Josh Freeman

Posts Tagged ‘earnest graham’

Earnest Graham Is Probably Done

June 23, 2012 at 01:59pm by Scott   •  6 Comments »

Earnest Graham in his prime.
The new Buccaneers regime decided against signing Earnest Graham to another contract and no other team has really sniffed around him, so it’s not out of the question that Graham could be done. And he’s okay with that.

“Right now, honestly, I’m going to focus on being a free agent, but I definitely understand that it is likely that I may have already played my last game,” said Graham, who lives north of Tampa with his wife and children, ages 9 and 6.

Fans love players who work hard and are humble, and Bucs fans definitely loved Graham for those reasons and more. Graham was willing to do anything he was asked. Backup, starting running back, fullback, special teams… hell, he’d have played defense if his coach had told him he needed him to. He never complained when year after year they tried to bring in other players to replace him. Granted, he did hold out a little in 2008, but it didn’t last long and he wound up signing a deal that was remarkably team-friendly. And his charity and community work was exceptional. Graham was everything player want in a teammate and everything fans want to root for.

I’m sorry to see him go, but running backs are considered over the hill at about 26-years old these days, so at 32 and not being considered elite by anyone, he’s proabbly not going to get much a look. But I have to admit that I’m glad he won’t wear any other teams colors. That would be weird to see. Thanks for everything, Earnest.

Blount, Parker Sign. Rudy Cut.

April 05, 2012 at 08:19am by Scott   •  3 Comments »

Guess who!
I didn’t know this was still an issue, but I guess LeGarrette Blount and Preston Parker have signed their tenders and are officially on the books for 2012. Looking at the roster, it looks like the Bucs have signed all their restricted and ER free agents and are just letting everyone else play the field. Micheal Spurlock appears on that list, but he signed with San Diego yesterday. Corey Lynch and Earnest Graham are still out there and I’d like to see the Bucs bring both of them back, but I’m feeling like that’s unlikely. This new regime really has no loyalty to Graham and Greg Schiano surely wants to upgrade the secondary more than bringing back Lynch would.

The Bucs released Rudy Carpenter yesterday, too.

Meanwhile, the Bucs have released backup quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who has spent the past three seasons on Tampa Bay’s roster but appeared in just one game.

Carpenter appeared in a game?!? I completely forgot about that. It was agains the Panthers last year, but the only way I know that is by looking it up. I’m sure no one else noticed, either, which is why I’m sad he’s cut. We’ll never get the chance to replay this scene at Ray Jay:

REAR ENTRIES: Treading Water

February 01, 2012 at 11:35am by Scott   •  14 Comments »

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BUCS FREE AGENTS: Pat Yasinskas has a list of Bucs who will be free agents next month, and it should go without saying that Connor Barth is the top priority to get re-signed. He was the most consistent and dependable player on the team and the Bucs totally lucked out by being able to sign him after the Mike Nugent debacle.

I’d lay odds that Ronde Barber sticks around for one more year. Greg Schiano is a top recruiter and he can get Ronde excited about the new direction of the team. And Schiano isn’t letting Jeremy Zuttah get away. I think there’s some loyalty there. Even though Earnest Graham is getting older and ended the season on injured reserve, the Bucs should keep him around one more year. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Bucs didn’t win a game after he got hurt. And Corey Lynch should be re-signed if for no other reason than his special teams abilities. All the other unrestricted guys I could take or leave. Any of them could definitely be improved upon.

BUCS REALLY WANT MCNULTY: There was a rumor that the Bucs were trying to get permission to interview John McNulty, currently the Cardinals’ receivers coach, for offensive coordinator. The Cardinals denied the request, but the Bucs haven’t stopped nagging them.

Because it’s such an important hire, the Bucs still are working behind the scenes to acquire McNulty, the Times confirmed. The effort may include an appeal directly to Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell. But it’s hard to imagine the Cardinals reversing course at this point.

