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Bucs Win First Game Since Last October

August 13, 2012 at 11:56am by Scott   •  4 Comments »

preseason20121

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.

Making Chicken Salad

June 04, 2012 at 11:12am by Scott   •  No Comments »

Chicken Salad

Things will pick up tomorrow when the Bucs continue their OTAs, but for now they’re pretty dead. You know nothing’s happening when the biggest Bucs story out there is that Greg Schiano threw out the first pitch at a Rays game and it flew over Joe Maddon‘s (who was playing catcher for Schiano’s pitch) head.

“I should’ve gotten up on the mound I guess, huh?’ Schiano said smiling. “Too much strength. I’ve got to get out of the weight room. “I said, “Coach, you’ve got to get out of your crouch.’’

See? That’s it. Schiano has his cute little “get out of the weight room” crack, but nothing you can really wrap your arms around and make fun of. That’s pretty inconsiderate of him.

One interesting article that did come out is about the potential of a “big play” backfield. Adding a player as fast as Michael Smith to a player as powerful as LeGarrette Blount… and Doug Martin fits in there somewhere… and the Bucs have the potential to have several big plays from the running backs. The Bucs’ official site compares it to the days of Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott.

Defining “big plays” on the ground as all carries of 10 or more yards, one finds a spike of such occurrences from 1998 to 2000 for the Buccaneers. In those three years, Tampa Bay ranked ninth, eighth and 13th, respectively, in big plays on the ground, creating either 53 or 54 in each campaign. That’s the best stretch of big-play rankings in the running game in team history.

Although the article says the Bucs don’t know who the primary back will be, you don’t trade back up into the first round for Martin to make him a situational player. Martin will likely be the every-down back and Blount and Smith will be change-ups as the situation requires. It’s an interesting article if you enjoy the historical comparisons.

Somebody better say something outlandish tomorrow or I’m going to have to start making stuff up.

REAR ENTRIES: Everyday I’m Shuffling

May 08, 2012 at 11:04am by Scott   •  9 Comments »

Rear Entry 124

LET THE SIGNINGS BEGIN: The Bucs signed their two seventh-round picks yesterday, RB Michael Smith and TE Drake Dunsmore. Details of the contracts weren’t revealed, so I guess they only do that when they’re showing off.

The 6-3, 235-pound Dunsmore played a position called “superback” in Northwestern’s prolific offense in 2011 and scouts believe he could line up anywhere from tight end to fullback to H-back.

Seriously, “Superback”? And remember Cody Grimm was the “Deathbacker“. Do they do that in other industries, too? Does the best dishwasher get called the Dishcrusher or the Soap Soldier or something?

BUCS SIGN JILTED PATRIOT: The Bucs picked up Tiquan Underwood yesterday, the former New England Patriot who was cut the day before the Super Bowl.

Underwood was released by the Patriots in February, on the eve of Super Bowl XLVI, so the team could promote defensive tackle Alex Silvestro from the practice squad. He re-signed three days later but was cut again May 3 so the Pats could sign former Florida receiver Jabar Gaffney.

Even John McCargo thinks this guy got fucked.

The addition of Underwood puts the total number of former Rutgers players on the roster at seven. There has been some bitching that Greg Schiano is playing favorites with his former guys, but he knows these players and what they’re capable of. He’s not going to jeopardize winning just to give a couple guys who used to play for him a temporary paycheck. Schiano has made it clear that no one is going to be given preferential treatment and that he will do what’s best for the Bucs, so he needs to be given the benefit of the doubt at this point.

