TAMPA BAY: 4-2 (DIV) 2-0
CAROLINA: 4-2 (DIV) 2-1
NAWLEANS: 1-4 (DIV) 0-2
ATLANTA: 1-5 (DIV) 0-1
If there has been any kind of a consistent theme in this space it has been the criticism directed towards "Offensive Genius Gruden" for failing to upgrade the offense, which is why it warmed my heart (and possibly cockles) to see the emminently readable BucStats take up the same cause. Just looking at the stats the offense has been stagnant if not regressive since Gruden took over. The best explanation I can find for this is that the offensive talent has not been there at the same level that it has been since the Dungy days. Yes, Gruden has invested draft picks on the offense (Clayton, Simms, Joseph, Trueblood, Buenning, Sears, Cadillac, Alex Smith, Stovall) but the Bucs have also lost a number of players on the offense through either free agency/being cut (Keyshawn, McCardell, Griese, Thomas Jones, Warrick Dunn) or injury (Simms, Alstott, Griese again, Joseph, Cadillac, Pittman, Petitgout, Buenning).
What am I getting at? The Bucs are about even, if not worse off, than they were under Dungy when you only consider offensive talent. The line has been slightly upgraded, as has the quarterback position. But the runningback position (even when Cadillac was healthy) and the receivers are worse under Gruden than when Dungy was in town. Which is no fault of Gruden since with the exception of the Griese release the moves have made sense or not been his fault.
Point of the story?
Gruden is deserving of a pass when you take a look at the offense. The play calling is clearly superior to when Mike Shula was in town, and The Garcia Renaissance is in full effect. The offensive line is young and talented and on its way to gelling into the dominant line Gruden had in Oakland. Anyway, if you're going to go after Gruden for anything, criticize him for his questionable drafting.
CAROLINA 25, ARIZONA 10
The $8 Million Dollar Man proved that you can rebuild him, you can make him stronger. In the battle of two former Bucs quarterbacks Rattay lost and Testaverde won. Which begs the question, does anyone really win when you have to watch these two quarterbacks play?
NEW ORLEANS 28, SEATTLE 17
Was that a Drew Brees sighting Sunday night? In notching their first win of the season the Saints further laid claim to the tenet that the NFC is garbage by laying waste to a reeling Seahawks team. It remains to be seen if the Saints are back or if Sunday was an aberration (I'm banking on the latter).
NEW YORK 31, ATLANTA 10
We're six games into the season and already the Falcons have given up on their coach. And Petrino doesn't have Vick to take the blame, although I'm sure the fans in Atlanta will find a way to make Vick the scapegoat for this season's woes. Atlanta is horrible and if they some how beat the Bucs this season I may have to commit seppuku.