McNulty was Schiano’s offensive coordinator at Rutgers for a few years, so that’s why there’s a big push to get him. But I don’t think the Bucs saying “pretty please” is going to make a difference. And you can’t trade draft picks or cash for coaching rights anymore, so I’m not sure what else the Bucs thinks they can do to persuade the Cardinals to let him go. Maybe my buddy Nicky Santoro has an idea.

DEUCE GRUDEN WILL PLAY COLLEGE BALL: Deuce Gruden, Jon Gruden‘s son, kicked off National Signing Day today when he committed to Lafayette College.

“He’s put in a lot of hard work and he’s had a lot of help from his coaches and teammates along the way but this just puts an exclamation point on a great career here at CDS,” Jon Gruden said. “I knew Deuce wanted to (play college football) when he was 5 or 6. He’s had that ambition, that desire for a long time and that’s why this is such a great day.”

Shoulda been a walk-on at Tennessee, Deuce.

REAR ENTRIES: Freeman Never Even Mentioned Once

November 01, 2011 at 03:15pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

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INJURY UPDATE: After their week off, most Bucs are back at practice today. Gerald McCoy, Sammie Stroughter, Jeff Faine, Tanard Jackson and LeGarrette Blount are all practicing. The only one not practicing is Jeremy Zuttah, which is more of a loss these days than it used to be for some reason. Speaking of Blount, the Times confirms that he will be back into his starting position for the Saints game this Sunday. And not just that, he’s going to be on the field a lot more on third down, mostly because he’s the only running back they have.

“Oh yeah, I know I’m going to play third downs in this game,” Blount said. “I’m probably not going to play all of them, but I know I’m going to play quite a few of them. I’ve shown that I know the protections and I know the routes and everything and I can catch the ball, so that’s going to help us out tremendously. It’s going to let me stay in the game a little bit longer and play a lot more snaps, so I’m excited.”

The other options are Kregg Lumpkin and Mossis Madu, who was just elevated to the active roster from the practice squad last week. I’m looking forward to seeing Madu in a regular season game, but dread him doing really well. If he breaks a couple big runs up the middle, the headlines about Mossis parting the Gold and Black Sea will be unbearable.

BUCS SIGN SAFETY: The Bucs added a safety named David Sims today. Pewter Report calls him an “ex-Giant”, but that’s being generous. Sims is an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State that spent an abbreviated offseason in New York and was released in final cuts, so he’s pretty much a college player that ran out of eligibility. But the Bucs only had to release Christian Yount to make room for him, so we’re really just trading one player you never cared about for another. But since Sims isn’t white, at least we won’t have to listen to anyone compare him to John Lynch. That’s a plus.

GRAHAM GETS DOCKED: The Achille’s injury Earnest Graham suffered will end up costing him $340,000 in roster bonuses. Graham’s contract calls for him to receive $37,812 for every game he is on the active roster. This is how teams protect themselves a little bit against injuries. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s better than when Hugh Culverhouse was in charge and would have just broken into Graham’s house and stolen $340,000 worth of stuff.

REAR ENTRIES: Running Out Of Backs

October 26, 2011 at 11:20am by Scott   •  5 Comments »

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INJURY UPDATES: LeGarrette Blount, Sammie Stroughter, Gerald McCoy and Mason Foster all practiced for the Bucs today, although Blount was only out there for a little while. Jeff Faine, Tanard Jackson and Jeremy Zuttah sat out. Jackson could spend all week in Bangkok for all I care as long as he shows up on Sunday. When you miss 56 weeks and then have two picks in two weeks, you get to make your own practice schedule.

EARNEST GRAHAM DONE: In case you missed the brief mention of it yesterday, Earnest Graham was put on injured reserve. He tore his Achille’s in the Bears game, although him hopping around on one foot may have actually gained more rushing yards than Kregg Lumpkin.

MORE GRUDEN TO DOLPHINS TALK: Just a couple weeks ago, Jon Gruden signed a five-year extension with ESPN, so of course Florio wants you to think that it’s all just a big sham and that Gruden really wants to get back into coaching again BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS A CONSPIRACY.

