Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Comment EATED: Under Defense Edition

I was trying to leave a comment over on this thread on joebucsfan but it kept disappearing so I will repost it here. It seemed like most if not all of the people commenting about Coach Morris' words about using Quincy Black were missing the point so I figured since I was otherwise unoccupied I would explain it for them.

Here goes.

You guys are kinda missing the message here. If you go back to my last year's bullrush right after the Bucs canned Bates and before the next game one of the things I predicted was that Black would be used more in under defense. One of my latest articles also talks about how using him in under defense will help us over all and how the way Bates used him last year was, to put it nicely, ridiculous.

So maybe the problem is you guys aren't up on what an under defense is. Since I haven't done another Bull Rush lately (mostly cuz there ain't much material out there to talk about and I'm a terrible bullshitter) I'll explain it to you.

In our normal base defense with four defensive linemen we normally line up in whats called an "Over" Alignment. What that means is when there is one tight end the defensive end to that side (what we call the under tackle)lines up head up over the tight end. The defensive tackle on the tight end side (the call side) lines up in a 3 technique on the outside shoulder of the guard on that side of the center. The defensive tackle away from the tight end (away from the call) lines up in a cocked alignment between the center and guard with his hand on the outside foot of the center. The defensive end away from the tightend (away from the call) lines up in a five with his hand on the outside foot of the offensive tackle.

This is an excellent alignment for pass rush because the strong side defensive end, undertackle and backside end all end up with what amounts to basically one on one matchups at least initially, providing the tightend goes out to block. However its not always the greatest run blocking scheme as its easy to double both inside guys and base block the end with a tight end to get movement.

For Black its also harder on him in passing situations because he is off the line and in space and that's not really where he is most comfortable.

In an under defense however things are kind of shifted the opposite way and the Sam linebacker is on the line of scrimmage.

So its the Sam linebacker on the outside edge of the tightend. The defensive end to the tight end side is in a five with his hand outside the tackle's outside foot. The interior linemen switch and now the nosetackle is to the tight end side still in a cocked alignment. The undertackle is away from the tight end, still in a 3 technique and the defensive end is away from the tightend in a wide five. Now its a little harder for the defensive end on the tight end side to get a rush but the run defense is shored up a bit.

But I think that there is a misconception that Black blitzes every play in this defense. He doesnt. On passing plays unless a blitz is specifically called Black still drops back in coverage. It actually gives him and our defense an advantage at times in that by being on the line he can jack up the tight end a make it hard for him to get out on a route. In our division with Shockey and Gonzales thats huge. And we can still play cover 2 out of an under shell so being physical with the tightend also helps our middle linebacker who often times will have to cover them deep down the seam.

The truth is also however that under defense lends itself to a lot of effective blitzing and when we send him Black can be a difference maker off the edge against TEs or RBs. That Bates never used under defense was one of the biggest indictments against him. Quncy Black has always been more of a rush LB than a coverage LB but Bates never used his strengths last year

You shouldnt expect double digit sacks but Id bet good money on a at least 5 or 6 from Black this year. And that's going to be winning football for the Buccaneers.

Hope that made sense. If not just leave a question in the comments section.

Randall Cunningham's Infant Son Passes

My prayers go out to Randall Cunningham and his family. This is a parent's worst nightmare.

Christian Cunningham, who would have been 3 in December, died after being found floating in the backyard hot tub, according to friends of the family. Randall Cunningham performs baptisms in the hot tub at his home, which is near the church.

A woman at Cunningham's house was with several children when she found the boy at about 4:30 p.m., Las Vegas police Lt. Dennis Flynn said. She removed the boy from the hot tub and began performing CPR. Paramedics took the child to St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena campus, where he died, Flynn said.

Abuse and neglect detectives were investigating the incident at the house on the 300 block of East Robindale Road, near Paradise Road. Flynn said the drowning appeared to be an accident.

"We know healing is going to take time," said one church member, who said she goes by the name Miss Happy. "We ask that everyone pray for the family. It hurts. It hurts."

Cunningham was believed to be in San Diego or on his way back at the time of the drowning.

Members of the church congregation gathered that night and shared stories, prayed and cried. They talked about Christian learning to speak, playing football and constantly smiling and having fun.

"He touched the lives of anybody who stood there and watched him," Miss Happy said. "He's one of those little kids like, 'I'll take you home with me.' I can sit here and talk all day about Christian."

There but for the grace of God...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You Mean To Say He Has A Point?!

