Bill Walsh and the Bucs

I'm not going to touch on what Bill Walsh meant for the NFL and for the sport in general, others have done that better than I could. Dr. Z has a good piece on Walsh worth checking out.

Gruden touched on this briefly today at practice but despite never coaching or playing for Walsh Gruden's entire career has been shaped by the offensive innovations Walsh is responsible for creating. Gruden is a second generation disciple of the Walsh offense, in other words an acorn of the Walsh tree.

‘’I’m one of those acorns that kind of fell far away from the tree. Again, I can just say that it was a great experience to be educated by guys like that, and I’m going to miss him.’’

(Click on the image to see a larger version)

What's surprising to me is how many guys there are on this tree, and how many of them have won Super Bowls. Additionally, the Bucs offense is based on the offense pioneered by Walsh, a quick hitting, passing offense which substitutes short routes for running plays. The offense also placed a new emphasis on efficiency and consistency (a la Jeff Garcia) in quarterbacks over rocket arms and gun slinging (a la Chris Simms).

Times Still Dogging Simms

The St Pete Times has not given up on their quest from yesterday to label Simms with proprioception (see post below), following up yesterday's training camp blog with an article today. To the Times credit they quote Bruce Allen's denial of their story but still, as the saying goes where there's smoke there's fire....

Dr. Koco Eaton, the team orthopedist for the Devil Rays, said Monday it's not unusal for patients to suffer irregular proprioception after abdominal or thoracic surgery.

"Those nerves are stretched during surgery," Eaton said. "Think of them as electrical wires that have a covering. Those nerves don't take a jolt like that very well. It can take a long time for those nerves to recover. For some people, it can take a couple years before they feel normal."

The Times Bucs training camp blog then reports this morning that Simms has thrown three passes to this point, and one of his deep passes looked weak. By comparison, Garcia and McCown both threw at least fifteen passes. Simms has been mum on the whole proprioception thing but has admitted he is injured and is still recovering from surgery last season.

The Tribune Bucs blog is reporting that they will know more about Simms condition at 11 am.


Training Camp: Weekend in Review

Nornally I would wrap up the weekend's training camp but BucStats and Buc'Em have already done so and I see no reason to reinvent the wheel. Instead I will focus on what I see as the most important story of the weekend, Chris Simms. First, a quick vocab lesson....

proprioception (PRO-pree-o-SEP-shu): from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own" and perception is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body.

Where am I going with this? As usual nowhere and everywhere. The St Pete Times is reporting that our boy Chrissy Simms has a case of the proprioception, which essentially means he has no idea where is arms and legs are in relation to the rest of the body. Which of course leads me to ask, does that mean he can always give himself a "stranger"?

To make things interesting, Bruce Allen this afternoon dismissed the Times story as untrue. Despite what the Times said Simms was taking snaps at practice today, and appears to be #2 on the depth chart. Which means Tampa Bay still has the most homosexual quarterbacks in the league.

Of bigger concern is that Simms appears to still be suffering the effects of the surgery last seasons. What really killed the Bucs last season was their lack of quarterback depth, once Simms went down the team was fucked. I have been in favor of the Bucs bringing in as many quarterbacks as reasonably possible since all the quarterbacks previously on their roster were/are crap. But with Simms still recovering from injury then the Bucs are essentially in the same situation they were in last season, with one decent quarterback on the roster (Garcia) and a bunch of crap. The last thing I want to see anytime soon is Gradkowski or Rattay under center.

Where am I going with this? Maybe it IS a good idea to bring Daunte Culpepper on board. All he wants is a one year contract, perfect for the Bucs. Gruden would be in a bit of a bind, since he only has room for 3 quarterbacks. In fact signing Daunte would be a HUGE indicment of Simms health. Although money says the Bucs stay away from Daunte, who is still damaged goods as well.


Did Somebody Piss in Bruce Allen's Wheaties?

So right after releasing Simeon Rice for no good reason (see below) it looks like Bruce Allen plans on fining jake Plummer $14k a day for missing training camp. For those who have not been keeping track at home, upon being traded to the Bucs Plummer announced his retirement but never officially filed his retirement papers (damn lawyers and their technicalities) which means the Snake has essentially become one big, hairy piggy bank for the Bucs. All indications are that Plummer has no desire to play for the Bucs, which means until he files those retirement papers he's going to owe the Bucs some dinero (thats Spanish for moola).