ROSTER CHANGES: The bugs did a lot of roster shuffling over the last couple days. Here’s most of it:

Here is the list of tryout players signed from the rookie minicamp:

Wagner DE Quintin Anderson
Ball State S Sean Baker
Arkansas RB De’Anthony Curtis
Iowa P Eric Guthrie
Nebraska T Jermarcus Hardrick
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
Henderson State FB Antonio Leak
North Carolina DT Jordan Nix
Toledo TE Danny Noble
Connecticut C Moe Petrus
Portland State DT Myles Wade

The players released include:

WR Luther Ambrose
LB Ryan Baker
LB Mike Balogun
QB Zach Collaros
S Ron Girault Rugters
C Chaz Hine
DT Donte’e Nicholls
T Trevor Olson
G Chris Riley
K Jake Rogers
CB Quenton Washington
T Rocky Weaver

De’Anthony Curtis and Jordan Nix are both interesting prospects. All the others I’m pretty sure are made up names.

Rookie Minicamp

May 07, 2012 at 12:43pm by Scott   •  1 Comment »

Rookie Minicamp 2012

Since the Bucs had a rookie minicamp and a ton of tryout players in over the weekend, there are a lot of good little stories out there to catch up on.

First off, here are the transcripts from Greg Schiano‘s press conferences on Saturday and Sunday. According to Schiano, he plans to keep 22 to 29 rookie free agents and tryout players on the roster. That seems like a lot, but since the roster limit has been raised to 90, I guess they’ve got the room. One of the tryout guys Schiano is holding on to for a while is former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson who, if you remember the BCS Championship Game, is awful. So backing up Josh Freeman right now are Dan Orlovsky, Brett Ratliff, Zach Collaros and Jefferson. Can teams contractually encase their quarterbacks in carbonite between games? Because that seems prudent.

Also hanging on is former Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson. Johnson is a Clearwater native who went to Largo High before going to college in Iowa, so there’s some local interest in how he does with the Bucs.

Last year as a senior, Johnson and his Iowa State teammates hosted the then undefeated Oklahoma State Cowboys. Johnson drew the short straw and was matched up on star Cowboys’ receiver Justin Blackmon. Blackmon was held to 99 yards receiving, and Johnson nabbed an important interception in the Cyclones upset win over OSU.

At first I thought it wasn’t really a compliment to point out that Blackmon got 99 yards on Johnson, but then I remembered that it’s Iowa State and a star receiver should absolutely crush a team like that, so I do consider it a win for Johnson. Johnson is fortunate to play a position that is still a need for the Bucs, so we could see this piece of meat hang around for a little while.

In a post-draft analysis of Mark Barron, Mike Mayock as a man who has no hobbies and is 100% business. Barron seemed to back this up in a rookie minicamp interview this weekend when the subject of how little he talks came up.

Mark Barron will eventually connect with Bucs fans, but it won’t be orally.

Congratulations to Rick Stroud for disappointing female Bucs fans while simultaneously making the rest of us wretch. Seriously, no editors at all?

“I am a serious guy. But, I mean, I can have fun,” Barron said Saturday, the second day of the Bucs’ rookie minicamp. “It ain’t to the point where I can’t have fun. I will talk. But I ain’t the type when I walk into the room where I’m going to talk to everybody.”

Remember when the Bucs drafted Gerald McCoy and he would act all goofy and we wondered if he would take his job seriously? Yeah, that’s not a concern here.

The Tribune did a piece on seventh-round pick Michael Smith, who got engaged during the draft. I guess everyone starts getting bored on the third day.

“She knew it was going to come eventually,” said Smith, who finished as Utah State’s career leader with an average of 7.1 yards per rushing attempt. “We got engaged and I got drafted, so everything worked out. It was a plus and a plus.”

Aww, isn’t that sweet? I don’t know any girl who wouldn’t swoon at being called “a plus”. Back off, ladies, he’s spoken for!

Draft Wrap Up

April 30, 2012 at 10:42am by Scott   •  9 Comments »

2012 Draft Roundip

With the Bucs having traded away their second-round pick in order to move back into the first to take Doug Martin, most people thought Mark Dominik would stand pat and wait for his third-rounder to hit. But Dominik is a sniper who sees what he wants and just fucking takes it. And what he wanted was LB Lavonte David out of Nebraska and he didn’t think think David was going to be there in the third for him. Someone in the chat on Friday called David as the next pick. I forget who it was, but bully for him. Nice call.

