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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. Jameis Winston's completion percentage: Don't worry about it

    Bucs

    With 24 seconds left against the Rams last season, Jameis Winston spotted Vincent Jackson open down the right sideline.

    If only he hadn't missed his target. We wouldn't be talking this summer about whether the 2017 Buccaneers can end the franchise's playoff drought … because the 2016 team would have already done it.

    Since entering the NFL in 2015, Winston has completed less than 60 percent of his passes. Imagine how good he could be if he completed, say, 70 percent of his passes....

    Of the 35 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 400 passes since 2015, Jameis Winston ranks 30th in completion percentage. He is third, however, in yards per completion. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
  2. Jameis Winston's completion percentage: Don't worry about it

    Bucs

    With 24 seconds left against the Rams last season, Jameis Winston spotted Vincent Jackson open down the right sideline.

    If only he hadn't missed his target. We wouldn't be talking this summer about whether the 2017 Buccaneers can end the franchise's playoff drought … because the 2016 team would have already done it....

    Of the 35 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 400 passes since 2015, Jameis Winston ranks 30th in completion percentage. He is third, however, in yards per completion. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
  3. A better way to judge Bucs LBs Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander have built reputations as tackling machines.

    Alexander's 108 tackles last season led the NFL. David's 67 ranked 44th, but he finished second in 2014 and 11th in 2015.

    As visible as David and Alexander are, we know that racking up a lot of tackles isn't necessarily a good thing. Tackles are often a measure of opportunity, not skill. If a defense regularly fails to get off the field, it's going to record an inflated number of tackles. Case in point: The Buccaneers allowed 5.8 yards per play last season, the ninth-worst mark....

    Bucs linebacker Lavonte David's 17 tackles for loss last season were tied for the NFL lead. Kwon Alexander had 12. [Associated Press]
  4. Who throws a better deep ball: Jameis Winston or Kevin Love?

    Bucs

    Do you miss football? Look carefully, and you might catch a glimpse of it in the NBA Finals.

    Halfway through the third quarter of Game 1 on Thursday night, a Steph Curry three-point try rolled off the rim. Kevin Love grabbed the defensive rebound, scanned the court and fired the ball at least 20 yards to LeBron James. It wasn't Jameis Winston to Mike Evans, but the aggressive, push-the-ball-down-the-field mentality is familiar....

    [Getty Images]
  5. Deadspin thinks the Tampa Bay Rays' mascot is lame. Here's one crazy fix.

    The Heater

    As it turns out, not everybody loves Raymond.

    Deadspin on Friday released a "binding and unassailable" ranking of pro sports mascots, and it has our furry, lovable old Raymond No. 59 out of 70. Sourdough Sam (San Francisco 49ers), Captain Fear's manic cousin, and Burnie (Miami Heat), a mascot no one outside of South Florida knows exists, beat out the Tampa Bay Rays' "sea dog."...

    Tampa Bay Rays team mascot Raymond [Times]
  6. Why the Buccaneers shouldn't give up on kicker Roberto Aguayo just yet

    Bucs

    The backup quarterback is the most popular guy in town.

    Except in Tampa Bay.

    Here, the most popular guy is the second kicker.

    Yep, Nick Folk.

    Throw him a parade. Present him the key to the city. Name a sandwich after him.

    And while we're at it, let's give him Roberto Aguayo's job.

    Whoa. Slow down. The season is three months away. Maybe we should let this kicking competition unfold first....

    You might have heard: Roberto Aguayo's 2016 season didn't go so well. But don't write him off just yet. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  7. Hard to believe NFL overtime change is about player safety

    Bucs

    If someone's house were engulfed in flames, would you hand him a fire extinguisher?

    Of course not.

    But that's how the NFL is handling its overtime problem.

    Owners voted this week to reduce regular-season overtime periods from 15 to 10 minutes, a gesture as thoughtful as buying your mother-in-law a candle for Christmas.

    Meanwhile, overtime's most significant flaw remains. A team still can lose a game without its offense taking a snap in the extra period, as the Falcons did in last season's Super Bowl against the Patriots. Let that sink in: With the world watching, the NFL's marquee game — the 267th in a grueling 22-week season — was decided without one of the teams ever touching the ball in overtime....

