Josh Freeman

Archive for May 2012

REAR ENTRIES: Beat The Heat

May 31, 2012 at 12:55pm by Scott   •  No Comments »

Rear Entry 128

CLICKY SHIRTS: I posted this in a previous thread but want to to make sure everyone has their say if they want it. If you’re interested in getting a Bucstats clicky shirt (or a non-clicky one for you prudes), go to this thread and make your voice heard. I’ll be ordering these soon (assuming everyone who originally expressed interest actually makes a purchase) and will need to give the final design to the company that’s doing them. So go and vote. Seriously, am I really asking you to do something so terrible? “Oh no, Scott wants me to review hundreds of naked chicks to see which one I like the best! That bastard!”

RENNIE CURRAN: Stephen Holder asked the exact question verbatim that I wanted to know when I first heard Rennie Curran was the starting weakside linebacker in OTAs: Who is Rennie Curran and what’s he doing with the Bucs’ first-team defense?

Curran, a 2010 third-round pick of the Titans, fell off the map in 2011 after he was released by Tennessee, spending the season on the sidelines with no team.

Sounds great! Curran is currently only in competition with rookies, so it’s not that strange that he’s starting right now, but Lavonte David is about to put and end to that shit in a hurry.

Given the fact that Curran was active for just nine games as a rookie and couldn’t find his way onto another roster in 2011, he has to be considered a long shot. But the Bucs must see something in him, otherwise they wouldn’t waste first-team snaps on a player without a very legitimate shot to make their final roster.

Curran will have a tough time making the team if Najee Goode is any good. Goode is more position-flexible and sounds like he has more upside than Curran. With Dekoda Watson and Adam Hayward still on the team, a few guys are going to get squeezed out and it seems like the player who didn’t have a team last year would be one of them.

HEAT MAY WORK AGAINST BUCS: Rick Stroud brings up the very valid point that teams that “embrace” the heat by killing themselves in it during practice may not be the best prepared to go into game day.

But a well-hydrated team that has practiced in cooler temperatures during the week may be better prepared to handle the heat for three hours than one that loses fluids practicing in it every day. That’s just what the science would seem to indicate.

There’s no question Schiano‘s team is going to be well-conditioned. The up-tempo practices almost guarantee it. Presumably, that could be an edge.

But Schiano has to be careful not to have players leave their best performance on the practice field before Sunday.

“That’s just what the science would seem to indicate”? Seriously? If you’re going to say something like that, should you point out the science? Like this study that looked at the effect of heat on football players’ cognitive abilities, which isn’t exactly what we’re talking about but it’s a start. Or this study on dehydration differences between one-a-day practices and two-a-day practices. I found those in about 30 seconds. Think what you could come up with in an hour using all the resources you have. Jesus, Rick, you’re a reporter. Do a little research.

Anyway, from my experience living most of my life in the south and spending a shitload of time outside, I can tell you that practicing in the heat does get you better conditioned, but there’s a tipping point. If you overdo it, you get dehydrated and cramped and you’re pretty much worthless the next day. In extreme cases, you get a Korey Stringer kind of thing. I think the advantage you gain by practicing ruthlessly in the heat is outweighed by the benefit of being fresh on game day. And if I was a real reporter, I’d look something up to back up that claim.

A Mentor For Stocker

May 30, 2012 at 01:15pm by Scott   •  3 Comments »

Stocker drops his shoulder and pisses off Brent Grimes.
Dallas Clark may have had some injury issues and his stats may not have been the best over the last couple years, but Bill Polian, who was his general manager for his entire career to date, gives him a ringing endorsement as a team player.

“Will there be a downgrade in his hands, which were superior?” said Bill Polian. “Even if there is a bit of that, he is one of the best team players I’ve seen in football. There is nothing he won’t do to help the team get better — regardless how it affects his stats or his role. He is absolutely unselfish.”

