Josh Freeman

Two And Out

January 05, 2014 at 03:00pm by Scott   •  9 Comments »

Lovie Smith will not have interesting press conferences.
When the news came down about the Bucs firing Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik, my first reaction was one of disappointment and absolutely no surprise. No NFL head coach is allowed to take a step backward. Raheem Morris went 10-6 then followed it up with a 4-12 season. Gone. Greg Schiano goes 7-9 in his first season and follows it up with 4-12, and he’s gone too. I was happy to see Morris go because I ultimately didn’t think he was the right guy for the job. But I thought Schiano deserved some more time. These days, head coaches are expected to be perfect and no one is given enough time to get their system to work or instill a culture into the locker room. Rob Chudzinski was fired from the Browns the day before and had only been in Cleveland one season and I didn’t think that was right either even though I couldn’t possibly care less about the Browns. I thought Schiano had brought some discipline and accountability to the team that had been lacking for the past few seasons and that the 2013 season was a necessary step to a better future.

And that shows you exactly how little attention I paid this season.

Story after story came out this year about how Schiano was this huge jackass with no working understanding of how to relate to players who over the age of 20. It was like he was really trying to earn his “World’s Biggest Tool” coffee mug. Whether he was kicking school children out of practice for being too distracting to the players or former Bucs comparing the Schiano regime to Cuba or Schiano himself saying after he was canned that the Tampa Bay situation “needed Greg Schiano“, the guy was an Olympic-class knob. I’ve looked for articles expressing sympathy for Schiano or at least a small “he wasn’t so bad” sentiment after his firing. Nothing. Everyone is happy to see him gone and most everyone predicts he’ll turn up as a high school weight lifting coach, yelling at students who haven’t given enough effort to pop a hernia through their navel yet.

I have different feelings about Mark Dominik, though. I thought throughout the season that the Bucs had enough talent on the field to win. The running back depth was solid all year long even though they were reduced to playing the guy that even Cleveland didn’t want. The linebacking corps is stellar. And the secondary, once the bane of the team, is much improved. Yes, of course there are problems (QUARTERBACK), but all teams have problems. Dominik is a good evaluator of talent and has kept the Bucs in good cap shape so as to be able to afford some of the pricier free agents. His one flaw is apparently hiring head coaches — and that’s a big one. Unless you’re the one writing the checks (like Jerry Jones), you can’t just hire any old schmuck who will take the job (like everybody Jerry Jones hired) and get away with it when the team keeps on losing (like Jerry Jones’s team). So I get it. I just don’t like it. DISCLAIMER: I have spoken with Dominik on several occasions and like him personally. I know being a nice guy doesn’t put your team in the playoffs, but if it did, his team would always be a contender.

Now the Glazers went on their own and hired Lovie Smith, the most average NFL coach ever. Seriously, if you lined up everyone who has ever coached in the NFL in a single line ordered by how good they were, Lovie Smith would be in the dead center. But they weren’t going to go with a college name again after Schiano leg-whipped their team into another top ten draft pick. And they certainly weren’t going to go with another up-and-comer coordinator after Morris went on to define “youngry” as “inexperienced and bad at our jobs”. And there are no former Super Bowl-winning coaches who want to leave their cushy gigs for the sidelines at the moment (although it has been reported that both Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher had been approached). So who’s left? Former NFL head coaches who had recently been fired. And Smith is at the top of that list.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Smith. He’s got Tampa roots, he’s a high-character guy and he will command the respect of the players without anyone using the term “Napoleon complex“. He coached Chicago for nine years, went to the playoffs three times including one trip to the Super Bowl and was fired after a 10-6 season in 2012. He’s just not very exciting. But that’s okay. Nothing is more exciting than winning, so Smith can have the personality of a bag of wet hair as long as he’s racking up victories. It is being reported that Smith will bring in former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford as his offensive coordinator and former Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier as his defensive coordinator. That’s a solid core of coaches. Boring, but solid.

So there you go. Smith will fill in the vacancies with the rest of the coaching staff soon and at some point the Glazers will hire a general manager who is compatible with Smith (right now, Chris Ballard, who was GM in Chicago while Smith was there, is the name being bandied about — not that it matters a whole lot since Smith has final say on the roster) and we’ll fall back into another offseason with a new regime. Only about six weeks until the combine.

