Josh Freeman

Posts Tagged ‘ronde barber’

Ronde Calls It A Career

May 09, 2013 at 02:20am by Scott   •  7 Comments »

Best wishes to a pure Buc.
This post was actually supposed to be about the rookie training camp and how everyone looked, but obviously there was news bigger than what a handful of rookies did without pads today.

Ronde Barber, 38, decided Wednesday it’s time to ride off into the sunset, ending a 16-year NFL career many believe will be immortalized one day in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The writing was pretty much on the wall when the team signed Dashon Goldson, ending Ronde’s brief starting stint at safety. And then it was all but certain when they drafted Johnthan Banks and kept Eric Wright. So it’s not too much of a surprise at this point that Ronde is retiring, and I can’t feel sad about it. He’s leaving on his own terms and still able to play at a high level, which is infinitely better than watching him slowly limp into irrelevance as we have seen so many others do (don’t make me name them).

It is kind of a bummer that he is the last link to the Super Bowl team and there are no more grizzled veterans to take over his leadership role. The longest-tenured player on the team now is Vincent Jackson, and while I understand he is an excellent teammate and a good leader, he isn’t that dyed-in-the-wool Buccaneer that we had gotten accustomed to seeing. Josh Freeman and Gerald McCoy are the next two guys you think of when you think of team leaders who are purebred Bucs. And just being drafted high doesn’t earn them what Ronde earned with his 16 years of consistent excellence and occasional awesomeness. Nope, there is definitely a gap in this team now. I’m confident someone will step up to fill it.

Three or four years ago, I would never have thought Ronde did enough to get into the Hall of Fame. Now I’m not so sure. Every year for the last few, I kept looking for him to slow down and start becoming a liability, and he never did. But his game was never based on superior athleticism, it was all about smarts and instincts, and that doesn’t fade. He knew where the play was going and he attacked it week after week, year after year. But even though his game wasn’t about the physical, he didn’t mind the physicality. He racked up 28 sacks and 1,428 tackles, the latter being the second-best in franchise history. We’ve gotten used to those kinds of numbers because we’ve been watching him for 16 years, but that’s really unusual for a cornerback. I don’t know that he’s a shoe-in for the Hall, but I think the selection committee will give him serious consideration. As they should.

Good luck, Ronde. Please don’t go far.

No News Is No News

March 26, 2013 at 01:20am by Scott   •  3 Comments »

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The only Bucs news happening right now is non-news and it involves cornerbacks not doing anything. Eric Wright is on the trading block but it’s silly to think any team will give up anything more than a free buffet coupon for him since there are still a ton of decent corners on the market already and Wright is one Pepsi Max away from a year-long suspension. Also, Ronde Barber told NFL Network today that he doesn’t know if he’s coming back and he has as long as he wants to think it over. Oh, and Darrelle Revis may not even be available for a trade since the Jets have no idea what they want for him. Wasn’t free agency supposed to be more fun than this?

(If that free buffet coupon is from Shoney’s, though, it might be worth it. Good french toast.)

First Day Of Free Agency Is Not Interesting

March 13, 2013 at 02:05am by Scott   •  11 Comments »

I like a safety who just punches the receiver.
The first day of free agency came and went for the Bucs and it was a lot like last year, except instead of three big name free agents they got zero. But that doesn’t mean they’re not looking around. In fact, Dashon Goldson is making Tampa his first free agent visit.

On Tuesday, the 49ers All-Pro boarded a private jet charted by the Buccaneers and flew across the country to Tampa Bay where he could become among the highest-paid safeties in the NFL today.

And somewhere Ronde Barber is regretting playing so aloof with his retirement talk. If the Bucs sign Goldson, the only way Barber comes back is as a backup safety/nickel corner and he’s not the kind of guy to take on that kind of role.

And the Darrelle Revis to Tampa talk is still getting traction in the media.