What this says to me is that the Bucs are pretty much going all-in on Luke Stocker, which I think is a fan-fucking-tastic idea. Of course I do. Clark and Stocker are similar in a lot of ways, although I’d say Stocker is a superior blocker and Clark has/had superior hands and is/was probably a step faster. Although Kellen Winslow was a good player for young guys to look up to in terms of toughness and reliability on the field, he’s not what I would call a “mentor”. He’s kind of his own guy and does his own thing. If Stocker is the future of the tight end position for the Bucs, you probably couldn’t pick a better guy for him to learn from than Clark.

Speaking of Stocker, the Bucs published a story about him during last week’s OTAs. He talks about how his injury during the first day of camp set him back and how he was never at full strength. It’s a good look at how he’s going to approach his second year. Having watched Stocker for years, I can tell you he was a quarterback’s best friend. Good blocker on the edge and always able to get separation and provide a target for a QB in trouble. I’m looking forward to watching him this season.

REAR ENTRIES: Happy Memorial Day

May 28, 2012 at 11:18pm by Scott   •  6 Comments »

Rear Entry 127

SCHIANO IN CHARGE: Just a couple days after Martin Fennelly‘s implications that Greg Schiano is the new king of One Buc Place, Stephen Holder doubled down and wrote an entire article about how pretty much everyone besides Schiano is superfulous.

We must assume Schiano’s apparent autonomy was granted by the Glazers when the owners hired him. It also changes significantly the role of GM Mark Dominik, who often had the final say on matters with fired coach Raheem Morris. Now his role seems more of an executor than a decision-maker.

Holder gives examples of decisions that were “made” by Schiano, but never cites a source that confirms it. He just kind of says it. He compares Schiano’s level of influence to Bill Belichick‘s, a head coach famous for answering to no one, barely even the owner. Schiano has never been a head coach in the NFL before, and it seems strange that the Glazers would just chop off the balls of the guy who has been with them for 17 years and give his power to a coach whose last game was the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. I’m happy about Schiano’s hiring and everything, but if this is true, it’s kind of shitty of them. Unless Dominik is being punished for recommending Morris three years ago. That definitely deserves a pimp slap, but not a demotion.

HOW HOT IS IT?: Speaking of Schiano being a tyrant, he said something the other day that indicated that he wasn’t going to take it easy during OTAs and training camp just because it’s hot outside. He’s basically going to run them until they drop.

“That has to become our advantage,” Schiano said of the Tampa area’s taxing heat indexes, which regularly soar to more than 100 degrees through September and sometimes into November.

“When you get teams out there in that stadium and it’s really hot and you push the envelope, I think it becomes an advantage and that’s something that is important to me.”

I go into heat stroke after standing motionless outside for 15 minutes in Florida in shorts and a T-shirt, so running around for an hour in full pads is fucking outrageous. I felt like the brief reprieves from the heat in Tropicana Field last year were a good idea, but then again the Bucs lost ten games in a row and the general consensus is that they just weren’t tough enough, so maybe some tough love is what they need.

Still, hasn’t every southern football team at one time or another said they were going to “use the heat to their advantage”? Has it ever worked consistently? Has any losing team ever said, “It was just too hot for us to play well”?

I WANT THIS BOOK: Warren Sapp wrote a book, and it sounds awesome. Sapp doesn’t sugarcoat his opinions, and I’ve always wanted to hear what he had to say about the Bucs while he was on the team. He obviously had beef with Monte Kiffin and Trent Dilfer and Keyshawn Johnson and several others, and holy shit I really want to hear him go off on them. Like this about Dilfer:

“Dilfer … basically was an interception waiting to happen. There were times we practically pleaded with him, ‘We know you’re not going to score a touchdown, but please, just don’t turn it over.’ “

This is why Sapp protected Martin Gramatica in his rookie year. Some veterans were going to tape Gramatica to a goalpost but Sapp wouldn’t allow it. His reasoning was that Gramatica may be responsible for the only points they score and he didn’t want them to fuck with his head. Oh yes, I want this book.

