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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. Teams like the Rays are striking out more, and Mike Schmidt thinks it's a problem

    The Heater

    "I don't like that today's hitters have been allowed to adopt a carefree attitude toward the strikeout."

    Those are Mike Schmidt's words, published in a 2014 column about baseball's ever-increasing rate of strikeouts. I came across his piece recently while doing research for a story about the Rays and their record-breaking pace....

    Mike Schmidt played 18 seasons for the Phillies. His career strikeout rate was 18.7 percent. The major-league average today is 21.6 percent. [Associated Press]
  2. Bucs' Jameis Winston quickly finds chemistry with 8-year-old receiver

    Bucs

    Jameis Winston stayed after practice Tuesday to throw a few extra passes to Cameron Brate, Alan Cross, O.J. Howard and someone hoping to one day latch onto an NFL roster.

    That player? Eight-year-old Michael Vernon II of Brandon, who was a mere autograph seeker until Bucs assistants invited him onto the field....

    Jameis Winston (3) signs autographs for fans following practice Friday at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Gerald McCoy on Brian Price video, CTE: 'It hurts you to your heart'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, drafted 32 picks apart in 2010, were supposed to anchor the interior of the next great Bucs defense.

    McCoy has gone on to earn All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. Price, however, is now coping with life after football.

    A video published this week by a Michigan television station shows police confronting the former lineman outside an auto parts store in April. During the exchange, Price, 28, suddenly charges toward the store's glass door and dives through it. As if nothing happened, he walks away from the shards of glass and lies down in the parking lot....

    Former Buccaneers defensive tackle Brian Price, shown here in a 2012 portrait, is coping with a difficult life after football. A video published this week by a Michigan television station shows the former lineman running through a glass door. [Times]
  4. Think strikeouts are bad? You're wrong. And the Rays are proving it.

    The Heater

    Baseball is changing, and it's changing in a way that runs counter to everything we've been taught.

    "Put the ball in play and good things will happen" is the axiom.

    But that's not the Tampa Bay Rays' style. Far from it.

    They struck out 874 times in the first half, the most in baseball. If they maintain this pace, they'll be the latest team to break the major-league record....

    The hitting philosophy of Rays first baseman Logan Morrison: "I'm not going to beat anything out on the ground. I'm slow. I'm just trying to hit the ball in the air and in the gaps, and hopefully they go out for me." [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  5. How the Buccaneers will benefit from O.J. Howard

    Bucs

    Myles Garrett fires his hands into O.J. Howard's chest and churns his legs as the Alabama tight end tries to hold his ground. As they collide, Garrett extends his arms, driving Howard back.

    Whether the play is successful hinges on Howard's next move. If he cedes more ground to the Texas A&M defensive end, the lane for the running back will close....

    With the offseason additions of O.J. Howard, above, and DeSean Jackson, the Bucs might have one of the NFL's most potent offenses. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  6. Ranking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offseason moves

    Bucs

    1. Signing receiver DeSean Jackson

    Jameis Winston can throw only so many screen passes to Adam Humphries. For coach Dirk Koetter's offense to reach its explosive potential, the Bucs needed a speedy deep threat, and over the past decade no player has played that role better than Jackson....

    Since DeSean Jackson entered the NFL in 2008, he has caught a league-high 57 passes that have resulted in gains of at least 40 yards. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]
  7. Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate is a Pro Football Focus "secret superstar"

    Bucs

    Two years ago, Cameron Brate was clinging to the Buccaneers roster. Now, he is being called a "secret superstar."

    Over at Pro Football Focus, Sam Monson identified one player on each NFL team who has received little national recognition relative to his high production, and the tight end was his pick for the Bucs....

    Bucs tight end Cameron Brate catches a go-ahead touchdown pass against the Cowboys in December. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  8. Buccaneers defense was among NFL's best when its pressure got to the QB

    Bucs

    It doesn't matter how many times they've thrown a football. It doesn't matter how many seasons they've played. It doesn't matter whether they have a degree from Harvard or Central Florida.

    Every NFL quarterback, from Tom Brady to Jameis Winston, is less successful when he faces pressure from the defense.

    The flip side: Defenses are more successful when they generate pressure.

    RELATED STORY: How Winston performed under pressure in 2016...

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but many of his other contributions didn't show up in the box scores. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]

  9. Jameis Winston stats: How the Bucs QB performed under pressure

    Bucs

    Every quarterback's performance declines when he faces pressure from the defense.

    While Jameis Winston is no exception, his play under duress last season was better than most other quarterbacks' play, according to data published this week by Football Outsiders. To label the Buccaneers quarterback's performance "good," however, would be a bit of a stretch; "not as bad" is a more fitting description....

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston faced pressure on more than 30 percent of his pass plays last season. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  10. 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]
  11. 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]
  12. 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]
  13. 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]
  14. 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]
  15. 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]