Tactical to impractical

Every single season, you see the Buccaneers wearing white at home during hot days in Tampa where the sun is shining. It's a tactic used to help hit the opposition where it hurts -- overheating them by making them where their dark uniforms.

I know it's New Years Eve, I know it's the last game of the season, but who is the genius who decided to have the Bucs wearing their red uniforms today while it's baking in Tampa (82 degrees from WFLA's weather site, 81 degrees from the Weather Channel)?

With how this team has performed all season, extra taxation from the weather (playing in dark clothes in the heat) is the last thing you want them to be doing... well, unless you are trying to secure a higher draft pick by losing your 12th game of the season, maybe...?

This is the end, my only friend

How miserable is the NFC? I think the Bucs are still in contention for a playoff spot. What's that, there not? Then I guess this would be their last game of the season. Which means it is most likely Mike Alstott's last game of the season.

Over the last week I've written a bunch about how much Alstott means to Tampa Bay. The lunch pail Pro Bowler the largely white fan base can easily identify with. Alstott has become part of the community which is even more rare in this era of free agency.

For those interested, here is my Sticks preview, and here is my Fanhouse preview.

A quick note, I will be on the blog until about 3, then I have to get ready for New Years Eve. So if your fortunate enough to make it out to the game, enjoy. If not feel free to join me here.


Got Cash?

I've ignored this story partly because I was waiting for this picture to surface but mainly because I'm lazy. But then again the picture is pretty awesome.

As you've prob heard by now Simms has signed a two year contract with the Bucs, which, while not nearly as awesome as the shirt, is about the best Bucs fans could hope for. The Bucs didn't give up much for Simms, a $3 signing bonus with roughly $5 million in base salary plus another couple million in incentives. That's slightly more than what the Raiders paid Brooks (~$4 M a year) but slightly less than what Chad Pennington makes after he restructured his contract.

And who would the Bucs bring in if they didn't resign Simms? Gradkowski clearly can't get this team to the playoffs and Rattay's performance has been fool's gold. As good as I think Schaub is I don't think it's worth giving up a first round pick for him. And none of the rookies with the exception of Quinn look like they could start from day one in the NFL.

That being written I don't think Simms will still be in Tampa two years from now. A deep ball thrower he doesn't fit Gruden's west coast offense. If Gruden really wanted Simms he would have pushed for a three or four year deal. Instead I get the feeling Gruden will draft another quarterback either this year or next with a high draft pick. Truth be told the idea of drafting Jamarcus Russell is starting grow on me and then using some of that cap room to bring in a defensive player in addition to drafting a couple of defensive players in the first round. Restock the defense and add the quarterback for the future. I don't think the Bucs need much to get back to the top of the division.

(HT: With Leather)


It's a Celebration

In case you haven't noticed (and based on my hit meter you probably haven't) it's Alstott Week at the Buccaneer Fanhouse. Which means lots of A-Train love, 50 Reasons why Alstott is the best runningback in Purdue's history, and heavy drinking. The end of Alstott Week will be concluded with many merry festivities and numerous displays of fireworks.

Today celebration of Alstott Week features an interview with the creator of "Give Mike the Ball" who is on the Fire Gruden bandwagon.


Whatya know, the Bucs won

Considering it's Christmas and the Bucs notched their first road win of the season I should probably be in a better mood. But Terrell Owens couldn't catch a football despite 25 million reasons to do so, Tomlinson picked this week not to score a touchdown (or 4) and I am robbed of the championship in fantasy football. But I guess that's what I get for drafting T.O.

Anyway, the Bucs picked up their fourth win in what could be the most boring game all season. As well as Rattay played (even if he didn't throw any touchdowns and yes I'm bitter because he was also on my fantasy team) it doesn't matter how Rattay performed. For better or for worse this is Chris Simms team next season. Gradkowski pretty much guaranteed that a month ago.

That being written I wouldn't be surprised at this point if Gruden drafted a quarterback on the first day in the offseason. Simms is only signed to a two year contract, and Troy Smith or JaMarcus Russell would make much better fits for Gruden's offense. I think the Bucs need to draft defense on the first day but I'm willing to listen to arguments they should draft a quarterback with their first pick. Simms seems like a stop gap until Gruden can find Rich Gannon, version 2.0.

But we can worry about that later. For now, merry Christmas to everyone and here's looking forward to one last hurrah from the A-Train next weekend.



Buckeyes make good Gator bait.

Where were my seats? Up and to the right.


I guess this is some kind of replay karma, right Washington?

It was easy to overlook this considering how much was going on in the game, but the catch by Rashied Davis which set up the game winning field goal in overtime may not have been a catch. Davis bobbles the ball, it looks like the ball touches the ground, honestly there's a fifty-fifty chance it was not a catch. (You can find a YouTube clip here.)

Normally in overtime it is up to the booth call for a review. Which the booth did. Except the pager system for the refs on the field didn't work. Which means the NFL never reviewed the play in question.

Gruden's not happy this, not that I blame him. The Bucs got bent over and violated by the NFL, and not in that whiny Seahawks-in-the-Super-Bowl, we-still-would-have-lost-way. This was an evenly fought game that was not decided until late in over time (which, by the way, scares me about the Bears Super Bowl chances if they had this much trouble with the lowly Bucs).

And while it sucks that the Bucs were robbed because of a faulty piece of machinery, I'm sure Lions and Redskins fans feel as though this is some kind of karmic pay back for last's seasons losses at the hands of replay. Although, it's worth pointing out that in both those situations the system worked like it should have, both machinery- and rules-wise. For reasons I've explained at length, the Lions late touchdown catch was not a catch or a touchdown. And the Alstott touchdown against the 'Skins could have been called either way, the cameras didn't have a good shot of the ball. (And interesting side angle to that is listening to 'Skins fans describe why Alstott was not in and have their theories sound positively "there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll"-esque. It's scary how much thought they have put into where Alstott's elbow was on that play.)

Finally, let me be clear....the Bears deserved to win. The Bears are the more talented team, and the Bucs had some lucky breaks go their way which got them back into the game. This isn't a post bitching about how the Bears stole a win from the Bucs. Instead, consider it a post bitching about how a broken system robbed the Bucs of justice.


That Bears Game

I haven't really touched on the Bears game much (or at all) in this space. Although that is mostly because I've been covering it at the Buccaneer Fanhouse (shameless plug, you can find more of my stuff over there as well as other bloggers who write good and stuff. The Fanhouse even has the NBA and college basketball now, if that's your thing. So check it out while I'm still writing for them.)

Yesterday's game was both a microcosm and anomoly of the Bucs season. The Bucs showed that they are a well coached and disciplined team which simply lacks the talent to make another run at the playoffs, even in the NL-like NFC. The Bucs never gave up in the Bears game even when they were down 24-3 in the third quarter. With the possible exception of the Thanksgiving Massacre, the Bucs have not given up in any of their games (and I'm willing to turn a blind eye to that Cowboy's game since it was Bucs third game in 11 days). Character is often over-rated in pro sports (or at the very least misunderstood), but the Bucs benefit from high character guys like Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and Mike Alstott. In comparison, Vick gave up on his team at the end of last season and the Falcons were crushed in their last game against the Panthers. But at the end of the day the Bucs can't over come the talent gap between them and their opponents. The Bears are simply a better team than the Bucs, and it is no insult to the Bucs to lose late in overtime against the best team in the NFC.

Notes from the Game:

- Joey Galloway is a beast who does not get nearly enough kudos in this space. Considering he may be the best reciever in Bucs history, he doesn't receive nearly enough love from the fans. The 35 years young Galloway has been burning cornerbacks all season but just now has a quarterback who can get him the ball. For example, early in the first quarter Bruce Gradkowski underthrew a deep pass to Galloway which should have been a touchdown. On almost the exact same play in the fourth quarter Rattay leads Galloway on the pass for a touchdown.