Last Word On Winslow

May 25, 2012 at 02:18pm by Scott   •  6 Comments »

Huh, even the black one was still kind of light.
This is going to be the last entry about Kellen Winslow because he’s not with the Bucs anymore and who really gives this much of a shit anyway. But Martin Fennelly‘s most recent sharticle basically takes Winslow’s Buccaneers career and reduces it to “meh, not so great” and that’s bullshit.

Kellen Winslow caught 218 footballs for the Bucs, 12 for touchdowns. The team’s glorious 2011 Season in Review (Did these guys really go 4-12?) raves about K2′s many deeds, and there are some.

But mostly his stay here was remarkably unmemorable.

He led the team in receptions for three years in a row. That seems memorable.

How many Winslow moments really stood out? I mean, his drops were bigger than most of his grabs. It reminded me, all of it, of the season Keyshawn caught like 700 balls – and one TD. Much ado …

Why is it such a negative thing for a guy to catch a bunch of balls but not a bunch of touchdowns? I’ve never understood that. Maybe it means he’s not fast enough to outrun tacklers or he works better when he has more room to work with to get more separation. Turning catches into touchdowns is definitely an asset, but don’t make it sound like guys who are reception rich but touchdown poor are bad players. Winslow caught 218 balls. That’s 72 per season — and he’s a tight end. That’s huge.

Winslow was overrated here, never elite, never the force he was supposed to be, never that game-changer. Bucs GM Mark Dominik paid for elite with that nutty contract, which at the time made Winslow the highest-paid tight end in world history.

What difference did he make? 218 catches and it’s as if he was never here.

I saw Winslow make some spectacular catches, be fearless in traffic and provide a solid third down option for Josh Freeman when he needed him. He did drop his share and the penalties started to suck, but to say it was as if he was “never here” is just fucking ridiculous. You know what? If that’s the case, it’s like none of the players were ever here. Because really, what did any of them do for the last few years? No playoffs, terrible defense, an erratic quarterback… I can say the same thing Fennelly said about Winslow for any player on the roster. And they all made their money. The Bucs lost as a team, but if you had to pin the losses on a single player, Winslow would be way down the list.

And “highest-paid tight end in world history”, while true, is unnecessarily dramatic.

I give him high marks, given past injuries, for the way he got himself ready to play on game day, but Winslow was a 28-year-old man playing on surgically repaired knees.

And you never would have known that on game day. He was always there. You can’t use injuries against a guy if he continues to play as though he’s uninjured.

K2 was never the truly disruptive locker room force some feared, though I’m sure he whispered in Josh Freeman’s ear about being open every play (though he wasn’t).

You know who else is open on every play? EVERY SINGLE RECEIVER IN THE NFL. They’re all open, all the time. It’s why receivers are some of the biggest douches in the universe. That’s just the attitude. This is not exclusive to Winslow. Oh, and congratulations on knowing the private conversations between Freeman and Winslow. I’m sure they love you guessing things you think they said and then reporting on it.

Hey, I never had a problem with the man.

Really? Because this whole article says otherwise.

Just the same, we used to laugh inside, hard, when Dominik or former coach Raheem Morris talked about Winslow being a senior leader.

That was never going to happen.

I would want my rookies to see a guy who has terrible knees never use them as an excuse for not playing. I would love my younger players to have a winning attitude and be publicly supportive of a rookie coach like Winslow was. Maybe he wasn’t a rah-rah kind of guy, but neither is Ronde Barber and he is universally respected.

True, if this is the acid test for Freeman, he just lost the man who has been his favorite target. But now there is Vincent Jackson, and draft pick Doug Martin, and surely there will be other tight ends.

Just like Winslow, Jackson was seen as a talented malcontent by his former team. They’re practically the same player.

This clearly is a Greg Schiano’s Bucs kind of move. He doesn’t see a future for Winslow in the offense, or in anything. I bet everyone nodded when Schiano ran it by them, if he ran it at all.

