Cautiously Optimistic

I know it is blasphemy to talk about the Rays while we're in the middle of the Bucs season but forgive me for the transgression, I feel like the recent developments finally make the Rays worthy of NFL midseason discussion.

For ten years I’ve been looking for reasons to get excited about the Rays and until the last few weeks the closest the Rays have come to raising my expectations was the ill-fated Hit Show. But with more arms in the rotation and bullpen, and plans for a new stadium the Rays are finally giving me a reason to be optimistic.

The New Stadium

For the past few years I’ve been telling anyone foolish enough to listen to me that Al Lang Field would be the perfect spot to build a new open air stadium, so it is no surprise that I fully support the Rays’ plans for a stadium there. I have not met one person who would even rank the Trop as an average MLB stadium, much less a top ten one. Additionally, the new stadium would do so much to add new development to a downtown St Petersburg, more so than the current stadium ever did. Obviously I have no hard evidence to back this up but it has been my opinion that BayWalk did more to revitalize down town than the Trop ever did, mostly because BayWalk is actually in downtown as opposed to the Trop. Placing a new stadium along the water front would almost certainly have a similar effect but on a bigger scale as BayWalk.

The biggest complaint about the stadium (at least based on comments left on the Times article) centers on the Rays building the new stadium with revenues generated from taxes on new development where the Trop currently is. These complaints are fairly absurd when you think about it since 1) it’s a fact of life that new stadiums are built using tax payer money, 2) the proposed taxes would not even be generated unless the Rays move out of the Trop. Before the Rays made their announcement Wednesday I had assumed the city’s portion of the cost for a new stadium would likely be born by the business which would benefit from the new stadium, i.e. the hotels, restaurants, etc. which are downtown. Considering that the only new taxes the city would have to enact would be on new development in Tropicana which would not even exist unless the Rays moved further downtown I think St Pete is getting a pretty sweet deal here.

There are some legitimate complaints leveled against the new location, the two most important being parking and state funding. While it’s great to see our boy Charlie supporting the new stadium the state legislature is most likely hesitant to approve money for the Rays when you have other teams (Marlins, Bolts, Magic, etc.) who have made or are going to make similar demands. It will have to take a pretty convincing lobbying effort by the Rays to gain the support of state legislators for a new stadium, something which the Rays have stumbled with coming out of the gate. Parking is a lesser concern but still worth noting as parking is already starting to be a problem downtown. I honestly don’t know if they are comparable crowds but it is impossible to find parking on 4th of July or New Year’s Eve downtown.

The New Faces

My more cynical side paints the Troy Percival signing as little more than a PR move, bringing in a big name closer in a half-hearted effort to convince skeptical St Pete residents that this team is serious about contending. (Something the team will need to do to convince legislators to support a new stadium.) After all Percival is 38 and has already “retired” once because of injury problems. But then again, Percival did play well last season sporting a 1.80 ERA and 36 strikeouts through 40 innings. Most importantly Percival should strengthen a bullpen which looked atrocious last season.

Additionally, the Rays picked up one of the better young arms in the league and all they had to give up was one of their 25 outfielders. Rays Index has a wealth of information on the Delmon Young for Matt Garza trade, but in the end trading a bat (which the Rays have plenty of) for an arm (which they badly need) should be a huge gain for the team. I don’t like to see Young go, he was the one guy (even more so than Pena) that struck me as the closest thing the Rays have to a power slugger but Young and Carl Crawford were their two best outfielders so at the very least they kept Crawford and still gained a good arm for the rotation.

There are still plenty of question marks around this team’s future, can they develop the young talent, will the new stadium be approved, will the team even stay in St Pete? But at the very least the rays and their new ownership are finally giving fans a reason to be optimistic about the team’s future.


The Sean Taylor Memorial

As many of you know I live in Skins territory, in fact I work not to far from Redskin Park. This morning I stopped by the makeshift Sean Taylor Memorial which has emerged outside of the Skins training facility and headquarters. Here are some of the photos I took.

