Archive for December 2012
December 27, 2012 at 11:43pm by Scott • 3 Comments »
MCCOY TO PRO BOWL: Gerald McCoy was the only Buccaneer selected to the Pro Bowl this season, a nice reward for a quality season. I thought he had been a little inconsistent, having had a couple bad games here and there. But the Bucs were a bad team for a good chunk of the season and it’s not like McCoy is going to win any popularity contests with any group of voters, so he must have been elected for his performance. Either that or they think the intensity with which the Bucs have rush the passer over the last couple games would be a perfect fit for the Pro Bowl.
Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin were selected as first alternates. And it’s a damn crime that Victor Cruz got in and Jackson didn’t. Jackson’s numbers are superior to Cruz’s in every category except “Number of Touchdown Celebrations That Got Old After About Six Games”.
HISTORICALLY BAD: Ira Kaufman posted a fun little factoid today that puts the Bucs’ defense in perspective.
If the Falcons throw for 252 yards or more Sunday, the 2012 Bucs will have surrendered the most passing yards in the NFL’s 93-year history
That stat doesn’t mean as much as Kaufman is implying since teams didn’t really start passing the ball so much until Don Coryell made it fashionable. But still, that’s a lot of years and a lot of yards. You can lay the blame on a lot of people, but Ron Cooper has to be at the front of the line. This may be what that player meant when he was talking about coaches going back to college.
FUCK YOU LOMAS BROWN: Lomas Brown was briefly a Buccaneer, so there is a Tampa Bay tie-in, but I honestly would have written about this anyway. Last week, Brown admitted that he one time intentionally whiffed on a block in 1994 so Scott Mitchell would get knocked out of the game because he was performing badly.
“We were playing Green Bay in Milwaukee,” Brown said. “We were getting beat, 24-3, at that time and he just stunk up the place. He’s throwing interceptions, just everything. So I looked at Kevin Glover, our All-Pro center and I said, ‘Glove, that is it.’ I said, ‘I’m getting him out the game.’ . . . So I got the gator arms on the guy at the last minute, he got around me, he hit Scott Mitchell, he did something to his finger . . . and he came out the game. [Lions backup quarterback] Dave Krieg came in the game.”
Very few things make me stare at the computer screen with my mouth agape, but this did it. I was completely floored not only that this happened, but that Brown is proud enough of it to recall it on the radio and not be apologetic or regretful about it at all. Oh, he kind of said something about regret a week later, but it was weak and hollow and I’m sure only said because the wrath of everybody who cares at all about football poured down on him after his admission. It’s one of the worst things I can think of that can happen on the football field — to intentionally betray the honor code of the game for the purpose of getting a teammate hurt. “Despicable” doesn’t begin to cover it. His name should be immediately removed from any Hall of Fame consideration and Scott Mitchell should be able to break Brown’s finger.
Wait, no. That’s not good enough. Mitchell needed that finger to do his job. Brown doesn’t need his finger to be an analyst except to jam it in his ass during commercial breaks. So Mitchell should be able to punch (lefty, natch) Brown in the throat so he has to sit out of his job for a few weeks and let someone else come in and replace him and do a better job. And even that wouldn’t be enough, but at least it would partially satisfy my need for vengeance. And I think we can agree that I’m the real victim here.
December 27, 2012 at 12:20am by Scott • 1 Comment »
I realize Wednesday night is pretty late to get to a game review, but I was busy Monday and the Bucs weren’t going to ruin my Christmas day the same way they ruined my Monday night (when I actually watched the game). And really, there isn’t a lot left to say. Josh Freeman was, again, bad. You can blame some of that on receiver errors and playcalling, but even after allowing for that, he was still inaccurate and erratic most of the time. The defensive line got no sacks while the offensive line gave up five and didn’t create a lot of push for a running game. The only group that really showed any kind of improvement is the secondary, if you can believe that. Danny Gorrer had a great game and Leonard Johnson played well too (he would have been even better if he could have held on to a forced fumble — a play that may have changed the game). Mark Barron had some nice hits in the running game (still weak in pass coverage) and the entire seondary didn’t get totally scorched like in the last few weeks. That one pass to start the second half sucked, but I’ll bet there was a linebacker out of position there and the safety couldn’t recover in time. I deleted the game as soon as I was done watching it, but that sounds like something a smart person would say, so I’ll stick with it.
