State of the Union: Part 1

January is a time for Americans assess what in their lives needs change. There’s even a constitutional mandate for the president to tell us what’s in store for the rest of the year called the State of the Union. It sure makes that ambition to actually hit the gym (for a month at least) a little less commendable.

This month is also potentially important for many NFL teams. Some are playing for their postseason lives. Others never made it that far and in some cases fired coaches and executives.

The Buccaneers fall into this latter category. While Lovie Smith’s release was sudden, it was not unexpected or unwarranted. His defense got worse and the only reasons he won four more games than 2014 were Jason Licht, Dirk Koetter and Jameis Winston. Is it really any surprise that

For the fourth time in seven years the Bucs stand at the crossroads. Yet another tumultuous offseason lies ahead. What the Bucs need is a state of the union.

I’m not a presidential speechwriter or a front office executive, but I think I’ll give it a shot. Over the next few weeks, before I get into the meat of draft coverage, I’ll be going over the state of the franchise, player by player, culminating in an examination of the coaching staff (assuming Dirk Koetter is finished assembling his staff).

But where to begin? Where else but the quarterbacks?


 

  • Jameis Winston

There is no question; Winston is Tampa Bay’s most important player going forward. His play in 2015 indicates he is leading the Bucs down the right path.

It’s hard to argue with Winston’s 2015 stat line. 4042 pass yards, 22 pass touchdowns to 15 interceptions, six rushing touchdowns, and a 7.6 yards per attempt average. Good luck finding many rookie quarterbacks with better numbers.

Numbers can be deceiving. After all, the Bucs defense was top ten in yards allowed. Winston still has a ways to go before he can be called a true franchise quarterback.

Winston is still prone to the boneheaded throws that marred his second year with Florida State. His 58.3 pass completion percentage, fourth-worst in the league, is an accurate reflection of Winston’s spotty ball placement. Yes, Bucs receivers dropped 4.8 percent of their targets, but all of the teams with worse drop ratios had better completion percentages.

The good news is Winston is getting Dirk Koetter back. There is a foundation in place for Winston to improve and be what the Bucs drafted him to be.


 

  • Mike Glennon

We can’t talk about Mike Glennon without talking about Ryan Griffin.

Between 2012 and 2015 the Bucs only carried two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Griffin’s addition this season was a move in the opposite direction.

Griffin’s addition was somewhat puzzling. Winston proved to be a very durable quarterback and has been since FSU. So why was Griffin on the roster all 16 games?

The answer is trade value, and Mike Glennon still has plenty. Good quarterbacks are at a premium in the NFL, even for playoff teams (just as the Houston Texans). Glennon isn’t spectacular, but he’s careful with the football and knows how to manage a game.

While Glennon’s purpose could change now that Lovie Smith is gone, you can bet Jason Licht will pull the trigger if a decent trade offer presents itself.

The Bucs do have time constraints, however. Glennon is entering the final year of his rookie contract. If he’s not traded before the season starts, it would take a desperate, injury-riddled team to make a deal for him.


 

  • Ryan Griffin

There isn’t much that we know about the third-year quarterback out of Tulane. He has yet to take a regular season snap in the NFL. What we do know is that the Bucs paid him 16 game checks to show in sweats on game day.

His value in Tampa Bay depends on how long the Bucs plan on keeping Glennon. While he has a familiarity with Dirk Koetter’s offense, third-string quarterbacks are increasingly expendable these days.

The Bucs could bring in another quarterback to push Griffin for the third spot or remain consistent with Lovie Smith’s philosophy of keeping the best 53 players on the roster.


 

Coming next time are the offensive skill positions: wide receiver, running backs and tight ends. Stay tuned!

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