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September 13, 2011 @ 1:10 pm
Current rating: 3.50 Stars/2 Votes

Stuck On You, Playa

Written by Chidi
Chidi Ahanotu


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Former Bucs defensive end and PewterReport.com columnist Chidi Ahanotu offers up his thoughts on the Bucs' 27-20 loss to the visiting Detroit Lions on opening day, and says Tampa Bay's "playas" need to turn into "players."

After I retired from the NFL in 2005, then-Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden once told me that he had too many “playas” and not enough “players” like me on his Tampa Bay team. By Gruden's definition, a "player" is a guy that loves playing the game of football and is passionate about it. A "playa" is a guy that just loves being an NFL player and the fame and notoriety that comes with it.

In this day of NFL, players are covered head to toe with tattoos, saggin’ skinny jeans, bling-bling, Twitter and Facebook pages and swag. You can always find them in the clubs and the local hot spots. There are a whole lot of “playas” out there. But where are the "PLAYERS?"

Sunday’s performance by Tampa Bay in the Buccaneers’ 27-20 loss to Detroit was more like a music video for “Stuck on You,” the ballad by Lionel Richie. The Bucs “playas” were stuck.

Tampa Bay’s wide receivers were stuck on the Detroit defensive backs and couldn’t get open. The Bucs defensive linemen were stuck on the Lions offensive linemen and couldn’t break free to get much pressure or quarterback sacks against Detroit QB Matthew Stafford. The Bucs' running game was stuck, too, and limited LaGarrette Blount to only five carries for 15 yards.

The only good thing about Sunday’s music video theme of being “Stuck on You” was the fact that the Bucs offensive line was stuck on the Lions’ vaunted defensive line led by Ndamukong Suh and allowed QB Josh Freeman tons of time in the pocket – only Freeman’s wide receivers couldn’t get unstuck and he suffered a couple sacks as a result. Freeman's first and only touchdown of the game came with under two minutes remaining in the contest.

Football is about winning the one-on-one battles. On Sunday in the 2011 season opener, finding a Buccaneer who won a one on one battle was hard to find.

Head Coach Raheem Morris publicly challenged the wide receiver corps to win their one-on-one battles during the preseason. Across the board all these Bucs “playas” need to step it up and realize that last season’s surprise Cinderella team status is over and teams are now targeting these Bucs with a bull’s eye on their heads. 

Guess what, Bucs? Teams are actually revving up and getting pumped up to play against you. You see, the better a team, the more effort opposing teams play with against that team. 

You would think that all teams play with 100 percent effort for every game, but they don’t.  You would think that all players play with 100 percent effort for every one-on-one battle no matter who the opposing player is, but they don’t. 

Maybe these young Bucs thought that they were as great as everyone was saying they were and simply facing the lowly Detroit Lions was going to be a cakewalk. But I can assure you that the Lions didn’t take the Bucs for granted and were prepared 100 percent to win last Sunday’s game. You could see it in the precision on offense and the solid tackling on defense.

A funny thing happens once all the talk is over and it’s actually game time. It’s time to play. After a long season of high projections by the experts, pats on the back, and toasts all around, the Bucs now are faced with a daunting reality whose outcome isn’t looking too promising given Sunday’s “Stuck On You” performance.

After an unprecedented easy summer training camp mandated by the new NFL-NFL Players Association collective bargaining agreement, maybe the Bucs are realizing that they should’ve made training camp a bit harder. The times I attended the Bucs’ one-a-day, full-padded training camp instead of the usual two-a-day NFL training camp practices that I endured as a Buccaneer; it was like watching a spring practice and not a dreaded NFL training camp. With such a young team, I think more preparation through grueling training camps are needed for these young Bucs to help turn these “playas” into “players” in the future.

At halftime of the Bucs vs. Lions game, I attempted to leave the VIP suite area and go outside with my young, 11-year old son, Mayan Ahanotu, who aspires to be the next Freeman. There at the door we were met with a tenacious squadron of security at Raymond James Stadium, who drilled us and put us through hell mistakenly thinking that we actually had come from outside instead of attempting to walk outside. The Raymond James Stadium security blasted us about the stadium’s no re-entry policy.

