Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ward Gone

According to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' official twitter feed they have released running back Derrick Ward. I'm surprised they decide to cut their losses after one year but Kareem Huggins definitely outplayed him this preseason. It looks like Clifton Smith may be safe after all.

Along with Ward, Terrance Nunn and Jon Alston were also released. I actually thought Alston was playing well but he missed the last game with an injury.

I'll update the post later with any new information.

Update: Here is part of the official press release

"It's more about the resurgence of Mr. Cadillac and Mr. 'Insurance' Graham, where the team is headed, our plan and our direction," said Morris. "No decision is made lightly around here. It was just time to make it today.

"It was about everybody's skill level on our football team and how we see our team fitting right now. We've got Cadillac, who we're all happy to have, and we also have Insurance Graham for us back there. He's able to carry the ball for us as well. And also we have our little spark plug in Huggy, and he's able to come in and provide a different look for us. We look forward to watching those guys run the rest of the preseason."

Graham has taken over the Buccaneers' starting fullback role but he remains a talented ballcarrier as well. In 2007, after a season-ending knee injury to Williams, Graham emerged as a productive NFL starter, rushing for 898 yards and 10 touchdowns on 222 carries. He is also a talented passcatcher out of the backfield, as evidenced by his 86 receptions over the last three seasons.

Williams returned from the aforementioned injury and another one suffered at the end of the 2008 season to recapture the starting job in 2009. His impressive comeback season included 823 yards and four touchdowns on 211 carries and 28 receptions for 217 yards and three more scores. Williams remains firmly entrenched in the starting role heading into 2010, and Graham's presence gives the Bucs a valuable second weapon in the backfield, even as he continues to help the team as a fullback.

"If you're a fullback or a running back, you sit in the same room, you hear the same information, you do the same ball-carrying drills," said Morris. [Graham] is versatile; that's the thing that makes Earnest special. We look forward to expanding his role and letting him play in all those different situations. He's got some short-yardage stuff for us, some goal-line, and we'll be able to do more of those things for us. We'll be able to use his versatility a little bit more."

First I want to correct the information on Jon Alston. He was put on IR, not released. That actually makes a lot more sense because I thought he was playing pretty well.

Second, after reading the press release I'm starting to rethink my earlier proclamation that Clifton Smith is safe now. I predicted yesterday that the Bucs would only carry one fullback on the active roster so they can keep 4 tight ends. But after reading about how they plan to expand Earnest Graham's role I think there's a chance that the Bucs will carry 4 tight ends AND 2 fullbacks and still cut Clifton Smith. It gives the team insurance if Caddy or Earnest gets hurt and now you get to keep that thumper type fullback who is a road grater for short yardage and goalline situations.

I'm still kind of on the fence on this one but I can see both sides of the argument. In short I still think Smith's job is in jeopardy at this point and he may have to play his way onto the roster in the game this week.

Why I'm Taking The Over

Earlier this off season I set the over/under on wins for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season at six. I staked out the 6 games I thought they might win but in all honestly I thought there was a chance they could lose one of those so had anyone asked I would have probably said I was taking the under.

Now that I have had the benefit of seeing the team play this preseason I have changed my mind. I am now predicting that the Bucs will win 7-8 games this year. Yesterday I said I had them with 7 and a possible:

I'm officially taking the over now for the Bucs. If you know anything about playing spades I'm taking them for 7 and a possible. Right now I believe we can and will beat Cleveland, St Louis, Carolina at least once, Arizona, Washington, Detroit, Seattle and its possible we will beat Atlanta once.

But Elliot in the comments section pointed out the Steelers game as a another possible win that I hadn't counted. So the reality is I'm actually leaning more towards 8 but I will go with 7 and a possible for now.

I'm sure the question is why am I taking the over now when so many people have such a negative outlook on the Bucs for this year (Peter King just predicted they would go 2-14). Am I being overly optimistic? Am I trying to inflate the Bucs' prospects because I used to play for them? Am I just trying to be contrarian? Or maybe I might have just bumped my head?

No...on all counts.

Here is why I'm taking the over now. I see how much this team has improved in one year. From the players to the coaching staff this team looks very different to me from the one that went 3-16 last year. Gone is the horrendous Jim Bates defensive scheme and in its place I see a stingy defense with full of playmakers.

Gone is the zone run blocking scheme and in its place I see a lot more counters and split bellys and power Os which is what our offensive line was made for.

One of the most important changes is that Mike Nugent and his inconsistent field goal kicking is gone replaced by Connor Barth who has now become a weapon for us.

Overall I see a team that has more of a sense of direction and more focus than I saw last year.

Oh and we are a lot more talented as well.

Now when I think of the team I think of weapons. Weapons on both side of the ball. Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, Kellen Winslow, Kareem Huggins, those guys are weapons. Gerald McCoy, Aqib Talib, Geno Hays, Quincy Black, those guys are weapons. Instead of being on our heels, this year we are going to be the ones attacking. And it turns out that we even have some quality depth at key positions like center which we didn't have last year.

And then when you look at our schedule and you watch these preseason games you realize that there are some teams that we are simply better than. I would put the Browns, Seahawks and Rams in that category. There are other teams that we are at least as good as and we get to play them at home. I would say the Panthers, and Lions fit that bill. Then you have the teams who have a problem at quarterback. The Steelers will have to use Dennis Dixon or Byron Leftwich and nobody knows who the Cardinals will have at quarterback by the time we play them. Then you have the Redskins who still have to learn how to play a 3-4 and don't have a lot of offensive weapons around McNabb, and you have the Falcons who we played tough in two games last year barely coming up short both times.

In the end out of that group 7 or 8 wins are not only possible, they are likely.

Several things could of course change this outlook including injuries, but for right now I feel very comfortable taking the over. I know some people will scoff at that but it won't be the first time. If I turn out to be wrong I will have no problem coming out and admitting that I was. The real question as I see it however is what if I'm right? Will the nay sayers admit THEY were wrong?

Somehow I doubt it.

But here is your chance. What's YOUR prediction for the Bucs record this season? Let me know in the comments section and we can compare notes in January.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bull Rush

Cross posted at joebucsfan

Even though we didn't beat the Jaguars I came away after watching this game very encouraged about the Buccaneers' season. Particularly I thought just about every guy on the defensive line showed at least some improvement. There were a bunch of hits and pressures on David Garrard even though we didn't come home with any sacks this game. And the effort was once again very good.

There were some problems though as far as everyone on defense being on the same page, particularly when we blitzed. At least twice we had major busts when we blitzed and nobody covered the running back out of the backfield. One time it appeared to be Kyle Moore's fault, another time it appeared to be Sean Jones' fault. In addition, several times when we blitzed there was no contain element of the defense away from the blitz. It didn't hurt us at first but then in the second half Garrard noticed and he took off running for a first down.

Now I don't know for sure who was right and who was wrong or if the blitzes just had some design flaws or what. But those are the kinds of mistakes that can be the difference between a win and a loss in a tight game. So its of utmost importance that we get those problems ironed out as we get ready to face Cleveland in a couple of weeks.

Technique wise one thing I noticed this game was when the defensive line ran a line stunt and guys came inside they really didn't use their rip to help them get inside of the blocker. Instead they just stayed square and tried to push the blocker in the backfield. I understand not wanting to get washed way down inside, but by the same token if a guy doesn't rip into the inside gap they lose almost any chance of penetrating and either making a play or forcing the runner to go laterally instead of downhill. Its a little technique thing that can really make a big difference.

I'm still not a fan of the five down lineman alignment we have for short yardage and goalline. Its simply too easy to run inside when you don't cover both A gaps. I keep hoping that Coach Morris will at least consider going back to what we used to do seeing as how what they are using now hasn't been all that effective, but so far I've seen nothing that makes me believe he will change so I guess I'll just have to get over it and hope we don't end up in that situation all that often.

I did like some of the things Coach Morris did with the three lineman set up. But only when he sent pressure or at least had Quincy Black coming off the edge. I don't really think rushing an offensive tackle is really Black's strong suit, but when he rushes it gives the 3 other guys an opportunity to be successful. But I can't stand when we only rush 3 because its almost impossible to get any pressure on the quarterback and anybody if given enough time can find an open receiver. With the way we were getting after Garrard with our four man rushes I was surprised that Coach Morris went to so much 3 man rush, but maybe he was just trying to get a long look at it. At least I hope that's all it was.

