Archive for January 2013
January 31, 2013 at 12:10am by Scott • 5 Comments »
The Bucs made a couple coaching moves yesterday, firing special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky and hiring Tony Oden as their secondary coach.
The firing of Ligashesky is a surprise, if only because of the timing. I guess it wasn’t a big enough challenge to just fire him at the first of the month so Greg Schiano would have had the last few weeks to interview (including Senior Bowl practices where a lot of that stuff goes down). The Bucs have been miserable in the return game, ranking #30 in kick returns and tied for #19 in punt returns. Field goal accuracy was decent at 85%, which puts them exactly in the middle of the league, and net punt average was in the lower-half of the league (and I also checked punts downed inside the 20 which was ranked about the same). But I think those things have more to do with the individual player than the coach. It’s blocking schemes and return execution that make or break a special teams coach, and the Bucs weren’t good so Ligashesky is gone. And now that teams with new head coaches have assembled much of their staffs, it’s time for the Bucs to scrape the bottom for whoever is left.
Oden is going to be an improvement over the “allowed to seek other employment” Ron Cooper, but that’s saying absolutely nothing. I’m pretty sure a photograph of Mike Tomlin would have been a better coach than Cooper. So the bar is pretty low. Oden spent five years with the Saints, four as a defensive backs assistant and one as the defensive back coach. This year he went to the Jaguars in the same capacity, but was released along with everyone else from the general manager on down. I won’t hold the Jags’ performance against him, but in the one year Oden was the Saints’ secondary coach, they went from having the fourth-best passing defense in the league to the fourth-worst. There could be a lot of reasons for that: poor pass rush, playing to protect a lead, injuries, etc. But the Saints’ secondary in general never exactly has the reputation for being that great. What I’m hoping for with this hire is a coach in the mold of Raheem Morris, who was an excellent secondary coach and motivator and a coach on the rise. Except, you know, better.
January 30, 2013 at 12:40am by Scott • 1 Comment »
It sounds like the Bucs are in talks now with Mike Williams to extend his contract before he enters the final year of his rookie deal.
“I can report that we have begun dialog and it was mutual,” said Hadley Engelhard, Williams’ agent. “We will speak again at NFL Combine.”
For the record, dialog by definition is mutual. If it wasn’t, it would be a monolog.
Williams is supposed to make $1.4-million on the last year of this deal, but it would be smart to lock him in now before he hits unrestricted free agency. The good news for Williams is that this season was a nice bounce-back season for him and served to stabilize his average receptions and yards. The bad news is that the only reason he did so well is because Vincent Jackson provided a credible threat on the other side and took a lot of the pressure off of Williams. So Jackson’s $55-million contract — indicative of his #1 receiver status — should be considered out of bounds for Williams. But $7-million per year for four or five years sounds reasonable. And by reasonable I mean “fuck all you gifted athletes and your millions of dollars.” Maybe this is why no one will hire me as an agent.
January 29, 2013 at 12:40am by Scott • 5 Comments »
At first I thought this fun fact was an interesting tidbit that maybe shed some light on why the pass rush just wasn’t getting there.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik has a dream. In it, he sees defensive linemen Michael Bennett, Gerald McCoy, DaQuan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn all getting after the passer on the same third down.
“We never had those four players playing together at the same time – ever,” he said. “And whether that’s us being snakebit or whatever, it’s still an important thing that just didn’t happen.”
But that’s three defensive ends, right? Bennett swings to tackle sometimes, but it seems like you’d want a bigger guy on the field (you know, like a nose tackle) when McCoy is playing his standard 3-technique. I guess offensive alignments might dictate that you’d want four lean, fast guys on the field some time, but that would be a rare thing. Now if all four of those guys have never been healthy at the same time, that’s a different complaint. But Dominik’s take almost seems like saying that they’ve never had Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount on the field at the same time. Which I’d actually like to see once. I know Erik Lorig is a good fullback, but one time I’d like to see Blount grating the road for Martin. There would be pieces of linebacker marking the path for Martin to follow.
January 25, 2013 at 12:47am by Scott • 2 Comments »
Reader “David” is in Hawaii (where he lives because he is jealous of our freezing rain and clothing not made out of grass) taking in the sights and sounds of the Pro Bowl. And by “taking in the sights and sounds” I mean “hopped a fence near the back of the property” (his words). But it worked because a few minutes after he explained to his son that trespassing is only a misdemeanor, Vincent Jackson came around, walked by them and posed for pictures with him and his family. From his email:
We asked him to take a picture with us and he was really cool in person.
