To be honest one of this site's failings the past year (and to be truthful the only one....ever) has been the lack of DRays coverage. Sure I've played the role of abnoxious, over-supportive fan at an away ballpark (last Friday at Camden Yards) but haven't given the DRays the support they deserve on this blog. Well, in an effort to absolve my sin I strongly recommend visiting Rays Index's latest offering, the Devil Rays Trade Value Index and 2007 Roster Projections. Even if it does make me feel a twinge of guilt about my own lack of contributions to Western Civilization.
Oh yeah, and Doug Jolley is now a Buc. This is a move out of right field and I'm still waiting for more info before I can fire off my rant.
Anyway, apparently most people feel the same way I do because Pewter Report and BucPower are blowing away the competition and are neck and neck heading into the proverbial home stretch. Both sites have links on their front page directing their fans to vote for them so it will be interesting to see who wins out. My money's on Pewter Report but my heart is with BucPower.
This is a little project AOL Sports launched this week to bring together bloggers from every team in the NFL under one house, to work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens, when people stop being polite, and start getting real.
What does this mean for the Best Bucs Blog? Well, more content but less of it on this space. I will link to noteworthy posts on the AOL page, for example I have just posted my receiver preview there. But I plan on continuing to post here since there are limits on what I can get away with at AOL. Which means, overall, you will end up with more Best Bucs Goodness to enjoy.
Which receivers will make the final roster? When training camp started I thought Galloway, Clayton, Hilliard, Stovall, Shepherd and Mark Jones would stick around and I have seen nothing to sway me from that prediction. Which means Paris Warren, David Boston and Chas Gessner are fighting for at least a spot on the practice roster.
What will Dewayne White do this year? The Buc’s second round pick is heading into his fourth year and has shown flashes of brilliance but has failed to move up the depth chart.
Despite the outstanding play of his teammates on the defensive line, Greg Spires (White’s competition for the right end spot) suffered a drop in performance last season. Two seasons ago Spires strength was his run-stuffing. But last season Spires was one of the worst defensive ends against the run according to Scientific Football 2006. Using SF ‘06’s metrics Spires had the worst Success % against the run (10.2%) of 71 ranked defensive ends. Which essentially means Spires was not beating most of his blocks.
Players . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Success % against the run
Booger McFarland . . . . . . . 28.6%
Ellis Wyms . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.5%
Simeon Rice . . . . . . . . . . . 20.6%
Chris Hovan . . . . . . . . . . . 14.7%
Greg Spires . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.2%
While these stats only tell part of the story (especially since White is not listed in SF ’06) they clearly show Spires needs to pick up his performance to hold off White. I expect Spires to hold onto the starters job for the beginning of this season, but White will see more playing time as the season progresses. Spires has barely held onto the right end job in previous years and, more importantly, will come at a higher price tag next season than White.
The rest of the best: a quick glance at the remaining starters
The Bucs resurgence last season can be directly attributed to the addition of Chris Hovan. The Tampa Two defense the Bucs run is dependent on the front four creating pressure on the quarterback while also holding up against the run. With Booger frequently out with injuries, defenses where free to double team Simeon in the years between Warren Sapp’s departure and Hovan’s arrival. Hovan was average in his pass rushing but excelled at plugging up the middle.
Second, missed the Bucs game and since it will not be replayed on the NFL Network I will miss the game entirely. Fortunately, Buccaneer Harbour has a good roundup of the game and I agree 100% with his analysis. Except I don't think Gruden can bench Kenyatta this year, seeing as how Trueblood would fare no better at right tackle.
My take on Simm's batted ball woes should surprise no one, I blame the offensive line. The Bucs offensive line leans toward the heavy side (i.e. bigger than average), which means they excel at pushing guys off the line in the running game. But when asked to play off their heels in the passing game they tend to allow too much space between the defender and their bodies. This will be a problem all season long.
Finally, pictures from the inside of the Bucs new training facility, which up until now has been kept under top secret wraps. My first impression....well, to echo Monte Kiffin, awesome.
And on a separate note, will be busy for the next couple of days and posting will be sporadic at best. As always check out BucStats or Buccaneer Harbour in the interim.
In an ideal world I would like to see the Bucs keep the name One Buc Place or a slightly altered version (Two Buc Place, One Buc Place 2.0?). But realistically I've got no problem with this, since the Glazers paid for the roughly $30 million facility with their own money. After all, we can always dub the new facility with our own nickname. The old place was affectionately called the Woodshed by Gruden, but what does that make the new place...the Promised Land?
