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Archive for February 2013

Schiano Eases Up

February 27, 2013 at 12:13am by Scott   •  5 Comments »

schianoease1

Greg Schiano explained at the combine that he is going to loosen up some of the rules that he had been enforcing last year, turning the dial down from “dictator” to just “dick”. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a dick. We saw what happened when the Bucs had a buddy as their coach.

“We had one big thing we had to do. We had to establish a culture in the building,’’ Schiano said. “Sometimes, you have to go overboard one way or another to get that culture established. But I think at this point, our football team understands who I am and how our football program is going to be run. I think that happened as the season went on.’’

I like the fact that he knows he was going overboard and that it was for a purpose, and now he knows when it’s time to stop. He needed to weed out the Kellen Winslows of the team who wouldn’t buy into a more disciplined philosophy. And now Schiano is relaxing stuff and Winslow is unemployed.

“Oh, just some mandatory things I don’t think grown men need,’’ Schiano said. “Take mandatory meals. If a guy is meeting his weight — we have goal weights a guy has to meet each week — if a guy is meeting his weight, I don’t think they need any of our staff making sure they check in for breakfast and for lunch. They’re grown men, they’re professional athletes. But again, we had to establish a culture of accountability. But now they understand. And if your weight isn’t where it’s supposed to be, you will get checked in.’’

I spent a few minutes trying to think of a way to make fun of this, but it all sounds very reasonable. If he doesn’t give me some material soon, I’m going to have to start in on the gap in his teeth, and that’s just childish.

Vols At The Combine

February 26, 2013 at 12:05am by Scott   •  5 Comments »

Big arm, bigger douche.
Since the combine is going on and I was asked about it (once, but I don’t need much of a window), here is the breakdown of the Tennessee Volunteers in the combine. This article is for a very small audience, so if you don’t care about Tennessee, go back to whatever it is you were doing. I’m sure it was incredibly important.

QB Tyler Bray: Bucky Brooks has as good a description of Bray at NFL.com as anyone. He’s got the strongest arm in the this year’s draft (which is saying very little considering the awful QB class this year) and when he’s on, he can launch missiles into very tight windows, a la Brett Favre. And just like Favre, he thinks his arm can bail him out of any situation, so he throws balls that he should dump off or pull down and run with (which he is not good at). He threw 34 TDs and 12 INTs in 2012, which sounds great, but keep in mind that a lot of those touchdowns were against powerhouses like Georgia State, Troy and Akron. Bray’s TD/INT ratio will not look anything like it did in Tennessee until he can be a better decision maker. Plus he’s kind of a jackass. Value to Bucs: 5th round. He won’t be there.

WR Cordarrelle Patterson: Patterson is consistently listed at the top wide receiver in the draft. He’s got great measurables (6-2, 216, 4.42) and fantastic hands (rawr!) and consistently gets separation even from top-ranked corners. He moves through traffic easily and has great vision. Oh, and he would instantly solve the Bucs’ return problems. The only knock you might see against him is that he doesn’t get good jams on corners when he lines up on the line. It’s like he doesn’t want to make contact on the line, although he isn’t afraid to catch the ball in traffic. He’d prefer to fake you out. But that’s it. He’d be a great addition to the Bucs, but he’s going in the first round and the Bucs have many MANY other needs than wide receiver. Value to Bucs: 2nd round.

WR Justin Hunter: Hunter was the best receiver on the Vols until Patterson showed up. He’s got great height (6-5) and speed for that height (4.44). His best attribute is his leaping ability. He’s one of those guys you can just throw the ball up and let him go up and get it. But he has inconsistent hands drops some very catchable balls which is INFURIATING when it costs your team the game. Not that I’m bitter. He worked really hard to come back after an ACL tear, so I know he’s not a slacker, but he needs good coaching to work on his hands and being more of a willing blocker. He has all the physical tools, though. Value to Bucs: 3rd round.

