Sunday, March 28, 2010

Curb Your Enthusiasm


Tyson Jackson - 0

B.J. Raji - 1

Peria Jerry - 0

Ziggy Hood - 1


Glen Dorsey - 1

Sedrick Ellis - 4

Kentwan Balmer - 0


Amobi Okoye - 5.5

Adam Carriker - 2

Justin Harrell - 0


Haloti Ngata - 1

Broderick Bunkley - 0

John McCargo - 0


Travis Johnson - 1

Marcus Spears - 1.5

Luis Castillo - 3.5

Mike Patterson - 3.5


I was talking to some friends recently and I remarked to them that the biggest problem the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had last year was a PR problem. In my opinion the Glazers knew that they were about to blow up the team to try to rebuild it last spring. I don't care if it was because of them owning Man U, or if they truly were just moving in a different direction philosophically any reasonable football person would have taken a look at our roster right after Derrick Brooks was let go and said we would be lucky to win 6 games, especially with our schedule. But instead of the Glazers getting in front of the story, they sat back and left fans to their own devices for the most part. Now I keep pointing to the Glazers because I don't think you could have reasonably expected the Coach and or GM to come out and say it without the say so of the owners even if they also knew it to be true. Now if you know fans like I know fans, they not only want a Superbowl every season, they also think their team is the Superbowl winning team before any games are played every season. So even though we had what in my estimation was one of the toughest schedules in the league, many average every day fans thought we were going to contend for the playoffs. When you have that mindset going into a season then a 3-13 record is even worse than it might have been otherwise. And to make it worse fans then assume rightly or wrongly that they have been lied to about the team, about the head coach, about the financial situation, pretty much everything. At that point its hard to get them bag on the bandwagon and I think you are seeing that played out in the fact that Joel Glazer came out at the coaches meeting and admitted that the season ticket holder list was so low that we would probably experience blackouts here during the season for the first time since they owned the team.

Well at this point at least everyone is admitting that we are rebuilding which should bring at least a few die hard fans back in the fold. But I fear another PR debacle is right around the corner and that is with our draft. Specifically I am talking about our upcoming 1st round pick. Now I have been and still am of the opinion that two ex defensive coordinators in Steve Spagnulo and Jim Schwartz are not going to let the top two defensive tackles get passed them no matter what people are saying about Sam Bradford. But there is the chance that one or both of them might. There is talk now of the Lions potentially taking an offensive tackle to help protect their first round quarterback from last year, Matthew Stafford. So the Bucs could potentially have their pick between Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh but here is whether the problem lies.

The media has hyped both players up to such heights that most fans are probably of the opinion that if we get one of them all of our problems on defense will be solved. Unfortunately up until this point the Bucs have done nothing to try to dampen those fantasies and so if we do end up picking one of them I fear that the Bucs will fully embrace the narrative and put unrealistic expectations for them on their shoulders. Imagine for a second that after a 3-13 season fans we get Suh and fans start thinking maybe 9-7 is attainable and instead we only win 6 games. That have and even greater effect on discouraging the fan base than this past season did.

Check out the list above. Those are all of the defensive tackles or defensive ends in a 3-4 scheme that would be tackles in a 4-3 scheme taken in the 1st round in the last 5 years and their sack totals for their rookie season. Notice that out of 17 draftees only 4 had more than 2 sacks in their rookie season. Notice further that Amobe Okoye was the tops on that list with 5.5 sacks his rookie year, a full sack less than what Gaines Adams, God rest his soul, had his rookie season when fans here were calling him a bust. Now there is no doubt that every player is different but again ask yourself a question. If we are lucky enough to draft Suh or McCoy and they get 5.5 sacks but we only win 6 games do you think fans will consider them to have lived up to their billing or that they will figure they are a bust?

Now I still think its far fetched to think both guys will still be on the board when we pick at 3. But if one or both of them are I hope the powers at be over at One Buc realize the reality of the situation and go to the media early and often to soften expectations. If they can perhaps get fans to have lower expectations heading into their rookie season then if they go out and shine they look even better. And if they're average then at least some fans might be more willing to be patient with them. To me that's the ideal situation you should want for your 1st round pick regardless so they can go out and perform without the worry that every mistake they make will be under a magnifying glass. Its worth a try at least.

And of course I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Warren Sapp only had 1 sack his rookie season. And he didn't turn out so bad for the franchise did he?

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