You’re Doing It Wrong

November 26, 2013 at 11:27am by Scott   •  9 Comments »

Tim Wright Is Pretty Good

October 18, 2013 at 03:06pm by Scott   •  25 Comments »


Nice article on Tim Wright, who is making the splash that I had hoped Luke Stocker would have made but never did.

The undrafted rookie tight end who was converted from receiver has emerged as a favorite target for new Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, catching seven passes for 91 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles.

That’s a far different arrival than under coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, where Wright didn’t catch a pass until his fourth year on campus and had only one game to rival what he did Sunday, albeit against the NFL’s second-worst pass defense.

The Bucs took a Rutgers player? The hell you say!

In Schiano’s final season, 2011, Wright had 11 catches for 147 yards. But he more than tripled those numbers as a senior. His best game, coincidentally, came at Raymond James Stadium, where he had eight catches for 125 yards in a win against USF.

I would like to thank author Greg Auman for not using the word “ironically” there. I just had to point that out since no one seems to care if they use words properly anymore. Wright having his best game at Raymond James is definitely a coincidence and is not ironic. Thank you, Greg.

This year’s draft saw 16 tight ends drafted. Only three have more receiving yards than Wright’s 138 (one also has 138) and none more than his 132 over the past two games.

The Bucs tradition of finding gems in the undrafted pool continues. This isn’t to say that Wright is the next Jason Witten, but the offense works better when they have a reliable tight end to go along with the receivers. Kellen Winslow may not have bought into the system, but his catches in clutch situations have been harder for the Bucs to replace than they thought. Hopefully Wright is someone who can fill that role. Anyway, there are some interesting nuggets in the article along with the small addendum where we learn that Wright was the team barber (small b) at Rutgers and is continuing to do so for some guys on the Bucs. If anyone can get the championship hair back to Tampa, it’s Wright.

Second Half Struggles

October 18, 2013 at 02:32pm by Scott   •  1 Comment »

If you cannot be turned, then you will be destroyed!
I was reading this article about Mike Sullivan, but the first sentence kind of distracted me:

The Bucs offense is stuggling and has not scored a touchdown in the second half this season.

Now, if the Bucs had been scoring four touchdowns per game in the first half, that would be acceptable. But this is a symptom of a team that not resilient and cannot battle through adversity. I don’t know that moving Sullivan up to the press box is the solution to that.

“It’s something that gives an added vantagepoint that I think it’s helpful from the standpoint of not seeing it at ground level but having that bird’s eye view.”

John McNulty was already up there, but if Sullivan thinks it gives him an advantage to planning a better offensive strategy, fine. But it still doesn’t solve the issue of getting the players up for the second half.

I know what some of you are going to say. It’s the coach’s job to motivate his players — it’s another knock on Greg Schiano if the offense is flat in the second half. And you’re right, it’s a point that needs to be addressed. But it’s still not a reason to pull the plug on him yet. Give him time to deal with all these issues. All the stuff being written here and elsewhere about being done with the Bucs for now needs to be put on hold at least until the end of the season. Give Mike Glennon a chance and re-evaluate the whole team then. Look, I’m already eating the suck salad of being a Tennessee Volunteers fan this season. It’s pretty much adding bacon bits to it by being a Bucs fan too. And if I can still watch all the games, so can you.

Calm Down People

October 08, 2013 at 09:52am by Scott   •  20 Comments »

calmdown1

There’s been a lot of talk about the state of the Bucs and the how this team is spiraling out of control and how Greg Schiano needs to be fired now and blah blah blah. It’s all over sports radio and the web that this team is already dead and buried and it’s Schiano’s fault. I don’t know how we became so impatient that a coach needs to be successful immediately in order to not get fired.

I realize there are arguments to be made that Schiano isn’t doing well. The Bucs are 0-4 to start the season and they have that record with a ton of talent on the roster. They seem to be regressing in certain aspects of their game. And there are more leaks and drama on the team than there has ever been in the past. But I’m going to lay most of that on Josh Freeman. We all knew Freeman was inaccurate and made bad decisions coming out of college (like, for example, coming out of college). We discussed it on this site and so did every other outlet. But he was big and strong and mobile and Raheem Morris really liked him and he was finally a chance for the Bucs to have their first true franchise quarterback in decades. And with the youth movement, there’s no way they were going to stick with someone like Jeff Garcia or Brian Griese. So I get it. But three and a half years of starting games and never finding consistency is long enough. You can blame the multiple offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches if you like, and there’s some validity to that. But when you combine his lack of productivity with his apparently lackadaisical approach to team obligations, it just wasn’t going to work.