Which leaves open speculation in the interim that Daunte Culpepper might join the Bucs, especially since they have about $7 million in cash lying around now that they don't have to pay Rice. I still don't see Culpepper in a Bucs uniform, he's also recovering from injury and signing him would make Allen a bit of a hypocrite. But in the interim its makes for some more of those hilarious "the Bucs have a DOZEN quarterbacks jokes" every NFL jock-rider commentator feels obliged to tell.

Rice is Cooked

Shit just got interesting in Tampa Bay. The player whom Gruden once jokingly put in charge of the team when the players left for the Super Bowl and the coaches stayed behind in Tampa to plan has been cut from the Bucs for what are reportedly health reasons.

"We anticipated and he anticipated being healthy coming to camp,'' Allen said. ""We held him out of our off-season programs. I don't think it was any burden to him. He needs some more time to recover. Simeon agreed. He's going to get aggressive with it. He was very confident he has a lot of football left.''

Considering Rice initially played through his injuries last year I am surprised Gruden and company weren't willing to give Rice the chance to get healthy during training camp. If they had just sat Rice during training camp it would have both given Rice a chance to heal and given Gaines Adams more reps at the position. I had considered it odd that for the last month or so the Bucs had been insistent on making Adams compete with Rice for the same position, but now you have to wonder if this was a preplanned move on the Bucs part. After all the Bucs knew Rice was recovering from injury and would still be suffering some of the ill effects of it.

The Bucs have previously had problems with Rice, who has always been a bit of a primadona. In 2005 Rice was suspended before a game against the 49ers (which the Bucs lost) for missing a team meeting. Additionally, in both the offseasons of 'o5 and '06 Rice refused to renegotiate his contract even when other players (i.e. Derrick Brooks) did renegotiate.

On the other hand, Rice had become the leader of the defensive line since Warren Sapp left. From '02 to '05 Rice had ranked in the top five each season in total sacks. For a Bucs defense which depended on the front four to generate the pash rush, Rice was the lynchpin of the defense.

Obviously, Adams becomes the starting right defensive end, which is why it's a very good thing Bruce Allen got Adams in camp and signed in time. Tip of the hat to Allen who has done a remarkable job of negotiating contracts with players. It helps that the Bucs have drafted high character guys but kudos to Allen for getting all of his rookies, including two top five picks, in camp in time. The youth movement on the defense really begins this season, with at least Adams and Ruud starting.

As for Rice, I hope we see him in a Bucs uniform again. He may have been a selfish, egoitiscal primadona, but he was OUR selfish, egoitiscal primadona. Rice seemed to really enjoy playing in Tampa, and Bruce Allen hinted Rice would play somewhere again.

Training Camp Battles

With Buccaneer camp set to begin today (with the first practice scheduled for tomorrow) it is that magical time of year when every team is competitive and the Super Bowl appears to be within arms reach. Today I will identify the training camp position battles to watch, but before we get to the meat I present an appetizer to wet your palate.

The following is an ESPN commercial (probably the only thing the WWL does well anymore) featuring two of the greatest Bucs runningbacks of all time, Warrick Dunn and "Touchdown Vulture" Mike Alstott...

(HT: Awful Announcing)

Personally, I love the part at the end where the A-Train tells Dunn to just "let it go". Here's hoping the commercial doesn't put the jinx on Alstott the same way the Chris Simms fantasy football commercial did last year. Anyway, on to the training camp battles.....

Right Defensive End: Simeon Rice vs. Gaines Adams
The right defensive end is the pass rush specialist on the line as opposed to the left defensive end who's responsibility is more to shore up the d-line against the rush. Which is the only reason it makes sense to have the two most talented defensive ends compete for one starting position. Although it will likely not be a very competitive battle since Adams and the Bucs have not come to agreement on a new contract which means the rookie is likely to report to camp late, giving entrenched starter Rice even more of an advantage.

2nd Receiver: Michael Clayton vs. Maurice Stovall
Joey Galloway has a stranglehold on the top receiver spot but the most interesting position battle of training camp will be between Clayton and Stovall. One time Golden Boy Clayton has seen his level of play slip considerably while Stovall turned in a solid rookie season. But as good as Stovall looks to be I am hesistant to pick against Clayton, who is still one of the better blockers at the receiver position.

Under Tackle: Kevin Carter vs. Julian Jenkins vs. Jovan Haye vs. Greg Peterson
The under tackle is the pass rushing defensive tackle position made famous by Warren Sapp, and then made infamous by Booger McFarland. This is the one position battle I have the worst read on since there are so many relative unknowns and newcomers competing for the position. We're likely to see a rotation of guys but I'll tab Kevin Carter as the favorite even though he has traditionally played defensive end.