For most of the night the Jaguars were getting the passes off early anyway and not giving our guys a chance to sack Garrard. I did get really excited one time though when Stylez White and Gerald McCoy ran an EX game to perfection. The ball came out quick but if it didn't both guys would have been free to pummel Garrard.

As for the individual critiques:

Kyle Moore: Moore's pass rush at left end was much improved this game. He still didn't really attempt to turn the corner outside but he had several good inside moves. I had him with one pressure and a couple of other notable rushes. He still doesn't look all that impressive as an inside rusher to me though. Also he was poor again in trying to set up a TEX with Ryan Sims. Taking two steps upfield and expecting that to attract the offensive tackle is just not good enough.

He also got a little too high down on the goalline and got knocked off the ball a little. I would really like to see him use his hands more when he goes against tightends. He is big and strong enough to dominate those matchups but he never seems to get good hand placement on them so he can get good extension with his arms. Because he is the left end and most offenses are right handed he is going to have to battle tight ends a lot. That part of his game definitely needs some work.

Gerald McCoy: I was very impressed by McCoy this game. You can tell that he is getting very comfortable with the speed of the game now and its not overwhelming to him. He had some outstanding pass rush moves that you probably didn't even notice on the first glance. I had him with two pressures a quarterback hit and three other really good rushes. By my count he had a tackle and an assist to go along with that.

And that's with Garrard going with a three step drop for most of the game.

He did have a missed tackle but it was on a play where he got good penetration into his gap and made the running back go almost backwards to try to get around him. That penetration allowed the rest of the defense to pursue and get the running back on the ground for a loss.

I still would urge caution against anyone expecting McCoy to be a world beater in his rookie season. But I can tell you this much, I wouldn't be all that surprised if he is.

Roy Miller: Roy had a quiet game this week. I think that's mostly because he wasn't in for a lot of the three lineman schemes. When he was in the game I thought he did well though. And he did a lot better this week on the scoop cut. He didn't fall down and he ended up being in on the running play. He also held up well over the center in goalline and didn't allow himself to get knocked off the ball much.

Stylez G. White: Stylez flashed big time against the Jaguars. After having his coaches taking shots at him in the paper for his work ethic and other folks including me saying he needed to show up, he did just that. He had a really nice spin move and got a hit on the quarterback. He came inside on a blitz and good a pressure on Garrard. He had a good speed rush and forced a holding call on the offensive tackle. And he had a really good tackle from behind on a play where he showed great effort running down the field in pursuit.

That's the kind of performance I am expecting out of Stylez every game and that's the standard he is going to be held to. And if he can go out and play like that for 16 games, something tells me our pass rush will be alright.

Michael Bennett: I'm going to go ahead and say this and get it out of the way. I believe Bennett should either be the starter or split reps evenly with Kyle Moore. It's not necessarily a knock against Moore but the truth is Bennett has shown himself to be the better pass rusher at left end in games this preseason. And its not as if he has only done well against backups. He has had some of his better rushes against starting offensive tackles in fact. And as I have said before, and as it was proven again on Saturday, right now Bennett is the only guy at left end who is successful speed rushing around the corner.

I just believe that all other things being equal you go with the better pass rusher, and that is Bennett in this case. Its the same argument I made last year in training camp when I felt Stylez should have been starting over Gaines Adams (RIP).

Now I have about as much chance of starting at left end for the Bucs right now as Michael Bennett does and I realize that. The Bucs are committed to Kyle Moore and its not likely that they would consider benching him any time soon. I'm just telling you what I see as an unbiased observer.

Against the Jaguars Bennett again was very productive. He had some really good rushes, got a hit on the quarterback and ended up with a tackle and a couple of assists. He might be falling too in love with his inside pass rush moves though. He is good at getting the offensive lineman upfield and then coming back inside, but when you are the left end facing a right handed quarterback the last thing you want to do is lose containment and allow the QB outside of the pocket. And sooner or later if you keep going inside somebody is going to see it and take advantage of it.

Bennett also learned a valuable lesson Saturday night, and that is when you see a back offset to your side you always have to be aware that they might chip block you when you aren't looking for it. Bennett was trying to get upfield to make the Jags' quarterback pull up on a roll out pass and one of their running backs caught him from the blindside and put him on his back. Not a good look at all lol.

Brian Price: Price had a much better game. He obviously got his legs back up under him and it was a lot harder for the Jaguars to move him or get him on the ground. He had a really good hit on Garrard off of a three man plus Quincy Black pass rush look. He did have one bust though when he forgot to loop around for containment when we ran a line stunt. But all in all for his second bit of live action of the preseason he held his own.

Tim Crowder: Crowder played well but he didn't flash all that much. He did have one good rush that I noted but for the most part he was where he was supposed to be, doing his job. But he just didn't really fill up the stat sheet.

Normally I would go through the rest of the guys on the roster but they didn't play all that much this game plus because the DVR gods are jerks, the last 2 minutes or so of the game was not recorded. Therefore I will just note that although Carlton Powell may not have enough talent to play in the NFL, I have really been impressed with the way he has bounced back from a decidedly horrible first preseason game against the Dolphins. The guy goes hard and you can tell it means something to him. I feel like that's the kind of guy who I would want on my practice squad because I think he will actually appreciate the opportunity and, in time, just might develop to the point where he IS ready to play in the NFL.

I'm not trying to campaign for the guy but I am saying I really appreciate seeing young guys who bust their ass and show marked improvement from game to game.

Well that's it for this week. Just two more weeks before the real bullets start flying. I don't know about you but I can hardly wait!

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

The Good:

- Josh Johnson: Johnson turned in another strong performance in his first start of the preseason. He went 9-14 for 122 yards with one touchdown pass to Earnest Graham. He made quick decisions and seemed to throw it to the right guy even if the passes weren't always perfect. He also again made a play with his legs gaining 18 yards and a first down on one carry. I don't know about anyone else but if Josh Freeman can't start against the Browns I believe Johnson has shown he can get the job done if need be.

- Quincy Black: Black was literally all over the field against the Jaguars. He was officially credited with 7 tackles and remember that's for just one half of football. I also had him down for a couple tackles for loss and several pressures on Jaguars quarterback David Garrard. He really has stepped his game up since Coach Morris has taken over as defensive coordinator and I think a lot of it has to do with the act that Raheem is using him in roles that are more suited to him. I can't wait to see what kind of year this guy is going to have provided he stays healthy.

- Gerald McCoy: McCoy was in the backfield all night, getting penetration and harassing the quarterback. He has really improved substantially with each game and that's what you want to see. I know better than to get my hopes up too high for his rookie season, but the guy showed me a lot on Saturday.

- Stylez G. White: Myself and a lot of other people called Stylez out this last week for not flashing much this preseason. Well he had the game we have been waiting for and of which we know he is capable of. He had a really nice spin move and got a hit on Garrard on that pass rush. He also forced a holding penalty on a big 3rd down. When he plays like that the whole defense works better. Now we just need to see some consistency.

- Mike Williams: I'm still waiting on someone to try to logically explain to me why this guy can't be a star this year. I can't think of a reason and he's well on his way.

- Barrett Ruud: After hearing all the negativity thrown around at Ruud it was nice to see him make that big interception down by the goalline. Of course that wasn't all he did on Saturday night. He was once again good on his run fits and his effort was outstanding. He did get stuck on one block too long and the guy kind of ran him towards the sidelines but other than that he was on point.

- Sean Jones: Jones gave Bucs fans a reason to be optimistic about our fortunes this season. Its not so much that he made some spectacular plays, but rather he made the routine plays routinely. He was physical in his tackling and he didn't get shook in the open field. Sometimes you don't need a guy to be a superstar, you just need them to be able to reliably do their job. Jones appears to be able to fill that role and then some.

- Ronde Barber: The old guy showed that he still has it tying Black for the team lead in tackles. Several of those tackles were one on one situations where if he had missed the runner would have gone for a big gain. But in each situation he found a way to get the guy on the ground. One play in particular though is what compelled me to put him on the list this week. On the goalline the Jaguars tried to run a counter play with a guard coming to kick out the end man on the line of scrimmage. If the guard had made his block the running back likely would have walked into the endzone. Unfortunately for him the end man on the line of scrimmage was Ronde and although he was outweighed by almost 100 pounds he went in and spilled the play making the running back bounce outside and then had the wherewithal to spin back and get in on the tackle.

That is the kind of play that doesn't really show up on any stat sheet but shows you why Ronde is still a part of this team and why the Bucs should be thankful to still have him out there as a leader.

