Posts Tagged ‘mason foster’
August 13, 2012 at 11:56am by Scott • 4 Comments »
I finally got a chance to see the Miami preseason game last night since NFL Network insisted on waiting until yesterday morning at 7:00AM to air it for the first time. Add to that the fact that every single write-up about this game focused on the Dolphins with barely any analysis of Tampa Bay and my theory that there is an anti-Buccaneer conspiracy within the NFL starts to make sense. Someone call Jesse Ventura and tell him to get on this.
* Josh Freeman looked pretty sharp, but Dan Orlovsky was on fire. Every pass was on target and his 100% completion rate showed it. He’s really one of the only guys I have to make fun of this season, so if he keeps doing well this preseason, it’s going to really screw me over.
* Greg Schiano and Mike Sullivan were making a point with his play calling. This is a running team and they run when they feel like it. The Bucs ran the ball 34 times and passed it 24. They only got 2.5 yards per carry, but a lot of that had to do with the poor run blocking in the second half. Michael Smith had nowhere to go. But when the starters were in (sans Donald Penn), LeGarrette Blount looked great. One time he was even split out at receiver. Some backups came in and Doug Martin also looked good with a sweet ten yard run showing off his balance.
* Speaking of Michael Smith, his kickoff return for 74 yards was a great display of vision and body control, but I thought he was supposed to be the fastest guy on the field. He got chased down from behind. Here’s a tip: If your greatest asset is your speed, you are not allowed to get chased down from behind.
* Luke Stocker‘s one catch was super sweet and was a great example of the kind of play he can make when they need him to. Between two defenders and behind him, Stocker still snagged it. Go Vols.
* Tiquan Underwood caught all three passes thrown his way, including one that never should have been thrown. The Miami safety should have had that pick, but Underwood kept his eyes on the ball and came down with it when everything shook out. Awesome concentration and hands.
* In the middle of my typing this review, the Bucs defense was called for another offsides penalty. Schiano isn’t going to stand for penalties, especially bullshit ones that are totally avoidable like offsides. Some dudes are going to be running gassers today so they can remember to wait until the ball is snapped.
* Another avoidable penalty: Preston Parker‘s personal foul. It was a scrap with a Dolphins player and might have been overlooked if he hadn’t muffed that punt. Stars can get into fights and get flagged and get away with it. Guys who drop footballs can’t.
* I think the Bucs had more big plays during this game than they did in the last ten games last season.
* Lavonte David is fast. Did you see him make that tackle on punt coverage? He got down there before the ball did.
* Adrian Clayborn is so fast off the ball. He didn’t post any stats in the game, but he’s going to be tough to block this season.
* Myron Lewis started the game but looked hesitant and lost. I’ve heard good things about him in camp, but he was invisible during the game. I’m guessing this is his last chance with the Bucs and he may not survive the cut to 53. But at least he’ll have one more chance with the Redskins when Raheem Morris convinces them to pick him up.
* But Anthony Gaitor looked great. Passes broken up, solid tackling, tight coverage. It’s not even a contest right now if the decision is between Lewis and Gaitor.
* Mason Foster had three tackles and played for less than a quarter. There is a new dedication to stopping the run and it looks like Foster is going to be leading that charge.
I thought it was an impressive showing and a great indication of the direction the Bucs are headed. Your impressions in the comments.
June 15, 2012 at 12:11pm by Scott • 1 Comment »
Minicamp wrapped up yesterday and apparently not a hell of a lot happened on the field except Donald Penn catching a punt from the JUGGS machine to end practice early, because that’s all anyone was talking about. Including Penn.
“I was joking around with coach [Schiano] about what a great athlete I am and he threw that up there and I did a good job,” Penn said. “I know I can catch and you guys [the media] know I can catch. If I had dropped it we would have had to continue practicing. So since I caught it we ended practice early, which is great. We have been working hard, real hard, and put in a lot of work. And for him to do that today just shows how much work we put in and [that we're] doing a good job for coach to give us that day off.
That actually does say a lot about how well Schiano thinks the player are doing. He doesn’t seem like the kind of coach who would end practice early if he was even the least bit dissatisfied in the team’s efforts. Penn also had a couple interesting comments about practice as a whole.
Penn went on to talk about the difference in this season’s OTAs and mini-camps versus years past.
“To tell you the truth, the intensity. Coach asked for it to be here and it stayed there all three days,” Penn said. “And it didn’t drop, really. That’s the one big thing you have to take into the next few weeks off and take into camp.”
One word rarely use to describe Raheem Morris‘s camps was “intense”. Morris said he liked to bring “juice” to camp, but I think he meant actual juice because everyone seemed very hydrated but not terribly motivated. All that changes this year.