When Jackson was with the Chargers, I always considered him a prick because of the holdout and suspension. Holdouts especially never endear a player to the fans, so with his team being on the west coast and me really not caring, that was my impression of him until he got to Tampa. But everything I read and hear about Jackson as a Buccaneer is positive. He’s a hard worker and good at practice, he’s good with the young receivers and is (obviously) good to the fans. Jackson was on his own time and could have just brushed off David and his family to go partake in the hot tubs full of 19-year old hula girls and the best pineapple in the world (or so I hear). But according to a Bucstats reader (who we know are THE MOST RELIABLE SOURCES OF BUCCANEER INFORMATION ANYWHERE), he’s a good guy who took the time. So I take it all back. Vincent Jackson: not a prick.
Hey, don’t take it lightly. Do you know how many athletes and celebrities you can’t say that about? If David had encountered, say, Warren Sapp instead, I’m sure there’d still be a Super Bowl ring imprint on the side of David’s face and he’d still be groggy from the contact high.
January 23, 2013 at 01:13am by Scott • 10 Comments »
So, is everyone from Notre Dame a fucking moron this week?
“We all called it sabotage . . . because [Bill] Callahan and [Tampa Bay coach Jon] Gruden were good friends,” Tim Brown said. “And Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, you know, hated the Raiders.
Brown trotted this bullshit conspiracy theory out several years ago and it got no play anywhere. I’m not sure why it’s getting traction now, ten years from the actual event, but it doesn’t make any more sense now than it did then.
Brown’s allegation (if you can call it that since he pussyfoots around it) is that Bill Callahan hated the Raiders so much and Gruden was such a good friend that he changed the offensive game plan from a run-first to a pass-first strategy two days before the Super Bowl so as to intentionally lose the game. This is dumb for about 100 different reasons, 90 of which are “fuck Tim Brown”.
In order for this to be true, we have to believe that Callahan did not care about his career. At that point he had been a coach for 22 years. We have to believe that he finally reached the pinnacle of his profession — you can’t get any higher than where he was at that moment — and then not just didn’t give a shit, but actively worked against his own best interests just to stick it to a boss he didn’t like. Callahan may have been a terrible head coach, but he’s not stupid. He knows how few coaches ever reach the Super Bowl in their lives. Does anyone believe he would have thrown away the chance to win it for a grudge?
And if he was really so conniving, how would they have even made it to the Super Bowl? Wouldn’t he have fucked up their game plans all season long? Especially against the Chiefs, their long-time rivals? Al Davis HATED the Chiefs. If you really wanted to stick the knife in his heart and twist it, you spike the Gatorade with Sominex during the Chiefs game and let them roll over your Raiders. They did lose to the Chiefs at Arrowhead 20-10, but they kicked the hell out of them in Oakland 24-0.
The Gruden angle is stupid, too. Most coaches are somewhat friendly, and some are even good friends. I’m going to guess none of them has ever volunteered to throw even a preseason game for the other, let alone the world championship. Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are great friends. Does anyone think the Colts didn’t earn their victory? Mike Ditka loved Tom Landry like a father, and yet had no problem kicking the shit out of the Cowboys 44-0 in the 1985 regular season. The two Harbaugh brothers are about to go head to head for the Lombardi trophy and something tells me brotherly love plays no part in this. Callahan loved Gruden more than all those guys? If that’s true, then someone please lock up Bill Callahan immediately.
Oh, and what a brilliant strategy that would have been to ruin the game for the Raiders: Switch to a passing game for the #1 passing team in the league. That’ll show ‘em! Rich Gannon was the MVP. He didn’t get that award by handing the ball to Charlie Garner all the time. “I’m going to sabotage this movie by getting James Cameron to direct it!”
“Barret Robbins begged Coach Callahan, ‘Do not do this to me. I don’t have time to make my calls, to get my calls ready. You can’t do this to me on Friday. We haven’t practiced full speed, we can’t get this done.’”
Brown tiptoed around the question of whether the change caused Robbins to go off the deep end, suggesting that it had an impact and then explaining that there’s no way to know if it did. “I’m not saying one had anything to do with the other,” Brown said. “All I’m saying is those are the facts of what happened Super Bowl week. So our ire wasn’t towards Barret Robbins, it was towards Bill Callahan. Because we feel as if he wouldn’t have did what he did, then Barret wouldn’t have done what he did.