This write-up by Roy Cummings gives an account of the last few weeks of the Josh Freeman era. Missed obligations by Freeman followed by leniency by the Bucs led only to more missed obligations. I had always heard that Freeman was a hard worker and forced other players to be accountable. Whether that was always exaggerated or used to be true but fell off in later years, I’m not sure. Whatever the case, Freeman ended his tenure as a Buccaneer as a slacker. And if Greg Schiano is intolerant of anything, it’s being a slacker.

(As much as I’ve ripped on Cummings over the years, that is a very even-handed look at the situation. But if you don’t trust Cummings, maybe you’ll believe Ronde Barber’s assessment of the situation: “The best thing that they did was release Josh. Somehow, someway that situation had to end. It had gotten toxic from both sides. Josh was manipulating, everybody felt like Coach was manipulating, but I don’t feel like Greg was that kind of guy. Greg wants what’s best for this team. I think he can get the locker room back. I want to see him get the locker room back.”)

Now that Schiano has Mike Glennon, the quarterback he wanted, he’s on the hook for the team now. But he’ll still need a couple years to groom Glennon. And this bullshit about Mark Dominik being on the hot seat has to end now. This team is stocked with talent at every level of both the offense and defense. Everybody keeps pointing at his drafts like they’re failures, but he has found some excellent players over the last couple years. The top end of the 2012 draft looks especially awesome. And it’s not just drafts. He also signed some free agents that have produced good numbers. It’s Dominik’s job to give Schiano the pieces he needs to succeed and I think he has done that. Glennon is really the only unknown piece (and unfortunately the most important one). Everywhere else — running back, offensive line, linebackers, secondary, wherever — he’s got legitimate stars.

The only issue now is that all three of the main guys — the general manager, the head coach and the quarterback — are all tied together. If Glennon fails, the team fails and that will fall on Schiano who will have not been able to succeed with tons of talent and his own quarterback. And if Schiano fails, that will fall on Dominik who will have hired two coaches who couldn’t get it done. But again, I think Glennon needs to have the rest of this year and all of next year to be tested before any real assessment can be made of any of them.

So listen, the Bucs aren’t going to the playoffs. They can’t win the division unless Drew Brees spontaneously combusts and I can guarantee there will be two teams better than them when the wildcards shake out. So the pressure is off, and you’ve got to watch the games with that attitude. When Glennon makes a mistake, look at it as a learning experience for him. Watch Gerald McCoy get better every week and watch the defense go from good to great. If they win, hey that’s awesome. If they lose, that’s a better draft slot next year. If you’re a Bucs fan from way back, you’ve been through this before and you know the possibilities are wide open. But continue to watch and continue to support. They’re still our team.

Jets Game Notes

September 12, 2013 at 01:54am by Scott   •  46 Comments »

Vincent Jackson
* We’ve seen this version of Josh Freeman before. He starts off cold but gets better in the middle of the game. Then it’s unpredictable. He can either pull some amazing victories out at the last second or implode into a huge heap of suck. Sunday he was looking pretty decent at the end of the game, so that’s a plus. But they started off completely out of synch and poorly managed, and that’s on him. Sorry the speaker in your helmet wasn’t working, you should have a play ready just in case that happens. Just from this one game, I have a hard time trusting him for a whole season. And I’m not the only one; the fact that he wasn’t voted team captain is significant.

* But the safety wasn’t his fault.

* Wasn’t Kevin Ogletree the Cowboy who caught all those clutch passes when Dez Bryant and Miles Austin were covered? What the hell happened to this guy?

* Nice to know the Bucs have a kicker that can drill a potential game winner under pressure. The carousel-o-kickers had be a little nervous in the offseason.

* Darrelle Revis looks good. I’m not ready to say the trade was worth it yet, but I like the way he’s coming back from the injury. And let’s face it, no rookie would have gotten Treasure Island to change their name for a day. And know this: If Revis gets hurt again, some team will throw 4-digits against the Bucs.