I've been slacking on the hump day pics, no pic last week and barely got this one in before the deadline passed. While I can blame forgetfulness for the first error, Direct TV is to blame for the second (at least they make a convenient scape goat). Been trying to install the DVR box and wouldn't you know, you need a special piece to make the DVR features work and conveniently enough the box does not come with the piece. I hate technology.
This is either pure genius or absolut stupidity on the part of the Falcons (I'm leaning towards the latter). Lelie is the perfect fit for Vick but a horrible fit for the west coast offense the Falcons coaches have attempted to implement in Atlanta. In no way shape or form does Lelie fill the role vacated by the injured Brian Finneran, who was Vick's second security blanket (after Alge) the last couple of seasons.
Gruden’s offense is like a highly tuned engine powered by Cadillac Williams. But when Cadillac’s tires are flat the rest of the offense might as well be a Ford Pinto. So pay attention to Cadillac oil change tire pressure or else empty gas tank broken drive shaft vapor lock.
OK, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, (for the next couple of weeks at least) let’s talk us some runningbacks.
There are basically three knocks on Cadillac going into the season. In order…
1. Injury bug
2. Not used on 3rd down
3. Few Goal line carries
And the responses in order…
1. This might be the most certain uncertainty on the Bucs roster (digest that for a second). For no apparent reason some guys go their entire career without getting injured, while a guy with the exact same body type gets injured every season. But if I can grab at straws, Cadillac was 100% roughly a month after he injured his foot, which would seem to indicate that he is able to bounce back well from injury. I’m definitely grabbing at straws. Knock on wood.
2. Michael Pittman replaced Cadillac on third and long last season. Cadillac has been working on his receiving skills in the offseason, although trying to improve your pass catching skills at this point in your career is like Shaq trying to become a better at shooting free throws. Once you become a pro you either have it or you don’t.
3. Alstott “stole” many of Cadillac’s goal line carries and will continue to do so this season. Alstott has been fantasy football’s version of The Grinch, stealing touchdowns from Warrick Dunn, Pittman and now Cadillac. This is less a criticism of Cadillac and more a confirmation of Alstott’s prowess around the end zone.
Crumbs: Throwin’ some love to the backups
After the trinity of Cadillac, Pittman and Alstott the Bucs have a good deal of talent although none of it exciting. Fullback Jerald Sowell was brought in to replace the much missed Jameel Cook, and should see plenty of playing time in power running situations. The other true fullback on the roster, Rick Razzano, is almost a lock to get cut and would be fortunate to make the practice squad.
There are three backs fighting for the 3rd spot on the depth chart. Earnest Graham is a preseason all-star and is above average when you ask him to run in a straight line. Carey Davis is listed as a fullback but has a running style similar to Graham. Derek Watson has done little to impress this preseason and is in danger of being cut.
Again, I'm going to be watching to see how Trueblood plays. Additionally, I'm interested to see which young buck locks up the last receiver spot, Edell Shepherd, Paris Warren or The Chas. My money's still on Edell to win the race, but Warren is the darkhorse. The Chas is just the horse's ass.
I would be watching Joseph but he's locked up the starting job at right guard and he looked good last week anyway. On a side note, this is the second straight year a rookie guard has won a starting job on the Bucs line. Whenever Mahan wins the center job from Wade (maybe this season, at the latest next) the Bucs will finally have a nucleus to build the line around. Although I get the feeling it will be awhile before we see the dominant offensive tackle I hoped the Bucs would draft this spring.
St Pete Times preview
Pewter Report preview
Orlando Sentinel preview (Bucs)
Miami Herald preview
South Florida Sun-Sentinel preview
Orlando Sentinel preview (Phins)
Security used to be a big issue. One day, a shirtless man entered an unlocked gate near the rear of the facility and walk into the personnel department. Seated around a table was McKay, Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell.
"He was driving by and heard on the radio that we had taken the franchise and transition tags off Reggie Cobb and Ricky Reynolds," McKay said. "He wanted to know what the hell we were doing. He was extremely inebriated. After a while, Jerry was getting upset and actually began to physically confront the guy. That led to increased security measures. We put a lock on the gate."
