Monday, July 26, 2010

Matt Garza Tosses The First No Hitter In Rays History

Hats off to Matt Garza and hopefully his performance can help get momentum going for the Rays in the second half of the season!

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays finally wound up on the right side of a memorable pitching performance.

Matt Garza threw the first no-hitter in franchise history and the fifth in the major leagues this season, beating the Detroit Tigers 5-0 Monday night.

The right-hander faced the minimum 27 batters, allowing only a second-inning walk to Brennan Boesch, for a team that's often been on the wrong end of no-hitters lately. The Rays have been held hitless three times since last July, including a pair of perfect games.

"It was one of those days where everything lined up," Garza said. "The defense made great plays. I really can't say enough about them."

Garza was the latest to enhance the Year of the Pitcher. The last time there were at least five no-hitters in a season was 1991, when Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan threw one of seven in the big leagues that year, according to STATS LLC.

Garza, the 2008 AL championship series MVP, rebounded from one of his worst outings of the season. He retired pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago for the final out on an easy fly ball to right fielder Ben Zobrist, who made a terrific running catch in the third to rob Danny Worth.

"That ninth inning," Garza said, "I kept telling myself, 'Just finish it, just finish it, just battle, battle. If it's meant to happen, it's going to happen."

Fantasy Football

For the past three years I have participated in a few fantasy football leagues. I am toying with the idea of setting one up for the people who visit my blog but first I want to gauge the interest level. No need in setting one up if no one wants to participate. Also I am more of a "pick em" guy meaning the fantasy football leagues where you pick which teams will win and or beat the spread, rather than a league where you pick players and then choose who to start every week. I am open to either approach though and if there is enough interest I'll even set up one of each. But again I need to know if anybody is interested. So leave me a yay or nay in the comments and if you have a preference of which kind of league you would like to play in you can leave that too. If I get at least 10 people committed then I will start the process of setting it up.

If not, no biggie. I'll just join someone else's like I've been doing.

A Must Read

I highly recommend this story from TBO "Broken Bucs: 1979 success came with costly toll on health"

Not going to excerpt because you need to read the whole thing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Measuring Improvement

Last season was a disaster for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there's no two ways about it.  A record of 3-13 is never acceptable no matter what the circumstances.  Yes we can all make a bunch of excuses or give countless explanations but the NFL is pretty much a bottom line business.  Your record is who you are.

This year there is reason for modest optimism.  We have added a lot of talent from the draft.  Our coaching staff is a lot more stable.  And everyone at least seems to be on the same page.

Previously I gave the over under for wins this season at 6.  I stand by that but as a guy who bleeds Buccaneers Pewter and Silver I am hopeful for the over.  But its worth taking a look at another measurement of progress.

13, 13, 24, 19, 28, 31, 23,

No those aren't the lottery numbers from last night.  Those are some of the margins of defeat from last year.  In 5 games we were outscored by 19 points or more. Twice that number was 28 or higher.

When you get blown out in games that gives fans the impression that you don't know what you're doing and they are less likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.  I think that's why last season was so demoralizing.  Its not like we were losing on the last play of those games.  Sometimes the games were practically over at halftime.

So there's two sides to this coin.  If the Bucs should go out and win 6 or 7 games but are competitive, meaning they lose by single digits, in most or all of the other 10 or so, I think average fans will start to come back on board.

If, however, they win 6 or 7 games, but then turn around and get blown out in several others then I think the average fan will clamor for change.

My money is on the former though for one particular reason.  I really believe our defense will be much improved this year.  So the likelihood that most teams score 31 points let alone beat us by 31 will be lessened by that fact.  We do have to pray that everyone stays healthy though and some guys are going to have to play their tails off, but that's how I see the season going this year at least.

What say you?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Owners Are The Only Winners With An 18 Game Season

I said my piece the other day about how I feel about the NFL expanding to 18 games but then I saw this comment from John Clayton in a post over at joebucsfan and I want to make a couple quick points.

joebucsfan reported:

Joe was intrigued by Clayton’s confidence that NFL owners will approve an 18-game season later this summer. He was certain that owners have the votes to pass it. And he said he was quite sure players would embrace “swapping a $1,000 a week preseason game check for veterans for a game check,” which would represent “roughly a 14 percent pay increase.”

Now I wasn't listening to the broadcast so I am not sure if Clayton ever clarified this point or not but if he didn't his argument is TOTALLY bogus.

First let's clear something up. I have been listening intently and I have yet to hear a single active player "embrace" an 18 game season. As a matter of fact its been quite the contrary with several big name players like Ray Lewis and Steven Jackson coming out very vocally AGAINST an 18 games season. So I would love to know whom Clayton is referencing here when he says players would embrace it.

But the bigger point is this, NFL contracts are based on seasons, not games played. As a matter of fact players can elect to be paid over the course of the year rather than just during the season if they so wish. But Clayton seems to be trying to suggest that players would get more money added to their existing contract if the owners go to an 18 game season and while anything is possible that is highly unlikely. Not only that I haven't heard a single person involved with the NFL come out and propose any such thing.

Let me break it down for you. Basically the NFL is saying players will play 2 extra games and instead of having their salary for that season broken up into 17 weeks it will be broken up into 19 weeks. Same salary, less money every pay period.

Now I know average fans like to compare their job to NFL players, so answer me this. If your boss came to you and said you now had to work two more weeks per year but your salary would stay exactly the same, would you be dancing in the streets?

I don't think so.

I imagine you might have to do it because jobs aren't growing on trees right now, but that doesn't mean you would have to like it.

Same goes for NFL Players.

Oh and as fans do you think you are going to get into those extra 2 games for free?

You think advertisers will get to show their commercials during those two games for free?

Surely the networks who cover the NFL will get to broadcast those games for free, right?


The NFL owners are about to get PAID jack, but ain't nobody else bout to see a cut. Yeah we all get to see two more games and I'm sure fans think that's great, but as I said when I talked on Bomani Jones' show what kind of quality of football do you think you will see in game 17 and game 18. Especially from teams that have already made the playoffs.

Essentially everybody is going to be paying regular season money for preseason quality if you ask me and many of the other players that have already weighed in on the issue.

So where did the notion that the players might be for this proposal come from?

Well for years NFL players have complained about the length of the preseason and having to play 4 and in some cases 5 preseason games. The problem is it exposes players to injury and you also get paid peanuts compared to your regular salary. But the point was to take away a preseason game or two to take the load off our bodies. The point WASN'T to replace it.

If anything adding two regular season games is putting guys more at risk of injury because the roster is smaller, the starters are expected to play the whole game and there's only so many guys who get to dress for regular season games.

Now having said all this, I still think the NFL owners will agree to lengthen the season. After all its definitely going to improve THEIR bottom line. But the point has to be made that the players are not by in large going to be happy about it nor support it. And you can bet your bottom dollar its going to be an issue for debate during the negotiation of the new CBA.

Addendum: I should have addressed this in the post to begin with but better late than never. A popular "fix" proposed by some knowledgeable NFL commentators is to increase both the roster and the number of guys allowed to suit up for each game.

Now in my opinion there is some merit in that approach but there are also some realities it won't address.

