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Archive for January 2012

Glazers Didn’t Need Sapp’s Input

January 31, 2012 at 02:00pm by Scott   •  6 Comments »

I like that someone feels the need to hold Sherman back. WATCH OUT SAPP!
I waited all morning for some news to happen that was interesting in any way (maybe Greg Schiano would like to hire a coach or two sometime soon?) but it never happened and I’ve got other shit to do with my life, so here’s Pat Yasinskas reporting on LeRoy Butler‘s theory that Warren Sapp somehow influenced the Glazers not to hire Mike Sherman.

Sapp sent out some tweets that blasted Sherman and general manager Mark Dominik, who use the same agent. Sherman had interviewed with the Bucs early in the process and again last week.

Butler claims that Sapp’s tweets influenced the Glazers to pass on Sherman and hire Greg Schiano away from Rutgers.

Yasinskas mostly dismisses this theory although he does leave a little wiggle room by saying he’d “like to think” it’s not true. Well of course it’s not true. Sapp is a welcome guest at One Buc Place and will soon have his name in the Ring of Honor as well as the Hall of Fame, but they’re not going to turn to the guy for hiring decisions. If that were the case, they’d have hired Rod Marinelli, who Sapp absolutely loves. The Glazers know why Sapp doesn’t like Sherman and it’s not a valid reason to remove him from consideration for the job. A player who last was with the team nine years ago having a personal grudge against a coach isn’t going to influence businessmen like the Glazers. If they really took a player’s legacy into account when they made their decisions, the whole Derrick Brooks thing would have gone down a lot differently.

I saw guys on Twitter and message boards who were saying that being pro-Sherman is tantamount to being anti-Sapp and that’s complete bullshit. Why do I need to give a shit about who Sapp has a personal beef with in order to root for a particular coach to get the job? I kind of liked the fact that Sherman was willing to stick up for a player that he believed got cheapshotted (even though I am on Sapp’s side that it wasn’t really that cheap). I like a little fire in a coach. Being a fan of a team or a player doesn’t mean you automatically align yourself with their rivalries or biases or anything else. People need to stop being such fucking sheep.

Skinny Mike Williams

January 30, 2012 at 05:20pm by Scott   •  12 Comments »

Mike Williams wants to make a left turn.
I’ve been asked about this rumor about a dozen times, so I’ll go ahead and post about it. Charlie Campbell, formerly of Pewter Report and now of Walter Football (“Walter”?) published an entry today quoting former Bucs coaches that Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount are dogging it.

Two players who allegedly deserve some criticism for not working hard enough are running back LeGarrette Blount and wide receiver Mike Williams. Sources said both players were not spending the right amount of time preparing their bodies for Sunday. Neither one was hitting the weight room or training room as they should. Former coaches said both players needed to spend regular time in the cold tub and build their bodies in the weight room to play better on Sundays.

And there are no more reliable sources than recently fired and probably bitter ex-coaches who throw their former players under busses anonymously and have nothing to lose by taking out their frustrations on them publicly.

Former team staff said Williams in particular was a mess. In the beginning of the season, Williams was struggling to get separation from defensive backs. He thought he was too heavy, so he started losing weight, and by the end of the season, sources said that Williams was too frail and didn’t have the strength to fight off jams and re-routes. Williams also was said to be partying a lot at night, and as a result, he was falling asleep during meetings.

The part about Williams not getting separation is true. The rest of that story makes him sound like Karen Carpenter. Raheem Morris may have gotten overly permissive in his last season, but I’m going to say that if he saw that one of this players was getting “frail” that he would have been on it. You can’t hide a cornerback jamming you off your route and if that was what was happening, Raheem would have done something about it, especially in those last several weeks when he started turning up the heat.

This isn’t to say that the story is completely untrue. Williams’s workout and practice habits probably went to shit, and that would explain a lot. But “frail” is a bit much. This is the Star Magazine of football.

One coach said that if Williams doesn’t wake up and turn things around, he will have another down year.

Really? If Williams continues to do the things that produced a bad year, he’ll have another bad year? Someone give this man a degree in physics!