- The vaunted Bears defense fell apart against the pass, much the same way their defense fell apart against the Panthers and Steve Smith last season in the playoffs. Considering we've seen the same thing from the Bucs defense against Smith and Marvin Harrison there may be something about the Tampa Two which leaves it weak against the best receivers.

- Speaking of receivers, the rest of the Bucs receivers not-named Galloway finally had a productive game. Alex Smith (5 catches, 24 yards, TD) is starting to show flashes of why he was compared to Antonio Gates coming out of college. Maurice Stovall (3 catches, 42 yards) looks like he can fill the role vacated by Joe Jurevicious. Even Ike Hilliard (3 catches, 55 yards, TD) got in on the action. It's about time somebody besides Pittman led the Bucs in receiving.

- My buddy Plugs mentioned this yesterday, but all MAC quarterbacks are good for is managing the game. For all the hype about the MAC attack there isn't a MAC quarterback in the top 10 of quarterbacks listed by QB rating. Weak-armed Chad Pennington might be the best MAC quarterback (#14 QB rating), followed by Roethlisberger (#21) and Charlie Frye (#25). So that'sthree MAC quarterbacks in the top twenty five, and Frye was replaced in yesterday's game.

- There might actually be something to giving Alstott an increased work load over the last two games. The A-Train had the same amount of rushing yards as Cadillac (26 yards) but he gained those yards on half as many carries (6 to 11). The Bucs largely abandoned the rushing game in the second half, so these numbers may be a bit of an abbaration.

- Finally, we get to Tim Rattay. First off, Rattay gave the Bucs a much needed spark which they have failed to see from Grads. The Bucs scored a season high 31 points against one of the better defenses yesterday, so it's safe to say Rattay will be the starter for the last two games of the season. That being written I think we saw the highlight of Rattay's career with the Bucs yesterday. Grads had similar stats in his first game of the season (20-31, 225 yards, 2 TDs) to Rattay's yesterday (20-35, 268 yards, 3 TDs, 1 int). Both quarterbacks benefitted from defenses which has seen little game film and which were not familiar with their tendencies. Gruden may have found gold with other journeyman quarterbacks (i.e. Rich Gannon) but there is a reason the 49ers were so willing to trade Rattay for a sixth round pick. At the end of the season this is still Simms' team if he wants it.


Meet Deena Martin, the new face of Buccaneer fans

For the longest time Big Nasty has been the face of Buccaneer fans every where, and quite the intimidating face he has been.

But now, because of an independent film maker, Buccaneer fans are about to be given a new face. Tim Carr is making a mockumentry about Ryan Leaf (for real, click here for the movie preview), and he is using actors to portray fans.

Carr has also cast actors to play hardcore football fans whose memories of Leaf represent “the conscience of each team’s fans.” Keith Bullard, who earned favorable reviews in the 2003 comedy The Negro Zone, plays the San Diego fan. Deena Martin (Simone from Dazed and Confused, Christy from Swingers) plays the Tampa Bay fan.

Which means the "skank-shift" cocktail waitress from Swingers will be the new face of Buccaneer fandom. It's actually fairly apropo, seeing as how Deena Martin's career was about as long as Leaf's career with the Bucs.


Good news, and more good news

The "Give Mike the Ball" website petition has grown to over 1300 in roughly four days, including Ian Beckles (615) and at least a couple dozen season ticket holders. This site is blowing up, which is a testament to how much the A-Train means to Tampa Bay. So much love from this site to GiveMikeTheBall.com.

Second, proving my girlfriend is correct, I do have the mentally of an eight year old, look who supports giving Alstott the ball...


Vote Early, Vote Often

A friendly reminder, this is the last week to fill out your Pro Bowl ballots. Although with the exception of Ronde Barber not a single Buc deserves a free trip to Hawaii. But hey, that Peyton Manning kid hasn't gotten much love lately, maybe you could vote for him.


Hurrah, another Bucs web site

...this one with an online petition and everything. (Hey, a petition, that sounds like a good idea for this site.)

This site, which is in favor of giving Mike Alstott the ball, is called, creatively enough, GiveMikeTheBall.com.

My favorite part of the website is the different ways it recommends to get the A-Train in the game....

1. At the game, wear your number 40 jersey.

2. At the game, the first time the offense takes the field, we should blow our A-Train whistles
until the beginning of the first formation.

3. We should chant "Give Mike The Ball!" loud and often.

4. At halftime, if Mike has not been used much or at all (and we as fans are not stupid, we know
if the situation dictates when he should get the ball), during the next offensive possession we
should chant "Fire Jon Gruden!"

5. Call the Buccaneers and let them know how you feel.

Just for the hell of it, here is the number to One Buc Place......(813) 870-2700. Let's try and get Mike Alsott that damn ball.

Update: Since I posted this the petition has doubled in size to a little over 500 people in less than 24 hours. Although so far my entries of Anita Bonghit and Amanda Hugankiss have been rejected.


Bets Bucs Gameday Thread (with a slight delay)

Had some things to take care of this morning so I came in about halfway through the first quarter. My Fanhouse preview can be found here.

The Bucs have six points on the board which they owe entirely to the runningbacks, o-line and kicker. Pittman, Cadillac and Alstott have all the Bucs rushing and receiving yards as of right now.

A good job by the announcing crew to point out how the Bucs have adjusted to the Vick-Dunn option by shadowing the two players with a Ryan Nece and Shelton Quarles. The way to beat this is to run a quick slant to the space vacated by Nece on the outside, let's see if the Falcons do that on offense.

And Philip Buchanon finally makes the nickel cornerback competition interesting with an interception in the end zone. Buchanon has tons of talent but has looked dreadful since he entered the league and, until today, has done nothing for the Bucs.

With the Falcons second touchdown this game has become reminescent of the Monday Night Panthers game where the Bucs played hard and took the lead in the first half and then saw their game fall apart in the second half. In each of these games the Bucs failed to score touchdowns in the first half.

Jim Mora says the last book he's read is Webster's Dictionary. Apparently the Zebra did it.


Odds and ends

The job has been keeping me away from the site but there are a couple of stories in Bucs land worth mentioning.

- MightyMJD shares with us that not only was Gruden's decision to go for a field goal to breakup up the goose egg a bitch move, it was a historically bitch move. It was the first last second field goal to break up a shut out in 73 years.

-Scott at BucStats has dug up some interesting information on Chris Simms and his brother, Matt, who is pulling his best Michael Vick impression.

- And finally, Gruden is building a hit list of players who will be dumped if their level of play does not meet his expectations.


Covering BCS Coverage

It's the Monday after the National Championship game selection and, as could be expected, there is plenty of uproar and jubilation from Michigan and Florida. And as always the partisan blogs are, well....the most partisan.

EDSBS (the super foxy Gators blog) has been bathing in the BCS Seal of Approval while simultaneously throwing mud at Michigan fans with their list of Ten Reasons Michigan Should Be Happy....

8. Hypothetical contrasts highlight UM erudition in flattering way. Pissed-off, highly literate Michigan fans likely to only leave 10,000 word retorts in little read tweedy rags like The New Republic and The New York Times. Ohio State fans, if in same situation, would leave flaming bags of poo on Gator doorsteps.

True to form Braves and Birds (run by a Michigan grad) pens a small novel on why Michigan deserved the BCS nod over Florida....

