Josh Freeman

Archive for August 2012

Mark Dominik Is Clairvoyant

August 31, 2012 at 04:58pm by Scott   •  3 Comments »

I didn't get the pick because I got high.
At some point we’re going to have to accept the possibility that Mark Dominik can see into the future. It’s the easiest explanation for his uncanny ability to know exactly when to let a player go. Latest example: Tanard Jackson.

Tough loss for the Redskins, safety Tanard Jackson has been informed he’s been suspended indefinitely with a review in a year for violation of NFL Drug Policy. He’s still trying to appeal

A lot of people thought Jackson deserved another chance based on his talent. Dominik knew it was time to move on, and he did. Dominik may not get every draft pick exactly right, but no one does since everyone goes into the draft with a lot of unknowns about how a player will do in the NFL. But once a player is part of the team, Dominik keeps his eyes and ears open and knows when a player is going to be too much of a pain in the ass to hold onto. Which is why I’m done second-guessing the Amobi Okoye release. If Dominik is done with him, so am I. Let’s keep track of how many games Okoye plays in the rest of his career, and how many of them he was effective in. I’ll bet it’s really small.

And still, good luck to Jackson. I really hope he finds the help he needs to beat this.

Because DTs Are So Easy To Come By

August 31, 2012 at 04:08pm by Scott   •  No Comments »

Frank Okam gets all the free water he can before he gets cut.
The Turk started his rounds today, cutting the first few players the Bucs need to get down to 53:

The Bucs also have cut defensive tackle Frank Okam, linebacker Rennie Curran as well as running back Mossis Madu and safety Larry Asante, as we told you last night.

Hey, I was a little busy last night. Don’t get nasty.

Curran and Madu aren’t surprises, and Asante could have gone either way. But I’m really surprised about Okam. He’s a good player and the Bucs need guys who can play defensive tackle. At this point I can only assume the defensive ends will be locking arms in a Red Rover-type stance in lieu of actual defensive tackles.

Now You’re Just Mocking Me

August 31, 2012 at 01:22pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

Schiano was sorry to let Okoye go, but since I predicted he was staying, Schiano had no choice.
Of course.

Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Bears are finalizing a deal to bring back defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, who is being released by the Buccaneers.

Okoye was reportedly close to a return from knee surgery in June, but had missed three preseason games and the Bucs apparently ran out of patience.

So much for that depth at defensive tackle thing. I guess Jordan Nix is the next man up now? Scorekeepers are going to need exponents to calculate the running yards the Bucs are going to give up if they don’t get this shit figured out.

Meh, Who Needs Live Football Anyway

August 30, 2012 at 10:45pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

A white safety that everyone likes? Who should we compare him to? Hmm...
I thought I’d be spending this entry talking about whatever the fourth preseason game might have to tell us about the half dozen or so roster spots on the Bucs that are truly up for grabs, but that tip I gave you the other day about the game being broadcast on some DirecTV channel in the 600s turned out to be bogus. I recorded it while I was out last night and came home to three hours of nothing but black. And that’s not a racist thing; all it recorded was a black screen with some bullshit about it being blacked out in my area. But if it knew that, why didn’t it just record a still frame that said that instead of recording nothing? My phone can remind me that I need to buy condoms and burn cream (don’t ask) while I’m passing the drug store on the way to somewhere else, but my DVR doesn’t know that I don’t want to take a rest if the game is blacked out? No wonder we’re not taken seriously as a country anymore.

My understanding is that the Bucs got hammered, but it was mostly an experiment in different offensive line configurations and most of them sucked. And that Sean Baker came to play. Unfortunately for Sean, he’s a safety on a team with a deep safety bench. He is practice squad eligible, but other teams saw him too and he probably will get snagged by another team before the Bucs can sign him to it. Any other insightful analysis will have to come tomorrow after it’s too late. I’ll also predict that hurricane Isaac will hit New Orleans. Only on Bucstats!

Some good news for the Bucs is that both Arrelious Benn and Amobi Okoye have been practicing in a limited fashion recently and both should see some playing time sooner rather than later.

Benn, sidelined since the first day of training camp with a knee sprain, has been increasing his activity by the day and should be practicing within days. He said he’s ready and expects to be able to play when the regular season arrives.

Okoye missed the past three preseason games after the setback, but he warmed up with the team before Wednesday night’s game in Washington and has been more involved in practice during the past few days.