A quick note, I am hesitant bestow Sainthood on Sean Taylor the way many people, especially in the Washington area, have been so quick to do. He was by no means perfect and one of his worst transgressions on the field occurred at Ray Jay against the Bucs two years ago. That being written by most accounts Taylor was turning a new leaf with the birth of his daughter, and had become a leader on the team.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived was the multiple news trucks parked outside. Sean Taylor has been the leading news story since Monday in all local media outlets.

Sean Taylor's 21 painted into the grass next to the memorial.

Even though it was 10:30 in the morning there were at least a dozen fans there coming and going while I was taking pictures. Almost all had Skins gear on.

The most striking thing about the memorial is the number of flowers and personal mementos left by fans. Few cities embrace their NFL franchises the way the DC area does. In Tampa Bay the Bucs are the talk of the town, but in the DC area the Skins are not just the talk of the town they are the common bond of the city.

A cork board signed by a number of Skins fans.

A Sean Taylor jersey with a personal sentiment written on it.

Another Taylor jersey with a number of personal sentiments written on it.

A hat with a message from one father to another in Sean Taylor.

A yard sign for Sean Taylor.

And on the back of the sign a quote from Sean Taylor.


NFC South Recap

TAMPA BAY: 7-4 (DIV) 3-0
NAWLEANS: 5-6 (DIV) 2-2
CAROLINA: 4-7 (DIV) 2-3
ATLANTA: 3-8 (DIV) 1-3

We didn't learn much from the NFC South last week that we haven't known for the at least the past month. It will come down to the Bucs (who are the clear favorites) and the Saints (playing the role of the lovable underdog). The Bucs appear to be a lock to make the playoffs considering the soft schedule in front of them, and the only remaining question is will they have a playoff game at home or not?

The Saints on the other hand are a dangerous opponent next week for the Bucs, they are like the wounded lion. They have the potential to be one of the more dangerous offenses but have been struck by a case of bi-polarism. One week they look unbeatable, the next fallible. Missing Deuce McAllister has exposed the offenses biggest weakness, Reggie Bush can not run up the middle. When Deuce was in the game defenses had to prepare for both Deuce running the ball AND Brees passing to the receivers. Reggie Bush never had to be the power runner at USC (he had LenDale White for that) so he has never established himself as someone who can bang bodies for 4 quarters.


And even if the Saints win this week the Bucs would still be the favorites to win the division. The Saints have two losses in the the division while the Bucs have zero losses. Assuming the Saints win they would still be a game behind and would lose the tiebreaker if the teams somehow finished with the same records (a highly unlikely situation). What am I getting at? No matter the outcome of next week's game the Bucs will be in the driver's seat for the division.


Gameday: Skins @ Bucs

You can find my Sticks preview here.

I'm hearing a good deal of chatter that the Skins are an upset special. Which is incredibly fair when you consider the Skins were a Jason Campbell interception away from beating the Cowboys last week. The Skins have been doing their best Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impression this season, and there is no guarantee which Skins team we will see today.

The Bucs, on the other hand, have been the model of consistency with Jeff Garcia at quarterback. While they have not been a top scoring team the Bucs have regularly moved the chains even without Cadillac Williams, Luke Petitgout, Michael Pittman and Alex Smith. Which means that while the Bucs are the smart pick the Skins are the sexy pick to win here.

I am off to the game but I will be back with a recap after the game.


Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. The Bucs needed every one of the six turnovers forced by the defense today, especially with Jeff Garcia out most of the game with back problems. It's scary to think what would happen if Garcia was out for an extended period of time after Bruce Gradkowski's cheap imitation of a quarterback today.