Is it just me or did Greg Schiano completely squander the end of the first half? Was it totally out of the question to try to drive the team into field goal range and go into the locker room on a high note? He went into halftime with all three of his timeouts still in his pocket. One checkdown to Doug Martin with 32 seconds left and that was it. It showed no balls and after that the offense looked spent. The defense kept up their end of the deal, but the offense didn’t look motivated after that. I don’t want to say they quit on him because I don’t think that’s the case and it’s a huge deal to make that accusation. But it was like they were running at 3/4 speed. I think the decision to limp into the locker room without trying to gain 45 yards in 32 seconds with 3 timeouts to burn sent the message that they weren’t playing to win. Schiano is a hard ass and for a guy who storms the victory formation, the end of the first half had none of the balls we’re used to.
The upcoming game against the Falcons kind of sucks because nothing really good can come from it. If they win, it will probably be against backups and that seems hollow. But if they lose, it’s six losses in a row and the last one was against scrubs and holy shit Greg Schiano will totally go Gunnery Sergeant Hartman on the team. I don’t know if any decisions have been made yet by the Bucs front office, but they have to be lamenting the fact that this upcoming offseason is total shit for quarterbacks, both in the draft and free agency. No one is coming off a contract that is worth a damn except Joe Flacco and Baltimore has zero options better than him so you can bank on them keeping him around at least for another year. And this is just a plain weak QB class. It’s not that I want the Bucs to replace Freeman, but they may need some options. Some real competition. And Schiano has shown that he will not put up with bullshit like turnovers and complete failure in the red zone, so something’s gonna happen. This Falcons game may determine how much of that something is going to happen, though.
December 22, 2012 at 01:27am by Scott • 3 Comments »
NO SELLOUT FOR ST. LOUIS: The last home game of the season, this Sunday against St. Louis, will be blacked out to no one’s surprise. Not because the Bucs deserve it, but because if a new coach and an exciting new running back and a four-game winning streak wasn’t bringing the fans out, then a four-game losing streak probably isn’t the cure.
The Bucs, who once boasted a season-ticket waiting list of more than 100,000 fans, failed to sell out their first three regular-season home games this year have had 19 of their previous 23 home games blacked out.
That’s just unnecessarily rubbing it in. The 100,000 fan waiting list was YEARS ago and has no real relevance to the story. Did you know that the NY Jets, who once won a Super Bowl, suck now?
The Bucs were also the first NFL team to adopt the league’s new 85 percent rule, which allows clubs to declare a sellout and lift the local TV blackout if 85 percent of all non-premium seats are sold 72 hours before kickoff.
That part hurts. Because it means they can’t even really come close to selling out. At some point, the fans have to step up and take some responsibility. There are tickets available for $30 right now. I just saw them. The Glazers can’t do a hell of a lot else outside of having the cheerleaders go into the stands and give away free handjobs and massages.
Wait, on second thought, fans should hold out for that.
GO BACK TO COLLEGE: According to PFT, sometime after the game, an anonymous Buccaneer asked if there was a way to send the coaches “back to college”. And of course it was passed off as a sign that Greg Schiano is losing control of the team because, as we know, no successful team has ever had an anonymous asshole spout off when things aren’t going great at the moment. Just ask Keyshawn.
Ronde Barber disputed that the comment was even said, which I understand him doing, but probably is pointless since I’m sure someone said it. That doesn’t mean it was anyone of any consequence, though. Have you seen some of the names on the active roster? A good chunk of them will be selling insurance next August, and I’ll bet one of them is the spineless douche. And I really don’t care what he thinks of the coaches.
Let’s all stop and remember how things were last season before the Bucs had all these “college” coaches. Despite this losing streak, the Bucs are still miles better than they were this time last year.
FREEMAN KNOWS WHAT TO SAY: Josh Freeman had a shit game last week and people are talking about him not being the future of the team or the face of the franchise or whatever. And whether you believe that or not, you have to appreciate the way Josh is handling the criticism. The whole quote is good, so I’m pretty much snagging the entire article.
“It’s funny because one of my friends asked me about an article he read or something, but to be honest with you, I’m completely disconnected from it,” Freeman said of the chatter.
Freeman said he tries not to be swayed by “opinions that don’t matter” because they tend to become a distraction, and he can’t afford to let them alter his focus or preparation.
“I’m not saying the fans don’t matter because you want to go out and put a great product on the field for them,” Freeman said. “But there is nothing they can say or do that will affect me in a positive way or help me in my preparation.
“You see a lot of guys who get caught up in that and maybe they lose confidence in what got them (here) in the first place. So I’m working, I’m battling. You guys can argue it up, but I have one focus.”
Everyone says they don’t let it get to them, but Josh’s words are more believable than most. He’s got work to do and needs to make progress and get more consistent, but I think he’s got the attitude part of the job nailed.