I had both guys as afterthoughts at their positions, thinking either of them could be expendable but conceding that probably neither of them would be released just yet. I still believe in Benn’s potential if he can stay healthy. Okoye I’m not as high on, but I think he’d at least be a good backup to Gerald McCoy at a position that needs more depth. Having them back would give the coaches more flexibility with their roster decisions tomorrow and allow them to keep perhaps a better player than they could have otherwise. But it won’t be Baker (and now that this has been published and Greg Schiano has read it, of course it will be him. Baker, you owe me a steak.)

REAR ENTRIES: Redskins And Running Backs

August 29, 2012 at 11:06am by Scott   •  4 Comments »

rearentry141

BUCS FACING RAHEEM TONIGHT: This entry was going to be about how Raheem Morris will be facing his old Buccaneers for the first time and how his current Redskins should enjoy that charisma and amped up feeling while it lasts because getting slapped on the back and told inappropriate jokes by your boss gets old fast, but then I read the intro paragraph.

DULLES, Va. — A flat screen television at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant just outside the nation’s capital was tuned into the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where Mitt Romney had just been pushed over the top with enough delegates to earn his party’s nomination for president.

And then the next paragraph does not provide any segue or context to that statement. It just kind of hangs there like a pants leg stuck outside the drawer. Is Rick Stroud a Republican who wanted to work Romney’s name into an article? Is he a Democrat who wanted to associate Romney’s name with something pointless? Or is this article an homage to Raheem and his ADD-style of public speaking? If I thought that was really what it was, I’d send Stroud a congratulatory greeting card because that would make it the most awesome thing ever. Sadly, I think it’s just bad. Hell, even Florio has transitions in his paragraphs, as tortured and meandering as they may be. And given the choice between him or this thing in the Raheem article…

Nah, I’d still rather have this. Florio is unforgivable.

MOST VALUABLE BUCS: Tom Jones took a break from lounge singing and wrote an article about the five Buccaneers that the team can least afford to lose. It’s not a surprising list, but I really don’t have any issue with it except maybe Vincent Jackson, who we haven’t seen play in a regular season game yet and can’t really determine how valuable he is. Instead of Jackson, I might even put Connor Barth on there. No one is predicting the Bucs to blow anyone away this year, so field goals are probably going to be the difference between winning and losing in several games. The Bucs need a reliable kicker to salvage some points out of stalled drives, and as we’ve seen, you can’t just pull someone off the street to do it. Unless the guy you pull of the street is Connor Barth, who no one had heard of until Mark Dominik found him in Kansas City’s scrap heap and signed him just to get people to stop talking about Mike Nugent.

BLOUNT GETS BUMPED: It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Doug Martin finally passed LeGarrette Blount on the depth chart. Greg Schiano practically told us to expect it months ago. But Schiano says the chart isn’t written in stone.

“It doesn’t mean that that’s it,” he said. “As I’ve told them, ‘It could go the other way if you outperform (Martin).’ We don’t hand out jobs and sign them over. It’s always competition around here, continually. I think Doug’s done a great job and that’s why he’s got the No. 1 seat. But he’s got to work to keep it.”

Looking at the preseason games objectively, Martin did better than Blount. And while he may not be the starter, but Blount will get his carries. Blount may have his drawbacks, but he has experience and he can break big runs and it seems like the era of the workhorse back is dead so you need two starting-caliber backs to play these days. Even if he never starts a game this season, there will be a highlight reel play from Blount this season. Count on it.

One more thing, if you live in the Atlanta area, throw a quick comment up on this entry and let me know. Just trying to get a feel for how many of us there are. Thanks.

53 Roster Man Prediction

August 28, 2012 at 12:18pm by Scott   •  4 Comments »

Oh, and half of you won't be here in two weeks. Win on three!
The Bucs cut down to their required 75 yesterday. I’m not going to go over the cuts because none of the players mean anything to any of us except maybe Ed Gant who has a small fan club after a particularly good preseason game last year but has been virtually invisible this year so why would you want to keep him when the Bucs already have Preston Parker who can drop balls as well as anyone. Wow, that was a long sentence.

So instead, let’s just predict who the final 53 will be. And even this is almost futile since the Bucs will surely keep perusing the waiver wire and trade out some of the bottom of their roster for some different players that other teams didn’t want.

QB (2): Josh Freeman, Dan Orlovsky

RB (3): Doug Martin, LeGarrette Blount, Michael Smith

Mossis Madu has shown burst but Smith’s return ability pushes him over the edge and the Bucs can’t keep four tailbacks.