What I think is really going on is a classic illustration of recency. Florida played last and played well and that's all the voters remember. After the Michigan-Ohio State game, a number of writers poured forward to say that they had not been in favor of a rematch before, but after seeing Michigan and Ohio State stand toe-to-toe and trade blows, they had changed their minds.

Birds and Braves spends 2,000 words arguing for why Michigan should have won the beauty contest against Florida, then changes his tune and writes he's in favor of a playoff system. Not many people have raised this point, but the current result is the closest thing to a playoff, with the OSU-UM and UF-ARK games resembling a Final Four (of sorts).

The last three or four weeks of the regular season have become the de facto playoffs. And if you're a supporter of the a playoff system then you also have to accept the fact that the best team doesn't always win the championship. The NCAA Basketball Tournament has proven this fact multiple times.


Steelers screw Bucs, (And Go Gators!)

...and don't even bother for the common courtesy of a reach around.

The Bucs were completely dominated for the second straight week, and things won't get much better for the rest of the season. The Browns and Falcons games look like the Bucs only shots at a victory. But let's forget all the Bucs woes and turn our focus to something more positive....


I am clearly biased here but even though Michigan is a better team I think Florida derserved a shot at Ohio State (actually, I still think USC should have played Ohio State in the championship but that's a completely different argument). The Wolverines already had their shot at the Buckeyes, and failed to capitalize on their opportunity.

And if Michigan did play Ohio State in the National Championship where would that get us? If Ohio State won then we would be right back where we started, and if Michigan won then the two teams would split the series and Michigan's win would have an asterisk next to it (although that last part is a bit rich coming from a Florida fan).

The Wolverines may be a more complete team but having the Gators play Ohio State is the closest thing to a playoff system we would have.


Proving it's never too eary to talk The Draft...

NFL Draft Countdown has released it mock draft and I'm not sure what's more perplexing, where they have the Bucs picking, or who they have them picking.

NFLDC has the Bucs picking LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell at #7. First off, I think the Bucs will end up with a top five pick. They have two winnable games on their schedule, and both are away games, at Cleveland and at Atlanta. There's a good chance they finish the season with 4 wins.

And as much as I like JaMarcus (and as much as I love saying his a name) the last thing the Bucs need is another quarterback. The Bucs haven't had a franchise quarterback since Steve Young left town, but they've still won a Super Bowl. This team needs defense first, second and third.

Correction: The Bucs play the Falcons at home, not away. I'm an idiot.


It's Week 13

....so all the Falcons bloggers must have given up on their team.

Falcons Daily hasn't posted in a month. And his last post is on how Vick has attained greatness.

The Falcons are now tied for first place in the south with both the Bucs and the Panties lookin bad. If #7 continues to play like this, the south could be a cake walk to the finish for our Falcons. We can't let up though, the Lions game is big, so lets make it happen.

How'd that Lions game work out again?

Let's take a look at the misnamed Vick for MVP blog, or let's not since it hasn't been updated since the Bucs game in week two.

In fact, the only Atlanta blog to even take any kind of a look at the train wreck that is the Falcons is Birds and Braves, which is typically too wrapped up in college football to even acknowledge the pros. Although Michael's last post on the Falcons sheds more light on the team than the two above blogs can ever hope to do.


He was ours first

When it comes to Martin I feel like a proud parent. Actually strike that, I'm thoroughly embarrassed he was ours first. Martin is like the kid who was the teacher's pet in high school, got good grades, then went off to college where his grades started slipping and started listening to Marilyn Manson (or whatever it is the kids listen to these days). Now he's transfering from college trying to find the major that is right for him.

Surprisingly the Cowboys will only be Martin's third team (I could have sworn it was more). Which means Dallas is about go through the Martin Experience. It begins with a couple of impressive kicking perfomances, followed by a few of the ugliest tackling attempts you have ever seen and ends with the entire fan base calling for Martin's head on a pike.

Enjoy the Martin Experience Cowboys fans.


Revisiting the Thanksgiving Day Massacre

With the exception of the Bucs game (more on that later), one could not have asked for a more relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. There is nothing like mocking my friends who are heading home to Jersey and Ohio for the holidays. Instead of spending my Thanksgiving inside huddling for warmth, I was outside playing disc golf (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite pseudo-sports, up there with beer pong and bowling). I played two courses for the first time, Cliff Stephens in Clearwater and Maximo in St Pete. I thoroughly enjoyed both courses (with a slight edge to Maximo) although I was surprised by the number of former Deadheads who took the sport seriously. It seemed like every other person on the course, despite not owning a shirt, had a golf push cart converted into a frisbee carrier.

Switching gears, there's not a whole lot to say about the Bucs loss that hasn't already been written by Buccaneer Harbour. Gradkowski is not the answer at quarterback that I hap hoped for seven weeks ago. Bruce has misfired on most of his deep passes and has ten turnovers in four weeks. Simms will be a free agent in the offseason and Bruce Allen will be under a lot of pressure to resign him. Simms makes plenty of mistakes but at least he gives you the big plays. Unlike Buccaneer Harbor, I don't think bringing Favre in is an option.

At least when the Bucs are strugggggling, there is always Vick to make fun of. Much like I predicted at the beginning of the season the Falcons are falling apart (although that's not exactly going out on a limb on my part). For all the talk about how much of a warrior and a leader Vick is, do you Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would give their own fans the one finger salute? You stay classy Vick.


Best Bucs Gameday Thread: Thanksgiving Edition

It's a special Thanksgiving edition of the Gameday Thread. Which is essentially an excuse for me to post pictures of bacon-wrapped Turducken, which might be on the of the greatest inventions of mankind along with the wheel and BBQ sauce. Just remember, everything's better with bacon.

You can find my Sticks preview here, and my Fanhouse preview here.

At stake in today's game, the highly coveted Galloping Gobbler. How is this better than six-legged Turducken? Now maybe if you added bacon to the trophy it would be better.

Perfect timing, just as I finish dinner the game is about to start. And the Bucs are not wearing their retro jerseys. I knew there was a 99% chance this would not happen, but still, it would be cool if they did.

Two ugly deep balls by Grads, Simms will definitely be the starter next season.

Two mistakes by the Bucs on the second Dallas touchdown. First mistake, they should have stacked a man on top of Glenn instead of giving him a 10 yard cushion on the goal line. Second, they should have called for an instant replay, Glenn was a foot short on the end zone.

Make that three underthrown deep balls by Grads.


Savoring my opponents sweet tears of failure

You know what my favorite episode of South Park is, the one where Cartman tricks the kid into eating his parents. In a final act of revenge Cartman has the Scot Tenorman's parents killed, then Cartman grinds them up into chili which he serves to Scot Tenorman. In a final coup de grace Radiohead mocks Scot Tenorman for crying while Cartman savors his opponents sweet tears.

Jack Kogod, aka Unsilent Majority from the transcendent Kissing Suzy Kolber, was good enough to fulfill his end of the wager, giving us Five Reasons the Bucs are Better than the Skins.

Well I lost the hell out of that bet, and now I have to come up with five reasons the putrid Bucs are better than the resplendent Skins. Clearly I've picked the wrong week to quit absinthe. Let's get on with the subjugation.

Read on if you enjoy your opponent's humiliation as much as I do.


Under the Magnifying Glass: NFC South Playoff Race

It's week 11 of the NFL schedule which is typically about the time pundits and forecasters alike turn their collective attentions to the playoffs. After the vastly superior AFC West the best division is the NFC South, sporting 3 teams with a .500 record or better. And considering how mediocre the NFC is this season there is a good chance the top three teams from the division could make it in the playoffs, especially since the NFC South has already played more than half their intra-divisional games. Let's take a gander at the playoff chances for each team.