Oh shit, are we really starting the “Mark Dominik is Greg Schiano’s puppet” rumors already? Man, you really miss being able to dog Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen, don’t you? Dominik has been with the Bucs since Pearl Jam was relevant. He’s not taking orders from a rookie head coach.

By the way, last week during voluntary practices, in one of his new roles, Dominik politely told media the proper pronunciation of Schiano’s last name. It’s Shee-Ann-O We had been getting it wrong. It’s hard on the ‘A’ – remember that.

You know, it says something about the new-look Bucs bunker that it took months, months, for the coach to care enough to have anyone tell anyone the right way to say his name. Or maybe he doesn’t care. He’s way too busy.

I’m certain Greg Schiano gives no shits how sweaty keyboard jockeys pronounce his name. It is quite possible that it’s literally the last thing on his mind.

There’s a new king of the mountain – and it ain’t K2.

So he shoehorned a K2/mountain reference in there, but was this really supposed to be comparing the head coach to a tight end in terms of who runs the team? Winslow never pretended to run the team. He showed up and did his job. And now he’s gone, and that’s fine too. I’m looking forward to Dallas Clark. But it’s completely unnecessary to try to diminish Winslow’s accomplishments with the Bucs or make him out to be some kind of cancer that they should be glad to be rid of. It was a business decision that was handled professionally by the Bucs. It’s a shame Fennelly couldn’t do the same.

REAR ENTRIES: Love Those Tight Ends

May 24, 2012 at 01:53pm by Scott   •  No Comments »

Rear Entry 126

CLARK CAN CATCH: If you’re still up in the air about the Dallas Clark signing, this video from the Bucs might help convince you. It’s not anything he says. We pretty much already knew he was a nice guy and a team player and all that stuff. You can’t be a prick and play with Peyton Manning all those years. But check out the catch he makes at the beginning and end of the video (it’s the same catch). Those are some sweet hands. I guess when you know Tanard Jackson isn’t there to take your head off, you can concentrate on the ball.

SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY: Since the Kellen Winslow trade, there have been a lot of articles on the importance of OTAs and exactly how voluntary they are. Here are two examples, but there are others. They all pretty much say the same thing, that players can’t be forced to go but they’ll have to suffer the consequences of falling behind if they don’t. The player should want to be there with his teammates getting better. But the subtle implications by head coaches that there will be some kind of informal discipline for missing is wrong. If the NFL wanted more mandatory OTAs, they should have worked them into the new CBA. Greg Schiano says the most important thing to him is communication and that he just wants a phone call from people who are going to miss the OTA. But asking for a phone call implies that, otherwise, the expectation is that he’ll be there. It’s subtle, but it applies pressure to the players that shouldn’t be.

I wish the CBA hadn’t been so lax with the offseason training. I don’t think it’s too much to ask players to show up sporadically in the offseason to stay in shape and up to speed on the playbook. But that’s not how it was negotiated. The teams have to stay within the boundaries they set up or the whole system goes to shit.

BUCSTATS T-SHIRT UPDATE: I’m starting a thread in the forum about the Bucstats T-shirts. They’re gonna happen. And they’re gonna rule. I’ll post it some time tonight. [Update: Here’s the thread: http://www.bucstats.com/forum/topic.php?id=211]

Parker Extended

May 23, 2012 at 11:35am by Scott   •  1 Comment »

Parker 1

Even though he was locked up for the 2012 already, the Bucs went ahead and extended Preston Parker‘s contract for one more year and what seems to be a very reasonable price. He’s an up-and-coming receiver and will likely push Dezmon Briscoe for playing time. I hope the Bucs can keep both of them.

Parker can also make an impact as a returner, although he struggled in that role last season. He fumbled two punts in a loss to the Jaguars and fumbled eight times overall last season.

Greg Schiano‘s Sgt. Slaughter training camp is going to put an end to these fumbles in a hurry. Disciplinarians hate sloppy play and nothing is sloppier than a fumble. I can see Schiano in front of the guys on the first day of camp quoting John Heisman: “It is better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football.”