Left Guard: Matt Buenning vs. Anthony Davis vs. Arron Sears
Buenning was the starter at this position last year but is injured going into training camp and could be moved to center to compete with John Wade. Sears has still not signed a rookie contract and will likely report a few days late. Which really just leaves Davis, last year's starter at left tackle, as the remaining competitor for the left guard position.

3rd Cornerback: Torrie Cox vs. Phillip Buchanon
Brian Kelly's injury last season gave both these corners extended playing time. While Cox has been solid and reliable Buchannon showed the flashes of brilliance which made him a first round pick of the Raiders. The Bucs starting corners, Kelly and Ronde Barber, have been two of the best in the league and with Phillip Buchanon starting at the nickelback spot the Bucs will have some of the best cornerback depth in the NFL.

For those who have not noticed yet, much like a grizzly bear slowly awakening from hibernation, I have increased the frequency of my posting as training camp nears. What's that mean for you? More updates on training camp, more posting both here and at the Sticks, and more Bucs goodness. There have a been a few contenders and pretenders for the title of Best Bucs Blog which have popped up during my hibernation, and much like Warren Sapp in his prime I plan on picking up and slamming all other Bucs blogs to the ground.


The Falcons Should Just Stay Out of Virginia

While they are still not on the level of the Bengals, the Falcons are doing their very best to be the very worst. Atlanta cornerback Jimmy Williams, who was the team's first pick last year, has been cited on a misdemeanor marijuana charge in Virginia. Williams' timing on this could not have been better (or worse), considering that the league is still trying to figure out what to do with Vick.

To refresh your memory Williams was considered a first round talent but dropped to the second round because of the now dreaded "character issues." Much like Vick, Williams attended the Old Dominion State's farmer's college, Virginia Tech. Playing seven degrees of Kevin Bacon, the two other players to get in trouble this offseason (Pacman Jones and Chris Henry) also come from a Appalachia college, West Virginia. West Virginia plays in the Big East, which is the same conference Louisville is in. Which is where Petrino probably wishes he still coached.


NFL Predictions for 2007

With training camps across America set to start this week here are some very early predictions for the upcoming season. These predictions were inspired by Mark Bradley's own college football prognostications (hat tip to BnB). You will probably notice the conspicous absence of a certain team, I will have a series of predictions for the Bucs closer to the start of the season. Well deserved mocking can be directed towards the comment section.

- Much to PETA's chagrin Vick will play this season. Vick means too much to the Atlanta franchise NOT to play but will sit out the last five or six games of the season citing injury concerns (real or imagined). Most pundits will blame Vick's legal troubles for his poor play ignoring Ron Mexico's poor play prior to the federal dog fighting charges.

- Carolina will win the NFC South after finally realizing DeAngelo Williams is the better runningback than the oft-injured DeShaun Foster. John Fox is too good of a coach to waste Williams' talent for another season. Carolina seems to alternate between mediocrity and excellence every two years. In 2005 the Panthers made the NFC Championship game and in 2003 they went to the Super Bowl. In 2004 and 2006 they missed the playoffs.

- The Saints will fall back down to earth. The best story from last season, the Saints will struggle with a more diificult schedule and the loss of Joe Horn. New Orleans weakness on defense, notably the linebackers, will be exposed.

- The Pats will make a run at the '72 Dolphins undefeated regular season record but will lose to Baltimore early in December. The two teams will meet again in the AFC Championship game to different results. The Tom Brady-Joe Montana comparisons will return in full force, and football fans everywhere outside of New England will despise the Patriots quarterback all that much more.

- The Raiders will finish the season with the worst record in the NFL for the second straight year. Even though Al Davis has become the crypt keeper Lane Kiffin will stay on for another year but will either quit or be fired half way thorugh the 2008 season.

- Chicago will again finish with the best record in the NFC but San Francisco will be the surprise team in the NFC finishing with the second best record in the conference. Frank Gore will become a household name as he leads the NFL in rushing, narrowly edging out Willis McGahee. Clinton Portis will bounce back and finish the season ranked in the top ten in rushing yards. The U's fourth runningback, Edgerrin James, will continue his run of mediocrity in Arizona.

- The Chargers will run LaDainian Tomlinson to the point of exhaustion under new head coach Norv Turner, who loves to pound the rock. Tomlinson, who ranks 26th all time in rushing attempts (which is more than Shaun Alexander and Jamal Lewis), will be injured going into the playoffs and Phillip Rivers will be too inexperienced to carry the offense. San Diego fans will quickly realize getting rid of Schottenhiemer may have been a bad idea (if they don't already).