Bucs- As GNorb pointed out before the Bucs cooooooould win their next six games and finish 9-7. But I think we're more likely to see a Michael Richards comedy special on BET than the Bucs in the playoffs. Although they could play the role of spoiler if they can get a few wins.

Falcons- I would love to say the Falcons look set to fall apart except they already are falling apart. Although one of my guilty pleasures is watching Falcons fans justify Vick's play at quarterback. As though the 20 yard run justifies the three or four boneheaded plays he makes. People forget Drew Brees was drafted the same year as Vick and has since adjusted to the pro game. And more than anything else when Vick and DeAngelo are their leaders you know the team will be in trouble when things get difficult and it's easier to quit than tough it out. So yeah, I don't think the Falcons make the playoffs.

Saints- Speaking of Brees, if he can make the Saints a contender does that make him a top five quarterback? My top four would be Brady, Peyton, Palmer, McNabb. I think Brees has earned his way into the top five. I keep wondering how long the Saints can go on borrowed time, they just don't have much talent on the defense and their best receiver/tightend could be gone for awhile. They still haven't beaten a team with a winning record, and they are entering the toughest part of their schedule. But if the Saints go 3-3 down the home stretch they would finish 9-7 which is good enough to get into the playoffs out of the NFC. Saints will lose in the first round though.

Panthers- People are sleeping on this team big time. The Panthers ALWAYS finish the season strong, and they have a soft schedule down the home strech to boot. You heard it here first, with DeAngelo Williams back from injury Fox will gradually center the offense around Williams, using the run to set up the pass. Which is exactly what the Panthers did during their Super Bowl run.

Once the Panthers get to the playoffs they only have to worry about two teams, Cowboys and Bears. If they get lucky they'll only have to face one of them hopefully the Bears since Panthers apparently own the blueprint for beating Chicago in Chicago. If the Delhomme-Stevie Smith connection gets hot come January the Panthers will be the most dangerous team in the NFC.


You Lose Some, You Win Some, You Lose Some You Win

Living outside of D.C. I don't get to catch many Bucs games anymore. I was down here in Tampa for Thanksgiving and ironically I was able to make it to the see the Bucs play the Redskins.

The game itself wasn't a barnburner, but the weather was gorgeous.

It must have been about 70 degrees and the skies were clear. I mean it. I looked around and there was exactly one cloud.

I have to say, I was amazed at how many Skins fans were there. Those Washington people travel well (heh). They weren't shy either they were rooting loud for their team, even when we the people around us heckled them.

Don't let the 20-17 score fool you. It really wasn't a close game. I don't remember being worried about losing anytime after the first quarter.

The good news is that I got plenty of time to play with my new camera. (Not
bad, eh?) Oh, and also that I finally got some decent fantasy points out of Cadillac.

The bad news (as the people in the stands near me pointed out repeatedly) is that this game was really about who got the better draft pick.


Congratulations Mr. Brooks

Lost in yesterday's game is that it was Derrick Brooks 183rd consecutive start for the Bucs. Brooks ties a franchise record set by Paul Gruber, who would be a lock for the Hall of Fame if had played on some better teams (Gruber not Brooks). Brooks will likely set the record with a start against the Cowboys on Thursday.

Ronde Barber also has a chance to set a Buccaneer record if he intercepts one more pass. Barber currently has 31 interceptions.

One Buc who will definitely not break any records this season is Simeon Rice. Before his injury Rice had a shot at setting the franchise sack record for the Bucs, which is held by Buc Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon (78.5). Rice currently has 69.5 sacks in a Bucs uniform, but there is the possibility that Rice will not get the chance to improve on that mark. Unless Rice agrees to lower his team-high cap figure there is a good chance Rice will be cut.


Best Bucs Gameday Thread

Two previews for your enjoyment, Fanhouse here, and Sticks here. All my Virginian/DC readers will recognize a theme in both posts. A hint for all you Floridians, Macaca is the key word.

Ode On A Floridian Run(-ner), Earnest the Poet. Yet another reason to like the former Gator back.

Another hint, the father of the man below coached the Skins. His brother is the Bucs GM.

Game Recap: Memo to Gruden, this is what happens when you commit to the running game. Cadillac, 122 yards. Alstott 28 yards, Pittman 17 yards. Alstott did an excellent job of softening the defense for Cadillac, and Pittman stepped in when Cadillac needed a breather. It's no coincedence that Grads had a strong game (178 yards, 2 TDs, 1 int).

To recap the recap, a strong rushing attack makes things easier for the rookie quarterback.

Walking Wounded: Good news and bad news for the upcoming Turkeyday Game. The bad news first, Alex Smith tweaked his right ankle and could miss the Dallas game. The good news, Juran Bolden also injured his ankle and could be unable to play on Thursday, which would allow rookie Zemaitis to see his first extended game time of the season.


5 Questions with the 'Skins

Here at the Best Bucs Blog we are all to happy to preach the greatness of Gruden and company (this season not with standing) to our opponents. Which is why we were all to happy to answer five questions about our Beloved Bucs for the Curly R. And in the interest of fair and balanced reporting we had five questions for these Skins fans.

1. Do you think it is time for Joe Gibbs to retire (again), or do you think that given more time he can bring the Skins back to glory?

Short answer: Gibbs cannot, simply by just being there, return the team to glory. Many Redskins fans can't accept this.

I think the question of whether Gibbs should retire is irrelevant because I don't think that Gibbs is the problem with this team. What the Redskins need most is for Dan Snyder to stop playing Fantasy Football each offseason by trading away all the team's draft picks for mercenary free agents. The best teams in the NFL grow together as a core of players, each drafted in consecutive years, coalesces to form a great unit. Think of Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh of the Bengals. Those guys have been running routes with each other for four years now. The Redskins have a different QB or receivers almost every year, so the continuity never develops. The problem isn't limited to QB and WR, either...it's all 11 guys on both sides of the ball. All Gibbs can do is make the best of what he's given.
2. With Portis out for the rest of the year do you think that Betts and Duckett can get the job done, or do you feel like the season is over?

Absolutely! In fact, I think Betts has been one of the few bright spots for the team this year. He's having a terrific season, 600 total yards rushing and receiving and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He's a playmaker that can break open a great run or catch a key pass in the flat. Duckett has received almost zero PT this season, causing many of us to speculate that the Skins traded for him merely to keep other teams from getting him. Ironically, Duckett was acquired as insurance against Clinton Portis's original injury in the preseason that caused him to miss time. Now that Portis is out, the Duckett trade is looking pretty good. He was always solid on third down and at the goal line for the Falcons. The Skins might as well use him while they can.

3. Is there a reason your most famous fans dress up in dresses and wear pig noses? And did Chief Zee ever get tickets from Dan Snyder?
Yes, there is, and it's a very good reason at that. The Hogettes started in 1983 as a way to raise money for sick kids in Children's Hospitals at the Redskins games. You can read the whole history on the Hogettes' web site. It's a pretty cool story.

Alas, I do not know the fate of Chief Zee. Anyone have an update for us?

4. Who is taller, Snyder or Tom Cruise? And who would win in an octagon, Ultimate Fighting Matchup?

Numerous sources list Cruise's height as 5'7" so I'd have to assume that Snyder is taller. All things being equal, Cruise would handily win the Ultimate Fighting Matchup, but Snyder would be likely to simply hire Chuck Norris to whip Cruise's ass on the Redskins owner's behalf.

5. What EXACTLY does Gibbs do, besides (to steal a line from Kornheiser) give press conferences and hand out free tickets to Six Flags?

