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Yakuza Rich

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: June 24, 2008, 10:19:42 AM



TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
YR’S PREDICTED 2007 RECORD: 10-6
ACTUAL 2007 RECORD: 9-7

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the “Fab Four” teams in the NFL last season and followed the typical blueprint of a steady, veteran Quarterback and a veteran coaching staff that has had success with the team in prior years.

The veteran Quarterback part is extremely important to becoming a Fab Four team and it’s a reason why quality Quarterbacks are so sought out by NFL teams. Obviously, QB Rating Differential has the highest correlation to winning in the NFL, so if you have a quality Quarterback you’re likely to increase your QBRD. But history has shown that NFL Quarterback’s are usually responsible for about 75% of the league’s turnovers each year. We all know the high correlation turnover margin has to winning in the NFL, so if you can get a QB that doesn’t turn the ball over, you’re now more likely to win the turnover margin.

And that’s what the Bucs did last year. Garcia had some pretty good numbers, but it wasn’t exactly pretty. However, it was safe and the Bucs didn’t turn the ball over much and thus they won the turnover margin. And with their usually stingy defense headed by Monte Kiffin, they won the QBRD battle as well and wound up going to the playoffs despite most experts predicting another awful season in Tampa.

OFFENSE

Projected Starters:

QB: Jeff Garcia
RB: Ernest Graham, Cadillac Williams
FB: BJ Askew
WR: Joey Galloway
WR: Ike Hilliard, Michael Clayton, Antonio Bryant
TE: Ben Troupe, Alex Smith
LT: Donald Penn (17th)
LG: Aaron Sears (15th)
C: Jeff Faine (2007 YR All Pro Team) (2nd)
RG: Davin Joseph (2007 YR All Pro Team) (15th)
RT: Jeremy Trueblood (30th)

From the outset of the 2007 season, Jon Gruden didn’t have a lot of confidence in the offense and thus focused on creating a conservative, ground chuck offensive scheme. Unfortunately, the team’s Waterloo over the years since the Tony Dungy era of lacking explosiveness on offense reared its ugly head again in the playoffs.

However, the Bucs have been plagued with mediocre offensive lines since the Tony Dungy era as well. It was something that really irked Gruden, a former O-Line coach who developed good offensive lines where he’s gone. It finally appears that the Bucs are on pace to develop that good offensive line that they’ve been looking for.

Their stats don’t show it, but remember they were down to their third string running back by season’s end and while Ernest Graham isn’t bad, he’s not exactly Jim Brown either. The Bucs appear to have made a major find in signing undrafted free agent Donald Penn who was solid last year. Generally my statistics find that rookies struggle really bad, regardless of where they play on the O-Line. So for a rookie to finish at about the league average is only a plus. To get that out of an undrafted free agent from Utah State who is playing left tackle is just a major coup. Their guard play was really good. Joseph’s stats don’t show it, but he had to deal with Jeremy Trueblood’s poor play and the mediocre play from center John Wade. But he was downright dominating defenders much of last year. Aaron Sears was pretty good as well, but stymied by Wade’s ineffectiveness. I wouldn’t count out Trueblood just yet as former Boston College O-Linemen have had great success in the NFL. And with Jeff Faine, who made his second consecutive term on the YR All Pro team, it appears the Bucs just need for some better play from Trueblood in order to possibly become a top 5 offensive line.

I’m guessing Ernest Graham will be the starting tailback given Cadillac Williams’ injury. I actually like Williams if he’s healthy, but he suffered such a freakish injury that his career may be done with. BJ Askew is there to provide some occasional blocking and to change up some personnel packages.