Derrick Ward: I give credit where its due. The guy had a rough couple of weeks and he bounced back to have some really nice runs on Saturday. Not sure whether it will be enough to keep him as number 2 on the depth chart though.

The Bad:

- The Running Game: I thought that there were two problems with our running game on Saturday. The first problem was play calling. All of a sudden we were back to running a bunch of zone plays instead of the straight ahead power stuff we had been so successful with for most of this preseason. The second problem was Jeremy Zuttah being in for Davin Joseph. Zuttah got pushed around too much on Saturday and wasn't able to get much if any movement on the Jaguars' defensive tackles. I'm not sure how serious Joseph's quad injury is, but we better all hope its not that big of a deal.

- Kickoff Team: For two weeks straight we have given up big returns on kickoff. That's something that has been unheard of in recent years as our special teams have become a strong point of the team. I know that on Saturday the principle problem was that our safety guy, E.J. Biggers who is supposed to prevent breakout runs went inside of a block instead of staying outside to turn the ball back in. Whatever the problem is it needs to get fixed in a hurry because even though our defense should be much improved this year, no defense is built to perform well when the offense is already starting close to mid field.

- Mark Dile and Xavier Fulton: Both of these guys were liabilities in the running game and pass protection. At least with Fulton he was switching sides which may have been a factor but Dile has been a disappointment for most of this preseason. He just doesn't seem to be strong enough to be effective as an offensive guard, especially against bigger defensive tackles. Its kind of scary too because if you do the numbers its highly likely that Dile will make the team and be 2nd string on the depth chart. Thankfully with Fulton at least there are other guys in front of him.

- Reggie Brown: Brown let two opportunities for big plays literally slip right through his fingers. He has shown that he has the speed to stretch defenses but at some point he is going to have to actually make the catches on those deep balls when they are thrown to him. I felt pretty confident going into camp that he was a lock to make the team. I still believe he will be on the roster but I'm not nearly as confident now.

The Ugly:

- Michael Clayton: The guy didn't get into the game on offense and I didn't notice him on any special teams either. Enough said.

- Defensive Blitz busts: Too often on Saturday when we blitzed either somebody forgot to cover the back out of the backfield or we didn't have a contain element away from the blitz or both. If we are going to send pressure a lot, and its obvious that we are, we can't afford to have those kinds of mental breakdowns because they can be the difference between a win and a loss.


- I think what we are about to see is that in order to keep four tight ends with Ryan Purvis being that fourth guy, the Bucs are not going to carry a backup fullback. That's why you haven't really seen Chris Pressley or Rendrick Taylor much the last two preseason games. I can tell you this much, we DEFINITELY need to upgrade our run blocking from the tight end position from last year. So if Purvis can help do that I'm all for it.  I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to keep Taylor around on the practice squad though if for no other reason than to be able to give the defense a good look on scout team.

- I'm not sure why the Bucs decided to flip Xavier Fulton and James Lee but Lee looked just as comfortable on the right side as he had been looking on the left. The kid can play and I think he is going to be a helluva backup for us on either side. Fulton on the other hand will have me holding my breath if he ever has to play a down for us.

- Keydrick Vincent played relatively well but he did seem to have a problem passing off pass rush stunts. It will be worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the season.

- I hate 3 man rushes. I can't say that enough.

- Some people took issue with Coach Morris calling out a few players this last week. It was kind of funny to me because last year Morris talked about replacing his starting defensive linemen while the season was still going on and he had some sharp words for Antonio Bryant as well. But I guess people's memories are short so for them this seems like something new. But its not. And when you look back at the game everybody he called out seemed to play better. I'll take that.

- I'm officially taking the over now for the Bucs. If you know anything about playing spades I'm taking them for 7 and a possible. Right now I believe we can and will beat Cleveland, St Louis, Carolina at least once, Arizona, Washington, Detroit, Seattle and its possible we will beat Atlanta once.

I believe that we now have a defense that will be stingy when it comes to points, an offense that can run the ball but also has some game breakers in the passing game, and we have a kicker who is very consistent (knock on wood). I have watched all of the teams that I have said we will beat and I feel pretty confident in my prediction. Of course we still have to see how Josh Freeman comes back from his broken thumbs and we will have to stay health as a team to have success. But I have seen enough at this point to give me confidence. Now we just have to go out and play the games.

Don't worry, I'll be doing a post later this week more fully explaining my reasons for optimism for be on the lookout for that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Things I Do Not Understand...

Today Anwar Richardson has published an article about Stylez G White and his practice habits. Let's just say its NOT a glowing report.

"Stylez is my Allen Iverson, and he's not going to change," Morris said. "He's gotten better. He's gotten better the last couple of days and practiced (better) throughout training camp than he has in the past, but he is Allen Iverson."

Morris gave White that label last season because of his practice habits.

White, 31, has been known to pace himself during practices, to the frustration of his coaches. While they have worked hard to push his buttons, White does not always leave everything out on the practice field.

In fact, ESPN reporter Pat Yasinkas recently labeled White the "Biggest Disappointment" of Tampa Bay's training camp because of his practice habits and his lack of leadership skills.

"It's never acceptable, and he's gotten better, but like I tell him every day, we're going to tolerate him until we can replace him," Morris said.

"We have to challenge him at times because he sometimes cruises a little bit," Wash said. "At the same time, to put me at ease as a position coach, and obviously for him, it is important to put it on tape.

I myself took some shots at Stylez earlier this week about his performance in the preseason up to this point so you might be expecting for me to unload on him at this point. Well....not so much. I can't cosign a guy "cruising" in practice and I think his response of "its all overblown" was probably the wrong approach but both Coach Morris and his position coach Todd Wash acknowledge at different points in the article that his practice habits have gotten better. To my mind that means he is listening to the criticisms and taking them to heart, even if he still isn't perfect.

But there is SOMETHING that bothered me about the article and that's this.
Although he coasts sometimes, coaches are optimistic he is becoming a player who plays consistently in practice and will against opponents on Sunday.

No, that's not another quote about Stylez. Instead its a quote about the guy who starts opposite him at left end, Kyle Moore. When I read the article where that Moore quote came from awhile back I did a post on it because I was perplexed about how a guy could "coast" during practice. You see I only had two NFL position coaches for any length of time. One was Rod Marinelli, the other was Reuben Carter for my one year with the Jets. Now there were a lot of differences in the two men but they definitely had one thing in common. They were going to make sure you worked your ass off...or else.

So now it would seem that both of our starting defensive ends take it easy in practice from time to time. I truly don't understand how that could even happen in the NFL. Oh I can understand guy's not wanting to give it their all some of the time. Hell I'll be honest and admit there were days when my body was so sore and tired that I just wasn't in the mood. But I wasn't given the choice of dogging it or not. It never even occurred to me that I could possibly half ass it.


Because before I could get back to the huddle after loafing on a play, any play, either of the coaches I had would have jumped all the way down my throat and embarrassed the hell out of me and or threatened my employment status.


There's a slight chance I'm making too much out of this but I really don't think so at this point. One guy maybe I could let slide, but two guys (that we know of) is a pattern. At some point some kind of discipline or intimidation or embarrassment or just SOMETHING has to come down from the position coach whereby guys understand that loafing or cruising or coasting or whatever the hell it is you want to call it today is just not acceptable. I'm not talking about pushing buttons AFTER they loaf either. I'm talking about setting the standard before they ever touch the practice field so they know that anything less and there will be consequences.

You might recall that I noted that in the one training camp practice I went to the one thing I thought was sorely lacking was tempo, specifically from the defensive line group. Well now it appears that might not have been just an off day.

Here are some things I can still remember Coach Marinelli telling our group that maybe needs repeating to these young guys.

1. Learn to love to be miserable: Nobody cares if you're hurt and tired. Hell its football, you're SUPPOSED to be hurt and tired. But you are still expected to go out and bust your ass in practice. Whether you like it, or don't like it, that's just the deal.

2. Its better to be tired and low, than fresh and high: A lot of guys try to half ass it in practice so they can "save their legs" for the game. But so much that we do as defensive linemen has to do with staying low and having great leverage. Its almost a given that when a guy doesn't work hard in practice he starts standing straight up when he comes off the ball because he isn't used to forcing himself to stay low and do the dirty work. That kind of thing hurts. And those kinds of guys don't want that.