FB (1): Erik Lorig

WR (6): Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Tiquan Underwood, Sammie Stroughter, Preston Parker, Arrelious Benn

I guess Benn’s knee is just sprained and he’s going to start participating soon, so I guess he stays. And Parker probably gets the nod over Jordan Shipley since Parker has been around the team for a while and Shipley has only been in Tampa for a week and has a still-suspicious knee. With all the shit going on with Amobi Okoye, they don’t need to take a chance on another player who’s leg just might fall off mid-game.

But honestly, when you look at it, it’s not a terribly impressive WR corps, is it?

TE (3): Dallas Clark, Luke Stocker, Danny Noble

I keep hearing good things about Noble, although I do see Zack Pianalto on the field a lot.

OL (8): Donald Penn, Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah, Ted Larsen, Jeremy Trueblood, Demar Dotson, Derek Hardman, Desmond Wynn

This number should probably be higher, and there’s a chance they keep a complete unknown just to have a body there for a couple days while they look for someone better. Hardman and Wynn can play both tackle and guard and Larsen can also play center, so this combo gives them the most depth.

DL (9): Michael Bennett, Gerald McCoy, Roy Miller, Adrian Clayborn, George Johnson, Gary Gibson, Wallace Gilberry, E.J. Wilson, Amobi Okoye

Okoye’s knee is worse than the Bucs thought it was when they signed him. It wouldn’t surprise me if they let him go on final cutdown. It would cost them $2-million in cap space but they need reliable depth so bad at that position they might feel like it’s worth it.

LB (6): Quincy Black, Mason Foster, Lavonte David, Adam Hayward, Dekoda Watson, Najee Goode

Goode beats out Cutrera since he was drafted. I don’t have any better reason than that.

DB (9): Aqib Talib, Eric Wright, Anthony Gaitor, Ronde Barber, Mark Barron, Ahmad Black, E.J. Biggers, Cody Grimm, Larry Asante

Five safeties seems like a lot, but you play to your strengths and that’s definitely a Buccaneer strength this season.

ST (3): Michael Koenen, Connor Barth, Andrew Economos

And that’s only 50 so obviously I didn’t think this completely through, but I took the time to write all that crap and I’m not going to delete it just because I don’t know math. So we definitely need another offensive lineman. How about Jamon Meredith? He’s got the most experience of the guys left. Hmm… who else? This feels like Wheel of Fortune back when they had to choose from a gallery of prizes and didn’t just get cash. Go ahead and add Pianalto since he can be a backup FB and a fourth tight end plus he plays special teams. And finally Cutrera even though his name begins with “cut”. There’s your 53.

Bucs Beat AFC Champs!*

August 27, 2012 at 03:47pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

patspreseason

* may not mean as much now as it would have in February.

NFL Network finally broadcasted the Bucs/Pats game Sunday afternoon after airing a couple other games twice (#BuccaneerConspiracy) so I got around to watching it last night. I came away much more impressed with many aspects of the team, obviously concerned about some others, and disgusted at the amount of cheering Pats fans there were in the stands.

Losing Davin Joseph for the year is huge. Like, super huge. It may be the biggest loss the team could have, and I’m including Josh Freeman. There was so much hinging on the run game this season and Joseph and Carl Nicks were going to be those bookend guards to give Doug Martin the cracks he needed to break his big runs. I assumed Ted Larsen would be the starter in Joseph’s place, and that would have been a big step down. Larsen is good, but he’s not at Joseph’s level. But now Greg Schiano is saying that they’re going to try a few different things out. No one else on the roster is any better than Larsen, so that probably means he’s going to see who gets cut this week and bring in a couple guards to compete with Larsen to start.

You may object to me saying that Joseph is a bigger loss than Freeman would have been, but have you seen anything from Freeman this preseason so far that makes him stand out? Several passes off-target, a seemingly rebellious refusal to run when there are yards and yards of green in front of him, just doesn’t look sharp. He had a couple good passes Friday, but just not sucking isn’t enough. Not for a fourth year franchise quarterback. Dan Orlovsky has been more precise with his throws and more productive. I’m not advocating for Orlovsky to be the starter and I recognize that Freeman is generally playing against better competition than Orlovsky, but Freeman should be clearly better than him at this stage, and he’s not.

Doug Martin has Emmitt Smith-type balance. You see it in just about every run. No defender is going to bring him down with an arm tackle or by throwing themselves at his feet. He can spin and twist and stumble but his knee never touches until he gets hit squarely. He’s a living weeble.

It was good to see Vincent Jackson catch some balls and be a big part of that first drive. He is as advertised and that’s good because he’s going to need that big radius to catch some awkward balls if the offensive line isn’t going to give the quarterback the time he needs to step up.