- Indy will win their division but lose in the first round of the playoffs. Fans will not be seperated from Peyton Manning for long, we will be bombarded with Peyton commercials until the Super Bowl.

- In a rematch of 2003 Carolina will play New England in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the game will be played to the same results as in 2003. Peter King and Bill Simmons will try to out do each in their slurping of Tom Brady, with Peter King winning out when he claims Brady to be the Greatest Athlete in the History of the World.

You have you own predictions for NFL teams not named the Bucs? Drop them in the comments so I can mock you.


In full salivation mode.....

With training camp starting on Friday here are some important dates which are also quickly approaching....

The First Exhibition Game....

Bucs First Exhibition Game....

The First Regular Season Game.....

Bucs First Regular Season Game.....

NFL Draft........


And now presenting, your Tampa Bay Devil Rays..........

I meant to mention this in the previous post but my damn ADD and 30 second memory span (fucking television) got the best of me.

Rays Index has released their ALL-TIME TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS roster. And while it is cetainly a very fine list I still take umbrage that Jose Canseco was left off. Anyone that tipped me $20 at the Vinoy deserves this sacred honor.

Weekend Roundup

-For what can only be Nelson Muntz reasons (laughing in Gruden's face) all the major sports news sites ran the "Bucs Looking at ANOTHER quarterback" AP story on their front pages. On the face of it Gruden giving Daunte Culpepper a tryout appears as foolish as asking Paris Hilton if she wants another drink before she drives home. The Bucs already have four starters on their roster (Garcia, Plummer, Simms and Gradkowski), why should the add another? But how's the saying go, when you appear to have a lot of quarterbacks you really have none?

First, Gruden and company have a history of trying out once accomplished players and even signing them a la David Boston. The risk on these players is often minimal and the reward can be great if they pan out, as Chris Hovan did. Additionally, if the quarterbacks are hit by the injury bug, which seems to happen often in Tampa, Gruden will have the option of signing a potential free agent in Daunte Culpepper without having to take the time during the season to try him out. If preperation is truly 9/1oths of success, Gruden will be one step ahead of the game.

Second, trying out Culpepper hints at one of the larger weaknesses during Gruden's tenure, his inability to develop a franchise quarterback. This has been mentioned on other sites but I will attempt to offer an explanation for it. With the exception of a third round pick in Simms, Gruden has not invested in a potential franchise quarterback. Gruden seemed to think he had that potential franchise quarterback in Plummer, before the Snake retired to whatever it is that Snakes like to do. Considering Garcia's age it is likely Gruden again spends a high draft pick (first day) on a quarterback if Plummer does not come out of retirement.

-Sergio is again sporting some unusual colors which may be familiar to long time Buc fans. Perhaps these are not exactly creamsicle, but they are close enough to allow me proclaim that if Sergio wins the British then I will take it as a sign the Bucs creamsicle unis are bound to return. (And props to the well written Sobel blog for the heads up on this.)

-With training camp set to begin in less that a week (Friday) it's time to start salivating over the Bucs chances. Most reports I've seen have them at six or less wins, and Vegas has their line at 7 1/2 wins. Before the Vick scandal I would have pegged the Bucs for seven wins but the thought of Joey Harrington under center for the Falcons has me feeling better about the Bucs. If the Bucs eeked out four wins with instability at quarterback they should be able to at least double that total with an easier schedule and Garcia's steady hand. A lot will depend on if the defense, which slipped below the top ten defenses in the NFL last season for the first time in eight seasons.


You're the man now dog!

Hey, Michael "Ron Mexico" Vick.....

My personal opinion is there is no way Vick is suspended this season, supposedly Vick would need a prior criminal record for Goody Two Shoes Goodall to suspend his for a few games. Which means Vick might need to be convicted of the dog fighting charges first. And if Vick is looking for a lawyer in the ATL I suggest checking out this guy. (Completely random side note, I heard from a completely reliable source the dude's wife LOVES anal.)


A Very Pre-emptive Fantasy Look at the Bucs

If there's anything lamer than a dude with a blog it's a dude with a blog who writes about his fantasy team. So no worries, I ain't gonna be that lame. What I am gonna do is break down the fantasy stock of the Bucs offensive players.

Cadillac Williams

If Cadillac went to high last season he could be a sleeper this year. He has all the tools to be a top ten back with the exception of catching the ball out of the backfield. Cadillac's lack of production last year can be blamed mostly on the poor play from the quarterback position and the Bucs constantly being forced to play from behind. This year Garcia should stabalize the quarterback position, which means Cadillac's production will rely on how the rebuilt offensive line plays.

