Friday, October 30, 2009

JoeBucsFan Is Showinig Some Love

The good folks over at linked my Bucs Wish List post and excerpted it on their site. Please show your support and go over and leave a comment.

Hot Off The Presses: Week 8

I rebounded well to a 10-3 record last week but I am feeling the magic touch. Can I finally go undefeated?


Texans at Bills: Texans. The Texans are finally living up to their potential and the Bills are still.....well the Bills.

Browns at Bears: Bears. No brainer.

Seahawks at Cowboys: Cowboys. The Cowboys are starting to put it all together and they are also getting healthier. Miles Austin's explosion the last two games has brought a whole new element to our offense. The defense is finally bringing the pressure that most of us thought they would have all season and playing much better overall. The Seahawks have just had way too many injuries at critical positions this year and TJ Whos Your Mama is becoming a big big distraction.

Rams at Lions: Rams. Talk about picking he lesser of two football evils lol. This could definitely go either way. But no Calvin Johnson equals no offense for the Lions if you ask me.

49ers at Colts: Colts. The Colts are quietly the most dominant team in the NFL right now. While everyone else is focused on the Vikings and the Saints, Peyton Manning and his boys have been blowing people out and are just now getting fully healthy. The 49ers will be better with Alex Smith at the helm but not quite good enough.

Dolphins at Jets: Dolphins. As they say in boxing, styles make fights. And I just think Miami matches up well with the Jets. Besides that I don't think conditions will be good for a big passing day for either team and with the Jets down Leon Washington I don't think they will be able to match the Dolphins' running game. Besides that these teams hate each other which should really make for an intense and exciting game.

Broncos at Ravens: Broncos. I promised after the Broncos beat the Chargers that I would never pick against them the rest of the year. It is what it is.

Giants at Eagles: Giants. The Eagles historically have not done too well with Brian Westbrook out of the lineup and I just don't see him being ready for this game. The fact that the Redskins stuck around so long with the Eagles on Monday night really didn't inspire any confidence in them either.

Jaguars at Titans: Titans. Its the return of Vince Young and the Titans are at home. Hell why not? LOL

Raiders at Chargers: Chargers. Duh!

Vikings at Packers: Packers. With Chad Clifton back I think the Packers' protection will be better. I also think that being outside in November will be a factor against the Vikings team. Home field advantage will be huge in this one and I think it all equals up to a Packers victory dashing the Brett Favre love story.

Panthers at Cardinals: Cardinals. With John Fox sticking with Jake Delhomme at quarterback I just can't take the Panthers seriously anymore.


Falcons at Saints. Saints. Too much offense from the Saints especially against an Atlanta secondary that is hurting. This might not even be close.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Will Not End Well

Just got this tweet from TBO.

Anwar: Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris has just announced quarterback Josh Freeman will take over as the team’s starter.

I am not sure I will be able to watch the games from now on. I hope that Freeman comes in and sets the world on fire but I just know how incredibly unlikely that is. And I also realize what that will mean for the coaching staff and perhaps the managment as well.

Go Bucs?

Update: Further proof that we are living in bizarro NFL world, the Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox announced today that the only person who can consistently beat his team, his own quarterback Jake Delhomme, will still be starting for him.


My Buccaneer Wish List For The Off Week

I am going to go through some of the things I hope the Bucs can get done during their off week in order to get some wins in the second half of the season. Some of it will be about specific players, some of it will be about scheme and all of it will be kind of random but I think if we can get at least some of this done then we may have a chance of at least pulling out of the cellar by the end of the year.

1. Keep Josh Johnson at quarterback. I realize that Johnson has regressed some in the past few weeks but he is our best option right now. Bringing Josh Freeman in at this point offers little to no upside for the team. For him to make even the slightest bit of difference so much would have to change over all for the team that in my mind it would make it close to impossible for him to have success. The word miracle comes to mind. So as crass as it sounds if you are going to have a quarterback go through this miserable of a season it might as well be the guy that you see as the present not the guy you see as the future.

2. Give Josh Johnson a better chance to succeed. It is now time for us to adjust our game plan to fit the talent that we have and the talent that we don't have. For one we should be totally committed to running the ball and by committed I mean in almost any game no matter what the circumstances we should be running the ball well over 50% of the time. With our offensive line this should put us in position most of the time to be in manageable 3rd down situations and if we can get teams to have to commit more people to stopping the run then play action pass gains a higher probability of success.

We should almost NEVER be lined up in a shotgun formation unless its a 3rd down situation. Lets put Johnson under the center and make teams guess what is coming.

Lets start throwing a lot more screens of all kinds. Antonio Bryant and Sammie Stroughter and even Michael Clayton are all strong run after the catch guys. The problem has been getting the ball to them downfield where they can work. Eliminate that problem but throwing them quick screens and smoke routes so they have the ball in their hands in a position to make something happen. With teams blitzing Johnson so much screens have a very good chance of exploiting man to man coverage. We should also be running screens with our running backs and tight ends as well. Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward, and Earnest Graham are all good receivers out of the back field and can make things happen if they have green grass in front of them. The same can be said for Kellen Winslow who for all intents and purposes is a big wide receiver. Throwing screens also will help Johnson because now he doesn't have to try to read the coverage as much and its defined from the snap where the ball is supposed to go.

We also should be running a lot more bootlegs. Put Johnson in a position where he can make yards with his arm or his legs and put pressure on the opposing teams' defensive ends to be disciplined enough to not chase the running back. Eventually you will put those guys in a tough position and it will also open up cut back lanes for the running game. Before the season there was a lot of talk about implementing a variety of bootlegs and in the preseason we saw it a lot with Luke McCown. But after Byron Leftwich won the job his lack of foot speed pretty much took them out of the game plan. Well we have a guy with major wheels at the helm now, and its time to put them back in to get him away from the blitzes and pass rushes.

3. Greg (Stylez) White needs to develop a spin move. White is a really good speed rusher and uses his hands really well against offensive tackles, but he gets run by the quarterback a lot. Many times this is a function of the opposing quarterback stepping up in the pocket and none of our inside guys being there to make the sack. If White were to stop about a step deeper than the level of the quarterback, get low and take a hard step with his inside foot, swing his outside arm around and pivot inside he would be right there to make a lot more sacks. I like the hump move that he uses at time but its not really a good counter move for his speed rushes. Rushing from the right side means that a lot of the time the B gap to his side will be open because most teams normally have their formation strengths to the defense's left the majority of the time. For that reason there is a natural lane that most quarterbacks are going to step up into. If he can develop that spin move this week and is able to start mixing it as a late counter off his speed rush it will be like taking candy from a baby and our pass rush over all will significantly improve.

4. Sit Jerramy Stevens down. I don't know what is going on with the guy this year but he is hurting, not helping the offense. Right now we need guys who are giving their best efforts and I just don't see it from him. Like I have said before, John Gilmore may not have as much talent but he for damn sure has more want to right now and I will take that any day.

5. Keep Jimmy Wilkerson in on 3rd downs. It is apparent that the defensive coaching staff will continue to kick Wilkerson inside on 4 man rushes on 3rd downs. I still don't agree with it but it is what it is. But I think Wilkerson has earned the right to be on the field on 3 man rushes. It doesn't make any sense to take the guy out of the game who is leading your team in sacks to put in a guy who doesn't have even one.

6. We need to go back to playing under defense and having Quincy Black up on the line over the tight end, especially on running plays. This at the least gives the opposing offense another look to have to try to scheme up and block. And it also opens the door to adding more blitzes where Black gets to rush from the outside. We have been told all off season that Black is a good pass rusher. Well through the first 7 games I don't think we have even blitzed him any more than 10 times total. And when we have most of the time it has been sending him up inside. Line him up outside the tight end and give him a chance to speed rush for a change.

Lining up in under defense also helps the defensive linemen away from the strong side. By having the tackle away from the tight end lined up in a 3 technique (outside shoulder of the guard) paired up with a defensive end who now doesn't have to deal with a tight end, you create a situation where you have two guys who have a head start on play action pass. Both guys can get off the ball hard and really get up field because most offenses won't have a lot of schemes that lend themselves to blocking those two guys in any complex fashion just because of their alignment.

7. Get Matt Bryant back here so we can finally have confidence kicking field goals. I don't know if UFL guys can get signed away to NFL teams yet but this needs to happen like yesterday.