In an article ranking NFL defensive lines Jason Cole gets this right:

9. Washington Redskins: You can pretty much guarantee the Redskins will move down in the rankings between now and the start of the season because there’s about as much chance of tackle Albert Haynesworth(notes) opening the season in Washington as BP exec Tony Hayward has of taking up residency in Louisiana. That’s a pretty sad fact because if Haynesworth would get on board and coach Mike Shanahan would get over this idea of having Haynesworth play nose tackle, the Redskins line could be pretty good. Really, though, the Redskins would be better off scrapping the 3-4 altogether and playing 4-3. That’s their strength given their personnel and that would allow Haynesworth to line up next to Maake Kemoeatu(notes) in what would be a fearsome tackle combo. The addition of versatile Vonnie Holliday(notes) was a nice move, too.

See how easy it is to give actual analysis of the situation when you don't focus on how much money somebody is making or if people are calling them fat?

Of course the question now becomes will anyone start noticing these analyses of the Redskins that are starting to trickle through or will they just continue to mindlessly bash Haynesworth without ever taking a step back and taking a macro look at the situation?
On another note I will point out that I totally disagree with Cole's assessment about the Buccaneers' defensive ends as I firmly believe that rather than being a placeholder, Stylez White will have double digit sacks this year and be dominant at right end. But hey, being ranked #18 is pretty good considering the way he starts off his analysis.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chris Henry Had Brain Damage

This is really scary stuff...

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP)—Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry suffered from a chronic brain injury that may have influenced his mental state and behavior before he died last winter, West Virginia University researchers say.

The doctors had done a microscopic tissue analysis of Henry’s brain that showed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Neurosurgeon Julian Bailes and California medical examiner Bennet Omalu, co-directors of the Brain Injury Research Institute at WVU, were to publicly announce their findings Monday afternoon alongside Henry’s mother, Carolyn Lee Henry.

Her 26-year-old son died in December, a day after he came out of the back of a pickup truck his fiancee was driving near their home in Charlotte, N.C. It’s unclear whether Henry jumped or fell. Toxicology tests found no alcohol in his system, and an autopsy concluded he died of numerous head injuries, including a fractured skull and brain hemorrhaging.

But Bailes, team doctor for the Mountaineers and a former Pittsburgh Steelers physician, said it’s easy to distinguish those acute traumatic injuries from the underlying condition he and Omaha found when staining tiny slices of Henry’s brain.

Bailes and fellow researchers believe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is caused by multiple head impacts, regardless of whether those blows result in a concussion diagnosis. A number of studies, including one commissioned by the NFL, have found that retired professional football players may have a higher rate than normal of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory problems.

What’s interesting, Bailes said, is that Henry was only 26, and neither NFL nor WVU records show he was diagnosed with a concussion during his playing career.

I'm considering doing a post really soon about the culture of football and injuries. To make a long story short I know that I have at times put my health and maybe even my life at risk to play a game for a lot of money. And maybe even before the money I have done the same thing in high school and college. And I am not the exception but the rule when it comes to football players.

The more articles I read like this one the more I wonder, well actually worry, that I may be just a ticking time bomb. But while many folks have pointed fingers at the NFL and the owners, and make no mistake they definitely are a part of the problem, you hardly ever hear people talk about the role that players have in all of this. Like I said I may get into this more later but the truth is when its either admitting an injury and being healthier long term but losing your job or covering it up and continuing to make hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars, a lot of guys have and will continue to go with the later rather than the former.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On The Wrong Side Of History

It has to be hard for a team as good as the Tampa Bay Rays to be this awful this often. Not a good look.

Friday, June 25, 2010

No More #10

Florida State is retiring my former teammate Derrick Brooks' number and I can't think of anyone any more deserving of that honor in what they have done both on the field and off it.

Brook’s No. 10 jersey will be just the eighth retired by FSU. The others in that select fraternity belonged to cornerback Deion Sanders (2), quarterback Chris Weinke (16), quarterback Charlie Ward (17), receiver Fred Biletnikoff (25), tailback Warrick Dunn (28), receiver Ron Sellers (34) and nose guard Ron Simmons (50).

“I’m very happy for Derrick,’’ said Dunn, a former teammate both at FSU and with the Bucs. “Derrick embodied the linebacker position as it should be played. He had a great physicality and work ethic.’’

Brooks, who blended dazzling speed and uncommon timing to produce game-changing plays, was a two-time first-team all-America as a junior and senior (1993 and 1994). He helped the Seminoles win their first national title (1993) and won an NCAA post-graduate scholarship and a spot on the academic all-America team.

Following his FSU career, he was a first-round NFL draft pick of the Bucs where he became a pillar of one of the league’s perennially stingiest defenses, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl 11 times and, of course, leading the Bucs to a win in Super Bowl XXXVII with an interception return for a touchdown.