TE Mychal Rivera: Rivera is a decent tight end who every now and then shows flashes of great athleticism to twist his body to catch a ball. His best assets are his hands, which are very reliable. And he’s a good blocker against lesser teams but can get overpowered against top tier SEC talent like Alabama, so you know he’s gonna get crushed in the NFL unless he can get stronger. The Bucs took a Tennessee tight end a couple years ago and that didn’t work out so hot yet. Rivera is a work-hard, meat and potatoes guy with excellent intangibles, but I don’t see him making a lot of noise in the NFL. Value to Bucs: 7th round.

OT Dallas Thomas: The offensive line was really the strength of the Vols last season and Thomas was a big reason for it. He’s got good punch and is a very smart player, able to counter defensive line moves and games. He never gives up on a block and can get nasty. He’s 6-5, 306 but has great agility, although he could probably stand to get stronger so he doesn’t get overpowered by the better bullrushers in the NFL. He has been successful against top SEC talent and, while I don’t think he’s ready to start out of the gate, I think would be a solid starter at right tackle in a year or so. The Bucs need a right tackle and I think Thomas has the best chance of being selected by them out of all the Vols. Value to Bucs: 2nd round.

To answer the question about any Vol defenders in the combine, no, there aren’t any. The only one who is even trying to get drafted is Darrington Sentimore, a defensive end who has made his share of plays for Tennessee, but will not be a player in the NFL.

All In The Family

February 21, 2013 at 11:50pm by Scott   •  4 Comments »

Coach, how many Rutgers players would you like to draft this year?
In a short interview with JoeBucsFan.com in Indianapolis, Greg Schiano addressed the fact that he has hired everyone who has ever coached at Rutgers in the history of time to join him in Tampa.

JoeBucsFan: Some people think, and have written, that you are hiring a bunch of cronies; your assistants. What is your reaction to that allegation?

Greg Schiano: I think it is, you know, people need to sometimes step away from the situation and look at the end. In the end, if you don’t win, what happens? So you are going to surround yourself with people who you think can do the best job to help you win. Now often times those are people who you have experience with and that is how you know that can happen, you are not guessing that can happen. So, often, our staff, a lot of guys I had worked with and a lot of guys I hadn’t, which is fine. The guys I hadn’t worked with certainly had relationships with guys I had worked with who knew their work ethic, who knew what kind of people they are and what kind of teachers they are. And that is really how I go about it.

First off, hats off to the JBF for asking a question that everyone has been thinking about, and in a direct way — the way it should be asked. Second, I don’t know what the hell Schiano is saying there in the middle of that quote. He starts off talking about winning, then he has a stroke, then he talks about experience and work ethic. That last part seems to be the most meaningful piece of his point. He wants to work with people he knows and knows what to expect from. And that’s understandable. But I find it hard to believe that each one of the 11 coaches on the team from Rutgers (including the Director of Football Operations) were the best people available for their respective jobs at the time. Maybe they’re all great and this season will kick ass and I’ll look like a complete tool for doubting Schiano. I hope so. But it seems like they could have looked around a bit more to fill some of those positions.

Speaking of nepotism, the Bucs need a cornerback and one of the draftable corners with a halfway decent grade is Logan Ryan out of Rutgers. He’ll get discussed in the first round, but will most likely fall to the second. He’s a good character kid with solid tackling skills and a great work ethic. His highlight reel is good in coverage, but he has also been beaten more than once. He doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s fast enough. The combine will answer some questions about his measurables, but in a draft that’s pretty light on corners, he would have to mess up pretty badly to fall out of the second round, I think. If the Bucs don’t take a first-round corner, I think there’s a good chance they’d fix on Ryan.

