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Thomas Bassinger, Times Staff Writer

Thomas Bassinger

It all began late 1991 with a Nintendo controller and a game cartridge that read, in gold block letters, "Tecmo Super Bowl" (Ready! Down! Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut!). That's when a young Thomas Bassinger discovered the fearsome Ronnie Lott, the dominant QB Eagles and the superhuman Bo Jackson and spent countless hours taking their 8-bit counterparts up and down the football field (Remember Wayne Haddix, Bucs fans?). He's been hooked on football and statistics ever since. Today, he contributes to coverage of the Buccaneers and the NFL for the Tampa Bay Times. He is the author of the Turning Point postgame analysis and studies All-22 game film for the weekly scouting report of the Bucs' upcoming opponent. Follow him on Twitter during the games @tometrics.

E-mail: tbassinger@tampabay.com

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  1. 2017 NFL draft: Of the top running back prospects, Dalvin Cook is the most explosive. Here are the numbers.

    Bucs

    It can be easy to overthink football.

    Allow Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter to stop you.

    "I've said many, many times that we believe — besides turnovers — explosive plays are the next biggest factor in winning and losing."

    It's that simple: Make more big plays than the other team.

    Tampa Bay didn't do that last season. The defense allowed more explosive plays than every team except the 49ers. The offense, which was expected to take a step forward, saw a 20 percent drop in such plays....

    Former Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, widely regarded as one of the draft's top home run hitters, could be in play for the Bucs when it's their turn to pick Thursday. [Icon Sportswire]
  2. The problem with the Buccaneers' 2017 schedule that needs to be fixed now

    Bucs

    Some thoughts on the Buccaneers' 2017 schedule, which was unveiled last night:

    Danger ahead

    Because Tom Brady and the Patriots need the help, the NFL schedule overlords have offered the Bucs as a Week 5 sacrifice in front of a national audience on Thursday Night Football.

    The problem with this stretch of Tampa Bay's schedule isn't that it plays the Super Bowl champions just four days after it plays the New York Giants. It's that the game against the Giants is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. instead of 1 p.m....

    The Bucs host the New York Giants on Oct. 1. Four days later, the Patriots visit Tampa. [Getty Images]
  3. Buccaneers and HBO's Hard Knocks: Who has control over what you see?

    Bucs

    HBO on Wednesday called Hard Knocks "the groundbreaking gold standard of sports reality TV."

    But just how real is it? How much control over the content will the Buccaneers have?

    At the official Hard Knocks announcement in Tampa, NFL Films director and producer Matt Dissinger cited the trust level his company has built with teams since it was founded 55 years ago. If there's sensitive material, NFL Films and the Bucs are going to talk about it, he said....

    [HBO]
  4. Why you shouldn't worry about Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy

    Bucs

    Gerald McCoy wanted the truth.

    So at the Pro Bowl in January, the Buccaneers defensive tackle sought feedback from three "credible sources." He revealed Monday that those sources — which he wouldn't name —offered similar evaluations. The gist: He hasn't done enough to lead the team....

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of 16 players to record at least five sacks in each of the past five seasons. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Flowchart: Which Tampa Bay Rays shirsey should you wear?

    The Heater

    Regret. Shame. You're sick over how much money you spent.

    I'm not describing how you feel on Saturday mornings. I'm describing, of course, your last jersey purchase.

    You tried to forget it. You don't want to talk about it. You know the one. The Josh Freeman. The Darrelle Revis....

  6. NFL overtime proposal takes aim at a problem that doesn't exist

    Bucs

    UPDATE (4 p.m.): Owners have tabled a vote on a proposal that would have put a 10-minute time limit on overtime. It is not clear when they will reconsider the recommendation.

    • • •

    NFL owners will vote today on a proposal that would limit overtime during the preseason and regular season to 10 minutes.

    ...

    When the Bucs played the Raiders in October, the defense was on the field for more than 90 snaps. With less than two minutes left in overtime, it allowed Derek Carr to complete a 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Seth Roberts. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  7. DeSean Jackson did WHAT?! The Bucs receiver's most unbelievable moments

    Bucs

    It'll be another six months before we see how the Buccaneers offense operates with deep threat DeSean Jackson in the fold. Until then, here's a look at some of the most memorable moments of his nine-year career:

    Sept. 7, 2008: Rams vs. Eagles

    During his first nine seasons as Eagles head coach, Andy Reid never started a rookie receiver in an opener. Jackson not only ended that streak but also made an immediate impact by catching six passes for 106 yards in a 38-3 win. He became the eighth rookie since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to rack up 100 receiving yards in his team's first game....