Brooks received several prestigious awards during his NFL days, including the 2000 Walter Payton/NFL Man of the Year award, the 2003 Bart Starr Award, and the 2004 Bryon "Whizzer" White Award. All go to a player based on his community involvement. In Tampa, he's worked with Boys & Girls Club kids, including taking youths on educational trips (twice to South Africa) and he helped found the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School. He's also stayed involved with FSU, serving on the Board of Trustees since 2003.

Congratulations to Bo and his family.

Guess They Are Finally Catching On

Here's the headline of a new Bucs Beat post:

Weight clause could resolve Penn contract dispute

Boy does that sound familiar!

Oh yeah...

If Donald Penn's weight is so much of a concern the Bucs could always include clauses in the contract to protect themselves if he balloons up again.

Course I'm just some dude with a blog so what do I know?

I'd point out that my post was written a week and a half ago though. Nice to see the MSM finally catching up ;)

Sad News

Former LSU Tiger and current NY Giant 3rd round draft pick Chad Jones has been injured pretty severely in a car wreck

NEW ORLEANS ― Former LSU safety Chad Jones was in a serious car accident around 6:15 Friday morning in New Orleans on Carrollton Avenue near Toulouse Street.

Jones, 21, suffered a fractured left leg and had arteries and nerves exposed, officials told WWL-TV’s Juan Kincaid. He was listed in critical condition and was in surgery at 10:15 a.m.

The 6-foot-3, 231-pound Baton Rouge, La., native played in 40 games with the Tigers, starting 19 before forgoing his senior season.

Jones was drafted in the third round of April’s NFL Draft by the New York Giants and recently signed his rookie contract, a four-year deal worth a reported $2.616 million base salary over the life of the contract.

My prayers go out to him for a full and speedy recovery.

Dominique Jones Makes History

USF has its first ever NBA 1st round pick:

TAMPA - Dominique Jones made history in his final season at the University of South Florida, prompting him to skip his senior season and enter the NBA draft. Jones made more history in Thursday night's draft, becoming the first USF player ever selected in the first round.

"It feels good," he said. "I worked my way up. This is just a turning point for me. I've got a long ways to go."

Memphis selected Jones with the 25th overall pick and immediately traded him to Dallas for cash, reportedly around the league's $3 million maximum.

"We tried to trade into the top 20 to get (Jones), got lucky to get him (at) 25," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted.

With a deal with Dallas in place for Jones, Memphis drafted Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez three picks later.

A 6-foot-5 combo guard, Jones supplanted former Bulls center Solomon Jones as USF's highest-drafted player. Solomon Jones was taken by the Hawks in the second round, the 33rd overall pick, in the 2006 draft.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Michael Clayton's Ticket Out Of Town

Stephen Holder has a good write up about wide receiver Reggie Brown whom the Buccaneers acquired via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles:

"I’ve been impressed with Reggie Brown in how he carries himself like a pro," Bucs receivers coach Eric Yarber said. "Early on in camp and OTAs, he got a lot of looks and caught a lot of balls. Right now, you might not see the flash.

"But as a coaching staff, we see it on film. He’s open a lot. He just hasn’t gotten the opportunity to make plays. But he brings a veteran savvy to our group with know-how. I’ve told a lot of the guys to watch how he prepares and how he runs routes."

The Bucs never promised Brown would duplicate the performances he turned in during his best seasons with the Eagles. Truth is, they'd be happy if he was a marginal contributor given what they gave up for him. At the same time, no one is ruling out a bigger contribution. And it seems like Brown will definitely get the chance. Whereas with the Eagles he became an afterthought during the past two seasons, the Bucs have such an inexperienced group of receivers that the position is wide open.

"He’s a guy who runs really good routes and has really good hands," coach Raheem Morris said. "The knock on him when he came out was that he made some dynamic catches and dropped some easy ones. But since he’s been here, he’s made the dynamic catches but he’s also been catching the easy ones. He’s also been very productive after the catch.

Now I'm the first person to counsel against people falling in love with players during the spring. Football is played in pads, not shorts and so you always have to take the OTA and mini camp performances with a grain of salt.

Having said that, with Brown impressing the coaching staff the wide receiver position is set up to play out just the way I figured it would. Its one thing to say a guy is showing up, its another to say you are using him as an example for other receivers on the team to emulate. And with Brown doing his thing the end result will almost inevitably be Michael Clayton not making the roster. Of course several things could change that, most notably injuries. But other than that I can't see a path for Clayton to be on the team come the fall.

