An Open Letter to Gruden

Dear Jon,

You can't lose to a team with one victory through eight weeks. You're not supposed to lose to a team starting its third string quarterback. If you're bound for the playoffs, you're supposed to roll over teams like the 49ers. You don't roll over for the opponent.

Chris Simms played poorly enough to make me long for the days when Dilfer was behind center, but you can't blame Simms for this loss.

The defense once again couldn't stop a lousy offense when it counted.

You may not play a single snap, but it is your responsibility to make sure your players are prepared to. It is your job to make sure they do not over estimate your opponent. It is your responsibility to make your players believe they are playing the '72 Dolphins every week.

Right now, the Panthers can look to next weeks game, and think to themselves, "smells like dinner."

A Disappointed Fan


Smells Like Dinner

Introducing a new preview gimmick for this site, I will use Football Outsider's (FO) less heralded stats to preview this weekend's game. I am actually stealing this idea from Mistake by the Lake (an outstanding Cleveland spots blog). What I lack in talent or creativity I make up for in pictures of half naked women.

A quick note about the FO stats, you can find a more detailed explanation here, but they essentially break down every play and compare it to the league average for the season. FO's stats are a much better indicator of how good a team is because they take into account the quality of the team's opposition.

Buc's offense vs. 49er's defense

Teams . . . . . . . Buc's offense . . . . . 49er's defense
Total DVOA . . . -3.5% (#17) . . . . . . 33.3% (#31)
passing . . . . . . -6.8% (#18) . . . . . . 12.5% (#27)
rushing . . . . . . -0.2% (#18) . . . . . . 51.5% (#32)

Now follow me here because this is where it gets tricky. On defense, the more negative a DVOA is the better the unit. But on offense the better teams have a more positive and higher DVOA. So in this situation the Buc's offense has an advantage (although not as big in other matchup as you will see).

Obviously, the Bucs are missing Brian Griese, so it remains to be seen how Chris Simms will play over an entire game. He played well for two quarters in relief of an injured Griese. In fact, you could argue that Simms did a better job than Griese by spreading the ball around, when Griese was clearly locked onto Galloway. Either way, Simms gets a tune up against an ugly passing defense.

The 49ers defense is just dreadful, almost as bad as thier offense. If the Skins can score 7 touchdowns against them hopefully this Bucs offense can score at least two touchdowns.

Buc's defense vs. 49ers offense

Teams . . . . . . . . Buc's defense . . . . 49er's offense
Total DVOA . . . . -19.1% (#4) . . . . . . -55.5% (#32)
rushing . . . . . . . -30.3% (#1) . . . . . . -19.0% (#28)
passing . . . . . . . -10.6% (#10) . . . . . -87.5% (#32)

It does not matter whether Alex Smith or Ken Dorsey started this weekend. Neither of them are all that good and they have absolutely no talent surrounding them. Their leading receiver form last season, tightend Eric Johnson is done for the season.

Despite the hype surrounding him runningback Kevin Barlow has looked mediocre at best the last couple of years. Runningback Frank Gore has been the lone bright spot for a 49ers offense which has struggled to score points, what with his 72 yard run for a touchdown last week against the 'Skin's second stringers.

The 49ers only chance in this game might have been to run the ball, but it's unlikely Barlow or Gore will find much success against the top rated rush defense in the NFL. I don't think the Bucs will cover the eleven points they are being given, but they should still throttle a weak 49ers team.


The Hair vs The Old Man: Week 8

Like the matador tempting the bull, Kornheiser continues to play with Mel. So far, Mel has stayed ahead going 34-9 when just picking winners, but Tony has not given up. This week he gives Mel tougher games to pick between teams nobody in their right mind would want to watch.

Not only has Tony given Mel unappetizing games, Tony has taunted Mel behind his back and to his face. Tony mentioned earlier in the week that it's a very girly thing to do, to pick winners.

