Monday, November 30, 2009

Bull Rush

My latest edition of Bull Rush is up over at joebucsfan. Go check it out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Live Blogging The Bucs Vs Falcons Week 12

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kerry Rhodes Channels Latrell Sprewell

I don't think any real sports fan has ever forgotten Latrell Sprewell's quote in 2004 when he turned down a 3 year $21 million dollar contract extension from the Minnesota Timberwolves:

"I have a family to feed"

Yeah, $21 million, who could possibly eat off that?

Well we now have a new contender for Sprewell's throne for most financially out of touch pro player.

The guy's name is Kerry Rhodes and he fancies himself a model and an actor while his day job is formerly starting safety for the New York Jets.

I say formerly because he has just been demoted by first year head coach Rex Ryan. The same Rex Ryan who had been the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. The same Rex Ryan who had favorably compared Rhodes to his all world safety in Baltimore, Ed Reed, prior to the season starting.

Having watched Rhodes play all year I was only surprised that it took this long to bench him. The guy had become a liability on defense and he didn't look very brave on some of his tackling opportunities.

Now I am not saying that his modeling or acting had anything to do with his fall off in play, but I will say this. I never was a fan of guys doing too much during the season. There is plenty of time in the off season to pursue other interests, ball to you fall, go back to school, whatever a guy might want to do. But when the season is going on I liked to know that guys were singularly focused on winning games. And I just don't know how you can give that kind of commitment if every Tuesday you are chasing other dreams.

But I digress.

This article on Rhodes' benching is pretty much predictable right until you get to his quote at the end justifying his modeling and acting pursuits.

"If I can't have a living and do what I want to do besides football, maybe they should pay my bills," said Rhodes, who will make close to $10 million this season. "I have to think of my career outside football. Football is not forever."

Yeah Kerry Rhodes, with unemployment over 10% in this country and people losing their homes everyday, I am sure all of those Jets fans are gonna be REALLY sympathetic to you needing more than the almost $10 million dollars you are making in this year alone so you can "pay your bills".

To call that a dumbass statement would be an insult to dumbass statements.

If that really is Kerry Rhodes' mentality then some how I doubt he will ever be the player that some folks thought he might become. He certainly has taken several steps back this season.

But who knows, maybe he will be the next Denzel.

And perhaps then he will never again have to worry about covering that pesky light bill.

It is what it is.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Yes I'm still a big kid lol.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hot Off The Presses: Week 12

No explanations this week, hell everybody deserves a holiday right? So buckle your seat because here we go.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Packers at Lions: Packers.

Raiders at Cowboys: Cowboys.

Giants at Broncos: Broncos.


Bucs at Falcons: Falcons.

Dolphins at Bills: Dolphins.

Browns at Bengals: Bengals.

Seahawks at Rams: Rams.

Panthers at Jets: Jets.

Redskins at Eagles: Eagles.

Colts at Texans: Colts.

Chiefs at Chargers: Chargers.

Jaguars at 49ers: 49ers.

Cardinals at Titans: Cardinals.

Bears at Vikings: Vikings.

Steelers at Ravens: Ravens.


Patriots at Saints: Saints.

Tim Tebow's Place In History

Quite a few people over the last couple of weeks have engaged in a debate over where Tim Tebow's career matches up in history. There are some who say he is the best college football player ever. There are others who say he was good but there are plenty of college football players that were as good or better. I decided to look at a few other players whose names have been thrown around as being in the same company as or better than Tebow and match up their resumes.

Now I myself have a hard time saying he was the best player ever. Maybe its the Gator Hater in me coming out. But one thing I will say is this, the guy's resume is at the top of the list. I used to hate on Tebow a lot, mostly because of how the media built him up to this other worldly status. But over his career I ended up respecting him as a player. And I was one of the people who actually picked the Gators to beat Oklahoma last year in the National Championship game. I know a lot of people will say now that they also picked them but I remember all the chatter back in December about how the Gators wouldn't be able to outscore the Sooners. But in the end the guy led them to victory yet again.

It was pretty much at that point where I admitted how good the guy really is. I don't mean in the way that you will hear announcers talk about him doing no wrong. I mean in terms of how you can just tell the guy is a winner. He busts his ass every play to try to help his team win. He also doesn't make the big mistake that you see from time to time from most quarterbacks. Oh he will fumble and he will throw the occasional interception, but its rare for him to make that big blundr that costs them the game. To me that's the kind of guy you want leading your team, especially when that guy has his physical tools. Gator Hater or not, there is no denying that.

So lets look at a few of the other contenders.

Vince Young: VY threw for 6,040 yards and 44 touchdowns with 28 interceptions in his career at Texas. He also rushed for 3,127 yards for a 6.8 average and 37 touchdowns. He didn't win the Heisman but he did beat USC in his final game to win the National Championship.

Bo Jackson: Bo ran for 4,303 yards in his college career with an SEC record 6.6 yard average and 45 touchdowns for the Auburn Tigers. He won the Heisman trophy in 1985 but he never won a National Championship.

Tommie Frazier: Tommie Frazier compiled a 33-3 record in College as a quarterback at Nebraska. He rushed for 2,263 yards and 36 touchdowns out of a run oriented/option offense. He also threw for 4,007 yards with 47 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He is the only player in college history to be named MVP in three different National Chanmpionship games and he led the Cornhuskers to titles in two of the 3 games. Although many will argue Frazier was good enough to win the Heisman, unfortunately he never came home with the trophy during his time in college. He also missed half of his junior year with a blood clot in his leg.

Now there are other guys out there of course that people could name, and those three guys definitely have very impressive resumes, however lets take a look at what Tebow has done in his career.

Tim Tebow: Tebow has thrown for 8,236 yards with 81 touchdowns versus just 15 interceptions and 51 touchdowns. He has also run for 2,743 yards with 54 touchdowns, an SEC record, with a 4.2 yard average. He has a career completion percentage of just over 65%. He also has won the Heisman, becoming the first underclassman to ever win it, and he has two National Championship rings on the mantle with another one within reach this year.

Now I understand that people are not going to ever agree about who was the best college football player ever. Its just like the age old argument about the greatest boxer ever in the clip. But what I will say is this, if people are going to go off of body of work then Tebow has to be in that conversation at least if he isn't at the top. He has done literally every thing you can do as a player and won all the top honors. There isn't a hole in his resume that anybody can point to and say "well he never did this". That should count for something if you ask me. It also should make a difference that he scored more rushing touchdowns that both Bo Jackson and Tommie Frazier, and his 4.2 yard career average is evidence that they weren't all just 1 yard runs.

I won't even touch on the TD to Int ratio.

Look you don't have to like the guy or the way the media has elevated him to respect what he has done out on those fields every Saturday. And when it comes down to just that Tim Tebow is way up high on the list of college football players. Don't hate me for saying it, the numbers don't lie.

It is what it is.

New Post Up At JoeBucsFan

My new post is up over at Please go over and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Difference

I have to keep saying this, this blog was meant to be pretty much a hobby of mine. I had no reason to believe anybody would care about what I had to say about sports in general and the Bucs in particular. So the interest that I have drawn truly humbles me.

Having said that, there are some fans who think that I have some kind of ulterior motives. I have a feeling that they aren't feeling what I say on this blog because for the most part I give substantive critiques instead of broad (and usually wrong) generalizations. See when you speak in specifics a lot of the times the media narratives they normally hear don't fit. So all of a sudden I am covering for the defensive line or I am just trying to get some notoriety when the truth is like I said before this was all a hobby for me.

But here is the thing, I haven't actually been factually wrong about anything all year. I know this because I actually watch and rewatch all the Bucs games before I decide to offer my assessment. I highly doubt any of the chattering classes around here do that listening and reading some of what they have to say. If they do then either they don't really know football or they are intentionally misleading their fans in order to further some other agenda.

However this blog is about what God loves, the truth. Doesn't matter really to me if people believe me or not, like I told a commenter yesterday all I can do is argue with facts. After I do that I can't make anyone accept those facts but at least I will have exposed them to them.