After several minutes of that confrontation, we eventually got the security to understand that we had not come from outside and returned to our seats in the Pewter Report suite. Unfortunately, that confrontation was the most tenacious exhibit I witnessed at last Sunday’s Bucs vs. Lions game. It was much more intense than watching the Bucs players seemingly married to the Lions player in front of them – stuck on them for four quarters of a rather boring NFL season opener.

So here the Buccaneers are at 0-1, and this is where we find them facing reality. When reality strikes you in the face either panic sets in or you can dig in and fight. Morris said his young team “blinked” versus the Lions.

Let’s hope these young Bucs are digging in this week. Let’s hope that these young Bucs are strapping it up and will fight this week.

Let’s hope these young “playas” start becoming “players” and start backing up all the brash talk and win their one-on-one battles. Let’s hope that the Bucs theme song changes from Lionel Richie’s “Stuck on You” to rapper Eminem’s hardcore hit, “Drop The Bomb.” 

If not we will all be cradled to sleep by the soothing tones of Mr. Richie for the entire 2011 NFL season.

Chidi Ahanotu was an NFL defensive end for 12 seasons, including eight with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993-2000). Ahanotu is the fifth all-time leading sacker in Buccaneers history with 34.5 QB captures. His career-high 10 sacks in 1997 helped the Bucs make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years and led to him being Tampa Bay's franchise player in 1998.

Aside from being a columnist for PewterReport.com, Ahanotu is the owner of Cigars of Soho, which is located at 212 S. Armenia Ave. in Tampa, Fla. To visit the Cigars of Soho Facebook page, click here. Cigars of Soho is open until midnight every night.

Cigars of Soho is the only South Tampa cigar lounge open after dinner to enjoy a nice cigar. Wednesday night is poker night at 9:00 p.m., and the lounge has NFL games on high definition TV on Sunday and Monday nights.

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 September 2011 12:29

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  • avatar

    I agree with many here: I like the article, but kind of disagree. I don't see any "playas". Fro two years now I have seen alot of young guys working hard to get better. I see Clayborne, Price, and Bowers doing everything they can to get on the field. ----------- I think it might be time for Raheem to start toning down the optimistic approach. I get it, he has a young team he wants to instill confidence in and it worked last year, but it might be time to step it up and be alittle more like Tomlin: when a part of the game or team, or defense or offense sucks---- just say so. ------------- I do NOT, however, like calling out individual players (like he does with Hayes).
  • avatar

    @Mjohnson062- Your profile pic makes me laugh I don't know if that was intentional to be funny but mission accomplished anyway. We lost the games in the trenches The Lions stopped our run and ran successfully against us and had all day to throw end of story. You see that article could have been summed up in three lines.
  • avatar

    I hope they read this article, because it's what they need to hear.
  • avatar

    This game is entertainment, reading articles about the game is entertainment. So, whether you agree with Chidi or not, his article was very well written, entertaining and his position well presented. I enjoyed this article more than most. He made his statement clear, with style and humor. Very cool.
  • avatar

    Chidi, it's articles like this that keeps Pewter Report credibility at it's best. Some other site lack this quality journalism. Week one showed me that Week 15 is the mindset of this team and until they grow up out of this trend this may be a mediocre (better than the worst) type mentality team. I kind of regret getting the NFL package just to watch the Bucs because that's my hard earned cash. I hope they get better.
  • avatar

    Another excellent piece Chidi. I think the young Bucs thought they could just show up while the Lions played like they had something to prove. This was a good learning experience and may prove to be beneficial in the way the youngsters approach the rest of the season. I couldn't believe it when my daughter Joanie said she smoked a cigar at your place. Funny.
  • avatar

    @Scubog, Thats funny. You are Joanie's Dad? Yes I got her to try a Java Chocolate Mint Rocky Patel cigar. She went from bored and out of it to gushing with laughter and having a good time. Thats why I am in the business to see people enjoy life. Salute to you.
  • avatar

    What I don't understand, is why did Blount only get 5 carries, IN THE WHOLE GAME! The game plan was terrible. Even with that, they only lost by 7 points.
  • avatar

    The Lions just beat the Bucs last Sunday...how are they not the better team? If we were outcoached are coaches not part of the team? A team goes from the owners all the way down to the ball boys. I judge a team by wins and losses, not by talent or the number of pro bowlers a team has. I fully expect the Bucs to prove they have a better team than Minnesota next Sunday.
  • avatar

