I rarely write. I write a great deal for my real job but Mr. Destiny has been doing an amazing job providing tremendous written content to augment what I feel is an excellent set of multimedia content in the form of our shows. His most recent article was just published and it centers around the release of Kellen Winslow. Broken earlier today on Sirius Radio during an interview, anyone paying attention has known this position and this player was at risk for some time. While his lack of attendance to OTA’s is the talk of the town (and now, after he is all but gone people are all over with anecdotes of his borderline malevolent behavior in town and on the field…more on this later) the real issue is that he simply is not the guy the Bucs need.
Tight Ends can be very valuable. The Patriots have reminded folks of something the Saints (and the Falcons and the Chiefs and the Cowboys….) made them realize. An athletic Tight End is a mismatch. If you have one of those type guys you can focus on them and punish the defense. Do they cover the TE with a LB and deal with the speed difference (and sometimes height) or do they leverage a DB and risk the size mismatch problems (See Brent Grimes covering Jimmy Graham last year)? When Kellen came here, people used to put #82 on the board and have to gameplan for him. (Credit to Sapp for this concept)
They simply don’t have to do that anymore.
His injuries and age seem to have robbed just enough of his speed and athleticism that people can no longer ignore the fact that he can’t (or won’t block). He is no longer feared as a threat and is instead simply another guy to account for. When you add to that the desire to really enforce “the Buccaneer Way,” this decision seems an easy one. My good friend Mark Cook (@MarkCook1970) from Pewter Report believes this has nothing to do with production because Kellen put up ‘good’ numbers. I would caution that it goes well past the stat line when you are assessing production and value.
I would caution fans not to read too much into the drama. When you have multiple jobs on the field (like block AND catch) you have to be exceptional at one if you suck at the other. The exceptional stopped. This condition was exacerbated by what seemed to be a ‘me first’ attitude (Seemed. I do not know Kellen. I was always impressed by the time he put in at practice to be honest. He truly was a gifted catcher of the football. ) The concept that the best guy will play and that your production and participation matters are fundamental here in Tampa now. When big names get cut, that message gets sent.
So I will not pile on Kellen. I pointed out where I was unhappy with play on the field last year. But, overall, I felt that he played hard for most of his tenure here. I wish him well but I am not concerned. I stopped feeling like he was a difference maker long before this message became public. If you watched the games closely, you would have too.
As for absence from OTA’s being the issue and what the impact to Dez Briscoe would be I would remind folks of the following: they are voluntary. I do believe that Coach Schiano is going to make it crystal clear what he expects. The front office (from ownership down through the coaching staff) seem to be aligned which is a good thing. I have no doubt that this new regime will easily handle the questions of fairness with something like, “Personnel moves are the business of the team. We will retain players that exemplify the concept of the Buccaneer Way.” The days of spending inordinate amounts of time wondering what the local media and fans will think are dead folks. I do not mean that as a sign of disrespect. What I am saying is the same thing I said when Bruce Allen was here. The front office’s job is to build a team that the community can be proud of and to win games. If they do those two things then respect and fans should follow.
As for the media coverage, I would like to point out that the stories will be flying about Kellen now. Take note of that. Being beholden to the team and unable to speak your mind is not a plus. We have some damn fine journalists and media people in town and I think it is offensive that some of them have to hold their tongue as they fear biting the hand that feeds. Read into that what you will.