The Jets are believed to be seeking a first-round pick. Even if the teams agree on draft compensation, the Bucs would have to reach a contract extension with Revis, who wants $15 million to $16 million per year despite playing in only two games last season because of a torn ACL in his left knee.

And we all know Mark Dominik is smart enough to not cash in the #13 pick for a player who is going to cost so much coin and still won’t be happy with it next year. Then again

Devious pranksters with too much time of their hands appear to have conducted an interesting (and probably illegal) experiment that put Bucs general manager Mark Dominik on Front Street.

On Friday, just before the start of the NFL’s three-day free-agent negotiating period, the pranksters, after making a call to Bills general manager Buddy Nix posing as Dominik, somehow got access to the eventual callback from Nix to Dominik.

They surreptitiously recorded the 5-minute call and shared the clip with Deadspin.com. In it, Dominik laments the uselessness of the negotiating period and discusses his efforts to trade running back LeGarrette Blount and receiver Arrelious Benn (he claimed there’s some interest in both).

Just kidding, Mark. This isn’t your fault. And “probably” illegal is bullshit. It’s definitely illegal. Florida’s wiretapping law is very clear about both parties needing to give consent to record a call. Reading the article, Dominik didn’t say anything out of line or even anything very surprising. He wanted to trade Blount? The hell you say! And I actually didn’t remember Benn was on the team until I read this article, so if he can get anything at all for him, he wins Trade of the Year honors.

The only thing that was a little revealing is that he is looking to move Jamon Meredith, which may tip his hand that he is looking to take a right tackle early in the draft, which I think is great because the draft is deep at tackle. D.J. Fluker (Alabama) and Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) will both still be there and should even be available lower than #13 if the Bucs can trade down. Fluker is a monster and paired up with Davin Joseph on the right side will provide running lanes on the right all day long. Fluker has slow feet, though, and needs to work to be more nimble if he is going to be an elite tackle. Johnson is the opposite — quick feet and an excellent pass protector, but only an average run blocker. That’s because he doesn’t have the same size as Fluker (he is a former junior college quarterback) but he’s got all the smarts and skills to keep Josh Freeman clean on the right.

So yeah, kind of a waste of a prank and a wiretap. Next maybe they’ll catch Dominik reading a grocery list to his wife. And then they can try to make something interesting out of that. “Dominik, in a stunning revelation, said he prefers RC to Coke or Pepsi. We always knew the Bucs were cheap!”

Catching Up With Actual Bucs News

March 10, 2013 at 11:59pm by Scott   •  7 Comments »

And if that doesn't scare you, wait until you see all the tattoos on his head.
Several things have been going on with the Bucs over the last few days, so just like a typical blogger, I’m going to give you the news several days after it all happened and with the added benefit of being unfunny and completely uninsightful. And apparently not smart, either, since my spellcheck just said “uninsightful” isn’t a word. But it also doesn’t like “Bucs”, so maybe it’s not completely my fault.

The Bucs re-signed LeGarrette Blount without having to use a restricted tag on him, which is great since they actually paid him less than a second-round tender would have gotten him. Blount has shown he can be an effective back when he is used the right way. And by “the right way”, I mean lowering his head and destroying smaller linebackers. Free agent running backs and hit and miss (anyone remember Derrick Ward?) but they know what they have in Blount and it was worth $1.75-million on a one-year deal to them to hold on to him. Good move.

Despite reports that the Bucs weren’t sure if they wanted to bring Ronde Barber back, the Bucs have said they want to bring him back. Which is why anonymous “reports” almost always suck. Barber spends time hemming and hawing (no spell check there? Seriously?) every year and always comes back, and there’s no reason to think he won’t come back again. Until his level of play drops to where you see him on the field and just know he’s going to be out of position (this is known as “The Sabby Syndrome”), he’s better than most options out there. It may seem counterintuitive to think that the league’s worst pass defense should keep anyone from last year, but I don’t think Ronde was the problem. Like everyone else, he missed some plays, but he was generally effective and it just seems wrong to cut him before he’s totally worthless.