+ Greg White w/ 2 forced fumbles and a sack
+ Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly getting back in the act w/ an INT each
+ Earnest Graham with some very tough running against a defense expecting the run
+ BJ Askew opening up those holes for Graham

- Gradkowski who looked out of synch w/ his receivers
- sure Josh Bidwell punted well but what ever happened to the corner punt out of bounds?
- defensive play calling on the last drive which should have included a few more blitzes


Vote Early, Vote Often

Pro Bowl balloting has been open for about two weeks now and there are several Bucs who deserve to receive a free vacation to Hawaii this year....

The two obvious choices coming out of the NFC are Brett Favre and Tony Romo. Both of whom are leading the NFC in the poorly understood quarterback rating as well as leading the two best teams in the conference.

There are about four quarterbacks to choose from for the last spot: Jeff Garcia, Jon Kitna, Matt Hasselbeck, and Donovan McNabb. McNabb has suffered his yearly injury, which means you can fully expect the Eagles to make another playoff run without McNabb playing. Hassselbeck could be the darkhorse in this race seeing as how the Seahawks could be forced to throw the ball more often with Shaun Alexander out. Kitna will continue to put up impressive yardage and touchdown totals as long as Mike Martz is coaching that offense. Let's take a look at 3 of the quarterbacks stats so far.....

Jeff Garcia: 7.6 yards per completion, 11 TDs, 3 INTs, 96.6 QB rating
Jon Kitna: 7.8 yards per completion, 12 TDs, 11 INTS, 90.2 QB rating
Matt Hasselbeck: 7.2 yards per completion, 17 TDs, 8 INTs, 91.3 QB rating

Our boy Garcia has fewer touchdowns but he also has dramatically fewer interceptions (all of which came in the Jags game oddly enough) which explains his superior QB rating. Kitna and Hasselbeck will both finish the season with superior passing yardage and total touchdowns but that does not mean Garcia is any less vital to his team's success than Hasselbeck or Kitna. Anyone who has watched the Bucs recognizes that the key to their success has been Jeff Garcia, which is why Garcia deserves a trip to the Pro Bowl this year.

If Cadillac was still healthy he would have likely been the clear cut favorite to be the NFC's third representative at runningback for the Pro Bowl. After Adrian Peterson and Brian Westbrook there is a clear dropoff in backs. I voted for Clinton Portis as the 3rd NFC Back based on the excellent rebound season he is having (802 yards, 6 TDs) even while splitting carries with Ladell Betts. I also considered voting for Marion Barber simply because he is one of the most exciting players to watch right now.

After Terrell Owens there is a log jam for the last 3 receiver spots. For the hell of it I will list the contenders and their stats although I expect you to vote for ol' man Galloway anyway.

Larry Fitgerald: 904 yards, 13.7 y/c, 4 TDs
Torry Holt: 755 yards, 12.4 y/c, 5 TDs
Marques Colston: 754 yards, 12.4 y/c, 5 TDs
Bobby Engram: 744 yards, 12.4 y/c, 3 TDs
Kevin Curtis: 722 yards, 16.0 y/c, 4 TDs
Roy Williams: 719 yards, 13.1 y/c, 5 TDs
Joey Galloway: 711 yards, 17.8 y/c, 6 TDs
Bernard Berrian: 709 yards, 13.9 y/c, 2 TDs

If you're looking for a reason to elevate Galloway above everyone else on this list his yards per catch is the best reason. Galloway has done an excellent job of taking a 12 yard reception and turning it into a 30 yard touchdown.

As Mike Alstott has taught us these honors typically go to the players with the most name recognition. There are no reliable stats to measure their performance and the best players are the ones who are rarely recognized.

With Luke Petitgout out for the season the Bucs best lineman has probably been guard Davin Joseph although I could easily be persuaded to pick another Bucs lineman as the best. BJ Askew has also done an excellent job filling in for first Mike Alstott and then Michael Pittman. Maybe this has more to do with Gruden's offense since I've seen Alstott and Pittman do the same thing out of the fullback position but I have been impressed by Askew's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and turn it into a big gain.