Look don't mistake my blunt honesty with gloating either. I've never met Clayton but I hear he's a good guy. And he may even make another team a good receiver at some point. But resigning him last year for that money was a fools errand. Keeping him after the season he had at this point would be egregious. I know he works hard, I know he blocks well but receivers are paid to catch the ball. Period. And in the one area that he is supposed to be relied on he has not done his job since his rookie season.

On the other hand it won't be his lack of production that does him in, if he is done in, this year. Instead it will be a little thing we call special teams.

Lets go by the numbers. First its a given that three players will be on the team, they are the two draft picks from this year Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams, along with last year's rookie sensation Sammie Stroughter. From there you have Maurice Stovall who didn't exactly set the world on fire as a receiver but still ended up with better stats than Clayton. But the thing about Stovall is that he is a key part of our special teams units.

All of them.

If he isn't running down as a flyer on the punt team, he's leading up as a blocker on kickoff return. And he's not just a guy out there. He's pretty damn good at his job.

Add into the mix Reggie Brown whom evidently had a good offseason as well at receiver. But you know what Brown was doing the last two years when his numbers fell off and the Eagles replaced him?

Busting his ass on special teams.

So that's five receivers right there. Out of whom is left you have Clayton along with two guys who should get at last a shot as our primary return men in the kicking game, Michael Spurlock and Preston Parker.

If you're a GM and your choices for the last wide receiver spot are two young cheap guys who can possibly be return men for you or a guy who hasn't played special teams for you in the past, hasn't produced in years and is scheduled to make millions of dollars who would you choose?

I guess Clayton could become the second coming of Kenny "The Shark" Gant in training camp and just blow people away running down on kickoff but I just can't envision that happening. And so if Brown stays healthy and continues to perform both at receiver and on special teams its likely we have seen the last of Clayton in a Bucs uniform in a meaningful game.

It is what it is.

Anticipating The Argument

One thing about blogging sometimes over at joebucsfan is that you start to get a feel for how some of the regular commenters will come down on certain topics. There is definitely a segment of Buccaneers fans there and elsewhere across the blogosphere that seem to back whatever the brass over at One Buc says without much thought or examination. Right now many of them, with all evidence to the contrary, will try to convince other people and maybe even themselves that Donald Penn doesn't deserve a new contract. Mind you but for the CBA expiring, which wasn't really a sure thing until last year, the Bucs would be in a situation right now where they would HAVE to give him a new contract or risk losing Penn via free ageny. At the least they would have had to franchise him to keep him and while not a long term deal it would have been a helluva lot more than the $3 million and change they are offering him right now.

But those kinds of facts don't appeal to that section of Bucs fans. Nope they will find new excuses for the Glazers not cutting the check every single day. As soon as you shoot down one, here comes another. And don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently wrong with fans trusting their owners. But at some point that trust crosses over into the land of the delusional.

So this morning I happened to see a post that I KNOW will make that crowd giddy. It seems that the player ratings for the new Madden video game have come out. And whaddya know.

Top Left Tackles
R. Clardy - 98
J. Long - 96
J. Thomas - 95
M. Roos - 95
J. Gross - 95
D. Ferguson - 91
J. Brown - 91
B. McKinnie - 90

Madden has the top 8 left tackles and ZOMG there's no Donald Penn!!!

Now you may think I'm crazy for saying this but I can almost guarantee that there will be a Bucs fan who uses the Madden ratings to justify Penn not getting a new deal.

No bullshit.

I can hear them now..."SEE SEE even Madden agrees with Mark Dominik and you know its the most realistic video game EVAHHH"

Laugh now, but I will accept your apology when it happens.

But here's the thing, remember that these folks ALWAYS back ownership. That being the case there is something about the Madden ratings that is going to give them a lot of heartburn if they try to use them against Penn.

P. Willis - 99
J. Beason - 96
R. Lewis - 94
D. Harris - 91
B. Ruud - 91
L. Fletcher - 91
D. Ryans - 90
J. Vilma - 90

Yep. that's right folks. Madden has Barrett Ruud, you know the OTHER guy the Bucs won't commit too long term, as the 4th or 5th best middle linebacker in all the NFL. Oh I know you've been repeating that "he makes tackles 5 yards down the field" crap all off season, but evidently (like me) Madden and his people disagree.

And I mean if Madden is a fair arbiter of Penn's talent shouldn't he also be a fair arbiter for Ruud's.

Understand this, I think BOTH guys deserve new deals so I'm happy as hell for Barrett that he is getting props on the game AND I think Penn should have been in the mix at his position. But the point to get across is this.


Using it as an argument for or even against a guy getting money is ridiculous. But because I know at this point Penn detractors/Glazers supporters are grasping at straws to justify this situation I just know someone will use that weak ass analogy.

