Another edition of the NFL Top 100 is done, and we have another couple of Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the list. Doug Martin came in at number 57, which is the highest mark a rookie running back has attained in any of the three years the show has been on the air. He was joined by Vincent Jackson, who came on to the list at number 52.
Martin and Jackson are the fourth and fifth Buccaneers to make the Top 100 respectively, with Darrelle Revis making the list at number 67, Gerald McCoy coming in at 92 and Goldson at 97. The only other Buccaneer with a remotely realistic shot to make the list would be Carl Nicks, widely regarded as one of the top two or three offensive guards in the NFL. But he played just seven games last season and was ranked at number 76 last season. A rise seems unlikely, but not impossible.
Half the Doug Martin bit was various Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders complaining that he tore up their defense, gaining over 200 yards from scrimmage against both of those teams. That was a ridiculous two-game stretch, but Martin was the foundation of the entire Bucs' offense this season, gaining nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage and scoring 12 touchdowns on the season.
Meanwhile, Vincent Jackson's video talked about his vertical ability, which was incredibly impressive. Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud was impressed with him. But the best quote came from Ronde Barber: "He's worth it!" and "You're still worth it, baby!" Jackson didn't come to Tampa for the warm weather alone, after all: he got a five-year, $55.6 million contract -- and so far, he's been worth every penny.
Let's see if Martin and Jackson can repeat the past season, with a few more wins now that the defense has added a few stars, too.
Tony Dungy was a great NFL coach, but is the 20th spot on a ranking good enough?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have announced the signing of cornerback Johnthan Banks to a four-year contract. All rookies sign four-year deals, per the NFL CBA. Banks participated in all offseason workouts so far without a contract, but has now put pen to paper. This was mostly a formality as there was little room for negotiations under the NFL's rookie salary cap rules.
Over The Cap estimated that Banks would receive a four-year contract worth $4.73 million with a $1.82 million signing bonus. So far, Over The Cap has been pretty accurate in forecasting rookie deals.
Update: Jenna Laine has the contract details, including a fully guaranteed salary in 2013 and 2014.
With Banks signed, the Buccaneers now have all of their drafted rookies under contract, with the exception of third-round quarterback Mike Glennon. Quarterback contracts tend to be a little more complicated than non-quarterback contracts, although that shouldn't be a huge issue with the new CBA. Glennon, too, has participated in all offseason workouts so far.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have waived wide receiver Chris Denton and replaced him with Western Illinois wide receiver Terriun Crump. Denton was an outstanding punt returner at the University of Mount Union but apparently failed to impress the Buccaneers in OTAs.
New addition Terriun Crump is a second-year receiver who went undrafted last year, signed with the Chicago Bears but was released a few days prior to the start of the season during final roster cuts. He spent the past year on the Edmonton Eskimos' practice roster, and was one of the tryouts during Bucs' rookie minicamp. Crump has outstanding size at 6'3", 220 lbs. but isn't overly fast, running a 4.64 40-yard dash at this pro day. He managed 135 receptions for 2,067 yards and 11 touchdowns in his three-year career at Western Illinois.
Crump will presumably compete for a roster spot with Steve Smith, David Douglas, Chris Owusu, Jheranie Boyd, Jerry Johnson, Eric Page and Tim Wright. The Bucs can still add one more player before hitting the roster limit.
Crabtree Says Bucs Talent Compares To The Packers | Pewter Report
Athletically, at least.
[Audio] We talk OTA's with Lee from JoeBucsFan | What The Buc?
Buccaneers not rushing DE Clayborn's return from injury | TBO.com
Well, that goes without saying.
Bucs RB Jeff Demps Still Chasing Track Dream | Sports Talk Florida | When you gotta know
Good stuff on the Buccaneer who won't show up until August.
The NFL's great Super Bowl swindle - SBNation.com
Secret: Super Bowls aren't that profitable to host.
Hakeem Nicks contract: Giants WR reportedly wants a new deal - SBNation.com
Hah, good luck with that.
Super Bowl 50 selection culminates long process for Jed York, 49ers - SBNation.com
Nice view on the Super Bowl.