8. Ryan Sims needs to commit to bullrushing and escaping on play action pass. Sims is a big strong guy and he gets great push on the guards when he wants to, but since the beginning of the season for some reason he has become more of a finesse guy on play action pass. He should get back to coming off hard and pushing guys back. Then he needs to work on ripping off the block at some point. In the run game Sims is really good at escaping off blocks to make a tackle, but on pass rush he gets stuck to guys looking in the backfield at the quarterback. He needs to concentrate more on the guy in front of him, escape off that block and then try to get some pressure or a sack. He has the ability to do so and its just a matter of him doing it.

9. We have to scrap this ridiculous short yardage and goalline alignment. Evidently Jim Bates was trying to reinvent the wheel or something. Ok well he had his shot now its time to get back to what is tried and true. Put four defensive linemen in the A and B gaps and put two other guys whether its linebackers or defensive ends on the outside shoulders of the tight ends in the D gaps/contain. Get three animals at linebacker and Tanard Jackson and Aqib Talib and lets ride. It ain't rocket science and it for damn sure works.

10. When will we start seeing some trickeration? I realize we had a flea flicker dialed up in the past game but at this point we need to be pulling out all the stops. Where are the reverses? Where are the fake punts? Where are the Wildcat plays? We need some damn innovation to at least light a spark and get the crowd into the game. I mean seriously, at this point, what do we have to lose?

Well these are the areas where I think we can do some different things to take this team in a different direction. I don't know how much if any of this will actually get done by the Bucs this off week but a guy can hope can't he?

I am sitting here with my fingers crossed because its starting to get hard to watch...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bucs Films Review: New England Patriots Week 7

Yet another edition of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly...

The Good

Defensive Line: You can read my critique here.

Interceptions: We had two big time interceptions by the secondary this week, one from Tanard Jackson and one from Aqib Talib. The offense wasn't able to capitalize this time but hopefully if we can keep creating turnovers we will eventually be able to turn them into points.

Sammie Stroughter: This kid just keeps making plays in the passing game as well as special teams returns.

The Bad

Josh Johnson/Play calling: Johnson had another poor day but not all of it was his fault. On his first interception which was returned for a touchdown by Brandon Merriweather the receiver, Stroughter, ran a stop route but when Johnson threw the ball inexplicably Stroughter started drifting to the outside. The ball was actually accurately thrown to the spot where Stroughter was supposed to be but when he vacated that area Merriweather swooped in and picked it off. Other throws of his were just off though, and although he did once again show some flashes, like in the touchdown throw at the end of the first half to Antonio Bryant, for most of the day he was just too inconsistent.

On the other hand I don't believe that the play calling helped him all that much. I am starting to be reminded of some years ago when Bruce Gradkowski was a rookie here who was pressed into action due to injuries at the quarterback position. At the time even though we had Cadillac Williams in the backfield, for whatever reason Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Jon Gruden still continued to have a pass happy game plan. That in large part contributed to a miserable season and I am seeing the same mistake happening again now. I don't care if teams are crowding the line and I don't care if we are down a touchdown or two in the first half. Right now we need to over commit to the run and take some of the pressure off our young quarterback(s). Making teams play the run shortens the game and helps to cut down on turnovers for the most part and it helps get the offense into a rhythm. Lining up in shotgun on first down is not what we should be doing in my humble opinion.

Jeremy Zuttah: Zuttah had a stinker of a game this week. He was bad on backside cut blocks and he had several busts in pass protections. Even when he knew which guy he was supposed to block, several times he still got his ass handed to him. Hopefully this was just an aberration but Zuttah is going to have to pick it up if we are going to have success.

Giving up big plays on defense: We kind of regressed on defense this week and gave up several long touchdown plays. I understand that the Patriots have some really good weapons on offense but we hurt ourselves several times. There were missed tackles that led to long runs after the catch and there were also calls that put us in bad positions. I have no clue why we would be in man to man defense with one guy blitzing Brady on 1st down and 20 after a penalty on the Patriots. I can tell you however that the resulting bomb to Ben Watson over linebacker Geno Hayes was entirely predictable considering the the fact that Hayes was lined up basically in bump and run with only one deep safety in the middle.

The Ugly

Jerramy Stevens: Jerramy Stevens should be ashamed of some of the blocks he had in that game. Hell I am embarrased for him. And its a mystery to me how the coaches can see this guy whiff on blocks and get his ass handed to him week after week and yet he is still in the starting line up basically. Its not like he is catching a lot of passes to justify the playing time either. But for my money I would MUCH rather see John Gilmore out there in his place. Gilmore might not make every block but at least you can see that he is trying his ass off. Hell even Kellen Winslow Jr. who has never been accused of being a great blocker, actually tries to get in front of his guy and keep them from making the play. With Stevens its almost like he doesn't really give a damn one way or the other. I know one thing, if I was Josh Johnson, Caddy, or Derrick Ward I would be asking the coaches why they keep trying to get me killed by having that guy in the game. And here is the worst part, I have seen Stevens block a helluva lot better since he has been here playing for the Bucs. So it ain't a matter of whether he CAN do it or not, but moreso whether he WILL do this or not.

Loafs: If there is one thing that pisses me off watching a game it is guys showing a lack of effort. You don't have to be supremely talented to bust your ass, you just have to want it more than the next guy. Well in the first half when Patriots wide reciever Aiken caught a crossing route and took it to the house both Talib and Hayes straight up loafed after he broke away from Barrett Ruud. And what makes it so bad is the fact that Elbert Mack came from a long way behind both guys to pass them up and haul ass all the way to the endzone. That is what you call finishing the play. Who knows, what if the guy fumbled right before he got into the endzone? We are having a hard enough time winning games, we can't start having guys deciding that they are just going to give up on plays that are still live.

Short yardage/Goalline defense: I will issue the challenge again. I defy anyone be it player, coach, or fan, to show me how our defense can be successful with the alignment we are put in on short yardage and goalline plays. From where I am sitting and after watching the game 3 times, I am convinced that even if every guy does his job it would be close to impossible to stop a team from gaining a yard a two against that alignment.

If you can prove differently just drop me a line and if you can in fact show me how we can be successful with that defense then I will take it all back and never criticize it again. Until that happens I am labeling it straight garbage!

That's Gotta Hurt

Have to say I am very dissappointed to hear that Clippers first rounder Blake Griffin has a broken kneecap. That ish just SOUNDS painful. I can't even imagine running up and down the court and trying to dunk off a knee with a broken kneecap. And really Griffin was the first guy in years who I thought would come into the NBA and fill up the screen with highlight reel plays. The cat has or at least had it all from my perspective. Here is hoping that he is able to make a full recovery.

Tony LaRussa Is Playing Himself

I have always thought that Tony LaRussa was an exceptional manager who probably didn't get as much credit as he should have, but right now he is about to make a mockery of himself. LaRussa seems to be on a mission to convince everyone else in the world who has a brain and can think for themselves that they have it all wrong about Mark McGwire taking performance enhancing drugs by bringing him in as a hitting coach.

Yes that's right ladies and gentlemen. When introducing McGwire as his new hitting coach LaRussa thought it would be a good time to point out that the guy is still big as hell from working out. Hmmmm I wonder if being away from those pesky drug tests might have something to do with that. Mind you Mark McGwire hasn't coached at all since leaving the game. Mind you the guy had a career .263 batting average, not exactly Tony Gwynn there.

So you have in McGwire a guy who I suppose will be able to teach the players how to swing for the fences? Seriously, in what world does this make sense unless you are a manager who WANTS there to be controversy around you? McGuire doesn't need a job and even if he did LaRussa could have given him something away from the players if need be. But by making Big Mac the hitting coach LaRussa is basically saying his belief in McGwire is stronger than all the evidence to the contrary that the guy was juicing. Now there is a time and a place for loyalty in sport but I just don't think this is one of them. I know people will start gnashing their teeth but could you imagine if someone gave Barry Bonds a job as hitting coach? Mind you Bonds hasn't been convicted of anything and has consistently said he didn't take performance enhancing drugs whether anybody believes that or not. And he for damn sure was a lot better and more consistent and well rounded hitter than McGwire EVER was.