December 19, 2012 at 01:48am by Scott • 3 Comments »
According to PFT by way of the Kalamazoo Gazette, Bucs’ wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck will take the head coaching job at Western Michigan next Tuesday. And Vincent Jackson better damn well get a muffin basket from Fleck on his way out. The receiving corps is the only group that has pretty consistently produced this season and I’m going to guess that Fleck gets about 10% of the credit for that. Jackson makes every receiver he plays with look better and, apparently, makes receivers coaches get head coaching jobs. Seriously, Fleck. Muffin basket.
No word on who Fleck’s potential replacement might be, but if he can get Jackson to the stadium on time and point in the general direction of the field, he should do fine.
December 18, 2012 at 01:59am by Scott • 10 Comments »
I didn’t forget. I haven’t been sitting back in quiet contemplation of what I was going to say about this game. There’s really nothing to say and no parts of the game worth breaking down. I considered writing an entry that said, “Everyone was shit,” and that’s it. I considered writing something totally non-football related, but then I’d be Peter King and I don’t like coffee enough or hate oatmeal enough for that. I guess it’s one of those weeks where no words can adequately express what’s going on.
It’s not as though we didn’t know how this season would turn out. If you predicted a six win season in August, that was reasonable and a decent record for an upstart team. And if they started off the season with a five or six game losing streak and then started to pick it up and really make some strides forward, you’d think everything was heading in the right direction. But the Bucs went on a nice four-game winning run that had a lot of us thinking playoffs in the first year. And then came the collapse, and all of a sudden it’s just like last year. Started off promising, ended with a splat. There’s always the chance that the Bucs win their next two games, but I don’t really care if they do or not.
It’s not because I’ve become apathetic about the team as a whole. Just their season. Each game for the past month has gotten progressively worse and they’re not going to fix whatever’s wrong in the next two weeks. So now I’m thinking about the offseason, the draft. I’m still excited about the Bucs’ potential. With Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks back in, along with Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson, they have a lot of strength in the offense. And I think the defensive line and linebacker corps is loaded with talent if they can get their starters back and play more consistently. An overhaul of the secondary is in order and, of course, Josh Freeman needs to play like he’s in a contract year since he is. There are a lot of pieces in place. And hell, if I didn’t stop being a Bucs fan during the Raheem Morris era, I’m probably never going to.
December 14, 2012 at 12:44am by Scott • 12 Comments »
16-TEAM PLAYOFFS: It seems that some of the local Tampa media trolls have finally started agreeing with me on some of the various football controversies lately I have to believe that, because the only other explanation for why I find myself nodding (and not because I’m falling asleep) while reading some of their articles is that I’m the one agreeing with them, and seppuku looks like it hurts a lot so I don’t need that to be true. The latest is Gary Shelton, who takes the position that 12 teams in the NFL playoffs is plenty.
I’m not saying that the playoffs are like holidays, but in a perfect world, they would come with their own reindeer.
Did I mention he makes his point in the dumbest way possible?
Most fans seem to agree that too many teams make the NHL and NBA playoffs. Most seem to believe there are too many bowl games. Some baseball purists howled when an extra wild-card team was added a year ago. When college football finally agreed on a playoff system, it was careful to set the number at four teams. Anything more would have devalued the regular season.
If half of a league makes the playoffs, how exclusive can they be? Plus, and I mean this sincerely, by the time the Super Bowl is over, I’m pretty glad football is done. I enjoy the offseason, too. I enjoy the combine and the draft prep and the the draft and the free agency period and the minicamps. Because my team is generally not in the Super Bowl and I’m ready for every team to be 0-0 again and for my team to have a shot again. And the longer they drag it out, the more I have to see Tom Brady and no one wants that.
BENNETT WANTS TO GO TO THE PRO BOWL: News flash! Michael Bennett thinks he should go to the Pro Bowl, which gives him something in common with about 90% of the league. They all think they should go to the Pro Bowl. But somehow, Bennett is getting more attention for it.
When Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett sacked Eagles quarterback Nick Foles for the second time Sunday, he sprang up off the ground and broke into a hula dance.
“I was definitely being direct, trying to send a message, with that dance,” Bennett said, “because I know that, statistically at least, I’m right there with any other defensive end.”
I’ve seen this done before after sacks and touchdowns by different players for years. It’s not a big deal. So why is it being reported everywhere?