I think one of the first things Greg Schiano does is lay down the law for practice and training habits. Schiano won’t have any problem benching a player who isn’t ready to go out and compete. And Schiano doesn’t have any loyalty to any of the current players (except possibly Jeremy Zuttah) so no one will be immune, including Williams or Blount.

Butch Davis Being Considered for Something Or Other

January 30, 2012 at 11:26am by Scott   •  4 Comments »

Davis 1

Peter King is saying in this week’s MMQB that Greg Schiano may be eyeing Butch Davis for his defensive coordinator. I know, can you believe it? The Patriots are in the Super Bowl and King managed to write a paragraph that doesn’t mention Tom Brady. I blame coffee poisoning.

Not sure whether Davis would be defensive coordinator or an assistant head coach, but Schiano’s interested in adding him to the staff at Tampa Bay. Schiano was Davis’ defensive coordinator at the University of Miami in 1999 and 2000, and they have remained close. Davis hasn’t coached in the NFL since he was dismissed by the Browns after the 2004 season. He’d be a good sounding board for Schiano.

New Jersey is one of the 26 places King considers home, and I have no doubt he has some connections with Schiano or the Rutgers program or someone who may know this, so I’m pretty sure Schiano is at least considering it. And of course he’d be the defensive coordinator. Teams don’t have assistant head coaches without other titles and what else would Davis be?

Davis’s key claim to fame is the Cowboys’ defense during their rebuild and first two Super Bowls of the 90s. In 1994, Davis’s last year in Dallas, the Cowboys had the #1 overall defense. And it’s not like that team was overflowing with Hall of Famers, either. They had Charles Haley and Darren Woodson and a couple others that were very good, but you have to think that Davis got the most out of them. Davis’s time with the Browns was ultimately disappointing, but he did get that team to the playoffs one year, which is no small feat. I mean, it’s Cleveland.

Schiano prides himself on having an attacking mentality on defense and he’d want Davis to do the same. I think he would come in with a clear plan of how he wanted to construct the defense, how he wanted each position played, and what everyone’s role is. And I think that was missing from Raheem Morris‘s defense. Morris wanted to have this hybrid thing and no one really got good at their position. If Davis is the guy, I think all the guesswork is over and guys can concentrate on executing.

Checks Will Be Written

January 28, 2012 at 10:14pm by Scott   •  7 Comments »

Mark Dominik doesn't care for your skepticism.

Is seems that along with a new head coach comes a new philosophy on how the Bucs will be built.

“We’re going to do it in free agency,” Mark Dominik said. “I don’t want people to be worried we’re not going to spend in free agency.”

This isn’t some throwaway statement Dominik is making. “Building through the draft” was the mantra during Raheem Morris‘s tenure, and they stuck to it pretty strictly. And when 2010 was successful with several rookies and undrafted guys, the philosophy went unquestioned. But when 2011 fell into the toilet with a ten game losing streak, it became evident that the team didn’t have the experience or maturity to deal with adversity and that building only through the draft wasn’t going to work when they had no veterans to fall back on. The Glazers were maligned as cheap and unwilling to spend cash on the team, but I really think it was more an unreasonable adherence to the plan. Dominik’s statement is a revelation. “We’re going to do it in free agency” means another lesson was learned.

Just like Greg Schiano‘s hiring, most Bucs fans will greet this statement with a “we’ll see” attitude, and that’s fair. But I’d ask the most cynical fans — the ones who will dismiss this statement as a promise that won’t be delivered on — to suspend your disbelief for a few months and give them a chance to fulfill it. Free agency isn’t too far off and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at some of the aggressive moves they make.

REAR ENTRIES: Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me

January 27, 2012 at 10:14am by Scott   •  12 Comments »

Rear Entry 112

REACTIONS TO SCHIANO: The Times mad some calls and spoke with some people who had a background with Greg Schiano to get their reactions to his hiring by the Bucs. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

“I think with the attention to detail and doing things the right way, players know he’s tough. But you know he cares, too.”

“Guys are going to love playing for him. He’ll be hard on you. But you’re going to love him for it because he does it for the right reasons.”