Winslow Traded To Seattle

May 22, 2012 at 09:16am by Scott   •  13 Comments »

At least he won't have as far to fly anymore to miss OTAs.
Well, at least we know now where they got the roster spot for Dallas Clark. The Bucs traded Kellen Winslow to Seattle. The pick was officially undisclosed, but there were reports that it was a conditional seventh-rounder that could move up to a sixth. If you remember, the Bucs got Winslow from Cleveland for two second-rounders a second and a fifth three (productive) years ago. It’s definitely a buyer’s market out there.

According to Winslow’s interview yesterday that broke all this, he thinks not showing up to OTAs is what prompted Greg Schiano to want to get rid of him.

“(Schiano) was kind of upset that I wasn’t (in Tampa) working out with the team in the offseason,” Winslow said. “But look, I’ve been there the last three years and I’ve had a successful career so far. You just don’t get rid of one of your best players because of that.”

Schiano is trying to create a new culture in Tampa, one of discipline and accountability. And he must think Winslow’s decision to not be with the team when OTAs started runs counter to that, so he’s not going to tolerate it. Which makes the OTAs sound something less than voluntary. Now in this case, the Bucs traded Winslow, so he isn’t actually losing any money and he would have a hard time showing any kind of damage from this. If the Bucs hadn’t been able to find a trade partner and had to release Winslow outright, he might have been able to argue that he was fired for not attending voluntary OTAs, a violation of the CBA. He has been dependable and productive on the field and has not been a problem off of it, so at the very least his dismissal would have raised some questions. Still, Winslow isn’t holding a grudge.

“I have nothing bad to say about Coach Schiano. It was just a disagreement on why I’m not there yet,” Winslow said. “I was training in San Diego and I was going to start (practicing Monday).”

Despite all my comments here, I’m actually fine with the whole move. I didn’t seem reasonable that Winslow could continue his streak of continuous games indefinitely and the smart money was on him missing some time this year. Clark will be a fine addition and will be a good soldier (see what I did there?) when it comes to offseason training. I just object to a coach using a player’s absence from voluntary OTAs as a reason to ditch them. I’m all for 100% attendance. I think it builds team chemistry and can do nothing but help, especially since they’re all no-contact. And if training camp starts and it turns out that the player who missed the voluntary days is behind other players who did attend, then you can start talking about replacing him. But this seems too early. Being a disciplinarian is fine. This team needed one. But it has to be within the rules.

That Didn’t Take Long

May 21, 2012 at 08:20pm by Scott   •  5 Comments »

How much will Clark pay Erik Lorig to give up his number?
Kellen Winslow hasn’t even been released yet and the Bucs made their deal with Dallas Clark, giving the Buccaneers the whitest tight end roster in the NFL. Seriously, look at those guys. And they’ve got names like Chase and Drake and Dallas and Luke. If they were any whiter, they’d collapse in on themselves into an uncoordinated but safe-looking white dwarf star.

No word was given on who the Bucs released to make room for Clark. I assume they want to get something for Winslow and won’t just let him walk, so they’ll have to actually waive/cut someone. Again, how long does Eric LeGrand stay on the active roster?

Winslow Will Not Be A Buccaneer In 2012

May 21, 2012 at 11:05am by Scott   •  8 Comments »

Man, the Bucs are going to have a lot of white tight ends when this is all over.
Apparently, the Bucs think they are a better team without Kellen Winslow than with him because according to Winslow, they are shopping him.

Winslow, who has played tight end for the Buccaneers for the last three seasons, said today on Sirius XM NFL Radio that the Bucs have told him they don’t want him and will help him find the right team to trade him to.

If the Bucs can’t find a trading partner, they’ll likely release him.