Now here is the narrative you will hear all week about the Bucs. That they are in disarray after essentially firing Jim Bates. That they never gave Bates the players he needed for his defensive scheme. That we really don't have any play makers on defense. And that this change won't really make much of a difference.

So here is what I think about those memes. First of all, yes firing both the offensive and defensive coordinators in the same season is a bad sign. I can't defend it and I don't know that anyone should. But I will say this, something had to give. And honestly, although I would never call for Bates to be fired I would almost bet that the only reason he lasted this long was because the Bucs didn't want to fire him after firing their OC Jeff Jadgozinski right before the season started. Whether this means the team is in disarray will be seen in the final games.

As for not providing Bates the players he needed, yeah I have said for the past few weeks that what we brought in here in the draft this year versus what Bates said he needed for his defense did not line up. Neither did trying to switch Jermaine Phillips from safety to outside linebacker. But here is my thing on that, as a coordinator you have to be able to adjust your scheme to the players you have, especially in the pros. Every year people lose big time players on offense and defense. So lets imagine for a second that the Bucs brought in two big tackles and two big linebackers to fit Bates scheme. What happens if those guys get hurt during the middle of the season? The NFL is set up where you are only going to have so many big time guys because of the salary cap. If your coordinator on offense or defense can't adjust their scheme to their talent level then you will always be one or two injuries away from disaster.

As for talent level I will say again that we have enough talent to win. Not all of the guys on our defense are guys I personally think would be starters in the NFL but that doesn't mean we can't win with them. Lets take a trip down memory lane. In the year the Bucs won the Superbowl one of their starters and best players on defense, Booger McFarland, got hurt. We had to go down the stretch run through the playoffs and into the Superbowl with a guy most people never heard of, Chartric "Chuck" Darby, as our starting nose tackle. Here was a guy who wasn't drafted and had played in the World League before signing with the Bucs. And yet he still played well and we did go on that run and we did win the Superbowl.

It ain't always about the big name guys. Its about how they fit in your scheme.

As for whether this will make a change on defense, absolutely it will. The one thing that I am worried about the calls Coach Morris will make at crucial times. I haven't seen him in that situation so I am not sure how that will go. But I am telling you right here and now that our defense will show a marked improvement on Sunday against the Falcons if they truly go back to our old scheme with the weak tackle lined up over the center and at times running an under defense with Quincy Black on the line over the tight end. If you see those things happening on Sunday you will see our stats improve. Basically the thing about it is there were small adjustments Bates had every opportunity to make all year but never made them.

I know most sports pundits around here won't take the time out to actually attempt to explain what the specific problems on our defense were, but I don't work that way. I am not just going to say this group or that group is the problem or this player or that player is the problem...unless they ARE the problem. I will give you one prime example in closing.

Today on the radio I heard some very popular sports guys say, loudly, that the Bucs didn't have any hurries against the Saints. Now I like both of the guys who said this but that doesn't mean they know what they are talking about. The Bucs actually had 6 hurries. First let me make sure you know what a hurry is. A hurry is when someone hits or gets close to hitting a quarterback which either makes him throw the ball away or affects the throw and ends up in an incomplete pass. The truth is we could have had a couple of other hurries but for the fact that Brees still found a way to complete the pass even with someone bearing down on them.

As for the hurries we did have, Greg (Stylez) White had 3, one of them on a great spin move when he hit Brees right in the kisser. Jimmy Wilkerson had 2, one of them on a 3rd and 5 in the first half when he was rushing the guard and made a really nice rip move. And Roy Miller had 1 where he beat a double team on an early down and got right in Brees' face.

Now would I have liked to have had more hurries? Hell yes. I would have also liked to have some sacks too. But still you have to admit that 6 is a lot more than 0. And for someone who wants to argue with me that we didn't have any hurries they are going to have facts.

*Kanye Shrug*

Anyway, I advise all Bucs fan to at least stay on board or get back on board for this weekend and check the defense out against Atlanta. I am not saying we will win, and I am not saying we will be perfect. But what I AM saying is that you should see a noticeable improvement.

It is what it is.

The Axe Has Fallen

Tampa Bay Buccanneers Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates has been relieved of his coaching duties.


TAMPA -- Saddled with the worst run defense in the NFL and a 1-9 record, coach Raheem Morris decided Monday night to relieve Jim Bates as defensive coordinator and take over the defensive play-calling duties.

Bates, 63, will remain with the team at least through the end of the season in a consulting role, breaking down film and helping Morris on game day from the coaching box.

Morris is expected to immediately return the Bucs' to their Tampa Two scheme, which will allow their undersized defensive linemen to take advantage of their quickness rather than penalize them for a lack of size.

Morris and general manager Mark Dominik met until late Monday to discuss the organizational shift, one day after the Bucs were routed by the unbeaten New Orleans Saints 38-7, one of the worst home defeats in club history.

Under Bates, Tampa Bay's defense is ranked 26th overall in the NFL and last against the run, allowing 168.9 yards per game. Only the Detroit Lions have given up more points than the 29.4 per game allowed by the Bucs this season.

Believe it or not I am torn about this. You see while I disagreed with a lot Bates had done during this season, I also realize just how big of a deal it is for a coach to get fired. Coaching in the NFL or on the college level is a very nomadic lifestyle. People get hired and fired so much these days after awhile some coaches don't even have their family's fully unpack until a few years into their contract. Bates won't be leaving immediately but obviously he won't be here after the season is over with and that means unless he retires which is doubtful that he and his family will have to move yet again. Its another reason why coaching is so hard on marriages and parenting.

On the other side of the coin our defense just wasn't getting it done and as I have said many times on this blog, it was the scheme that was killing us. Now I wouldn't expect us to come out and play like the 1994 Dallas Cowboys but I would almost guarantee that the defense will perform markedly better this Sunday when they go back to playing the kind of run defense we have played around here for more than a decade prior to this year. I am not sure if Raheem is going to have a declared undertackle but just without thinking it through I personally would love to see him have Hovan go to the strong side every play so he is always in a position to pass rush and have Sims with his big body always on the center and then have Miller spell both of them at times.

Now Stroud in his article takes a few shots at the defense by saying they don't have many play makers. I respectfully disagree. I would look for Hovan, White, Talib, Black, Jackson, and Ruud to look a lot better this Sunday and make the kind of plays fans have been hoping for all year.

Oh and for all of the haters who thought I was talking out of my ass or that I was "trying to get paid" as one message boarder commented, what do you have to say now?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Makin Moves

Several people have asked me who we should draft next April. I will say to them you what I said to them, I am not a big draft guy. I don't keep tabs on draft boards and all that and I don't even know how many picks we have in the draft next year.

Having said that, here is how I would approach the draft next year just based on watching a lot of college football games this year.

My first choice would be to trade down and pick up draft picks. We are going to have some holes that need to be filled next year no matter who is the defensive coordinator.

Failing that if we have a top 5 pick then I would go with Rolando McClain the linebacker out of Alabama. The guy is a physical specimen who is big, athletic and explosive. You can line him up all over the place and he will make plays for you. He is also big enough to take on blockers, shed them and make the play. And best of all he is a very smart player who is a student of the game. He is definitely a guy who I think will come into somebody's came next year, learn the defense backwards and forward, and end up starting and probably being a leader for that team.

But if we can trade down I would definitely go for Eric Berry the safety out of my alma mater Tennessee. I know traditionally safeties are not drafted very high in the first round but I would make an exception for this guy. The reason being is that we have Jeremy Shockey and Tony Gonzales in our division now. We need a safety who is big enough and athletic enough to come down in the box and cover those guys tough or we are going to have problems.

Also Ronde Barber for as good as he is playing can't play forever. Berry would be the perfect replacement for him at nickel back. The guy is physical and he loves to come on blitzes and blow plays up. He is a ball hawk as well who has really good hands.

If we could draft Berry we would have one of the best young safety combos in the game with him and Tanard Jackson.

If we can't get either Berry or McClain then I would go for the cover corner at Alabama Javier Arenas or Taylor Mays the safety out of USC.