    On the first play of a Monday Night Football game against Washington in 2010, DeSean Jackson caught an 88-yard touchdown pass. LaRon Landry, the safety responsible for covering Jackson, had taunted him before the game. [Associated Press]
  8. WATCH: New Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson's fastest plays of 2016

    Bucs

    You might've heard: DeSean Jackson is fast.

    But do you know how fast?

    Let's say a brown bear approaches you and Jackson. You're dinner. Jackson? He stands a chance.

    The Bucs' preference, of course, is that their new receiver continues to win foot races against beasts that weigh 200 pounds, not 400. That's why they promised this week to pay the free agent at least $20 million over the next two seasons....

    DeSean Jackson beats Leodis McKelvin for an 80-yard touchdown in Washington's 27-22 win over the Eagles in December. [Getty Images]
  9. 2017 NFL free agency: DeSean Jackson's miracle punt return

    Bucs

    Dec. 19, 2010. The Eagles, my hometown team, trailed the Giants 31-10 in the fourth quarter.

    And I felt sad. Very, very sad.

    I hated everything. The Eagles. The Giants. Football. Even the decorations Fox puts on its score bug during Christmastime. Stupid lights....

    In 2010's "Miracle at the New Meadowlands," DeSean Jackson became the first player in NFL history to return a punt for a game-winning touchdown as time expired. [Associated Press]
  10. 2017 NFL free agency: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a kick return problem

    Bucs

    The first time Josh Huff fielded a kickoff for the Buccaneers, the ball hit him in the face.

    Not exactly what Tampa Bay had in mind when it signed the receiver/returner in November.

    Huff went on to average 12 yards on six kick returns, and the team's average fell to an NFL-low 14.6 yards — more than 7 yards below the league mean.

    That's not just a single-season low.

    That's an ALL-TIME low....

    Vikings receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson has led the NFL in kick return average in three of the past four seasons. He is set to become a free agent when the league year begins Thursday. [Associated Press]
  11. 2017 NFL free agency: The Bucs have cap space, but here's why they don't have to spend

    Bucs

    DeSean Jackson. Calais Campbell. Tony Jefferson.

    Coming to a stadium near you?

    When the free agent frenzy begins next week, the Bucs have the resources to land those big names. They'll be armed with about $70 million in cap space.

    Here's the thing, though: They don't have to spend any of it. Not a cent....

    [Times photo illustration]
  12. Baseball Prospectus: Moving Evan Longoria to first base 'starting to look inevitable' for Tampa Bay Rays

    The Heater

    It's the most wonderful time of the year.

    Every February, checking the mailbox becomes fun again.

    Most of the time, there's nothing but bills and credit card solicitations. It's like opening a pack of baseball cards and getting Pat Kelly, Jeff Manto and Kurt Manwaring.

    Then, finally, the package arrives. I rip open the bubble wrap, and there it is.

    The Baseball Prospectus annual. Hundreds and hundreds of sweet, glorious pages of player projections, commentary, TAv, FIP and WARP....

    While Evan Longoria enjoyed a power surge last season, his defense is in decline, Baseball Prospectus says. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times
]
  13. Three Buccaneers make Pro Football Focus' Top 101 of 2016

    Bucs

    Pro Football Focus has named its top 101 players of the 2016 season, and three Buccaneers made the cut.

    Receiver Mike Evans ranks 12th, cornerback Brent Grimes ranks 43rd and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy ranks 73rd.

    None of the three was ranked in 2015's list. Doug Martin was the only Bucs player included.

    Evans is PFF's best receiver after Julio Jones of the Falcons. Grimes is the site's eighth-ranked cornerback, and McCoy is the 10th-ranked interior defensive lineman....

    In 2016, Bucs receiver Mike Evans caught 96 of his 173 targets for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  14. What the Patriots' Super Bowl comeback has to do with Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo

    Bucs

    Down 25 points in Super Bowl LI, the Patriots needed a series of best-case scenarios to climb back into the game. Even after they cut the Falcons' lead to 16, they still needed two touchdowns and two two-point conversions just to tie.

    All the while, they had to hold Atlanta scoreless....

    Thanks in part to Stephen Gostkowski's mortar kicks, Patriots opponents had the worst average starting field position in the NFL during the regular season. [Getty Images]
  15. Matt Ryan vs. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback showdown in Super Bowl history. Will it live up to the hype?

    Bucs

    You wanted Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. You didn't get it.

    Instead, you got something better: Matt Ryan vs. Tom Brady.

    In fact, by one measure, it's the greatest quarterback showdown in Super Bowl history. Yes, even better than Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino.

    That measure is a modified version of yards per pass attempt. Adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) is similar to yards per attempt except that it rewards quarterbacks for touchdowns and penalizes them for interceptions and sacks....

    [Getty Images]