The Most Improved Group

June 13th, 2024

Mirage or real?

Just based on underwear football — a very dangerous gauge since it’s not football — Joe is leaning toward calling the most improved position room on the Bucs roster.

How about receivers?

It’s not like the Bucs receivers were bad. Hell, how could they be bad with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin? But after that, eh. Trey Palmer, in is rookie season, showed promise but he didn’t keep defensive coordinators up at night.

(If new Bucs offensive coordinator Liam Coen can use Palmer’s speed in better ways, different story.)

Deven Thompkins? As former long-time White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson would say, “He gone!” And Joe isn’t convinced the reason Thompkins got launched at such an odd time was fully for football reasons.

When Thompkins did play, he was a marginal player at best, though former Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales had his back.

But man, in underwear football, rookie Jalen McMillan has been registering plays and impressing coaches. And you can tell McMillan is beginning to feel it. He tried to juke/tease Antoine Winfield yesterday on a catch down the right sideline. Easy there, rook. You’re toying with an All-Pro, not some future activist playing for ACC powerhouse Cal.

Baker Mayfield sees good signs from McMillan. But as Mayfield pointed out, he’s not yet a finished product.

“He’s really friendly at the top of his routes,” Mayfield said. “He attacks the ball, catches with his hands, he’s explosive, he’s a smooth route runner.

“Now, having him put it all together in the offense, get all these alerts, these cans, and I think, playing fast for him is really the next step of mastering this offense so he can use that physical talent that he has.”

Now Joe has to be careful here. Putting stock into receivers in underwear football is like walking through a minefield off Omaha Beach. Joe fully remembers how Tommy Streeter and later, Kenny Bell, among others, torched Bucs defenses in underwear football.

When the pads came on they vanished.

Oh, and the Bucs also just signed veteran Sterling Shepard, who was one of the more underrated No. 2 receivers in football years ago. He was a college teammate of Mayfield.

Last year the Bucs had little depth at receiver. This year the Bucs could have a lot.

It’s way cool to see McMillan as a rookie handle NFL plays. Now Joe wants to see him do well when dudes are allowed to tee off on him come August.

So far, and it’s way early, Joe thinks the receiver room may be the most improved.

18 Responses to “The Most Improved Group”

  1. White Dogg Says:

    Wide recievers 1st followed by offensive line maybe?

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe … ‘So far, and it’s way early, Joe thinks the receiver room may be the most improved.’

    Having depth in a position group is a nice problem to have for any coordinator, and I’m sure Coen is excited by both the experience and the potential that we have in our WR group. But I’m not sure it’ll actually win ‘Most Improved’ honors this year simply because it was already very good.

    Just sticking with offense, our OLine SHOULD be much more improved than what we fielded last year. With a full year of experience under their belts at their new positions, Wirfs, Goedeke & Mauch SHOULD kick arse. Barton may take a few games to settle in, but he’s a beast. LG is still a question mark in my mind, but I’m confident that someone’s gonna rise to the challenge & be the obvious choice (my money’s on Hainey BTW).

    And IF the OLine improves big-time, and IF Coen knows how to scheme a running game, THEN our RB position group SHOULD be much improved also. There’s considerable talent in there, but we all know there’s a lot more to having a solid running game than just the RBs.

    No one even mentions the TE group any more (505 yards TOTAL for 4 TEs is pretty sad), but they have no place to go but up. Otton improved a lot, and Durham actually showed promise at various points in the season (his 71% catch percentage for 11.6 yards/reception was higher than Otton’s). And Devin Culp still intrigues me for some reason (6’4″ & 237 lbs with 4.47 speed), even though he’s small for a TE & really rough around the edges (most likely a PS candidate unless he finds a niche on S/Ts).