Cole says that Gruden, who signed an “exclusive” five-year deal with ESPN that kicks in next year that apparently doesn’t preclude him from returning to coaching, “told more than a few folks” while in Miami for the Week One game between the Patriots and Dolphins “that he’ll be ready to go next offseason.” (Last year, Gruden’s son blurted out that the former Raiders and Bucs coach could be coming back to the game in 2012.)

Oh, well when you put the word “exclusive” in quotes like that, I can see how you might think Gruden isn’t sticking with ESPN. And with his kid saying last year (before Gruden signed an extension) he could come back to coaching in 2012, yeah, it’s a slam dunk.

Or it could be that after a settling in period, Gruden has become one of the better football analysts on TV right now and he wants to get better at it.

“I spent 26 or 27 years in coaching, 18 of them in the NFL. I want to focus on this and get better every day.”

Sometimes people are just telling the truth and are actually happy with their current jobs.

At Least They Got A Vacation Out Of It

October 25, 2011 at 10:29am by Scott   •  9 Comments »

London 1

So much for that thing about getting to London early and getting all settled in. The Bears barely arrived before kickoff and they looked fresh as fucking daisies. The Bucs just don’t travel all that well. Last season looked good with wins in San Fran, Arizona and Seattle, but last year all those teams really sucked. With the level of competition knocked up a notch this year, the travelling thing becomes an issue again.

Are we allowed to say that Josh Freeman has regressed? Is that allowed or are the Bucs too invested in him to let even the slightest doubt creep into the public discourse? I understand that since there was no running game, the Bears could key in on Freeman and play the pass. But Freeman is FORCING the ball several times per game. I’m dumb as shit and even I can see it. Ten passes defensed in addition to four interceptions is a lot. He’s staring guys down and making bad decisions. All this can be corrected, but if he doesn’t have an effective running game to take some pressure off of him, there aren’t going to be a lot of good decisions out there to make.

And even when Freeman makes a good decision and gets the ball to the right guy, his receivers are dropping more balls than normal. Are they that surprised that the ball touches their hands? And is it just me, or did a lot of receivers seem to hit the ground awfully fast after they made a catch? That may have just been my imagination, but it really seemed like guys would catch the ball and then just kind of sit on the ground.

Kregg Lumpkin is not the answer at running back. I know it’s a controversial statement, but I’m making it. He’s not good at anything. If you follow the SEC, you’re not shocked by this. I know the mentality these days is that you can just grab a running back from a D-III school and plug him into your system and he’ll be fine, but that’s not turning out to be true. The position isn’t as plug and play as the draft analysts would have you think. There’s a reason why players like Matt Forte can still excel even with a shit offensive line. They’re actually good. Some kind of real depth will have to be acquired in the offseason. In the meantime, the Bucs need a reliable stopgap since Earnest Graham is out for the season. You know who would be good? Cadillac Williams. Oh wait.

I just got an email that mentioned Tiki Barber as a possibility. I’m deleting that person from my address book. Tiki may remember enough to get in a rushing linebacker’s way and be a decent pass-protector, but I wouldn’t count on him rushing for any significant yardage, and that’s what the Bucs need. A real running game will solve a lot of problems. When does LeGarrette Blount come back again?

Did Arrelious Benn dress for the game? He’s on the starting roster, but Freeman looked to him exactly once. With Mike Williams sucking ass this season and admitting as much publicly, it seems like to would be smart to look to other guys. Benn is the best YAC player on the team. Put the ball in his hands and let him do good stuff with it.

Dezmon Briscoe played a lot instead of Benn. Maybe Benn was hurting? Briscoe looked good, but even he dropped his first pass. Nice touchdown, though.

Aqib Talib‘s fourth quarter personal foul may be the dumbest penalty I’ve ever seen. Holy shit, that was stupid. Talib needs to take the entire defense out to dinner for holding the Bears for three more downs. It didn’t get back the time that was wasted, but at least they had a shot.