When Mel found out and confronted Tony about this Tony responded, "Get off the training wheels and pick the spread."

Anyway, on to the bull fight . . .

Washington (+2) at New York Giants: Respect game for the Redskins so Mel picks them to win.

Chicago (+3) at Detroit: This was the first game Mel complained about. He thought both teams were mediocre and wanted Tony to give him better games to pick. In the end, Mel went with Detroit since Chicago won the first match up between the two. Go figure.

Cleveland (+2) at Houston: Another crappy game, but since this could be Houston's last opportunity to win Mel picks the Texans.

Miami (+2.5) at New Orleans: Another ugly battle, Mel goes with the team with better coach, which would be the Dolphins with Nick Saban.

Philly (+3.5) at Denver: Broncos have three things going for them. They're coming off a close loss, they have a bye next week, and they're playing at home. Mel goes with the Broncos.

Jacksonville (Off) at St Louis: Jaguars look like a playoff team, while the Rams are not. Mel picks the Jaguars to win this game, but if they lose they will not make the playoffs. On a side note, there is no line for this game.

Oakland (-1.5) at Tennessee: Mel, the girly man that he is, was not happy about having to pick this game. Mel admits he has no idea who will win this game before picking the Raiders to defeat the Titans.

Kansas City (+6.5) at a Whale's Vagina (aka San Diego): The Chargers are Mel's Five Star Lock of the week.

You know you've made it to the big time when . . .

. . . writers from SI are lifting your material.

Hey, Jimmy Traina, you no-name schmuck, quit stealing my schtick.


Quote of the Day

Dusting off a gimmick not used since training camp, I bring you a quote from the southpaw, Chris Simms:

"My right eye is dominant. Can you believe that? Really weird, right?"

Can you really have a dominant eye? Does that mean he sees better with his right eye? Or does his right eye sneak out of his head at night and beat up other wandering eyeballs? So many questions, so few answers . . .


Vick will never win a Super Bowl

The forward pass was legalized in 1906, transforming predominantly running offenses into passing oriented offenses. In 1905 the typical quarterback only had to run the ball and hand off to his runningback. Michael Vick came into the NFL about a hundred years too late.

The modern quarterback has far different responsibilities than his predecessors. Instead of running the ball first, he must pass the ball accurately to his receivers. He has to complete at least 60 percent of his passes.

Vick has never completed more than 56.4 percent of his passes. Last night, against the Jets he went 11 for 26 with 116 yards passing and three interceptions. Instead, Vick relied on his feet to score points, going for 18 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.

Year . . . Completion Percentage
2001 . . . 44.2
2002 . . . 54.9
2003 . . . 50.0
2004 . . . 56.4
2005 . . . 52.4

Anybody who has watched Vick play or who knows his win-loss record must think I'm an idiot. Vick is a human high light reel, and the Falcons need him in the lineup to win games. As long as Dunn is in the backfield opposing defenses have to assume both players could get the ball, which means fewer defenders will be shadowing each individual player.

The Falcons will never win the Super Bowl until Vick learns to stay in the pocket and pass the ball. The Falcons have been able to advance fairly far into the playoffs by taking advantage of weak defenses but have struggled against strong defensive teams.

Last season the Falcons beat the Rams (who had the 25th ranked defense) but got bounced by the Eagles (# 3 defense). Two years earlier the Falcons beat a poor Green Bay run defense (ranked 12th) but got beat by Eagles (2nd ranked defense).

Don't get me wrong. I don't look forward to the games the Bucs play against the Falcons. Vick is capable of things no quarterback before him could ever do. But Vick has a huge Achilles Heel. Any team with horses to chase down Vick (Bucs, Panthers, Eagles, etc.) can shut down the Falcons offense.

Vick would be a great quarterback if he played for Nebraska about 10 years ago. In the modern NFL Super Bowl teams either have a great quarterback who can pass the ball (Pats and Brady, one of the Mannings this year) or great defenses (Bucs and Ravens). The Falcon have neither.