Penn also notes that he’s getting married in July. Congratulations to Donald! And I say that with absolutely no sarcasm.
Lots of interviews were printed yesterday, including one from LeGarrette Blount who has encouraging things to say about what he’s working on this offseason.
“I’ve been working on pass protection and picking up the blitzes this offseason,” Blount said. “That’s the thing I’ve been working on the most. I can say that’s what I’ve improved on the most.”
You know defenses are going to target Blount when he’s on the field because of his reputation for not being able to handle those responsibilities. If he can jam his helmet into a rushing linebackers chest and put him on the ground to protect Josh Freeman, that will go a long way to proving he can be the every-down back that
most people some people I think he can be. It’s a good interview that also covers his progress on catching passes and securing the ball.
March 26, 2012 at 09:57am by Scott • 10 Comments »
If it’s true that the Buccaneers still wanted Curtis Lofton, they’re going to have to figure out what went wrong because Lofton just signed with the shame of the league.
This is a major victory for the Saints because Atlanta was interested in bringing Lofton back and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were also in the mix to some degree. The terms of Lofton’s contract are not immediately known, but it’s safe to say he got a good bit less than the $42 million for the same term given to Cleveland’s D’Qwell Jackson. Lofton tested free agency and appeared, at first, to want something close to what Jackson got, but didn’t seem to get any offers in that price range.
Lofton wound up taking less money than he wanted and signing with a team whose head coach is suspended for the season and whose linebackers coach is suspended for six games. This is an unprecedented amount of shit for a team to be dealing with this season, but somehow it was more appealing to him than the Bucs. That’s fucked up.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not forgetting everything that happened a couple weeks ago when the team landed two of the top free agents out there (and a third). This probably has more to do with Lofton than the Bucs — the old “It’s not you, it’s me” thing that we’ve all heard several dozen times from women who apparently think they can do better than a guy delivering pizzas in a 1992 Tercel. Stuck up bitches. But linebacker is probably the neediest position on the team right now and Lofton was the best one available. There was nothing the Bucs could do to make that work? Maybe it’s just that the Bucs didn’t want to match the Saints’ offer for a guy that is perceived to be a little weak in coverage. That’s also Foster’s main weakness, so maybe the Bucs didn’t feel the need to pay a premium to duplicate the same skill set.
So it looks like the team will be seriously addressing linebacker in the draft. If they don’t take one in the first three rounds, I’ll be shocked.
March 19, 2012 at 10:03am by Scott • 9 Comments »
After a few weeks of hoping that the new coaching staff saw that Mason Foster was a better fit for outside linebacker than the middle where he played last season, it seems that now they have changed their minds and are considering leaving him where he was so effective last year. Sorry, sarcasm doesn’t come across in print as well as I’d like.
“We are talking to the (coaches) about Mason Foster being the ‘Mike’ linebacker of this team,” said Dominik, using the common reference for middle linebacker. “I think the coaching staff that has been in here evaluating that tape feels like he has a great opportunity to … stay at the middle linebacker spot.”
I have a feeling that this change of heart has to do with not landing Curtis Lofton in free agency more than reviewing tape and seeing great stuff in Foster’s play. The Bucs apparently made Lofton an offer that he did not accept, but the funny thing is that he was the best middle linebacker available in free agency and is still out there. So either his demands are outrageous or he’s just taking his time. Either way, he’s still better than Foster at MLB and Foster is a better option than any other the Bucs have at WLB. Lofton was considered a high possibility for the Bucs early on and he’s still a good fit, so it seems like they could get something done here.
March 01, 2012 at 01:34pm by Scott • 5 Comments »
Mason Foster looked confused and uncomfortable at the middle linebacker spot this season, and with good reason. That’s not the spot he’s best suited for. We all knew he would be an excellent weakside linebacker because that’s what he was in college and he was the only linebacker in NCAA history to make over one million career tackles (I may be off by a couple). But the previous regime loved to move people around for no good reason just because it made them seem tricky and innovative. Quincy Black at defensive end? Why not. Gerald McCoy as a 3-4 defensive end? Sounds great. Bring in Josh Johnson to needlessly run the play everyone knows he’s going to run? Can’t miss!
Foster had only moderate success as a rookie, something former coaches admitted was, at least in part, brought about by his numerous responsibilities. Another unintended consequence: Foster’s frequent inability to switch to different coverages when the offense made pre-snap adjustments.
But Greg Schiano sounds like a guy who just wants to line everyone up where they’re supposed to be and beat you with fundamentals and I gotta tell you, that sounds fan-fucking-tastic. And one way he’ll do it is to line Foster back up on the weakside where he should be.