* Lavonte David’s penalty to completely screw the game was mostly bullshit. Geno Smith’s foot hadn’t even landed out of bounds yet when David pushed him. Yes, that’s where he was headed and it would have taken a freakish feat of athleticism to avoid it. But it happens. When defenders give up on plays, runners have a way of making them look dumb. I have a vivid memory of a defensive lineman having a quarterback in the grasp but not taking him down because he didn’t want to get fined. So he let up, but the whistle hadn’t blown, so the quarterback just ran away. I’ve been looking for this clip for a little while now and can’t find it, but it’s a great example of what happens when you don’t play through (If someone wants to tell me who the defender and/or quarterback was, that would be just swell. I keep thinking it was Vince young, but I don’t think Young ever did anything memorable.) My point is that David need to be more aware, but his actions were understandable and he certainly should not shoulder all the blame for this loss.

* Vincent Jackson had an awesome day, but he should get some shit in the locker room for getting caught from behind by a linebacker.

* Two sacks by Mason Foster? Very cool, but is his thing going to be blitzing?

* Doug Martin didn’t appear to have any room to run, and that’s mostly the line’s fault. Carl Nicks needs to come back because Gabe Carimi isn’t getting it done and Donald Penn had a terrible game.

This was a bad Jets team with a rookie starting quarterback and the Bucs still lost. They’ll get better during the season, but so far I think the same thing I thought during the preseason: This team will be frustrating to watch.

And The Preseason Bashing Starts

August 16, 2013 at 01:44am by Scott   •  30 Comments »

Go ahead and call these fans disinterested to their faces.
According to TheStreet.com, the Bucs should move out of Tampa. Where to? The author, Jason Notte, doesn’t say because he’s just getting his word count up at this point in the article and it’s much easier to just bash Tampa than offer anything useful.

The team blacked out six out of eight home games last season and 25 out of the past 29 overall. Management accepted the new blackout threshold and tweaked ticket prices.

This is true, but a two year sales slump does not justify picking up the team and moving. The games don’t sell out because the team has been losing. It really is that simple. When the Bucs start winning consistently, the fans will show up again.

Never mind that the team’s $69.72 average ticket price is still the costliest in Florida despite being $10 below the league average, according to Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index.

First, if you’re going to start out a sentence with “never mind”, you shouldn’t bother putting numbers in it. But since he took the time, he says the Bucs’ average ticket is the costliest in Florida. But according to Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index (the same publication he cited), The Dolphins have a ticket price of $71.14, which, if I remember my Diff Eq class, is more than the Bucs. But he’s right about the Bucs being $10 below the NFL average ticket price. In fact, they’re in the bottom 25% of the league. Any NFL game is an expensive date, but if you’re going to go, the Bucs are a relative bargain. The Glazers can’t make the tickets much cheaper — the team just has to start winnning.

By comparison, Seattle Seahawks fans in a far more economically stable city paid $2 less to see their team play each Sunday last year.

Why he picks Seattle I have no idea. He doesn’t bother to explain. I’ll pick the Jets, who have a $118 average ticket price and a joke of a team, to compare the Bucs to. What a deal!

Seriously, I stared at the article for five minutes wondering what made Seattle special enough to single out. I’d gladly pay a $2 premium to be able to see a team in a city where I don’t constantly want to cut myself.

The Seahawks made the playoffs, while the Bucs didn’t even make their local affiliate’s broadcast most of the time.

Eat me.

So where would the Bucs go? Ask the Glazer family of owners, who punted Bucs home games to London in 2009 and 2011 because they were more profitable than playing them in Tampa. The Glazers are a bit preoccupied by England, what with owning one of its more storied Premier League franchises in Manchester United, so the NFL to them is a bit like their “football” is to the average Bucs fan — an afterthought at best.

And his backup for this assessment is… squat! No quotes, no stories of homes being built in London or the Glazers never showing up in Tampa and being absentee owners. Because none of that stuff is true. If the Glazers want to own a dozen sports teams, let them. It’s their money. All I care about is if the Bucs are being managed properly and I believe from an ownership standpoint they are. And they’ve got a solid GM in charge to take care of the football decisions, so I’m not sure what else they can do. I’m still reserving judgment on the coach, but that’s a discussion for a different day.