Joey Galloway

Galloway was the diamond in the rough for the Bucs last year, and should remain their best receiver going into this season even at the ripe old age of 35. Galloway has that rare ability to turn a ten yard button hook into a 25 yard gain. Much like Cadillac, Galloway should benefit from Garcia's tenure. My biggest warning flag for Galloway is not his age but the other receivers who may take away Galloway's targets.

Jeff Garcia

Garcia has not had a whole lot of success since he left the City by the Bay, that is until late last season when he replaced an injured McNabb. To be successful Garcia needs to be in a west coast offense which doesn't ask him to be the main man. In Philly last season Westbrook touched the ball more often once Cadillac went down, in San Fran Garcia had T.O. as a safety blanket. Gruden knows his quarterbacks and plays to theirs strengths, which is fortunate because Garcia is the perfect fot for Gruden's offense. With Simms it was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, but with Garcia it's like inserting a round pole into a willing round hole, and Garica is very willing.

Michael Clayton

While's its a bit too early to label Clayton a bust he is getting awfully close to that point. An outstanding rookie year followed by two subpar seasons Clayton has become the anti-Galloway, a player who's lack of training in the offseason has hurt him in the regular season. He has the talent to be the best receiver on the team but drops and lack of conditioning have cost him. I would stay away from drafting Clayton.

Maurice Stovall

One player who could see an increased role in the offense is second year receiver Stovall, who is threatening to take Clayton's starting role in the offense. Stovall is the type of receiver Gruden tends to fall in love with, tall and lanky. Stovall looked good in limited action last season and could be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.

Alex Smith

Eventually Smith is going to make the jump to elite tightend, and I think this may be the season. He's one of these new age Tony Gonzalez/Antonio Gates receiving tightends with the wheels to stretch the field. The only reason he hasn't caught more balls is Smith has been forced to stay on the line to help block for the pitiful offensive line. If the line can improve their pass blocking (fingers crossed) Gruden will be able to deploy Smith down the field more often.

I might just try and make this a regular feature so to be sure to check back later in the year, when I will check in with a update and where each of these players should/could be drafted.


Just 2 More Weeks

With just two more weeks to go until training camp, the sports columns factories of ESPN.com and their ilk are beginning to churn out columns like "10 Best Punters" and "3 Things Your Team Needs to Do to Win: #1 SCORE POINTS." Kudos to Scott for pointing out all the things that are wrong with Bucky Brooks article on the 3 major challenges the Bucs face. What Scott failed to do was offer up 3 challenges of his own, which is just pure laziness on his part.

#1- Figure Out What the Fuck is Going on with the D-line

No other position has been as massivley rehauled (not even the linebackers) as the d-line, which promises to look different than last year. To my knowledge Kiffin has still not tipped his hand on what he's doing with Gaines Adams, have him backup Rice or play on the other side? It seems to make some to have Adams and Rice on the field on the same time to pressure the quarterback but the rightend spot Adams would occupy has traditionally been played by a bigger end who is used more to stop the run. For all the concern about who will play the undertackle (likely a platoon of players) I haven't seen much about where the Bucs will play their first round pick.

#2 - Re-establish the Run

I know runningbacks burn out quickly but just one season for Cadillac? I stand by my assertion Williams can be a top ten back in the league but it all comes down to blocking and staying healthy. A big part of the blocking will come down to the rebuilt left side of the line, which was the side where Cadillac found much of his success two seasons ago. Gruden has been building a offensive line for some time now, it's about time all that time and energy (and draft picks) paid off. Although on an odd side note anyone else find it distressing that Clayton and Cadillac both had stellar rookie seasons followed by sophomore slumps?

#3 - Find Someone to Play Safety

The Bucs were so weak at safety last year they ended up moving a corner or two to safety during training camp. Gruden and company seem to have realized their mistake and went fishing for safeties in the offseason, notably drafting the Italian Stallion to be the Next John Lynch (not so much in talent but as a whitie on the defense for fans to root for). I eagerly await for annoucers to describe Piscitelli as "doing all the small things" while Will Allen is a "pure athlete." Speaking of Will Allen, I have been disappointed by his play lately especially since he has showed such promise. But most of that I will blame on the recently departed secondary coach, since safeties depend so much more on coaching than any other position in the defense.

Anyway, those are my 3 Challenges for the Bucs. You got any better ones?