Now don't mistake this to be me saying Bonds should have a job too. Quite the opposite. I am saying NEITHER of them should have a job in major league baseball. But I have a feeling that the media coverage of both would be different. It is what it is.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bull Rush

The third installment of "Bull Rush" is up at . This week's title is "Signs Of Progress".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Live Blogging The Bucs Vs Patriots Week 7

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vols Vs Bama

I will be live tweeting the Vols/Bama game. You can follow me at sgw94 on twitter.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Deep Thought

Isn't it funny how when a fan or sports pundit likes a coach whose team is doing poorly they always say stuff like "Well the coach isn't out there missing tackles" or "The coach isn't out there jumping offsides". But if they don't like the coach or just don't care about them either way, then every single problem is a product of the coach. "That's a sign of poor preparation by the coach". "That coach just didn't get them ready". "This team just isn't very disciplined and that goes back to coaching".

Think about it....

Hot Off The Presses: Week 7

I have nothing to say about last week. Nope, nothing at all...


Packers at Browns: Packers. Chad Clifton's back which means that an already hot Aaron Rodgers should be even better. The Browns just aren't a good team and the Packers will treat them as such.

Chargers at Chiefs: Chargers. The Chargers have so much talent its just hard to pick against them playing Chiefs even on the road. However its also hard to pick the Chargers because of how inconsistent they have been of the last few years. If I saw any signs of life in KC I probably would go with them but I just don't see them moving in the right direction. Consider this a Chargers by default pick.

49ers at Texans: 49ers. The 49ers are coming off a bye and they are going to get their battering ram, Frank Gore back. Even though they were dismantled by the Falcons a couple weeks ago I still like their defense a lot too. And really I think the Texans will find a way to lose this one. I am a little worried because of how Singletary handled the promotion of Michael Crabtree but I think if he comes out and makes some plays all will be forgiven.

Colts at Rams: Colts. Duh.

Vikings at Steelers. Steelers. This is a really tough pick for me but there are a few factors that make me think the Steelers will pull it out. First of all they are at home which means the game will be outside in the elements. Its one thing for that Vikings offense to put up big numbers inside an air conditioned dome on turf. Its quite another to do it in cold weather on green grass. Not only that, the Vikings are hurting in the secondary and the Steelers are really pushing the ball down the field well in the air. Not only that but with Rashard Mendenhall running the ball well now I would expect more balance in this game. This will be another game where I feel like Favre will get hit a lot and that will be a factor also.

Patriots at Bucs. Patriots. Duh.

Bills at Panthers. Panthers. The Panthers are playing a lot better on defense and a lot of that has to do with Julius Peppers going back over to left end. That spells trouble for a Bills offensive line that has already had its problems this year. Its also bad news for the Bills that after giving up a ton of rushing yards to Thomas Jones last week in the Jets game, they now have to face the dynamic duo of DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart. If there is a chance for them to win this game it will have to be because Jake Delhomme throws a ton of picks. But I think at this point the Panthers just aren't going to have him throw the ball as much and instead lean heavily on their run game.

Jets at Raiders. Jets. The Raiders had a huge upset win over the Eagles last year but I imagine that after Thomas Jones' big day last week that the Jets won't make the same mistake of not running the ball at that Raiders defense. Not only that but I don't think JaMarcus Russell will handle all of those Jets blitzes well.

Bears at Bengals. Bengals. This was also a tough call for me. The Bengals losing last week at home to the Texans was very dissappointing and somewhat of a head scratcher but I think they bounce back this week with the help of Cedric Benson. I thought prior to the regular season starting that Benson would end up shocking a lot of people. He showed glimpses last year of being a dominating runner and he has carried it over into this season. Now with his former team coming to town, a team that he contends tried to black ball him from playing in the league, I have to believe that he is going to play with a chip on his shoulder. It won't help the Bears that they re down to their 4th string set of linebackers either.

Falcons at Cowboys. Cowboys. I will admit that this is a bit of a homer pick for me but I really do think the Cowboys will win. They are finally health again in the backfield although Marion Barber fractured his thumb. That means they will be running the all a LOT at a somewhat undersized Falcons defense. The Falcons are also hurting in the secondary with the loss of Brian Williams which could mean a big day for Jason Witten. The Cowboys defense will have its hands full trying to cover Tony Gonzales, but I think that overall they will be able to contain the Falcons offense. I am also looking for Miles Austin to show that his huge game against the Chiefs was not just a fluke.

Saints at Dolphins. Saints. The Dolphins secondary is the weakest link. The Dolphins offense will likely play keep away again but I am not so sure that it will be as successful against the blitz happy Saints defense. But as was the case with the Colts game, the problem will end up being that they won't be able to keep up scoring with the Saints no matter how long they hold the ball.

Cardinals at Giants. Giants. The Giants should bounce back big time on defense this week and have a huge day against the Cardinals. One little known secret is that the winds at the Meadowlands make it almost impossible to throw the ball when you are on offense going in one direction. That means the team with the better running game is likely to win the game. The Cardinals have been tough against the run all year. But I don't think they will hold up well against Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.


Eagles at Redskins. Eagles. The Redskins are going with an offensive coordinator who doesn't even know all the plays? C'mon Son! Get the bleep outta here with that.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Fake Sports Stories Take Hold

A couple of weeks ago there was a little mini controversy brewing in Carolina. You see Jon Beason went on a radio show and was asked about the lack of production from the normally dominant Julius Peppers. Here is what he said.

Beason said he watched the closing minutes of Minnesota's win over Green Bay Monday night, during which Vikings' defensive end Jared Allen had 4 1/2 sacks. It was the type of performance Panthers fans, and apparently teammates, want from Peppers.

Beason said he received a phone call late in the game from someone discussing Peppers, to which Beason said he responded "I'm going to have a conversation with that guy."

"The pressure is what you want to see, the intensity," Beason of Peppers.

Beason said his conversation "would be brief and to the point."

Beason said he wouldn't be looking to criticize, but rather to say, "I need you to be there with me. I need everything youv'e got. That's it in a nutshell."

Well guess what? After Beason made those comments Peppers has been on a tear! In the next two games (admittedly against lesser opponents) he had 12 tackles 4 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a tackle for a safety.

I know what you are thinking, Jon Beason needs to be a motivational speaker. Right? Right? I mean I even saw a few talking heads saying how effective his little talk to Peppers must have been. Or at the least just SAYING on the radio that he was going to call Peppers out must have been a huge motivator. I am willing to bet that if Peppers goes on to have another Pro Bowl season more than a few sports pundits will give at least some credit to Beason for "lighting a fire".

There is just one problem though. That isn't really what happened.

What ACTUALLY happened was that the Panthers put Peppers back over on the left hand side where he had previously been dominant since his rookie year. Last year they moved Peppers to right end to make up for the loss of long time starter Mike Rucker and by all means he had a really good year. Double digit sacks again and yet another trip to the Pro Bowl. But from my perspective he never truly looked comfortable over there this year. I don't know if he was seeing too much or what but he looked slower and not nearly explosive as if he was trying real hard to be perfect. But now that he is back on the left side the guy is absolutely wrecking shop. On one of the sacks this past Sunday against the Bucs he got double teamed by the tackle and the guard but he still ran threw them like they were swiss cheese.

Remarkably as of this evening I haven't heard one single sports pundit talk about him moving back to what I think is his more natural side as the reason for Peppers resurgence. But like I said the media generally won't let facts like that get in their way. They won't care that after the Redskins game Beason admitted he never spoke to Peppers about his intensity before the game. They won't care that Beason apologized for calling Peppers out on the radio. Its a much more exciting story if it seems like Beason went in and cracked the whip and all of a sudden Peppers just woke up.

So just pay attention for the rest of the year how sports pundits talk about Peppers play. Trust me on this, the guy is going to continue to dominate for the rest of the year lining up at left end. And the Panthers will probably be in contention for the playoffs before its all said and done.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Until the Bucs do right by Matt Bryant things are gonna keep being shaky on field goals.

The Bucs cut ties with Bryant more than six weeks ago, ending the most successful kicking tenure in Tampa Bay history. The Bucs have portrayed it as a football decision necessitated by Bryant's hamstring injury in the preseason. Bryant, whose .831 field goal percentage is the best in Bucs history, says it had more to do with some pointed comments he made on a radio show.

There appears to be truth to both sides, perhaps more than either would like to publicly admit. But no matter where you point the blame, both have suffered from the fallout.

Bryant has spent the past two weeks with the Florida Tuskers of the UFL, hoping to impress some NFL team. The Bucs wasted more than $2 million on Mike Nugent, and now have Shane Andrus, who has never kicked a field goal in an NFL game.

"What makes it hard is the feeling that I should be out there. I look around the league, and I feel like I'm one of the best kickers out there. At least my stats have proved I'm pretty reliable," Bryant said. "I thought what I did on the field was pretty justifiable.