Welp, just know if you bring that weak stuff to me I'm slapping it hard against the backboard and giving you the Mutombo finger wave.

You've been warned ;)

Who Cares?

I can remember back in the day when the NBA draft actually meant something. Folks around my way would be arguing for weeks about whom their favorite team should draft and then we'd gather 'round the TV on draft night to see if any of the GMs had listened to our words of wisdom.

Now I can't say why or when all that changed but honestly if it wasn't for twitter I wouldn't even know today was NBA draft day. And even in knowing its going to be on tonight and also knowing there won't be much else on TV, I think I'll opt for watching some paint dry. But assuming there are some of you out there who still care just wanted to give you the heads up and also point you to this article about who will likely be drafted where.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Man Sitchyo Beggin Ass Down

Pls don't trade me, I'm not ready to go. I'm begging. My work ain't done yet. I'm on both knees....pls. I'm serious

That quote comes from, I bullshit you not, Mo Williams twitter account. And by Mo Williams I mean the guy whose an NBA veteran and has been a starter a few times in his career.

Did someone not tell him there is no begging in basketball?!

I swear man, I love twitter but its obvious that it ain't for everybody.


USA USA USA USA USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, so I'm NOT the biggest soccer fan in the world. But you'd have to be un Amurrican to not love this goal by Landon Donovan in overtime in a scoreless game which allowed the US to advance to the next round of the world cup.


Making Headlines For The Right Reasons

Everyone tip your hat to the Oakland Raider's Nnamdi Asomugha:

With the Raiders' offseason workouts over last week, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has a month before training camp starts to focus on his other passion: helping people. Whether it's taking disadvantaged students on educational trips cross-country, raising money for orphans in Nigeria, or helping out pal Bill Clinton with his Global Initiative University, Asomugha has everybody covered.

"Since a young age, I have always wanted to help," he said. "Family and friends did it, and it rubbed off on me. It was infectious."

There will not only be some scratching, but clapping tonight. Asomugha, along with Tyrus Thomas of the Charlotte Bobcats in the "professional athlete" category, is among 15 recipients who will be honored in Washington D.C, with a Jefferson Award, known as the "Nobel Prize for public service." Past recipients of the 38-year-old award for community service and volunteerism include Gen. Colin Powell, television personality Oprah Winfrey and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

In an offseason with several high profile NFL players getting into hot water in one way or another, its nice to see other guys being honored for their off the field service. Now if only we could get ESPN to lead with this instead of the other...

Fairy Dust, Unicorns, And Ponies

It is rare that you will find two statements from two different people built so much on fantasy and nothing else in one sports post, but the Bucs found a way to pull it off.

First Jeff Faine on Demar Dotson:

"I think a lot of us take it for granted. I think he's a very, very bright star with a lot of potential and has a great attitude and a great work ethic. He wants to learn. He wants to keep improving and I think if he puts it all together, he could be one of the best to ever play the game. Now that's a lot being said and it's a pretty good ways away, but he has a chance.''

Jeff also has some swamp land in south Florida to sell you.

Next up Coach Morris on Donald Penn's hold out:

I got a feeling he'll come up and play and I can't wait until he does.''

I wonder if that's the same kind of feeling the degenerate gambler has every time he puts money on a horse.

Listen, I like Demar Dotson as a young player and its true he has some physical gifts, but for a guy to only have gotten game reps so far as a blocking tight end any talk about him being an all time great is a load of horse shit. I would have loved to have seen Faine's expression as he uttered those words because its hard to believe he kept a straight face.

As for Coach Morris, its funny that he says he thinks Penn will just "show up" especially when the rest of his statement goes on to talk solely about Penn and his character. Hey Coach, I can GUARANTEE he will show up rather than just having a feeling. As soon as the Glazers cut a check I PROMISE he will be on he first thing smoking.

Its really that simple.

So maybe you should be focusing more of your public pressure up towards them instead of down at him. Especially after your GM called him fat last week.

Just a thought...

A Note

Just wanted to drop a quick line.

When I started this blog last year it was definitely just meant to be a hobby. I saw things going on in the sports world and specifically with my old team the Bucs and needed to vent about them. But over time it has become more than that for me and thankfully more people have become interested in what I have to say. Because of that I'm going to strive to blog more starting now. Even if its not the longer editorials I do I am going to start posting stories and links about sports that I find around the web that I think you might be interested in. I figure if I am going to actually be a blogger then I might as well jump all the way in.