    Fans await the beginning of overtime between the Patriots and Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February. [Associated Press]
  8. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering into the future.

    ...

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  9. Behold, the size and strength of Yankees phenom Aaron Judge

    The Heater

    This is no exaggeration: You have never seen a baseball player like the one visiting the Rays at Tropicana Field this weekend.

    There have been plenty of tall players (Randy Johnson) and plenty of wide players (Bartolo Colon), but no one has possessed a greater combination of height and weight (6-foot-7, 282 pounds) than Yankees slugger Aaron Judge. Even George Herman Ruth would look miniature standing next to him....

    Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, center, is 8 inches taller and almost 100 pounds heavier than teammate Brett Gardner, left. [Getty Images]
  10. Why the Buccaneers hope new backup Ryan Fitzpatrick never has to throw a pass

    Bucs

    Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't dead, but his arm is.

    And if Jameis Winston suffers a severe injury, the Buccaneers' season might be, too.

    On Friday, Tampa Bay, in need of an experienced backup quarterback, signed Fitzpatrick anyway. The deal is for one year and $3 million.

    RELATED STORY: Bucs opt for experience behind Winston...

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started for the Jets in 11 games last season, threw an interception on 4.2 percent of his passes, the NFL's highest rate. [Getty Images]
  11. Football Outsiders' 2017 NFL projections: No playoffs for the Buccaneers

    Bucs

    The Buccaneers as a playoff team?

    Don't bet on it.

    The empirical thinkers at Football Outsiders have joined Las Vegas oddsmakers in casting Tampa Bay as an underdog this coming season.

    The football analytics website released its post-draft projections this week, and it has the Bucs going 7-9 and finishing last in the NFC South. Tampa Bay, which won nine games last season, is ranked 13th in the NFC, ahead of only the Bears, Vikings and 49ers....

    Bucs safety Chris Conte celebrates after returning an interception for a touchdown against the Bears in November. Tampa Bay recorded 29 takeaways last season, its most since 2013. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  12. The Buccaneers are underdogs in 10 games this season

    Bucs

    Hopes are high in Tampa Bay that the Bucs are on the verge of ending their playoff drought.

    But that's not the way the nation's gambling capital sees the 2017 NFL season unfolding.

    CG Technology, a sports book operator in Las Vegas, released lines Wednesday for every game this season (excluding Week 17 games, which are difficult to project because team strategy varies based on playoff seeding), and the Bucs are favorites in only five games....

    Running back Doug Martin and his Bucs teammates celebrate a touchdown against the Saints in December. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  13. No love for the Buccaneers: Las Vegas sets over/under at eight wins

    Bucs

    With free agency and the draft in the rear view, it's time to look ahead to the Buccaneers season and play everyone's favorite game: How Many Games Will They Win?

    The South Point casino in Las Vegas recently released its projections. It set the over/under for Tampa Bay at eight wins.

    Eight? For a team that won nine last season and narrowly missed the playoffs? After it signed receiver DeSean Jackson and drafted tight end O.J. Howard, you'd think it'd be projected to win more....

    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  14. Buccaneers got their running back in Jeremy McNichols. Will he be good?

    Bucs

    In what was widely regarded as a deep running back draft, the Buccaneers waited until the fifth round to take a ball carrier — Jeremy McNichols from Boise State. He was one of four drafted in the round Saturday.

    Teams usually don't expect fifth-round picks to be much more than productive backups. They hope, though, that those picks surprise, exceed expectations and develop into productive starters....

    Running back Jeremy McNichols, the Bucs' fifth-round draft pick, was a workhorse at Boise State. He had more touches over the past two seasons than 13 of the 16 running backs taken before him. [Getty Images]
  15. 2017 NFL draft, Day 3: Buccaneers take a running back (finally) and a very big and very old man

    Bucs

    Here are some things you should know about running back Jeremy McNichols and defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, the Buccaneers' final two selections of the NFL draft:

    Jeremy McNichols

    ...

    Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols catches a 76-yard touchdown pass last season against Brigham Young. With the 162nd overall pick, the Bucs drafted him Saturday. [Getty Images]