“But I will say this, to give you a roundabout answer: He’s a linebacker. And, to me, if you’re a good linebacker, you should be able to play (strong-side) or (middle) or (weak-side). You’re off the ball in a two-point stance, you have very similar key progressions and very similar coverage responsibilities. I’m not caught up on pigeonholing guys into positions. You’re a linebacker. And he definitely has NFL talent.”
That means he’s moving, and that’s great news. I liked Foster as a draft pick but thought he was wasted in the middle. Geno Hayes is a free agent and this coaching staff isn’t going to make a big push to keep him, so the spot is wide open. Quincy will remain in the mix but will have to prove himself to coaches that have absolutely no loyalty to him and will grade him only on his performance.
A new middle linebacker could come in the draft, but won’t be the #5 overall pick. Luke Kuechly (Boston College) looks like the top inside linebacker prospect this year, but the Bucs won’t get him unless they trade out of the #5 slot and grab him somewhere in the #10-#18 range. People are saying that Dont’a Hightower (Alabama) is a 3-4 inside linebacker, but I don’t know why he couldn’t play MLB in a 4-3 at 265 running a 4.65. Hightower is a late-first but could slip to the Bucs in the second. After those guys, the draft pool of inside linebackers gets pretty shallow. Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State) is a piece of shit and Bobby Wagner (Utah State) missed the combine with pneumonia and will probably miss the Utah State pro day. He’s a good player and had a nice Senior Bowl, but he went to Utah State.
As far as free agents, Dan Connor and Curtis Lofton seem to be at the top of the list. They are 26 and 25 years old respectively, both are good players and strong leaders, but Lofton is obviously superior in just about every way. Also, signing either of them away from their teams weakens a conference rival, and that’s a nice bonus. Moving Foster to the weakside and having Lofton in the middle sounds pretty sweet right about now. Running up the middle on the Bucs would get a hell of a lot harder.
December 06, 2011 at 09:55am by Scott • 10 Comments »
Sitting back and watching Josh Johnson, I don’t think he played any worse than Josh Freeman has been. He scrambled more and took a couple extra shots downfield, which I think is an improvement. But a lot of the time he also looked uncomfortable in the pocket even when the protection was good. The low point had to be the interception he threw when he got the snap early. He’s got enough years behind hi now that he should know better. His highlight is probably the 42-yard pass to Mike Williams, which was perfect. But honestly, it’s kind of a wash.
LeGarrette Blount only got 11 carries on Sunday, but he never touched the ball after 6:21 left in third quarter. At that point the score was 31-12. Three scores down, but with 21 minutes left, I still wouldn’t have quit on the run game. Even when the Panthers were stacking the box, Blount got a couple six-yard runs in there. Mossis Madu looked like an upgrade over Kregg Lumpkin, but I’m not sure why feeding Madu the ball instead of Blount is a good idea. To be fair, Madu did gain more yards than Blount on fewer carries, but I’ve never seen Madu break six tackles on the way to the endzone, either.
And why, right after Blount gets six yards on back to back carries, is that the time to run a reverse on third and 2? That reverse to Arrelious Benn hardly ever works. I don’t know if the formation gives it away or the players aren’t selling it good enough, but it is rarely ever this big breakaway play that they want it to be. A first down would have put them at the Carolina 15. Instead, Benn lost 12 yards on the play and forced a field goal.
Jeremy Trueblood got handled by Charles Johnson. Johnson had a sack, three TFLs and a pass defensed. Bad day at the office for Trueblood. I didn’t notice anything else awful about the offensive line, but I’m not sure if that bad snap was Jeff Faine‘s fault or Josh Johnson’s.
Defensively, Da’Quan Bowers established himself as a real contender to start. Bowers was a machine all day long — 1.5 sacks, 8 tackles, 5 TFLs. With him on one side and Adrian Clayborn on the other, the Bucs may have found a pair of defensive ends to grow with them.
I don’t know what Brian Price did, but every indication is that the decision to send him home was an overreaction by Raheem Morris. If it isn’t bad enough for the officials to eject him from the game, it shouldn’t be bad enough for Raheem to do it. I think Raheem was just waiting for someone to make a stupid mistake and make an example of him. Too bad it was Price because he’s one of the best defensive players they have right now and from everything I’ve ever read or heard from him is a kind-hearted kid. For as many scraps as Aqib Talib has gotten into on the field, for Price to be the one sent home for that kind of infraction is seriously messed up. It’s a power move, and a coach with full control of the locker room doesn’t have to make them in that fashion. If it works, maybe Raheem gets everyone’s attention. But if it doesn’t and he loses control of his team, he’s finished. It’s a huge risk he took doing it.