First off even if you suit up more guys during a regular season game, who is going to play less so one of those guys can give them a breather? This is a serious question because other than the defensive line, and not even always with them, most starters play either the whole game or the overwhelming percentage of snaps every game. Is having more guys available on game day going to mean Ray Lewis or Jared Allen or Darrelle Revis or Leonard Davis or hell even Peyton Manning will play less?

Of course not.

Its worth pointing out how preseason games usually go. In the first game the starters might play as much as a quarter, in the second game its usually a half, the third game they may play as much as three quarters to get the feel of coming back out after half time and then in the fourth game, or rather the last game if they have five, the starters don't see much action at all. So out of four preseason games its rare that any starter plays a full game.

But in a regular season game the starters playing all or most of the snaps is the norm. So the risk of injury is obviously going to go up when you add two regular season games even with an expanded roster.

Now where the expanded roster may definitely help is on special teams. With only so many guys allowed to dress on game day many times teams are forced to use starters to run down on point or block for kickoffs etc. With more guys up, in theory at least, fewer starters will be on those units. Of course some special teams coaches put such a premium on that phase of the game that they may still use starters if they don't have confidence in their backups.

The last aspect I would point out is that the NFL owners are already crying poor. Now you are saying they would have to pay more salaries every week? And you think they are going to go for that without a fight? It defies everything we know about the owners at this point. Besides that it would punch a huge hole in their contention that they are losing money on players salaries already.

In the end if we go to 18 game seasons then yes you have to expand the rosters and allow more players to be available on game day. But its not going to solve everything that is wrong with that model.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pre Camp Predictions: Defense

Yesterday I took a look at the camp battles on the offensive side of the ball for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Today I want to take a look at the defensive side of the ball where there is probably a lot more volatility at every position.

Before we get started though I want to state unequivocally that I believe the defense will take a major jump forward this year. The combination of Coach Morris making the calls and most of the guys having played in the system for part of the season last year and having practiced in it all offseason is going to pay major dividends in my opinion. The camp battles are going to be what they are but if we stay healthy this season on defense we are going to give people major headaches.

Now lets go ahead and break this down position by position.

Defensive Line

I considered breaking this up into defensive tackles/defense ends but the truth is the defensive line has to play as a unit in order to be successful. That is one of the major deficiencies I saw last year was that while certainly some guys played better than others, I rarely saw the kind of coordination that it takes to really put the pressure on the opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks. Aside from the Green Bay Packers game, which was a beautiful thing to behold, it appeared that there was just four guys doing their own thing instead of one group fighting for the same goals. That is going to have to change and I think it will.

Obviously there are at least two guys whose names you can write in pen on the roster for the defensive line right now. That would be our 1st and 2nd round picks, Gerald McCoy and Brian Price respectively. McCoy almost assuredly will be our starting undertackle and it would appear that Price will be given every opportunity to start at nose tackle. Now I have written before why it would probably be a mistake to expect too much from either guy this season but I know some folks won't listen. But for me my biggest hope for them is that they stay healthy for all 16 games this year. If they can do that it will mean that they will be gaining experience week after week after week and presumably they with that experience they will get better along the way.

Last year we carried nine defensive linemen on the roster to open the season. Four defensive tackles and five defensive ends. Well to be clear one of those defensive ends, Kyle Moore, had double duty as a tackle as well. So after the two rookies Roy Miller is probably a safe bet to make the team if not start. I know that there will be a push to get Price into the starting line up but I liked what I saw from Roy most of last year. He is quick off the ball, stout, and he has a knack for rushing against a double team. As for the fourth defensive tackle, it goes against conventional wisdom but I have this sneaking suspicion that the starter from last year, Ryan Sims, will make a push to make the team.

I can't be sure of that until the bullets start flying but as I look at the guys he will be competing against I don't see anyone who he isn't obviously better than. I also thought he was more suited to be a nose tackle in our regular "Tampa 2" defense last year and when the scheme reverted back he played a helluva lot better. Still not world beating good, but he did give center's fits at times. If he is motivated and humble enough to accept a back up role, I think a spot on the team is right there for him.

But there is a conundrum if you read this analysis closely. Only one guy out of the top 4 right now is going to be groomed as an undertackle and that's McCoy. That's not to say that Price or Miller couldn't also play undertackle, but they are going to be in a steel cage death match trying to win the starting job at nosetackle so learning and working on playing undertackle is probably going to be secondary to both of them. Even though Sims has played undertackle in previous seasons he is better suited to play nose.

This the primary reason I questioned the Bucs taking Price in the second round after having taken McCoy in the first. On paper the best use of our talent would be to have both Price and McCoy vying for the under tackle position. But because of his draft positioning McCoy HAS to play. And Price can't really ride the bench either as a high 2nd round pick. And the only way they both play is if they don't play the same position. Its going to be interesting seeing how this rotation works out. I have a strong feelign it won't be near as easy as the Buccaneers brass has tried to let on.

With the defensive ends I'd say Stylez G. White is also a safe bet to make the team. He was, by far, our best and most consistent pass rusher last year. As I have said previously, he just has to get into the best shape of his life so that he doesn't have to come out of the game and if he stays healthy double digit sacks is not only attainable, its likely.

I believe that when its all said and done the guy backing him up, at least on paper, will be Michael Bennett. Bennett was plucked off the Seahawks' practice squad last year and he showed me some flashes last year. He had one of the best get offs on the defensive line and he has really good functional strength. Its unfortunate that the Bucs primarily played him on the left side last year and then right when they changed defenses and he may have had more of an opportunity to show what he can do, he got hurt. I think at his size and with his tools he is much more of a right end who can spell White whenever he needs a blow.

At left defensive end you can get your popcorn ready for an all out battle royal. I predicted after the season ended that the Bucs would practically hand Kyle Moore the job and they have. Yes I have heard all the stories about him getting in better shape and looking good in OTAs but unless Tim Crowder fell off the map you would have to say that on the merits he deserved first dibs at the position. After all for most of last year he was the primary backup to starter Jimmy Wilkerson and he even started a couple games. But it is what it is and Moore being a 5th round draft pick gives him a leg up.

But you have to remember that Crowder himself was a former 2nd round pick and he is still a young guy. I can't foresee a scenario where he just concedes that position to Moore. And to be honest I'm definitely not sure that Moore is the better player at the moment. Barring injury I think this battle will go all the way down to the wire with both guys sticking on the team.

That leaves one open roster spot. I wish I could say for sure who will get it but with three rookies and an under achiever amongst the guys left over fighting for it, I just don't have a clue. I think the late draft pick Erik Lorig may have a head start if he can be a guy who plays both inside and out. If not then that is the kind of guy who I would bet money on. Last year that guy was Moore, but if he is the starter he can't really be that kind of "swing" guy. I guess we will just have to wait and see.


The three starters at linebackers are pretty entrenched right now. It appears that Coach Morris has big plans for Quincy Black as the starting Sam linebacker, Barrett Ruud is primed to have a career year, and Geno Hayes in his second year as a starter may be on the cusp of big things. I like all three players and I think Hayes in particular may have a break out year. But after those guys there are a lot of question marks.

Adam Heyward is probably the most versatile of the backups and a guy the Bucs actually would trust if he were pressed into action. But while he is physical he doesn't have the kind of size nor speed that you look for in a starting NFL linebacker. Then you have Jon Alston and Niko Koutouvides who will probably get first dibs on the other two backup linebacker spots but neither guy is anything special. I know a lot of people are high on late draft pick Dekoda Watson but I am not sold on how quickly he will transition from the college game. Instead I think he along with fellow rookie Rico McCoy will have opportunities to make their name on special teams this year.