The effect is you get to Sunday and then you get pushed all over the field because as the old saying goes, low man wins. But the guy who works his ass off at practice, and fights like hell every play no matter how they feel, go into the game prepared. Oh maybe they aren't quite as fresh, but their technique and pad level still give them the advantage. And those kinds of guys end up being winners. Those other guys? ...

3. You can't practice soft and play hard: That is as real as it gets. Oh you may make plays but you will never be consistent. And at the end of the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, and your team counting on you to make the play, most of the time you won't be able to answer the bell because you haven't put in the time during the week. The NFL wasteland is littered with guys who had all the talent in the world but no work ethic. But just a little bit a talent with a lot of heart will take you a lot further in the game.

I know some of this sounds pretty common senseish, and maybe it is, but I'm starting to wonder. One half of our starting defensive line supposedly takes it easy in practice from time to time. It's hard for me to take anything for granted at this point.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Big Trouble In Durham

Things just keep getting worse for the Tarheels

Thursday night's UNC press conference featured a worse-for-the-wear Butch Davis, a somewhat exasperated Dick Baddour and a frustrated-looking Holden Thorp, all discussing the "widening" of the investigation into the football program at Chapel Hill.

Their outwardly expressed emotions are understandable: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has long had a sterling academic reputation, and the latest probe by the NCAA is unsettling to say the least.

Kendric Burney might not play for the Tar Heels in the future. (US Presswire)
Kendric Burney might not play for the Tar Heels in the future. (US Presswire)
"Academic achievement and fairness are at the heart of the University of North Carolina and the Department of Athletics," said Thorp. "We are treating this issue with the seriousness that you would expect from this university. We will straighten this out."

Thorp's presence at the news conference may indicate just that -- as does the reported movement of the majority of defensive starters to Carolina's scout team during recent practices.

As Baddour said, Carolina is "not at the end of the investigation" -- they're "somewhere near the middle or the beginning of it."

But one thing is crystal clear: Carolina is dealing with a problematic case of "academic issues" within the football team that could/will/has threatened several of the players' ability to remain on the team.

In fact, we earlier reported that two cornerbacks, Charles Brown and Kendric Burney, had already been kicked off the team, and two sources close to the athletic department firmly believe they will not be a part of the team in the future.

A spokesman from North Carolina has since denied the report that Brown and Burney were kicked off the team and Burney has even tweeted that he's excited for practice tomorrow.

I can't be the only person who finds it ironic that Butch Davis, a man who people have portrayed as having "cleaned up" University of Miami football, is now presiding over what might be one of the biggest meltdowns by a team on the eve of their season beginning at just the moment where they had started gaining respect across the nation.

I don't know how this will all turn out but for right now its pretty damned ugly...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Well Maybe That Explains It...

"When you get a bit older in this league, especially as a running back, you have to realize that you need to come into camp at a lighter weight, not heavier," Coach Raheem Morris said. "I still have a lot of confidence in Derrick Ward that he'll be ready and in shape to help us this season."

The Bucs list the 5-foot-11 Ward at 228 pounds, the same weight assigned to him since 2007, when he ran for 602 yards in spot duty with the Giants.

Ward was an infrequent participant in Tampa Bay's voluntary offseason workouts, but he reported to training camp on time July 30, saying he is approaching the upcoming year with a "new mentality."

According to General Manager Mark Dominik, the Bucs have not fined Ward this summer for failing to meet the club's weight requirements.


I don't know for sure if all of Derrick Ward's problems this preseason can be linked back to his weight, but I can tell you that he doesn't look explosive at all running the ball. Even though he didn't necessarily play well last year either, he was a lot quicker to and through the holes. This year it seems like his reaction time is really slow and when he makes a decision where he wants to go there is no change in gears.

I still don't think they will raise the white flag and cut him just a year after signing him to a big free agent deal, but Kareem Huggins surpassing him on the depth chart just got a lot more likely.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I was always a big fan of wrasslin. I grew up watching local heros like Jerry "The King" Lawler and Koko B Ware going at it on Saturday mornings in Memphis. And so when I heard this quote from Sabby Piscitelli today about his feelings on being demoted I immediately heard the immortal words of former WWF star "The Rock" buzzing in my ears.

"Know your role, and shut your mouth!"

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' decision to name veteran Sean Jones the starting strong safety didn't come as much of a surprise to Sabby Piscitelli. The man who lost his job to Jones said Wednesday he believes the deck was stacked against him all along.

"I don't think it was ever a competition,'' Piscitelli said. "That's just my opinion, and I'm going to go with it. I just, personally, don't think it was ever a competition. That's all I want to say on that.''

I was kind of dumbfounded that Sabby would open his mouth at all but then to go as far as to infer that the competition was rigged?!

Well before I could decide whether or not I wanted to do a post about it somebody informed Coach Morris about Sabby's comments at his press conference and he had a damn good retort of his own.
“I don’t have to, and that’s unfortunate for him. That’s probably why he didn’t get it,” said Morris. “Generally you go out there and do your very best. That’s the thing to do, so that’s Sabby’s problem.”

Morris was asked if the team would consider moving Piscitelli because he is unhappy that he lost the starting position.

“No there is no such thing as an unhappy player. The only the person that’s going to be unhappy here is me. His job is to make us happy,” said Morris. “He’s got to do his job. That’s the nature of the beast. That’s how the NFL works.”

Later on he continued

“In ‘09 we weren’t a very good football team. We weren’t a very good organized football team as far as our running game. We all struggled,” said Morris. “He was a guy that was a part of it. He went out there and he probably didn’t get the holes that he wanted. Whatever the reasons were nobody cares. It is your job to go out there and get it done. That is the same thing I’d tell Sabby. He feels bad about not being a starter. He feels bad because he feels like he was unjustly done, and nobody really cares. You got to out there and get it done and show us what you got. You only got one chance to do this thing, myself included.”

Before I go any further I will acknowledge that Sabby said he was informed of his demotion via text message from his position coach, Jimmy Lake. If true that's kind of bogus for sure. But having been demoted before I can tell you that having someone tell you face to face really doesn't lessen the blow. The end result is the same, you're still 2nd string.

So ok I can give him a pass about having a gripe as far as how the team let him know he was no longer starting. But I can't really give him a pass on the stuff he said about it not being a "fair competition". Nope not at all. And I started to leave it alone after Coach Morris roasted him pretty good. But then it kept bothering me so I felt like I just HAD to say something.

The one thing I pride myself on with this blog is not taking personal shots. Sometimes its hard but I really try to make sure that whenever I am making a point or points about someone that I basically just keep it on an even keel and not let much emotion come through. Sometimes that's hard for me when I'm blogging about the Bucs because I am a passionate person, I'm passionate about football, and I am passionate about the team that allowed me to play in the NFL for 6 out of my 7 years in the league. I want desperately every Sunday in the fall for "my" team to win and when that doesn't happen I need, not want but need, to know what went wrong. That's partially why I started this blog in the first place. Because I wanted to share with other's the things that I saw that were going wrong for the team (as well as the things that were going right).

Well last year at times it was especially hard not to blast Sabby after games. He was such a weak link on our defense that it was amazing to me that he was a starter in the NFL. I've said this before but its worth repeating. With strong safeties in the NFL you covet the guys who can both cover AND be a physical presence in the box. But failing that combination you want a guy who at least can do one or the other. Sabby, for most of the season, could do neither.

There wasn't a team that we faced that feared running on us even when we were in an 8 man front with Sabby walked down in the box. Nobody checked off to a pass when they saw Sabby, hell if anything they might have checked from a pass to a run. In an 8 man front the defense is usually predicated on funneling the ball carrier to the free hitter which is usually that strong safety. You got the impression that most teams felt like they would be happy with a matchup between their running back and Sabby. And with the results who could argue with that approach.  I know people loved to point to our defensive tackles as the problem, and yes they were definitely contributing factors, but Sabby had as much to do with our dead ass last ranking in run defense as anybody on the team. According to Football Outsiders he led the whole NFL in missed tackles.


And when he wasn't either totally whiffing on tackles or getting straight up run over, he was a liability in pass coverage as well. I know most Bucs fans still have nightmares about all of those times Elbert Mack got torched on deep balls. The truth of the matter, however, is that many times Sabby was supposed to be helping Mack over the top. Instead there were times when Sabby never even made it into the frame before the receiver made the catch. This was a secret of sorts for most of the year but right about the end of the season Coach Morris acknowledged that it wasn't just Mack's fault.

