2006-01-09

The more things change . . .

. . . the more they stay the same.

The funny thing about the game Saturday was the way the Bucs lost. They played punishing defense but the offense turned the ball over and failed to score more than ten points. Wasn't Gruden supposed to be the guy who put points on the scoreboard?

Yes, the 'Skins have a top ten defense coached by the highest paid defensive coordinator in the NFL. And sure, the offense has a good deal of young developing talent and should be better in the future, but for now this has not been a very good offense. Just look at the offensive ranks (via Pro Football Reference) over the last six years.

Rankings . . . . Score . . . Yards
2005 . . . . . . . . 20 . . . . . . 23
2004 . . . . . . . . 23 . . . . . . 21
2003 . . . . . . . . 18 . . . . . . 11
2002 . . . . . . . . 18 . . . . . . 24
2001 . . . . . . . . 15 . . . . . . 25
2000 . . . . . . . . 7 . . . . . . . 21
1999 . . . . . . . . 27 . . . . . . 28

Gruden took over in 2002, and the scoring has not improved. Part of that can be attributed to Gruden's attempts to bring in veterans and make small improvements the first three years of his coaching tenure, instead of building around young talent as he did this season. After the Super Bowl victory, Gruden delayed the inevitable rebuilding every team has to go through in the modern era of free agency.

Going into the offseason the line is still a mess, and Kenyatta Walker looks like he will bolt town unless he can get more money. The line played average this season, but Gruden had to keep tightends on the line to help block too often. Chris Simms is an unrestricted free agent and may also leave if the Bucs can not match any competing offers.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (it really sounds better in French.)

Simms is a RFA next month, so the Bucs will still retain the right of first refusal and can demand compensation. My money is on Bruce giving him the highest qualifying offer and giving him another year as a starter. If he performs well in 2006, they'll lock him up with a long-term agreement before February 2007.

Of course, if there's no salary cap then (a distinct possibility), it could all change.