As the press conference announcing the trade and signing of former Jets All-Pro Darrelle Revis came to a close, the large Buccaneers banner adorning the dais crumbled to the ground revealing a few small pieces of duct tape charged with holding the whole thing together. Perhaps this was a metaphor for the Bucs old way of doing business. Or...an ominous sign that this mega-million dollar superstar will crumble on the Bucs. That they gave up a 1st and 3rd round pick and tons of salary cap cash to a player who is damaged goods (torn ACL) and a malcontent hold-out waiting to happen. How Revis plays and how much the Bucs win will ultimately judge what this historic day truly means in Bucs history.
Safe to say this...going all-in on a former Defensive POY at a record $16 Million a year is a whole hell of a lot better than the 5 years of payroll slashing and poor drafting that led the Bucs to a nadir in Atlanta that fatefull final game of the 2011 debacle. Oh come on you remember! Who could forget? The Ra-Ra-heem Bucs were down 42-0 to the Falcons in the 2nd Quarter! That set in motion a seismic shift in philosophy that has resulted in a Buccaneers renaissance like nothing we've witnessed before. The Glazers decided it was time to open the vault, kick the Manchester United fullbacks guarding the cash in the onions and start showering American football players with record deals. Today's handing over of $96 million to Revis caps a 14 month spending spree totaling over $275 Million! So much for that "build through the draft" malarkey right Rah?
The Glazers fired Raheem and replaced him with an adult taskmaster (Schiano) that would radically change the culture and armed him with veteran high-priced football players who bring star power and hopefully wins (and ticket sales). With all do respect to Vincent Jackson, Revis is the first free agent with real star power! Something this franchise desperately needs. Of course you have to win and Revis is the missing link and personification of the Greg Schiano in-your face, press man to man, attacking style defense that he tried to play last year...with disastrous consequences. So with Revis shutting down the #1 receiver, Eric Wright handling the #2, Ronde playing the Nickel (more on that in a moment) and newly signed Pro Bowl Safety Dashon Goldson teaming with first round pick Mark Barron in the back...well let's just say the infamous days of Danny Gorrer and the last ranked pass defense should be a faded nightmare!
I asked Ronde if the signing of Revis would bring him back and the answer was...I'm paraphrasing here...I would love to play with Revis. If I can still play...I want to play. In my opinion Ronde became frustrated with the younger players last year and a style of defense the Bucs were not equipped to play with inexperienced corners. Trust me, Schiano listens to Ronde and you can bet the signings of Goldson and Revis have his blessings and oh by the way, he probably wouldn't mind if you signed Dwight Freeney while you're at it! I expect Ronde to announce soon he will be coming back for a final year. As they say in the Bud Light ads..."Here we go!"
So does the signing of Revis make the Bucs Super Bowl contenders? Not so fast my friend. A glass half empty (Falcons/Saints fan) might say Revis is a year away from full speed (hold out?) and will bring jealousy and envy into a previously un-selfish locker room. The Bucs defensive line has a history of injury problems, has no proven pass rusher and very little depth. The linebackers struggle mightily in pass coverage and the head coach is reportedly not sold on the quarterback.
The Bucs fan would say the quarterback will make much better decisions now that he knows he doesn't have to score EVERY TIME HE HAS THE BALL! Revis and Goldson will solidify the leaky secondary and the Nicks/Joseph/Penn anchored Pro Bowl offensive line will be the catalyst for an explosive, punishing Doug Martin running attack and the foundation for a Vincent Jackson/Mike Williams/Insert playmaking drafted TE here...passing attack!
I would lean toward the latter scenario. I expect the whole team gets better simply by being in year two of the Schiano system. The dramatic talent upgrade since that dreadful "March from Atlanta" has rebuilt the Bucs into a solid bet to make their first playoffs since 2005 and win their first playoff game since the Super Bowl. Consider...since the "churning in Atlanta" the Bucs have added Pro Bowl WR Vincent Jackson, Pro Bowl G Carl Nicks, decent CB Eric Wright, 9th overall pick S Mark Barron, 1st Rd RB Doug Martin (3rd in NFL in yards from scrimmage), future Pro Bowl LB Levonte David, Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson and now the best corner in the NFL in Darrelle Revis! That's the best upgrade since Manti Te'o got an actual, human girlfriend!
That crumbling Bucs banner is definitely a sign from the football Gods. Buc's fans hope it signifies the final stripping away of the new crappy paint that covered up the old gorgeous hardwood floors. Then we can see the once proud Bucs defense resurface and lead Tampa Bay back to the Super Bowl which, oh by the way, is in Met-life Stadium. Where the Jets play...where Revis used to play...where the Bucs open the season. You think he wouldn't want to begin and end the season in that stadium with a win?