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dbucfan

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: July 06, 2008, 10:23:08 PM

That would be an unreasonable expectation doc', this area does not have a sports writer that deep.  But the simplistic birhday info - that is a giveaway - they are out of stuff to right - or even make up - so the beginning of camp is just around the corner - robins in the spring, swallows in Capistrano - team age article - all signify time of the year...

\"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



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#1 : July 06, 2008, 08:31:04 PM

What I find most Ironic about this article is that the alternative hypothesis was never mentioned.  i.e. that the local idiots were wrong and Gruden never really hated rooks, but was in a situation that those were better decisions.  But that would be impossible....


dbucfan

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#2 : July 06, 2008, 10:05:06 AM

Just seeing this annual offering lets you know the season is approaching -

By ANWAR S. RICHARDSON

The Tampa Tribune

Published: July 6, 2008

TAMPA - TAMPA - Bucs coach Jon Gruden takes more hits than a pinata at a birthday party, but it might be time to stop swinging at him in one area.

One of the biggest criticisms of Gruden during his six seasons in Tampa Bay has been that he does not like young players. Some believe Gruden would rather start an old man in a wheelchair than any young person who has a MySpace or Facebook account.

That just does not seem to be true anymore.

The majority of starters on Tampa Bay's roster were 30 or younger last season. Some will quickly point to 38-year-old quarterback Jeff Garcia as proof of Gruden's age discrimination, but it is hard to argue against playing a four-time Pro Bowl player.

In fact, it is hard to argue against any of Tampa Bay's elders. Linebacker Derrick Brooks (35), cornerback Ronde Barber (33) and receiver Joey Galloway (36) were still among the best players in the NFL last season. Defensive lineman Kevin Carter (34) started 14 games last year, and his locker room presence and leadership proved to be so valuable, the Bucs re-signed him after last season. Receiver Ike Hilliard (32) proved to be Tampa Bay's most consistent receiver and has Carter-like leadership qualities.

Remove those talented players from Tampa Bay's age equation and the remaining players are impressive.

The average age of Tampa Bay's starting offensive line last season was 25, including 10-year veteran center John Wade. Tampa Bay had the youngest offensive line in the NFL last season and averaged 4.17 yards per rush, the second-best mark in team history, and averaged 117 rushing yards per game. The offense also scored 334 points, fourth-best in club history.

Tampa Bay's youth movement continued this offseason when it signed free-agent center Jeff Faine (27) to replace Wade, which could help build one of the best NFL offensive lines for many years.

Staying on offense, the Bucs granted contract extensions to running back Earnest Graham (28) and fullback B.J. Askew (27) and re-signed running back Michael Bennett (29). Gruden also expects receiver Maurice Stovall (23) to have a breakthrough season, while Michael Clayton has potential to resurrect his career at 25.

Garcia and Brian Griese (33) may not be the future of Tampa Bay's offense, but not only does quarterback Luke McCown (26) have a realistic chance to be the backup this season, he could become a starter down the line.

Tampa Bay's defense ranked second in the NFL last season and was first in pass defense. Defensive end Greg White (28) led the team with eight sacks and rookie Gaines Adams (25) had six, which was more than any other rookie last season.

In addition, defensive tackle Jovan Haye (26) had six sacks last season and Tampa Bay rewarded him with a contract worth $2 million a year, while tackle Chris Hovan recently turned 30.

If you look at other key members of the defense, such as linebackers Barrett Ruud (25) and Cato June (28), cornerback Phillip Buchanon (27) and safeties Jermaine Phillips (30) and Tanard Jackson (23), the Bucs have players who can perform at a high level for many years.

One thing has become apparent. As Gruden, 44, gets older, he continually evolves as a coach.

Gruden once practiced his players into the ground, but he routinely rests veterans and he fought to have an indoor practice facility during training camp. He also has become more liked by his players and is leading a youth movement on his team.

Nobody is saying Gruden cannot improve as a coach. He still needs to develop a receiver who can complement Galloway and he needs several candidates capable of eventually replacing him. He also has yet to put together consecutive winning seasons since taking over in 2002.

That said, Gruden has disproved any notion he still dislikes young players.

Those who think so should removed their blindfolds before taking another swing.


\"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
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