    I don't know. After we got our butts handed to us by New England we looked much improved the next week so hopefully this loss will light a fire under these guys. One thing is for sure...Detroit is for real. They were last year and they darn sure are this year with Stafford back. It wouldn't surprise me a bit when we do finally win our division if we aren't playing the Lions as we go for the NFC championship. Experts have them at .500 this year but I see them as better than that.
  • avatar

    From the sound of it, I'm glad I neither saw nor heard the game lasst week as I was on vacation out of range for any electronics. I started saying 3/4s through last years season that I wish Josh Freeman wouldnt waot until the 4th Q to win the dman game! And why is only Graham trained to play during the hurry up offense??? Huh? How narrow minded is that??? I think that the whole team and the front office as well, drank the kool ade and took their foot off the pedal in preparing for this season. And that includes trying to find 7th round guys as good as first to third round guys AND recruting already injured players.....WAKE UP! Keeping to a plan by being consistent is great, holding to the plan no matter what by being inflexible is stupid. Every plan needs tweeking now and then. We needed bigger secondary, experienced middle llinebacker who could make the adjustments on the field for the D, and an elusive running back to complliment Blount. Instead we stubbornly stuck to the plan and avoided FA like it was the plague rather than a useful tool to support already good players. Ugh. I hope I llive through this season.
  • avatar

    Okay Ladyfan, so what did you really say? we all want our Bucs to win. How could you not watch the Bucs if you were past the Orlando area?
  • avatar

    I hope that Chidi will talk to ach of the young defensive linemen to tell them what it takes to be the best.GO BUCS
  • avatar

    The Lions are not a better team. They were on Sunday nuff said. They were out coa hed and also Lions came out of preseason red hot. They had a game plan for Stafford and executed it well. I didnt see any explosive plays just methodical short passes and effective running to set up 3rd and shorts. Defense has to get better calling plays and adjusting earlier. Yes its only week one but i expected more from the Bucs vs a team who they apparently planned for and were fired up to play. Amature coaching at best on Sunday. Hurry up early on to get offense going i dont care if blount isnt on field for 4-5 hurry plays they need to start mixing it up more and make the defenses work harder. Then get blount in game when freeman gets in his groove. The passing game was lacking early.
  • avatar

    Freeman and the WR's all got together this offseason to workout together when they weren't getting paid for it. None of the players complained in public about not getting to be on hard knocks. We all applauded their comraderie this offseason and dedication to get better (M. Williams learned all the WR positions) and they lose a game by 6 points and all of sudden they don't like football and just want to be superstars?? Here's what happened: the Lions are better than the Bucs so we lost. Deal with it and lets move on to the Vikings.
  • avatar

    Oh please! It was well said by Ahantou? A player that was not all pro, but a player who earned his due. Stop this nonesense, please.
  • avatar

    D. Ward was a "playa". I refuse to give all the WR's on our team that label just because they couldn't get open last Sunday. The same goes for the D-line, who played well against the run. Holding a healthy J. Best who is a 1st round pick and runs a 4.38 to about 3.4 yds/carry and no TD's is doing a good job against the run in my book. Give some credit where it's due. This team is definitely playing the run better than last year so far.
  • avatar

    I don't understand the judgement that since the Bucs lost their opening game by 6 points that they don't love football and are "playas". Why couldn't they have just been outplayed and outcoached by a better team? The same team that dominated the Patriots in week 3 of the preseason? Half the teams in the league get outplayed and outcoached every week. It feels like every aspect of this team is given an "F" when they lose but only a "B-" when they win.
  • avatar

