Any website can post "offseason grades" for NFL teams, mixing the draft and free agency into transaction soup, then straining it through the mind of some sportswriter who doesn't know who half the players are. Only the Shutdown Corner has the resources to get actual players, coaches, and executives from each team to evaluate their own offseasons! That's right: over the next few weeks, you will get transaction evaluations straight from the horse's mouths: straight talk about who was signed, who was lost, who was drafted, and why.
(For the satirically challenged: all player, coach, and executive remarks are made by an impersonator).
In this segment, several members of the new Buccaneers coaching staff break down their team's offseason moves. Take it away, guys!
GREG SCHIANO: Accountability. Character. Leadership. The Buccaneers lacked all of those things last year. I am here to provide them. So in a way, our biggest offseason was filled the moment I was hired.
BUTCH DAVIS: That's right, "boss." And I was gracious enough to join your staff as Super Deluxe Secret Shadow Vice Assistant Head Coach to make sure that no one has any questions about the chain of command here in Tampa (not to mention my severance package back in North Carolina).
SCHIANO: That's "Assistant to the Head Coach." Speaking of the chain of command, where is General Manager Mark Dominik?
BUTCH: Dominik? Oh, you won't be seeing him anymore. Anyway, my top priority was rebuilding the defense. I used my personnel acumen to identify several immediate starters in this year's rookie class. Mark Barron fills a hole the Bucs have had at safety since John Lynch retired. Lavonte David is a hustling linebacker who makes plays all over the field. Both of these rookies are smart and NFL-ready.
On the defensive line, we already had some impressive pieces in place. I hope that defensive tackle Gerald McCoy can come back from his injuries and that Da'Quan Bowers can take a leap forward as a pass rusher. Still, the Bucs allowed 2,497 rushing yards, 26 rushing touchdowns, and 5.0 yards per carry last year, so I took nothing to chance. Free agents Amobi Okoye and Gary Gibson will provide veteran depth behind McCoy and Brian Price. There will be no Albert Haynesworth sightings this year!
SCHIANO: Butch, that was a great summary, but I think I should have given it. I'm the head coach, after all. If you do all the talking, it may send the wrong message. Remember, you are not the defensive coordinator.
BUTCH: My bad, "boss." Everyone knows Phil Sheridan is the defensive coordinator. Sheridan somehow managed to get fired by the Giants before the end of the 2009 season, and Giants owner John Mara is usually so patient with coaches that Buddhist lamas tap their fingers and ask him to get on with it.
SCHIANO: Fair enough. By the way, folks: Butch puts quotes around "boss" because we are such close friends. Anyway, I will let offensive assistant Jimmy Raye use his legendary eloquence to explain our upgrades on that side of the ball.
JIMMY RAYE: Scrubble numph robble sickle bleaky. Mumble shirtle squirtle nannalex smithleberry mikesingle terrywaddle bax tabberwocky.
SCHIANO: Precisely. Vincent Jackson gives Josh Freeman an established receiving target, while Carl Nicks stabilizes the offensive line. Both players add a veteran presence to an offense that suffered through too many growing pains last year.
Rookie Doug Martin gives us a running back rotation that makes sense. LaGarrette Blount is a one-dimensional power back, and we needed an all-purpose runner who complemented him. Martin may well emerge as the starter, with Blount used as more of a battering ram off the bench.
Our offense is going to be deeper than it was last year, which will allow us to be much less predictable, personnel-wise. Our coaching staff is also extremely deep, with lots of assistants and consultants looking over the shoulders of not-so-big name coordinators. That can only send the clearest message to all of our new faces on both sides of the ball. Right, Butch?
BUTCH: Uh-oh, the Concorde just pulled in from London. The owner is here. Try to look busy.
MALCOLM GLAZER: Blimey! What's all this pony and trap! I leave you wankers to mind the shoppe whilst I hoist a pint or two, and you Yanks go around hiring your mates as "special assistants?" On me pounds, quid, schillings and bob? You Yankee footballers have made a Jacky Brambles of everything before you've even taken to the pitch! Well, guess what: I hired a "special assistant" of me own to look after you plonkers. Say 'allo to me maiden auntie!
COUNTESS DOWAGER FROM DOWNTON ABBEY: A grown man named "Butch?" I cannot abide by that at all. Butch is a dog's name. It does not fit, anyway. Dogs are loyal.
BUTCH: I don't like how this is shaping up. If I get fired, do I get a severance package?
SCHIANO: Remember folks: it's all about accountability and character here at the chip shop!