Bennett will have a hard time making the Pro Bowl. He may do it as an alternate and get to go when someone drops out, but that would be it. He doesn’t have the name recognition yet, and that’s more important than skill for the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl has turned into a joke anyway. They used to do skills competitions but those have gone away. Most of the television coverage I see of the Pro Bowl is of Rich Eisen doing softball interviews and mugging for the camera more than Bill Cosby on meth. Man, Eisen used to be the best on TV. I guess you can take the man off ESPN, but you can’t take the ESPN out of the man. Anyway, the Pro Bowl itself is a ridiculous display of not-give-a-shit on the field. Sean Taylor is the only thing that made it cool in the last ten years.
Just take the family to Hawaii in the offseason, Mike. You’ll have a better time and won’t degrade yourself for the camera when you feel obligated to laugh at one of Eisen’s pop culture foibles. Get it? Because he’s a silly little Jewish nerd interviewing a great big athlete. Oh the absurdity!
Those went kind of long, so just two today. But you still get a full length clicky.
December 13, 2012 at 01:07am by Scott • 1 Comment »
It sucks when the Bucs have a bad game because the analysts who get off on being constantly negative about the team finally have solid points to make. It’s like the old saying that even broken clocks are right twice a day. Except instead of clocks, it’s bastards.
But Tom Jones and Martin Fennelly both wrote pieces on Sunday’s Eagles game that were fair. Jones’s article was the better one, if only because he didn’t seem to take as much glee in the loss this time.
No question that Bucs QB Josh Freeman had his worst performance since his 10-completion game in a Week 3 loss to the Cowboys. He was 14-of-34 for 189 yards, and 40 of those came on one throw. He didn’t throw an interception, but that was because many of his throws weren’t close to ANYONE.
Pretty much, yeah. He goes on to point out that Freeman has been inconsistent for a few games now, making his article on how the Bucs should sign Freeman to an extension NOW seem somewhat premature. I thought he was right, but I’m always premature. Ask any girl I’ve ever dated.
But Fennelly’s article is almost jubilant in calling out Greg Schiano for his third-and-eight call to run the ball.
They ran on third and eight.
Then they stood or kneeled and they waited near the end zone for the replay to be reviewed. It should never have come to that. They had to know what was coming next: what they deserved. They’d blown it.
It’s not like no coach has ever said, “We’re going to punt and put the game in our defense’s hands” before. Granted, this particular defense is trying to defend the pass by yelling really mean things in the football’s direction. And this particular defense has defensive backs on it that would otherwise be on the practice squad if it wasn’t for trades and injuries and just run of the mill shittiness involving other players. But it’s Nick Foles. Surely Schiano must have thought they could fend off Nick Foles for a couple minutes. Nothing good has ever come out of Arizona. Why would Foles be the first?
“There were two ways to play it,” Schiano said.
Yes, there were.
“You could try to throw the ball,” Schiano said. “We decided to run the ball and make sure they use their timeout or let it tick.”
You have to go for it there, you have to take a shot, bad as Josh Freeman is right now, try a pass play to, say, Vincent Jackson (131 yards, one TD).
Just a crazy idea there, I guess.
And if Freeman had thrown a pick-six, Fennelly would have been down Schiano’s throat for putting the game in his hands when he was having such a bad day. Doug Martin had just run for 128 yards on the day. Yes, it was a conservative call. Yes, it was Martyball. Yes, it was playing not to lose. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. But a whole article on it? I would have passed on that down, so I guess I ultimately agree with him. But the fact that it’s Fennelly makes me want to disagree so much. He could be filmed with a pink ribbon on his shirt and I would try to find a reason why breast cancer isn’t so bad.
December 12, 2012 at 01:06am by Scott • 1 Comment »
With the worst pass defense in the league and a secondary that is the worst part of that worst pass defense, the Bucs had to make a bold move to stop the bleeding and turn this team around.
the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have restored their depth at the position to its previous level by re-signing sixth-year veteran Brandon McDonald.
There. Fixed forever.
[Actually, I know the team can’t make a substantive move to improve the team at this stage and are just replacing Myron Lewis who was put on injured reserve and wasn’t doing jack shit anyway, so I’m really just being unnecessarily snarky and sarcastic. But seriously, Danny Gorrer, I could have caught that fucking interception.]
December 11, 2012 at 01:46am by Scott • 7 Comments »
[The banner pic is there because it was the best part of the game yesterday. I really miss that team.]
For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to give a positive spin on the Bucs’ losses, knowing that none of us really expected them to do all that much this season and they’ve probably already exceeded what we could have hoped for. They’ve been beating the teams they should be beating and losing to the better teams in the league. But the excuses stopped making sense on Sunday when the Bucs lost to an obviously inferior Philadelphia team. And the fault lies squarely on Josh Freeman and the Bucs’ secondary.