Because The Bowers Story Is All That’s Going On

February 20, 2013 at 11:43pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

And what's with this food on the airline? Who do you need to shoot to get a decent chicken piccata?
Martin Fennelly wrote a piece about the Da’Quan Bowers incident. And although he pretty much has the same opinion of the thing that I do, I can’t help but still hate him. Mostly for lines like this:

By the way, it’s just as well they threw him in the hoosegow before he got to the security check point. Word is that Bowers was also carrying more than 3.4 ounces of shampoo, and not in a 1 quart/liter zip-top bag.

Because airport security jokes about liquids are timeless.

You know, maybe he didn’t even realize at first it was a gun he packed.

Let me see … socks, yes, underwear, three pairs, shirts, pants, shaving kit, hair dryer, hair dryer ammunition …”

“Hair dryer ammunition” actually made me laugh. You know, maybe there’s some kernel of something funny in his pieces that I just keep missing.

And then there’s Bowers’ playing career. He was a second-round pick in 2011, overcame a knee injury, and then an Achilles tendon injury. He managed three sacks in 2012. The Bucs are waiting on this defensive end’s breakout.

They just didn’t know it was going to have to be out of C Block.

Never mind.

Fennelly also conveys a story about accidentally leaving a knife in a backpack and trying to get it through security. TSA catches him, chastises him and then sends him on his way. I kind of dozed in and out while I was reading it, but the moral I took from it is that Fennelly is a terrorist and must be stopped.

Bowers’ arrest is news the Bucs didn’t need. Schiano had cleared the decks of gun slinger Aqib Talib. Bowers is no Talib, by any stretch, but this is still a mess.

No it isn’t. It’s going to be fine. Bowers probably won’t get any more than a stern talking-to. I know nothing else is going on in Bucland, but we don’t have to make shit up. Just do like I do and leave your site vacant and unchanged for days on end.

With The 13th Pick, The Bucs Take…

February 20, 2013 at 12:33am by Scott   •  4 Comments »

Oh yeah, and draft Justin Hunter in the second round.
I have no desire to delve any deeper into the Da’Quan Bowers thing because not a lot has happened. He posted bail and his attorney thinks he’ll be exonerated — congratulations, you’re all caught up.

What I do want to talk about is the Bucs’ first-round pick. They are slotted at #13 and, assuming they stay there, they have a few different directions they could go. The obvious one is Dee Milliner (Alabama), the cornerback who actually reminds me a lot of Aqib Talib in his aggressiveness and playmaking ability but is unlike Talib in that he hasn’t been arrested. He takes a lot of chances but is exciting to watch. If the Bucs wanted a right tackle, they could go after Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) who is getting a lot of comparisons to Joe Staley. One long shot would be Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame), the best tight end in the draft, but I would think the Bucs could slide down a few slots to grab him.

Now, here’s an interesting question. Quincy Black is hurt and may never be the same. Grabbing a strongside linebacker in the first round to go along with Mason Foster and Lavonte David would solidify the linebacking corps for a long time and strengthen an already potent run defense. Jarvis Jones (Georgia) will be long gone and Barkevious Mingo (LSU) won’t be too far behind (and I don’t know if I would put Mingo at the sam spot anyway). So who is generally considered the third-best linebacker in the draft? Manti T’eo (Fantasyland). His physical gifts and on-field production can’t be disputed and the Bucs do need a young strongside linebacker. Do they take him? Do they even look at him?

Personally, I say no. Greg Schiano is no bullshit kind of guy and T’eo is FULL of bullshit. Like… tons of it. For at least his first season, T’eo won’t be able to escape constant questioning about his imaginary girlfriend, his practice and play will be intensely scrutinized and he will bring the kind of attention to the Bucs that they really hate. Maybe he plows through it and becomes an excellent linebacker and all his weird lies are relegated to a footnote in his biography. But that’s a long way out, and on the flip side there’s no guarantee that T’eo doesn’t just go completely fruitcake on whatever team picks him and gets caught dressed as Betty White and fucking a Cuban male prostitute in Ybor City. Hey, weirder things have happened. Not many, but a few. Remind me to tell you my story sometime.