David is 6-0, 233 and runs a 4.65 40. Most people would call him undersized for a linebacker, but that would be his only drawback. He was super-productive at Nebraska and made all-conference after transferring from a junior college. He’s smart, athletic and closes on the football quick. It’s going to be tempting to compare him to Derrick Brooks because he’ll probably play the same position and because Brooks had the same “undersized” knock against him when he was drafted. This kid obviously has a long way to go, but just keep it in the back of your mind. This is why the Bucs felt comfortable passing on a linebacker in the first round. Dominik knew David was going to be there in the second and that freed him up to do what he did in the first.

I feel the need to point this out since there was so much Dominik bashing on Friday. Dominik traded down two spots to #7 and picked up a fourth-rounder, a price most people said was too low. Dominik took that fourth-rounder and used it to trade back up in the first to grab Martin. But all he did was swap fourths to do it. He still had a fourth-rounder going into the second. He then took that fourth to trade back into the second round for David. He used one fourth-rounder to trade up twice. That’s some expert wheeling and dealing, and if you don’t think so you’re just hater who enjoys being miserable and should pick another team to root for or bitch about as you please. But leave my Bucs out of your sphere of depression.

The rest of the draft I found underwhelming, mostly because I didn’t know any of the players. The Bucs took LB Najee Goode in the fifth and CB Keith Tandy, both from West Virginia. In fact, Goode and Tandy were roommates in college, so they should give the second-team back seven some continuity walking into camp. Greg Schiano played both these guys several times while at Rutgers (both WV and Rutgers are in the Big East), so he obviously spent some time scouting them even before he got to the Bucs.

“Obviously, I know a lot about both the West Virginia kids playing against them for four years,” former Rutgers coach Schiano said. “They were both a royal pain in the rear. As I told them, it’s good to be on the same side now.

“Those two guys are football maniacs. I mean, they love the game, and they play it with such passion.”

With his first seventh-round pick, Dominik grabbed Michael Smith, a running back from Utah State. Smith’s pick is all about speed and he is a true change-of-pace back. In fact, another team liked him so much that they offered Dominik a sixth-rounder next year for Smith right after he was drafted.

“I never had that happen before,” Dominik said.

Smith claimed to run a 4.26 at some point, but he was clocked at 4.32 at his pro day. That probably translates a few hundredths higher at the combine, but is still faster than anyone the Bucs currently have. Smith is 5-9, 207 and had a recent groin injury, so there’s going to be some talk about his size and durability, but for a seventh-rounder, he sounds like a steal. So I won’t hold it against Dominik for not drafting Tauren Poole out of Tennessee with this pick. Poole, by the way, went to Carolina on a UFA deal, so we’ll be seeing him soon enough.

The Bucs’ last pick was Drake Dunsmore, a tight end out of Northwestern who probably projects as a fullback. Erik Lorig and Luke Stocker already have the jobs of “white guys who can block” filled, so I’m going to say Dunsmore doesn’t make the team. Everyone else, though, I think has a real shot of sticking.

With nearly 48 hours passing since the draft ended, it seems like a good time to look at draft grades. Of course that’s dumb, but people do it anyway. SI gives the Bucs an A-, Ira Kaufman gives them a B+, Mel Kiper gave them something good (I’ll never know because I won’t pay for it, but the Bucs did well enough to be the team they push on the home page), and CBS gives them a solid B. All the draft reviews have the same complaint, though: that the Bucs should have just taken Morris Claiborne. But without the trade down, the trades back up don’t happen. Barron is a solid player at a position of huge need for the team. And again, if the Bucs thought Claiborne was better than Mark Barron, they would have taken him. But the Bucs were in a unique position to know a lot about Claiborne and they went ahead and picked Barron anyway. That’s the last time I’ll beat that horse, but it seems so obvious that I don’t know why more people aren’t realizing it.