Freeman was 14 for 34 on the day and his passes were as ugly as his stats. The incompletions weren’t dropped passes or good plays by the Philadelphia defense. They were just shitty passes. Some of it may have been bad receiver routes, I don’t know. Freeman certainly threw enough fits on the field to try and make us all think he was throwing to the exact right location (it started to get embarrassing with the number of times he bitched at his receivers) but if the quarterback and the receiver aren’t on the same page, guess whose fault that is. In case you didn’t get my meaning just then, it’s the quarterback’s fault. Freeman is generally pretty good at the beginning of the game, has a lull in the middle and finishes off well. This time, he started off as complete shit (5 for 16), came back and did awesome, and ended up pretty bad. If he connects on even a couple more of those passes and ends the day at 50%, they probably win.
And Freeman got lucky, too. At least two of his passes should have been picked and up to four had that opportunity. Bad day for Freeman. Let’s hope it’s out of his system.
The rest of the offense had a pretty good day. Doug Martin had a very solid 128 yards, Vincent Jackson had 131 yards and the offensive line was okay (although the run-blocking was better than the pass-blocking and the penalties came at the absolute worst times possible).
It was the same kind of story for the defense. There was one unit that had a spectacularly bad day and the rest were good. The secondary was, for the most part, awful. Nick Foles found open receiver after open receiver on Sunday. I’m not sure if it was breakdowns in coverage, bad technique or just worse athleticism than the Eagles had, but even without DeSean Jackson, they got scorched. After a three-picks-in-three-weeks stretch, Leonard Johnson is showing his greenness now and giving up some big plays, including the game winner yesterday. And Danny Gorrer could have won the game with an interception that he just flat dropped. Mark Barron continues to struggle in coverage. Anthony Gaitor actually looked pretty good for his first game, so there’s some potential there, but this unit lacks a playmaker and Ronde Barber can’t do it all himself (nine tackles yesterday, though, is a good try).
The defensive line did their part, sacking Foles five times and keeping him under pressure the whole day. Gerald McCoy and Michael Bennett had two sacks each and three and four tackles for loss respectively. It was a great performance by a group that has been hot and cold this season. The only issue — and I put this on the coaches — is when Daniel Te’o Nesheim was flagged as the twelfth man on an obvious spike play. Who cares who’s on the field for a spike (unless you think it will be a fake spike, which is rare)?
The linebackers also had a great day, absolutely eliminating the running game from the Eagles’ playbook. I guess that’s what’s so frustrating. The Bucs sold out to stop the run, making Foles beat them. And he did.
If either Freeman or the defensive backfield had picked up their game just a little bit, this would be a win. As it is, the Bucs are essentially out of the playoffs now. And that doesn’t break my heart. I didn’t expect them to be there. But this game was a step in the wrong direction, most obviously Freeman. I don’t need the playoffs this year, but I do need the team to look better at the end of it than they did in the beginning.
December 07, 2012 at 12:29pm by Scott • 16 Comments »
NO MORE KICKOFFS?: This isn’t specifically Bucs-related, but it’s important enough that it warrants a little discussion. Roger Goodell discussed the possibility of eliminating kickoffs from the game, replacing them with a fourth-and-15 at its own 30-yard line for the team that just scored. Then any standard play could be run, most times the team choosing to punt. But a team needing another score fast doesn’t have to worry about an onside kick, they just need to convert the fourth down.
The idea is to remove the risk associated with kickoffs and replace them with more risks associated with punts, but the difference between kickoff returns and punt returns is apparently pretty big. All of a sudden, punt returners are at more of a premium (along with, perhaps, dedicated gunners) and kickoff return specialists are eliminated. Greg Schiano gave the idea to Goodell and it already looks like it will be a topic of discussion at the next Competition Committee meeting.
Since the kickoff line moved up five yards, most of them are touchbacks anyway. I haven’t fully thought this one out, but I’m not opposed to it as yet. Your opinions in the comments.
ROOKIE WALL: Doug Martin insists that just because his production has been down for the last two weeks, he has still not hit any rookie wall.
“That stuff about the rookie wall, I don’t feel that at all,” Martin said this week as he prepared for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium. “My body feels great and my mind is clear.”
Greg Schiano said he wanted to be a running team, and Martin made spectacular run after spectacular run on national TV and took the football world by surprise. No one expected a rookie to perform like he did. So now teams are concentrating on stopping him. Add that to worse offensive line play over the last couple weeks and you have lower running back production. This isn’t hard to figure out.
SIGN FREEMAN NOW: While I’m not necessarily as emphatic about it as he is, I agree with just about everything Tom Jones says here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to drink some bleach.