And notice this, after we switched back to our regular "Tampa 2" scheme and Coach Morris started calling the defenses, Sabby was the only guy whose play didn't improve. He was still missing tackles. He was still a liability in coverage. And he was a net negative when he was on the field.

I still remember watching the first Atlanta game where Morris drew up a defense to bracket perinnial Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzales where Sabby was supposed to cover his outside edge and Barrett Ruud was supposed to cover his inside edge. Well Gonzales still got off and I can tell you it wasn't Ruud's fault.

So let me break this all the way down for Sabby. The truth is whether the competition was fair or not it SHOULDN'T have been. As shitty as Sabby played last year the Bucs should have named Sean Jones the starter the day they signed him. And Sabby should have been looking for work elsewhere.

I know that's harsh and I generally don't call for guys to lose their jobs but I don't know that I have ever, EVER seen a guy play that bad and keep their job. Let me give you a prime example.

Gibril Wilson.

Wilson signed a big free agent deal with the Raiders after four years and a Superbowl ring with the New York Giants. He ended up with over 100 tackles 1.5 sacks and two interceptions.

And he got cut.

He ended up getting signed by the Dolphins last year and stunk up the joint. This time he tallied 93 tackles, a sack and 8 passes defensed.

And he got cut.

Sabby had 80 tackles, no sacks and 2 interceptions last year and not only did he not get cut, he had the opportunity (even if it was a token one) to start again had he won the preseason battle.

If anything Sabby should just be thanking Mark Dominik and Coach Morris that he has a job of any kind right now because they had every right to cut him after the season ended. And let me tell you, there's nothing like trying to drum up interest around the league after a terrible year to humble you and make you more appreciative.  Even though I can understand his dissappointment still with his performance last year you would think he would be quiet as a church mouse just hoping everyone else will forget instead of making waves of any kind and drawing a target around his chest (as if he doesn't get that enough on Sundays).

And its worth noting that from every thing I have read and from the games and practice I saw so far, Sabby did absolutely nothing to distinguish himself above Sean Jones. I don't know how he could possibly expect for things to end at basically a draw and he still keep his job. Then again when you think about it the competition didn't end up in a draw because out of the two of them only one guy drew a dumbass personal foul penalty off cowardly hitting someone in the back well after the play was over in full view of the referee which ended up leading to the very points that ended up being the margin of victory....for the other team.

When it comes down to it maybe this will be the last we hear from Sabby on the topic and it will all blowover. You can count me as somebody who isn't buying the talk that he is on the roster bubble at the moment (I think a lot more was made out of a quote from Lake than was intended). But if Sabby decides to speak on it again because he is just soooo upset and feels he was done wrong I personally feel like it will be time to cut bait.

Then he will get to see what the market is like for some jabroni who can't cover, can't tackle and makes dumb decisions on the field that hurt his team.

Yeah, good luck with that...

A Quick Note

In order to truly evaluate whether a player played well or not you have to first know and understand what they were supposed to be doing in the first place.

It seems to be the case with Barrett Ruud that he is going to be the media's and fans' whipping boy whether he play's well or not. I have seen and heard from several different places where he had a horrible game against the Chiefs.

No he didn't .

As a matter of fact he played pretty well.

It wasn't a Pro Bowl performance but it was more than serviceable.

Let me point out three different plays and break them down.

First I've heard people complain about the play early on where Kyle Moore made Thomas Jones fumble. We were in a 3-4 alignment and the Chiefs ran a lead draw. That means the fullback leads up on the linebacker and the running back makes a cut off that block. Ruud's job is to attack the fullback with his inside shoulder leaving his outside arm free to make the tackle of the tailback cuts outside.

Annnnnnd. Ruud came downhill, attacked the fullback in the hole with his outside arm free and made Jones cut back to his help. Some how some way some people are saying he didn't something wrong on this play. I watched it at least 10 times just to be sure. He gave the fullback a nice pop and if you slow it down you will see the fullback's helmet rattle around. He made it cut back and he even ran to the ball after he did his job. But hey if you don't know what he was supposed to do on that play I guess you might not understand that.

Another play I've heard about was on a counter. The offensive tackle came off the ball and Barrett gave ground to get outside of him. The problem is we teach our defensive ends to spill the play on a counter and make it go outside. For that reason the middle linebacker has to get over the top of any blocks so they can make the tackle when it bounces outside. If they try to go underneath the block they get washed inside and the play is out of the gate. Aside from turning into the Incredible Hulk and running directly through an offensive lineman there wasn't much else Ruud could do if he wanted to do his job.

The last play was on 3rd and 1. We had one of our short yardage packages in (which I do not like) and the Chiefs ran a simple full back lead stretch weak. Ruud had to track the fullback because if he slips out to the flat that's who he has in coverage. The ball should have never gotten outside but our defensive end didn't get far enough up the field to turn it back so it bounced out. At that point Ruud has to get outside leverage on the fullback so Jones couldn't continue up the sideline.

Annnnd that's exactly what he did. He gave a little bit of ground and got outside leverage on the fullback. Jones cut it back in to the help and other guys made the tackle.

Now I have said this before and I will say it again. Barrett isn't necessarily what I would want as a prototypical middle linebacker. He doesn't explode into his tackles the way I would like and yes sometimes I would like him to come down hill more. But he isn't some cupcake who isn't physical or doesn't do his job. For most of the game we played some form of Tampa 2 when we weren't blitzing. In that situation in our defense the middle linebacker can't always come down hill immediately because of their pass responsibilities and their run fits. In Tampa 2 the linebackers have to play more than one gap at times. And that's something I bet most people don't know.

Tell you what, I know I said this would be quick but let me tell you about another play. On I believe the third drive the Chiefs ran a simple one back zone play. The ball started strong and then cutback. Now had we been in Cover 3 or any other coverage where the Safety is down in the box this would be a chance for all the linebackers to fly through their holes as soon as they saw a run threat because against that formation with the Safety down they all only have one gap that they are responsible for. But they didn't have a safety in the box (couldn't see the coverage because of the camera angle) so they still should have slow played it a little and then ran through their gaps.

Geno Hays, as he is won't to do, instead flew right through his gap. Unfortunately the guard blocked him. Barrett read it correctly and started towards his strong side A gap. The problem was that Roy Miller slipped and fell down so he wasn't in position to make the tackle when the ball cut back in his weakside A gap. Now had Barrett run through his strongside A gap as Geno ran through his backside B gap, the running back would have had a clean look at our safety about 7 or 8 yards up the field and would only have to beat him for a major gain. Instead Barrett throttled it down, came back and helped make the tackle.

Now some folks will look at that play and say "Look at Barrett making plays 5 yards down the field again" never realizing that he was doing his job AND somebody else's job so that we didn't end up having a breakout run against our defense. And its mostly because, again, people just don't know what he is supposed to do on any given play.

The funny thing is that as people are dogging Ruud for his play against the Chiefs his head coach slash defensive coordinator pointed him out as a guy who played well and was all over the field during press conference yesterday. Of course he has this little thing called film, but what does he know?

I recognize that some folks won't take this post well but I'm not trying to call anybody out specifically. My ultimate point is if you don't know then you can't really criticize someone's play fairly. You just can't. Now I answer pretty much any question when it comes to what happens on a football field so you an feel free to ask me as long as its not something ridiculous. Or you can go and ask someone else who is knowledgeable. Hell you can even go and buy some books and read up on different positions and their responsibilities. But this situation where people complain about stuff that isn't actually happening on the field has to end. And if I have to be the one to end it then hey, so be it.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Please Tase Me Bro!!!

I'm not a big fan of people getting tasered but you gotta admit this was funny and this kid asked for it LOL

Oregon State has dismissed offensive lineman Tyler Patrick Thomas after he turned up naked in a Corvallis, Ore., woman’s home then resisted arrest when police arrived, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reports.

The 19-year-old Thomas of Kalispell, Mont., had been drinking early Sunday, and when police ordered him to get down on the floor he assumed a three-point football stance and lunged at the officers. Police then used a Taser to bring Thomas down.

He faces charges of first-degree criminal trespass, second-degree criminal mischief and resisting arrest and is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 9. In April, Thomas was cited for being a minor in possession of alcohol.