Sand-filled training fields, rat infested offices the size of a closet, a mysterious magnetic wall that made everyone next to it sick, One Buc Place was worse than many Division II training facilities. But, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger right? After all One Buc Place was good enough to propel the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory.
And if you're wondering what to get Gruden, try another Cadillac.
“Look, they said you can’t use props, right? You can’t bring anything onto the field, or hide it in the end zone, or whatever. I mean, to me, it’s silly, because on one hand they really want us to be entertainers, and then they take away a way to entertain people. But here’s the thing: Every week, I will get in front of the cameras and kind of announce, in a secret way, what I want the fans to do for that game. I mean, it’ll be kind of like a code, but there will be enough hints that people should be able to get it. And every week, the fans will be my props. They can’t fine me for that. It’s going to drive the competition committee crazy trying to figure it out."
Considering the NFL has become the elder brother of the sports world who takes himself way too seriously, I'm rooting for Johnson in this situation. Somebody needs to knock some sense into the NFL before it collapses under the sheer weight of it's uniformity and monotony. If the NFL keeps demanding more and more money from people while lowering the quality of its entertainment it's only a matter of time before the people lead a revolt.
Johnson posts his (much condensed) 95 Theses
(Tip of the hat to MightMJD)
Date: Monday, August 12th 2005
Scene: The Bucs are coming off their first game and win of the season against the Vikings.
...once the o-line improves its play Cadillac will be a force to be reckoned with. But for right now he can not carry the offense.
All Cadillac did the next three weeks was carry the offense and prove me wrong. But I've learned from my mistake and fully expect Cadillac to carry the offense this season. Which probably means Chris Simms will be the engine behind Gruden's offense.
But now Portis' stock takes a rather large plummet following an injury in a meaningless exhibition game. Michael Wilbon describes it better than I can:
Only four minutes in, Portis suffered a partial dislocation of his left shoulder. The starters on offense took 13 snaps. But that was long enough for Portis to get crunched while making a tackle after Mark Brunell was intercepted. So Portis got hurt making a typically earnest effort on a worthless play he shouldn't even have been involved in during a meaningless game.
Besides being a perfect example of why Gruden should continue to withhold Cadillac from exhibition games, this SHOULD be the clarion call for the NFL to shorten the preseason to 2 games. Actually the Vick injury some years back SHOULD have been the clarion call. But like the aftermath of the Vick injury, I expect to see plenty of uproar over the next week about shortening the preseason, but little movement from the NFL.
When both players were drafted they were tabbed as the saviors of their respective franchises. Vick has saved the Falcons commercial viability and marketability, although he has yet to lead them to the promised land of the Super Bowl. Bush has also made the Saints more marketable as evidenced by the large increase in season ticket sales.
But, as Confucious once said, one man does not a team make. Elway needed Terrell Davis. Marino and Barry Sanders needed more talent. It remains to be seen if Vick and Bush can make the jump from the highlight reels to the Super Bowl.
The two highly touted rookies the Bucs brought into the fold, Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood looked impressive at time but still betrayed their inexperience. Joseph played better than Trueblood but had a stupid facemask penalty early in the game which would have killed the Bucs drive if they had not been bailed out by an equally stupid pass interference on the Jets. But really other than the one penalty Joseph looked good in run blocking, and more surprising, pass blocking. The same can not be said of Trueblood.
I’ll save final judgment for another exhibition game or two but from what I saw tonight Trueblood is not ready to pass Kenyatta on the depth chart. Trueblood struggled in pass blocking, even though about half the time he was double teaming defenders. Trueblood did not look like he was in synch with Joseph quite yet, so more reps with Joseph might be all Trueblood needs to fix his pass blocking woes.
Other Random Observations:
I have not commented at all on the Bucs backup quarterback battle, mostly ‘cause I’m still bitter they did not resign Griese (yes, I’m prob the only one who holds that opinion). Gradkowski made some impressive throws although he also betrayed his inexperience when he mistook a zone for a man defense and threw what should have been an interception. When Fiedler returns Rattay may be the odd man out, assuming Gruden sees the same potential in Gradkowski that I do.
Bye, bye Chas. Edell Shepherd and Paris Warren both looked better than the Ivy Grad who loves the “Hampty Hampts.”
Those of you that have read this blog for awhile now of my affection for Gators so it should come as no surprise that I love Graham. He always does just enough each training camp to make the team. He excels at running in between the tackles and has a nose for the endzone.