"But I guess it wasn't for the new GM."

This is where the story gets sticky. Bryant says it was general manager Mark Dominik's decision to release him, and Bryant believes it was because of an interview he did with morning show hosts Fisher and Boy on WSUN-FM 97.1 (97X) the day before the preseason finale.

Bryant, 34, seemed to suggest he wasn't getting a fair shot at the job. He also ridiculed Nugent's preseason performance, and mocked his $2.5 million in salary and bonus. A day later, Bryant said Dominik told him he would not kick as expected in the final preseason game.

Bryant now seems to regret his comments, but only to a certain degree. At the time, he was angry Nugent had been offered a contract twice the size of his own $1.2 million deal.

"If you go back and look at that interview, what is there for anybody to be mad at?" Bryant said. "They asked who was going to be the kicker, and I said it could be me, it could be him, it could be somebody else. I said, 'That's your $2.5 million kicker.' I shouldn't have said that. But did I lie? No. You have to look at where I was coming from. I'd been with the organization for four years. I tried to be a positive aspect in the community. My performance on the field, I felt, warranted some respect, some confidence.

"When they signed him, I felt it was a vote of no confidence and a lack of respect."

Bryant has a point considering his body of work, and the size of Nugent's contract. On the other hand, he handled the situation poorly. Bryant has been in the league long enough to know competition for roster spots is a way of life, and he knew better than to criticize a teammate in public.

Did the radio interview play a part in his release? Yes, according to someone in the Bucs front office.

Look,I was one of the most boring interviews every back when I was playing. I was old school in that regard in that I felt like the less rope you gave the media to hang you with the better. So I can understand being upset about what Bryant said but give me a damn break here. The NFL is about winning games and Bryant has won more than a few for us in a Buccaneer uniform. The truth is that he was right about Nugent as we have seen to start off the season. Being that the new guy missed a 43 yarder the other day, obviously the problem hasn't been fixed. Matt Bryant is a good guy, he is great in the community and he has given a lot to this city as a Buccaneer. Its time to bring him back down the road and move on because the guy can still help us. Letting somebody's ego get in the way of winning is how folks get fired in the league.

Just sayin

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bucs Films Review: Carolina Panthers Week 6

Time to check out The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from the Panthers game. Back up because I am spitting HOT FIYA today!

The Good.

Cadillac Williams: I thought the guy did a great job of running the ball and several times making something out of nothing. The cut back run for a touchdown was an absolute thing of beauty and he also did a great job of blitz pickup throughout the game. The question I have is why, after Offensive Coordinator Greg Olsen said just the other day that he wanted to make Caddy into more of a featured back did he only get 16 carries? We have a young quarterback, facing a tough defense at home and our workhorse only gets 16 carries? Now he made the most of them with 77 yards rushing but you have to wonder what he could have done with more opportunities. And for that matter the effect it would have had on opening up the passing game down field as well.

Tashard Jackson: In his second game back after serving a 4 game suspension to start the season Jackson was back to his playmaking ways. He started it off with a huge hit on Panthers wide receiver Musin Muhammaed, followed that up with a caused fumble deep in our own territory after our offense had turned the ball over, and capped it off with a pick six to tie the game in the second half. He made a lot of other plays in the run game and also showed the kind of pass coverage that we have come to expect from him at this point. If Tashard can keep playing like that we should always have a fighting chance on defense.

Sammie Stroughter: This guy showed up big time in a game where we needed to make something happen. His kickoff return was HUGE in the second half at a moment when I am sure a lot of people were about to write the game off because we had just gone down two touchdowns. He also had several big catches and he and Josh Johnson seem to have developed some good chemistry. In my honest opinion the kid has earned more playing time by virtue of making the most of the opportunities he has been given.

Greg (Stylez) White: In his first game starting at right end since Gaines Adams was traded last week White had a pretty good day. He had his first sack of the year and he also was close on another play where he literally crawled all the way to Jake Delhomme. But the best part of his game, in my opinion, was how he played against the tight ends in the run game. It is a lost art of defensive line play nowadays of escaping off a block to make a play. So often guys just try to stick their arms out and hope that somehow some way they will make the tackle. But White put on a clinic technique wise, getting full extension, ripping into his gap and then putting his face in somebody's chest. It was definitely encouraging to see.

Barrett Ruud: Ruud was all over the field making plays on Sunday. He had a gang of tackles several passes broken up and a big interception in the first half. He also was very physical on the Panthers' fullback, blowing him up several time on isolation blocks. I would love to see him come down hill more versus the run but I will talk about that more in a minute.

The Bad

Ryan Sims: As I stated in my post on Sims didn't have a good game. He didn't hold up really well against double teams and he didn't get much push in one on one pass rush situations. I feel kind of bad lumping him in this group because he still gave one hell of an effort on every single play which ain't easy for a big guy. But it is what it is, he can do better, he knows he can do better, and he needs to do better for us to have a chance to win.

Josh Johnson: Josh showed some flashes of greatness during the game but he wasn't close to being consistent enough. The miss to Stroughter deep in the Red Zone was huge because we could have put the Panthers down two touchdowns early and tried to make them one dimensional trying to keep up. Johnson also put his offensive line in difficult situations at times because he held on to the ball too long. I know he didn't do it on purpose but we also can't have the fumbles that take us out of field position and threaten to give the game away. What I was most disappointed in however was Johnson's decision making in the second half. On the interception that he threw he had two other guys wide open without a lot of coverage around them. He also pushed the ball downfield several times for incompletions when he had underneath routes running free. And although Julius Peppers was a force on several plays, on the majority of the passing plays the offensive line and backs held up, even versus the blitz, and gave Johnson enough time to find the right guy. It appears that he will have just one more chance to make his bid to continue starting and I hope he makes the most of it.

Sabby Piscetelli: Sabby is simply going to have to grow up fast or else we need to see what Will Allen can do. Its one thing if you are a safety who is strong in coverage and average against the run or you are a safety who is strong against the run and average against the pass but what you can't be is average in both. Right now I don't think any running back or receiver fears Piscetelli and that is a bad thing. We can't afford to have him missing as many tackles as he is missing when he has one one one opportunities. At the least I am going to need Sabby to know where the hell his help is. Missing DeAngelo Williams is one thing, missing Williams and letting him bounce outside when you are the contain element of the defense is quite another. For all of Allen's deficiencies in pass coverage the guy will stroke you in the run game. If Sabby doesn't get any better at some point they need to pull that plug.

Jeremy Trueblood: Trueblood gave up two sacks to Julius Peppers but he should have had some help both times. Unfortunately for him nobody cares about whether the guard kicked out or not. What they DO care about is seeing Josh Johnson getting slammed hard to the turf several times. Admittedly Peppers is a BEAST but Trueblood should be able to hold his on with him at this point. One good thing I will say is that at least he didn't get another bs illegal procedure (jumping off sides) penalties that he has been plagued with of late.

The Ugly

Dick Stockton and Charles Davis: I swear that the crew calling the game on Sunday was one of the worst I have ever seen or heard. When they weren't getting basic facts like the correct names of the teams and players wrong, these guys were showing replays of big plays without taking note of the penalties occurring. On DeAngelo Williams' first rushing touchdown Aqib Talib is OBVIOUSLY held by Steve Smith. I mean you see the jersey pull and everything and it was right in front of the referee, but even though they showed the replay several times neither Stockton nor Davis even raise the possibility that it might be holding. Later on when Johnathan Stewart scored on a play right up the middle, the Panthers' center all but tackled Barrett Ruud to the ground from behind and again nothing but silence from that duo. I really thought at some point the camera would cut to them and we would catch them getting stone cold drunk like the announcer in the movie "Major League". Come to find out evidently they were actually sober although I would need to see a breathalyzer to be really sure.

Jerramy Stevens: I am going to keep this straight and to the point. If Stevens doesn't want to block then they need to keep his ass off the field, period. It doesn't make any damn sense for him to be that damn big and keep getting his tail handed to him when he tries to block defensive ends. I like his athleticism, I think he can help us in the passing game, but right now he is a frikkin liability unless he is out on a route. Even though John Gilmore had that crucial penalty on 4th down, he needs to be in the game more. Watching his effort blocking and watching Stevens effort is like seeing night and day. We are 0-6 now and we don't need any weak links so either Stevens starts manning up or its time to sit him down.