Benson abandons New Orleans

There are uncomfirmed reports that Tom Benson, the owner of the Saints, will move the franchise to San Antonio next season, and then to the City of Angels (i.e. L.A.) the next.

While I can understand why Benson wants to move the Saints, his timing could not be worse. New Orleans has plenty of things to worry about right, the least of which should be a billionaire owner and his millionaire players.

Of course, if the Saints were to stay in New Orleans then there is no telling if and when the Superdome would be ready for games. Hell, there may not even be people in New Orleans next season to watch the games. Benson stands to make a lot more money if he can move the team to L.A. instead of keeping it in New Orleans.

(hat tip to BoltsMag)


It's Back: The Return of the Hair's picks

After a one week hiatus from the Tony Kornheiser show (because of Yom Kippur) and a two week hiatus for this blog (because of laziness), Mel Kiper Jr. has returned to make his NFL picks of the week.

In case you were wondering, Mel is just as big of a joke on the radio as he is over the television. He probably suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but since all he does is cover football his OCD is more comical than sad. Mel takes the picks far more seriously than any living person should, to the extent that he will call up Andy (who works on the Tony show) Sunday morning to change his pick if a certain quarterback is injured.

Now the running joke each week is the way Tony tries to get Mel to pick against the spread, even though Mel threatened to not return to the show if forced to pick against the spread. What Mel has not figured out is that Tony has only been giving him games to pick where the spread is three points or less, and then asking Mel how strongly he likes each team.

For example, when picking the Giants-Broncos game (with a two point spread) Tony asks Mel, "Do you think the Giants could win by one?" or "Do you think Detroit could come with one or two?" Mel has slowly figured out what Tony is doing, but he hasn't quite fully caught on.

Kansas City (+1.5) at Miami: Mel, for whatever reason, actually called the Tony show after he got done giving his picks to let Tony know this game is being moved to Friday (tomorrow) night, in lieu of Hurricane Wilma. Also, Mel has a weak vote for the Chiefs.

Denver (+2) at New York Giants: Even though Mel thinks the Giants have a weak pass defense he picks the Giants to win. Mostly because he has a friend who works for the team.

Pittsburgh (Even) at Cincy: Mel actually switched his pick for this game while talking to Tony. He started out liking the Bengals (because it is a bigger statement game for them), but then switched to the Steelers (since they are coming off a loss).

Buffalo (+3) at Oakland: Matchup should favor Oakland so Mel picks the Raiders to win.

Detroit (+2.5) at Cleveland: Mel calls this the "worst game of the week" and gives a weak vote of confidence to the Browns.

Dallas (+3) at Seattle: Mel likes teams going into a bye week so he picks Seattle but that is a side point here. When talking about the Cowboys, Mel said, "Dallas is playing good." Maybe I'm just crazy but nothing bugs me like people who use good instead of well. And you find people in sports misusing this word all the time, and not just the idiot athletes. Announcers are guilty of this grammatical sin just as often as the players they cover.

I could care less if some NBA star is wearing 10 pounds of bling, a t-shirt and a backwards hat, but you really come off as an idiot when you continually misuse the word good, when you are supposed to say well. Actually, now that I think about it maybe I'm the one with OCD.

Tennesse (+3.5) at Arizona: Picks Arizona since they are coming off a bye week.

Mel refused to pick the Baltimore-Chicago game since he lives in Baltimore.

And since Mel is the "College Football Expert" I guess it's worth mentioning that Mel thinks Reggie Bush will win the Heisman this season. When it comes to the NFL draft, either Leinert or Bush will go number one depending on what the worst team in the league needs.

Personally, I think Leinert will go number one, and if the team with the number one pick does not need a quarterback (highly unlikely) it will trade down. Leinert is the Tim Duncan of this draft, the biggest lock in the last couple of years. Teams will be willing to give up a fortune to draft him.