You have an ownership too rich and preoccupied with international wins to care and you have a local fan base too rattled by the recession and put off by years of mediocrity to make an investment.

The recession hit Tampa pretty hard, but things are starting to trend upward. Is there some magic city in the country where the populous is so flush with cash that they need an NFL to take some of it off their hands? Google doesn’t have city-by-city stats, but going by state, Florida is doing better than California in unemployment rate. And let’s face it, Los Angeles is the only city any NFL team would consider moving to at this point. I’m still looking for the logic as to why he thinks Tampa is so bad.

And the crack about the Glazers being too preoccupied with international wins is just a restatement of his previous point, which is just as wrong now as it was then.

The result is a halfhearted attempt to field a competitive NFL team and a half-interested fan base almost hoping this week’s Bucs game doesn’t sell out so Fox can show the far superior NFC game of the week instead.

He’s painting Tampa as disinterested in the Bucs, which is simply untrue. Has he ever been to Tampa? The fans are actually hoping the game does sell out so they don’t have to shell out the money to see the team in person because they are afraid they’re going to pay to see the team lose. For the last time, WINNING CURES ALL.

NFL owners don’t usually put up with this kind of brazen apathy, but the Glazers would have to stay in Tampa long enough to notice. If the Glazers are trying to create enough institutional disinterest to move the team to London without generating so much as a belabored sigh, they’re doing a brilliant job.

Oh this guy sucks. Like, a lot. Of course, he’s the same guy who tried to talk you into drinking chocolate beer on Valentine’s Day, so please measure your respect accordingly.

Larry Brown Is Getting All Nostalgic

August 13, 2013 at 12:22am by Scott   •  4 Comments »

The green shirt means he can't throw.

I finally watched the Ravens game and I do have a couple comments about it that I’ll post tomorrow, but I just have to ask this one question now: What contest did Adam Weber win in order to get a chance to play in a professional preseason football game and how many cereal box tops did he need to send in? If I had known about it, I would have entered too. Even Neil O’Donnell thinks that was a ridiculous interception.

Camp Stuff

August 09, 2013 at 01:32am by Scott   •  11 Comments »

Here’s a couple things happening in camp over the last couple days:

* There is a kicking competition taking place now that Connor Barth is done for the year. The Bucs brought Lawrence Tynes in, which looked like a slam dunk, but Tynes has a tow injury now and is leaving the door open for Derek Dimke, who was an undrafted free agent last year and has never been on an active NFL roster. And Greg Schiano is making it very clear that no one has an edge.

“When we started this competition, Tynes was in front because he was the veteran,” Schiano said. “But I’ve never coached either one of them. This isn’t a book about what’s happened in the past, this is about the Bucs in 2013, and where are we today? That’s what we’ve got to look at. The competition is good, the injury has definitely set Lawrence back, so we’ve got to get him feeling well before we can make a fair judgment.”

In case you want to buy your Dimke jersey now, he is wearing #3 in camp.

* Luke Stocker has been activated from the PUP list and has had limited participation in practice. It would be really cool if he could, you know, do something this year. Or ever. I like the guy, but he is apparently made of paper. And not that thick construction paper kids need extra-sharp scissors to cut through. We’re talking tissue paper, single ply.

* Adrian Clayborn is on the practice field but riding a bike for now.

* Darrelle Revis is slowly progressing in what he’s doing for practice. Now he’s playing against a QB/WR combo and reacting to what he sees. Next they’ll put him in a 7-on-7 drill. It sounds like he’s coming along pretty well and my bet is he will be ready for the first game. Which, for $16-million this season, would be just dandy.

Okay, I’ve been trying to add a photo to this entry for 15 minutes now and it’s just not happening. It’s probably because it’s a photo of a kicker and WordPress knows kickers shouldn’t be any larger than 300px, but I’m not going to scale it down right now.

Oh Hey There

August 05, 2013 at 12:19am by Scott   •  27 Comments »

So, what would you say you do here?
So, it’s been a little while, eh? I don’t know how much sense I’m going to make in this post where I try to explain why entries have been so sparse and, frankly, boring. I’m mostly typing this off the cuff, so if you’re not into free form meandering and gibberish, feel free not to click the MORE button. Something Buccaneer-related will be coming soon enough.

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