I appreciate everyone who has been supporting this blog before and as always I look forward to our interactions in the comments section. Also remember that you can follow me on twitter and facebook by clicking the appropriate link over there -------------------------->
Have a blessed day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Realist

I called into my guy Bomani Jones' radio show this morning to talk about my take on the Albert Haynesworth situation and how the NFL and the Redskins have successfully manipulated the media and the fans on the issue. I definitely think its worth a listen. Warning, NSFW language.

Piggy backing on the things I said on air another story came out today about our local media and the way they handled a story from last week. Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik told the local beat writers last week that the team had the ability to fine left tackle Donald Penn for missing the mandatory mini camp as well as training camp and any regular season games he misses even though he hadn't signed his restricted free agent tender. This story didn't make sense to me on its face but just about every local sports media outlet reported it as fact. It was a curious assertion because it came just a few days before the deadline for Penn to either sign his tender or risk having it reduced to 110% of his salary from last year. Now I have already blogged about why I thought Penn should hold out until they offer him a long term deal, but him being fined would obviously complicate that calculation.

Well it turns out the story was bullshit. Absolute unequivical bullshit. And not one member of the local media fact checked the assertion before the deadline passed. Obviously if Penn's agent had fallen for the ploy and urged him to sign a tender based on false information it would have been on him for falling for the okie doke. But how sickening would it have been for him personally to sign the contract because of that threat only to subsequently find out he had been played? Better yet what kind of apology would any of those members of the media been able to offer for their role in perpetrating what could have been a VERY costly lie?

Its crazy because all of a sudden today all of the same media outlets are simultaneously reporting that they "discovered" that the assertion wasn't true. As if they all at the same time decided to do some fact checking. I will leave it up to you to decide how they all came to this revelation at once but the question remains, why in the hell didn't they fact check it to begin with when the assertion was made and before they "reported" it?

And that in a nutshell is the problem I have with members of the media and in this case specifically the sports media when it comes to reporting on NFL players. Instead of reporting nowadays they are instead doing more repeating than anything else. Hell if I was Dominik and I knew nobody would call me out for spreading false information I might do it too. What exactly is the downside for him if the media is willing to be his happy accomplice? People this is why I keep telling you to make up your own mind about these situations. Im not saying you should back the players on every issue, but at least be open to the fact that you may not be getting the whole or correct story.

You certainly didn't get the truth this time.

*To listen to my segment just click on the archives button

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bull Rush

crossposted at joebucsfan

On paper I have already stated that my over under for the Bucs wins this season in my opinion would be 6. I have even go so far as to state the games I think they are likely to win and challenged those who believe they will win more than 6 to state the games they count as wins. But football isn't played on paper and for that reason I figured I might as well spell out how the Bucs can overcome expectations and put together at winning season.

Stop laughing.

Back in 1997 I bet there weren't many people, whether Bucs fans or pundits, who picked us to have a winning season. That isn't to say that this Buccaneers team is analogous to that one. It surely isn't. But it IS to say that you never know until the whistle blows.

So here are the things that would have to happen for the Bucs to pull it off.

First and foremost all of the starters will have to stay healthy and available. One of the underplayed keys to how bad the season went for the Bucs last year was how many injuries they suffered to key players and the effect it had on the defense to not have Tanard Jackson the first four games.

Think about it for a second.

T Jax missed four games and still tied for the team lead in interceptions last year. Jeff Faine went down with an injury and our offensive line suddenly couldn't block anybody. Jermaine Phillips goes down and Sabby is forced into a starting role which he may or may not have attained otherwise. Our nickle corner position was almost a revolving door. Our best wide receiver hands down, Antonio Bryant, missed three games. Our starting fullback goes down with an injury which forces Earnest Graham into the lineup in a role he played well in but which he was unfamiliar with. We even lost our Pro Bowl return man, Clifton Smith, for part of the season.

When you are already dealing with the firing of both coordinators, a first time head coach, and a pretty tough schedule, and having very few veterans on the team, not having stability at every position for every game made it that much worse. This year it will be even more important to keep everyone healthy as in my opinion while overall I think the team has more talent in the starting positions, I don't have a lot of confidence in a lot of our backups.

The next thing that has to happen is some young players have to take the next step up in their play. And I don't mean the rookies who will undoubtedly have their own growing pains. T Jax, Aqib Talib, Geno Hayes, Barret Ruud, Jeremy Trueblood, Sammie Stroughter, Jeremy Zuttah are all players who have to play well for us to have even a shot at a winning season. I would include Josh Freeman in that group but as a second year quarterback I won't put that much on his shoulders. It has to be the guys around him who make things easier for him in order for us to win. If Freeman has to go out and win every game for us then we are in a world of trouble. Our defense has to keep other team's from scoring so much that our offense has to put up big points every game. And our offensive players around Freeman have to perform at a high enough level that he can be a part of the solution instead of THE solution.