Michael Crabtree injury: 49ers WR has torn Achilles - SBNation.com
Whelp, there starts a decline.
Wherefore Art Thou Fullback?
Gone. Except for the Bucs.
Bucs Give Crabtree Room to Grow | Buccaneers.com
[Video] Dekoda Watson Embracing Opportunity to Start | Buccaneers.com
One of many, many on-field interviews.
[Video] Dashon Goldson: It Already Feels Like a Team | Buccaneers.com
The newest safety.
[Video] Leonard Johnson Excited to Learn from Revis | Buccaneers.com
He has lots of competition.
[Video] Tiquan Underwood on New Receiver Recruits | Buccaneers.com
Another position with lots of competition.
[Video] Strength and Conditioning Focus for Bucs | Buccaneers.com
Always a focus.
[Video] Coach Bob Bostad Talks O-Line Strength | Buccaneers.com
[Video] Mike Glennon Finding His Place in Bucs Offense | Buccaneers.com
[Video] Akeem Spence Describes First Practice as a Buc | Buccaneers.com
[Video] Dashon Goldson Fitting in with New-Look Secondary | Buccaneers.com
[Video] Josh Freeman Excited About Talent Behind Him at QB | Buccaneers.com
[Video] Adrian Clayborn Ready to Make Next Step on Defense | Buccaneers.com
Hopefully he can come back.
[Video] Steven Means Talks Transition from MAC to NFL | Buccaneers.com
How different would your opinion of Josh Freeman be if he ended the season with an eight-game stretch where he threw for 17 touchdowns, 2,074 yards, 3 interceptions at 7.5 yards per pass attempt after two four-interception games earlier in the season? I know the answer to that question: Freeman would be seen as someone who had turned the corner, who was going to be a star in this league and who was emerging as a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately for Freeman, he posted those numbers from game six through game thirteen, rather than the final three games.
Human beings suffer from many cognitive biases, and one of them is called the recency effect: more recent events are easier to recall and tend to dominate human memory over older memories. In the case of Josh Freeman's 2013 season, his three-game late-season stretch is easier to recall than the preceding seven-game stretch I just described. During those three games, Freeman passed for 873 yards at 6.4 yards per attempt, amassing just two touchdowns against a whopping 9 interceptions.
Those numbers are bad, obviously. But the fact that those games occurred at the end of the season isn't particularly relevant.
The human mind loves stories, and it creates them easily from just a few facts. Narratives are great: they make for exciting, enjoyable reads and are a crucial part of why we enjoy sports. The underdog story, chasing a championship, the fourth-quarter comeback: they're all stories we create in our consumption of sports. Unfortunately, objective analysis is rather hard when trying to frame everything as a story.
This is what happens with quarterbacks, though. They're termed 'clutch', or 'winners', or 'chokers'. Everything focuses on clutch performance and performance under pressure. This is how Tom Brady is seen as the ultimate winner, while Peyton Manning sometimes is still seen as someone who can't handle pressure. This despite the fact that Peyton Manning has won more Super Bowls than Tom Brady in the past eight years. Bill Barnwell did a great job deconstructing this narrative.
After the 2010 season, Josh Freeman was the comeback kid. He had posted a league-leading five fourth-quarter game-winning drives. He had seemingly won 10 games all by himself, limiting turnovers throughout the game and then elevating his game to new heights in the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers didn't make the playoffs, but that was just because of some bogus tiebreakers, of course. He was clutch! A winner! Hell, he posted a game-winning drive even in his first NFL game in 2009, giving the Bucs their first win after starting 0-7.
Two seasons later, and the narrative has shifted. He can't handle pressure, doesn't win when it counts, can't bring his team to the edge. That is the new story of Josh Freeman's career. And yet, he is still the same player he was in 2009 and 2010. He hasn't changed. Only our framing of his career has changed. The new narrative of Freeman is inaccurate, but so was the 2010 narrative.
Our love of stories has created one big myth: the myth of when it counts. The fourth-quarter comeback has been embedded in our memory. Story after story has been written about John Elway's comebacks. When you say "The Drive" or "The Catch" an image pops into your head: John Elway and Joe Montana, willing their teams to victory in a tough game. Games like that have elevated clutch performance and late-game drives to the epitome of quarterback play.