Michael Bennett won’t be returning to the Bucs. The team plans to start Da’Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn as their defensive ends and that doesn’t leave any room for another starting-caliber player. At least not one who wants to play. Seems pretty dangerous to me to put all their eggs in the baskets of players who have missed significant time due to injury. Bowers may have a higher ceiling than Bennett, but Bennett is always on the field and led the Bucs in sacks last season. It’s a numbers game and the Bucs are making their choice, but they better invest significantly in depth at defensive end this offseason.

One of the players they may invest in is John Abraham. There’s apparently no report about actual interest; just Florio speculating. Abraham will be 35 when the season starts but still put up ten sacks last season and has been really consistent throughout his career. He hasn’t missed any significant time since 2006, so maybe he’s the depth the Bucs are looking for. When Clayborn or Bowers gets hurt (and one of them will), Abraham can step in and be effective. He’ll have other options, but this wouldn’t be a bad pickup. He won’t command an elite price, but he’ll be somewhat expensive. The Bucs may have to convince him that being a backup isn’t so bad, and one way to do that is to pay him almost-starter money.

So there you go. I cleared out the inbox that had been piling up and actually got an entry posted. And if you’re wondering about the clickys, sorry, I haven’t really been in a clicky mood this week. And look, you survived. Hey, some anticipation builds character. I’ll see what next week brings.

REAR ENTRIES: Holiday Haters

December 22, 2012 at 01:27am by Scott   •  3 Comments »

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NO SELLOUT FOR ST. LOUIS: The last home game of the season, this Sunday against St. Louis, will be blacked out to no one’s surprise. Not because the Bucs deserve it, but because if a new coach and an exciting new running back and a four-game winning streak wasn’t bringing the fans out, then a four-game losing streak probably isn’t the cure.

The Bucs, who once boasted a season-ticket waiting list of more than 100,000 fans, failed to sell out their first three regular-season home games this year have had 19 of their previous 23 home games blacked out.

That’s just unnecessarily rubbing it in. The 100,000 fan waiting list was YEARS ago and has no real relevance to the story. Did you know that the NY Jets, who once won a Super Bowl, suck now?

The Bucs were also the first NFL team to adopt the league’s new 85 percent rule, which allows clubs to declare a sellout and lift the local TV blackout if 85 percent of all non-premium seats are sold 72 hours before kickoff.

That part hurts. Because it means they can’t even really come close to selling out. At some point, the fans have to step up and take some responsibility. There are tickets available for $30 right now. I just saw them. The Glazers can’t do a hell of a lot else outside of having the cheerleaders go into the stands and give away free handjobs and massages.

Wait, on second thought, fans should hold out for that.

GO BACK TO COLLEGE: According to PFT, sometime after the game, an anonymous Buccaneer asked if there was a way to send the coaches “back to college”. And of course it was passed off as a sign that Greg Schiano is losing control of the team because, as we know, no successful team has ever had an anonymous asshole spout off when things aren’t going great at the moment. Just ask Keyshawn.

Ronde Barber disputed that the comment was even said, which I understand him doing, but probably is pointless since I’m sure someone said it. That doesn’t mean it was anyone of any consequence, though. Have you seen some of the names on the active roster? A good chunk of them will be selling insurance next August, and I’ll bet one of them is the spineless douche. And I really don’t care what he thinks of the coaches.

Let’s all stop and remember how things were last season before the Bucs had all these “college” coaches. Despite this losing streak, the Bucs are still miles better than they were this time last year.

FREEMAN KNOWS WHAT TO SAY: Josh Freeman had a shit game last week and people are talking about him not being the future of the team or the face of the franchise or whatever. And whether you believe that or not, you have to appreciate the way Josh is handling the criticism. The whole quote is good, so I’m pretty much snagging the entire article.

“It’s funny because one of my friends asked me about an article he read or something, but to be honest with you, I’m completely disconnected from it,” Freeman said of the chatter.