As far as defensive tackle I personally would rather the Bucs go out and sign somebody in free agency. High on my list would be former FSU player and pro bowler Darnell Dockett. The guy is a load and he can pass rush from just about any position on the defensive line. I know he has had some public confrontations with management out in Arizona but his teammates and coaches love the guy and he shows up every Sunday. And lets be real here, having a player from FSU will help get some people back on that season ticket list. Im just being real about it.

I would still look for a defensive tackle in the draft but it would be in the 4th or 5th round and it would be a big guy like a nose tackle. The draft always has plenty of those kinds of guys who slip through the cracks.

I think its all but assured that Ryan Sims won't be here next year. I am not sure about Chris Hovan but if I had a vote I would say we keep him because he is still productive and he is good in the community as well as being a leader in the locker room.

Now let me repeat this for you, this isn't really my deal. I'm sure Mel Kiper might look at this post and laugh. But from what I have seen watching football this year, these are the guys who could really help us next year to get our defense back on track. It is what it is.

Bull Rush

My latest edition of Bull Rush is up over at Go check it out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Who Done It?

If there is one thing that I hate almost as much as the Bucs losing this season, its the chattering of sports pundits and some fans who really don't know a lot about football. Every single week these pundits say and those fans repeat some of the most erroneous reasoning you can imagine about why we didn't play well on offense or defense. Today is yet another example of this phenomenon.

The Saints ran the ball down our throats in the second half today but diagnosing WHY they ran the ball down our throats is always harder than just saying this group or that group got their ass kicked. Unfortunately nowadays people LOVE to blame one group or another whether its really their fault or not. Hell I even saw a play today where the Saints got a big run against the defense and the announcers showed the replay and totally missed who was actually responsible for the run breaking because they were too busy trying to give credit to a Saints offensive lineman who in reality didn't even make all that great of a block.

So I have decided to go through and break down the big runs that happened in the second half and tell you who was at fault. At least then after you have read this post you can speak more intelligently about what our problems are on defense at least for this game.

1. 3rd Quarter 6:55

The Saints were in a one back set. They had a tight end and two wide receivers to the defense's right and one wide receiver to the defense's left. The tight end backed off of the line and then motioned to the left and then motioned back out to the right so that he was just outside of our right defensive end, Tim Crowder, on the snap.

Defensively our defensive line was in a strong right call which meant that our right end, Crowder, was in a head up position initially on the tight end. The right defensive tackle, Chris Hovan, was in the B gap outside of the left guard, the weak tackle, Ryan Sims was head up on the right guard, and Jimmy Wilkerson was lined up outside of the right tackle. The defensive call told both Crowder and Hovan to slant inside. We were in nickel defense with Ronde Barber on the inside receiver on the defensive right side of the formation and Torrie Cox lined up at corner to that side. And we were in some form of cover 2 with both safeties deep.

On the snap of the football the receivers on the right side of the formation both blocked the Cox and Barber. The tight end blocked down on the slanting Crowder. The left tackle pulled outside of the tight end. The left guard and center double teamed the slanting Hovan, the right guard blocked inside on Sims and the right tackle went up to the safety.

Now on this play when the tackle pulls Barrett Ruud has to spill that block which he did a good job of. But then Geno Hayes has to be fast over the top of that block in order to make the tackle. He took a bad angle and missed the tackle so instead of holding the running back, Pierre Thomas to about a 3 or 4 yard gain it ended up being an 18 yard gain.

Culprit: Geno Hayes.

2. The very next play.

The Saints come out with another one back set initially. There is a tight end in a two point stance on the line to the defense's left and one wide receiver on that side. And there is a tight end lined up off the ball to the defense's right side and one wide receiver to that side as well.

The Bucs called the strength to the defense's left. That meant Wilkerson was lined up outside of the tight end on the defense's left, Sims was lined up in the B gap on the right guard, Roy Miller in for Hovan was head up on the left guard and Crowder was lined up on the outside shoulder of the left tackle. We had base defense in so Quincy Black was back in at Sam linebacker to the left. The coverage was once again some form of cover 2 with both safeties deep.

Before the snap the tight end off the ball motioned back into the backfield creating an I set. On the snap the tight end to the defense's left base blocked Wilkerson to the outside in the D gap. The right tackle and right guard double teamed Sims. The center and left guard double teamed Miller. The left tackle attempted to base block Crowder but he made a pretty good move to defeat the block and slide off inside. The tight end now playing fullback led up on Ruud who took it on with his left shoulder. Black filled the frontside A gap because of the fullback's block. And Hayes filled the backside B gap.

There was just one problem, nobody was in the C gap inside of Wilkerson. And because of that the running back, Mike Bell, cut back in said C gap and took off for 28 yards.

Now there are two choices here as to who is at fault. Either Wilkerson was supposed to be head up on the tight end in which case he would have C gap and he would be at fault, OR the defense was set up for him to be outside the tight end in which case the design of the defense was faulty and the defensive coordinator at fault. Now there is some evidence from the rest of the game that has me leaning in a certain direction on this one but I will split the difference and blame them both and let you figure it out.

Culprit: Jimmy Wilkerson or Jim Bates.

3. 5:17 still in the 3rd quarter 2nd down and 2 at our 16 yard line.

This was the same exact play literally as play number 2 however this time we had Kyle Moore in at right defensive end and Michael Bennett in as left defensive end. And just like Wilkerson Bennett played the tight end block to the outside and just like on the earlier play Bell cut back to the C gap and nobody was there. He ended up with 13 yard on that carry. Again I will let you decide who was ultimately guilty here.

Culprit: Michael Bennett or Jim Bates.

4. Very next play.

The Saints come out in an I back set with the tight end to the defense's left. There is one wide receiver to the left and one wide receiver to the right.

We had a strong left call on. Bennett at left end lines up outside the tight end. Sims was in the B gap outside the right guard. Miller was head up on the left guard. Moore was lined up outside the left tackle. We were still in base defense with Black in the game.

On the snap the tight end goes up to block Black who takes him on and sheds the block. The right tackle and right guard double team Sims. The center blocked back on Miller. The left guard pulled to the defense's left and went up on Ruud who correctly spilled the block. The left tackle hinge blocked on Moore. Hayes didn't read the pulling guard on his side and instead went up into the line and ended up getting caught up in the wash. He was the guy who Ruud thought he was spilling the play to. Once again Hayes wasn't there over the top and so Black along with Sabby Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson all tried to make the tackle but Bell ended up spinning off of them into the endzone.

Culprits: Primary Geno Hayes, Secondarily because of missed tackles Sabby Piscitelli, Quincy Black, and Tanard Jackson.

5. 3rd quarter 00:42 left 1st and 10

The Saints come out with an I backfield set. They have two tight ends to the defense's left with one on the ball and the other outside of him off the ball. They have a wide receiver to the defense's right. Before the snap the tight end off the ball motions to the defense's right until they are in front of our right defensive end.

The defense is in a strong left call. The left end is Bennett who lines up outside of the tight end. Sims lines up in the B gap outside of the right guard. Miller is lined up head up on the left guard. Moore was lined up outside of the left tackle. We were in base defense with Black lined up on the left side. The coverage looks to be some form of cover 3 with Sabby Piscitelli down in the box to the left side.

On the snap of the ball the tight end base blocked Bennett. The right tackle went up and blocked Black. The right guard base blocked Sims. The center went up to block Ruud. The left guard blocked down on Miller. The left tackle went up and blocked Hayes inside. The tight end who came over in motion cuts Moore at his inside leg and gets him on the ground keeping him from staying in the C gap. Ronde who came over with the motion ends up blitzing behind the tight end's block. The fullback led up on Piscitelli. Thomas starts behind his fullback then cuts back into the C gap where Moore is supposed to be. He ends up picking up 24 yards on that run.

Culprit: Kyle Moore

6. 4th quarter 12:15 3rd and 7

The Saints came out in an I back field with two wide receivers to the defense's left and one wide receiver to the defense's right.