These narratives are enthralling. They're part of what makes this game great. They're also bullshit.
This should intuitively be true. Yes, performing in the clutch is obviously important when needed. But it's a lot more important to be able to score early in the game. Pull out to a three-score lead, and you can make the opponent one-dimensional. You dictate the pace of the game and the score early in the game reverberates throughout the game, making every subsequent play a little easier -- including the ones in the fourth quarter. A great team jumps out to big leads, and doesn't need a clutch performance to frequently win games, because that kind of team can't consistently win games.
Of course, that doesn't mean that performing when you do get the opportunity for a game-winning drive isn't important: of course it is. But we shouldn't elevate that to the single most important aspect of quarterback play.
I can live with judging a quarterback by their fourth-quarter performance, though. What gets me going is when people start to complain that quarterbacks don't win "when it counts" during the regular season. When people claim that somehow, the fact that a quarterback had his worst games at the end of the season is more relevant
Every game in the NFL counts equally. You could argue that division games and to a lesser extent conference games are more important, but you can't really make the argument that late-season games are more important than early-season games. For one simple reason: a win is a win, whether it occurs in September or December. In fact, if you amass early-season games you suddenly don't even need to win your late-season games. And if you lose enough early-season games, those late-season games become completely irrelevant.
But what about momentum, you ask? Well, that doesn't matter either. Football Outsiders has shown (insider content, sadly) that "entering the playoffs on a hot streak doesn't matter much at all". In fact, "peaking in December is meaningless when it comes to predicting the winner of playoff games."
Momentum is bullshit.
So is the idea that playing worse at the end of the season is more significant than doing so at the start of the season. The fact that Josh Freeman had his worst games at the end of the season, and he undoubtedly did, is less important that his overall play throughout the entire season. After all:
As you may have noticed, I am not a fan of narrative descriptions based on vague impressions. 'Winner', 'clutch' and the like do nothing for me. The NFL has 53-man rosters and too many moving parts to hang wins and losses on just one player on any team, and our tendency to evaluate quarterbacks by wins is too simplistic and, more importantly, unnecessary.
In Josh Freeman's case, the idea that he isn't clutch, doesn't win "when it counts" and wilts under pressure is easily disproved. If you look at fourth-quarter comebacks, only five quarterbacks have posted more of them than Josh Freeman has since entering the league. If we look at game-winning drives, only six quarterbacks have performed better than him. If we look at his fourth-quarter statistics, he looks better in the fourth quarter than in any other quarter except the first quarter. Except for overtime, when he was a perfect 3/3 for 32 yards and a touchdown last year.
But then people claim that he cost the Buccaneers a playoff spot last year. There's some truth to that, of course. When you throw four interceptions in a game, even if they aren't all your fault, you're costing your team. When you consistently miss open receivers, you're costing your team. Freeman wasn't the only reason the Buccaneers failed to make the playoffs. The league's worst secondary had much more to do with it than an inconsistent quarterback. But he was part of those performances.
However, that has nothing to do with playing wen it counts. That's just about Freeman's overall play, which was too often too poor. He didn't play well during the first few games of the season, either. Until the league starts handing out bonuses for late-season wins, the fact that he played poorly early and late in the season has as much meaning as the fact that he played very well in October and November.
Harping on those late-season is little more than cherry-picking: choosing the games that fit your story best. You can't ignore those seven games when Freeman looked like a superstar any more than you can ignore the lack of production early in the season, or the turnovers late in the season. Evaluating a quarterbacking means looking at his entire body of work, not just the most recent games.
That's not to say that Josh Freeman is free from blame. As I have said many times, he has issues he needs to solve. But we can look at those issues without needing to result to our flawed narratives and impressions tainted by cognitive biases. We can just look at his tape. He shows poor footwork, misses too many throws, throws far too many balls into coverage, struggles to throw the ball in a muddied pocket, and is lucky not to have turned the ball over even more often than he did. Those are issues we can see clearly on tape. Going forward, he has to clean up those problems if he wants to remain a Buccaneer beyond the 2013 season. Can he?