And Ronde Barber owes Talib a kick in the balls for making that sack irrelevant on the first third down. Barber almost took the snap from center, that’s how fast he came off the ball. It was an incredible play that was completely overshadowed by Talib’s loose cannon. That was Ronde’s 27th career sack. He’s a cornerback. That’s insane.

Oh, and Ronde got the first safety of his career on Sunday, too. It was a big day for him. The Bucs did a write-up on it here.

How many tackles did Quincy Black miss? A thousand? Start Dekoda Watson. He has the physical specimen thing down and he is a more sure tackler.

Adam Hayward is mad at the world for some reason and he’s taking it out on opponents, which is awesome. He laid a couple dudes out on Sunday.

Adrian Clayborn owned his blocker. Some players have regressed since the preseason, but Clayborn is one of the few that has gotten steadily better. I wasn’t sold on him during the draft, but I’m becoming a believer.

This game seemed pretty typical of the Bucs this season. Start out slow and count on Freeman to pull out a miracle at the last second. I think we’ve all said that they can’t keep that up forever, and it looks like we’re right. It’s not a recipe for long-term success and that’s the mantra this team has been chanting for three years now. Building from the ground up so they can have a consistent winner. But winning consistently comes with playing consistently and scoring consistently, not sucking for three quarters and then magically scoring four touchdowns.

Okay, I’ve waited long enough to post this. Your thoughts in the comments.

REAR ENTRIES: Time For A Little Strajiddy

October 21, 2011 at 10:09am by Scott   •  11 Comments »

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(HT Bugs Bunny)

LEGARRETTE BLOUNT STILL OUT: Earnest Graham should get the start again since LeGarrette Blount didn’t practice at all this week. Something I didn’t mention but should have is the signing of Chad Spann, a rookie running back who went undrafted out of Northern Illinois. I’m not sure what this says about Mossis Madu, but it’s not good. Madu looked decent in the preseason, but evidently not good enough for games that count. Spann is on the active roster and considering the depth at the position, may actually be active for the game. Spann is listed at 5-8, 202 and runs about a 4.5 40. I’m sure he has other characteristics as well, but they don’t mean as much to me right now.

INJURY UPDATES: Mason Foster and Michael Bennett returned to practice today after sitting out with some injuries earlier in the week. The Bucs’ site says there’s “reason for optimism” concerning their availability for the game, so they’re in. Gerald McCoy is did not practice this morning and is said to be a “game time decision”. Sammie Stroughter will probably not play this Sunday. Kellen Winslow practiced yesterday, but the Times felt the need to list that fact like this:

TE Kellen Winslow (chronically sore right knee) also practiced.

Asses.

GUESS WHO THE BUCS WON’T KICK TO: In a strategy straight out of Sun Tsu’s mouth, Raheem Morris has revealed a key to winning Sunday’s game: Keep the ball out of their best player’s hands. Try not to pass out from overgasping.

Coach Raheem Morris said he hopes punter Michael Koenen can knock the ball out of bounds and boom kickoffs through the end zone to avoid the Bears record holder.

Devin Hester set the NFL mark with his 17th kick return for a touchdown last week.

I’d like to remind everyone that this is only Hester’s sixth season. And he spent at least one season not returning kicks because the brain trust in Chicago wanted to “save him” for the offense. You know those records people say will never be broken? At the end of his career, we’ll be saying that about the number of kicks/punts he returned for touchdowns. So yeah, don’t kick to him.

“No. Devin Hester will have to go against our Pro Bowler, hopefully, our Pro Bowler, a grass skirt guy if we can get him into one, in Michael Keonen,” Morris said.

I stared at that for about 20 seconds before I realized what Morris was saying when he called Koenen a “grass skirt guy”. In the context of the whole quote, it makes sense even though it’s awkward, so I’ll let it go. Too bad. It’s been a while since we’ve had a real quality Raheemism. Some reporter out there needs to mention underwear in a press conference question and see where he goes with it. He may just need a push.