Stovall will be good if not great in Gruden’s offense. Tall, lanky receivers have always excelled in Gruden’s offense and Stovall has shown enough potential to make this writer salivate.
Finally, does anyone else find the Bucs preseason announcing combo of Jaws and Chris Myers to be lacking? Just a small example but Jaws kept referring to Michael Clayton as Mark. At halftime the NFL Network switched from the local Tampa announcers to the local New York announcers, a move which I actually appreciated. The New York graphics were crisper and the commentary more interesting.
Who I will be watching: Jeremy Trueblood
Technically I will not be watching the game tonite (will have to catch it on the NFL Network) but when I do I want to see how Trueblood fairs while stepping in for a banged up Kenyatta. The Jets are introducing a 3-4 defense this year, so it is doubtful the Jets defense will be 100% but the defense should still be a good warmup/test for Trueblood. Shaun Ellis, who was about average last season, will go up against Trueblood.
It will be difficult for Trueblood to move ahead of Kenyatta based on just this game. Trueblood will be expected to hold his own against an unspectacular Jets defense which is still learning the 3-4 scheme. Ellis was not strong against the run last season, which is the one area Trueblood will be expected to excel. I think Trueblood will struggle against the pass rush but if he doesn't then he definitely improves his standing in Gruden's eyes.
Anyway, go Bucs!
First off, Chas is an Ivy Leaguer, or more accurately a Brown Bear. Although Chas has never played in an NFL game he has a Super Bowl XXXVIII ring when he was on the Pats practice squad. Chas has played in a championship game, World Bowl XII for the Frankfurt Galaxy (that’s NFL Europe for all you bowlers).
Chas, your prototypical big man on campus, was an Ivy League Rookie of the Year, captain of the football team, and an All-American in two sports, football and lacrosse. He also has no anus.
Finally, and I swear I’m not making this up, when asked where his favorite vacation spot is he responded, “Radziwells in the Hampty Hampts.” Ok, it’s official, I’m rooting for him be cut.
Say Jeeves, get me scissors for the rest of my shirts.
Pittman cranky after getting his wisdom teeth pulled. Michael Pittman misses Saturday practice to go to the dentist.
Smith out of Saturday practice. Alex Smith watches from the sidelines with a tender hamstring.
Kenyatta misses Friday morning practice with knee problems. Kenyatta returns for Friday afternoon practice but is still under the watchful eye of Gruden and the trainers.
Fonoti out with injury. Backup guard Two Ton Toniu Fonoti misses Sunday practice because of a sprained right ankle.
Tucker also hit by injury bug. Tackle Torrin Tucker misses Saturday practice with tweaked right knee.
Gradkowski #2 on depth chart. Rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is getting reps at the #2 position until Jay Fiedler is medically cleared to practice.
Clayton looks better than last season. Michael Clayton is in better shape this training camp than last year when he was coming off of surgery.
Boston impressing press. David Boston has been wowing the Bucs beat reporters and is looking like a better bet to make the team.
Hook and ladder could make an appearance this season. Gruden runs the trick play with a pass to Pittman who then flipped it to Clayton.
Zebras brief team on new rules. NFL officials were at the Bucs practice on Thursday to review the new end zone celebration limitations. More on that and Peter Griffin here.
The odd thing about this deal is that, as opposed to most deals for older players, it is front loaded. Which got me wondering...do the Bucs plan on moving Barber to safety in two years?
Hear me out on this.
Outside of Will Allen the Bucs have no impressive safeties (obviously I'm not a big fan of Jermaine Phillips). Hell, right now they don't even have much depth at the position. Barber is a bit on the big side for a corner (but not for a safety) and is more comfortable than most corners playing close to the line (as evidenced by the much ballyhoed 20 sacks, 20 interceptions). And if Barber is moved to safety it would pretty much guarantee he would finish his career with the Bucs.
Of course, throw everything I just said out the window if the Bucs draft a safety on the first day next year.
Football players are not the only ones who go to training camp in the summer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer Cheerleaders all spend a couple days training under the Florida sun. What do they spend all their down time doing? I'm not sure but I imagine it involves naked pillow fights, undressing in front of windows...basically everything that happened in the sorority in Animal House.
The deal would guarantee Barber $12 million over the next two years. Good to see Barber finally get his, although I would be interested to see how much of the $24 million total is guaranteed beyond the first two years.