The receiving corp still revolves around Joey Galloway who still has some of the best deep speed of any wide receiver in the league. However, he’s never been a great route runner or a jump ball guy, so teams can just play the safety over the top on him and force the other receivers to beat him. I have no idea what happened to Michael Clayton after his tremendous rookie season. I’m guessing Ike Hilliard will be the starter unless Clayton makes a comeback. There’s always Antonio Bryant who has the skills to be a top 5 receiver, but his attitude and mindset always does him in. He may be a guy to keep an eye out for because after missing a year due to his poor attitude. He had over 1,000 receiving yards in 2005 for the then hapless Browns and almost 800 yards receiving on 18.3 yards a catch for the hapless Niners in 2006. If he can’t realize that his attitude won’t be tolerated and he’s on his last chance in the league, then he will never understand it. They brought in Ben Troupe. Both he and Alex Smith are receiving tight ends. I like Smith better. But both are minimal factors in the passing game and more or less there to help throw some more personnel packages at opposing defenses.

Jeff Garcia has a scatterbrained style of football, but is amazingly conservative and protective with the football. He’s getting more than long in the tooth now and won’t scare teams deep. But as long as he’s healthy and just good enough passing the ball, he’s a good QB to have on your team because he protects the ball so well.


DEFENSE

Projected Starters:

RDE: Greg White
DT: Chris Hovan
DT: Jovan Haye
LDE: Gaines Adams
ROLB: Derrick Brooks
MLB: Barrett Ruud
LOLB: Cato June
CB: Rhonde Barber
CB: Phillip Buchanon/Aqib Talib
SS: Jermaine Phillips (2007 YR All Pro Team)
FS: Tanard Jackson

The Bucs run the patented Tampa 2, the basic, pro-style Cover 2 scheme. Like most Cover 2 teams, they don’t blitz very often and the pressure on the QB comes from the D-Line which usually concentrates on rushing the passer over stopping the run and utilizing a lot of line stunting to accomplish that. The main difference between a Cover 2 and a Tampa 2 scheme is the Tampa 2 scheme utilizes all zone coverage while the Cover 2 scheme utilizes man-to-man, particularly the corners, with the 2 safeties helping over the top. One of the things the Bucs have done consistently over the years over other Cover 2 schemes is that they love to get the strong safety playing up in the box. They did it for of years with John Lynch and did it this season with Jermaine Phillips.

The D-Line is not what it once was, but it’s still pretty solid and one of the big reasons why Kiffin’s defenses are consistently good because they usually do a good job of getting to the Quarterback without getting killed against the run. They got a nice year out of career journeyman and former Arena Football player Greg White. White only had 8 sacks, but there were times where he was almost unstoppable. Jovan Haye and Chris Hovan were the weakpoint of the defense, as they ranked 31st in defending runs up the middle. Gaines Adams had a bit of a learning curve, but overall I think they had to be pretty happy with his rookie season as it was a solid rookie campaign and at times he looked dominant. The Bucs only had 33 sacks last season, but finished 13th in adjusted sack ratio (which factors in sacks/pass attempt, down and distance, and quality of team they are playing).

The linebackers are typical Cover 2 linebackers, small and fast and great in coverage. Derrick Brooks is still a good linebacker at 35 years old and they loved adding Cato June to the team because he’s an excellent cover guy who makes plays. Barrett Ruud is a solid middle linebacker who does everything pretty well. If there’s a knock here it’s that it’s a typical Cover 2 linebacker crew, so they don’t take on blockers all that well (except for Ruud) and tend to wear down easily if they have to spend a little more time on the field.

The cornerbacks were pretty solid last season, mainly because Rhonde Barber is still excellent and can play the slot in the nickel, which makes the backup’s jobs easier (typically corners struggle to play the slot and are much more comfortable playing on the sideline). The Bucs finished 3rd in defending #1 WR’s last season and Barber is often forgotten as one of the very best corners in the league. Phillip Buchanon had a decent season after being disappointing for most of his career. They drafted Aqib Talib, an athletically gifted corner with some character concerns. But given the Bucs’ history with drafting defensive players, he could very well wind up being a star.