Oh, and he was a bipolar drunk who spent that last year and a half in prison. So I’m going to go ahead and say maybe Robbins flew off the handle for reasons that didn’t involve protection calls.
To Brown’s credit, Jerry Rice is backing him up. But I’m not too inclined to believe what Rice is saying since he’s an entitled media whore (ask Steve Largent) and is probably looking for any excuse to mitigate the only blemish on his professional record. Well, that and the massage parlor thing. Former Raiders calling Brown a nutjob are Bill Romanowski (not helping), Lincoln Kennedy (no one gives a shit) and Gannon, the only one I will give any credibility too. So we have Tim Brown’s word against the quarterback’s. You know, the really accurate quarterback who threw five interceptions that night. I dunno, maybe the Buccaneer defense was just really good.
Or maybe Callahan should have changed checks and signals after Gruden left town. Or maybe he was just a really bad coach who got lucky with a decent team one year and then choked during the big game. It happens. Just ask Mike Martz. Or Ray Malavasi. Or Ken Whisenhunt. Or Forrest Gregg. Or… well, you get my point. But that doesn’t mean the fix was in. It just means Brown is still bitter over losing the Super Bowl, only getting one catch in that game and having to hold his own retirement press conference, and he needs some attention and couldn’t wait until next week when people ask him how it feels to come so close to getting into the Hall of Fame but not making it.
Because if Andre Reed is left standing at the front door, your ass is still on the bus on the other side of town.
January 21, 2013 at 01:31am by Scott • 2 Comments »
We knew either Vincent Jackson or Doug Martin was going to get in the Pro Bowl because of the way the NFC title game lined up. But as luck would have it, Calvin Johnson opted out of the Pro Bowl (because, as you know, Detroit has had too much for too long) which pushed Jackson in. And San Francisco just won the NFC Championship Game, meaning Frank Gore can’t fulfill his undeserved Pro Bowl duties and Martin gets in. So three Buccaneers will be in the Pro Bowl, which sounds about right. Not to take anything away from Gerald McCoy, but seemed weird that a member of the defensive line that generated only 27 sacks for the season made it but the record-setting offense had no representatives. This is good, though. Lavonte David would be better, but this is good.
Speaking of Jackson, he has been talking up the Bucs to anyone who will listen, hoping to lure some more quality free agents to Tampa to help get them over the playoff hump.
“I would tell [free agents] it’s a top-notch organization; it’s a top-notch structure,” Jackson said. “We have a great coaching staff here. They’ve built a system and a feeling of family and continuity, not only with the team itself, but I think they’ve done a great job in the community as well.”
Of course, this is a Florio article, so he has to have some negative bullshit in there as well.
As losses mounted late in the year, there was grumbling about “college coaches,” an understandable reaction when considering that not every player will react well to change — especially when change leads eventually to a prolonged losing streak.
An unnamed player said something negative about the team during a losing streak a month ago, so we better bring it up again to make sure everyone knows we hate the Bucs. Why oh why hasn’t Florio fallen into an abandoned West Virginia coal mine shaft yet?
Anyway, it’s good to see Jackson carrying the Buccaneer flag and being a positive representative for the team. You can argue that it’s because he got paid what he wanted, but the word around the team is that Jackson is a selfless leader who really enjoys coming to work. As we know from recent examples (Albert Haynesworth), just because you get paid a shitload of money doesn’t mean you’re going to represent your team well.
Congratulations to Jackson and Martin. Enjoy Hawaii. I hear it’s pretty cool. And for the love of God, at least LOOK like you’re putting in effort during the game.
January 18, 2013 at 07:27pm by Scott • 6 Comments »
When Ron Turner went to whatever community college he went to a few weeks ago, I thought it was an excellent opportunity for the Bucs to get a quality quarterbacks coach to push Josh Freeman over the hump and get him to that elite level we all hope he has in him somewhere. Instead, they got John McNulty.
Oh, you don’t know who John McNulty is? He was the mastermind behind the stable of thoroughbreds the Cardinals had last year. The quarterbacks that had one of the best receivers in the league and still managed to get their coaching staff fired. Before last year, McNulty was the receivers coach for Arizona, which has some credibility to it. And since the Bucs also have a receivers coach position open, you might think that would be a better fit. “Hey guys, here’s how Larry Fitzgerald does it,” would be a great sentence to say to the Bucs’ receivers in 2013. “Hey Josh, here’s how John Skelton does it,” not so much.
