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...


  1. I knew this would be a Banger!!! Thanks Steve

  2. Steve,

    You didn't disappoint. However, I do believe Sabby is on the bubble. Lynch and Grimm are really good on special teams and the thought process is they can't possibly be worse if they get in the game than Sabby was last year.

  3. Good job Steve. That pretty much sums it up and I like the reference to Dwayne "Rocky" Johnson and ending it with "jabroni". I think the boys at JoeBucsFan will like this one if you link it. Thanks.

  4. Im goin IN!
    Im goin IN!
    Im goin IN!
    Im goin IN!


  5. cya sabby!! i was rooting for u to get a roster spot but honestly u havent done shit.. id rather have a guy like corey lynch who brings something to the table (blocking kicks) over someone who led the league in missed tackles

  6. Really, REAALLYY enjoyed this article. I hope Sabby gets a chance to read it.