Oh You Jackass

February 18, 2013 at 11:52pm by Scott   •  4 Comments »

bowersgun1

Because falling from the first round in his draft because of his knee and then missing the first six games of last season because of his Achille’s wasn’t challenging enough, Da’Quan Bowers thought he’d make his NFL career a little more interesting by carrying a loaded gun into a New York airport.

Bowers had a loaded .40 caliber firearm in his carry-on bag as he was attempting to get on a US Airways flight to Raleigh, North Carolina.

The story is that Bowers forgot he had the gun in his bag and then, once he remembered it, told TSA workers and made them aware of the situation. Which is what he should have done in that situation. But what would have been better is not being so cavalier with his guns that he forgets he has one is his carry-on bag. My question is, where did he confess? Had he already passed through security and been cleared? Here’s how it’s worded in the original article:

He was about to board a US Airways flight to Raleigh, North Carolina.

That makes it sound like he was at the gate, right? So let’s all take a moment to thank a TSA worker for pulling 88-year old women aside in order to inspect their colostomy bags while not noticing a loaded handgun in a bag. And I’m not a fan of profiling, but if you hold up a headshot of the old lady and a headshot of Bowers and ask 100 people, “Who is more likely to hijack an airplane with a handgun?” I’ll say 101 will say Bowers because the guy asking the questions will say, “I know, right?” after every person gives the obvious answer.

Oh, and congratulations to Bowers for picking New York to pull this stunt right after they signed new gun laws into effect, one of which is a magazine limit of seven rounds. Bowers’s weapon was reported as a .40 caliber handgun. The Glock 22, a popular .40 caliber handgun, has a standard magazine capacity of 15 rounds. He should have flown out of Dallas where they issue guns to you like headphones and peanuts.

Mark Dominik had no comment about this situation, but DL line depth is pretty shitty, so I’m going to say this isn’t going to affect Bowers’s status on the team. Maybe there will be a fine or something, but certainly nothing more than a suspension. And that’s how it should be. He actually surrendered the gun when he figured it out, which is a whole lot different than trying to sneak it past everyone. It was dumb — really fucking dumb — but not malicious. And completely different than Plaxico Burress‘s thing where he shot himself in the leg while carrying a loaded handgun into a night club and, you know, SECURED IT IN THE WAISTBAND OF HIS SWEATPANTS. If Bowers gets the same two years in prison that Burress got, then the justice system in New York obviously isn’t the well-oiled machine I remember from The Warriors.

Bucs Pending Free Agents

February 17, 2013 at 01:37pm by Scott   •  9 Comments »

LeGarrette is unimpressed with your iPhone.
PFT did us the favor of listing all the upcoming free agents in an easy format to cut and paste so we can spend more time ridiculing the guys we don’t like.

RB LeGarrette Blount (RFA): I still like the guy, but obviously Doug Martin has easily taken over as the starter and the coaches still don’t trust Blount in pass protection. I don’t think the Bucs will tender him and they can probably find someone out there that is a better third down back. Ah, but what could have been…

WR Roscoe Parrish: Whatever. Better than others that have been dedicated returners, but nothing special.

WR Sammie Stroughter: Kind of faded down the stretch. I think there’s something to work with there and maybe if he tests the open market and doesn’t get any bites, he’d be good to hang on to, but I won’t cry if he’s wearing another helmet in September.

TE Dallas Clark: Getting older but still has the potential to carve up the slot. I’d offer him something fair and hope he takes it. Not worth overpaying.

OT Jeremy Trueblood: To me, Trueblood’s biggest asset is that Davin Joseph likes working with him. He lost his starting job, but then his replacement wasn’t all that great, either. This is a draft deep at tackle and I’d think the Bucs could find a good one for the right side this year and make Trueblood expendable.

C Andrew Economos: He’s not a center, he’s a long snapper. And he’s good at it. Just pay him and move on.