“He’ll have command when he stands in front of that team. He’ll have instant respect from those guys. And I know he’ll have a plan and he’ll stick to that plan. He’s not going to deviate.”

Go back and read comments about Raheem Morris. They’re very similar — the whole “tough but caring” vibe is Raheem’s stock in trade. Players really did love him. But the difference here is that Schiano also has 11 years of experience head coaching a football team. So if you can add experience to the ability to make players play hard for you, you might have a winning combination. Or you might still have a disaster. What am I, psychic?

Also, I forgot Jeremy Zuttah went to Rutgers and played his entire college career under Schiano. There are some quotes from him in the article above, and he also did a radio interview about his new coach here (link via JBF).

CHAMPIONSHIP PROMISES: I wouldn’t have mentioned this if it hadn’t come up a few different times, but while I was reading different quotes about Schiano, I came across multiple references to Schiano promising to take Rutgers to a championship and reminders that he never did.

The first real paragraph of the nj.com article that announced Schiano’s departure:

Greg Schiano, who returned Rutgers to respectability but never delivered the championships he repeatedly promised during his 11 years on the job, has abruptly left the school — at the height of recruiting — to become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers…

That part about recruiting is not insignificant. National Signing Day is next Wednesday. You can bet the vultures are going to come out and try to pull Rutgers commits to different schools now that Schiano left. It’s kind of a shitty time to leave, not that Schiano could have done much about it since the Glazers took so long.

From the Rutgers AD, Tim Pernetti:

“Those championships (Schiano promised) are down the road.”

That’s in the middle of a paragraph of praise for Schiano, so I don’t want it to come across as Pernetti dogging Schiano. But it would have been easier to not mention the promised championships. He did, and probably to emphasize that Schiano didn’t deliver. Just a little dig, but there’s still some bitterness there.

I’m sure when Schiano promised those championships, he meant Big East championships, which seems like a reasonable goal given how much he improved the Rutgers program and how shitty the Big East is overall. But still, leaving and never having delivered makes him look like college football’s Rex Ryan, minus the foot thing. Jon Gruden came in a promised nothing more than “a lot of hard work and effort”, kept expectations relatively low and produced a championship that year. We’ll see how much Schiano promises in Tampa and how loud the bravado gets.

KELLEN WANTED CHUD: Kellen Winslow was one of the most vocal supporters of Raheem Morris, going so far as to say that he didn’t want to play for anyone else. But no one asked Winslow his opinion before the Bucs canned Raheem, so unless he retires, he’s playing for someone else. He doesn’t mind Schiano, but he really wanted Rob Chudzinski.

“I was really hoping for Coach Chudzinski who I was with at Miami and Cleveland,” Winslow said. “But, you know, we got another guy in Greg Schiano who I know and heard he’s one of the best coaches people have been around. And he’s got a lot of enthusiasm and [is] real energetic so I’m excited, man.”

No, he’s not excited. When asked what Chud would have brought to the table:

“Just a guy that could come in and take over and get this offense going,” Winslow said. “And, you know, I mean, he’s been top of the league past seasons, Chud I’m talking about. You got Cam Newton going over there and their offense rolling over there and they’re a much better team for it. Just past connections and I know what offense he runs and love his offense obviously.”

Kellen wanted an offensive guy, which is no surprise. And we’ll see what kind of OC Schiano brings in. It will be interesting to see how Winslow reacts if it isn’t someone he really likes or gives him a lot of touches. Was Winslow’s maturity and work ethic his own doing, or was it because he respected Raheem so much and didn’t want to let him down?

Oh, and congratulations to PFT for bringing up the soldier comment again. Very relevant. Say, how’s Terry Bradshaw doing these days?

UPDATED: Who’s The New Coach? That Guy!

January 26, 2012 at 12:11pm by Scott   •  29 Comments »

Switzerland is small and neutral. We're more like Germany, ambitious and misunderstood.