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    Oh and Joe, our Most Improved position group IMO will be our OLBs. They produced 22 sacks last season, plus 58 total pressures & 30 TFLs. Compare that to 2019 when Shaq had 19.5 sacks, 51 pressures & 19 TFLs all by himself. Yes we need to do a LOT better. I’m not sure that he sack total will improve by a whole bunch, but my bet is that the total pressures will. And along with that … the turnovers.

  4. teacherman1983 Says:

    Sterling Shepherd is one of the greatest names of all time.

    “The Silver Shepherd”

    Sounds like a prophet from ancient Egypt

  5. garro Says:

    Good stuff Joe!

    Every year the ghost of Kenny Bell haunts one Buc Palace. Legend has it that his jersey still appears in an unsuspecting players locker.

    Go Bucs!

  6. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    I was so hoping the Bucs corners were most improved. Dang it Joe.

  7. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    How about safety as most improved? – Ryan Neal = massive improvement

  8. Bucben61 Says:

    Yes Joe this team looks to be loading up on wideout talent. I’ve read we are going to be running more 3 wide sets this year, I keep saying this team looks to be gearing up for more of a BA no risk it no biscuit offense but with a much better QB than famous Jamie’s. Pff rated our offensive line #10 in pass protection last year and adding Barton at center doesn’t hurt that. Even long time fans are going to be stunned how potent our offense is going to be if everything comes together.. 2024 is looking like a great year…bring it on !!!

  9. Let Them Eat Bake Says:

    3 WR + White = 4 WR

  10. Mike Says:

    Safety is got to be up there as well, but yes, very excited to see these Bucs WR’s get out there and have Baker spreading the ball around.

  11. Cobraboy Says:

    How nice would it be if McMillan ended up like Godwin as a rook?

    Now if only Barton & the two new OL could gel, then the Bucs are cookin’ with gas…

  12. BillyBucco Says:

    Just because they are running MORE 3WR sets, doesn’t mean it will look like No Risk It , No Biscuit!!!!
    There will be way more check downs than 35-40 yd passes. That is by design. By all accounts a West Coast offense is horizontal in nature.
    Thats not to say Koetter’s favorite word (explosives) will be down though.
    IMO, we will see more with this offense than the previous 3 seasons.
    Screens can still go for 35-40 yds just to keep the same math.
    Getting the ball in our playmakers hands IN SPACE, is key.
    Watch Rachaad White highlights from last year and imagine twice as many opportunities with legit check downs in space.
    Really exciting stuff.

  13. Denny Gay Says:

    Love the ACC Cal activist line. Activist University.

  14. Netwalker Says:

    I wonder if some receivers do well in underware football and not in actual games is because they’re not concerned about getting hit in practice and can go all out where they get more fearful of getting tagged by hard hitting defense-men in games.

  15. Pickgrin Says:

    “Joe thinks the receiver room may be the most improved.”

    Nah – you’re talking about depth.

    Let’s talk about starter improvements.

    Ditching Ryan Neal and adding Jordan Whitehead was this off season’s biggest addition to help the team win in 2024.

    And with 3rd rd pick Tykee Smith expected to send a very capable Christian Izien to the bench – the ‘Safety room’ would pretty obviously seem to be the ‘most improved’….

    I’m sure Todd Bowles is absolutely drooling at the confusing looks he can draw up/show with these 3 interchangeable safeties being on the field together 75% of the time.

  16. Bucben61 Says:

    BillyBucco you might be right as most West coast offences are dink and dunk but most seem to believe we are after the Rams model and that wasn’t a dink and dunk offense especially when both Kooper and Pua were both healthy. Mcvay would put Stafford in shotgun instead of in play action Either way if the bucs can emulate the Rams offence with some degree of success I’ll be happy 😊

  17. Let ‘em bake Says:

    I’m thinking Cade is at the doorstep of breaking out year. Ya ya on the defensive side. I keep pulling up the schedule . If we can be 5-5 at the break, 10-7 very realistic.

  18. J Says:

    Greatest line ever… “not some future activist playing for ACC powerhouse Cal.”