D-tackles, like every position on the defense, are more difficult to rank based on their stats. The Football Outsiders made an interesting observation that we often judge offensive players by how well they perform on the field but judge defensive players on how their teams perform when without them. For example, the FO guys look at how Tennessee has struggled without Albert Haynewsworth in the lineup. For a more local example just look at how the Bucs failed to generate a pass rush last season when Simeon Rice was injured.

Anyway, that's a long way of saying you should vote for Chris Hovan at defensive tackle since he has been the lynchpin for the Bucs d-line as they have rotated players in and out. Hovan is the one player the Bucs d-line could least afford to lose.

At outside linebacker even though he has slipped a bit Derrick Brooks is still deserving of a Pro Bowl nod. He has the fourth most tackles among NFC outside linebackers, and more importantly is the leader of the best defense in the NFC. The linebacker nominations typically go to the players on the best defense and it doesn't hurt that Brooks is a well known name. Cato June is a bit more of a question mark as he has played better than Brooks but is not as well known. At the very least one of the two deserves to get to the Pro Bowl.

Barrett Ruud definitely deserves a Pro Bowl nomination, even among a deep field of inside linebackers. He has been the key to the Bucs defensive renaissance, playing the most difficult position in the Tampa Two defense.

Phillip Buchanon has been a pleasant surprise since the Bucs picked him up in the middle of last season. All that was expected of Buchanon was to help out on special teams and maybe be the fourth corner. Instead Buchanon has exceeded expectations and has filled in for the oft-injured Brian Kelly. That being written Ronde Barber is the corner more worthy of the Pro Bowl nod, although I'm willing to hear arguments to the contrary.

No question both Jermaine Phillips and rookie Tanard Jackson deserve Pro Bowl berths. It's amazing how much better the safeties are playing this season. The Bucs are much better at shutting down the run this season and both players have been brought back memories of John Lynch in the Pewter and Red.


NFC South Recap

TAMPA BAY: 6-4 (DIV) 3-0
CAROLINA: 4-6 (DIV) 2-2
NAWLEANS: 4-6 (DIV) 1-2
ATLANTA: 3-7 (DIV) 1-3

I mentioned in week 2 that the Football Outsiders Statistical Predictions had the Bucs winning the NFC South. Those same predictions had the Saints finishing last in the division. When you take into account that Atlanta and Carolina both lost their starting quarterbacks for the season (which as the Bucs learned last year) their respective season's went down the tubes, the predictions by FO appear amazingly prescient despite the fact that the FO guys did their best to explain away these computer results.

In other words, the NFC South is once again the Bucs division to lose, the way it has been since the division has existed (even if the division has only existed for five years).

While I was not as opposed to the Mario Williams over Reggie Bush move as most people, I still believe Houston made a mistake not drafting a runningback. Personally I have avoided the Reggie Bush bandwagon for the same reason I warned people against jumping on the Saints bandwagon....all hype and no substance. Sure Bush gained a 100+ total yards in the game but look closer at his stats, he gained only 34 yards on 15 carries against a less than impressive Texans defense. Additionally he had a key fumble on the goal line when he tried try to run up the middle. Mario Williams, on the other hand, had a sack a forced fumble.

Of concern to me is a Saints team which just got back the Next Terrell Owens (in a good way). Andre Johnson has that extremely rare combination of size and speed that only two other receivers in the NFL have (the third being Calvin Johnson). The Bucs have excelled at shutting down opposing offenses but outside of Washington it looks like Houston poses the next biggest test on the Bucs schedule.

I mentioned it last week but it's worth repeating, the Panthers will be scary next season. Assuming they get Jake Delhomme back they should have a slew of draft picks on the defense, in addition to a number of developing players on the offense and defense already. This was the Bucs blue print for success this season and assuming Petrino figures out how to coach an NFL team (admittedly a big if at this point) the NFC South could be very competitive next season much the same way the AFC South is this season. Notice how I leave the Saints out of this equation.