DL Michael Bennett: Bennett is worth getting into a bidding war over. He can play end or tackle, he’s got moves and is relentless. I don’t think he’s worth elite DE money, but he’s worth that second-tier money.

DL Roy Miller: He’s worth keeping, too. Like I said a few entries ago, I can’t think of a nose tackle I’d replace him with. The Bucs could draft John Jenkins out of Georgia to groom for that position, but he’s not better than Miller is right now, and Miller is still pretty young.

DL Corvey Irvin (exclusive rights): Don’t care.

DL Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (RFA): Yes. I think this is a player on the rise and the Bucs can tender him with a first-round offer which is still a reasonable salary for a good defensive end. And if someone snatches him away, they get that team’s first round pick. The Bucs have shown that there is no such thing as too much depth on the defensive line.

LB Jacob Cutera (RFA): Great special teams player and can play linebacker in a pinch. I don’t know if I’d tender him, but I’d be a player in the open market for his services.

DB Ronde Barber: Until Barber shows he is slowing down, I don’t know why they would ever let him go. In a secondary that is in constant flux, he is the rock. Mark Barron seemed to hit a rookie wall last year and it was nice to have Barber as the stabalizing force back there. I don’t think he will be outrageous with his demands for a one-year contract. I’d re-up on him.

DB E.J. Biggers: Yes, just sign him. Mark Dominik is good at writing contracts that don’t call for a lot of money up front and the Bucs NEED cornerbacks. They have to keep warm bodies in there until they see how the free agent market shakes out and go through the draft. I’d hate for them to not land a player they targeted and then not have Biggers to fall back on.

DB Brandon McDonald: See above.

Bucs Will Have Cash To Spend In Free Agency

February 13, 2013 at 12:41am by Scott   •  11 Comments »

Every time Tony Romo gets sacked, a dead defensive end gets his wings.
According to Mark Dominik, the Bucs should be active in free agency again this offseason.

Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson and former Pro Bowl left guard Carl Nicks agreed to rework their contracts in a way that turned the majority of their 2013 salaries into guaranteed bonuses.

“That has actually opened a lot of cap room for us going into 2013 – a tremendous amount,” Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said. “We’ve got a chance to be (heavily) involved in free agency again.

In prior years, the Bucs being “heavily involved” in the March Madness that is free agency meant they scooped up about 40 undrafted free agents. But after last season, there’s a whole new optimism about the Bucs in free agency. Jackson was a home run, Nicks was great while he was healthy and Eric Wright had his moments but was mostly a disappointment. So Dominik is clicking at about 50% on his high-ticket items, which I don’t think is too bad. Maybe in some cases you really do get what you pay for.

“But we also have a chance to try to retain this nucleus of players. So (the contract restructuring) was a big commitment that our owners made and I think that should be encouraging for all fans about our football team.”

Michael Bennett seems like a no-brainer. Roy Miller is iffy, but I thought he got better as the season went on. Then again, you can’t be 29th in the league in sacks and be completely happy with the play of the defensive line. They may let Miller walk, but who do they replace him with? Seriously, I can’t find anyone better at nose who is coming up on free agency. Someone may be cut, but the crop I’m looking at now aren’t going to beat Miller at that position. As far as other guys: The team can improve on Jeremy Trueblood, so I expect them to let him test the market and maybe bring him back at a reasonable price. LeGarrette Blount is probably gone, which is a shame but you can’t argue with the success of Doug Martin. If I were them I’d keep Dallas Clark since Luke Stocker has been somewhat disappointing (I hate to say that) and Nate Byham is primarily a blocker. But Clark wasn’t all that big a contributor last year. I guess my question is what nucleus is Dominik talking about that needs to be re-signed? Maybe he means guys that are still under contract through 2013 but expire soon thereafter.