I had Jermaine Phillips on my All Pro team as he had a quality year in coverage and was a big hitter who excelled against the run and his hits really rallied the defense. Tanard Jackson was a corner in college and moved to free safety and the Bucs were extremely pleased about his play.


SPECIAL TEAMS

KR: Michael Spurlock
PR: Dexter Jackson
K: Matt Bryant
P: Josh Bidwell (11th)

Michael Spurlock got the Bucs’ first kickoff return TD in franchise history this season and averaged 27.8 yards per return, good for 4th best in the league last season. Their punt return game was terrible and I’m guessing that rookie Dexter Jackson will take over those duties.

Matt Bryant had another solid season, nailing 85% of his kicks. Despite being in warm Tampa, Raymond James Stadium isn’t always that easy to kick at because it’s a grass field that’s in so-so conditions at times and it does get windy in Tampa. The Bucs have also had issues with long snappers over the past couple of years, so Bryant making such a high percentage of his kicks is harder than it looks.

Josh Bidwell had a solid all around season, finishing 12th in net, 14th in gross and 18th in percentage of punts returned.

Generally Gruden’s special teams have never been all that great. So don’t expect them to put in a spectacular season any time soon.


OUTLOOK

The Bucs seem to fit the profile of one of those Fab Four teams that wind up missing the playoffs the very next season. They went 9-7 last year and even though they tanked the last few games since they were already in the playoffs, that record sounds about right as there were games they won were they got a bit lucky.

The Bucs should continue to remain conservative mainly because they don’t have much explosion on offense, but Jeff Garcia is going to remain a conservative Quarterback. Defensively, they should stay strong as Monte Kiffin is probably the greatest defensive coordinator in football. So expect the defense to be at least pretty stingy.

Despite my thoughts of the Bucs having a down season, I think they are still headed in the right direction. The problem people don’t realize is that this was an aging team when Gruden took over on both offense and defense and they didn’t do themselves any favors with Rich McKay’s mismanagement of the salary cap. But in the meantime the Bucs have done a decent job of drafting and managing the salary cap. The next step is to find a franchise Quarterback of the future.



YR’S PREDICTION 2008 RECORD: 7-9

pewtersurf

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#1 : June 24, 2008, 10:26:42 AM

Projected RBs are EG and Caddy? Wheres Dunn....   Donald Penn may not even play this year

Get your Battle Flag!  Join the Fight!

Ladyfan

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#2 : June 24, 2008, 10:38:55 AM

Agree.  This sounds like it might have been written awhile ago.  Otherwise interesting comments.  I don't agree with the outcome though.  I believe the oline will begin to take root this year and win us a couple of games we lost last year.  Even with other teams
improving as well, our D is still dominant and getting younger while still having veteran leadership.  I say a solid 10-6 with a possible 11-5 and again winning the Southern Division.  Also we go past one and out this year...depending on who we play after that, it could get very interesting...


TBayXXXVII

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#3 : June 24, 2008, 10:44:54 AM

"The next step is to find a franchise Quarterback of the future.  YR’S PREDICTION 2008 RECORD: 7-9"


These last 2 statements say 1 thing.  START McCOWN!

benchwarmer69

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#4 : June 24, 2008, 11:48:36 AM

IMO people put too much hype into our schedule this year. Not realizing that we aren't the same team. We've had upgrades on both sides of the ball, managed money pretty well in FA & Draft, and it seems like all the rooks are comming around. I don't know of any other team this year that can say all that about themselves. Imo, It's a balancing act that FO has done a good job with. For as many holes as there COULD be in our team since RM left, there isn't many. We should at least be in 11-5/9-7 range. Anything less, is uncivilized.

No mention of W. Dunn or Bennett?

"without getting killed against the run"<----- hahahaha! :D
 
"They drafted Aqib Talib, an athletically gifted corner with some character concerns."....

I thought all he did was smoke some pot in college?? ALL college kids at least try it at one time or another....Give me a break. Was there something worse that I haven't read about yet? Because to me, that just "normal" college behavior and shouldn't be cause for alarm. If he didn't do something, THEN I'd worry lol.