Griese to IR

In a move that comes as no surprise, Brian Griese has been placed on the IR for the season.

What is surprising is that no one is talking about this move as the end of the Bucs season. When Pennington went down earlier in the season, most people said that the Jets season was done. If Vick, Manning or Brady went down with injury most people would say the Falcons, Colts and Patriots could say good bye to the playoffs.

Now I'm not comparing Griese to any of these quarterbacks in terms of skill, but Griese was the quarterback for a 4-1 team before he went down with what will most likely be a season ending injury. Why is nobody forecasting the end of the Bucs season after their starting quarterback went down to a torn ACL?

The answer is that the Bucs did not rely on Griese to win games. He played a Trent Dilfer-like role in the offense. Call the plays, throw the ball every now and then, and try not to turn the ball over.

Cadillac Williams is the reason the Bucs have been winning games. Well, Williams and Gruden's play calling. Simms promotion to the starting squad will not change that. This team will need a healthy Williams, not a healthy Griese, to win games.


And the Bucs new quarterback is . . .

Or if you don't recognize him from the picture, Tim Rattay.

With Griese likely out for the season with a torn ACL, the Bucs need a veteran quarterback who is familiar with the west coast offense. Rattay, who played all six seasons of his NFL career with the 49ers, was replaced as the starter earlier this season by rookie and top pick Alex Smith.

Rattay should do a fine job of holding the clipboard this season (unless McCown beats him out for that job). Let the Chris Simms era begin.


Orlando is a Bucs town

Or at the very least, not a Jags town.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel takes the NFL to task for not allowing the local CBS affiliate to broadcast the Bucs-Dolphins game. Seems the NFL has labeled Orlando as Jaguars territory.

Why do we have to be a Jags town? Nobody asked us. Can't we secede from Jacksonville territory and declare ourselves a Bucs or Dolphins town? Can't we have a referendum and vote for the team we'd most like to watch on Sundays? Memo to the NFL: Buy a map!

And Bianchi is right, let the people who live in Orlando decide which team team they want to watch, whether that be the Bucs, Jags, or 'Phins. The NFL should stop treating Orlando football fans like a bunch of children.

Griese's future with the team?

While no news has been officially released from One Buc Place yet, the rumors out there are that Brian Griese has at least a partial ACL tear, which would mean he would at least miss the next couple of games. Worst case scenario, he has a complete ACL tear which means he is done for the season.

Normally I don't report rumors but I was wathcing this game with my dad, who's a doctor. First thing he says when we see the replay of the hit on Griese is, "That looks like an ACL tear."

Still waiting for the official report from the Bucs and their doctors though in regards to Griese. While Simms looked good yesterday in relief, here's hoping the injury to Griese is not too serious.

EDIT: The AP is now reporting that it could be a couple of days before the team knows the extent of the injury to Griese. Griese was taken to St. Joeseph's Hospital last nite, and has more tests scheduled for today.

I'm just reading between the lines here but my guess is that the Bucs have already received one medical opinion and are now waiting for more medical opinions. When it comes to medical decisions such as this, doctors will have their colleagues double check the x-rays and other tests to make sure they did not miss anything.

Most likely, we are looking at Simms as the starter in another two weeks when the Bucs face off against the punchless 49ers. He will have a week and a half of practices (the Bucs will not have as many practices in a bye week as they do in a normal week) to get adjusted to playing with the starters. Simms real test will come in another three weeks against a tenacious Panthers defense.


A Few Choice Words

In honor of Ricky Williams' return to football I have scoured the internet for some of the more choice quotes from this self proclaimed healer. Enjoy.

  • "I realized a while back that I have an innate ability to be compassionate, and I saw that the strength of compassion is something that healers have and healers use."

  • "I just don't want to be in this business anymore. I was never strong enough to not play football, but I'm strong enough now. I've considered everything about this. Everyone has thrown every possible scenario at me about why I shouldn't do this, but they're in denial. I'm happy with my decision. I'm finally free. I can't remember ever being this happy." - Ricky after he retired from football.