Bucs 31, Falcons 7

Now that was the kind of dominating performance I was hoping we would see from the team. Sure it was against a team which has given up and for some odd reason started Byron Leftwich at quarterback. (For all the hype about Petrino being a great offensive mind he has made some highly questionable moves on the offense. Starting Leftwich over a luke warm hand in Joey Harrington. Giving Warrick Dunn more carries than Jerious Norwood. Either Petrino is angling for a high draft pick or he just doesn't care anymore.)

Anyway, to be honest my attention shifted from this game during the first half and I changed the channel at halftime. Quite simply, this was a game the Bucs should have won and they did so.

+ Galloway, who has become a frequent occupier of this space
+ Bucs D, which except for a garbage TD would have shut out the Falcons offense
+ Ronde Barber, w/ his 11th career TD
+ Earnest Graham w/ 100 plus yards rushing and a TD
+ Chris Hovan w/ a sack and the rare d-line INT
+ Alex Smith providing some much needed plays in the receiving game

- I'm sure if I looked for something wrong I could find it but in a blowout win on the road there is little to complain about


Just For The Hell Of It: 2nd Half Predictions

Call me a broken record but I just don't understand how people can continue to pick the Saints over the Bucs for the NFC South, especially after the Saints got crushed by a previously winless Rams team. For those who missed PTI today (one of my favorites sports shows) both Kornheiser and Wilbon picked the Saints to make the playoffs and ignored the Bucs. Now for as much as I enjoy his DC local radio show Kornheiser knows nothing about football despite broadcasting the sport. Wilbon, on the other hand, watches a good number of the games so it was a slap in the face to see him pick the Saints to win the NFC South.

To that effect here are my predictions for the NFC playoff teams:
  1. Green Bay
  2. Dallas
  3. Tampa Bay
  4. Seattle
  5. Detroit
  6. New York
A lot will come down to the Green Bay versus Dallas game which will be in Dallas. I'm going with Green Bay in that game since the Dallas secondary can't stop anyone while the Green Bay D can at the very least slow down the Cowboys offense.

The Bucs have a game and a half lead on the Saints and just as easy as a schedule down the road. Both teams only play one more team which currently has a winning record; Washington for the Bucs and Tampa Bay for the Saints. Throw in a feisty Eagles team the Saints play in Week 16 and the schedules are about equal.

The NFC West is garbage. It's a shame the Bucs didn't play the Seahawks later in the season because the Bucs team which lost in Week 1 to Seattle is completely different from the current team. Ruud's increased level of play is a perfect example of that.

I am very tempted to pick the Skins over the Giants but the way Gibbs is coaching that team right now I just can't rationalize it. I would also love to pick a darkhorse team to make a late run but I just can't rationalize any team making that kinda run out of the NFC. Philly always makes late runs when Donovan McNabb gets hurt but they don't have Jeff Garcia this season (suckers) and still have to play New England, Dallas and the Giants.

And now some predictions....
  • MVP - Tom Brady, this is a "no shit Sherlock" pick so I take no credit for it
  • ROY - Adrian Peterson, see above about "no shit Sherlock"
  • Defensive POY - James Harrison, this is the most wide open race so far with Harrison, his teammate Ike Taylor, Antonio Cromartie, Osi Umenyiora all good canidates. Truth be told I'm probably forgetting some people as well but I'm going with Harrison since he is playing on the best defense in the NFL right (Steelers)
  • Offensive POY - Brett Favre, this award should prob end up going to Brady but Favre has a slight lead in passing yards over Brady (71) and the media love fest for the Something About Mary star will help
  • Comeback POY - Randy Moss, although seeing as how Moss is viewed as the anti-Favre (despite being just as self-centered) I wouldn't be surprised to see some else (like Clinton Portis) get this award.
  • Super Bowl Champions - Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ok not really. The Lombardi is New England's to lose at this point and I see no reason to pick against them (as much as I want to)


NFC South Recap

TAMPA BAY: 5-4 (DIV) 2-0
CAROLINA: 4-5 (DIV) 2-2
NAWLEANS: 4-5 (DIV) 1-2
ATLANTA: 3-6 (DIV) 1-2

Good news for the Bucs, they moved up in the division on a bye week. Although that isn't the first time that has happened in the NFC South. The Panthers moved to the top of the division after their bye in week 7.