It seems like there would be better candidates out there. What is so special about McNulty that Greg Schiano just had to have him?
McNulty came to Arizona after working five seasons at Rutgers, coaching the last three seasons as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks after originally joining the staff as the wide receivers coach in 2004.
Fucking Rutgers. Look, I get having a comfort level with some guys you worked with and being able to trust them and work with them. But this is almost like nepotism now. How many Rutgers players and coaches have they dressed in pewter and red at this point? Randy Melvin, P.J. Fleck, Brian Angelichio, Bob Fraser, hell, even Jay Butler, the strength coach. I know I’m forgetting someone, too. And then there are the five players from Rutgers on the Bucs’ roster. Five players from one school is a hell of a lot. If they had five players from a powerhouse school, that would be one thing. For example, five former Alabama players would be understandable (not when they speak, of course). But five former Rutgers players?
The guy I wanted, Norv Turner, went to Cleveland as the offensive coordinator, so they weren’t going to get him. But isn’t there someone better than the guy whose greatest accomplishment at quarterback is Kevin Kolb? It’s okay to look beyond Rutgers to build you team. After all, nothing good ever came from New Jersey.
January 15, 2013 at 09:51am by Scott • No Comments »
With both Julio Jones and Frank Gore being in the NFC Championship Game, one of them will necessarily have to drop out of the Pro Bowl when they advance to the Super Bowl. This will put one more Buccaneer in the Pro Bowl — either Doug Martin or Vincent Jackson. And it really should be Martin since Gore shouldn’t have made it in in the first place because Alfred Morris outperformed both of them as a sixth-round rookie. But Martin was still the third-best running back in the NFC and his presence in Hawaii would be a good reward for him and a nice token Buccaneer from an offense that made a lot of progress in 2012.
Not to take anything away from Jackson, who had an awesome season and the highest per-catch average of any receiver who caught more than 11 balls. Jackson should have definitely gotten in over Victor Cruz, who is probably just getting a consolation prize for being underpaid. Jackson should take his newly advanced roster bonus and go to Hawaii on his own and buy out everything Cruz wants to do. It would be fun to listen to a concierge explain it to him. “I’m sorry, Mr. Cruz, you can’t swim here. Mr. Jackson has rented every pool on the island for the day. And every night club. And every zip line. He left a note suggesting you salsa your way to Jason Pierre-Paul‘s room and see if you can hang out there.”
January 14, 2013 at 12:22am by Scott • 4 Comments »
The 15 finalists for this year’s Hall of Fame class were published on Friday. Warren Sapp made it as a first-year eligible while John Lynch will have to wait. And that’s probably the way it should be.
Lynch was excellent at his job; one of the best while he was playing. He should probably get in one day. But Sapp really did fundamentally change the way people think about the three-technique defensive tackle. He defined the position and was the whole reason the Tampa 2 could work the way it did for the Bucs in the 90s and 2000s. I honestly can’t think of a good reason to keep him out of the Hall for his first year of eligibility.
Here is everyone else:
Jonathan Ogden (first year eligible)
Larry Allen (first year eligible)
Michael Strahan (first year eligible)
A maximum of five can go in each year. Allen has make the cut. Has to. He is the Jerry Rice of guards. If Allen doesn’t get in on his first year, the whole process is fucked and I have no use for the Hall of Fame. It’s probably time for Haley to go in as well. He’s the only man with five Super Bowl rings. Carter has waited long enough, too. He was better than Reed or Brown. And I’d also like to see Parcells get in, but just because I love the guy. And I understand the arguments against him. He won two Super Bowls, but so did Tom Flores and no one is nominating him. But can you tell the story of the NFL without mentioning Parcells?
So those are my five: Allen, Sapp, Haley, Carter, Parcells. Next year, Ogden and I suppose Strahan should get in (although I’ve always thought Strahan was just a little overrated). I’m not sure about the two owners. Just because you’re an owner doesn’t instantly mean you should get into the Hall. DeBartalo turned around a franchise and I could see him making it. Modell was loved then hated then loved then hated then loved, but what did he… do? He didn’t preside over the Browns when they were dominating the AAFC. He drafted Jim Brown. Is that enough to get in?