I don’t know who Greg Schiano is and if you say you do you’re a liar. All I know is he is the head coach of Rutgers and has a 68-67 record there. I don’t keep up with much of what happens in the Big East. Although I have a passing interest in what happens with USF, it’s really not enough to translate into bothering to know anything about their fellow conference members. Ray Rice went to Rutgers, right? I remember 2006 was a big deal for them — the only year they were ranked. And now it looks like he’ll be the next head coach of the Buccaneers. Because, really, why the fuck not?

According to multiple reports, the Bucs plan to hire Rutgers coach Greg Schiano if terms of a contract can be reached.

Chip Kelly had leverage because he’s a rock star college coach now. Schiano, on the other hand, is coming from New Jersey, so the fact that he can see the sun in Tampa would be compensation enough for him to take the job. Nothing is completed yet, but if the Glazers really want him, it’s going to happen.

Schiano is a defensive coach, but I honestly don’t know anything about his scheme. I’ll look into it. I also haven’t heard about who he’d bring in as coordinators, but I can’t imagine he has the influence to bring in any big names. He has endorsements from Bill Belichick, so that’s nice. But then again, so did Josh Daniels. Soooo…. are you excited yet?

UPDATE: It’s official now. To make yourselves feel better, try to keep in mind all those college coaches that went on to successful careers in the pros. Jimmy Johnson, umm…. is it too early to count Jim Harbaugh? So there’s two. Hooray!

Draftable Cornerbacks

January 25, 2012 at 03:55pm by Scott   •  11 Comments »

Cornerbacks 1

Since nothing of any consequence has happened regarding the head coaching position, we might as well talk about the draft. In past years, I’d go over the Bucs’ roster first and then start talking about draftable prospects. But without knowing what systems are going to be in place, there’s really no point in talking about the current guys when many of them may be eliminated just based on scheme. So, we’ll dive right into the young kids.

That didn’t come out the way I meant it.

I think most of us can agree that cornerback is one of the most pressing (no pun) needs on the team, and is probably #1. Mark Dominik has drafted three true cornerbacks since he has been GM: E.J. Biggers, Myron Lewis and Anthony Gaitor, none higher than Lewis in the third round. None of them have made much of an impression, although Biggers has gotten significant playing time. Aqib Talib, on the other hand, who was drafted in Bruce Allen‘s last year in the first round, is arguably the most talented player on the defense and is a definite playmaker (let’s overlook the character concerns for the purposes of this conversation). The lesson Dominik will probably take from this is that he needs to spend a high draft pick in order to get a real quality cornerback. So if I had to bet, I’d say that the Bucs pick a cornerback in the first or second rounds.

The Bucs have the fifth pick in the draft, and that’s probably high enough to get Morris Claiborne (LSU), the top corner on everyone’s board. Great hands and instincts and is rarely out of position. He is fast, generally running in the mid 4.4s, and I think is measurables like his vertical and backpedaling drills will be high at the combine. Claiborne is also a solid kick returner. Great blend of athleticism and smarts who is clean off the field. The only thing that I see as a negative is his weight. He lists now at 185 but I’ve seen him at 177 and he doesn’t look any different. That’s going to be an issue when he goes up against a big, physical receiver like Calvin Johnson who can jam him on the line and then go in for the quick pass. It’s something that can be fixed and he may try to get that weight and build up in the next month before the combine and continue to work on it up through the draft. But besides that, he’s a top quality cover corner.

Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) is another top-rated cornerback, generally thought of as the #2 or #3 available. He’s tall at 6-2, but still only about 192 or so. He’s not a burner but has enough speed — probably about a 4.5 40. He’s a hard hitter, a sure tackler, and can play both press and zone well. He doesn’t have a lot of picks at Alabama and isn’t exactly a ball hawk — he’s better at blanking out the receiver than intercepting. Oh, and he was just arrested for pot possession. If you remember, Talib tested positive for pot three times at Kansas. Does this mean that Kirkpatrick will turn out just like Talib and have constant legal issues? Yes. Yes it does.

(Backup joke: “No, of course not. When have you ever heard of an Irish guy having substance problems?”)

The Bucs could trade down and get Kirkpatrick with a mid-first rounder, depending on his combine performance. But it really doesn’t seem worth it to me. That seems like the worst of both worlds of value and talent. If the Bucs are going to spend their first round pick on a corner, they should get the best.