During my criticism of the Saints I forgot to include one very important point- the Saints defense can't stop a passing team. I touched on this before the season but New Orleans secondary is the best reason not to pick this team to repeat as division champs. All of the talent is on the d-line, which works well when you are trying to stop the run but in passing situations offenses can go to max protect to negate the Saints rushers.

The Panthers are this year's version of the '06 Bucs, a team with a ton of talent a quarterback unit which resembles a triage unit. With their starting quarterback (Jake Delhomme) out for the season and David Carr also injured the 44 year old Vinny Testeverde got the start. I hereby nominate the Panthers for biggest turnaround next year seeing as how they get Delhomme back and then add some talent on the defense through the draft, a la what the Bucs are doing this season.


Even More Bucs Ecetera (You Didn't Even Have To Ask)

If I learned anything from Swingers it's that LA has the best parties (that and always double down on eleven). Which is why it makes perfect sense for THE OFFICIAL TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS BYE WEEK PARTY to be in the City of Angels. To make things even better everyone's favorite Buccaneer Donald Penn is hosting the soirée, which guarantees Dwight Freeney and Dewayne White can get right in.

(and a big tip o' the ol' hat to Gordy McBlum for tha story)

On a slightly different note, the Saints bandwagon has been filling up at an increasingly alarming rate. Don Banks prediction that not only will the Saints win the NFC South but that they will make the Super Bowl is a perfect example of this. I like Banks and think he is typically spot on but this is the perfect example of over rating a team based on: A) preseason expectations and, B) their last game. People are overlooking the Saints two losses in the division compared to zero losses for the Bucs in the NFC South. It's unlikely the Bucs early December game at New Orleans will decide the division even if the Saints win. Instead it will likely come down to the Bucs last game against Carolina in Tampa Bay.

More importantly, the Saints offense has been exploited by defenses designed to stop the pass. Stats based on passing defense rankings do an excellent job of bearing this out:

Indy - #3 - L
TB - #2 - L
Tenn - #12 - L
Carolina - #16 - L
Seattle - #25 - W
ATL - #15 - W
SF - #14 - W
Jax - #26 - W

With the exception of the Carolina game, which was a narrow win for the Panthers, the Saints have been defeated by quality pass defenses. It's no secret that with Deuce McAllister out the Saints have to throw the ball most of the time, for all the hype Reggie Bush is still nothing more than a poor man's Brian Westbrook aka a receiver disguised as a back. The Saints, much like our Bucs, are fortunate they have a soft schedule down the home stretch with only two teams posing a challenge, the Bucs and Bears. The Tampa Two defense has proven to be the Saints kryptonite. Still I have a tough time buying the Saints as a Super Bowl team much less NFC South champions.


More Essential Bucs History (and a rare midday post)

To piggyback off my post from yesterday there has been some conversation on what the largest spread ever has been for a game as the Pats are playing the Jets (revenge for Spygate) and 'Phins (who are just plain bad) later this season. The Pats have seen a 17 point spread a few times this season (against Buffalo, Cleveland and Miami) and have covered each time. In fact the Pats are perfect against the spread for the season (although technically they pushed on the 4 point spread against the Colts). Which leads to the question, will we see the highest spread ever in the NFL this season?

First off, we need to know what the highest spread ever has been. Apparently this honor belongs to the '76 Bucs, who were 24 point underdogs to the defending Super Bowl Champion Steelers. For the record Steve Spurrier's team lost to Pittsburgh by a score of 42-0. Kudos to Dr. Z at SI for figuring this out. For all the grief BucStats gives him, the guy is one of the more knowledgeable NFL guys out there.