REAR ENTRIES: Man Down

October 14, 2011 at 10:40am by Scott   •  5 Comments »

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GRAHAM TO CARRY THE BALL: LeGarrette Blount is out for the Saints game and it appears that Earnest Graham will be the primary ball carrier.

“You look at him in practice this week and he looks fresh,” guard Davin Joseph said. “He’s a little upbeat knowing he’s going to get to carry the rock.”

So far this season, Graham has 18 carries for 84 yards, a 4.7 YPC average. Not bad. And he hasn’t been playing as much as he did last season because it turns out Erik Lorig really can play fullback. So maybe Graham is fresh, but he’s no Blount.

“There’s no one way to replace what LeGarrette Blount’s able to do,” coach Raheem Morris said. “We don’t have anybody (that is) physically like that.”

In order to train to run more like Blount, the Bucs should dress mannequins with Kerry Rhodes‘s jersey and have Graham practice hurdling them. Do they make mannequins with sad and defeated faces? I mean, besides the sex ones.

FOSTER NOT PRACTICING: Mason Foster has missed the last two days of practice with an ankle injury. No decision has been made on his availability for the game.

If Foster is unable to go, the middle linebacker duties will be split between Adam Hayward and Quincy Black, who would move over from his strongside position on passing downs. Black, who did not play last week at San Francisco due to an ankle sprain, fully participated in practice Thursday.

Frank Gore ran for 125 yards last Sunday, much of it coming up the middle. But that game was 48-3 and pretty boring. I’ll bet the Saints didn’t even watch it.

BRADFORD RELEASED: You can only crash head-first into a wall of people so many times before a team will decide that they don’t want the liability for the inevitable neck injury. Yesterday was Allen Bradford‘s day.

RB Allen Bradford was released Thursday, leaving only two healthy tailbacks — Earnest Graham and Kregg Lumpkin — and increased speculation that the team might sign or trade for another back.

Mossis Madu is on the practice squad, so if they feel the need for another running back, they’ll probably just elevate him to the regular roster. He looked decent in the preseason and a lot of people were calling for him to make the team instead of Bradford. It just goes to show that teams should always cave in to fan pressure because we’re always right. Especially me. So, when does the Chris Simms/Luke McCown competition heat up again?

They Are Who We Think They Are

October 10, 2011 at 12:36pm by Scott   •  11 Comments »

Talib is careful not to refer to fast balls as 'bullets'.
I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes trying to put into words exactly what I witnessed yesterday. I imagine it’s not unlike when police are getting statements from witnesses to a horrific crime. “Take your time, just tell me everything you saw on the night in question.” “I.. I can’t. It’s too horrible!”

I’m trying to remember a worse game by Josh Freeman, but I can’t right now. Two picks plus two or three more that should have been picked, staring down receivers, poor decision making… all things that we have come to NOT expect from him. It’s only his second full year of starting and maybe we built him up too much last year after it seemed like he could do no wrong. But the 49ers knew how to get to him and how to confuse him and they did.

If someone had told me that Alex Smith would have TRIPLE the passer rating of Freeman, I would have slapped them and challenged them to a duel. Smith only completed eleven passes, but three of them were for touchdowns. And he’s only been working with Jim Harbaugh for a few months.

Someone else having a bad follow-up to a great 2010 is Mike Williams. His illegal motion wiped out a catch to Preston Parker, he dropped passes, missed blocks and fumbled the ball after getting nailed by Dashon Goldson in the third quarter. Williams has struggled to get open all season so far. Is it just because there is tape out on him now or is the sophomore slump a real thing?

Arrelious Benn had a good game — maybe the best game of any Buccaneer yesterday. His run after the catch ability is incredible.

Kellen Winslow also had a good game for the Bucs. So that’s two. I will probably not be able to come up with any more.