In the second round, you’ve got guys like Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska) and Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) that could work, although Jenkins is another guy who has off-the-field issues (which is the reason he isn’t at Florida anymore). Dennard is a little shorter, but stockier and a very physical cover corner, but struggles some in zone. He’s aggressive, but that same aggressiveness got him ejected from the Capital One Bowl a few weeks ago when he threw a punch on the field.

All in all, this is a weak draft for top cornerbacks. But Claiborne is the real deal. The Bucs have taken on projects before with lower-round corners in the past and none of them have really worked out. Unless the new coaching staff has some outstanding cornerback guru who can mold a talented but raw kid into a decent corner, they’re going to need to spend a high pick on one or deal with it in free agency. And if they’re going to do it in this draft, it pretty much have to be Claiborne.

Mike Sherman Gets Second Interview

January 24, 2012 at 12:32pm by Scott   •  8 Comments »

You'll all be happy to know that Sherman carried his baby to full term.
The headline pretty much sums it up.

By Monday afternoon, former Green Bay Packers and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman became the first candidate to be called for a second interview with the Bucs this week.

Which makes him the frontrunner again. Fennelly was right in that this news is not exciting in any way. But at least I don’t think Sherman will bail for a better deal in two years. I couldn’t say the same for Chip. And as long as we’re talking about him…

Compensation was not a factor in Kelly’s decision to remain in Oregon. He signed a six-year agreement with Oregon worth $20.5 million in 2010, an average of just over $3.4 million per season, making him the Pac-10′s second highest-paid coach behind USC’s Lane Kiffin.

First of all, fuck Lane Kiffin. Second, just because Kelly is already making a bunch of money doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to make more or that he didn’t see an opportunity to make more down the line by throwing his name out there as a potential NFL coach. More and more big colleges coaches are nothing more than hired guns who will jump at the first opportunity to increase their salary, whether it’s by going to another job or just making their current employer think they will. It’s so sad. Oh, also, have I mentioned fuck Lane Kiffin?

This Interview Process Isn’t Entertaining Enough!

January 24, 2012 at 12:21pm by Scott   •  4 Comments »

The Glazers are smiling because they instructed the chef to taint Fennelly's nachos.
Now that Chip Kelly has decided to stay in Nikeville, several articles have come out characterizing the Glazers as spurned and jilted, as though they have something to be embarrassed about. The dumbest and most insulting, of course, comes from Martin Fennelly.

Now they have egg on their face – Duck egg, no less.

Oregon’s Chip Kelly will not be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach and we’re beginning to wonder if anyone will. It’s jilted at the altar, hold the Tuna.

Did anyone say that Jeff Fisher left the Dolphins at the alter? No. He considered his options and picked one. We don’t know how far along negotiations were. Kelly could have said he wanted $10-million and when the Glazers told him no, he backed out. But somehow this is an embarrassment for the Bucs and now no one wants to be the head coach. Right.

It’s face saving time.

If the Bucs are interested in a coach and that coach decides to use the team for leverage with his current team, that’s not something the Bucs can do much about. They didn’t come to Oregon groveling on their hands and knees begging for Chip Kelly to come and rescue their franchise. It was a fucking job interview.

Kelly will be an NFL coach one day soon, so this had to be more than smelling the Oregon tall firs. Could it be that Kelly sniffed the Bucs and said not there, not now? Has the Tampa Bay brand fallen that badly?

This is one possibility, but it’s the one that everyone seems to be grabbing for. Could it be that Kelly heard something at the interview that gave him a bad vibe about the Bucs? Sure. I’m not sure what that would be, but I’m thinking Dominik and the Glazers didn’t open the interview with “Well, we’re not going to spend any money on players, so suck on that.” Everyone puts on their best face for the first impression. More likely, if we’re assuming he heard something he didn’t like, it was from someone else he knows in the business that also knows the Bucs and maybe gave him some dirt. But I still think he never really intended to leave Oregon unless he got a Godfather-type deal.

I mean, getting dumped by Parcells is one thing, actually. Actually, it’s two things, since he dumped the Bucs twice.