We were in our 3rd down package with Bennett at left end, Wilkerson at left defensive tackle, Hovan at right defensive tackle, and Greg (Stylez) White at right end. In our 3rd down package both defensive tackles line up in the B gap outside the guards. Ruud and Hayes were both still in at linebacker.

Now in this case Bates dialed up a blitz. In this blitz Hovan takes an outside rush in his B gap. Ruud blitzed through the right side A gap. And White looped inside to the opposite A gap. Wilkerson rushes upfield in the B gap and Bennett rushes outside the offensive tackle.

The Saints had their offensive line take a pass set. And then the fullback led up on Hayes. He took the block on with his right shoulder and turned it back to the right side of the defense. White had chance to make the tackle in the backfield but I am not sure he saw Thomas carrying the ball till the last minute. So he missed the tackle. Then Corey Lynch had an opportunity to tackle Thomas for maybe a one yard gain. Instead Thomas ran straight through his tackle attempt. And finally at the end of the run Piscitelli had a chance to hold Thomas to about 10 yards on the carry but instead Thomas made a spin move and Piscitelli also missed the tackle. In the end he gained 18 yards all told.

Culprits: Greg (Stylez) White, Corey Lynch, and Sabby Piscitelli.

Well there you have it folks. Those 6 plays accounted for 104 rushing yards and a touchdown in yesterday's game against the Saints. Now I am sure it would be hard to condense all that information into a nice and neat soundbite for TV or radio but it is what it is. Just remember the next time you hear somebody saying X group was THE reason why we didn't perform on defense, more than likely they don't know what the hell they are talking about.

It is what it is.

Live Blogging The Bucs Vs Saints Week 11

One Game Evaluation Of Ndamukong Suh

While reading several Tampa Bay Buccaneers message boards and blogs this year I have seen time and again different fans saying that we should select Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh with our first round pick. Now I will tell you up front that I am not one of those guys who breaks down the upcoming drafts round by round and tries to be a mini Mel Kiper. What I can do however is look at different players and assess their talent level and how it might transfer to the NFL, especially defensive linemen. So I decided to take a look and the young Mr. Suh and see what all the fuss was about.

Now I actually took a look at Suh earlier in the year when Nebraska played Baylor. In all honesty I didn't come away all that impressed but I figured maybe it had to do with the level of competition. Considering the fact that Kansas State is a pretty good team that was still in contention for a bowl game last night I expected to have a truer picture of him as a player. So I DVRed the game and went back last night and did a play by play evaluation of Suh. Now this is still just one game and for all I know he could play better or worse in any other given game, but I just want to put that caveat out there.

The first thing I want to point out is that the announcers for last night's game were having an absolute love fest over Suh. I am not sure I have ever seen a situation where what the announcers were saying were so out of touch with what was actually going on on the field. Its not that Suh had a bad game, he actually had a pretty good game. But what he didn't have was some kind of super human game like they were trying to make it out. It got so irritating to me that after awhile I had to turn the sound off. I will say this though, whomever Suh has doing his PR should be on every college player's speed dial.

Here are the stats as I recorded them from last night's game. He played 72 snaps including penalty plays. He had 6 solo tackles 2 assisted tackles and 1 sack. He also had to passes knocked down. On the down side I was generous by only giving him 3 loafs* and he had one missed tackle.

Here are my general thoughts about Suh.

This is a guy who is obviously strong and fast in a straight line but not all that physically imposing. His 6 foot 4 frame looks taller but he by his own admission is not 300 pounds. To me he looks like a guy who could stay where he is at weight wise and be a decent to better than average 3-4 end, or maybe take off about 10 pounds and be a 4-3 left end. He has long arms and he plays with pretty good leverage. When he wants to he shows flashes of having pass rush moves but at least for last night at least, they were few and far in between. He is obviously fast for a guy that size as he ran down several plays from behind. But he also is prone to taking plays off if the action isn't close to him. In a lot of ways I think playing beside Jared Crick may open him up to some criticisms about his effort as teams begin to break him down on film. I don't think Crick is near the athlete but he seems to go harder play in and play out.

There are a few things that I saw last night that would have me leaning away from drafting Suh in the top 10 picks in the first round as a 4-3 defensive tackle. For one I didn't see that explosive get off that you would like to have from your defensive lineman. Some of that is a function of the kind of defense Nebraska plays where their tackles aren't in very wide alignments most of the time. But even when he did get the opportunity to get in the gap and get off I just didn't see that explosive first step. I also did not see any consistent pass rush moves. That's not to say he can't be a great college pass rusher because he surely has been. But when you get to the NFL level just being bigger and faster than most of the guys blocking you won't be enough. Time after time I have seen big athletic guys get drafted and end up being busts because they didn't have any moves. Make no mistake about it, in the NFL defensive linemen, aside from the occasional 3-4 nose tackle, are judged by their ability to sack the quarterback. And I am just not sure Suh will come in and be able to do that, at least from the defensive tackle position. And with a top 10 pick you really want a guy, aside from a quarterback, who can come in and be productive from day one.

Last night I counted at least 6 times where Kansas State single blocked Suh on a pass and he got locked up. I counted at least 7 other times when he didn't even bother to make a pass rush move. He has a tendency to kind of drift all over the field and then if he sees the quarterback scramble try to take off and tackle him then. Now that is perfectly fine for college football but its something you can't do on a regular basis in the NFL.

Let me heavily caveat this assessment. Suh is without a doubt very athletic. For all I know he will go to the Senior Bowl and tear it up there and show the pass rush moves he isn't showing in games. And he might go to the combine, run a 4.7 and bench press 225 lbs 40 times. In that case most teams, probably including the Bucs, will feel compelled to take him in the top 10 or maybe even the top 5 regardless of what they have seen on film. And honestly the guy, where ever he gets drafted, may come into the league and get with a really good defensive line coach who teaches him moves and motivates him to play hard every play and he ends up tearing the league up. But as for me I have always been the type to judge a guy most heavily by how he plays on film. How tall, big, fast, strong, or well spoken are all secondary to me when it comes to evaluating talent. And from what I saw last night and in part of the Baylor game Suh is not a guy who is going to come in and tear it up as a defensive tackle in a 4-3.

Just to give you a comparison, in the one season I worked as a graduate assistant at USF coaching the defensive ends, we happened to earn our first bowl bid in school history. That of course was the good news. The bad news however was that we would be playing North Carolina State. At the time NC State almost literally had an NFL defensive line, with Manny Lawson and Mario Williams playing defensive end. I hadn't really seen them play that year so I decided to sit in with the offensive coaches one day just to check out their defensive line. Mario Williams sold me in that one day of watching film that he should be taken with the first pick in the draft. The guy was huge with long arms but he wasn't fat at all. As a matter of fact as I said at the time he really just looked like a regular sized linebacker just blown up to about 6 ft 6. But what was most impressive about him at the time was his range of pass rush moves. I mean this guy was knocking hands down, doing rip moves, doing arm overs. Hell he even broke out a spin move a couple of times. He was literally unblockable and NC State moved him all around the defensive line. There wasn't a position he couldn't pass rush from and I mean in a dominant way.

I simply don't see that when I watch Ndamankuh Suh. I see a guy who is athletic and strong and can make plays when he wants to. But I don't see dominance jumping off the screen where you just can't take your eyes off that guy.

Now another major reason why I am not sold on the Bucs selecting Suh is that the design of their defense is such right now that he doesn't really fit what they are looking for inside. If you look at Jim Bates' years at Miami which is what people bring up when they defend his scheme, what he had there was two really really big tackles who were essentially no name guys but could attract double teams. If you know who Larry Chester and Tim Bowens are more power to you, but I doubt most people do. And neither of those guys were top 10 picks I might add.

Here is what Bates had on that defense. He had two tremendously gifted pass rushers at defensive end in Adewale Ogunleye and Jason Taylor. He had two tremendously gifted physical cover corners in Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain. He had a ball hawking safety in Brock Marion. And he had very physical and fast linebackers in Zack Thomas, Marlion Greenwood and Derrick Rodgers.