The fact remains that we simply don't know what will happen with Josh Freeman. Anyone trying to proclaim him doomed or great is jumping to conclusions. He's shown far too many positives to be written off, and he's also shown too many bad traits to proclaim the future of the franchise. Let him play out the 2013 seasons, show where his development takes him, and then the Buccaneers will have to make a real decision. Because at this point, we just don't know.
No one's going to listen, though. We'll just have to discuss this over and over again. Because that's what the internet is for.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers find themselves in the middle of their offseason program, with OTAs having started this week. We have a reasonably clear picture of the Bucs' ultimate 53-man roster and we know That's as good a time as any to give us your prediction on the season.
So, give us yours. How many games will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win this year? Will the new additions of Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis push the Bucs over the top, or will they falter because of their pass rush, their offense or for some other reason?
You can find the full schedule here for reference, but I replicated it below for your convenience.
Week one, Sunday Sept. 9, 1 p.m.: at New York Jets
Week two, Sunday Sept. 15, 4:05 p.m.: New Orleans Saints
Week three, Sunday Sept. 22, 1:00 p.m.: at New England Patriots
Week four, Sunday Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m.: Arizona Cardinals
Week five: Bye week
Week six, Sunday Oct. 10, 1:00 p.m.: Philadelphia Eagles
Week seven, Sunday Oct. 20, 1:00 p.m.: at Atlanta Falcons
Week eight, Thursday Oct. 24, 8:25 p.m.: Carolina Panthers
Week nine, Sunday November 03, 4:05 p.m.: at Seattle Seahawks
Week ten, Monday Nov. 11, 8 p.m.: Miami Dolphins (MNF)
Week eleven, Sunday Nov. 17, 1:00 p.m.: Atlanta Falcons
Week twelve, Sunday Nov. 24, 1:00 p.m.: at Detroit Lions
Week thirteen, Sunday Dec. 1, 1:00 p.m.: at Carolina Panthers
Week fourteen, Sunday Dec. 8, 1:00 p.m.: Buffalo Bills
Week fifteen, Dec. 15, 1:00 p.m.: San Francisco 49ers
Week sixteen, Dec. 22, 1:00 p.m.: at St. Louis Rams
Week seventeen, Dec. 29, 1:00 p.m.: at New Orleans Saints
Addition of star DBs benefits Bucs' Mark Barron
Well, that much seems obvious.
Offseason Review: NFC South | National Football Post
Bucs are most improved.
JoeBucsFan.com | Jonathan Casillas A Step Ahead From 2012 - Tampa Bay Bucs Football
Has had injury issues in the past.
Bucs have high hopes for rookie DE Steven Means - Yahoo! Sports
Can he match those hopes?
Bucs OTA Practice Report 5-20: Defense | Pewter Report
More OTA reports from Pewter Report.
Patriots, Cowboys and Rams spent the most guaranteed money on undrafted rookie free agents | Shutdown Corner - Yahoo! Sports Canada
The Bucs spent a decent amount, too.
Is Josh Freeman Just An Average Quarterback? | Sports Talk Florida | When you gotta know
Mike Tanier talks Freeman.
Teams not buying 'Easter Bunny' excuse for moving NFL Draft to May - Don Banks - SI.com
Obviously that excuses is nonsense.
NFL draft shouldn't be moved, despite increased hype it will bring - NFL - Peter King - SI.com
There's no good reason to move it, but the arguments against moving it are pretty weak, too.
NFLPA Rookie Premiere: Learning the business of playing football - SBNation.com
Good stuff from the rookies, here.
Charles Woodson officially a Raider once again - Silver And Black Pride
Hah. Well done, Raiders fans.
Detroit Lions likely to start college football bowl game - SBNation.com
The Lions Bowl? That would be weird .
Microsoft, NFL announce wide-ranging partnership - SBNation.com
We'll see how this works out. Probably just overhyped.
Miami loses Super Bowl bid, what's next? - SBNation.com
No Super Bowl for you.
Can Andy Dalton shed the 'average QB' label? | SportsonEarth.com : Mike Tanier Article
What is an average QB, anyway?
Stadium innovations a priority to NFL owners
Improving the stadium experience.