LOL...I have wondered this exact same thing aloud all season long. Gibbs is flanked by two "Associate Head Coaches" that could easily be hired as head coaches elsewhere in the NFL. Al Saunders and Gregg Williams take care of all the play calling. As far as I can tell, Gibbs's job is prevent a wholesale fan defection by reminding Redskins fans of the good old days. He seems to have somewhat of a Dick Cheney-type role, taking all the heat for his organization's abject failure in order to distract people from the utter failure of his boss. But again, it's not about Gibbs...in football, it's never just about one guy.


Ronde Ties Buc Record

I over looked this last night but Ronde Barber recorded his 31st career interception tying him with Donnie Abraham all time. The above picture is fitting in so many ways, thie first being the juxtaposition of Ronde and Brooks, two of the original cornerstones of a Once Great Defense. One man has seen his star rise this season, while the former has been largely absent from the ink sheets.

While the decsion to keep Ronde around for another couple of years looks like it will pay off, would it be wise to bring in a replacement for Brooks in the offseason? I love Brooks but he has relied on his speed (whereas Ronde has always seen his speed as an obstacle to be overcome). Can Brooks learn to play half a step slower, and more importantly, can the defense learn to play with a Brooks who has lost an extra gear?

The Ravens overcame the same problem with Ray Lewis by surrounding him with talent to cover up his deficiencies. Could the same solution work for the Bucs?


Best Bucs Monday Night Thread

BREAKING NEWS (and a bit of good news at that)- Jason Campbell will make his first start for the Skins next week in replacement of Mark Brunell against the Bucs.

Two Previews for your perusement: Sticks and Fanhouse.

Also, 3 starters on the defense in addition to Brian Kelly are out for tonight's game.

I will not be liveblogging this game but you can find a liveblog at the Fanhouse here. Dave, the Panthers blogger, has a live blog here.

Halftime Update: Theismann is actually making some sense, good play calling by Gruden (and by Kiffin on the defensive side) but Grads is holding the offense back from at least ten more points. As I have previously pointed out Grads has struggled throwing the deep ball. Ike Hilliard must be upset about USC's BCS ranking cause he's having his best game as a Buc. Ronde Barber and the play calling are the reasons the Bucs are in this game.

Final Score: Bucs 10, Panthers 24
Panthers win the Puke Bowl, and keep their playoff chances alive. Bucs lose and look like a lock for a top five pick.

Random Side Note: How much must it suck to be the Official Bucs photographer right now? The Tampa Bay Organizatiom, following much the same guidelines established by China and North Korea, only posts flaterring pictures on its website. Because if you don't post negative pictures then maybe the fanbase won't realize your team blows....


Two weeks later and the Bucs still suck

I have a bit of a mea culpa on my part, I have been absent from the internets the past two weeks to the point that I was a few days away from being canned from the AOL gig. But with election day coming and going (you might have seen me outside a polling station in Great Falls yesterday) I should finally be able to go back to wasting my time blogging. So for the record, that's a victory for me and another victory for you.

I was able to find the time to watch the Second Saints Debacle although to be honest I spent more time trying to figure out if our cute (but not hot) waitress was Russian or Irish. Again, for the record, she was Russian.

The game reaffirms my belief that Colston has been as valuable (if not more so) than Reggie Bush. And I don't think Colston is a flash in the pan since he's relied on good route running and using his body to get position. He's not one of these quick, undisciplined receivers (i.e Santonio Holmes or Donte Stallworth) who have become the soup de jour.

Like minds may disagree but Grads is not the answer at quarterback. He makes good decision with the ball, and is mobile enough to move the chains on third down but he struggles throwing the deep ball (although I did miss large portions of the Saints game so I may have missed something here). Grads is essentially a Shaun King with better decision making.

Is Cadillac injured or has Gruden completely abandoned the running game? 12 carries for the Caddy last weekend. 8 the week before in the loss to the Giants. In the Bucs two wins Caddy had 23 and 19 carries.

And I haven't even touched on the pitiful state of the once mighty defense. Over the next couple of days I should have plenty of posts on here and the Fanhouse (and the Sticks!) including 5 Reasons the Saints are Better than the Bucs, the Midseason Report and a preview of the Bucs Monday Night game against the Panthers.


That was ugly

The defense did a better job today but Gradkowski is getting steadily worse. At this rate the Bucs don't look like they will be able to win an away game with the possible exception of Cleveland. Been busy lately but hope to get a full recap out later this week.


Much respect

...to the Eagles Fanhouse blogger who carried out his end of the bet. Enrico even throws in a Scott Kazmir and O.J. reference (the juice not the Juice).

Still waiting for the Bengals blogger to carry out his end of the deal.


Go Matt, Go!

You know I am a misplaced Bucs fan. I now live in Redskins territory, so it was just luck that I had five native Tampans (this doesn't even include my husband or myself, we were both born in the midwest) in my living room on Sunday when Matt Bryant kicked that 62 year field goal in the last seconds of the game.

We were screaming so loud that my two year old son started crying. He didn't know what was going on.

Way to man up Matt. I know you haven't had the best season but if you are going to hit a big one, that was the time.

Yes, I realize that it should have never gotten that close. I don't know what happened to the defense in that last quarter. I also realize that the game should have never been that close in the first place (thanks Ronde) but it was still nice to see them pull out another big win.


Still reveling in yesterday's victory

...and Donovan McNabb's choke-job.

This is the definition of tooting my own horn, but much like Thomas Edison I am open to attacks of shameless self promotion. Before the Eagles game I wrote such a prophetic statement it's accuracy is matched only by an atomic clock and/or Nostradamus.

Donovan McNabb may be the hottest thing since flash pants but Bruce Gradkowski is the coldest quarterback since the Cryogenian Era. Gradkowski doesn't have ice water running through his veins, he has sub-zero glacial H2O. If I needed a quarterback to rack up stats in garbage time I would turn to McNabb, if I needed to win a game Gradkowski is the man.
Kneel before Zod.

But in the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I feel obliged to mention the St Pete Times Bucshotz (which I originally clicked on in a case of mistaken identity/trademark infringement[?]), which provides us with the worst reason to own HD TV. (Hint: the reason is not Eva Longoria.)

Hey, it's Eva Longoria....in a bikini!

Pukey McNabb

Back in college, there was this freshman who was rushing my fraternity who we had nicknamed Pukey Mike. Pukey Mike seemed like a decent guy when he wasn't drinking but you give a beer to him and he just couldn't handle it. Pukey Mike never got into my fraternity and ended up heading off to some other fraternity where he made sure their hallways reaked of vomited beer and cheap pizza.

Donovan McNabb reminds me a lot of Pukey Mike. Decent guy most of the time but he melts under the spotlight. You've probably seen this clip else where, but kudos to the Eagles Fanhouse blogger for bringing it to light.


Best Bucs Gameday Post

Sticks preview here, and Fanhouse preview here. Live draft will begin shortly after kickoff.

Live Bloggin:

1st Quarter

-And I tune into the game just as McNabb throws an intercepion to Juran Bolden, which is incredibly surprising. Not that I don't expect McNabb to throw an interception, I just don't expect Bolden to make the pick. With Kelly out Bolden is the weak link in the secondary.

-Ouch. The Bucs have negative -2 passing yards in the first quarter. This might be the first rough outing for the rookie out of Toledo.

2nd Quarter

-The Eagles Fanhouse blogger has a live blog going on here if you are so interested.


-I think Ronde was gettin' jealous of all the attention his twin brother was gettin' this week and decided to do something about it. Also I will be moving the live blog into the comments to section to try and conserve space.

Final Score: Bucs 23, Eagles 21

Gruden continues to make the Eagles his bitch, and McNabb has another choke job to add to his resume. You can find my Fanhouse quick recap here.