Interestingly enough, none of his linebackers were much bigger than the guys we have now. However I will say that they came down hill a lot more than we do now against the run.

But I digress.

The point is, if we are going to draft a defensive tackle high I would rather see us go after Mount Cody out of Alabama as he is a big guy who will demand a double team and keep offensive lineman off our linebackers. But you don't draft a guy like Cody that high. You wait till later rounds and find him or a guy like him and plug him in. If we are going to be picking in the top 10 I still think we would be much better off picking a defensive back or a linebacker or maybe even a pass rushing defensive end. Those are the guys who are expected to make big plays in Bates' defense and so those are the guys we should put a premium on finding.

Ndamakong Suh may make sense for a lot of teams to take that high, but I just don't see how he fits in here.

* A loaf is a term most coaches use to grade a player down on their effort. When a player either is not busting their but to the ball or there is a noticeable change in speed during their pursuit to the ball then they are given a loaf because the coaches expected better. Suh doesn't come out of the game and plays a lot of plays, I will give him that. However there were quite a few times where it appeared he wasn't busting his tail to get to the ball. Because looks can be decieving I tried not to give him a loaf unless it was just blatant, but if I was actually his coach I probably would have given him several more.

Friday, November 20, 2009

On Joey Porter

Last week when Joey Porter was deactivated because of a coaches decision plenty of sports "experts" started writing the obituary for his career. You see he just hadn't been producing of late and surely the Dolphins sitting him down was the beginning of the end for him. Even though at first at least, there were no indications that the benching was because of his play, you saw "expert" after "expert" proclaiming that the Dolphins were about to move on and let the guys behind him on the depth chart take over. After they played the Bucs and his backup Charlie Anderson had a good game as a starter, many of these same "experts" openly speculated that Porter wouldn't even play, let alone start, last night's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Boy were they wrong.

Not only did he play, not only did he start, Joey Porter DOMINATED the game last night on defense with 8 tackles and 2 sacks. That's not even taking into account the other times he hurried Jake Delhomme.

Yeah you could say that the absence of Jordan Gross at left tackle had something to do with it. However not all of the plays Porter made happened when Gross' backup was blocking him.

Here is what I said in a comment on ProFootballTalk when the story about him getting benched last week first surfaced.

I have an alternate theory. The Dolphins took a look at the Bucs and decided the game would probably be well in hand and the looked at Porter and decided that he wasn't going to get back to dominating as a pass rusher until his hamstring really had a chance to heal up. So they give him the week off and get him ready for the rest of the season which they will need to win a lot of their remaining games to get in.

Now if Wake or Roth tear it up then yeah he might get Wally Pipped. But I would bet he is back starting next week.

Now it turns out that Porter was likely punished for not going home after being excused from practice but it doesn't change the fact that being benched for a game was physically beneficial to him.

A lot of people don't understand this but playing in an NFL game takes way more out of you than any practice or practices the week prior. You are never going to feel "good" as a player after the season starts but its worse when you have an injury and keep trying to come back and play in the games. Porter had been battling knee and hamstring injuries most of the season and it really showed when you watched the games. I had a similar experience to this and just wanted to share.

In 1999 I won the starting job at right end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unfortunately a few games into the season I sustained a pretty bad high ankle sprain against the Denver Broncos (and it could have been a lot worse). Rather than rest the injury I opted to keep playing game after game after game. My production however fell way off and by the end of the year I wasn't making many plays.

It was at that point, right before we went on the west coast to play the Oakland Raiders, that our coaches and training staff decided I should sit out a game and try to get it better. Now at the time I wasn't really feeling that decision because we were on a push for the playoffs and I had former first rounder Marcus Jones breathing down my neck for playing time and perhaps even my starting position. But the eye in the sky don't lie and I wasn't really an asset to my team at that point so I agreed with the decision and sat the game out.

The game itself was a disaster and we got the brakes beat off us. Things weren't looking so hot but we were heading into our final game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago with the NFC Central division crown on the line. To make a long story short I ended up having a great game with a sack and a fumble recovery and we won the game going away.

My play continued at a high level in the playoffs with two sacks and a caused fumble against the Redskins and an interception on the first play of the game against the Rams in the NFC championship game.

Now I don't say all this to promote myself, I say it to show just how much even one week off can make a difference during an NFL season. The Joey Porter we saw last night is the guy we have become accustomed to seeing for most of his career. And I have every reason to believe that now that he is feeling better physically, that he will continue to make plays for the rest of the year.

In the end his punishment for going home may ultimately benefit not only him but his team. If he ends up balling for the rest of the season and the Dolphins get into the playoffs, credit should be given for this move no matter what the motivation. The Dolphins will have their dominant pass rusher back and in the end that's all that really matters to most of their fans.

And this is yet another reason why you should always take what NFL "experts" who have never played the game say with a grain of salt.

It is what it is.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hot Off The Presses: Week 11

To quote myself "Football will make liars of us all!"

Now that we got that outta the way...


Dolphins at Panthers: Panthers. Like I said last week, Thursday games are notoriously hard to pick. The only reason I am going with Carolina is because the Dolphins are hurting right now with Ronnie Brown being out the rest of the season. But who knows, if Delhomme goes out and starts serving up picks again it could be anybody's game.


Browns at Lions: Lions. I think the Browns defense will matchup well with the Lions offense but I don't think Joshua Cribbs is gonna play and that means that their offense which was already awful will be positively putrid. Thats not even taking into account how his absence will effect them on special teams. Oh and by the way Cleveland, PAY THAT MAN!

49ers at Packers: 49ers. The Packers just aren't that good of a team, last week's Dallas game non withstanding. I think the 49ers are going to pound them with the run and their defense is going to really get after Rodgers whose offensive line is still definitely a weak point.

Steelers at Chiefs: Steelers. I have a feeling this game will be closer than it should be but the Steelers will pull it out in the end.

Redskins at Cowboys: Cowboys. C'mon Son!

Falcons at Giants: Giants. Take a dome team outdoors in November and December and they don't usually like that. Besides that, without a healthy Michael Turner I don't have a lot of confidence in the Falcons offense.

Saints at Bucs: Saints. Unfortunately the Saints probably had their wakeup call last week when the Rams almost upset them. Because of that I don't think they will come into Raymond James with their guard down. And the Saints hitting on all cylinders right now are just better than the Bucs hitting on all cylinders. It won't be the blowout that many believe though. Antonio Bryant might have a really big day after taking the last two games off to rest his knee.

Bills at Jaguars: Jaguars. The Jaguars are the most schizo team I have ever seen. I knew they were going to bite me in the arse last week and sure enough they did. This game is kind of hard to pick because you just don't know how the firing of Dick Jauron will affect the Bills. Will the go out now and play harder for the interim guy? Or will he take more risks than normal? Oh well I am just gonna go with the Jags and hope they show up two games in a row for a change.

Colts at Ravens: Colts. I was kind of leaning towards an upset by the Ravens earlier in the week but then I thought about how bad the Ravens offense looked on Monday night. Now Im almost sure that the Colts won't go undefeated this year, sooner or later their rash of injuries are going to have to catch up with them right? Still until they show me they can lose I am not going to pick them to do so.

Seahawks at Vikings: Vikings. Duh.

Cardinals at Rams: Cardinals. This is going to be closer than necessary, at least for awhile. Division game and the Rams are actually playing better. But the Cardinals are too stacked right now.

Chargers at Broncos: Chargers. The Broncos haven't looked all that great the last 2 or 3 games and if Orton doesn't play they have no shot of winning. If Orton does start I still don't think they will beat a Chargers team that is dangerous as hell on offense with all its weapons now balling out and a defense that is starting to get after people. Funny because a few weeks back people were seriously doubting the Chargers and pumping up the Broncos and their rookie head coach Josh McDaniels. Now both teams have the exact same record, go figure.

Bengals at Raiders: Bengals. This has all the earmarks of a trap game. New starting quarterback in Oakland. Cedric Benson might be out or at least slowed by injury. West coast trip. But I actually believe in this Bengals team. They have showed me they are for real so I am riding with them.