    A good and entertaining pience, though not a very "deep" analysis of training camp. Buc's brass made a calculated decision to "go soft" at training camp. I think their reasoning was probably good. They had several key players coming to camp off injuries and not 100%. There goal was to start the season healthy, which several notable teams decided was not a top priority. Given all the injuries last year, i can understand the strategy. The fact is we are behind a lot of other teams not only because of our youth but because we went soft in the preseason, which this article rightly points out. But did you look at the injury report already this week? I can't remember a first week with so many players already put on IR, good players such as Beason, Freeman's Carolina nemesis. That's why I said, i want to wait four weeks before I take a measure of the season. In horse racing,m there's a saying, "it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Of course, the horse breaking dead last is pretty well sunk. If we can get a win or two the next three weeks, i think we'll be alright, because this team is going to get better every week. That's bit the story the past two years. I don't think Detroit is that much better than the Buccaneers, but they were certainly better on Sunday. We didn't blink after terrible losses at home to Pittsburgh and New Orleans last year. There are going to be tons of injuries this year all across the league due largely to lack of conditioning. The NFC South may well be a "last man standing" kind of division. And by the way, if you think we stunk, just how bad was Atlanta. Ryan looked like a rookie and Chicago treated the Atlanta defense and offensive line like they were Pop Warner players. Atlanta looked slow, off their game, and unmotivated. Sound familiar?
  • avatar

    Well put.
  • avatar

    The Lions came out hot from preseason, game planned big time for Stafford to make easy plays and have an out when he was in trouble, Stafford new tbis plan inside and out and executed well. The Bucs needed more time in preseason esp the starters. Freeman played like garbage and so did the starting WR in the preseason. Although injury was a risk, the staters needed more time and should have been playing more in preseason. Also Raheem needs to develope his coordinator knowledge more, he was out coached badly and needs to make adjustments earlier. Olsen didnt call plays well either. They put too much on Freeman. They should of had an out on most plays knowing how this D line plays. Checking down is not they way you play but its better then 2nd, 3rd and long. Lets step it up playas!!
  • avatar

    I love the Bucs. I bleed pewter. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Chidi, you hit on something I posted in a different link. I don't think the coaches are to blame for week one loss, except as many of you said, the urgency during the preseason wasn't there. With reality hitting them square in the face, let's hope for some emotional physical football. The offensive line is the best established part of the team with guys like Faine. Thus, I thought they performed the best in game one, and they seemed emotionally focused. Freeman, the WRs, and the defense looked like they were still in "summer" mode. Hopefully now they can bear down and focus on winning the one-on-one battles.
  • avatar

    So the Buc's get up by 10 points and are holding the Lions to field goals. The drives are long, but the result is acceptable for a young defense. Then apparently at some point after the Lions' 2nd or 3rd touchdown the Bucs' went to their 2 min. offense. An offense that took away one of their key offensive weapons in Blount. They then stayed in that offense for the entire 2nd half of the game. Why? Something just doesn't make since. What exactly did the Lions do defensively that caused the Bucs' to abandon their game plan? As Chidi says, it didn't look like it was the Lions' front 4. What gives?
  • avatar

    What? That's nonesense! We got the crap beat out of us.
  • avatar

    I think most of us are with you on all of this. We're really stuck with pretty much what we've got. There's really no help right now that's on the Practice Squad or an ex player sitting at home waiting for the call to come join the Bucs. That might have been one of the reasons why Price played so much and that was a huge risk for him because of what he has gone through. I say on Defense start Bowers, McCoy, Okam, Clayborn, and blitz someone. If we can't put pressure on the QB it doesn't make any difference about what happens after that. On Offense lets get set in a 2 TE, 2 WR and 1 RB and no huddle to make something happen. Lets Go Bucs! Get better!
  • avatar

    @Horse - I agree. In fact, blitz Foster (good against the run or pass). On offense, PLEASE, 3 wides, 1 TE and 1 RB in the flats. Spurlock and Williams down field wide on either side, Benn in the slot (cross, slant, end-around), K2 on the right (post) and Blunt on a release-screen right or left.
  • avatar

    No doubt the players got the message. They have been challenged by their Head Coach along w/ others through multiple media outlets. Whether they respond or not remains to be seen.. I for one think they'll come out swinging vs the Vikes
  • avatar

    Well said Mr. Ahanotu. They should be getting this from the coaches as well, but I suspect they were a part of the problem as well. Stepping it up and winning the one-on-ones is where it all starts though, and they definitely lost the majority of those. Nice to have an actual, former PLAYER tell it like he sees it. Hopefully they'll wake up if they confused "wow, better than expected, keep up the HARD work" with "wow, you've arrived", which clearly they haven't. Stay HUNGRY and mean Bucs, you're STILL the underdogs. You're STILL expected to LOSE. MAKE us all eat our words, don't ask, MAKE. Go Bucs!!!
  • avatar

    Well done Chidi!!!
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