Freeman said he tries not to be swayed by “opinions that don’t matter” because they tend to become a distraction, and he can’t afford to let them alter his focus or preparation.

“I’m not saying the fans don’t matter because you want to go out and put a great product on the field for them,” Freeman said. “But there is nothing they can say or do that will affect me in a positive way or help me in my preparation.

“You see a lot of guys who get caught up in that and maybe they lose confidence in what got them (here) in the first place. So I’m working, I’m battling. You guys can argue it up, but I have one focus.”

Everyone says they don’t let it get to them, but Josh’s words are more believable than most. He’s got work to do and needs to make progress and get more consistent, but I think he’s got the attitude part of the job nailed.

REAR ENTRIES: Can Any Of My Readers Play Guard?

November 15, 2012 at 12:48am by Scott   •  5 Comments »

rearentry153

MEREDITH ON CRUTCHES: So here’s a fun little tidbit. Jamon Meredith, the guy nobody heard of a few months ago and who has been on the team briefly enough that the Times needed to run with a photo of him in a Giants uniform and who is currently starting in place of Davin Joseph, rolled his ankle and is questionable for Sunday.

“We don’t have that many more moves left,” coach Greg Schiano said.

That made the sight of starting RG Jamon Meredith leaving the locker room on crutches Wednesday afternoon concerning. He was limited at practice after rolling an ankle. The severity of the injury was unknown.

[emphasis mine because holy shit.]

The article says Roger Allen is his backup. I know the Bucs have had some good luck with all the line shifting so far, but they’re digging so deep into the roster that I don’t know who these people are. If Allen gets hurt, they may want to just put a big foam helmet on Captain Fear and stick him in there.

LEONARD JOHNSON’S PICK SIX: The Tribune has a nice personal interest story about Leonard Johnson couched in the story of his pick six last week. It’s well-written, it’s got heart without being sappy, and heaven help me it’s by Martin Fennelly. Seriously, he just kind of lets the story happen and doesn’t get in the way too much with his nonsense. It is the best piece I’ve read of his in years. Maybe the Mayans were right.

PRO BOWL: If you haven’t done it already, go to the Pro Bowl site and vote every Buccaneer into the Pro Bowl. So far, Ronde Barber is leading the free safety vote. Everyone says it’s just a popularity contest, which is fine since being popular is more important than ANYTHING.

REAR ENTRIES: Figuring It Out

October 04, 2012 at 09:36am by Scott   •  1 Comment »

rearentry147

BARTH GETS PROPS: If you had to pick an MVP for the first quarter of the season, you’d have to give strong consideration to Connor Barth, which might make some of the guys who actually make contact on every play a little upset, but it’s the truth. Placekicking is an all or nothing game. If he had missed a couple key field goals, no one would have a problem making him the goat of the first quarter, so he should also get the credit when he is doing well. This article is about Barth’s preparation and kicking process and gives more attention to the position than it gets in a full season. Here’s the best part of it:

“I’m not an expert on kicking,” said Schiano. “I know just enough to be dangerous. But I also know enough to stay away from him and let him keep doing what he’s doing.”

Exactly. Let him have the mustache and the yoga and the goat’s blood (I may have imagined that last one) and get out of his way.

TRUEBLOOD INACTIVE: It’s not often you see a five-year starter inactive when healthy, but that’s what’s happening to Jeremy Trueblood now. Demar Dotson is entrenched as the starter at right tackle and Trueblood wasn’t even active as a backup. He explains why.

“I’m a right tackle,” Trueblood said. “That’s just what it is. I’ve never played anything else. (Schiano) told me straight up. He said, ‘The other guy (Jamon Meredith) can play guard and tackle, so you’re inactive.’ I can’t question a man’s decision.”

No, I guess he can’t. And Trueblood is being a good teammate about it. I looked at the roster and the only backup linemen they had active were Meredith and Cody Wallace, who plays both guard and center. So Schiano’s lineup makes sense as long as Meredith is also the superior guard to Wallace. If Meredith gets hurt, they’ll definitely activate Trueblood to start the following week. But Trueblood is very likely looking at his last season in Tampa. And that’s a shame because I’ve still got a whole file full of false start jokes.