I’m not sure the team even has linebackers anymore. I see Mason Foster making plays, but he can’t do it by himself. If any group needs to be blown up and started over from scratch, it’s this one. And please, when you do it, move Foster back to WLB where he played in college.
The secondary could have been a lot worse without Talib, but overall it wasn’t terrible. E.J. Biggers gave up a big one to Steve Smith, but I was actually impressed it was only one. Smith only caught two passes all day.
And we all know that Ronde Barber wasn’t supposed to tackle Cam Newton on that option play, right? If Barber had released his man and went after Newton, Newton would have just flipped the ball to the guy Barber just left and he would have been the one to make the big gain. I’ve seen people complain that Barber should have just “made the play”, but he was exactly where he was supposed to be.
What happened to Tanard Jackson? Dude seems to be getting plowed more than I remember.
Connor Barth, Bucstats salutes you for being the most consistent player on the team. Maybe it was you who had the championship hair all along.
That’s about all I can fake my way through right now. Sorry it wasn’t funny or anything. It’s just so hard to care about this game. The good news is that the Jaguars look even shittier. The Chargers hadn’t won since forever and they destroyed the Jags last night. Blaine Gabbert looks awful and no one seems to give a shit in Jacksonville, either. We can call next week’s game the Apathy Bowl, sponsored by Valium!
November 16, 2011 at 10:19am by Scott • 7 Comments »
Stephen Holder tried to make sense of the problems the Bucs are having by breaking it down into three separate reasons. Here’s a preview: One of them isn’t overabundance of awesomeness.
Reason No. 1: When the Bucs made their talent evaluations during the offseason, they needed to take into account that the first- and second-year players who succeeded last season had not done so over a sustained period of time. You know why NFL people say you need three years to judge a draft? Because you don’t know what you have until then.
And that all seems valid. But then Holder goes on to say:
Right now, it is hard not to think the front office overestimated the talent level of this team.
But it takes three years — you just said. At the end of this season, it will have been three years since drafting Josh Freeman, Roy Miller, E.J. Biggers and Sammie Stroughter, and none of them have played three years worth of games yet. I’m going to guess that Freeman is as talented as we all think he is and that he’s just having a slump. Everyone else is still kind of debatable.
As for the rest of the team, if the Bucs overestimated their talent, than they did so with good cause. The team went 10-6 last year and had some pretty good rankings in some areas. Maybe they overachieved a little bit, but isn’t that what you want when you grab undrafted free agents and castoffs? For the price they paid (both money and draft picks) for the players they have, I don’t think they overestimated them. Now… whether that level of talent is capable of competing in the NFC South, that’s a different story.
Reason No. 2: This is closely related to my last point. One of the problems with starting so many young players at critical positions is the fact that few of them had to fight for their jobs. There were precious few position battles in training camp, and one of the reasons for that was that most incumbent starters were unchallenged.
Young players have the tendency to get complacent when they have immediate success. I suppose the team could have made some more effort to spur competition for certain positions, but really, was the depth ever there to do that? You saw the camp bodies they brought in. Those guys were never going to really push the incumbents. The only competition that was really hot was the one between Mason Foster and Tyrone McKenzie, and the Bucs basically handed the job to Foster. You can debate whether or not that was the right decision, but McKenzie is currently sitting on Minnesota’s practice squad, so no one else saw him as even a part-time player, either.
Some of the poor depth surely has to do with the lack of an offseason and the delay in being able to sign undrafted free agents. They kind of did the best with what they had.
Reason No. 3: Leadership often is an overrated quality in sports. The overwhelming majority of outcomes are decided by talent, pure and simple. But when a team is at a crisis point, as the Bucs are now, leadership is essential.
I covered this the other day so I won’t rehash it. But I do think there is a lack of veteran leadership on the team and as a result, no one is there to impose a standard of excellence in the way that only a player who has had his share of battles can.
The trouble with these three reasons is that there’s no an immediate solution for any of them. You can’t will your team to get more talented. They either are or they aren’t. There are no good free agents out there, unless you want to bring in Terrell Owens to help catch balls, and I don’t think that really does much. And the kind of veteran leadership this team needs isn’t the kind you can get with a street free agent (despite the story about Albert Haynesworth trying to rally everyone at the end of the Houston game). They either have to grow up in the team or they have to be signed early so they can be seen as a true part of the team and not some hired gun. If these truly are the reasons for the Bucs’ slide, it’s not going to get better this season.
October 26, 2011 at 11:20am by Scott • 5 Comments »
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.
October 21, 2011 at 10:09am by Scott • 11 Comments »
(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.
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.
October 14, 2011 at 10:40am by Scott • 5 Comments »
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?