Jets at Patriots: Patriots. The Jets haven't seemed to ever recover from losing their all world nose tackle Kris Jenkins. Even though they won games after that they never again looked dominant the way they did early on. Well I don't think this game will do anything to help their confidence. The Patriots offense has finally shook the rust off and is back to giving defensive coordinators all kinds of nightmares and headaches. The defense has been quietly getting back to putting in work too since they got Jerrod Mayo back from injury. I think this will be a very physical hard fought contest but I fully expect the Patriots to win by at least a touchdown.

Eagles at Bears: Eagles. Jay Cutler + Eagles blitzing defense = lots and lots of picks. This could get ugly, REAL ugly. I hope the Bears at least keep it competitive because I don't want Lovie Smith to lose his job, but I am just not sure that is gonna happen.


Titans at Texans: Titans. Everything in my head is telling me that this will be the game Vince Young comes back to earth. He is going to be going back home which is a problem in and of itself. And the Texans have a high powered offense. But dammit I am riding with VY an the Titans! Monday Night Football, under all the lights and on a big stage I expect VY to shine on these fools. He has been waiting for over a year now to show what he could do and all kinds of folks were hating on him and doubting his skill set and yet he just kept working. Of course it helps when you have a back like Chris Johnson putting in work too but say whatever you want to say, Kerry Collins had the same guy lined up behind him and wasn't getting it done. Like his own head coach said earlier this week, this is a new VY. And I expect to see that new guy lead his team to victory on Monday night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bucs Films Review: Miami Dolphins Week 10

This loss was hard to stomach because we had every opportunity to win the game. I will go through and recognize The Good aspects of the game but instead of doing The Bad and The Ugly, I will do an autopsy on how we gave this one away.

The Good

Connor Barth. It looks like we have solved our kicker problem. Barth was 3 for 3 on field goals with each one being 50 yards or better. That is pretty damned impressive and during the game I believe they said it was a team record. We can only wonder if we would have one a game or two earlier in the season if we had had a better kicker but at least it looks like we now have a weapon that can help us pull out close games going forward.

Kellen Winslow Jr. Winslow was outstanding again, catching 7 balls for over 100 yards. Its obvious that he and Josh Freeman have some good chemistry and that should be exciting for the team's fortunes going forward. Winslow was especially good at the run after the catch in this game. He is a guy that other teams are going to have to account for and hopefully here shortly that will open things up for other guys in the passing game as well.

Josh Freeman. The kid made some more rookie mistakes but he continues to impress with his ability to make plays. He got out of some very hairy situations with the Dolphins pass rush bearing down on him and used his legs to get out of it and get positive yards. He also made plays when it counted most including hitting Maurice Stovall a touchdown in the 4th quarter. He also had a nice scramble on what could have been the game winning drive to pick up a first down and get us inside the 20. If I have one complaint its how loose he carries the ball at times when he is scrambling away from the rush. Teams are going to notice that and really go after the ball from now on, especially since the Dolphins got the ball out by stripping him from behind on just that kind of run. Still you can't overlook how well he has performed considering the situation he was thrown into. I think if he can keep developing we will surely win a few more games before this season is all said and done.

Special Teams. Clifton Smith was big again on both punt and kickoff returns and he helped insure that we had pretty good field position all day. We also had the blocked extra point which could have been the difference in a very close game. An overlooked big play was the kickoff at the end of the game where we were backed up because of a penalty. There was a potential for the Dolphins to come away with excellent field position especially with their dangerous return man Ted Ginn Jr back deep. Instead a combination of a muff by Ginn Jr and excellent coverage by the kickoff team kept the Dolphins back inside their own 20 yard line. Our special teams units have really kept us in these last two ball games and gave us a chance to win at the end.

A Word About Our Defense

There has been a lot of griping about our defense because of this loss. I have already said my piece about some of the things that have been said but I wanted to make a few more points.

The perception is that our defense got kicked around all day by the Dolphins running game. The thing of it is most fans, even many of the most fervent of them, don't really know how to dissect what they are seeing. So as soon as you hear that a team had a big day running the ball the assumption is that our front seven was horrible. Sometimes that perception is right, many times however its wrong. The problem you see is that on a defense all it takes is one guy to be wrong on a running play to let one out of the gate. That one guy doesn't always have to be a defensive lineman or linebacker either.

The Dolphins gained 72 yards on two running plays, one each by Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. You take away those two plays and we held the Dolphins to 124 yards on 32 carries for an average of 3.8 a pop from the running back position. Now that is still a bit high, but its respectable. Its a helluva lot better than 196 yards on 34 carries for an average of 5.7 yards a pop that's for damn sure. And the thing of it is, on those two carries both times a safety missed the tackle.

Now the thing about football is we can't take those plays back. And even if we could whose to say there wouldn't have been other big runs to take their place. My point is however that perception isn't always reality. For the majority of the day our defense held up pretty well against the vaunted Dolphins running game. We also held them to a respectable 35% on third down conversions. What we have to do is find away to eliminate those big breakout runs.

Its also worth noting that it was a tremendous play on 3rd and 7 with 1:52 left by Quincy Black that gave us even a shot of winning the game. His interception of Chad Henne gave our offense the ball at the Dolphins 25 yard line.

We certainly didn't have an outstanding day on defense, of that we can all agree. But I would just caution you that it also wasn't the "implosion" that some are making it out to be.

How Did We Lose This Game?

I want to highlight two reasons why we lost the game. The first is a sequence of a events right before halftime. The second is what I have explained in my "Bull Rush" post as a perfect play at the end of the game.

With 2:36 left in the first half we kicked a 50 yard field goal to make it 9-6 Dolphins. It was pretty apparent that we were hanging with them in every facet of the game and it appeared that all the momentum was going in our favor.

We punt the ball to the Dolphins and our defense gets a three and out. They punt it back to us with 1:49 left in the half and this is where things started going wrong.

First off we get a block in the back penalty with pushes us back to the 7 and a half yard line. At that point in the game and with our defense playing relatively well, if its me I run the ball twice to milk the clock a little, call a conservative pass on 3rd down and if we don't get it, punt the ball back to the Dolphins with less than a minute on the clock.

At worst I am banking on going into the half maybe with allowing another field goal. At best we stop them and go in down 3.

Instead our offense starts off running a draw out of shotgun that fools no one on the Dolphins defense on first down. On second down we throw what ends up being (correctly)* ruled as an interception. With a short field, made even shorter by a penalty on Coach Morris for arguing the call, the Dolphins score a touchdown to go up 16-6. We get the ball back again with 1:16 on the clock.

Now obviously being down 10 I don't mind aggressive play calling at this point, especially since we started the drive out past the 21. But on 3rd and 5 from our own 27 yard line Freeman takes a sack that pushes us all the way back to our own 18. This is a HUGE mistake in terms of field position. We end up punting the ball away to Ginn Jr who returns it to about their 48 yard line with 52 seconds left. The Dolphins complete two passes to get down to our 27 yard line but we keep them in bounds and they have to call their final time out.

Now they have 16 seconds left and no time outs and if they don't gain another yard they would have to try about a 44 yard field goal. If they do throw a pass and complete it and we can keep them in bounds then they would have to try to rush their offense off and their field goal unit on to try a rushed field goal more than likely. Instead Ronde Barber ends up jumping a short route, Sabby Piscitelli can't get over fast enough to cover Dolphins receiever Davone Bess and instead ends up knocking him out of bounds after he makes the catch stopping the clock with 11 seconds left. The Dolphins kick the short field goal and we go in the locker room down 13 points just over two minutes after being down just 3.

Pretty frikkin depressing.

Still our guys battled back and ended up going up 1 with 1:19 left in the game.

Now the Dolphins drove the ball down the field to get close to field goal range, but with 23 seconds left they would have had to make a 51 yarder to win the game from where the ball was spotted. And then they called the perfect play.