Wrong In Every Concievable Way

JoeBucsFan is reporting that Roy Cummings said this yesterday on the Miller and Mouton radio show:

Miller & Moulton: Albert Haynesworth is two years and $9 million total for this year and next year, and he clearly wants to play defensive end in a 4-3. And when he’s motivated and playing defensive end in a 4-3, or even tackle but moves to end in pass rushing situations, he is a force. Does that make any sense at all [for the Bucs]?. …It’s a need. He’ll be motivated. Does that make any sense at all?

Roy Cummings: It makes a great deal of sense and here’s why: Don’t forget. The Buccaneers were the team that offered Albert Haynesworth more money than anybody else in the NFL last year. A lot of people forget that – conveniently want to ignore that fact. … You know what, I think it makes all kinds of sense. It’s a ballsy move. I don’t know if he’s going to do it. They do want to be young here more than anything. But you know what, if Stylez White can’t wake up in these last two preseason games and show them what he’s got, why not? Go give it a shot. I mean, money really is not an issue. People don’t want to believe that here. Everybody, you know, on your end of things here in Tampa Bay wants to keep talking about money here and money there and how much the Glazers are or are not spending. I can tell you right now, if they think can get Albert Haynesworth, and it ends up becoming a wash in terms of what the payroll is, they’ll do it. And they’ll go out and get him. And you know what, he’ll make the team a better football team in a hurry.

Now I don't want to seem too harsh here but that is maybe the dumbest scenario I have heard floated in a very very long time. Lets dissect this from the top.

First the contention is that Albert Haynesworth, he of 350 pounds plus and questionable work ethic, is going to come here and play defensive end? Really?!

Maybe Roy hasn't noticed but we play a get up the field, zone blitzing defense predicated on everyone hauling ass to the ball. And yeah, on occasion, you might even have to drop into coverage.
What in that description fits Haynesworth's profile?

Yeah he can play end in a 3-4 because its a totally different animal and involves a lot of two gapping and very little in the way of having to actually speed rush on an offensive tackle. And Haynesworth has never played defensive end on any kind of regular basis his entire career.

And lets think on this one. The Bucs let Chris Hovan, a GREAT locker room guy, go because he made too much money for his level of production and because of his age. Well Haynesworth wasn't much better last year in terms of production, he's a terrible locker room guy, and he's also no spring chicken going into his 9th season. And don't forget the money he is still owed on that huge free agent contract will have to be paid by the Bucs if they trade for him. And Cummings can say what he wants, the Bucs only allowed the fans to come to one week of training camp because of cost concerns AND they still refuse to sign a veteran backup quarterback even though Josh Freeman is hurt.

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

And seeing as how the fact remains that even if Haynesworth was to come in here with a cape on and be super defensive end guy we probably wouldn't be contending for the playoffs, what exactly would be the motivation to bring him in? So he could poison the rest of our young defensive line with his me first attitude?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not even just talking about the situation with Shanahan where I feel like there is a helluva lot of blame to go around. I'm saying try to google an article where a teammate had good things to say about Haynesworth as a leader. You won't find it. A decent player at times? Yes. A leader though? Hell no. Its not something he has ever done but I guess maybe Mark Dominik was just joking around when he talked about how he wanted to build this team with youth and character.

So he doesn't fit scheme wise, attitude wise, or compensation wise. But hey, other than that he's PERFECT!

The best part of this imagined scenario is where we trade Michael Clayton for Haynesworth straight up. I mean right now we couldn't beg most teams to take Clayton off our hands but the Redskins are going to just give us Haynesworth for him? And then who are they going to find to play defensive line for them? Because make no mistake about it when the dust settles Haynesworth is still going to be out there starting at defensive end for the Redskins this year. Simply put because they don't have anybody else at that position with anything close to his ability.

I have to say I read this several times before even deciding to post about it because I wanted to try to see if maybe there was a hint of jest in Cummings' words. Like maybe he was just being facetious to make for good radio. But it really seems like he was dead serious. And I have to say that's very....unfortunate.

P.S. Its worth noting that after the fantastic free agent flops of Michael Clayton, Mike Nugent and now it would seem Derrick Ward, I doubt Mark Dominik regrets being beaten out for Albert Haynesworth's services last year for the numbers he was offering.

Trading Places

Well Buccaneer fans, it looks like you are going to have at least two new starters this year.

On Monday, two days after the Buccaneers' 20-15 win over Kansas City in preseason Week Two, the team issued an updated depth chart that featured several new starters.

On offense, 10th-year veteran Keydrick Vincent has supplanted incumbent Jeremy Zuttah as the starter at left guard. The Buccaneers signed Vincent as an unrestricted free agent on July 9 after he had spent the previous two seasons as a starter with the Carolina Panthers.

And on defense, seventh-year veteran Sean Jones has moved ahead of 2009 starter Sabby Piscitelli in their head-to-head battle for the starting strong safety spot. Jones, who has started 53 games over the last four seasons in Cleveland and Philadelphia, signed with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent on March 17.

Morris has stated that the starting lineups for the third game of the preseason would likely be a good indication of who the team will field to open the regular season against the Cleveland Browns on September 12.

The Sean Jones promotion wasn't much of a surprise to me seeing as how I predicted it just this morning and gave the justification for it.

The Keydrick Vincent promotion however was still mildly surprising to me. Don't get me wrong, a lot of people said from the moment he was signed that it was just a matter of time before he supplanted Jeremy Zuttah. However in my opinion, at least as far as the games went, Zuttah played well enough to keep his starting job. Which is to say I thought overall he played noticeably better than Vincent at left guard.

I will say that he totally sucked at center though which may have created a bad impression with the coaching staff. Or maybe the coaching staff was looking for a reason anyway. I really can't say at this point. I do like Vincent, especially when it comes to run blocking, and he is the much more physical player. But I do worry about him when it come to pass blocking when its an athletic guy he is matched up with.

Now I don't want it make it seem like this was some kind of travesty or something. Vincent can play and the guy has an impressive resume. Its just that for me and to me when it comes to the games I didn't think Vincent outplayed Zuttah at all. Of course the games are just a snap shot and I can't say what has been happening at practice. Either way, no matter who starts, we have some quality depth at that position now. And that was one of my worries going into this preseason.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bull Rush

Cross Posted at joebucsfan

The defensive line as a whole performed better against the Chiefs than they had against the Dolphins but there is still a lot of room for improvement in a lot of areas.

One of those areas is ripping off of blockers. Too many times I am still seeing guys trying to make arm tackles with a blocker still on them. This leads to a lot of missed tackles and in some cases some dislocated shoulders. By ripping off of a block a guy gives himself a much better opportunity to make plays and reduces the chances of getting hurt. But in the heat of the moment when you see a guy running through your gap I know guys get excited and forget their technique at times. That's why you have to drill it over and over during the week so that it becomes second nature. Its not just one or two guys either so that's something everybody can work on.

Another area is a pet peeve of mine that it would seem has continued from last year to this year. When we blitz people inside its common sense that the quarterback will try to escape that rush generally by either continuing to backpeddle or by trying to escape outside of the pocket. It is for that reason that the contain rushers on those kinds of blitzes should be hauling ass upfield with their best speed rushes rather than trying to use power rushes of any kind. As a matter of fact, if they can avoid the blockers altogether by running around them, that's what you would usually prefer. But some of the defensive ends tend to get into the blockers too much which not only keeps them from getting to the quarterback when they are drifting back (and when it should be a free shot) but also has the potential of allowing the quarterback to break containment if they take a deep drop and immediately take off running outside to avoid the inside blitzers.

The moral to the story is if you have a lot of people rushing inside of you get your ass upfield.

On the other hand it was encouraging to see quite a few guys really getting after it rushing the passer. We also managed to run the same line stunt from last year a few times and actually get it right. Defensively we showed a little more 3-4 this game to some mixed results especially up front. I'm not totally sure but it seemed at times as if some guys weren't sure which gap they had on run fits. But we did have several defensive ends standing up making plays against the run by folding back inside and even getting good pass drops on occasion.

One last gripe. Too many guys spent too much time on the ground this game. Yes, everybody get's cut and its hard to stay up at times. But you won't make any plays if you keep falling on the ground and it wasn't always due to cut blocks. Guys have to take pride in not allowing offensive linemen to take them to the ground unless they take two guys with them on a double team. Other wise by hook or by crook as defensive linemen they have to work harder to stay upright, especially when the ball ends up coming back into their gaps.

Now for the personal breakdowns.

Kyle Moore: I thought Moore did some good things against the Chiefs. He showed good hustle on the play when he caused Thomas Jones to fumble early on in the game. He also had the best pass rush Ive seen from him so far out of the times when he is lined up inside as tackle. And he showed a lot of hustle every play he was in there.