STEVE WHITE BREAKDOWN: Ask and ye shall receive. After wondering how the breakdown in the last drive of the Redskins game happened and who was to blame, Steve White laid it all out very neatly (with photos!) in a blog entry. On the tight end pass, he shows what happens but can’t tell who the guilty party is. But on the quarterback run up the middle, he makes it more clear even if in the end he still clams he doesn’t know who is right or wrong.

Remember again that with a zone blitz that the blitzer comes from one side and the defensive line slants in the opposite direction. Well the defensive linemen all slanted to the right this time but there was no blitzer coming from their left (red line).

Instead Ronde (again blue arrow)came up and appeared to be blitzing from the right (orange line) which is the same direction the defensive linemen were slanting towards.

Complicating matters further is that the right defensive end (red arrow) dropped (red line) as a curl/flat defender as he would if the blitz was supposed to come to the left. So even if Ronde was just coming up to cover the running back as he eventually did, there was no need for him to be there in coverage.

So at least the scheme indicates that Ronde should have come from the other side. Now, Ronde is a 16-year veteran and knows how and where to blitz, but he’s also new to this scheme and new to his safety position. So maybe he just screwed up. It happens. White also takes a second to lay a little blame on the coaches for the call. Not much, but he does mention it.

I don’t know how much the Bucs practice two minute drill during the week but the only blitzes you run during such a critical time of the game are the ones the players have shown you they know in their sleep. There is no excuse for this happening not once, but twice, at the end of the game.

If the blitz had worked and RGIII was sacked on that play, the call would have been brilliant and we’d all be praising Schiano for maintaining his aggression even through the last second. As it is, people are calling him too aggressive and pounding him for blitzing too much. But we’ve seen lots of examples where defenses sit back soft and the quarterback just picks them apart underneath. The Redskins only needed a field goal and they had plenty of time to get there (and that clock management bullshit is totally on Schiano) so he wanted to put the game in his hands and live or die on his own terms. And this time he died by them. But I at least respect going down swinging and I think others do as well.

But make no mistake, that kind of feeling doesn’t last long if you don’t get a few wins using that strategy. It’s a short step from aggressive to foolish.

REAR ENTRIES: The Old Man And The NFC

September 12, 2012 at 03:22pm by Scott   •  8 Comments »

rearentry142

BARBER GETS HONORED: In his 200th consecutive start and for the tenth time in his career, Ronde Barber has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Barber had two tackles for loss, a sack, two passes defensed and an interception off a tipped ball. On the pick, Barber jumped out of his wheelchair, snagged the ball, took a big huff from his oxygen tank and shuffled down the field for an additional 24 yards.

IT’S NOT A CONCUSSION: (say that headline in Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s voice like he did in Kindergarten Cop) According to Mark Dominik, LeGarrette Blount absolutely positively does not have a concussion.

I can categorically confirm it has nothing to do with concussions whatsoever. So, there’s nothing there. In order to make sure the information is correct and that we’re getting out the right information, there’s nothing concussion-related with LeGarrette Blount.

So we know what it isn’t. What it is is a different story.

“However, we’re going to do our due diligence on our players to make sure player safety is No. 1, the most important thing. He obviously had the hit, he went down, our trainers, doctors went out, evaluated him and cleared him to play. He did not play just because of circumstances, not because of injury.”

Blount is getting an MRI on his back and neck, but Dominik is making it sound precautionary. And let him take all the times he needs. I’m a Blount fan, but if Doug Martin keeps performing like he did last week and D.J. Ware can play spot duty, Blount will quickly become an afterthought, like condoms are with me.

SAPP FLAPS HIS MOUTH AGAIN: I’m sure you’ve heard that Warren Sapp called Gerald McCoy up after the game, not to congratulate him on what was probably the best game of his career, but to criticize the ones that got away.