The reason why this play was perfect is because earlier in the game the Dolphins had used the same formation with the same motion and the same backfield action to throw a play action pass. At the time we reacted to it relatively well and our defensive end got up field to pressure the the throw.

This time with the game on the line the Dolphins again lined up the same way. They had two tight ends in the game and they were both lined up to their left with one off the ball. The tailback and fullback were in an I set and the single receiver was to the right of their formation.

We countered this look with a five man line. We put 3 defensive tackles in the game and put two of them in the B gaps and one right over the center.

On the earlier play the tight end motions across the formation stopping right in front of our left end before the snap. On the snap of the football the right offensive tackle steps down to block our defensive tackle and the motion tightend takes a route outside of the defensive end and runs into the deep flat area. Both backs in the backfield stepped to their left and acted as if they were running the ball that way, then the fullback cut back behind the offensive line and ran to their right side underneath our defensive end who was getting upfield. The play was designed to sneak the fullback out into the flat and let him run with the ball while showing run action which would make our defensive line and linebackers hesitate before reacting.

On the play at the end of the game everything looked virtually the same. The tightend motioned over again. The offensive tackle blocked down again and the tailback and fullback both took a step to their left again at the snap of the football.

The difference this time was that instead of running a pass route, the fullback came behind the offensive line like a pulling guard looking for someone to run block. The ball was handed off to Ricky Williams who immediately cut back and followed his fullback to the right. The offensive tackle who blocked down this time came off late to block the linebacker or safety coming up to fill the gap. And because our defensive end was upfield thinking it was a passing play, as the offensive tackle game off the hole just kept expanding. Our defensive tackle, in this case Ryan Simms, in theory should have been able to make the tackle in his B gap where Williams ran after the offensive tackle came off. But in practice he now had to come off a double team block and try to play off the guard to tackle Ricky Williams who was running through a hole at least two gaps wide coming down hill and full speed. I don't know very many defensive tackles in the game who could have made that play honestly and that's why I say it was the perfect play call. Even though it was a call that likely cost the Bucs the game in that it set their kicker up for a chip shot field goal to put them up 3 points, you still have to appreciate the genius of the call.

Had that play not worked for any reason and their kicker doesn't make the 51 yarder or so which means they lose, the Dolphins offensive coordinator would have been pilloried for "going too conservative" because he called a running play. But as it was he knew that he had set that play up and had a high probability of being successful. I can't really do anything but tip my hat to him, not much else you can do in that situation.

Well folks I know this was a bit longer winded than normal, but I figured people might want to know more specifics about how we lost this game and not just the usual coach speak or rhetoric coming from the so called "experts". Hope you enjoyed it and perhaps even learned something, and I hope you come back again.


*I know a lot of people are upset about the interception call by the refs on the play before halftime. But the thing of it is they made the right call but the ref gave the wrong explanation at the time. This year the rules have been tweaked so that if a player is going to the ground will making a reception they have to maintain control after they hit the ground for it to be ruled a catch. This has caused controversy all through out the season beginning in week one. Louis Murphy of the Oakland Raiders made a catch on San Diego in the endzone that looked to be a touchdown. But on review it was shown that after he went to the ground he didn't maintain possession and so it was ruled, correctly, an incomplete pass. The howls about the refs after that game were loud and insistent. Everyone claimed that they got it wrong but the truth was they had gotten it right. If you go back and watch our game on Sunday you can hear that at first John Lynch is sure that its a catch and Michael Clayton is down by contact, but when reminded about how the rule has been tweaked then he concedes that its probably an incomplete pass.

But the problem is, the ball never touched the ground. If the ball doesn't ever touch the ground then it has to be a someone. So the refs had two options here, either it was a catch by Clayton and he was down by contact OR it was an interception. It couldn't be a fumble because to fumble it Clayton would have had to have possession. If he had possession then he would have been down by contact. Now because he didn't maintain possession after he hit the ground and because the ball never touched the ground it HAD to be ruled an interception. I know most Bucs fans won't like to hear that, but I am just giving you the truth.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

House Keeping

It has come to my attention that some of my posts are being reposted on several other places around the net. I not only don't mind, but encourage people to do so. Although I started this blog kind of as a personal hobby, its is gratifying to know that people want to hear my opinion.

The only thing I ask is that you provide a link to my original post here when you repost it elsewhere. The one thing I don't want is people to get a flawed view of what it is I do here and I think most people who actually come to my blog and read more than one post will see that I am about as fair as you can be and as honest as you can be when giving my opinion on what ever I choose to weigh in on. I think that's only fair and I hope people can respect my wishes.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you come back on a regular basis.

Bull Rush

The latest edition of "Bull Rush" is now up on Go on over and share your thoughts about the Bucs defensive line against the Dolphins.

Thrown Under The Bus

I had to just kind of shake my head when I saw this on joebucsfan yesterday.

“We’re just not made right now to knock people back. That’s not how we’re cut,” Raheem The Dream said. “We don’t have big intimidating linebackers or big intimidating linemen. We gotta hit you. We gotta be perfect. …We don’t have the big people, the big personnel that you need to knock out runs. The physical person up front who just absolutely dominates the block and gets a tackle for a loss for a 3rd and 13. Which we’ll get there. We’ll find them guys. We’ll go out there and get them.

“Right now, we have to play with the guys we have. They gotta to continue to play like they did yesterday as far as having five series three-and-out, having two series four-and-out, and having two big turnovers. …We gotta get the big guys in there and let them play a little bit. …We’ve got to make decisions at the end of the season once we get there. Right now. That’s who we have. That’s the guys.

Let's set aside for just a moment whether anything Coach Morris said was true or not. Is this REALLY the right time for him to come out with this? The guys who he basically says aren't good enough are the same guys who are fighting their asses off every single Sunday trying to make sure he doesn't get fired. And lets be honest here, no matter what there won't be any new defensive linemen or linebackers walking through the doors over at One Buc Palace for the last 7 games.

But its not just that he called out the guys out front, notice the guys he DOESN'T call out. You know, the guys he used to coach in the secondary. Funny thing is the secondary, primarily the safeties, primarily Sabby Piscitelli has missed more tackles on this team allowing more yards after contact than any other group by far. But you don't see Coach Morris saying we just don't have the right kind of safeties or we are going to have to go out and find some secondary guys who can tackle after this season is over.

Nope, to hear him tell it the problem is ALLLLLL up front.

Ironic because the longest run of the day on Sunday was on a play when Sabby got his ankles broke by Ronnie Brown and totally whiffed when all of the guys up front did their job and funneled the ball carrier right to him, the unblocked defender. As a matter of fact though Sabby might be a great guy and all he has had the worst season of anybody on the defense in my opinion. But have you heard a lot of fire headed his way?

Of course not.

But the really ironic thing here is that the scheme sucks so bad that it won't matter WHO they bring in here next year. Look around the league at other 4-3 defenses that have really big defensive tackles. Look at the Vikings, look at the Patriots, look at the Eagles. Did you notice that ALL those other teams put their nose tackles over the center most of the time? Did you see ANY of those teams run a scheme similar to ours up front?


The truth is they can bring in Vince Wilfork AND draft Rolondo McClain, if we run the same scheme it won't make a damned bit of difference. And you know what else? Arguments about needing the right guys in a defense ring hollow to me.

I would assume that the Bucs knew what kind of guys Jim Bates wanted for his defense in the offseason before the draft. Yet we drafted Roy Miller who definitely doesn't fit into what they SAY they need now and we drafted Kyle Moore who is a tweener guy. Not only that but they didn't even attempt to go out and find the kind of guy they SAY they need in free agency. Hell how about that attempt to move Jermaine Phillips to weakside linebacker from safety? Was he supposed to be big enough to play in this defense? There are so many obvious contradictions here that I can't do anything but laugh at it all. And the fact that Coach Morris decided to say that it is a personnel issue focusing on everybody except "his" guys strikes me as very disappointing and very disingenuous.

Now I know there are some people who will claim this was some kind of motivational ploy. To those people I call bullshit. You see if the guys up front were being given the opportunity to make plays and just were consistently not making them then that's one thing. But when your scheme makes it harder instead of easier for guys to make plays and then you blame THEM for the failures what you are really doing is just throwing them under the bus. I don't see anything good coming of this.

