NFL Wire News

Lovie Smith: Bucs playing to win, but top draft pick would be nice


TAMPA, Fla. — With a loss to the New Orleans Saints this Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

The Bucs are 2-13 with one game to play, and would clinch the top spot with another loss based on the worst won-loss record of opponents’ strength of schedule. A win still will net the Bucs no worse than the No. 2 overall pick.

At No. 1, Tampa Bay would have its choice between the last two Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks – Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (2014) and Florida State’s Jameis Winston (2013), who are also the top two rated quarterbacks by eligible for April’s draft.

“We are going to add some more players to the mix,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said about the quarterback position. “We need some more players added to the mix. I am excited about that part. And again, if you have to be down where we are, why not get your choice of a few of the best players in the draft?

“From a 2-13 record right now, I think that we’ve found out our (2014) draft class, we’ve played them and we like some things we’ve seen from the draft class. Of course, Mike Evans, it goes without saying, Charles Sims, we’re seeing flashes from him, Austin Seferian-Jenkins – you know, our top three picks, amongst others. So that part is good. And if you have to be down here, you need to get something from it. We are going to get from our position – wherever it might be – we are going to get to add some more, we have a full allotment of draft picks, we have an excellent staff that evaluates guys.”

How does that affect the approach to Sunday’s game? It doesn’t, Smith said. The Bucs will continue to play to win, as they did in Sunday’s 20-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers. But Smith said they want to continue to evaluate some young players for the future.

“I don’t think you weigh that all,” Smith said. “I think probably most veteran players in general, some of them aren’t real excited about some of the players that will come in and potentially take their spot. But for the most part, guys on your team want the team to be improved and that’s what we’re going to do with draft picks coming in. As far as the game this week, you know, I’ve kind of answered that question a few times. I think we’re going to end up in good position to get some good players. To me, that can’t even come into the equation.”

The Bucs hold a slight edge over the Tennessee Titans for the No. 1 pick. Tampa Bay’s 16 opponents have a combined record of 114-122-3. The Titans’ 16 opponents are 118-120-1, and they finish against the Indianapolis Colts in Nashville on Sunday. In case of a tie, the team whose schedule of opponents has the worst combined won-loss record will pick first.

NOTES: Anthony Collins went from the Bucs’ starting left tackle and a $5 million per year player to a healthy scratch the past two weeks. Why is Collins now inactive for a Bucs offensive line that is among the worst in the NFL? “There’s a reason why everybody is in the position that they’re in,” coach Lovie Smith said. The amount of playing time you get – yes, there’s a reason for every decision that we’ve made and I’ll just kind of leave it at that. As I did mention, there was an injury that Anthony had earlier. He’s been showing up to practice. Later on, we’ve wanted to get looks at other guys. So a lot of things have come into play on that decision why he wasn’t active.” … Linebacker Mason Foster aggravated an Achilles injury in Sunday’s loss to the Packers and likely won’t play in the finale against the Saints.


PASSING OFFENSE: F — QB Josh McCown and the Bucs’ offense failed to convert on their first five third-down opportunities. He was sacked seven times, a season high, and threw another interception late in the game. McCown has failed to hit 50 percent of his passing attempts in each of his last four games and the hits are taking their toll.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F — The Bucs rushed for a season-low 16 yards on 14 carries. The longest run was 4 yards. Tampa Bay is on pace to set a club record for the fewest rushing yards in a season. The offensive line may be one of the worst in team history as well.

PASSING DEFENSE: D — Even under the weather, Aaron Rodgers still managed to hit 31 of his 40 passing attempts for 318 yards and one touchdown. Randall Cobb led the way with 11 catches for 131 yards. The Bucs did force a fumble and had a sack on Rodgers by Michael Johnson. Playing without defensive tackle Gerald McCoy didn’t help matters.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C-minus — A big missed tackle by LB Danny Lansanah was responsible for Eddie Lacy’s 44-yard touchdown. Lacy finished with 99 yards rushing, but you have to like the goal-line stand by the Bucs. Overall, the Packers averaged 3.9 yards per carry.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C — The Bucs did nothing special in the return game. P Michael Koenen forced his usual share of fair catches. Patrick Murray made his only field-goal attempt.

COACHING: F — They can blame a big chunk of this season on the loss of offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who says he was healthy two months ago but inexplicably did not return to his post for the Bucs. But Lovie Smith has to shoulder the burden for hiring the coordinator and quarterback.

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