We already have some pretty good talent in other positions that I feel confident in. I think Ronde will play well enough for us to win as he always does. I think Stylez White is going to be a force rushing the passer. I think Faine, Donald Penn (if he signs) and Davin Joseph will anchor a much improved offensive line. I continue to believe that Kellen Winslow is one of the best pass catching tight ends in all of football. But we will rise and fall with the development and improved play of those other guys this year.

The third thing we have to do is once again get back to game plans that especially at home that plays to our strength. People used to always complain about how "boring" our offense was when Coach Dungy was here but one thing they never seemed to understand was how having a "boring" offense and a dominating defense helped us be so strong on our homefield. There are few place in the NFL where you play from the first game to the last and will have steam rising off of the field. For a lot of teams, especially late in the year, the heat is a shock to their system. Then when we pound the ball at them play after play and our defense keeps getting off on third down it becomes a demoralizing affair. I used to literally see teams wilt in the fourth quarter in Raymond James stadium after we had pounded them over and over all day. I like the passing game as much as the next guy but throwing the ball a lot in this kind of weather pretty much lets the other team off the hook. Especially when we have some a pretty physical offensive line and a stable of physical running backs.

On defense we have to continue to play as we did at the end of the year where we put pressure on the offense and made the opposing offenses adjust to us rather than allowing them to dictate the game. We don't know and probably never will have a big hulking defense that will just stay in one place and pushes people around. Instead we are lean, quick and fast and we have to use slants and blitzes and different looks to keep the opposition off rhythm. We HAVE to create more turnovers in order to put our own stamp on games. And we are going to have to win on first down a lot more to set up third and longs where we have the advantage. As much as people have focused on the defense being last in the league in run defense, and rightfully so, very few point out that we were number ten in passing defense and tied for ninth in interceptions even though we gave up a bunch of big plays.

And finally, yes we have to have our rookies play well. This, for me, is the most problematic aspect of the prescription for us winning. BUT, it could happen. Its scary to think that we have to rely on Arrelious Benn, Mike Williams, Gerald McCoy, Brian Price AND Myron Lewis to at least play decent football for us to have a winning season, but that's where we are at. Now I'm not saying they have to come out the gate playing like Pro Bowlers but what they can't be is the weakest link and they have to improve as the season goes on. We won't win if teams can single block McCoy all year. We won't win if Price can't hold the point. We won't win if Lewis isn't an upgrade over Elbert Mack on the deep ball. We won't win if Benn and Williams can't get open AND catch the ball when its thrown to them.

Well we can win a few games, but we won't have have a winning season or anything close to it.

That's a lot of pressure for a rookie class but it is what it is.

At this point you might expect me to weigh in on some position battles that everybody is paying attention to like Cadillac Williams vs Derrick Ward or Sabby Piscitelli vs Sean Jones or even Jerramy Stevens vs John Gilmore. Well honestly while I think those battles make for good debates they are kind of incidental to how far we go this year. Whether Caddy or Ward start I think our running game will go as the offensive line goes. Whether Sabby or Jones starts I think that position won't win or lose us many games this year if everybody else plays well. Whether Stevens or Gilmore is our blocking TE neither guy is that much of an intimidating force. It would be great if who ever one each of those battles ended up being a monster but I don't think that has to happen in order for us to have a winning season.

So the question is can all of the things happen that I list in this post this season? I have to say I don't know. There is the potential that it can but even with all the preparation in the world its also going to take some luck. For that reason I'm sticking with my prediction of an over under of 6 wins. But by the same token I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

This post was inspired by our new columnist "The Optimist" so you have him to thank/blame for it LOL

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why The Fans Should Support A Donald Penn Holdout

There was rare news on the free agency front last week coming from the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, it wasn't positive.

Donald Penn who has been boycotting the offseason workout program and OTAs and whom has not signed is restricted free agent tender so far was sent a "warning letter" from the Bucs essentially saying that if he didn't sign his tender by June 15th, the team would reduce the tender to 110% of his 2009 salary instead.

Sounds like a very serious threat right?

That is until you realize that the difference between what he is being offered now and what he would be offered after June 15th is "just" $100,000.00. I put air quotes around "just" because I realize that for most of us $100 grand is no little bit of money. But for one of the premier left tackles in the NFC its peanuts in the grand scheme of things. And understand this, no matter how many different ways the Bucs try to call him fat when the subject of his play comes up, Donald Penn is a premier left tackle in the NFL.