Last year we kept seven linebackers and at the moment we have nine on the roster. Only two guys are going to be cut but at this point that could be anybody not named Black, Ruud, or Hayes. What we have to hope however is that our starters stay healthy because I just don't trust anyone one else to play a lot for us.


This group has the potential to be the strongest on the whole team. You have two guys with Pro Bowl potential in cornerback Aqib Talib and free safety Tanard Jackson. You have a potential Hall of Famer in corner Ronde Barber and you have a third round pick in Myron Lewis who is tall and physical and will likely be the starting nickelback.

But there is one position that could be the weakest link and that is the strong safety position. At this point there's no need to sugarcoat it, I felt that Sabby Piscitelli was our Achilles Heel against both the run and the pass last year. You would like for your strong safety to be both a physical presence when he is in the box against the run and a guy with the ball skills to be able to have the corner's back on deep balls in Cover 2. At the least you would want them to be strong at one or the other. But instead Sabby sucked at both for much of the year.

Now there is no law that says he can't get better. However its my opinion that he will not get that much better this fast to be a positive factor for our defense. Thankfully one of the only free agents the Bucs brought in this year was Strong Safety Sean Jones formerly of the Eagles. He is a guy who has had a knack for coming up with interceptions but he will also lay the wood in the running game. For whatever reason he didn't fit into the Eagles' plans anymore but one team's trash can be another team's treasure.

But here's the deal, I don't think either guy is necessarily a "game changer". So for me I don't really have a favorite. What I believe is that whomever gets the starting job will have to play so well to beat out the other that whomever it is will not be the weakest link. And that's good enough for me for this year.

After the starters there is some talent but nobody that I think is going to push for playing time. Corey Lynch and Cody Grimm are going to make or not make the team on special teams. Elbert Mack is a guy I like because of his heart but his propensity for getting toasted on the deep ball last year was no bueno. E. J. Biggers had some buzz once upon a time but we just haven't seen enough of him at this point. And then you have some other guys that I will be honest in saying I have never heard of.

Last year we kept nine defensive backs and I see no reason for that number to change. Odds are if I didn't mention one of the guys by name, they are going to be a long shot to make it.

At the end of the day one thing worth remembering is this.  While our defense finished at our near the bottom in a lot of categories, most notably against the run, our passinig defense was in the top ten in the NFL.  Yes the whole getting the ball run down our throats thing played into that, but we also had two guys with 5 interceptions a piece.  The potential is there and if we can get our run defense better there really is no limit on how good this defense can be this year.  That's not happy talk, that's a fact.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Thoughts On Nick Saban, Pimping, Agents And An 18 Game Season

I called into my guy Bomani Jones' radio show on Sirius 98 to give him my thoughts on Nick Saban's analogy of some scum bag agents to pimps and on my stance against an 18 game season in the NFL. If you would like to hear just click on the link, go down to the archives and click on the segment from this morning.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pre Camp Predictions: Offense

Going into the second year of Coach Raheem Morris' tenure, the Buccaneers now have more stability on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. We know there won't be any coordinators fired this year during the preseason so players should feel more comfortable in they systems and therefore be able to play faster instead of having to think too much. With camp starting here shortly I just wanted to give my assessment of the roster, which guys I expect to be around after the final cuts and what roster battles fans should pay attention to.

Today I want to talk offense. First lets go position by position.

Wide Receiver

Last year we kept 5 wide receivers on the roster for our first game. This year we are heading into camp with 11. If precedent holds 7 or 8 of those guys won't make it. Instead of going through the list of guys who are fighting that uphill battle Id rather focus on the 5 or 6 guys I think will make the team.

Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams have the advantage of being 2nd and 4th round picks respectively. For that reason both are pretty much assured roster spots. The question is how much will either guy contribute as a rookie. Here are the top rookie receivers for the past 5 years and their numbers in catches-yards-touchdowns

2009 Percy Harvin 60-790-6
2008 Eddie Royal 91-980-5
2007 Dewayne Bowe 70-995-5
2006 Marques Colston 70-1038-8
2005 Reggie Brown 43-571-4

One good thing to note is every guy on the list isn't a high first round pick. That doesn't mean that we can expect Benn or Williams to put up comparable numbers. But it does mean that its not out of the realm of possibility. There is no rule that says rookie wide receivers can't set the world on fire right off the bat. Even though his follow up campaigns weren't nearly as impressive, you can look to Michael Clayton's rookie year to validate that.

I believe that before the year is over both guys will start although in my opinion only Williams starts the first game. I envision a starting lineup against the Cleveland Browns where Maurice Stovall lines up at Flanker, Mike Williams lines up at Split End and Sammie Stroughter is the slot receiver. Eventually I would expect Benn to supplant Stovall at Flanker by midseason or so.

After the those four guys I think Reggie Brown sticks for his special teams play as much as anything else and if the Bucs decide to carry 6 receivers instead of 5 I would bet it will be because rookie Preston Parker has shown a lot of potential in the return game.

This group may not rate high on most folks radar but the potential is there. Williams was one of the most impressive wide receivers I have seen in college football in the last few years before he quit in the middle of their season. Stovall has all the physical tools you like but I think playing special teams will slow him down a bit. Stroughter showed last year that he is a play maker who will go up in traffic and get the ball. Benn is a big, physical, run after the catch guy who will look a lot more impressive in pads than he has in shorts. As a unit they may end up shocking a lot of people.

Running Backs

I know that publicly at least the Bucs are saying the starting tailback position is still up for grabs, but I'm not buying that. Even though Derrick Ward was a big free agent pick up last year, I would be shocked if Cadillac Williams isn't the starter barring injury. It not necessarily that I think Caddy is that much of a better back. Ward is hands down the better receiver out of the back field in my opinion. But Caddy runs with a style and intensity that is inspirational to anybody that plays with him. When you see a guy that size looking for contact, bouncing off defenders and refusing to go down easily, it gets you hyped man. And this team is going to have to draw on all the inspiration it can muster because many times the will face teams that are more talented.

Not looking to knock Ward but you just don't get the same vibe watching him work. He is talented in his own right but I think for this team and for this year he works better as the backup.

An interesting case is that of Earnest Graham. Now you can count me among the Graham fans in the Tampa Bay area but the problem is Earnest is never going to wow you in OTAs. Graham is a running back who needs to be in pads behind the first team line to show what he can do. He is not the fastest nor quickest running back you have ever seen but he's one of the slipperiest. He doesn't make the huge highlight cuts but he still finds a way to make people miss. He doesn't steam roll guys but he finds a way to run through arm tackles. Its amazing how many times you see him make a run where it looks like a defender has him dead to rights and he still squirts by them.

Unfortunately at the moment he is listed at fullback AND he is one of the major contributor on special teams. That means that he won't get many opportunities to showcase his talents in the preseason. It also means that he will have to compete with a guy who really IS a natural fullback in Chris Pressley to start at the position.