  • "My passion for football will never go away. My coming back is more about a passion for life." -Ricky after he unretired and returned to the NFL
  • ~"I loved playing football, but the reasons I loved football were just to feed my ego. And any time you feed your ego, it's a one-way street. There were so many things I had to deal with that erased the positives I got from playing the game that it wasn't worth it. It's like eating a Big Mac and drinking a Diet Coke."
  • ~"I definitely have come out of my shell a lot more. When you question who you are, you can't be proud of who you are. Now that I'm trying to peel off those layers and really understand who I am, I don't have anything to be shy about."

  • "As human beings we have a tendency when we like something to tie it up and make sure it's there for a long time. I've been working on being able to let things go. I don't think I ever want to buy property again."

  • ''Why? Why? I don't know. I don't know. I mean, to answer that question, to go into the answer of that question, I've been away doing my own thing, studying a lot of alternative theories about life. " - Ricky when asked why he came back


Who is the most overrated quarterback?

Ron Mexico, errr . . . I mean Michael Vick.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. 13% of 357 NFL players polled think Vick is the most overrated QB. The runnerup is Eli Manning with 8%.

There is a herpes/Ron Mexico joke to be made here. 50 points to the first person to submit a good one.

They don't take steroids in the NFL, right? RIGHT!?!

I'm one of those who believes there are far more steroids users in the NFL than people realize. Basically, for every steroid user caught, I think there are four users that go undetected. I call this the Steussie Ratio.

Anyway, retired linebacker Bill Romanowski has admitted that Victor Conte (of Barry Bonds fame) supplied him with steroids.

This story was leaked to ESPN.com by CBS to build up hype for an interview with Romanowski on "60 Minutes." I honestly doubt I will watch this interview, mainly because I'm confident any relevent information will be reported the next day. Why should I have to watch Mike Wallace ask Romanowski where he stuck a needle when I can read about it on Monday?

Where has Michael Clayton been?

Wednesday morning Brian Griese stood up in front of his teammates and apologized for his poor play last week. "I told them I know I need to play better and not turn the ball over and I will. It starts with me."

It may start with Griese, but on the offensive side of the ball it comes down to Carnell Williams and Michael Clayton. I have already explained Williams' importance to the offense, so I'm going to break down why Clayton needs to be more involved.

As demonstrated by the lack of touchdowns against Jets last week, the offense is going to be anemic when Williams is not in the lineup. But even last season the Bucs did not struggle as much as they did last week to put points on the board. In the eleven games Griese started at quarterback last season the Bucs always scored at least 14 points, while averaging 22.3 points.

Last season, Michael Clayton was the 21st most targeted receiver with 122 targets. For those not familiar with targets they are a measurement of how many times a quarterback threw the ball at his receiver. Obviously the receiver will not catch all the balls, for example Clayton had eighty catches last season.

This season, Clayton has far fewer targets compared to the rest of the receivers in the NFL. He is tied for 45th overall among receivers with 27 targets. Instead, Galloway has been the primary receiving target on this team with 40 targets. Part of the reason has been because Clayton has been playing injured, but Gruden has admitted he needs to get Clayton more involved in the offense.

Clayton's relative inactivity has affected the offensive production of the passing game. Last season the Bucs had the 12th ranked passing offense by yards. Clayton gained more than twice as many receiving yards (1,193) as the next closest receivers, Galloway (416) and Pittman (391).

This season, the Bucs have the 18th ranked passing offense by yards. Their leading receiver, Galloway, has twice as many yards (403) as Clayton (196) and Pittman (157).