Anyway, I doubt we will see a spread that high this season. I could see 21 points but even that is getting into rarely seen levels for the NFL. Which means Steve Spurrier and his 0-14 Bucs team will likely keep at least one record for mediocrity this season.


Bucs Bits

There has been a good deal of hub bub about the Pats run at the '72 Dolphins perfect record but there is another perfect record which could go unchallenged. The Bucs perfect losing season of '76. Since the AFL merged with the NFL in 1970 the very first Bucs team is the only team to lose every single game it played. (The '82 Baltimore Colts went 0-8-1 in a strike shortened season but technically that doesn't count.) This years 'Phins team is making a serious run at that Bucs record.

Only two teams are winless so far, the Phins and the Rams. Considering their best players have returned from injury (Bulger and Stephen Jackson) and they still get to play the Cards, Falcons and 49ers St Louis is bound to win a game eventually. Miami, on the other hand, has lost their best player for the season (Ronnie Brown), their quarterback could be done with his career (Trent Green), and traded away their best receiver (Chris Chambers). Miami's best chances are at home against the Jets and Bengals, and I'm willing to bet Miami will be an underdog in both.

Steve Spurrier and the '76 Bucs better watch their backs this season.

On a slightly different note, Sports Illustrated released their list of best NFL stadium experiences with the Ray Jay coming in at #17. Typically I stay away from lists since they are purely arbitrary but this list attempts to quantify the stadium experience. One of the better points raised by the break down of Tampa Bay is in the Accessability part, which addresses the horrific road situation after games. 'Cause of whatever misguided reasoning the police shut down certain rods which would clearly alleviate traffic. I experienced this two weeks ago at the Jags game when my family tried to get to 275 only to be forced to go in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go and then cut through a neighborhood. How is having a massive amount of traffic cut through neighborhoods better than keeping traffic on the main roads?


NFC South Recap

TAMPA BAY: 5-4 (DIV) 2-0
CAROLINA: 4-4 (DIV) 2-1
NAWLEANS: 4-4 (DIV) 1-2
ATLANTA: 2-6 (DIV) 1-1

First off, the Bucs Midseason Recap is up at the Sticks. Many thanks to Scott from BucStats and John from BoltsMag for making that happen.

It's official, the Saints are back. I was bullish on the "Saints are back" story considering they had won against mostly bad teams with the exception of a primetime win at Seattle. But as the Bucs learned last week the Jags are a tough team with a very good defense. I caught most of this game and the Saints had little trouble moving the ball against the Jags. On the bright side for Tampa Bay the Jags defense is focused more on stopping the run while the Bucs Tampa Two defense is better designed to stop a passing team like the Saints.

This game was in no way shape or form as close as the score indicates. I fail to understand how David Carr, who has experience throwing to an elite receiver in Andre Johnson, can not get the ball to Steve Smith.

Neither one of these teams won in October. If they had not played each other they very likely would have gone all of November without a win between them.


Tampa Bay 17, Arizona 10

This game was much closer than it should have been. The Bucs dominated the first three and a half quarters but failed the scoreboard again failed to reflect the statistical advantage the Bucs had over their opponent. I have harped on this before but the Bucs offense lacks playmakers (with the obvious exception of Galloway) who can get into the end zone on a consistent basis.

+ Galloway AGAIN disproving the notion that old people can not contribute to society
+ Tanard Jackson has turned out to be the steal of the draft, coming up w/ an INT
+ Earnest Graham didn't do anything all that special but he was consistent
+ Bucs secondary limiting one of the best passing attacks
+ Maurice Stovall on punt returns

- Jeff Garcia running the ball, would it kill him to throw it away and avoid injury?
- going against an immobile qb in Kurt Warner the Bucs failed to ring up a single sack
- not to pile on but come one Alex Smith, that was an easy touchdown catch
- followed by a miss on an easy field goal by Matt Bryant
- Trueblood flipping his shit again and trying to start fights