Did anyone else notice that both times Freeman targeted Micheal Spurlock, bad shit happened?

I wouldn’t have thought Aldon Smith would get to Freeman after spinning around Donald Penn. I didn’t think it was possible to spin around Donald Penn.

I love Ronde Barber. I do. But matching him one on one against Vernon Davis is suicide. Davis is just too fast and too good an athlete to assign him to Barber.

Aqib Talib dropped another interception yesterday.

And after having a phenomenal game against the Colts, the defensive line struggled agains the 49ers all day. No sacks, one QB pressure (by Adrian Clayborn). The Bucs didn’t seem to know what to do with the three tight end set the 49ers kept using.

Frank Gore got the ball 20 times for 125 yards. They kept feeding him the ball and the Bucs defense couldn’t stop him. LeGarrette Blount got the ball ten times for 34 yards. I realize he got hurt and had to leave the game, but it still seems like they’re not giving him the ball enough. And if Blount can’t play next week, who will replace him? Earnest Graham? Does he have it in him to take over like he did a few years go? Neither Kregg Lumpkin or Allen Bradford flashed much when they were given the chance. Without Blount, no one is going to respect the run game and Freeman may actually get worse.

I drank a lot of the Bucs Kool Aid last year when they went 10-6 and barely missed the playoffs. Other folks were talking about the easy schedule and how much harder this year was going to be. I was one of the ones that dismissed that talk. It turns out they may have been right. The Bucs can pull it together to beat a bad team, but they aren’t good enough to beat the good ones. Detroit and San Francisco are a combined 8-1 right now. Indy, Minnesota and Atlanta are 3-12. They beat the teams they’re supposed to and they lose to the team they’re supposed to. As Bill Parcells would say, they are what their record says they are. It’s Raheem Morris‘s job to get them to play beyond this level.

Gruden Coming Back To Town

October 03, 2011 at 10:51am by Scott   •  3 Comments »

No words. Just no words.
With Monday Night Football coming to town and Jon Gruden along with it, the questions were bound to come up about how he feels walking through One Buc again and covering the Bucs from the other side of the microphone. So he entertained the Tampa media for a couple minutes and got all the “Aww shucks” stuff out of the way.

“First time in the building. I was fired up, to be honest with you, man. You get a little emotional.’’

“This is where all that money comes from that I get for getting fired. It… it kind of gets ya right here *pounds heart with fist*” Gruden had three years remaining on his contract when he was canned, so he is STILL getting paid by the Bucs this season. You’d think the Glazers would at least make Gruden wash their cars or something while he’s right there.

Gruden didn’t say too much else, but the Tribune talked to a few players that were around during his tenure (there aren’t as many as you’d think) and everyone still had good things to say about him.

“That’s my man,” said veteran running back Earnest Graham. “I kind of miss coach Gruden. He’s a person that makes a mark on you, because there’s nobody quite like him. His passion for the game is unrivaled, and he helped me understand what it takes to be a consummate professional.”

A consummate professional that constantly swears at you. I CALL HIM CHAMPIONSHIP SWEAR BECAUSE OF ALL THE SWEARIN’ HE DOES.

For guard Davin Joseph, a first-round pick in the 2006 draft, Gruden’s influence remains omnipresent.

“We’ve kept a lot of Jon’s principles, and that’s a sign of respect. Nothing’s changed in my feelings toward him. He drafted me and we had success here.”

Of course, along with Gruden’s arrival is the renewal of that timeless debate that never ever gets old: Did Gruden win with Tony Dungy‘s players? They’ve been going at it all week on various message boards and comment sections. Ten seasons later and still they can’t let it go. I think that’s why the team also cleaned house with their players in addition to the coaches in 2009 — just to avoid this shit again. No one will ever say that Raheem won with Gruden’s players. I’d cut Joey Galloway 100 times in a row if it meant not having to hear that stupidity. “Sorry Joey, you’re cut. Now can you leave and come back in so we can do this again? I just want to make sure we’re clear.”