Nothing good at all...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Now Its Time For The Main Event!

I didn't actually watch the fight last night between Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiaou. I knew it would be a decent fight but its not the fight I, nor many other boxing fans, wanted to see. At this point boxing is in a place where charging more than $50 for a fight that people aren't clamoring for is going to continue to erode the fan base. Its bad enough that you rarely have a "name" fighter on the undercard, but then you end up sitting through a fight that, even when exciting, wasn't really what you were hoping for.

Well Pacman brought home the victory last night with a 12th round TKO and from what I understand it was a dominating performance by him. Congratulations to him on the win but what I really hope is that his triumph now brings us all what we have REALLY been waiting for.

Money vs Pacman.

Speaking for me I can tell you that I would gladly throw down the coin to see Manny Pacquiaou and Floyd Mayweather 'throw them thangs' no matter where the venue is that they meet up or who is on the undercard. Boxing NEEDS this fight to happen now if they want to remain viable. Hell I just saw a UFC card for FREE on Spike TV yesterday with a bunch of guys who put on exciting fights for the most part. Just last week the same thing happened with the Strikeforce promotion on CBS, and in that one I got to see Fedor Emelianenko put a guy to sleep in the main event. If boxing can't finally give their fans the fight they have been wanting for the past several years then they will be sealing their fate against the likes of the rising MMA promotions.

I can tell you this, they won't see another dime of my money until that fight happens.

It is what it is.

Live Blogging The Bucs Vs Dolphins Week 10

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ron Turner, You Are The Weakest Link

I know people are going to give Jay Cutler the business for today for throwing 5 interceptions in the game last night against the 49ers, but allow me to throw someone else under the bus. Cutler threw the ball 52 times last night in a game where Chicago was never down more than 7 points and in a game that ended up in a final score of 10-6. Let me say that again, he threw the ball 52 frikkin times!!!

Now we all know that Cutler is prone to throwing interceptions and if everyone else can see it presumably his coaches should be able to see it to. So why then would Ron Turner give him 52 opportunities to throw an interception? Well I think it comes down to the difference between a good to great coach and an average coach.

See a good or great coach on offense, defense, or special teams always has a good game plan and scheme. But what separates them from the rest of the pack is their ability to make adjustments. And that doesn't just mean adjustments to what the other team is throwing at them, it also means adjustments to their own personnel.

See an average coach has his scheme and his gameplan but they can only really be successful when they have the perfect players to go with their scheme and gameplan. If you put them in a situation where their talent doesn't fit with what they are trying to do on offense then instead of adjusting what they are trying to do, they just keep trying to put a square peg in a round hole. And results usually are disastrous.

In the case of the Bears they now have this big time quarterback with a strong arm who can make all the throws anywhere on the field. But they also have a quarterback who has a propensity to throw into coverage several times a game believing that he can squeeze in throws that he can't. And of course that leads to interceptions. But its not just Cutler that is the problem.

What you also have in Chicago are receiver who are not very big and don't have especially good hands. You also have an offensive line that makes swiss cheese look solid. You put that all together and you SHOULD come away with the distinct impression that what your team needs to do is lean on running the ball heavy and save the throws mostly for play action pass or 3rd and 4 or more. I mean the Bears have a decent defense and outstanding special teams so if the offense doesn't turn the ball over generally they will always be in it at the end.

But like a kid with a brand new toy their offensive coordinator, Ron Turner has decided that he simply must show off Cutler's arm. This in spite of the fact that they have a very good young running back in Matt Forte. Where they should be pounding the ball and wearing defenses down along with shortening the game by running the clock, instead they have Cutler running for his life and thrown the ball down field to the likes of Johnny Knox and Devin Hester.

But here is what is really funny to me. So called sports "experts" actually claim the Bears should be throwing the ball MORE. LOL What a bunch of clowns. See a lot of sports pundits nowadays are just a bunch of lazy minded followers of conventional wisdom. It seems the only way to be "aggressive" on offense these days is to throw the ball down the field every other play. It reminds me a lot of the stupid criticism of Alabama in college football. They have in my opinion the best stable of running backs in all of college football and yet week after week I have to listen to Lee Corso or some other "expert" tell me that they can't win a championship unless they start throwing the ball downfield even though their quarterback is usually the only guy on the field for either team that can actually beat them.

NEWSFLASH. Running the ball when your passing game is suspect is ALSO aggressive. It opens up the play action pass which gives young, inexperienced wide receivers a chance to get open against single coverage. And it also helps your offensive line so that the other teams defensive line can't just get in sprinters stances and tee off on your quarterback. It keeps them honest where they have to at least hesitate on the run fake. Which does what? Gives your quarterback time to throw the ball down the field.

Oh and by the way, if the Bears kick field goals instead of throwing redzone interceptions they probably win the game last night.

So hey by all means throw Jay Cutler under the bus today, but make sure you save some room for the guy calling the plays for him.

It is what it is.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hot Off The Presses: Week 10

Well I am up 1-0 so far for the weekend, hopefully the win tonight will give me momentum going into the weekend.


Saints at Rams: Saints. Duh

Bucs at Dolphins: Dolphins. I think the Bucs are going to have a good showing this weekend but the Miami strengths just so happen to coincide with the Bucs weaknesses. I look for Miami to pound the rock right at the Bucs defense and stay out of third and long and their defense will get off the bus blitzing the rookie QB Josh Freeman. Now last week I picked against the Bucs and they won the game. I hope that they pull it off again, but I just don't see it happening.

Lions at Vikings: Vikings. Duh

Jaguars at Jets: Jets. This game makes me more nervous than it should because the Jags are such a shizo team. One week they look great, the next week they look horrible. I am taking the Jets at home though because I think overall they are just the better team.

Bills at Titans: Titans. Make of it what you will but Vince Young is now 2-0 as a starter this year and for whatever reason the team is playing a lot better. The Bills just haven't looked good this year even in their wins and I think by the end of Sunday VY will have the Titans on a 3-0 run.

Bengals at Steelers: Steelers. The Steelers defense is back and you can attribute a lot of that to the return of safety Troy Polomalu from injury. But their offense isn't half stepping either and I don't think people are really noticing how much Rashad Mendenhall's running is helping to open things up for the passing game. Teams are having to commit extra people in the box to try to take him away witch leaves a lot of single coverage out wide. As much as I think the Bengals are an improved team I just don't see them sweeping the Steelers with a victory at Heinz field.

Broncos at Redskins: Broncos. Duh.

Falcons at Panthers: Falcons. I have a really funny feeling about this one. My brain tells me the Falcons will win this won pretty easily but I worry that the Panthers are gonna stand up at home. Still I am going with my brain on this one, Falcons win one way or another.

Chiefs at Raiders: Chiefs. Flip a coin, sheesh.

Eagles at Chargers: Chargers. The Eagles have to go cross country on this trip and they may well not have Brian Westbrook again for this game. And the Chargers just so happen to have some corners that I think will match up well with Philly's wideouts. I also think that Antonio Gates is going to have a field day when the Eagles blitz so if you have him on your fantasy team you definitely want to start him this week. Write it down, take a picture, I don't give a .......

Seahawks at Cardinals: Cardinals. The Cardinals are hitting on all cylinders on offense and defense now and the Seahawks have just had to many injuries this year (again). Cards in a laugher.

Cowboys at Packers: Cowboys. It has become apparent to me that the Packers are pretenders. Their defensive scheme does not take advantage of the talent that they have and they refuse to really commit to running the ball on offense even when they are dominating. I expect the Cowboys to go in there and really bring a smash mouth attitude and pull out a close win.

Patriots at Colts: Patriots. Randy Moss and Wes Welker against two rookie corners? Not a good look. Don't get me wrong, I think Peyton and the Colts will get theirs too but I think the Patriots will make a few more stops on defense and steal one in Indianapolis


Ravens at Browns: Ravens. Duh