One area that he needs to improve on however is taking on tight ends in the run game. Moore tends to come off a little soft and catch the blocks which leads to him getting knocked off the ball a bit. Because he's athletic he usually ends up in his gap where he is supposed to be theoretically but because he has given ground it gives the running back an opportunity to get yardage even when everyone else has done their job. Now no defensive end dominates every match up with a tight end but you can't consistently lose ground when they are blocking our defensive ends one on one and expect the defense to work.

Also Moore needs to develop more outside moves at left end. His power rushes and inside rushes are good but at some point when teams notice that he never tries to turn the corner, offensive tackles are going to start sitting on his power and inside rushes and make him try to take the corner. If he can't do it he's going to be in trouble because very few defensive ends in the history of the game have been able to rely almost solely on power rushes and been any good.

Gerald McCoy: McCoy showed a lot of improvement from the last game to this one in my opinion. He played that slip block a lot better. He was also a lot more active in his pass rush. By my count he had at least three legitimate pressures and he almost got his first sack on a play where he got upfield and then came back underneath after he saw the quarterback trying to take off running up the middle. His hands were also a lot better as he kept them closer together which protected his chest from the offensive linemen's punches.

I would say this was a really good building block game for McCoy. He showed a little bit of everything with his pass rush. He had a really good speed rush on a guard to force the quarterback to throw it too early. He showed some good power as well. He even showed a little spin move (which needs some work lol). I think more than anything else though his level of activity was the thing that was most encouraging to me. He didn't accept being blocked at any time and he kept working to beat blocks until the ball was thrown or the whistle blew.

Roy Miller: Roy was a bit up and down this game. He did some really good things like splitting a double team and getting pressure on the quarterback. As well as another time when he got really good penetration and made the tackle. But he was also reached by the center on a play where the running back ended up going through his A gap. He was also on the ground a little more than I'm used to seeing him including one time where nobody actually blocked him but because he was expecting contact he fell down. And of course the ball found his gap that time too. Another time the center scoop blocked him and went up to the linebacker while the guard cut blocked him from behind. I thought for a second that had played the cut block well enough to stay on his feet but all of a sudden the sniper got him.

The one thing that always stands out about Roy is his effort though and Saturday was no different. As long as he cleans up his technique on that reach block and remembers to keep his feet up under him, he will be just fine.

Stylez G. White: I like White as a player and I'm expecting big things from him this season. Having said that now I'll say this, he needs to play better.

Don't misunderstand me, he hasn't played bad. In two games I don't think I have seen him doing something technically "wrong". However we need for Stylez to be a playmaker. We need for him to be the bell cow who leads us to where we want to go. We need him to get after the quarterback from the first whistle to the last. And we need him to make splash plays.

So far that hasn't happened.

Now in the first game the field was definitely a factor and its not like he played a ton of snaps. But yesterday he had opportunities and he didn't really make any big plays. One reason is that he hasn't really made an inside pass rush yet. He kept trying to work the edge against the Chiefs and theres nothing wrong with that. He is after all a pretty good edge rusher. But when the offensive tackles are setting for an outside rush and all but putting a sign up inviting you to burn them inside and you don't at least try once or twice, something is wrong.

Im not saying he has to start spinning every other play like Dwight Freeny, but he has to keep the tackles honest. If not they are just going to keep pushing him by the corner and getting pluses from THEIR coaches.

Stylez did have pretty good pass coverage on a running back and he ended up making the tackle. He also ran to the ball well and showed a lot of hustle. But I expect more and I'm sure his teammates and coaches expect more.

Do I have higher expectations of Stylez? Absolutely. Is that fair? Probably not. But when it comes down to it football isn't fair and he wants to go where he has never gone he is going to have to do some things he has never done.

I look at the Chiefs and I see Tamba Hali giving Donald Penn that work. Hali is trying to go get it this year and it shows. At some point we are going to have to see the same thing from Stylez, and soon.

Michael Bennett: Once again this second year guy stole the show. By my count he had 4 tackles including a sack and a caused fumble. He had one play when he was really physical with the tight end and destroyed him on a base block that was just impressive as hell to me. He also looks a lot more comfortable rushing inside than I thought he would at his size.

Bennett stands out from the other left ends in one important respect. He appears to be able to speed rush from the left side which none of the rest of them seem to do well on a consistent basis. Its not that he's just running around guys either. He really uses his hands well and he has a sneaky long arm move that freezes offensive lineman while he beats them to the quarterback. He even looked good doing his pass drops on some zone blitzes.

All wasn't perfect however as he peeked inside on a running play and got reached, and of course the ball ran right in his gap. He and everyone else has to learn that you simply can not do that in our defense. When you do it screws up everyone else and opens the defense to get hit for a big play. Every play is not your play and sometimes you have to trust that your teammate will do their job while you continue doing yours.

Still the guy has had a pretty impressive two games. I know its just the preseason but I don't think my eyes are lying to me.

One last thing. If its true that the best guys will play then the two starting defensive ends in front of Bennett should feel mighty uncomfortable right now.

Just sayin...

Brian Price: Price finally got some action after being held out with a recurring hamstring injury. It was obvious that he has missed a lot of time though because he never seemed to really get his legs under him. He was on the ground WAYYY too much and generally it was on blocking schemes and against blockers I believe he would normally handle well. But you can't miss as much time as he did and expect to come out killing people. Its going to take him some time to get back right and get used to taking on blockers again but once he does I expect much better play from him.

Ryan Sims: I keep saying the same things but they never seem to change with Sims. The guy is a load and hard to move. When he comes off the ball he generally gets good push up the field. But for whatever reason he seems to refuse to rip off of blocks when he is trying to make a play. Whether it be on a pass rush or versus a run block he always does a gets up field and then just reaches his arm out to try to make a play. And generally it doesn't work out well for him.

He did get two tackles against the Chiefs and he looked good on a couple of line movements, but he would make so many more plays if he just worked on escaping blockers. Or maybe he does work on it but he just forgets to do so when the bullets are flying. Either way he is a guy who could be a pretty good player and definitely could contribute to this team if he just starts doing that one simple task of ripping off of blocks. Of course I've been saying that since last year so I won't hold my breath.

Tim Crowder: This was not one of Crowder's better games. One thing I noticed is that he is starting to stand up when he comes out of his stance which slows down his speed rush. A lot of times guys will do this when they are guessing the blocking schemes or if they just haven't worked on keeping their pads low. What ever the reason may be I hope he works on it because otherwise he is going to continue to look slow coming out of his stance even when he gets a good get off.

Crowder also got put on skates one time by the tight end and tackle and it wasn't pretty. He also got swatted up field a lot farther than he should have on a draw play. One thing you can normally count on with Crowder is really good technique but I didn't see it against the Chiefs. Or rather I didn't see what I am used to seeing from him. He did have a nice speed rush on a third down and he had one tackle by my count. He is another guy who didn't play bad but whom I felt like could have and should have played better.

James Ruffin: I'm smiling while I type this because Ruffin went straight old school on us. You will rarely see a defensive lineman trying to grab an offensive lineman's jersey at the shoulder, pull, and rip or arm over anymore. One of the principle reasons is that most offensive linemen these days have their jersey tailored to where its almost impossible to grab there. Another reason is that when you try to make that move you basically give the offensive lineman a free shot to punch you in the chest.

Well evidently Ruffin didn't get the memo because he used the grab, snatch, and pull technique to great effect against the Chiefs' right tackles. He had at least two pressures, one of which lead to an interception and he was generally unblockable from left end.

No, seriously. Go back and watch it. It was as dominant a pass rushing peformance as I've seen in a long time, even in preseason.

Now obviously I doubt whomever the guy blocking him was will make the Chiefs roster (at least their quarterbacks better hope not) but you can't let that take away from Ruffin's play. He still went out there and beat the guy like a drum over and over and over again.

I gotta tell you, if he is doing well on special teams also Ruffin HAS to be a strong candidate for at least the practice squad. If he keeps that up though there's a chance that somebody else might scoop him up for their active roster. I don't think we have enough room to carry im on our 53 but he is still making the most of his opportunities.

Carlton Powell: Did the Bucs sign a new guy??? I swear man the Powell against the Chiefs looked NOTHING like the guy who got pwned last week against the Dolphins. I don't know who lit a fire under him but the difference was like night and day. He was flying around to the ball. He got a couple of tackles and an assist. He looped around on a pirate for contain like he was supposed to. And it appeared that he ran a TOM game with Dre Moore and ended up getting a pressure on the quarterback.