Now I for one thought Graham did a helluva job as a lead back last year when he was thrown into the position because of injury. But Pressley is the classic throw back "thumper" type fullback whom flattens linebackers rather than just blocking them. Graham can definitely catch the ball better out of the backfield but if Pressley can close some ground in that area can the Bucs really afford to keep him on the bench?

Assuming the Bucs keep both Graham and Pressley that gets you up to four running backs whereas last year they had 5 on the roster for the first game. So who gets that last roster spot?

I think it may end up being the roster fight of the preseason. Clifton "Peanut" Smith has been a Pro Bowl special teams guy for the Bucs primarily because of his return abilities. But after he was injured last year several other Bucs showed that they could take up the slack in the return game. Then there is the factor of Smith's fumbling problems. Huggins on the other hand is untested but brings a speed factor sorely lacking on our offense. No matter which guy makes the team its doubtful that either would play extensively on offense but if you were going to give a guy a few reps a game wouldn't you want it to be a home run threat?

Advantage Huggins.

Tight Ends

Kellen Winslow is the starter unless he has a setback with the rehab on his knee. The battle over who backs him up however could get quite interesting.

The last few years Jerramy Stevens has been a fixture on offense. Last year however he might as well have been a hood ornament. On the one hand I lay blame at the feet of offensive coordinator Greg Olsen who rarely used Stevens as a pass catching option, even in obvious situations near the goal line where he could have used his size and athleticism to out jump the defender. But on the other hand his blocking was piss poor. I mean it was frustrating to watch him get dominated game after game by defensive ends who weren't much bigger than he was. I said it last year and I stand by it, the biggest problem with our running game wasn't our offensive line, but instead it was our tight ends. Unfortunately Winslow is who he is, he ain't gonna turn into a road grater over night. That means whomever backs him up is going to have to assume that role.

Maybe Stevens will come out with a better attitude this year and commit to being a dominant blocker. If he does that's great. If not then its time to move on and let the next guy get a shot. I like John Gilmore but his technique was all screwed up last year. He obviously had the will to block but not the way. I think Ryan Purvis also has some potential as an inline blocker. I don't really care who wins the job but SOMEBODY is going to have to be willing to put their face on people if we intend on running the ball this year.  Last year we kept three and I personally would rather the two after Winslow be big time blockers and good special teams guys.


This one is really simple, Josh Freeman is the guy and the team will sink or swim for the most part this year based on how far he comes in his second year. In my opinion however that won't be measured in just how many yards he throws for our how many touchdown passes he tosses. To me the big question mark with Freeman is his decision making ability. Several times last year he threw interceptions that weren't just bad balls, but also horrible decisions. He threw into triple coverage at least twice when no matter how well the ball was thrown his receiver had a very low possibility of coming down with it. And these were throws not made on 3rd down out of desperation, but instead throws made on early downs where he could have either dumped it off or thrown it away and tried again the next play.

Our defense is going to be young and pretty talented but depth is going to be a problem. So the more our offense can possess the ball for long drives even if they don't score, the better chances our defense will have of staying fresh and preforming well. Freeman will have a lot to say about that with his ball security. And that includes holding onto the ball when he is sacked and anticipating that contact. Aside from his cannon of an arm his ability to escape out of the pocket is probably his 2nd greatest quality but he has to make sure its a plus for his team and doesn't become a liability by laying the ball on the turf.

If he can not lose us the game consistently then odds are we will have quite a bit of success this year. That's not to say I don't want to see him be aggressive. When there are one on one matchups or Winslow has a linebacker on him I expect Freeman to torch their asses. But the trick is recognizing when the grand slam  isn't there and shooting for a base hit instead.

Behind Freeman is a guy I like a lot and don't mind saying so. Josh Johnson is a guy with tremendous speed, quickness and a pretty decent arm as well. It was unfortunate that his only game time last year consisted of being thrown to the wolves while our starting center was out and the guy who replaced him couldn't block my aunt. He still showed some flashes of brilliance but with guys hanging off him almost every play anybody would look horrible.

Realistically though he is still young and his only experience was those handful of games so while I feel comfortable with him as Freeman's primary backup there is still some uncertainty of just how well he will perform if called upon again. We all hope that he isn't forced into action at any time this year but if so you would have to say its still a bit of a question mark. One of the most curious situations on this team this year was their refusal to pursue a veteran backup. Its a decision that could definitely come back to bite them.

Rudy Carpenter and rookie Jevan Snead will fight it out to be the third quarterback but if either guy has to see action this year, we are in big big trouble.

Offensive Line

Lets cut to the chase, all the rest of this analysis is just fluff if our offensive line doesn't show up this year. And to be even more blunt, we are going to suck if Donald Penn isn't in the lineup in week one. From my perspective that means they need to pay the man. His resume is definitely worthy. But it really doesn't matter if its a new contract that does the trick or he decides against holding out, the Buccaneers NEED Donald Penn to be successful this year.  He is the bell cow of the group and he also is Freeman's personal body guard.  His blocking enables Greg Olsen to draw up passing plays where all five eligibles are allowed to go out on routes.  He also has the kind of controlled anger that you want to see in your offensive linemen.  Something has to give.

In addition the health of Jeff Faine will be of particular interest. Last year when he went down everything went to shambles. The Bucs ended up rehiring a guy they had recently cut and to call it a disaster would be disrespectful to the word. What is scary is the fact that the Bucs did nothing of note to shore up the backup center position this off season. So if Faine goes down again...

There is a quiet battle that I will be watching during camp and that is between Jeremy Trueblood and Xavier Fulton. I didn't watch any OTA practices but something piqued my interest. While Penn held out this spring the Bucs put Demar Dotson out there in his spot. What that stood out to me is that the year before they spent a 5th round pick on Xavier Fulton who actually played offensive tackle in college where as Dotson was a rookie free agent.

This could be interpreted in a variety of ways. Fulton could potentially suck so bad that the Bucs already recognize they wasted a draft pick on him so they will just try to hide him as a backup the next few years until they can get rid of him. Another way to look at it however could be that because the Bucs believe Penn will eventually come to camp and be the left tackle, they didn't want to move Fulton and have him miss out on developing as a right tackle.

If its the latter, which I suspect it might be, that could be interpreted as a sign that the Bucs are fed up with all of the penalties and bone headed play from Trueblood. Trueblood is a very good player 95% of the time but the other 5% of the time he does the kinds of things that get you beat at the wrong times. That is unacceptable and I was hoping they benched him last year if for no other reason than to teach him a lesson. Now this is purely speculation but it is very curious to me that the Bucs didn't give their 5th round pick from the year before the opportunity to vie for the job protecting their franchise quarterback's blind side while Penn was out. I realize that the Bucs have a lot of time and money invested in Trueblood and that he and Davin Joseph seem to have good chemistry on the right side, but you can't let one guy keep putting your team behind the eight ball. Its not fair to the rest of the team.

Maybe, I'm reading too much into this. Maybe not. I guess we shall see.

The last impactful camp battle on offense will be between incumbent starting left guard Jeremy Zuttah and late free agent pickup Keydrick Vincent who most recently started for a Carolina Panthers offensive line that gave our defense the blues running the ball. The obvious advantage Vincent has is that he is a bigger, more physical run blocker than Zuttah. However Zuttah in my opinion got better as the season went on and he showed a lot of athleticism in getting up to linebackers on running blocking and in his pass blocking. Overall I would give the edge to Zuttah but there have been random anonymous reports that he hasn't been giving it all he's got this spring. I have no idea if its true or not but I am betting we will see his absolute best once camp opens and Vincent is breathing down his neck.