Defensive Scheme: I have tried to kind of talk around this all season so far but I am done with that. Our defensive scheme sucks, there I said it. Its hard for me to even know where to start but here goes. First of all as I have said numerous times, trying to two gap with your defensive tackles requires that you have two guys who are 6 ft 5 or better and 330 lbs or better. And even then its still not a given that it will work. But we do not have the frikkin personnel to pull this kind of scheme off. Neither Ryan Sims nor Chris Hovan are gonna grow several inches or gain 10 or 20 pounds or so as this season goes on so at least for the rest of this year its going to be a problem. What is so messed up is both Sims and Hovan and for that matter even Roy Miller, are all quality NFL defensive tackles. But they are being put in a position to fail damn near every single play. They can't use their quickness and they aren't being allowed to play in a gap which would actually help them hold up better against double teams. Having them so tight in their alignments also hurts them when they have line stunts because the offensive linemen don't have to step as far to block them initially which means they don't have far to go to recover on the movement. I now a lot of people won't understand what I just said, but those that do will feel me. Hell a few times during the game, whether by hook or by crook, Sims actually lined up closer to a more traditional alignment on the center and stepped into him on the snap and whaddya know he was able to control the guy and make the play both times. Just imagine if he was able to actually tilt in and put his inside hand down and really get off in his A gap. I bet he has day dreams about it.

This situation, of course, has an effect on the play our linebackers also because when one of our defensive tackle is pushed three or four yards off the ball because of a double team then that means our backers have a harder time seeing the action in the backfield and also recognizing their gap responsibility. It is frustrating as hell to watch time and again when our linebackers have to go lateral instead of down hill because they have to get around their own guys first. But explain to me how Sims or Hovan or Miller are supposed to hold their ground at the line when they are lined up damn near head up on the guy in front of them and there is another guy coming down hard on their backs. It would damn near defy physics for guys their size to not get moved down field.

Another effect of the two gapping with the inside guys and the defensive end on the weak side is that there is practically no penetration in offensive line and running plays are allowed to bounce outside. It happened several times on Sunday and its going to keep happening every week. In this instance we are getting the worst of both worlds. See in a real 4-3 your ends and your strong side defensive tackle would be getting upfield in the gap and making most running plays cut back. In a true 3-4 you would have stand up outside backers who could get up field and turn most running plays back. Instead we end up with a neither nor proposition and we see good backs like Williams exploit that.

We also are running blitzes that are poorly designed and haven't been successful so far this year. What is worse is the guy you would think we would usually want blitzing, Quincy Black, hardly ever even gets his number called. Instead its usually Ruud and Geno Hayes trying to find their way through the A gaps or both of them trying blitz strong. Not only that but evidently the only person who gets to blitz off the edge is Ronde Barber. Now I like Ronde and he is a helluva blitz guy but its a problem when we are in our base defense and we never show a blitz with the defensive end coming inside and Quincy Black rushing from the outside. In general what makes most blitzes work is confusing the offensive line as to who they have but the way we send our blitzes we might as well raise our hands and let them know where we are coming from.

Also pertaining specifically to the fourth quarter on Sunday we don't even have a solid plan for stopping the run when we have to get the ball back for the offense. We show 8 men in the box and yet the linebackers evidently aren't being coached to spill the play to the free hitter. That means we have Piscetelli or Jackson just sitting their waiting to blow somebody up and instead they are being wasted because nobody is turning the ball back to them. And in the process we are giving up 3 to 5 yards a pop and that's on a good play.

Oh and then how about the scheme we went to with a 3-4 look inside evidently to try to stop the run? I can't do anything but laugh at it at this point because I spent so much time already yelling and screaming about it watching the game. I will say this much, had the Panthers tried to run a quarterback sneak or two, we would have been ALL over that shit. But being as they didn't yet again our guys were set up for failure. I can't even think of a team off hand that plays a 4-3 then goes to that look to try to stop the run other than the Buccaneers. Most teams want to cover both A gaps and both B gaps in that situation but hey I guess everybody else is crazy, and we are the geniuses. Doesn't quite explain that 0-6 record though does it?

I doubt if Coach Morris would ask for or perhaps even wants my advice, but I am going to give it to him anyway. Defensive Coordinator keeps saying over and over that his scheme works, well we haven't seen any signs of that so far. Coach Morris its going to be your job on the line if things don't get any better, its time to step in and get back to Buccaneer football on defense. You don't need to switch Joe Barry to defensive coordinator but I can promise you that he remembers how we played the run her for years and can teach it if you ask him. Both you and he definitely know the Tampa 2 inside and out. And quiet as kept I know that we ran a helluva lot more Cover 3 in different permutations than Cover 2 over the last few years and you can definitely put that back in the game plan too. But what we are doing now can't get much better. Notice I said can't. Either you are going to make a change or somebody else above you is and I would much rather it be the former than the later. So try to take this advice in the spirit its given because I am pulling for your success.

But this is the NFL and we both know what that stands for. It is what it is.

Update: I swear I hadn't seen this until after I finished up this post.

"It wasn't the calls," Morris said after fielding a question about the number of run blitzes the Bucs tried during the game's last critical drive. "We just got physically overpowered there.

"How did it happen? They wore us down. Some of (changing that) is about getting a little bigger. Some of it's about getting more physical. We did play better than we did (the last time we faced Carolina). But not enough."

I am not quite sure how Coach Morris plans on our guys getting bigger during the season but at this point all I can do is shake my head.

What's Really Going On?

It seems to me like something shady is going on with the Nashville police when they are doing their best to try to discredit the new information from CBS about Steve McNair's death but holding back other information that raises even more questions.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Plot Thickens

I have had a bunch of questions about the investigation of Steve McNair's murder from the onset. The biggest question was always how could a woman who purportedly was in love with McNair shoot him twice in the head and twice in the chest execution style if she didn't even own a gun until a few days earlier? That is besides the fact that it is rare for a woman to kill herself with a gun. Armen Ketiyan is looking into some of the flaws in the police's case and I would suggest that everyone stay tuned.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Once Again Its On

My second installment of "Bull Rush" is up at It isn't for the weak kneed or the faint of heart.

RIP Jasper Howard

This is just senseless...

(CNN) -- Cornerback Jasper Howard called his mom Saturday night after Connecticut beat Louisville, and he was given the game-winning ball. He was thrilled.

The incident happened at 12:33 a.m., shortly after a sponsored student dance on campus.

1 of 2 Just hours later, the phone rang again. This time it was UConn football coach Randy Edsall notifying her that her son had been stabbed.

He was pronounced dead early Sunday.

"He was a good child, a wonderful, sweet, loving child," Joangela Howard told CNN affiliate WSVN. "I just hope whoever did it turns himself in. [Jasper] didn't deserve this." Watch family, friends react to loss »

Howard, a 20-year-old cornerback who started in every game for the team last season, was killed following a sponsored student dance on campus, authorities said. The junior from Miami, Florida, was a soon-to-be dad, said UConn football coach Randy Edsall.

During the dance at the university's student center, a fire alarm was pulled at about 12:26 a.m., campus police Maj. Ron Blicher told reporters. More than 300 people who were attending the dance left the building and spilled out into the street. A fight broke out between two groups of people, and Howard and an unidentified person were stabbed, police said.

The incident happened at 12:33 a.m. Howard and the other victim were taken to a local hospital. Howard was then airlifted by helicopter to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, where he later died from his injuries, police said. The second victim was treated and released.

Howard's family was in Florida, so Edsall was called in to identify Howard's body.

"There's nothing in my job description that says you have to identify bodies and you have to make phone calls to the parents, but that's part of the job," he told reporters Sunday. "I hope I never have to go through what I had to go through today."

Every life is precious but you just hate to see a young man with his whole life ahead of him be snatched away from us this way. I pray his family finds the peace through all of this.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Live Blogging The Bucs Vs Panthers Week 6

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Taking The Plunge

With the news that Earnest Graham will start at fullback tomorrow I am officially changing my pick to the Bucs over the Panthers tomorrow. Not saying you should but I think with the changes on the defensive line and now the ever versatile Graham in the game a lot more that the Bucs are primed to make it happen. Take it or leave it but I am riding with the Bucs tomorrow.


I am sure many people are wondering what does the Gaines Adams trade mean in a tangible way for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Well here is how I see this playing out.

