Yardbarker Horiz

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sea Change In Buccaneers Front Office

The first time something happens, it's an exception.  After that, it's a trend.

A new trend has started in the front office of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  And it involves three players who are no longer with the team:  Chris Pressley, Ryan Sims, and Sabby Piscitelli.

What ties these men together besides being former teammates?  They were all healthy when they were released.

FB Chris Pressley was cut back on October 24th.  He became expendable when the jack-of-all-trades Erik Lorig started taking snaps at fullback.  Lorig, who at various times has been associated with tight end and defensive end as well as fullback, provides high value due to his versatile nature.

DT Ryan Sims was cut November 24th.  He was replaced by Frank Okam, who had spent all of seven days on the Tampa Bay practice squad.  Sims is the senior of Okam by six years, but obviously there was something to Okam's game to merit such a change.  Watch for Okam to start contributing in the defensive rotation soon.

Yesterday, S Sabby Piscitelli was released (Nov. 30th).  Piscitelli was drafted in 2007 and played significant minutes in 2009.  It was thought he would be starting this weekend in place of injured SS Cody Grim who went down with a broken ankle and is lost for 2010.

P Chris Bryan could be considered a similar cut of a healthy player, but if you include all of 2009 and 2010 draftee P Brent Bowden who, after a full offseason, was placed on the practice squad and subsequently cut earlier this year, the position of Punter has been a two year project.  So in the context of this discussion it's not the same situation.

When a front office starts replacing healthy players it is a sea change for the franchise.  It means there is talent being released from other teams (or walking the streets) which are considered upgrades to experienced talent on your own team.  The sea change is your team is no longer depending on experience alone -- a certain level of talent has been achieved which makes keeping experienced players just for the sake of their experience no longer necessary.  Your team is now built on talent and player development, an exciting and very positive circumstance!  Let's look at each case:  

The Sims-for-Okam move could be a continuation of the getting younger theme General Manager Mark Dominik has been preaching since his ascension to the head role in the front office.  The change was quite sudden -- did Okam show some type of impressive fit for the interior of the Buccaneers defensive scheme?  Having recently brought in DT Al Woods after drafting three interior linemen in the past two drafts, the Buccaneers are really loading up on young defensive linemen.  Do the Buccaneers now believe they have more than enough talent on the defensive line to consider experience less necessary?  It appears so.

The Pressley-for-Lorig move could have an economic nature.  A more versatile player can provide help at multiple positions, eliminating the need for a specialist (and their salary) at a position which is not put to full time use on game day.  The other possibility is Tampa Bay will continue to move farther and farther from the more traditional fullback role used by the previous coaching staff and into more of a split back backfield.  But again, it appears talent is trumping experience.

The jury is out on the Piscitelli move; it's going to be very interesting to see who will start at the safety position this weekend at Raymond James Stadium against the Atlanta Falcons.

The overall message is that nobody is safe in their position on the roster anymore.  On top tier NFL teams this is a normal situation -- get better or go home.  In the case of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, more and more it seems this point has been reached.

To put it succinctly:  The Rebuild Is Over!

The signal is from now on the Buccaneers can pick up a talented player at any position, at any time, without position specific needs or areas of concentration.  It is a significant message for players like WR Maurice Stovall, LS Andrew Economos, LB Niko Koutouvides, and TE John Gilmore.  All have five or more years of experience and all have starting roles on special teams only.  Is that good enough anymore?

Certainly there will be more changes before the season is over.  But, clearly, a new phase in the thought process of the front office has started:  not just offseason veteran purges anymore -- in-season swaps are considered worthwhile.  The question is how much longer will the Buccaneers continue to drain the experience from the team to build up the talent level?  What is the tradeoff tipping point in Tampa Bay for experience versus talent?

Things are shaping up to be the most interesting offseason in Tampa Bay in over half a decade.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated -- Please have something relevant to contribute and back up your facts.

There was an error in this gadget