I will restate my opinion that Vincent may also give the Buccaneers more options should Penn hold out long term. The prospect of having Dotson protecting Freeman's blindside when he never even played offensive tackle in college HAS to be scaring the hell out of the Bucs brass. Zuttah may not be that great of an offensive tackle judging from his limited time there last season, but at the least he has had a year of starting experience and he knows the offense at this point. If Dotson starts in the preseason and gets treated like a revolving door I expect the Zuttah as left tackle experiment to start on the spot.

As for roster spots its not even worth delving too hard with this group. Last year the Bucs carried 9 offensive linemen on the roster on opening day. Once you get past the top 9 offensive linemen on our roster at the moment things start getting pretty sad anyway.

Well that's my pre-camp analysis of the offense. Be on the lookout for my defensive installment in the next day or so.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

RIP George Steinbrenner

This is a sad day for baseball. Condolences to the Steinbrenner family.

Longtime New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died Tuesday morning, his family confirmed in a statement.

"It is with profound sadness that the family of George M. Steinbrenner III announces his passing. He passed away this morning in Tampa, Fla., at age 80," the family said in a statement.

"He was an incredible and charitable man. First and foremost he was devoted to his entire family -- his beloved wife, Joan; his sisters, Susan Norpell and Judy Kamm, his children, Hank, Jennifer Jessica and Hal; and all of his grandchildren.

"He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again."

The Steinbrenner family said that funeral arrangements will be private, however details about an additional public service will be announced at a later date.

The New York Daily News reported that Steinbrenner died around 6:30 a.m. ET Tuesday in Tampa, Fla.

WABC-TV in New York reported that Steinbrenner, the Yankees' owner since 1973, suffered a massive heart attack.


Friday, July 9, 2010

So Much For The Youth Movement

The Bucs have signed guard Keydrick Vincent to a two-year contract, giving the Bucs an experienced interior lineman who has started more than two-thirds of his games during a nine-year career.

To make room on the roster, the Bucs released college free agent Sergio Render, also a guard.

Vincent, 32, played the past two seasons with the Panthers, for whom he was a starter.

Stephen Holder

Two quick takes on this.

First I think its a good move to shore up the depth of our offensive line. Vincent is a good player and he has been on some pretty good offensive lines. I know people will reflexively make it all about Jeremey Zuttah and don't get me wrong he may well end up competing with Vincent for his starting job during training camp. But I personally believe this is more about the prospect of not having Donald Penn. When Penn got hurt last year the Bucs had Zuttah line up at tackle. It was some what disasterous but that's what they went with. I'm thinking that if Penn really holds out moving Zuttah out to tackle and having Vincent step in at guard might be seen as preferrable to having a guy like Demar Dotson in there who has never started a game in the NFL and who only recently even took up football.

Second, this pretty much shoots ginormous holes in the Buccaneers' stated game plan of sticking strictly to a youth movement. Remember that the "youth movement" excuse was used at least partially to justify allowing Antonio Bryant to leave and to justify cutting Chris Hovan. Well at 32 Vincent is certainly no spring chicken.

At some point fans are going to wake up and recognize they are being fed BS by the powers at be over at One Buc. The question is what will they do and say then?

*edited because I left out Demar Dotson's name

Dammit Man

KNOXVILLE — The co-owner of a nightclub near the University of Tennessee campus said “seven to 10” Volunteers football players were involved in a fight at the establishment early Friday.

Knoxville Police Department officials were on scene at the incident, but none would comment on the situation, including whether any arrests were made.

At least one UT player has been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, police spokesman Darrell DeBusk told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

DeBusk said 18-year-old freshman receiver Da’Rick Rogers from Calhoun, Ga., was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. DeBusk also said a bar patron was sent to a hospital after the fight.

According to the New Sentinel, DeBusk said Knoxville police officer Robert Capouellez was found unconscious on the street outside the bar after the fight around 2 a.m. DeBusk said the officer was not in uniform or on duty, and he was being treated for a head injury. A half-dozen other people were detained.

Rogers was the No. 9-ranked high school player in the country last year. He picked UT late in the recruiting process after being committed to Georgia for almost a year. According to reports, UT safety Darren Myles, defensive tackle Montori Hughes and receiver Denarius Moore were being questioned by police about the brawl.

UT spokespeople were gathering information on the incident and also weren’t ready to comment.

Bar Knoxville co-owner Sandy Morton told the Times Free Press the fight started inside but spread outside, and it ended with an off-duty police officer knocked unconscious in Cumberland Avenue.

“Basically, it was a normal Thursday night — Thursday’s our big night,” Morton said. “We had all the UT football players come in. They’re on a first-name basis with my husband (and co-owner), and they get VIP status, which means they pay no cover at the door. We’ve never had a problem with them in the past, but tonight, apparently they had a falling out with another gentleman. I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened, but several of the guys started beating up the other customer. I want to guess there was seven to 10 guys beating up this one gentleman.

“All the security then rushed in and were trying to break it up. My husband saw them picking up bar stools and starting to swing them. We got them out the door with security. There happened to be a friend of ours who was an off-duty police officer outside. He tried to help, and he ended up getting knocked out in the street and proceeded to be kicked while he was down on the ground in the middle of Cumberland.”


I wish I could point my finger and look down my nose at these kids behind this incident but I can't because we had several "brawls" like this back when I played for the Vols. Doesn't make it any less wrong now than it was then but I feel obligated to not come off like a guy who is some kind of Saint that's never done anything wrong.

Having said that, this is horrible news and horrible timing for new head coach Derek Dooley. The word is he was out of town recruiting when this all went down and its gonna be hard to talk to someone's parents without them bringing it up. Not only that but camp isn't very far off and my guess is quite a few guys' status for the first games if not the season will still be up in the air when the players report.

Not exactly the way he wanted to start off his tenure I'm sure.

Unfortunately, and I'm speaking from experience, you can't hold all these kids' hands 24/7. At some point you gotta hope common sense and home training kicks in. If not, you have situations like this one.

Oh and to top off this crap sandwich people are speculating that the players getting into the club for free on a regular basis may be an NCAA violation.

When it rains...

Taking The Low Road

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called "curse" on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former "King" will be taking the "curse" with him down south. And until he does "right" by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

That ladies and gentlemen was a letter not written by some petulant fan, disappointed because LeBron left.

No, THAT ladies and gentlemen is a letter to season ticket owners sent out by the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, you know the team he took to the NBA finals a few years back?

To put it bluntly, this was a BITCH move.

What's a BITCH move you ask?

Its like when you see a guy follow a woman around the club all night, buying her drinks and trying to impress her with stories about his job and his personal life. Then when the lights turn on and its time to leave she chooses another guy to give her number to and all of a sudden in the eyes of her former pursuer she becomes all kinds of "ugly bitches" and "sorry hos".

Most of us have seen this happen in real life, and on every single occasion those of us with sense have lost all respect for that Buster. And Dan Gilbert's situation should be no different.

Lets unpack this letter for a moment.