Winslow has been more than a solid contributor, leading the Bucs in receptions for the last three seasons. The guy’s knees are shot to hell, but somehow he has played every game as a Buccaneer and I’ve never heard him publicly bitch about one thing in Tampa. The only thing you can say about him is that he doesn’t come to many of the voluntary OTAs, which shouldn’t precipitate his dismissal. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Luke Stocker, but he’s no Winslow.

The only thing I can figure is that Winslow was such a Raheem Morris guy that he couldn’t stomach the regime change. Greg Schiano is going to be much more of a disciplinarian and much less buddy buddy with the players. Winslow sounded like he was on board when Schiano was hired, but maybe Schiano’s style isn’t going to work for him. That sucks because the product on the field seemed to be working. Besides, you know, losing a shitload of games.

According to Adam Schefter, who is almost always right about these things, the Bucs are going to try to snag Dallas Clark to replace Winslow. That’s all well and good, but Clark hasn’t had anyone but Peyton Manning throwing him the ball until last year, and last year Clark only had 352 receiving yards. Josh Freeman is great, but he’s not Peyton Manning. At least with Winslow, we knew he could catch a ball from anyone since he came from Cleveland where they changed quarterbacks like diapers. It’s going to be interesting to see how successful Clark is with a new quarterback and on a slower grass field.

And as I’m typing this, I just read a new story that the Bucs have told Winslow to stay away from OTAs so he doesn’t tear something and force them to pay his salary. I wonder if something ugly happened that we haven’t heard about. I thought he had been a productive player and a model citizen, so it’s hard to believe the Bucs don’t think they can use him.

REAR ENTRIES: Into The Fold

May 21, 2012 at 10:03am by Scott   •  11 Comments »

Rear Entry 125

BUCS SIGN DAVID: One of the wonderful benefits of the new CBA is the total lack of drama involved in signing draft picks. They just sign. I think the rookie wage scale only technically affects the first-rounders (and maybe not even all of them), but everyone below them are seeming to fall into line earlier this year. And the Bucs just landed their second-rounder, Lavonte David, leaving only their two first-rounders left to go. David was second-string WLB for the one OTA that the media was allowed to observe, but that’s not going to last. If he doesn’t start at WLB for the first game of the regular season, I’ll eat my hat. Although you should keep in mind that all my hats are made of bacon.

WILLIAMS AND JACKSON: Mike Williams expanded on his comments the other day about Vincent Jackson‘s veteran presence and learning from his experiences.

“I call him, ‘Old Head,’ ” Williams said of Jackson.

I love old head! Especially when they’re missing lots of teeth so there’s no unfortunate scraping.

“He’s like the vet out there. We get advice from each other but mostly from him. He’s going out there and showing us what he’s seen throughout his long career, his 1,000-yard seasons and his Pro Bowl seasons. He’s letting us know what we’re going to see. We’re trying to work together as a group to compete.

“Basically, (he said) to keep working on my game. Don’t ever think you’ve mastered it. Keep on working on it. If you catch a pass 1,000 times, he wants you to catch it 1,005.”

Jackson was generally seen as a talented malcontent in San Diego, and some brain-dead bloggers even went so far as to say the Bucs shouldn’t trade for him in a million billion years (although to be fair that was for the price the Chargers were asking), but Jackson seems to be taking his position as the #1 receiver seriously and passing on what he knows to the young guys.

“It’s like, ‘Double (cover) someone now. We dare you,’ ” Williams said. “Having Vincent on the field, you get more confidence in a vet like that and him telling you what to do and how to do it. You get confidence, and we get out there with kind of a swagger.”

And wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck stands on the sidelines nodding and taking imaginary notes to make it look like he has something to do with it.

WHORING: I posted the question on Twitter, but I’ll go ahead and ask it here, too. How many of you dear readers would buy a Bucstats T-shirt if it was available? Or are hats better? Maybe both? What about nice big Bucstats magnets to stick right on your computer or even your backup hard drive? I’m just throwing out ideas here. Let me know what you think in the comments. If enough people are interested, I’ll get on it so everyone has their stuff before training camp. Thanks.