Statistical Year . . . . . . . . . 2004 . . . . . 2005
Passing Offense Rank . . . . .12th . . . . . . . 18th
Clayton's Target Rank . . . . 21st . . . . . . . 45th
Galloway's Target Rank . . . 74th . . . . . . . 15th

Now I never been a fan of columns that do nothing but show you numbers, but, when it comes down to it, numbers are the only thing you can rely on. I can stand on top of my roof and yell about the importance of Clayton to this offense, but unless I had stats you have every reason to ignore my argument.

The more involved Williams and Clayton are in the offense the more points the team will put on the board. These two guys are the young studs on the offense, the first round picks which the Bucs need to perform for the team to win. If they get more touches, the offense will score more points.


Things to do during a bye week:

1. Visit your college alma mater.

2. Go bowling with your teammates.

3. Attend a sex party on a cruise ship with your teammates.

The Star Tribune is reporting that a good number of Vikings players went with the third option. The cruise, which was organized by cornerback Fred Smoot, turned into a sex party as females began undressing and playing with sex toys in view of other passengers.

The players started to become more aggressive, wanting to pour their own drinks and screaming at the bartenders, he said. Naked woman walked around without hesitation. They performed oral sex in the open, he said. Sex toys were strewn about, he said.

No mention if the Original Whizzinator was also strewn around.

(hat tip to Bengal)


How important is Cadillac?

Without rookie runningback and the third leading rusher in the league Carnell Williams in the lineup against New York the Bucs looked worse than they did last season when they went 5-11.

The Bucs only converted on two of fourteen third downs today, and failed to score a touchdown. Only three times did the Bucs have less than five yards to go on first down. This meant, that the Jets (who have a very good pass defense) knew the Bucs were going to pass the ball on third down.

When Carnell Williams is in the game, he can gain those four yards on first and second down to set up short yardage situations for the offense on third down. With Williams out, the Bucs tried running Pittman, Graham, and Alstott, but none of these guys gave the offense the same kind of spark as Williams. As has been pointed out, Williams has been good at gaining yards after contact, and typically the first guy who hits Williams will not tackle him.

Pittman is great at catching balls out of the backfield, but can't run the ball as well as Williams. Alstott is difficult to tackle, but he can't run east-west, a fact defenses are well aware of. And Graham has a nose for the endzone, but he will never be a starting runningback.

Griese and the secondary (especially Juran Bolden and Will Allen) looked dreadful, but that is to be expected. Griese has a history of playing like an Pro Bowler one game, and then looking like a rookie the next. Ronde Barber (when not abusing refs) looked really good today, but Bolden and Allen are fairly young and will make mistakes.

What this loss makes clear is that the Bucs can not depend on Griese to win games for them. Instead they need Williams to stay healthy, because Cadillac is the engine that powers this offense.


You remember that Pollard catch controversy from last week?

Not a catch.

At least according to Mike Pereira, the Director of Officiating for the NFL. Pereira breaks down the non-catch for the guys at NFL Network. You will need Real Player to view it but this is the conclusive video evidence which Peter King said did not exist.

The only people who can watch this and still believe that it should have been ruled a touchdown are the same people who believed the moon landing was staged.

(hat tip ZenBuc)


Hey, hockey's back

And the Bolts beat the Hurricanes on the path to defending their Stanley Cup championship.

For a recap of the game and everything Lightning head on over to Bolts Mag.


Clayton, best blocking receiver in football

Michael Clayton received some pretty hefty praise from the folks at Football Outsiders. In case you aren't familiar with them, Football Outsiders provides some of the better football analysis you will find. Think of them as the NFL's version of moneyball.

Anyway, here is what they have to say about Clayton's performance during the Green Bay game.

My favorite part of the play was watching Clayton. He lined up split to the left and knew it was going to be a short pass to the right. In that situation, a lot of receivers just take the play off. Not Clayton. He hustled all the way to the right sideline just in time to deliver a vicious block to linebacker Na’il Diggs, who was pursuing Becht. Wide receivers aren’t supposed to be able to obliterate linebackers like that, but Clayton did it.