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

"Deserted" huh? Drama queen much Mr Gilbert? When he cuts players or ships them out of town does Gilbert consider himself "deserting" them? When a player from the Cleveland area comes out in the draft and the Cavs decline to draft him in the first round does Gilbert consider that "deserting" them?

How does a guy who hasn't even been owner (5 years) as long as LeBron has played for the team (7 years) have the balls to call him a deserter?

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

So correct me if I'm wrong but if LeBron was such a bad guy couldn't the Cavs just declined to pursue him? I mean seriously, nobody HAD to be subjected to this process. So why oh why Dan Gilbert were you glued to the TV last night hoping for a miracle?

You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

A coward sends out press releases and writes letters to the fans. Real men would say this kind of shit to the other guy's face. Think Dan Gilbert will be trying to find LeBron to confront him in person the way he tears him down in this letter?


So guess who the real coward is...

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called "curse" on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former "King" will be taking the "curse" with him down south. And until he does "right" by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Lets back up for a minute at this point. Cleveland had the good fortune to win the NBA lottery the year LeBron came out. But for that he wouldn't have played a second for that franchise to this point. And while he hasn't brought the team a championship its worth remembering that to even be in the lottery the Cavs had to suck monkey balls. Since he's been there he has been an MVP, taken them to a finals, led them to the best record in the NBA last year and all while being a pretty good role model.

The crazy thing is that I'm not a LeBron James fan. Yes, you read that right. I respect his game and I respect him for working on the worst parts of his game, namely his defense and outside shooting, and getting better in his first 7 years. But I have never been a "witness" and truthfully never bought he was the best player in the game...yet.

But this letter is a bunch of BULLSHIT! He ain't perfect but I can't recall any legal trouble LeBron has gotten himself in nor has he done anything to embarrass himself or his team off the court. He's a multimillionaire and he gives of his time and money to the youth in Ohio. He isn't the most humble guy but you can bet your ass Dan Gilbert isn't either. Most rich men with power aren't. But if I had to choose someone for my son to emulate I would be pointing at LeBron before I would Dan Gilbert.

The whole tone of the letter suggests that Dan Gilbert takes his title as "owner" to mean something that hasn't been legal in this country since before Lincoln was President. And wait, it gets worse!

After firing off that punk ass email, Dan Gilbert then gave an interview where he said:

"He has gotten a free pass," Gilbert said in a phone interview with The AP. "People have covered up for (James) for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is."

Gilbert feels James quit on the Cavs during their second-round series against the Boston Celtics, who rallied from a 2-1 deficit to eliminate Cleveland.

"He quit," Gilbert said. "Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4 and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."

The Cavaliers were beaten by 32 points in Game 5. During the game, James appeared distracted and uninterested, often glaring at Cleveland's coaches as the Cavs tried to foul to get back into the game in the second half. James also made some puzzling postgame comments, saying he had "spoiled" people with his play over seven seasons.

Gilbert also said he believes James quit on the Cavs in Game 6 of their series in 2009 against Orlando.

"Go back and look at the tape," he said. "How many shots did he take?"

Are you fucking kidding me??? Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!

Listen, I myself had some issues with LeBron after the Celtics series. My critique was more about his mindset than anything else but yes it looked like not only he, but the rest of his teammates quit at the end of game 5.

But guess what, I'm just a sports fan with a blog. Dan Gilbert is the owner of a franchise. And without googling him I'm going to bet Ive played more basketball in my life than he has, which is to say not much. But now you're Red Auerbach doing critiques of game film? And for a guy who did all these things for your city and your team for 7 years of his life this is how you come out your mouth after he leaves?

Well Sir, I have to say, you have to be one of the worst fucking owners on the planet.


Because according to you it was evident by watching tape that your super star player gave up on his teammates and his coach in the middle of the playoffs and you still decided to stick your tongue up his ass as far as it could possibly go in an effort to get him to wear your jersey for 6 more years.

I could see how that would leave a bad taste in your mouth, but you would have been better off grabbing the Listerine, gargling for a few days and keeping your mouth shut.

Now you look JUST like that aforementioned guy in the club, struggling mightily to save face after you were just embarrassed in front of everyone. But unfortunately for you Sir, its not just a bunch of fellow club hoppers watching, its every fan, every pundit and every potential free agent paying attention as well. I guess its good in some ways that the mask slipped for just a moment last night so everyone can see how you really see your employees, but I doubt its going to be good for business going forward.

While Gilbert may have thought these ill advised comments would make him look "tough" in the aftermath of James leaving, they really just make look ridiculously small. What's most personally distressing for me is that you actually made me feel sympathy for a guy I felt really had over sold himself in the last week or so. Hell I didn't even watch "The Decision", instead choosing to read the reactions of others watching on Twitter. I thought that a one hour special to announce where LeBron was going was the most absurd thing I had ever heard of.

That is, until I read Gilbert's comments.

But I do have one question left, although its rhetorical.

What would you have said had he stayed?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Super Friends: Miami Edition

LeBron James chose superstar help over the comforts of home and is heading for Miami because he wants to win a championship with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

NBA, get ready: A superstar trio has just been born.

Ending weeks of will-he-or-won't-he speculation, the two-time MVP said Thursday night that he's decided to join the Heat and leave the Cavaliers after an unsuccessful seven-year quest for the ring he covets.

"I can't say it was always in my plans, because I never thought it was possible," James said on a made-for-Lebron live show on ESPN. "But the things that the Miami Heat franchise have done, to free up cap space and be able to put themselves in a position this summer to have all three of us, it was hard to turn down. Those are two great players, two of the greatest players that we have in this game today."

Olympic teammates in Beijing, James, Bosh and Wade all helped deliver gold medals.

This time, it'll be about a gold trophy, the NBA championship one -- the one Wade got in 2006, the one that James and Bosh have yet to touch.

"Winning is a huge thing for me," James said from a studio in Greenwich, Conn., where an audience of kids from the Boys and Girls club was present for the announcement.

It's a huge victory for the Heat, which got commitments from Wade and Bosh on Wednesday. That duo, along with James, formed the upper echelon of the most-celebrated free-agent period in league history.

CBS Sports

One of the great things about twitter, and one of the reason I enjoy tweeting, is that if you follow enough people you can get a wide divergence of opinion about any given issue. To be sure this decision by LeBron James was a very polarizing one with some folks a little more emotionally invested it seems in his decision than others. But on the side of those who didn't think LeBron should sign with Miami there was one argument that I absolutely disagree with and I feel the need to discuss a bit.

That argument is that by going to Miami LeBron is now a Robin to Dwyane Wade's Batman because, somehow, its "Wade's team". And along with that somehow any championships they may win would be tainted by that and also LeBron would never again be seen as a contender for best player ever with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and the like. Etc Etc Etc

Now I realize that football fans and basketball fans many times have totally different perspectives on things, but this argument literally had my head spinning.

Maybe its just me, but I actually respect LeBron MORE for going to a place where he is going to have help and where he is going to have a better chance at winning a title. Or two. Or more. In fact at a time when I myself along with others have been questioning his commitment to winning and his self centeredness, this move is probably the most humble he could have made. He knows that there will be folks who knock him for going with two other All Stars. But in the end the prospect of winning meant more than the prospect of unquestioningly being seen as "The Man".