Speaking of which, is it just me or did Donald Penn look sluggish? Seems like he got pushed around some on Friday. He definitely let Chandler Jones get inside him on the play where Joseph as injured. Not that it’s Penn’s fault or anything, but Penn allowing that kind of pressure is unusual.

Though I wasn’t keeping an exact count, I do remember a lot of bullshit penalties, too. False start, delay of game, illegal formation… all useless penalties. It may be a useless statistics, but it can’t be helping.

I don’t know what happened to Preston Parker during the offseason to make him not be able to hang onto a punt, but he should not be allowed to field punts ever again. If the Bucs keep six receivers and ditch Arrelious Benn, he will probably stick. But guys on the back half of the roster need to be able to do something on special teams and his value is declining quickly if he can’t field punts.

Someone said something during the broadcast about Dallas Clark not being able to block. I saw him block a couple times and he was fine at it. No pancakes or anything, but the guy he was blocking got moved away from the flow of the ball. That’s all they need him to do.

Both Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn got tweaked during the game and left early. Still, the defensive line showed some life with Michael Bennett and Roy Miller. Beyond that, despite the numbers, the depth on the line gets pretty thin. The Bucs will be scouting for this position as well this week, and if they don’t find anyone they like, guys like Wallace Gilberry and E.J. Wilson will be getting roster spots, which seemed incomprehensible last year.

The Patriots ran for 168 yards with an average of 5.4 YPC. That’s a lot — in fact, it’s more than Freeman’s yards per attempt. It didn’t actually seem that way during the game since Adam Hayward and Lavonte David were always around the ball, Hayward especially making some big plays. And Mason Foster, the starting MLB, wasn’t playing. Jeff Demps did his share to boost their average with a 29-yard run and that was against backups, so maybe it isn’t as the stats. But I’ve got a real feeling that teams are going to test the Bucs’ run game early in the season. They’ve got a reputation of giving up a lot of running yards, and until they prove everyone else wrong in a regular season game, that’s going to be the assumption around the league.

One factor other teams will have to consider now is Mark Barron. He can flat-out hit. He’s been equally impressive in run support and pass coverage and has shown so far that he was worthy of the #7 overall pick. If the Bucs can have a true intimidator patrolling the secondary like they did when John Lynch was around, they’ll get part of that nasty edge back that they had all those years ago. Barron might be that guy.

The last preseason game is Wednesday night. My DirecTV schedule says it will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet, channel 642. We’ll see if that actually happens, but hopefully I’ll be able to review the game less than a week after it happens this time.

REAR ENTRIES: Pregamin’

August 24, 2012 at 02:20pm by Scott   •  6 Comments »

rearentry140

SHIPLEY ON PUNT RETURNS AFTER ALL: If there was any doubt that Greg Schiano reads this blog and then takes time out of his day to personally mock me, it was erased yesterday. First I said last week that all the penalties the Bucs are committing are going to infuriate Schiano, then he declares that penalties aren’t so bad and he wants to have at least a few. Now, after my comment that Jordan Shipley doesn’t do special teams, we have this:

Look for Shipley to also field some punts, Schiano saying he has been a “natural under the ball in punt returns.” That’s where he might be able to help the team, which would not mind pushing Preston Parker because of his tendency to mishandle kicks.

Shipley said he would relish the chance to return punts.

Am I implying that just because I see this pattern that it’s all about me? No, I’m saying it outright. It’s all about me.

RETURNING FROM INJURY: Some of the players who were held out of or injured in previous games/practices should see some playing time tonight. LeGarrette Blount went down against the Titans and it looked bad for a minute, but it was just a strain on his groin and he’s okay now. Eric Wright left Tuesday’s practice with an unspecified injury (this guy’s medical file is guarded by the NSA), but he’s back. And Luke Stocker sat out most of this week’s practices with an acute case of awesomeness. He will also play tonight.

COUNTDOWN TO STUPIDITY: Greg Schiano installed a clock in the Bucs’ locker room that is counting down the time until the regular season kicks off — by tenths of a second. Which is fine. It’s better than toting around a rock or an ax or a ceramic orange dog (come on, Dooley…). But Tom Jones used it as a jumping off point to start predicting doom and gloom before Schiano has coached even one regular season snap.

The clock also underscores how much information, conditioning and personality Schiano is trying to cram into his team in such a short period of time. You can’t help but wonder if it’s all too much. You can’t help but wonder if at some point, the team might start stuttering, sputtering and smoking and suffer some sort of system overload.

