story claiming Williams was a rowdy neighbor in a quiet Lutz subdivision is nothing but overblown gossip to wake up.
Stroud, per Stroud, knows better because he could see the exasperation and hear the intensity of Lovie and Licht on the subject. In simpler, more general terms, Stroud’s message is, ‘I talked to the coach and GM and you didn’t. So shutup and trust me.’
Joe gets what Stroud is saying, even if Joe disagrees with how seriously the Bucs are taking Williams’ off-field behavior. During an interview, there’s plenty that can’t translate into printed words. (Joe surely got a read on things in Indianapolis from Lovie and Licht that would be tough to clarify on these pages.)
But on that note, Stroud, who vows, per his newspaper’s ethics policy, to stay objective in his covering of the Bucs, also delivered another strong message today. It cast a dark shadow on how the new regime has evaluated the Buccaneers’ defensive line.
“You don’t have anybody in the front four that can help Gerald McCoy right now,” Stroud said during a discussion of the Bucs pass rush.
Joe heard that and wondered whether that was Stroud slipping from his objective reporting efforts, or was that an impression from Lovie and Licht that Stroud was parroting?
When one considers how much Lovie has talked about how he doesn’t have his sackmaster on the roster, among other statements, it’s very likely the new regime’s film study of Adrian Clayborn, DaQuan Bowers and others has come up empty. Also, unless Joe’s missed something, Joe hasn’t heard any kind of love for Akeem Spence coming out of One Buc Palace.
Joe thinks it’s important to remember that Lovie’s mentor, Father Dungy, made headlines last season when he talked about how the Greg Schiano approach of building a defense from the back, with additions of Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron and Johnthan Banks, ran counter to Dungy’s philosophy of starting up front.
There’s no question that Lovie also believes a ferocious front-7 comes first. That doesn’t mean Joe thinks a Revis trade is realistic — only that the free agency and draft priorities will start with overhauling the trenches.