First of all Greg (Stylez) White will obviously be your starter at right end until something changes. I think at least in the short term this will be a good thing for the defense. White may not be as physically gifted as Gaines was but his technique in pass rush is definitely superior. What that means is when a team is passing on first and second down we now have a greater likelyhood that White will still be able to get pressure on the quarterback. I think the one thing we don't know long term is how well White will hold up physically. One thing about great players is that some how some way they find a way to avoid injuries that keep them off the field. Hopefully White will have that same kind of durability.

I think this trade also tangibly helps Jimmy Wilkerson. By trading Gaines it takes the pressure of the Bucs of having to have him on the field on 3rd downs. For that reason its highly probable that now Wilkerson will be allowed to pass rush from his left end post which is where he has been most productive, instead of from an inside tackle position. With the way Wilkerson has been playing so far this year I expect that his production will actually pick up some and that is going to be a scary thing for opposing offenses.

Of course with Wilkerson now rushing from left end on 3rd down that opens up a spot for a pass rushing defensive tackle. Enter a now healed up rookie Kyle Moore who had some flash pass rushing in the preseason. What we really need from Moore more than anything else is to get push in the pocket enough so that the quarterback can't step up to avoid the speed rush from the defensive ends. I think he will do a great job of that and then some and I also think he will have some pretty good production as well.

Tim Crowder will also benefit as he is now going to be the primary backup probably to both the left and the right end positions. I guess that Moore could possibly play both end and tackle and its something that we have historically had on the defensive line, a utility guy who can play both. But because Moore has missed so much practice time I have to believe at least at first Crowder will be getting the extra snaps that White used to get in more of a 3 man rotation rather than the 4 man rotation they have been using. Crowder has actually played relatively well so far as a back up, he just hasn't had many splash plays. But he has played fundamentally sound football when he has been on the field and he has given great effort as well.

Another guy to keep in mind is the recently signed Michael Bennett. He is the little brother of Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellius Bennett and played well in the preseason for Seattle. He may or may not be a factor this year but if there is an injury among the defensive ends it is likely he will be the guy who gets into the rotation.

Now I personally think this will have a positive impact on the defense as a whole. I think that starting this weekend you will see a very noticable difference in how much time opposing quarterbacks have in the pocket to get the ball off before they get hit, especially on third downs. That should also help keep down the number of deep balls our secondary has to defend against as well. I can't promise that it means we will come away with a victory against our division foe, the Carolina Panthers. But I can say that I feel much more optomistic now about beating them than I did a couple of days ago.

Don't forget to catch my recap of the defensive line play on Monday at to see if my predictions were right.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gaines Is Gonzo

All I can say is hot damn!

The Gaines Adams experiment has ended in Tampa.

But it's beginning in Chicago.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Bucs have sent the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft to Chicago for a 2010 draft pick. According to the Bears' official web site, it's a second-round selection.

Here is the funny thing, this is one of those rare occasions when both teams will probably come away happy. I personally think that Gaines will thrive in Chicago being coached by my old defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli (he better at least or Rod will crush him). On the other hand I can see the Bucs having some addition by subtraction. Now Greg White can take over as a starter on the right side bringing good pressure even on early downs. Jimmy Wilkerson will also get more opportunites to rush from left end as well. And finally now that Kyle Moore is healthy he can get some looks as a rush guy inside on 3rd downs.

I can't say that this will totally turn around the defense or the team's fortunes. But I can say that it just might jolt the team enough to push them to victory at home this weekend over the Panthers. Hell I really have to reconsider that pick now. Seriously.

Want To

This amazing touchdown by the Texans' Andre Johnson is all about him imposing his will on the Cardinals and refusing to be denied the endzone. Young coaches should show this to their team as an example of the kind of passion you need to play this game.

Hot Off The Presses: Week 6

I went 9-5 last week which wasn't great but a couple of the losses involved some great games that went down to the wire so honestly I can live with that. Hopefully this week those down to the wire games will fall in my favor however.


Texans at Bengals: Bengals. The Bengals are for real and the Texans' pass defense is atrocious. With the emergence of now a fourth legitimate receiving option with Andre Caldwell the Bengals can really push the ball down the field and Cedric Benson gives them a hammer in the run game. As important is the fact that the defense can really get after the quarterback as well. I think Andre Johnson will get his but the Bengals will harrass Matt Schaub into making some key mistakes in the game.

Lions at Packers: Packers. The Lions are probably better than their record reflects but I think the Packers are playing at a high level with their skill people on offense and their defense is getting better week to week. The one area where there is weakness for the Packers is of course their offensive line but I don't think the Lions have the players to exploit it.

Ravens at Vikings: Ravens. I have gone back and forth over this pick and I still have some trepidation but the one thing I don't think we have seen yet this year is how Brett Favre will respond when he is getting pounded play after play and has to get up and continue making plays. As good as the Vikings offensive line is I think the Ravens are going to really test them. The game within a game of course is going to be Ray Lewis versus Adrian Peterson. That in and of itself will be worth the price of admission. I think the deciding factor will be the Ravens' ability to run the ball with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee.

Giants at Saints: Saints. Home field advantage will be a factor in the dome and I also think that some of the injuries in the Giants secondary will finally catch up to them. There is only so much that a great pass rush can cover up if your back line is shaky and the Saints just have so many weapons. It doesn't help that Ahmad Bradshaw isn't going to be 100% for the Giants.

Panthers at Buccaneers: Panthers. Sorry but I just can't pick the Bucs in this one even though I think it will be close and they will look better. Steve Smith historically kills the Bucs and with this new bump scheme by our secondary I imagine this game will be no different. Not only that but the Bucs run defense will continue to be soft up the middle and the Panthers have a really good running game. I think the Buc offense will finally put up some points with the return of center Jeff Faine but I just don't see it being enough and the Panthers win in a squeaker.

Chiefs at Redskins: Redskins. I had been leaning Chiefs for most of the week but I have to go with the Redskins. They are at home. They seem to be able to beat really bad teams. The Chiefs secondary looked just god awful last week and I think the Redskins are going to play a little harder for their head coach this week. Although I would love nothing more than to laugh at Redskins fan for losing to the Chiefs I just don't see it happening this week.

Rams at Jaguars: Jaguars. The Jags are frauds but even they aren't bad enough to lose to the Rams.

Browns at Steelers: Steelers. Duh.

Cardinals at Seahawks: Cardinals. This is another game I am not sure about mostly because of how the Seahawks destroyed the Jaguars last week and also because of the way the Cardinals tried to give the game away to the Texans. I have to believe that the Cardinals will bring their A game though in against a division rival. If both teams play up to their potential I think the Cardinals win hands down. Now its just a matter of whether they will play up to their potential.

Eagles at Raiders: Eagles. Duh.

Bills at Jets: Jets. I don't see the Bills being able to score much this week although I think their decision to scrap the no huddle will help them. If nothing else it will give T.O. an opportunity to cuss Trent Edwards out after every play. I keed I keed LOL. But the Jets are going to be angry after the Monday Night Football loss and at home. It could get ugly.

Titans at Patriots: Patriots. Injuries in the Titans secondary do not bode well for them against a Patriots offense that is still just a hair off. That is mostly due to Tom Brady but I expect that soon, perhaps this weekend, it will all click for them and they will get back to shredding defenses. Jerod Mayo should get more playing time on defense this week too and that will spell trouble for the Titans running game.

Bears at Falcons: Falcons. This should be a great game but I think the Falcons will shine at home in the dome. I have to admit that they surprised me last week in the way that they dismantled the 49ers. This week the Bears are hurting in some key spots on defense and I expect the Falcons to exploit that. I also think that John Abraham will have a big game getting after Jay Cutler.


Broncos at Chargers: Chargers. I really labored over this pick as well. But the Chargers are at home and coming off a bye week. They have the biggest, most athletic corps of wide receivers in football. They also should have their running game going again with LT back to close to full speed and Darren Sproles doing his thing. Their defense matches up well I think with Denver's offense and I think Shawne Merriman is way over due to have some impact plays in a game. But the X factor I believe will be Sproles on special teams. I think that he will end up giving the Chargers great field position to work with and that Phillip Rivers will have a big day letting his big receivers go up and catch the ball over everyone but Champ Bailey.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rush Limbaugh

I haven't said anything on this blog about Rush Limbaugh's attempt to buy the St. Louis Rams as part of an ownership group led by the owner of the NHL's St. Louis Blues. There were primarily two reasons for my silence. For one he had absolutely no shot at being approved as an owner and this was more than likely just a big publicity stunt. And for two I wanted to see just how far his supporters and apoloigists would go to try to defend him.