Random side note: The NFL needs to do a better job of calling the roughing the passer penalty more consistently in situations where the defender falls into the legs of the quarterback. Two identical plays in this afternoon's games where called two different ways.

The first was a penalty against a Skins defender who fell into Peyton Manning's legs after he released the ball. The second was a non-call against a Vikings defender who fell into Matt Hasselbeck's legs a la Carson Palmer.


And I thought Philly fans were bad

As some of you know, I have a running bet at the Fanhouse were each week I place a wager with the opposing team's blogger. I was on the losing end of every bet but still held up my end of the bargain. And when the Bucs finally broke into the win column this week I thought I could finally savor my opponent's come-uppance.

Except it looks like the Bengals blogger is going to welch on his bet, and when he was called out.....well, let's just call the Bengals fans for what they are, sore losers.

UPDATE: I've been fairly vacant around these parts lately but I plan on live blogging Sunday's game against the Eagles. Here's hoping the Eagles Fanhouse blogger doesn't pull a JD when the Bucs win.

Booger trade marks turning point

Mark this date: October 17, 2006. I hesitate to place too much emphasis on the Booger dumping but I think the trade will mark a turning point in the Bucs franchise. Not the same way hiring Gruden did but important nonetheless.

As good of a guy as he was (he did agree to restructure his salary last season) Booger never lived up to the expectations raised by Warren Sapp’s play (although that may have been impossible for anyone even Sapp to duplicate). When not injured Booger was underperforming on the field and being called out for his poor play by Gruden.

Dumping Booger signals that the Bucs have given up on the season, and plan on rebuilding an aging defense. Of the ten remaining starters on the defense, six of them are 30 years or older. And only one starter is under 25, Will Allen. The Bucs are badly in need of a talent infusion on the defensive side of the ball.

I have already publicly campaigned for Quenten Moses, the speedy defensive end out of Georgia. With Booger’s departure I will add Marcus Thomas, the next Warren Sapp right down to the marijuana suspension, to the list.

For now the Bucs have no depth at defensive tackle. Kiffin had been using a three man rotation at the position with Wyms spelling Hovan and Booger. Which means with Booger out seventh round rookie Julius Jenkins will see more playing time.


Bucs trade Booger

Receiving a second round pick from the man who drafted McFarland.

I'll have more on this later but for right now I think it's a good move even if it does leave the Bucs with painfully little depth before their matchup against the hated Eagles.


I'll Take It

It was ugly. It was questionable. I'm not all that sure it was legitimate. But it was win, and I'll take it.



Not a good time to be a Bucs fan. The team has had it's fair share of WTF? moments brought to light in the past week.

First, Simms turned down a 5 year, $10 M extension last offseason.

Then, Scott brings up the fact that the Bucs would be better with SUPER BOWL MVP DEXTER JACKSON. (Although in the Bucs defense Jermaine Phillips not Will Allen has been the problem in the secondary.)

And now Deadspin is poking fun at the Buccaneer.com intro, which has always been fairly atrocious, and which this site has ignored much like your family ignores that one uncle who drinks a bit too much and makes off-color jokes.

There's just something mean-spirited about kicking a fanbase when they're down.


I Hate the NCAA

This is what college football has come to, picking on Division 1-AA teams better known for their academics than their athletics. (Note: this has nothing to do with the Bucs but since this involves my alma mater and this is my soapbox I'm writing on it anyway.)

The results of the NCAA's ban on "offensive" Native American mascots are as pathetic as they were predictable. Rich schools such as FSU were able to bribe the local tribe to okay their use of the Seminole mascot, while more impoverished schools are forced to drop such "offensive" mascots such as this...

2 feathers. The NCAA's supposedly hard line stance against "offensive images" has taken it's victim. Shame on you William and Mary for daring to insult Native Americans with your two feathers. Never mind that W&M was originally an Indian school. Job well done NCAA.


The Pollyanna Post

You may make fun of me and call me dreamer, but I thought the Bucs looked pretty good yesterday.

At least in the first three quarters.

But really, I thought Gradkowski played pretty well. ESPECIALLY for his first NFL game. I mean, did you see that crazy pass to Galloway? Nice.

I think I have actually regained some hope.

These aren't the Bucs of old. Our defense is not quite the same, but the offense looks pretty good. I know! I am as surprised as you are. But isn't it a pleasant surprise?

Think about it. The teams the Bucs have played so far have a combined 12 - 4 record. That isn't bad, especially when you consider that three of those losses were to each other.

I guess the bad news is that the schedule doesn't get any easier.

But I digress. I am going to be positive this week. I was pleasantly surprised. I thought Bruce Gradkowski was going to Rob Johnson us, but he didn't. He looked good, Galloway looked fantastic and Cadillac ran well. I'm sticking with that all week.

Come on. We need to hang on to something.


Best Bucs Gameday Thread

Sticks preview here, and Fanhouse preview here.

Halftime thoughts:
Grads and the offense looks good, but the defense is playing like crap. Missing tackles is their number one problem, which is atypical for a Kiffin defense.

My quick recap is up. My quick recap on the quick recap, defense sticks but there's hope for the offense.

Final score: Saints 24, Bucs 21

A quick rant, what the hell happened to the defense? They either got really old really fast or Kiffin is doing something wrong. It's hard to believe that replacing two defensive coaches (Marinelli and Tomlin) would have this big of an impact. The Bucs missed tackles and looked unprepared against the Saints defense. But I guess it could be worse, nobody ruptured a spleen.

Random observation while watching the Sunday night game:
Good thing the Bucs didn't draft left tackle Marcus McNeill in the first round instead of Davin Joseph. 'Cause as Michael Lewis pointed out right guards are MUCH MORE VALUABLE than left tackles.


And Tampa Bay finally gets a win

Hey-O, Tampa Bay's other sport is back and in one night they have managed to do what the Bucs haven't been able to achieve through four weeks, win a game. Of course, that is a lot easier when you are beating up on a team nicknamed for a songbird.

Of course, for all your puck-pushing goodness head over to BoltsMag, even if John still hasn't found any pictures of the ice girls.

In the words of Judge Smails, well John we're waiting.



With a brief respite from work obligations I figured I would run down my rankings of the top six teams in each conference. Why the top six you ask? Because as good as the AFC is (or as bad as the NFC is) only the top six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs. My thoughts are at the bottom.

1. Indianapolis
2. New England
3. Cincinnati
4. San Diego
5. Baltimore
6. Jacksonville

7. (Odd man/men out) Pittsburgh/Denver

1. Chicago
2. Carolina
3. Philly
3A. Washington
5. Seattle
6. Atlanta

- Indy, New England and Cincy are all inter-changable in the top three at this point, i.e. I could just as easily put Cincy at #1 as #3. Three best quarterbacks in football. Indy and Cincy are remarkably similar, almost identical teams. Great offenses, great receivers, average backs. And you can run the ball down both teams throats. New England has less talent than either team but better coaching than both.

- I like San Diego above Baltimore come the playoffs for a couple reasons. Rivers should get better as the season goes on, while everyone is waiting for McNair to suffer that inevitable injury. Plus, Baltimore barely beat San Diego in Baltimore. Neutral field, the Chargers win that one. Although I trust Billick a lot more come playoff time than Schottenheimmer.

- If you watched any of the NFC playoff games you could pretty much predict how the conference would play out. Carolina didn't have enough offensive weapons to beat Seattle, so they added Keyshawn and DeAngelo Williams. The Bears offense carried the team in the playoffs (and Sexy Rexy looked good), while the defense choked. And the Giants and Bucs looked horrible. You throw in the inevitable post-Super Bowl collapse by Seattle and the NFC has played out before the season even started.