But … Chip Kelly ?

“Dumped”. Yes, that’s exactly what happened (can you hear my eyes rolling through your monitor?). And if anyone should know dumps, it’s the guy who squats and leaves a fresh one in the sports section every morning.

I mentioned Kelly as a possibility a month ago in the name of offense, offense, offense. I dropped the idea when Kelly’s name didn’t surface on many NFL search or interview lists. Give the Glazers and Bucs general manager Mark Dominik high marks for stealth – and low marks for finishing.

“Yes, only I know the secret plans of the Glazers! I, and no one else, came up with the revolutionary idea of interviewing a college head coach who had recently been to the National Championship game. It was a stretch, much like getting my arms high enough to pat myself on the back without hyperventilating.”

How do you like your eggs, scrambled, fried or over easy?

Wow, a food reference. Who would have guessed?

Who, Glazers included, is excited about any of the men who’ve already been interviewed?

Marty Schottenheimer?

He might be the best face-saver handy, a fall back, a stabilizer, a caretaker.

Excited?

Hey, there’s Mike Sherman?

Excited?

I like Rob Chudzinski, but he’s a little green, and who would he bring to work the defense?

Chip Kelly would have been exciting, at least until the losses start to add up. But he isn’t coming. And if there are no more candidates that Fennelly considers exciting enough, then this section has no purpose than to rub the Bucs’ faces in the fact that they didn’t get him. Classy.

If all this talk seems slightly scattershot, how is it any different than the Glazers? They have been all over the place with this search, by age, by experience, by any measure.

Yeah, who needs to bring in a wide range of diverse coaches to choose from? They should have just cloned Chip Kelly five times and interviewed all of them. Much more consistent.

And everyone they’ve interviewed has been a coordinator or head coach in the NFL, except his buddy Chip. And the extremes of age have been Chud at 43 and Schott at 68, both within reason. Raheem Morris wasn’t within reason, so they’ve learned that lesson.

At least Chip Kelly wouldn’t have been boring. It might have been fun.

What’s fun now?

The interview process is never fun. It’s not supposed to be. You know what is fun? Winning football games. It NEVER GETS OLD. So how about we let them pick someone they think is a winner and then we can start the criticism?

Chip Kelly Came And Went Like A Cheap Whore

January 23, 2012 at 08:48am by Scott   •  11 Comments »

Hey, Tampa fans -- FUCK YOU! Love, Chip Kelly
Over the weekend, the news broke that the Glazers secretly interviewed Chip Kelly for the Bucs’ head coaching position. And now, according to Rick Stroud, they are finalizing the deal.

Kelly would make the jump from college to the NFL if a financial agreement can be reached, Portland’s KGW-TV reported Sunday night.

Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said he has no plans to travel to Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., today in antici­pation of an agreement with Kelly. As of Sunday night, there were many details to work out, the Times confirmed.

Dominik can go ahead and go to Alabama now.

Chip Kelly, who was in negotiations to become the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, has changed his mind and decided to stay at the University of Oregon, according to several news reports.

When the Glazers want someone they make the push to get him, so Kelly probably was never really serious about this. It may have been to show Oregon that he will consider the NFL and that they need to give him a raise to keep him from doing it again next year. I had originally thought Lane Kiffin leaked the meeting a week before National Signing Day so he could pillage Kelly’s incoming freshmen, but now it appears that Kelly himself probably did it to create leverage with Oregon. People are scum.

Kelly’s offense at Oregon was a spread offense run at 100 MPH. They get the ball snapped with 30 seconds still left on the play clock, giving defenses no chance to substitute players or adjust to whatever the offense is doing. That offense requires a smart, athletic quarterback who can live in the shotgun. Know anyone like that? He may not have run that exact system in Tampa, but it would have been similar. And Josh Freeman is built that for that offense. I was actually getting kind of excited about the possibilities.

At least this shows that the Glazers are thinking outside the box again and that no one is off limits. I hope Kelly’s teasing doesn’t discourage them from trying more bold moves. Man, Mike Sherman really would be a bland let down now.