On the first reason I think its clear now that I was 100% right on this. Checketts wasted no time in dropping Limbaugh like a bad habit as soon as it was clear his membership in that ownership group would imperil their chances of buying the Rams. But Checketts isn't anybody's fool and neither is Limbaugh. Even football fans who have no interest in politics at all remember his racist and incendiary remarks made about the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Donvan McNabb just a few years ago. They knew good and hell well that just the kind of backlash that occurred would occur. But Limbaugh has shown time after time that he believes any press is good press for him. And Checketts has now set himself up as a "good guy" by jettisoning Limbaugh from the group.

It was all so very predictable and plenty of people called it before it ever went down. And now of course Limbaugh will once again position himself as an oppressed victim of the liberal media and his radio following will probably increase. Mission accomplished Rush.

Now on the second reason it has been very interesting watching Rush's apologists and supporters rally around him. If you noticed just about all of the criticism of Rush coming from the NFL player, former and current, focused on his plethora of racist, bigoted rhetoric over the years. But the right jumped in to claim that Rush was being slammed for his "political" free speech. See this was a very important moment in our recent history because essentially these folks were owning up to the fact that Rush uses race baiting and sexism to push his own twisted political agenda and evidently they don't have a problem with that.

You can go look at any article where someone is quote opposing Rush Limbaugh as an NFL owner. You won't see them speaking out against tax cuts. You won't see them speaking out against smaller government. You won't see them speaking out against gun rights. Time and time again the consensus centered around things Rush Limbaugh has said over the years to divide the country by race and or by sex. I know Limbaugh has tried to claim he has been smeared or taken out of context but if you want a quick overview of documented on air statements by him you can simply go here and check it out for yourself. But to claim that this is about him being a Republican or him being a Conservative is laughable on its face. And its also very interesting that the same people harping that Rush was being "persecuted" for exercising his first amendment right to free speech, don't get the irony of they themselves working furiously to silence his critics.

Now I am not going to get into a Democrat vs Republican or a Liberal vs Conservative conversation on this sports blog. But I will say that people on the right staking out racist and sexist rhetoric as political speech just to try to defend one of their ideological allies are doing their movement a disservice.

It is what it is.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Week 5 Picks Revisited

Not a great week but I still came through with a 9-5 record. Barely missed on a few but those were some great games.


Browns at Bills: Bills. This will be a pretty sad sack game but I think the Bills have a few more bullets in their gun than the Browns plus they are at home.

Loss. I was right about the sad sack game, wrong about the advantage in bullets.

Steelers at Lions: Steelers. Rashard Mendenhall finally looked like the running back the Steelers thought they were getting when they drafted him. The defense is also looking better and Mike Wallace is showing up as a number 3 receiver. I actually think there is a good chance the Lions will look better with Daunte Culpepper as the QB, especially if he starts throwing it up to Calvin Johnson the way he used to with Randy Moss. But in the end the Steelers are much too much for the Lions even in Detroit.

Win. The Lions made it interesting for awhile but in the end the Steelers pulled away.

Cowboys at Chiefs: Cowboys. I mean if they can't beat the Chiefs the whole Cowboys coaching staff should be fired on the spot.

Win. Barely. Nice to see Miles Austin step up though.

Vikings at Rams: Vikings. Duh


Raiders at Giants: Giants. With or without Eli the Giants should win this one in a cake walk.


Buccaneers at Eagles: Eagles. This game should be a good litmus test for the Bucs even though they won't win. They get back Tanard Jackson this week and so we should get a good look at the best the defense will play all year. The Eagles will get off the bus blitzing so we will learn alot about second year quarterback Josh Johnson this week too. Unfortunately I don't think this will be a close game with Donovan McNabb coming back and the Eagles coming off a bye.

Win. Its gonna be a LONNNNNNG season Bucs fans.

Redskins at Panthers: Panthers. Even though the Redskins won last week, they didn't look good doing so against the lowly Buccaneers. The Panthers should get back to pounding the running game and playing stifling defense this week. Home field should help a lot too.

Win. What a suck fest. A shame because both teams have a lot of talent.

Bengals at Ravens: Ravens. The Bengals have come a long way but the Ravens are perhaps the most well rounded team in that division. I have to ride with Ray Lewis at home.

Loss. Won't be underestimating the Bengals anymore this year.

Falcons at 49ers: 49ers. Its the immovable vs the unstoppable with the 49ers run defense going against that great Falcons running game. In the end I think the 49ers show that they are for real and close the Falcons out in a close game at home.

Loss. Nobody was more dissappointing this weekend than the 49ers. I know they are still going through growing pains with Mike Singletary but DAMN!

Jaguars at Seahawks: Seahawks. I am not sure about this one at all. But I think homefield + Hasssleback playing + cross country trip for the Jags + Housmanzadeh starting to step his game up, will lead to a Seahawks win. But don't quote me on that lol.

Win. The Jaguars are a fraud.

Texans at Cardinals: Cardinals. The Texans' defense has been atrocious and I don't think they can win a shoot out with the Cards.

Win. Texans almost pulled it out and Andre Johnson was amazing but the Cardinals are a well oiled machine on offense. Memo to the Texans by the way, stop using Chris Johnson with the game on the line. That is all.

Patriots at Broncos: Patriots. I have a little more respect for the Broncos now, but not much. Watching the Cowboys game last week they played well but definitely not great. And they will need to play above their level to beat the healed up Patriots. Losing Fred Taylor will hurt but the Broncos lost Correll Buckhalter too so thats about a push in my estimation.

Loss. I am now a believer!

Colts at Titans: Colts. Its hard for me to believe that I am picking the Titans to start the season 0-5. But it would be harder for me to pick them to beat the Colts and Peyton Manning at this point.

Win. They are who we thought they were!


Jets at Dolphins: Jets. I know a lot of people will make this game about the Braylon Edwards trade, but I think Calvin Pace coming off his suspension will have a much greater impact for the Jets. I have said for a long time that if you want to stop the Miami Wildcat the way to do it is to blitz to Ricky Williams' side of the formation. I guarantee you that you will see that a lot from the Jets this week. And on the flip side the Dolphins' secondary is just atrocious and will once again be their weak link on Monday.

Loss. I am at a loss for why the Jets decided not to blitz more but the Dolphins physically kicked their ass on offense.

Bucs Films Review: Philadelphia Eagles Week 5

The Good The Bad and The Ugly

The Good:

-Jimmy Wilkerson. If the Bucs had won this game Wilkerson would be the NFC if not the NFL defensive player of the week hands down. The guy had three sacks, a pass knocked down and numerous tackles for a stat sheet stuffing day at the office. Unfortunately he didn't get much help.

-Kellen Winslow Jr. The guy is becoming the weapon we all envisioned when the Bucs signed him and he and Josh Johnson seem to be building a rapport together. If we have any chance of getting on the winning track we will need him to continue his strong play.

-Josh Johnson. Yes that Josh Johnson who threw 4 picks. The guy got sold out so many times it wasn't funny on Sunday. He was standing in the pocket staring down untouched blitzing linebackers and still delivering the ball to his receivers only to see them drop it. But again we saw the glimpses of what he can be. He had an electrifying run that was called back for holding and he showed all kind of poise for a guy making only his second start and in his second season in the league. I know some folks are clamoring for first round pick Josh Freeman but I for one would much rather see where this Josh can take us for now.

The Bad

-4th down decisions. I realize that a lot of people will say that Coach Raheem Morris was justified in going for it on 4th down instead of kicking field goals because the team was 0-4 with "nothing to lose" but I disagree. Now don't get me wrong, I am generally in favor of coaches making agressive decisions at crucial times in the game. But here is what I am looking at, we were on the road with a quarterback making his second start, an offensive line that couldn't hold up against the Eagles' blitzes and a defense that wasn't exactly setting the world on fire. In a situation like that there really is a need for "moral victories" inside the game and I think getting points would have done a lot for the team's psychology heading into half time.

Does that mean it would have changed the outcome of the game? Probably not. But at the least it would have given a bit more hope that we could come back eventually if we finally started converting on 3rd down. I am not even tripping off going for it on 4th down the first time. But after that we should be trying to get points on the board as much as we can to help give our offense some confidence about what they are doing.

-Geno Hayes. After some way way premature talk by some sports pundits bout Hayes' potential for Pro Bowl type play after his performance in Washington, he came back down to earth this week. Those splash plays in the backfield didn't really materialize for him and he got caught flat footed in pass coverage several times. Doesn't mean I am down on Hayes, but it just shows that he has a long way to go in his development.