- Speaking of Carolina, don't people realize by now they do this every season? They start out slow and then win down the home stretch. They are always a dangerous second half team. In fact, considering the huge Achilles Heel (100 Best Bucs points if any Falcon fan can point out the weakness) of the Falcons I will go ahead and GUARANTEE THE PANTHERS WIN THE NFC SOUTH.

- The NFC East is a mess but it will come down to Washington and Philly with Dallas playing the spoiler. I give the edge to Philly since McNabb is just nasty right now, while the Skins defense has looked sub-par. Although if Westbrook is more injured than Portis I might be inclined to give the edge to the 'Skins.


A Collective Sigh of Relief

I don't mean to be a Negative Nancy, but is anyone else thrilled to death that The Bucs have a bye this week?

I feel like I can just relax and watch football.

This is going to be long season isn't it?


Chad's Corner

Chad Johnson is easily the most entertaining player in the NFL, and has been this site's favorite non-Buc since its creation. In fact, I might like C.J. more than my buddy Plugs who is from Cincinnati and loves the Bengals (and has a man-crush on Carson Palmer). Which is why I was ecstatic when Plugs brought this video clip of C.J. interviewing his teammates, capped off by Chad's conversation with the Bowling Ball that goes bing-bing. (You already know what it means.)

You dig?

On the pop up screen, click on the Sept. 24th "Chad's Corner." Then jump half way through the video to about the 2:20 mark. If anyone knows how to convert this to U-tube, can you help me out?


Little bit more of that

And the Bucs are the third most popular team in the south, behind only the Boys and, oddly enough, the Titans.

This and that

Bunch-O-Shit to catch up on. Simms is out of intensive care but still in the hospital for the next couple of days. Fans can sign a giant get well card at Authentic Team Sports up until Friday.

Shaun King, Tommy Maddox and a bunch of other no-name quarterbacks are in town to try out for the 3rd string. Scott's language is apt, quite apt...the Bucs have a nearly empty quarterback carousel.

My 5 Reasons the Panthers are Better than the Bucs post is up, and well, let's just say it's been a long week to be a Bucs fan. A very long week.

Only Parcells has had a worse week.

T.O. did what? How long until the season is over...


My NFC South Rankings

1. Panthers
2. Falcons
3. Saints
4. Bucs

Official Standings
1. Saints, 3-0
2. Falcons, 2-1
3. Panthers, 1-2
4. Bucs, 0-3

The top rankings are how I think the division will shake out at the end of the year. The Panthers should be much better with Steve Smith back in the fold and the Panthers have pulled themselves out of deeper holes.

The Falcons' achilles heel was finally exposed last night, and I expect teams to start stacking the box and forcing Vick to throw to his receivers (who will then drop the ball). I would move the Saints ahead of the Falcons if the Saints could beat a good team on the road.

Then we have the Bucs. The Bucs have more talent than the Saints, but with Simms out for the rest of the season the Bucs will struggle to win six games. I would like to think Gradkowski is the second coming of Steve Young but I won't hold my breath.


Random thoughts from the Saints-Falcons game

No surprise, much like their first game from last season, the Saints are playing with more emotion than their opponent. The Saints won that game against Carolina, can they do the same against Atlanta?

NO's offense looks pretty vanilla with a couple of trick plays thrown in. It's a system that relies more on the talent than schemes and mismatches. The Saints got lucky to a certain extent that Bush and Brees where available and that Colston turned out to be so good or else this team wouldn't be staring at a 12 loss season (like the Bucs are now).

And as long as I have the opportunity, let me say I thought Houston was nuts to take Mario over Bush. Although in Houston's defense Mario will most likely have a longer career.

This is what happens when you have time to prepare, the Saints are shutting down the Falcons spread offense. And Vick can't throw the ball. Kinda eeiry how accurate my prediction is about how the Falcons can't play from behind.

Deuce McAllister (the north-south runner) is having more success against the Falcons than Bush.

These in-booth interviews might be the worst idea for Monday Night Football since Dennis Miller. Part of what makes Madden and Michaels so good is that they know when to shut up and let the game speak for itself. This version of MNF just feels over-produced much like most of ESPN's products (except Cheap Seats, which is a great show for guys that liked MST3000).

Sweet, Thiesmann just called Bush "Reggie Brown." It's not like Bush has been insanely hyped or is on every other commercial where you would recognize him immeadiately or nothing.

How dependent are the Falcons on the run? On third and five, which is almost always a passing down, the Falcons run a dive.

Theismann continues to impress, he calls Alge "Mr. Clutch" when he catchs a first down on 4 and 1, even though Alge has dropped two touchdown passes in this game.

The Saints are wisely shadowing Vick with a linebacker (Harper) something I didn't see the Bucs do a lot of last week.

Despite what Theissman is trying to sell the Saints defense is not this good (normally at least). Fujita, an outcast from a lowly Chiefs defense might be the Saints best player. Bottom line, the Falcons offense is horrible when they are playing from behind and forced to throw the ball.

Horn seems like he would be a huge asshole in the real world, the kind of guy who would rip one and start laughing when everyone else smelled it.

Remember when USC played Notre Dame last year where the Irish let the grass grow long to slow down the Trojans? I wonder why more NFL teams don't do that. The Saints crappy field is clearly working in their favor seeing as how with the exception of Reggie Bush the Falcons probably have more speed at every position. Is there any reason why the Titans or Texans shouldn't do the same thing to try and equalize the playing field?

Conflicting Emotions

There are seven seconds left in the game. Your team is up by one point. Your 0-2 team is up by one point to a hated division rival.

There are seven seconds left in the game and the bad guys send in their kicker to attempt a 46 yard field goal to win the game.

The bad guys send in the kicker you have playing in your fantasy league to kick a 46 yard field goal.

The kicker in your fantasy league where you are also 0-2.

The kicker in your fantasy league where you are playing for money.

The bastard/hero nails it.

What is the appropriate emotion at this point? Is it too early to start rooting for a really good draft pick? What is the proper reaction when your starting quarterback (who has been sucking it) loses his spleen? Am I supposed to be laughing or crying? I remember reading somewhere (maybe The Sports Guy back when he was still good) that if your team wins a Super Bowl you aren't allowed to complain for five years. 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006... I'll talk more about this in January 2008.

Cross posted on Draft Day Suit

Are the Bucs QBs cursed?

Call it the Curse of the Dilferino, but since Trent Dilfer left in 2000 this team has had five different starting quarterbacks, and that number is likely to increase to six with Chris Simms injury. Thanks heavens, all reports are that Simms should be fine but his season could be over especially if the Bucs are out of contention. Here are the quarterbacks who could possibly make a start next week with their chances of doing so.

Bruce Gradkowski: The sixth round rookie looked good at times during the preseason and moved up the depth chart past Tim Rattay. But he's still a rookie and neither the defense nor running game has looked good enough to make his transition easier.

Chances to start: 55%

Tim Rattay: Rattay, who was added after Griese went down with an injury in week 6, has the most experience in Gruden's offense after Simms. He also looked bad in the preseason.

Chances to start: 30%

Rich Gannon: He is obviously familiar with Gruden's offense, and I would be surprised if Gruden hadn't already thought about giving him a call. The only question is can Gruden lure him out of retirement?

Chance to start: 9%

Jay Fiedler: Fiedler has a good deal of starting experience but he has also been suffering from an injured shoulder. Fiedler was with the Bucs during training camp but was cut because his shoulder injury was slow to heal.

Chances to start: 5%

Other: The Bucs could trade for Brett Favre, they could sign Jeff George, with two weeks to go before their next game against the Saints Gruden and Bruce Allen has a good deal of time to make a decision.