Michael Smith at Football Outsiders goes on to proclaim that he thinks Clayton is the best blocking receiver in football, better than Hines Ward or Rod Smith.

Now, I didn't watch the Lions game and I don't watch enough football to have an opinion on who the best blocking receiver in football is, so if one of the Football Outsider guys thinks he is, who am I to argue different?

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts . . .

There is a lot of talk and Monday morning quarterbacking that the Lions were robbed by a bad call at the end of the game yesterday. People such as Peter King (who only caught the misleading highlights on ESPN) have declared that the zebras stole the game from the Lions, and that the Bucs should be 3-1 right now.

The Bucs should be 3-1 right now, but not because Marcus Pollard might have caught a touchdown. Anytime Griese turns the ball over four times and the defense lets Joey Harrington drive on them at the end of the game, the Bucs should lose the game.

But Lions fans, do not blame the loss on the refs. That was clearly not a touchdown.

The ball was still moving while Pollard was in bounds, and the ball did not stop moving until his knee was out of bounds. Exhibit A, notice where the ball is located, high on the arm (about at the wrist).

In this next picture the ball is lower in Pollard's arm, at about elbow level.

In this last picture, the ball is cradled between Pollard's elbow, hand and body. In the first picture the ball has not yet stopped at Pollard's elbow.

The Lions organization, according to ESPN, has tried to argue that there was not enough refutable evidence to overturn the touchdown call on the field. To be clear, the Lions are not asking the NFL to give them a win, they are simply complaining about the officiating in the game.

If you watch the play in slow motion it should be obvious that Pollard did not have control of the ball while he was in bounds. Lions head coach Steve Mariucci believes that Pollard made the catch with his hands before he went out of bounds. But after the ball hits Pollard in the hands it slides down his left arm before it stops when it is held against his body.

I honestly wish I could find video of this play that would make it clear this was a non-catch.

And one last complaint directed against Bucs fans. Don't bring up the Bert Emanuel catch versus the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. That was most likely a catch, and any comparison between the two plays implies that the refs made a bad call yesterday.


Buc's Home Game in London

Peter King has reported on HBO's Inside the NFL that the NFL would like the Bucs to play in London next season.

The Bucs would have to give up a home game to play in London and would most likely play another East Coast team, i.e. Philly or Baltimore. The NFL would work out the schedule so that the Bucs would have a bye the following weekend.

The Bucs have been picked because Malcolm Glazer is trying to gain favor in the United Kingdom, what with his controversial takeover of the soccer club Manchester United. If the Bucs were to play in the UK next year, it would mark the the twenty year anniversary of the first NFL game played abroad, which was also in London, the American Bowl, which pitted the Bears against the Cowboys in a preseason game. The NFL has not played a game in London since 1993.

Moving a Bucs game to London is a horrible idea, even though it appears the Glazers are ready to do just that. The ultimate goal here is to expand the sport to Europe, which will never work. American football is the most expensive niche sport you could possibly find, both to play and to watch. Unlike soccer or, even hockey or basketball, it is fairly difficult to understand the rules if you are new to the sport. Additionally, NFL Europe has been around for a decade and has not seen any real surges in popularity.

The NBA's attempt to spread the sport internationally was incredibly successful because basketball is an easy sport to learn and play. The Original Dream Team with Jordan, Bird, Magic and Barkley, among others, was able to successfully export the sport around the world, as evidenced by players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, Yao Ming and others.

But the NBA was successful because basketball is such an easy sport to pickup. All you have to do is put up a hoop at the end of a driveway, and give the kids a basketball. But with football you need pads, cleats, jerseys, knee and leg padding, etc. Football is just a more expensive sport to play, and unless the NFL goes town to town in Europe to supply all this equipment the sport will never catch on.

Hopefully somebody in the Bucs organization or in the NFL realizes this before the end of the season, because I would hate to see the Bucs lose a home game in what will ultimately be a losing cause.