He wasn't perfect of course (he was still on the ground a few times) but he at least looked like he belonged on the field. He still has a long way to go and its an uphill battle for him but I have to tip my cap to the guy. He went out there and decided that he was not going to look bad on film again. And he didn't.

Dre Moore: After last week I thought Dre Moore had turned a corner and was ready to contend for a roster spot. Then yesterday against the Chiefs he seemed to regress in my opinion.

At first he played ok. Nothing earth shattering but he seemed to be where he was supposed to be. But as he got more and more reps he seemed to shut it down a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure he was tired at the end of the game because the Chiefs quarterback was running around a lot and they were throwing a lot of passes. But nobody seemed to be brother in lawing it as much as Moore. I kept waiting to see a get off, a pass rush move, some hustle to the ball. But instead he kept getting worse.

Now look, I know how it is when the monkey jumps on your back. Hell I've been there. But you can't allow fatigue to get to you to the point where it doesn't look like you are even trying anymore. And that, to me, is what Moore looked like at the end of the game.

The plain and simple truth is that that amount of opportunities for a third string guy to impress are extremely limited this time of year and its only going to get worse. Dre Moore had better wake up to that reality in a hurry or he is going to find himself on the outside looking in.

Erik Lorig: Lorig continues to impress me with his effort and ability. He doesn't necessarily look the part but the guy is pretty athletic. Athletic enough that when he was in and the defense ran a 3-4 he was one of the stand up guys. He even made at least one tackle from that position folding inside after taking a pass drop on a draw play.

One of the plays that impressed me most was when he got knocked to the ground on a cut block but got up immediately and got in on the tackle on the running back.

He played more on the right side this week instead of the left and while he played ok from there his pass rushing needs a lot of work from that side. He pass rushed one time from the stand up 3-4 position and ended up going inside and losing contain on the quarterback who ended up taking it outside for a nice gain.

I don't know how many defensive lineman we are keeping this year but it would seem like Lorig is going to have a hard time making the active roster. Still he should be a prime candidate for the practice squad where he can develop a little while longer.

That's all for now. Hope everyone enjoys the breakdown. See you in the comments section.

The Good The Bad And The Ugly

The Good

- Michael Bennett: The guy just keeps showing up on film. He racked up another sack, this time with a caused fumble, along with several other tackles. He was physical, fast and quick and he is making a serious push for playing time at either defensive end spot along with inside at defensive tackle on obvious passing downs.

- James Ruffin: Ruffin went old school on us and was unstoppable with his grab snatch and rip pass rush move. Seriously

- Josh Johnson: Talk about bouncing back. Josh Johnson looked great in relief of Josh Freeman and nothing like the guy who held on to the ball too long against Miami. Against the Chiefs Johnson was quick and decisive and when nothing was there he used his legs to move the ball down the field. 6/10 for 113 and a TD? I'll take that.

- Kareem Huggins and Michael Spurlock: I'm calling it now. Barring an injury or a felony arrest both of these guys are making the team. Huggins was superb once again rushing for 44 yards on 8 carries. Spurlock had 3 catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. And we all know what he can do in the return game on special teams. If preseason matters at all to the Buccaneers they have to keep both of these guys. Otherwise I don't know how they could ever stand in front of the team again and look them in the eyes and talk about the value of hard work and production.

- Mike Williams: It may be just the preseason but I think everyone realizes at this point that Williams is the real deal. When someone comes up with a legitimate reason why he can't put up big numbers this year as a rookie please let me know.

- Donovan Raiola: Last year we all got an abject lesson in what happens when you don't have a qualified backup center. When Jeff Faine down our offensive line fell apart. In the first two games Raiola has shown that he is ready willing and able to take over should something happen to Faine. I know that Jeremy Zuttah is getting reps as the second team center right now, but from my vantage point Raiola is out playing him at that position.

- Connor Barth: Quietly this guy has become Mr. Reliable. Much like with offensive linemen, when people aren't saying much about the kicker it probably means he is doing his job. A position that was a decided weakness for the Bucs the early part of last year has now become a strength.

Now excuse me while I go over in the corner and hope I didn't just jinx him lol.

The Bad

- Donald Penn: Tamba Hali worked over Penn pretty good for most of the first half. Its not that Penn played horrible but its been a long time since I have seen a guy beat him like that. Hali is an up and comer for sure but Penn is going to have to do a lot better than that. And I think he will.

- Dre Moore: Just as I was about to get on the Dre Moore bandwagon it seemed like he regressed this game. It appeared that he fell victim to fatigue. Unfortunately you can't get tired when you are fighting for a job. He is going to have to pick it up and fast.

- Brain Price: The rookie had some issues staying on his feet in his first live action under the lights. Obviously the time away from the field had a major effect on his game. I would expect that once he gets a few more practices under his belt that he will hold up better the next time out.

- Josh Freeman's thumb: I know everyone is bummed out because Josh Freeman fractured his thumb. But as I explain here its not the end of the world. He should be fine by the first game and the team will still do whatever they were going to do from the get go in my opinion.

- Backup Fullbacks: I generally like Chris Pressley as a "thumper" type fullback and I also believe that rookie free agent Rendrick Taylor has a lot of potential. But something is wrong when the team decides to use linebackers or defensive linemen to be lead blockers instead of the backup fullbacks. Adam Heyward looks the part but didn't really set the world on fire as a lead blocker against the Chiefs. However the very fact that he got game reps doing it does not speak well of Pressley or Taylor's chances of making the roster.

The Ugly

- Kickoff team: They gave up a 54 yard return to rookie Javier Arenas that set up the Chiefs' first touchdown.

- Derrick Ward: First off I hope he is ok. Head injuries are obviously not anything to play with. But before he got hurt Ward got 5 carries behind the very same line that Huggins ran behind but could only manage a total of 11 yards. I can't say what exactly it is that's holding Ward back but at the moment he looks like a major free agent bust. What qualified him for the Ugly category is the fact that he promised he would have a big game this week.

You know I went back and checked my notes and scanned the game again trying to find something else to complain about but the truth is we played pretty damn well as a team from top to bottom. Not everyone was outstanding but most played at least ok. Hopefully we can keep that momentum going into our next preseason game where the starters will play the majority of the snaps.


- I couldn't give James Lee a good this week because he was beaten a couple of times on pass rush. But the more I see of the guy the more I like. He actually reminds me of Penn in that he has a nasty streak. You see him blocking guys all the way across the formation. Pass blocking that is. Other times you see him finishing guys off with pancake blocks. I have a feeling that we will see more of him in the years to come.

- I think Sean Jones will be named the starter at strong safety. Its not that he had a great game against the Chiefs as the starter, although he did have some nice open field tackles. But more so its that he didn't look bad. I have always felt that a tie would go to Jones because we know what Sabby can do from his play last season. I think the staff will at least give Jones the opportunity to start so that we can have a break from everything that happened last year. Had Sabby obviously out performed him maybe it would have been different. But that didn't happen so I fully expect an announcement in the next few days to that effect.

- Geno Hayes continues his habit of making hard plays look easy but totally blowing easy plays. Mostly its because he is so fast that he over runs plays a lot of times. But at some point his propensity to free lance is going to really hurt our defense. He has to learn to play within himself if he ever wants to make the most out of his abilities.

- I hate 3 man pass rushes. It had to be said...again.

- Carlos Brown looks good late in games but I don't think he has a chance of making the roster. He might very well get stashed on the practice squad though.

- Rudy Carpenter had a decent game also. I have very low expectations of him because I don't believe his arm is strong enough to compete in the NFL but he really impressed me against the Chiefs.

- I was nervous about having a rookie punter but it looks like Brent Bowden may really be a weapon for us this year.

- Ok I have a pet peeve. Why in the hell does whomever it is that broadcasts our game think that we want to see a closeup of the quarterback right before the snap? Especially when it prevents us from seeing any shifts the offense and or defense is doing before the play starts? It drives me to cuss when they keep the camera on the QB barking signals and then right after the snap they try to go to a wide shot and you can't tell what in the hell is going on. I don't know of anybody who actually thinks that adds to their viewing experience. In fact most of the people I have asked about it hate it just as much as I do.

Can somebody, anybody, get them to knock that $#%& off?! Please and thank you!