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Saturday, May 19, 2018
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Change and more change at One Buc

TAMPA — They're rebuilding again.

It was less than a year ago that Bucs fans were under the impression their team was that close to breaking through — I mean, Darrelle Revis, $96 million, the final piece to the promised land?

They're rebuilding again.

They weren't even close to being close.

The new Bucs head coach and general manager (that's how well last season went) decided, quickly, that they didn't need a $16 million cornerback. They decided this team has holes and more holes.

And here's a nutty idea, one endorsed by Lovie Smith and Jason Licht with their first forays in free agency:

You build a defense from front to back, not the other way around.

You try a pass rush.

Novel idea.

Welcome, Michael Johnson. Welcome, Clinton McDonald.

And so an era ends.

The Darrelle Revis year.

It produced four wins.

It was as if he was never here.

The Bucs gave up a first-round draft pick for Revis, and now they stand to get exactly nothing for Revis if they release him. Maybe they can deal him to the Browns, the suckers.

At least Revis wouldn't be hopping on the conveyor belt on which former Bucs go on to win Super Bowls, as Michael Bennett did. I mean, it's the Browns.

That still doesn't change the fact that the Bucs rented a $16 million condo on Revis Island and it rained every day.

Throw away those Revis jerseys, kids.

More change at One Buc.

Change and more change.

It's what losing franchises do.

Who else but losing franchises get pumped up every year during free agency?

Lovie never had any intention of keeping Revis. Nice head fake. Makes you wonder, though ...

The Revis year is just another dysfunctional brick in the wall for a sports town that right now can't do anything right. The Bucs are out of sorts. The Lightning are no better, given the Marty St. Louis mess. It's all over but the David Price trade.

Lovie Smith had no ties to Darrelle Revis.

Nor, for that matter, do any of us.

Revis never connected with Tampa, and Tampa never connected with him. He was a stranger.

It was a deal without a soul. And one reason why Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik don't have jobs here anymore.

I remember, once upon a time, wondering if the Bucs were kind of going about this defense building thing in reverse, from back to front, secondary to pass rush, unconventional to say the least,

I remember, once upon a time, thinking the Revis deal made no sense if the Bucs weren't close, if they didn't think Josh Freeman was the quarterback to the lead them to the playoffs.

We know how that worked out.

They're rebuilding again.

They're cleaning up the last crew's mess.

They're shedding stars and star salaries to build another team.

They're out to make a better pass rush, provided Johnson brings what he can bring. Then there's McDonald. They might both look good in those new Bucs uniforms, if such a thing is possible.

Yes, there might be seller's remorse — like the first time Julio Jones runs by a Bucs cornerback. But maybe Matt Ryan will be on his back by then. That's the new approach. Plus, it's what Lovie wants.

I think he'll win, just not next season. And I wouldn't blame Bucs fans for being torn this morning, between buying into Lovie and thinking they're being sold another bill of goods by a franchise that lately has specialized in that.

They're rebuilding again.

Who's the quarterback, anyway?

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