It was also funny how there was none of that "Claytons slimmed down, so he should be better" crud. The writer made ONE mention of him (about rook season) so I'm guessing he/she hasn't fallen for that yearly belief some of us get this time of year. Seems like an old post, just slightly updated. Still, it's a pretty positive analysis (except for the 7-9 ending)..... At least there's that. ::)


Badabing

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#5 : June 24, 2008, 04:05:14 PM

1.   Bucs won’t keep two returners on our team.  It’s bad enough we are toying with the idea of keeping 4 QBs and 4 TEs….you want us to keep 2 kick returners?  I guess we will only go with depth at some positions next year.  Expect Dexter Jackson to be the kick/punt returner.
2.   Warrick Dunn has a better shot to be a starter this year then does Caddy.  Caddy may see the field, but he will have limited action.  Luke Pettigout will enter as starter at left tackle.  Penn could still be a key player on our line, but he isn’t penciled in to start.
3.   Good article, All in all, at least you have your head on straight recognizing the talents of, and just how important, Jeff Garcia really is to this football team.  Start Luke McCown, he represents change.  I feel like I could argue politics and football and receive the same result from the liberals/McCown supporters…

JasonOfthetower

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#6 : June 25, 2008, 05:16:12 PM

What the hell is YR?


anterrabae33

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#7 : June 25, 2008, 05:44:55 PM

nice projection...CHAMPIONSHIP....lock it up

benir0

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#8 : June 25, 2008, 06:24:46 PM

What the hell is YR?

Yakuza Rich?

Also...Joseph was covering for True?  Hmmm...

dbucfan

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#9 : June 25, 2008, 07:31:52 PM

Nice effort - needs to be updated. 

\"A Great Coach has to have a Patient Wife, A Loyal Dog, and a Great Quarterback. . . . but not necessarily in that order\" ~ Coach Bud Grant

HughC

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#10 : June 25, 2008, 07:53:35 PM

It's an interesting outlook, and I guess we should be honored that he chose to post it here before he even put it on his own blog.  Maybe it's a rough draft and YR is looking for feedback from Tampa Bay fans who should have more insight about the Bucs than a Cowboy fan does.  On the other hand, being a fan of another team can make him more objective.  I'm just a bit hesitant to throw a lot of credence in to a theory that the only thing you have to do to predict NFL wins and losses is to compare the difference in a team's QB rating on offense and defense.  If I'm going to look at stats (other than wins and losses) I'd like to compare more than just one - you know, don't put all your eggs in one basket.

dbucfan

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#11 : June 25, 2008, 07:55:46 PM

If one wants to use a stat - try points for vs points against - it will lead you towards the winners... LOL

\"A Great Coach has to have a Patient Wife, A Loyal Dog, and a Great Quarterback. . . . but not necessarily in that order\" ~ Coach Bud Grant

rowdie

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#12 : June 26, 2008, 03:10:11 PM



Also...Joseph was covering for True?  Hmmm...

Yeah, that's pretty much fup'd

DYK, we have a college football forum... http://www.pewterreport.com/forum/index.php?board=5.0

Agent Orange

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#13 : June 27, 2008, 07:07:33 AM

"The next step is to find a franchise Quarterback of the future.  YR’S PREDICTION 2008 RECORD: 7-9"


These last 2 statements say 1 thing.  START McCOWN!

imo that's why we'll be 7-9 because there's no way Garcia makes it through the entire season. Even if we did start McCown we'd probably have trouble winning 7 games.

HughC

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#14 : June 28, 2008, 02:46:25 AM

Why is a preview for this season using a pic from 2005?
Maybe it has something to do with the second line of his original post - "PREDICTED 2007 RECORD"

Perhaps between now and Labor Day this rough draft / work in progress will become a finished report and catch up to this calendar year.
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