But there's another layer to this too. See for me, if people really believed all the rhetoric they have said about James being the next Jordan or the next Magic or "The King" if you will, I would think they would have a lot more confidence in his abilities. If he is truly THAT guy, then guess what, he will still be THAT guy in Miami. Yeah he will have a guy that is close to him in talent and abilities but if he is really the man he will still shine the brightest. In fact in my book it would be an indictment of his confidence in himself if he turned down playing with another star because he was worried about who would be the alpha dog.

Mind you in my opinion LeBron WILL put up the better numbers, and WILL end up leading the Heat. But I'm not a Heat fan and I've really never been a LeBron fan although I respect his game and the fact that he has worked on his weaknesses to get better every year. So what does it say about the folks that claimed to be fans of his that now they are ready to concede that if he plays with Wade he will be second fiddle?

If that really is the case, was he ever really "The King"?

Of course at this point I will throw it out there that even with this move I don't think LeBron will be getting that ring for awhile if ever. Between Kobe and my Lakers still being strong and the ascension of Kevin Durant out in Oklahoma City, the West is going to be giving whomever comes out of the East hell for quite awhile. But at the same time I can't knock LeBron for going with the best option available and I really can't understand the mentality of those that are doing so.

At what point did being "The Man" in the NBA become more about your ego and your brand than winning championships. And at what point did that become ok for some NBA fans? Please tell me because it just may coincide with that point in my life where the NBA started to lose its luster for me. Here's hoping that more guys in the NBA take their cue from LeBron in the future in that they put a premium on rings and everything else on the back burner.

Of course they could do it without a BS one hour special, but hey that's a discussion for another day LOL

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cha Ching!!!

Think Donald Penn is paying attention to this?

The New York Jets' contract logjam cleared up some Wednesday, when the team reached agreement on a colossal six-year, $60 million contract extension with offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, according to league sources.

Ferguson had two years remaining on his initial contract, so he now will be tied to the Jets for eight years and $73.6 million.

The guaranteed money is $34.8 million, a new record for an offensive lineman, surpassing the $30 million in guaranteed money that the Miami Dolphins gave No. 1 overall pick Jake Long. Ferguson's deal will be signed Thursday and he will be under contract through 2017. The deal also ties Ferguson with Long for the highest average salary for an offensive lineman.

Its important to note that Ferguson made his first Pro Bowl last year so he's only been there once. Its also worth pointing out that with the Jets having drafted a first round quarterback last year who they want to be the face of the franchise much like what we did in Tampa, they saw the importance of locking down the guy who is going to be protecting his backside.

Now I am not sure about this but I have heard that Donald Penn wasn't asking for anywhere near what Ferguson got. But the longer the Bucs keep messing around, the more left tackles break the bank, the higher his asking price will go I'm sure.

Its time to quit hiding behind the lack of a CBA and Penn's weight issues and pay the man. If nothing else it shows the rest of the team you are serious about winning and that you really are committed to your own good players

Fresh Ink On The Blotter

Jeremy Trueblood was arrested for public intoxication late yesterday near his hometown in Indiana. The story is quite....interesting shall we say. But I'll refrain from making jokes for now.

Towell said his department received a call shortly after 10 p.m. from a gas station clerk complaining about two men who entered the store and disrupted business before leaving in a car driven by a third person.

The driver of the car was Trueblood's mother, Wanda, Towell said. A third member of the party, Benjamin McKenny, was also arrested on a public intoxication charge, Towell said.

"The gas station clerk called us and said two guys came into the store and were knocking stuff off the counters and almost knocked over a small lady with a child in her hand,'' Towell said.

"The clerk said the driver didn't come in and that he or she may be intoxicated, so we had an officer follow the car. Mr. Trueblood's (mother), Wanda, was the driver, and at the time of the stop she did not have her seat belt on.

"While talking to the driver and issuing the citation for the seat belt, the backseat passenger (McKenny) and Mr. Trueblood became beligerant and so they were locked up for failing to cooperate and public intoxication.

"Had the backseat passenger and Trueblood cooperated and not been beligerant, I won't say that wouldn't have happened, but it might have just ended with the driver getting the citation.''

Look I don't revel in players getting arrested because I know it damages not only the shield but in many instances those guys personally. But you gotta admit that this isn't your run of the mill arrest.

But hey like I said Im not going to go there. Yet...

*Update: Trueblood has now been released with no charges filed.  Seems the whole situation could have been avoided.  The lesson learned here and also previously with the Georgia AD's arrest is that if you are a passenger in a vehicle during a traffic stop STFU!!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

James Toney Is A Funny Dude

I have no idea how James Toney will do against Randy Couture in the ring but the lead up to the fight should be EPIC!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Request

I was on twitter minding my own business when my stream blew up with news of JaMarcus Russell's arrest in Alabama over lean, sizzurp or purple drank if you will. Its basically a concoction of codeine cough syrup and soda that is supposed to get you high. Not only is it illegal but several prominent rappers have died from sipping lean, the most recent of which to my knowledge was PimpC.

Now I was just about to blog that I would like to slap the shit out of JaMarcus until he got his head on straight. But I have changed my mind in the time it took me to fire up my computer.

Instead Id like to slap the shit out of every family member, every advisor, every former coach and every homeboy that has any influence in JaMarcus' life right now or have had any influence in the last couple of years.

You folks have failed him and failed him MISERABLY.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in people taking personal responsibility for their actions. But I also believe that at some point the people around him either have to be helping him on that path of responsibility or in the event he just won't listen, refusing to be a part of his life.

Maybe its just me but I haven't heard stories of his "people" either reading him the riot act nor have I heard of them abandoning him to his own devices. Instead I hear about his hometown being disappointed he didn't make it. And unnamed advisers or "sources close to JaMarcus" claiming that he will be just fine as long as he gets another opportunity.

Well right about now you can kiss any of those opportunities goodbye. Hell I thought he was a long shot to ever be given another shot at an NFL career anyway because of his shitty work ethic. But now, after this arrest? Who in the hell do you know whose gonna give a quarterback who sips sizzurp a second chance?

I wouldn't and I consider myself a pretty forgiving guy.

Anybody who didn't see this coming had to be walking around with their eyes superglued shut and blinders on top of blue blockers. I didn't know it would be lean, but I was sure he was headed down the wrong path, so how in the hell could those closest to him not see the same thing?

Was it because the bling he was buying them was blurring their vision?

Somehow I suspect that could have played a role. Call it a hunch but I doubt JaMarcus took too kindly to folks telling him the truth. But if you are really his family, if you are really his friend, that's EXACTLY what you tell him whether he likes it or not. That's what having love for somebody is really about. Not sucking up so that you can stay in their good graces.

So while everybody is piling on JaMarcus Russell, and they have every right to do so, please save some of the vitriol to the enablers around him. They may just deserve it more than he does.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What If Lebron's The Biggest Loser?

I will fully admit that I am not heavy into the NBA. I follow my Lakers and a few other teams like the Magic but that's about it. You would have to be dead or comatose though not to be informed about the current free agency whirlwind that is going on this offseason. Primarily everyone is focused on where Lebron James will go and have been for over a year.

Will he resign with his hometown Cavaliers?

Will he head for the bright lights of New York?

Will he follow in Jordan's footsteps in Chicago?

Many questions have been asked and all kinds of people have offered up guesses but at this point nobody really knows where he will end up.