“Sapp called me last night and said, ‘Look, if you’ve ever got a quarterback in your grasp like that and you let him out, me and you are going to fight,’ ” McCoy said.

We remember how McCoy tore his triceps over the last couple years, right? Arm tackling. He had Cam Newton in an awkward grasp and if McCoy felt even a twinge in his arm while Newton was squirming around, I’m glad he let him go. The absolute last thing the Bucs need is to put McCoy on the IR list yet again.

And look, I’m not going to fight Sapp, first because he’d beat my ass and second because I’m a huge HUGE pussy. But I’m pretty sure McCoy would pound Sapp in a straight-up fistfight. Sapp’s getting old and the amount of weed he’s smoked in his lifetime would need to be weighed on a truck scale. That shit slows you down.

Safety Dance

August 22, 2012 at 12:18am by Scott   •  4 Comments »

Ahmad Black's interception was so impressive that the team didn't feel they had to do anything else in the game.
Stephen Holder wrote a good article about the Bucs’ situation at safety and how it looks like one of the deeper positions on the team right now. He makes a few good points, all of which I will repeat here and claim as my own, mostly because I thought the same things anyway; he just wrote them before I did.

Ronde Barber and Mark Barron are the starters. This much is a given. After that we have Cody Grimm, Larry Asante, Ahmad Black, Tramain Thomas, Sean Baker and Keith Tandy. Grimm has experience on his side, although if the team was truly happy with him they wouldn’t have drafted Barron or moved Barber to safety. I think he’s on the bubble. Asante has had a good camp and makes plays in preseason, but also misses some plays and some tackles. The potential is there but not the consistency. Black has been amazing and is probably a lock to make the team unless he kidnaps a hooker sometime in the next two weeks (he’s a Gator, so this isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds, especially if the hooker has some good weed (I am not accusing Black of smoking weed, just making a generalization about Gators (Sept 15, baby))). Thomas and Baker are pocketing their per diems because they know they won’t be employed much longer. And Tandy has the distinction of being listed as a “DB” rather than a safety, meaning be can play both which is always nice.

The Bucs could keep five safeties, but probably won’t. They have depth issues on the defensive line that they’ll probably address with that extra body. If I had to guess now, they’ll keep Black and Grimm and try to sneak Tandy onto the practice squad. If called upon in a game, I’d trust Grimm’s experience over Tandy’s potential at this point.

Looking Good At Safety

August 01, 2012 at 09:09am by Scott   •  1 Comment »

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With two new starters at safety, there’s a lot of learning going on in the defensive backfield. But Mark Barron is glad to have a guy an elder statesman (read: old man) like Ronde Barber back there to lean on.

“Sometimes I just sit back and watch Ronde to pick up some of the things he knows,” said Barron, who couldn’t wait to strap on the pads two days into camp. “There isn’t too much in this league Ronde Barber hasn’t seen. When I ask him for help, he usually has a good answer for me.”

And Ronde is just happy to be doing something different after all these years.

“I want to play and I want to win,” Barber said. “It’s not often you get to find new challenges in your 16th year, new opportunities to prove yourself.”

Watching Ronde plug a gap and flatten a runner is one of things I’m most looking forward to seeing this season. He’s always been a good hitter and with his age and, let’s face it, slightly diminished coverage skills, it’s a good fit.

Speaking of diminished coverage skills, when everyone was looking for a knock on Barron, they picked on his coverage skills even though as a sophomore he picked off seven passes. People were just looking for some flaw in his game that they could talk about since he was so awesome. But Bill Sheridan doesn’t have any issues with Barron in coverage and has seen some good plays in practice already.

“The other day we had a deep ball thrown down one of the sides of the field and Barron sure covered a lot of ground in a hurry,” Sheridan said. “The kid’s got great range. He’s going to have his hands on a lot of balls.”

Bill Sheridan would like rephrase his optimism.