-The running game. On a week when Greg Olsen stated that he wanted to start featuring Cadillac Williams in the running game to get it going a little bit neither happened. Derrick Ward was still in on what seemed to be the same substitution pattern (and he had the better day rushing) and the running game never really got off the ground. I realize the Eagles jumped on us pretty quickly in the first half but we can't win if our offense becomes one dimensional no matter what the score. We should have run the ball more to control the clock and possess the ball but instead we pretty much threw Josh Johnson out to the wolves.

The Ugly

-Defense giving up the big play. At some point somebody at One Buc Palace is going to have to acknowlede that the defensive scheme being used by Jim Bates does not match up with the talent we have. The fact that we are giving up big plays week after week is not just some kind of damned coincidence. And its not like we don't have talent on our defense either. But when you have corners and safeties more suited to playing zone and you keep putting them in press coverage and essentially one on one coverage this is what you can expect to keep happening. We also don't have the kind of defensive line that will get to quarterback on a regular basis fast enough to hide any weak links in that kind of scheme. I am pretty sure there is a lot of tape over there of years and years of that defense playing tampa 2 coverage and I highly suggest somebody take the time out to to watch it, study it, and get it implemented before we get embarrassed again this Sunday.

-Offensive Line vs Philly blitzes. I believe, but can't prove, that Sean Mahan was the primary culprit but one thing is for sure, somebody was screwing up the protections big time against the Eagles. You can't keep having a situation over and over where a blocker is coming in untouched on your quarterback right up the middle I don't give a damn who you have back there pulling the trigger. Josh Johnson was basically set up for failure on Sunday and to be honest the success he did have was remarkable. Philly is good at blitzing sure but they weren't even hiding it much last Sunday. So for them to keep coming free in the A gap over and over was totally unacceptable. Thanks God Jeff Faine is coming back this week and we should finally get to see what Johnson can do if given enough time to actually see the whole field.

-Dropped Balls. I personally felt like the performance of our wide receivers on Sunday warranted some kind of wake up call. Whether it was cutting someone, or benching someone that a message needed to be sent that dropping the ball when its right in your hands is totally unacceptable. And specifically Michael Clayton who started the season off strong, should be ashamed of how he played. In a week where the guy called out the team for not giving him opportunities he got plenty of them on Sunday and pissed right down his leg. To make things worse he made it seem as if it was no big deal and that he was going to get paid regardless.

I am not quite sure who is advising this cat or who the hell he learned this philosophy about playing wide receiver from but I am about damned tired of hearing him say that he is going to stay positive. There is a time and a place to actually get pissed off at yourself and he is about 3 years late on that one as it is. When you are supposed to be a top notch wideout, dropped passes should upset you. You think Jerry Rice or Michael Irvin didn't get mad at themselves when they dropped a pass they should have caught? Mind you those guys were so damned focused that you would be hard pressed to find an instance of them dropping the kinds of balls that Clayton drops on the regular. And yet this cat keeps coming with that weaksauce excuse that he just needs more opportunities?


What he needs is to watch the game from the damn sidelines and let other guys get their chance. If a linebacker kept missing tackles would he get to keep playing? If a left tackle kept giving up sacks would he keep his job? Then why in the hell is Clayton still on the field? If we need great blocking we have plenty of tight ends.

Receivers get paid to catch the ball, its about time we put somebody on the field who knows how to do that!

On JaMarcus Russell

I was about ready to write up this long and intensive post about JaMarcus Russell and how the problems he is having aren't all or probably even mostly about his own demons but more of a reflection of the Raiders as an organization, then I was pointed to this Charles Robinson piece on the same subject by Bomani Jones on twitter. It said most of what I wanted to say so I will just excerpt the end of the piece and add my two cents in after.

• The coaching staff

One of the universal destroyers of quarterbacks is a constant juggling of head coaches, coordinators, play-callers and quarterbacks coaches. Changes year-to-year with key personnel often only serves to hit the reset button on a player’s development. As Savage pointed out, “Look at Peyton Manning(notes). He throws 28 interceptions his rookie year and they go 3-13. Who would have known that 11 years later he would have the same coordinator, some of the same coaches and the same system.”

• The personnel

Passing game coordinator Ted Tollner has pointed out the issues with Russell’s young receivers. The one guy the team signed to be dominant No. 1 wideout, Javon Walker(notes), has contributed little more than bank withdrawals. The last two first-round picks (Darren McFadden(notes) and Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes)) alternate between not being able to hold on to the football, or not being able to catch it. And the offensive line is a one-dimensional running unit on its best days and entirely mediocre on its worst. The only truly proven, injury-free commodity is tight end Zach Miller.

• The culture

You can’t say enough about what it’s like to play in an organization where there isn’t a great deal of discipline, and players consistently say that is lacking once they’ve gone over the wall and defected to other teams. Garcia said there are players just picking up a paycheck, while DeAngelo Hall(notes) told Yahoo! Sports in the preseason that Oakland is the worst working environment he has ever seen.

“I had no idea what it was like there until I got there,” Hall said. “You can’t even really describe it. As soon as I got there, I could see right away that it was different. Things like the structure of football, the way you go about preparing and the attitudes and everything – they were just all [messed] up. There wasn’t any direction. It was just really a lot of chaos.”

• The expectations

Personnel men knew going into the draft that Russell was going to require a lot of polish and discipline. He was by no means a finished product. And things like his weight issue were going to be a constant battle. There is a chance that Davis, a notorious collector of fleet feet and huge arms, simply ignored what was going to be necessary to correctly develop with Russell.

• The scheme

Savage pointed to this as one of the more intriguing realities about Russell’s struggles. He watches the Raiders, and while they take shots downfield, it doesn’t appear that they are running a “true” pro-style offense. Instead, he sees a coaching staff rooted in more of a West Coast timing system than a vertical scheme.

“Lane Kiffin was the coach at the time they drafted him, and they were running somewhat of a West Coast offense,” Savage said. “[Former offensive coordinator] Greg Knapp was a West Coast offense guy. Now [quarterback coach] Paul Hackett is there and he’s somewhat of a West Coast offense guy. You just wonder about the philosophies. The owner has a philosophy of stretching the field vertically, and yet the last couple coaches have been West Coast system coaches, where it’s based on timing and short to intermediate passes. If you were going to be a heavy play-action team and throwing the ball down the field and playing JaMarcus Russell in the shotgun a lot like they did at LSU, that’s a different situation than putting him in a system that requires so much discipline.”

Now here is all that I will add on to Robinson's excellent story. When I came to the Buccaneers in 1996 our team had plenty of veterans but more than a few of them were not what you would call professionals. I was lucky in that there were some really strong personalities on defense that had been other places in the league and were good role models on how to go about your business but, real talk, there were also a lot of guys who went out damn near every night, showed up late to work all the time as we used to say "smelling like sin and fornication" and who were the first ones to leave as soon as practice was over. But what happened was that over time in that first year as these guys made themselves known Coach Tony Dungy went about weeding them out and giving them their walking papers. As a matter of fact the way I first got onto the active roster from the practice squad probably had as much to do with the guy who I replaced on the roster showing up late to practice on the previous Saturday as it did to do with my progress in practice.

But look at the Oakland Raiders and you have on offense literally nobody to teach Russell what it means to be a professional. Believe it or not most guys don't just come into the NFL knowing what being a professional means. It isn't like having a desk job in any other industry and every team setting is unique. So when Russell is leading a team with a Head Coach, Tom Cable, who is facing potential felony assault charges from breaking one of his assistant's jaw, shouldn't that tell you that the kid isn't getting much direction in that department? Try to name a player on their offense, hell a guy on their whole team, who you would say is a leader and a good pro. To be honest the best thing that would have ever happened to Russell would have been if Jeff Garcia would have stayed in Oakland to show him how it is done. But hell I can't knock Jeff for leaving, would you have wanted to work in that environment?

Now in the end a player gets judged on how they perform on the field and JaMarcus Russell is redefining the word "suck" right now. But let there be no question here, the guy still has a lot of potential. The key for his career if you ask me is how soon he can get the hell away from that franchise. This is one time when Al Davis would be doing him a favor to cut the kid and try to label him a bust. I just really believe that you give Russell the kind of leadership, guidance and coaching that he would get in say New England and the guy would put up numbers and thrive in the NFL.

That's just my opinion.