Chances to start: 1%

Whoever earns the start it is too early to write off the Bucs season, although I tend to agree with BH, it's gonna be a long season.

Update: Pro Football Talk is already questioning Simms toughness playing with a ruptured spleen.

Update #2: Grads has been named the starter for the next game.


Best Bucs Gameday Post



My Sticks Preview is here (strike that, Sticks site appears to be down). My Fanhouse Preview is here.

The Times has an interesting quote from Keyshawn who apparently believes if he had not been deactivated the Bucs could have won a second Super Bowl.

"It would've been nice to win two (Super Bowls) in a row," Johnson said. "I felt we had the team to do it. I felt had I not been deactivated, we were right there and would've made the playoffs. We could've snuck in the backdoor. It wouldn't have been easy, but we would've done it."
Random note: Martin Gramatica is kicking for the Colts today in replacement of an injured Vinatieri.

Injuries: Bucs,
Davinh Joseph
Brian Kelly

Dan Morgan

Note: I am at the girlfriend's in Richmond, and since she doesn't have Sunday Ticket (what kind of girlfriend is she?) I won't be able to catch the game until I get home to watch it on DVR.

Final Score: Panthers 26, Bucs 24

My Fanhouse quick recap is up.

And more bad news for Bucs fans, Simms has been hospitalized and his spleen has been removed. Little news has been released so far but it typically takes 4-6 weeks to recover from surgery to remove a ruptured spleen.

Over the next couple of weeks where all going to learn a lot more about ruptured spleens and splenectomy (the surgery to remove the spleen). Here is some info I've been able to find...
Spleen injuries dangerous but common (ESPN)
Ruptured spleen can take 7-8 weeks to recover from (Clemson)

Peter King says he spoke to 2 doctors who said it would take 2-3 months to recover.

The St Pete Times has been updating their Bucs beat blog all night. Apparently there is a four point scale when grading spleen injuries.


Bush at practice, Kaufman perpuating rumors

Couple things to cover, when not challenging Pittman to arm wrestling contests or showing Simms how to throw the ball, President Bush was talking to players at the Bucs practice today.

Ira Kaufman appears to be spreading rumors about Steve Smith. I've gone on my rant about Pro Football Talk before so I'll save my venom for Kaufman. The local reporters and columnists are pretty atrocious for the most part but you would have figured Kaufman would know better than to report a rumor, especially one that is impossible to substantiate. Smith can make for an easy target, but it's just mean to kick a man when he's already down.

More bad news injury wise, Simeon Rice hurt his knee in practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. He joins Brian Kelly, Booger, Chris Hovan, Ryan Nece and Davin Joseph on the injury list.


Give me an R!

Give me an R! Give me another R! What's that spell? ARRRRRRRGH!!! Avast matey, today be talk like a pirate day, so in honor of buccaneers from all seven seas I bring you my favorite gameday chant.

Before I get to the most overlooked story from the Bucs game, I have two Fanhouse posts to pimp. The first is my long game review and the second is 5 Reasons the Falcons are better than the Bucs. I might just work in a herpes simplex joke in there.

You wouldn't know it from reading any of the Falcons blogs but Atlanta unveiled a new offense, finally abandoning the west coast offense. Instead they are running more of a spread option offense, lining up Vick in the shotgun with Dunn next to him and allowing Vick to read the defense. The Falcons offense caught the Bucs by surprise, and kept them off balance while gaining 99 yards rushing from the shotgun. Braves and Birds has the best take on the Falcons I've seen so far...

I was very happy to see the Falcons do what I and most fans with a passing knowledge of college football wanted them to try: running zone read plays. The personnel fits the play perfectly. It was great fun watching Vick and Dunn repeatedly break big gains on the play that Texas rode to a national title and West Virginia rode to the best season in school history. Eventually, Tampa figured the play out and started blitzing on the weak side of the play to stop Vick from breaking outside, but it seems likely that the Falcons have (or will put in) a countermeasure, probably a pass play to the outside to take advantage of that sort of blitz.

It also makes sense for Atlanta to throw more deep balls as defenses start stacking eight or nine men in the box. Vick threw only two deep passes on Sunday, both to Lelie, who will be the target of most of Vick's bombs. Vick is still not good enough to complete more than 55% of his passes so the Falcons will be screwed if they have to play from behind, but as long as the Falcons offensive coaches are creative the Falcons should be competitive. Although I will add the caveat that the offense will fall apart if they have to play a hard-hitting defense a la the Steelers or Jaguars.


Bring in Major Applewhite!

Well, it's started. John's prediction has come true and Buccaneer Fandom is beginning to demand that backup quarterback Gradkowski be promoted to starter. Never mind Grads is a sixth round rookie who looked spotty in the preseason.

For the record, I say stay with Simms unless the Bucs are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. In which case Simms first born should be sacrificed to The Spirit of Vince Lombardi to make appeasement for Simm's transgressions.

0 - 2

0 - 2 doesn't even begin to cover how bad it has really been. As Gabe likes to say, watching the game yesterday was like watching a series of slow motion train wrecks.

I can't take much more of this.
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Just promise me next week will be better. Oh wait, we play Carolina? I think I am going to be sick.


The Best Bucs Gameday thread

Two previews for you to read, I have one up at the Sticks and one at the Fanhouse.

John Abraham is out.

UPDATE: My recap is up at the Fanhouse. Let's just say I'm not happy with Gruden or Simms.


Since everyone's talking about it...

Cadillac Williams is suffering from back spasms but will play tomorrow.

It's anybodies guess how much the back spasms are affecting the normally taciturn Cadillac. Last season Cadillac failed to tell his coaches how much the foot/ankle injury was bothering him, leading Gruden to run Cadillac more times than he should have. Which means Gruden will have a tough balancing act tomorrow, the Bucs have relied on Cadillac to beat the Falcons before but they also don't want to re-aggravate his injury.


Is Clayton Back? (and other catching up)

Ok, I had a whole post written up before it disappeared into the nothingness of Blogger so I'm going with the condensed version here. First off, I have a post up a the Fanhouse which basically says Clayton will outgain Galloway this season. Since I'm basing my post on a one game sample size I'm sure there are no holes in my argument.

Also at the Fanhouse, I lost a wager to the Ravens blogger and since the Bucs got their asses kicked I had to post 5 reasons the Ravens are the better team. And since I'm pissing off Ravens fans I must be doing something right.

I'm not sure who's to blame (the illegals) but this site has not given much love to Buccaneer Harbour. Despite my negligence BH has a good breakdown of the Ravens game.

Finally an injury report...
Cadillac: strained back, should play Sunday.
Davin Joseph: out until October with knee.
Buenning: returned to practice.
Quarles: will be back for the Falcons game.


Pleased to Meet You

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably already know me from the comments section. Ski has been kind enough to ask me to join up here on Best Bucs Blog.

My name is Sarah. I grew up in Tampa and lived there again for seven years after college. I recently relocated to the D.C. area* where people for some odd reason seem to actually like The Redskins. (I know, I don't get it either.) There are four people living in my house and we collectively own eleven Bucs jerseys, five of which are size 4T or smaller. We're fans.

I want to keep this fairly brief, because I don't think there is much I can say about the "game" yesterday without using a lot of very bad words, and I don't want to get off on the wrong foot. Here is what I will say - Cadillac Williams was my first pick in my fantasy football draft. I was not pleased.

But it could be worse - I could have played Chris Simms.

Stupid Ravens.

Anyway, come visit me at my regular haunts and say hi. I'll be around.

*Did I mention that the Bucs play both of the teams that I can easily get tickets to this season and BOTH games are in Tampa? I think the NFL scheduling committee hates me.