The Bucs’ major positions of need are cornerback, right tackle, free safety and kick returner. This is a deep draft for tackles, so I’m probably getting my right tackle in the first or second round this year. Maybe make a run at Brent Grimes for corner. He was injured on the franchise tag for Atlanta, but I think he bounces back, plus you weaken a division rival. Free safety is tough, but Louis Delmas is probably the guy I go after. Yes, he was injured too, and if both Grimes and Delmas got hurt in 2013, I’d be a huge dumbass. But finding guys without injuries is rare and neither of their injuries are what I would call chronic. For a kick returner, Danny Woodhead is good and can also be a change of pace back who is completely the opposite of Blount.

Now that I go back and re-read this, a lot of it doesn’t make sense. But it’s 12:30 and I’m tired, so there you go. Feel free to take your shots.

Doug Williams Getting Some Love

February 12, 2013 at 01:22am by Scott   •  1 Comment »

If Williams is the black Joe Namath, then Namath is the white Jason Campbell.

Did you know there was a timeline of Doug Williams‘s career on NFL.com? I’m going to go ahead and say it’s for Black History Month and not because Williams died and I missed it. That would be kind of embarrassing.

Each slide comes with extra videos or photos, some of which already existed and only tangentially have anything to do with Williams. But some are really good and the best is the Doug Williams Scrapbook, which is a fascinating tour through his time at Grambling. A couple different articles refer to Williams as the “Black Joe Namath”, which I would find insulting if I were Williams. Not because of the racial thing, but just because Williams was better than Namath. Better arm, better accuracy and better mobility. By which I mean ANY mobility at all. The only thing holding Namath’s knees together was venereal disease.

I don’t know if his name ever comes up in the discussions, but it seems like Williams would be a good candidate for a Hall of Fame induction. Not necessarily because of his stats on the field. I don’t think he has near what he would need to get in on that basis. But for historic reasons, they might want to consider it. Can you tell the story of the NFL without Doug Williams? Fritz Pollard is in as a player, but not because he was a particularly exceptional player, but because of his historical significance. Williams getting drafted in the first round was a big deal. Starting and winning a Super Bowl was an even bigger deal. Just because we are almost 100 years removed from the founding of the league doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped reaching milestones that deserve some recognition. I’m not saying I’m 100% on board with him getting into Canton just yet, just that it’s probably time to have the discussion.

Bucs Coaching Staff Is Complete

February 10, 2013 at 11:54pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

Lavonte David was awesome as a rookie, so assigning his coach to something else makes perfect sense.
The Bucs have finally finished off their coaching hires, assuming no one else gets fired here in the next few weeks. Anyone on their staff who doesn’t have a Rutgers pedigree should probably keep that resumé updated just in case.

Among the previously unknown changes is the hiring of new linebackers coach Robb Smith, the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Rutgers last season. Smith replaces Bob Fraser, who now carries the title of assistant defensive coordinator.

The linebackers were one of the better groups last season, so of course let’s change their coaching. At least the guy who coached them is still there, but what is an assistant defensive coordinator? I’ve never heard of that before. Is the Greg Schiano defense so complicated that the defensive coordinator can’t handle it on his own? And is Butch Davis still around as a defensive consultant? And is any of this going to help them not give up several miles of passing yards this year?

If you’re like me (and you really should be — it’s fucking awesome), you were pissed off when you read the above because you thought Bryan Cox was the linebackers coach, but he wasn’t.

The Bucs also changed the title of defensive assistant Bryan Cox, giving him the role of pass-rush specialist. Cox served as front-seven coach in 2012.

I think Schiano is just making up job titles at this point. I would like to apply for the Assistant in charge of Dry Erase Markers position. Anytime he wants to draw up a play on a whiteboard, BAM! There I am with any color marker he wants. Thick, thin, the kind that smell like fruit, whatever. I’ll have them in belts across my chest like Pancho Villa. Think about it, Greg. For a man who is obsessed with details, can you afford NOT to do it?