But a thought occurred to me tonight. What if Lebron ends up on the wrong side of history after he makes his decision?

What got me to thinking about it was a report that Dewayne Wade and Chris Bosh, both also top free agents, were meeting with their agent and the Bulls at the same time. Now Chicago is one of the few teams with enough cap space to sign two big time guys this year. Most people thought at one of those two players they had a chance at would be Lebron. But what if they were perfectly happy to have D Wade and Bosh instead?

At that point quite a few dominoes would start to fall.

It appears that Amare Stoudemire has all but signed with the Knicks at this point so they would still be a viable option for Lebron but he was said to be underwhelmed by their proposal. And really its going to take a helluva lot more than just Amare and Lebron to get the Knicks to the promised land.

Of course he could sign by his lonesome with the Nets but again other than a paycheck what would be the motivation?

And he could always resign with the Cavs. But there are major changes under way with that team. Shaq isn't likely to resign with them. Mo Williams and Delonte West are supposedly on the trading block. And Byron Scott whom I love as a coach but whom has also clashed with his stars in more than one stop, has now been named the head coach. Who exactly would be his supporting cast should he decide to resign?

And let's look at this holistically. The Magic at the moment aren't big players on the free agent market but they at least should be as strong next year as they were this year. The Milwaukee Bucks traded for Chris Douglas Roberts and their team was already pretty strong. The Bulls are an instant contender with the addition of Wade and Bosh.

So where in all that do you see a clear path for Lebron to get a ring?

Mind you, that's not even accounting for the fact that whoever comes out the East will have to beat the best team out of the West. Hell if it goes down this way I don't see a way for Lebron and the Cavs or Lebron and the Nets to even come out of the East for the next several years.

Its kind of fascinating to me that when its all said and done Lebron may end up with a lot of money and endorsements but when it comes to championships he may just end up alone out in the cold.

Clash Of The Titans

Tomorrow night two of the biggest (literally) heavyweight stars in MMA will face off at UFC 116.  Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin both will weigh in at the limit of 265 pounds but by the time the bell rings both will be significantly bigger.  This fight as the potential to be the biggest PPV draw ever for the UFC and its almost sure to live up to the hype.  The reason being is that these two behemoths are both brawlers by nature and strikers by training.  As much as I enjoy the chess game of a good jiu jitsu fight, that ain't what this is right here folks.  Somebody is getting their block knocked off come tomorrow evening.

For me I actually like both guys well enough.  Carwin is seen more as an up and comer although he probably has more experience and formal training in MMA at this point than Lesnar.  And Lesnar while immensely physically gifted, is somewhat of a dick.  Let me rephrase that, he's a major league asshole.  And while I'm not necessarily always anti-asshole, he did turn me off with his antics initially.

Well although Im still not what you would call a "fan" of Lesnar's, I have a helluva lot of respect for what he has done in his first 5 fights.  The guy is like a force of nature.  So big and quick that it should be against the law.  And he's vicious on top of it.  Many times with MMA or even boxing you find guys with one or the other.  Guys with a lot of killer instinct but a lower level of athletic ability, or a guy who is immensely skill that is perfectly happy with a decision every time rather than a stoppage. (*cough* Mayweather *cough*)  So while I won't be cheering the guy on, I will DEFINITELY be front and center to watch his fights.

Mind you I felt that way BEFORE reading this article.  Now I know that words are just words, but if this guy has really stepped his game up the way its inferred in the article, that's what I would call down right scary.

“I’ve been kinda like a steam locomotive ever since January 5th,” he said. “We threw a little coal in the fire, we got the engines going a little bit, and every week, the locomotive kept building more steam and building more power, and that’s really what this has been. Everything’s coming together, and I’ve said this before – the Brock Lesnar now would annihilate the Brock Lesnar of a year ago. That’s how crazy this is. I had to have a major setback, and it was almost a good thing. We started from scratch in January and really built my strength, my core, and I was able to work on a lot of different things, and I wasn’t under any pressure. I brought different training partners in and got a different look from some different coaches. We got this piece of clay, and we said let’s mold it again.”

Now that’s scary, considering that the first piece of clay won four of his five pro bouts, won the heavyweight title, avenged his only defeat, and basically steamrolled everyone in his path. But Lesnar knows that if you’re not improving, you’re slipping, and while he didn’t completely change his team, he did revamp it in certain areas, with key additions to this camp being UFC Hall of Famer and the man Lesnar beat for the title, Randy Couture, and standout boxing coach Peter Welch.

“I looked around across the board and analyzed my life in general,” said Lesnar, 32. “First of all personally and family wise and then I analyzed my fight situation. How can I get better? How can I evolve? What’s stagnant in my training and what are some different things that I can do? I bumped into Peter in Las Vegas a while ago, (UFC President) Dana (White) introduced me to him and we hit it off, so I brought him out here. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna get, wasn’t sure if our personalities were gonna match, but he came out, it worked out, we got along great, and more importantly, he’s a great teacher. I learned a lot of good stuff from him and I wish I had brought him in sooner. I’m happy with the decision and it’s been great.”

Peter Welch AND Randy Couture?!?!

Man listen, Carwin is a certified BEAST and I take nothing from him. But if Brock is even better on the feet now its gonna get really really ugly. And I mean that in the best sense of the word.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


So Chris Simms, son of former NFL great Phil Simms and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback was arrested last night for driving will under the influence of marijuana.  I'm not here to pass judgement on that part because everyone is innocent until proven guilty and while driving under the influence of marijuana is inexcusable, I am not one of those people who buy that its much worse for you than alcohol if it is at all.

But the defense Simms chose today was uhmmmm

NEW YORK (AP) -- Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Chris Simms says police mistook a comment about smoking cigarettes as an admission that he'd been smoking marijuana before he was stopped while driving in New York City.

C'mon Son. This ain't North Dallas Forty. What kinda quarterback is smoking Newports at halftime these days?!

I'm honesly not sure whose version of the story is worse.

Championship Shit

For Bryant, the sacrifice for success could well be visible for the rest of his career in the form of something that is not another championship ring to go around his finger.

He might never play again without wearing support for his damaged right index finger.

The middle knuckle on that critical finger on Bryant’s shooting hand is so debilitated by arthritis after the past season of misuse and overuse that there may be no real way to fix it. Bryant will consult with specialists in July to figure out his options, but arthritis is not a problem that can just be cleaned up with arthroscopic surgery or wished away with a little rest.

Bryant suffered an avulsion fracture in two places near the tip of the finger on Dec. 11 as he tried to field a low Jordan Farmar pass. Bryant kept playing despite a projection of needing at least six weeks to heal – and he played pretty well. He was the Western Conference Player of the Month for December.

He wound up also the NBA Finals MVP, and he got there by refashioning his shooting stroke to put more pressure on the ball with his thumb and middle finger – trying to use the splinted index finger only as a guide. With the help of Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person, Bryant retooled his entire follow-through.


Haters won't want to give him credit but that's championship shit right there. For a scorer/shooter putting that finger at risk for a title is the exactly the same thing as putting their career at risk for a title. And remember this guy already had 4 rings. Coulda shut it down and tried next year but he wanted it NOW. I still wouldn't kick it with him at the club and he wouldn't be my road dawg but he puts in work on the court. Period. Recognize.

Did I mention that I'm a longtime Lakers fan? :)