And really, the fact that there is "only" a $100,000 dollar difference speaks volumes as to why Penn has every right to blow off the offer. Here is a guy who has brought the most stability to our left tackle position that we have had since the Paul Gruber era, starting the last 3 years, who essentially will only be looking at by my calculations a $200,000 bump in salary.

Those dollars don't make any sense.

So let me detail for you, the average fan, as to why you should actually be supporting him taking a stand.

Back to the subject of Donald Penn being a premier left tackle. First off it should be telling that whenever his name comes up the Bucs never talk about his play, but instead his weight. Now I realize that he did get big last year and yes he has taken steps to address that, but my question to you is did you see him play?

I did.

And he was not just a guy out there for us. On an offensive line that everyone seems to say underachieved he was the bell cow. Sunday after Sunday he faced teams best pass rusher and more than held his own. As a matter of fact in many games he was dominant. And lets look at some of the guys he faced last year. Demarcus Ware, Osi Umenyiora, Andre Carter, Julius Peppers, Trent Cole, Clay Matthews, Will Smith and John Abraham.

That's what you call a murderers row of defensive ends to face in one season. And you tell me, how many bad games did he have? I don't remember any. That's not to say he didn't allow any sacks all year. But it is to say at the end of most of the games last season I would say he got the better of each exchange.

The Bucs say they want to build a dynasty that will hold up over time. Well one of the essential elements of doing that is locking up your own talent long term. The reason why the Bucs were good to great from around 1997 to 20002 was the fact that they identified their outstanding players early on and locked them down with long term deals. Now, at a time when the team is close to silent in free agency, how can they possibly justify not signing one of their best and most consistent players to a long term deal?

Its simple, they can't.

They say that Josh Freeman will be the face of the franchise for the next 10 years. Well let me tell you this, that face will be bumped and bruised if we don't have a great left tackle out there protecting his blind side. Donald Penn has proved himself for three years now that he is more than up to the task. Look around the roster. Is there anybody else that you feel comfortable keeping Freeman clean?

And go back to the contract numbers. Its not as if Penn is being greedy. He played for relative peanuts those first couple of seasons and never uttered one word of disenchantment. He got a better deal last year but it still wasn't commiserate with his level of play. And now all the Bucs see fit to offer him is a relatively small bump in pay on only a one year deal? A year in which he could be injured and have his value drop tremendously?

In the immortal words of Ricky Waters, "for who? for what"?

Its not as if the team has shown themselves willing to do right by injured guys. Jimmy Wilkerson played well last year and then gets injured at the end of the year. And what did he get for his trouble? A lowball offer on a one year deal. Fortunately for him the New Orleans Saints saw enough to give him a better offer and he signed with them. But think about that for a minute. The reigning World Champions of the NFL saw value in Wilkerson when the team he played for didn't. Doesn't that strike you as, at the least, odd?

I know people will point to the CBA and an impending lockout as reasons to not give Penn a longterm deal but lets look at the Saints again. They locked up one of their outstanding young guards, Jahiri Evans, to a long term deal on a deal worth more than $50 million dollars over 7 years. Evidently the CBA and the potential for a lockout didn't make them shy away from signing one of their best young players to a long term deal, so why would it preclude the Bucs from doing the same?

The simple answer is it wouldn't. And remember that but for the owners allowing the CBA to expire Penn would be a unrestricted free agent this year due to make exactly what he is worth on the open market. Just like some people will say that it was just bad luck and bad timing for him but those are the rules, I would say that he then should use those same rules to his advantage.

NFL players are allowed to hold out until the final 6 games of the season then come in and play and still get an accrued season. With negotiations between the owners and the NFLPA on a new CBA looking to be at a stalemate making it more likely that there will be no football in 2011, Donald Penn has every right to protect his livelihood by holding out until such time that the Buccaneers come to their senses and grant him the long term deal he deserves or until the last 6 games to preserve his accrued season. I know its hard for fans to be on the side of players who are trying to maximize their value at times, but with the way the NFL is these days and players getting spit out even in the middle of their primes because someone deems them "over the hill" you at least have to see their side of it.

If Donald Penn's weight is so much of a concern the Bucs could always include clauses in the contract to protect themselves if he balloons up again. But the fact remains that no matter what the numbers say when he steps on the scales, the guy comes to play game in and game out. Its time for the Buccaneers to step up and put their money where their mouth is and pay the man. And if not its time for them to see what life would be like without him.

It is what it is.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On The Bucs' Plans For Kyle Moore

I whipped up something really quick for joebucsfan on this article about how the Bucs plan to use Kyle Moore to rush inside on third downs. Needless to say I am not a fan of that so go ahead and click the link, check it out and leave a message and let me know what you think.