Because God knows last year worked out so well with the coach acting more like a senior RA and enforcing those grueling none-a-days. With the new CBA, it’s virtually impossible to overwork football players. I think the team gets fined now if they don’t have an open bar on the field. But without any real evidence, Jones just asks a series of ominous questions designed to scare us and provide evidence later on that he is a visionary because he predicted a rookie head coach wouldn’t win the Super Bowl.

The clock is ticking. Many questions remain unanswered, including the scariest of all:

What if it doesn’t work?

I dunno, maybe the Bucs fire Schiano and hire someone else, the same thing six or seven teams do every single year? Sounds about right. And then we all go on with our lives? Schiano isn’t fighting Satan’s Apocalyptic Army of the Damned or the Legion of Doom. No one’s going to die if his methods fail.

I also like how the article basically puts Schiano on the hot seat in his rookie year. It didn’t take long for the hate to kick into high gear this season.

Those Beautiful Boston Accents

August 24, 2012 at 12:22pm by Scott   •  3 Comments »

test2

All the talk over the past couple days has been the joint practices with the Patriots, which I suppose is an interesting nugget of information. But holy shit, the Patriots are the least interesting team in football. Unless you’re a fan of the team (and since you’re reading this, I’ll assume you aren’t), the Patriots are boring as hell. Stability at the head coach and quarterback positions, no drama, no controversy, and everyone who is a part of the organization has their personality surgically muted as part of their contract. Chad Johnson went there and became invisible for a full year. They let him loose and boom, he’s swearing like Dice Clay in press conferences and headbutting his wife. So yeah, I didn’t cover their visit to Tampa with the rapt attention given by the papers.

And boy did they cover it. Say, did you know Bill Belichick and Greg Schiano have a history together and that they respect each other? If not, you must be the Who’s Tommy because being blind, deaf and dumb is the only way you could have missed that story over the last seven months. And still, we got a huge dose of it this week. The biggest serving came from Martin Fennelly, which is a joke that writes itself.

Belichick heaped praise when the Bucs reached out to him while considering Schiano. Think Mr. Bill’s words didn’t fire the cannons? I bet Schiano didn’t even have to take the written after that.

Belichick is well-respected around the league, but he’s not a kingmaker. I’m sure he had great things to say about Josh McDaniels who got fired from Denver and Charlie Weis who got fired from Notre Dame and Romeo Crennel who got fired from Cleveland and, well, you get the point.

Credit where credit is due: I rip on Fennelly a lot for being awful, but this was funny.

I have no idea what it means when Bill Belichick says you have a good personality …

According to Schiano, practicing in the summer against another team may become a regular thing.

Like Belichick, Schiano has an interest in making joint workouts a regular part of his preseason routine. The key to doing that, though, is finding a good partner to work with.

“You’ve got to have the right relationship with the other head coach and trust that what we do together is amongst us,” he said. “Certainly, down the road, we can end up playing each other, and that’s fine, but you can only do this with people you trust.”

And if there’s one thing Bill Belichick is known for, it’s not illegally using information from practices to gain an advantage against an opponent.

The joint practices culminate in a preseason game tonight at Ray Jay, probably the last action the starters will see until the regular season. I was going to watch it live tonight, but I don’t think it’s being broadcast live anywhere except Tampa. The Falcons are being broadcast here, which not only means that I have nothing to watch but that the Matt Ryan voodoo doll I bought and ripped the head off of was a scam.

Eric LeGrand Is Getting Paid

August 23, 2012 at 08:46am by Scott   •  5 Comments »

Endorsement deals - another hallmark of a quality player.
Did you know Eric LeGrand got a Subway endorsement? I was reading PFT this morning because I hate myself and love segues that take several paragraphs to develop and I came across the ad in the banner pic. There’s LeGrand with Robert Griffin III and Justin Tuck. And that’s just plain awesome.

When Greg Schiano made LeGrand a full member of the roster, we knew it was ceremonial and that he wasn’t really going to play for the team. But his endorsement deal is as real as it gets. He’s in the ad right next to the Heisman Trophy winner and second pick of the draft and he’s getting paid just like Griffin and Tuck. It’s great to see him not only getting to say he was on an NFL roster, but also get some of the benefits that go along with being an NFL player. And because of the exposure he’s getting and the money he’s generating, his cause is getting more attention as well. There may come a time within our lifetimes where people will no longer have to be paralyzed, and LeGrand will have contributed to that. And that will far overshadow his roster experience. Very cool, Eric.