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September 27, 2011 @ 9:28 am
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Nothing Spectacular – Just "Buc Ball"

Written by Chidi
Chidi Ahanotu


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One day Tampa Bay will develop into a fearsome, elite NFL team. But in the meantime, the young, hungry Buccaneers are growing up and winning games with a gritty, hard-nosed style known as "Buc Ball" – as Atlanta found out on Sunday, losing 16-13 at Raymond James Stadium.

In a league like the NFL where every year any team can win it all, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have proven that they are right smack dab in the middle of the chase for the Lombardi Trophy. In this day and age of parity in the NFL, there are many close games that go down to the wire and the point differential is so slight.

Winning games in today’s NFL has come down to which team can make the least amount of mistakes and costly errors. Some say the Bucs have been winning ugly over the past two weeks. I say the Bucs have been winning soundly instead of ugly.

Tell me how many fumbles have the Bucs lost? How many interceptions? How many sacks has the offensive line given up? How many long plays have the Bucs been gashed for on the ground and in the air? How many big plays on special teams or costly mistakes have been committed? Generally speaking, the answer is not very many – certainly not enough to lose, which the Bucs haven’t done over the past two weeks.

As I said in last week’s article, the Bucs’ “Great Wall” of offensive linemen has once again proven impenetrable, allowing zero sacks of quarterback Josh Freeman. And when the “Great Wall” must move, it plows forward methodically, allowing bruising running back LeGarrette Blount to wear down opposing defenses.

While still hindered by a wide receiving corps that has trouble getting open and winning its one-on-one battles, Freeman has been solid in his decision-making, resulting in very few turnovers – the costliest of which was his first quarter interception in the end zone on first-and-goal from the Atlanta 4 in the first quarter.

On the defensive side of the ball, I see some trained killers blossoming. I am still convinced that defensive end Adrian Clayborn is the next coming of an All-Pro player like Clay Matthews and he is my top pick to eventually become the dominant leader of this young bunch of defensive players. Clayborn recorded his first sack and forced fumble of his young NFL career on Sunday.

Even though the Bucs faced an Atlanta offense that was near top of the league in sacks allowed with nine, I look at passion, intensity and desire, which have poked its head out in flashes with this young group. The group as a whole is starting to play with a spirit of nastiness developing that is what we like to call “Buc Ball.” After a slow start in Week 1 against Detroit and the first half of Week 2 at Minnesota, these young QB hunters have started to grow some teeth.

The Bucs may very well win the NFC South division this year, but have yet to beat a true contender. With the Vikings proving inept at 0-3 and the Falcons having only beaten an underachieving, mistake-prone Philadelphia Eagles team that is only 1-2, Tampa Bay has yet to show it has risen to the ranks of the elite teams in the NFL.

Next week’s opponent, the Indianapolis Colts, will prove no better of a challenge, although the Colts did play tough in a home loss against a strong Pittsburgh team this past weekend on Sunday Night Football.

But Monday Night Football seems to bring out the best in teams’ performances … or the worst. My belief is the Bucs will use this national stage on Monday Night Football against the Colts and take their game to the next level and grow fangs.

For many teams in the NFL, a winning streak stretch of two games provides valuable momentum, which is priceless in the NFL. As confidence levels soar and these young Bucs ride on the momentum they have created, this Monday Night Football game will give this team the opportunity to finish the first quarter of the season riding high at 3-1.

In a division that seems up for grabs with the Falcons and Panthers proving beatable and mistake-prone, leaving only the Saints to be truly worried about; these young Bucs may very well win the division playing this type of sound football. It may not be pretty or spectacular, but the Bucs are proving that slow and steady is beating the fast pizzazz-like teams. Methodically, playing through all four quarters of football and finishing when they get to the fourth quarter, the Bucs are proving to be a notch above the pack of below-average to above-average teams. With a 2011 schedule that is full of these type of middle-of-the road teams, the only games that are against upper echelon teams are against the reigning NFL champion Green Bay Packers, former Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints and the upstart Houston Texans.

As this season progresses, I will enjoy watching these young Bucs continue to grow teeth. As the years go by and these players have the chance to gel by playing together and grow together, I am still convinced that with the addition of a key dominant leader-type player at the linebacker position and at the wide receiver position, these young Bucs can shape into a feared, upper echelon opponent.

Until then it will be nothing spectacular, but Tampa Bay will win with sound play. With an offense that makes few costly mistakes with a ground and pound run game; coupled with a defense that gets nastier and nastier as the season progresses, championships have been won with teams like this, as the Bucs have proven before in 2002, winning Super Bowl XXXVII. We call it “Buc Ball.”

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 Wednesday, 05 October 2011 15:24

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  • avatar

    Chidi, I really enjoy your articles. If we can win these next two games then it really is the old Buc's and "Buc Ball". This is encouraging and thank you for pointing some of them out. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Last Sundays game was Buc Ball def. In addition to your comments about needing LB help and WR ( don't we just need the one's we havge to separate from coverage. Not easy but necessary.) But don't we need a shifty RB? Even more? After watching the Colts game Monday, I believe we can beat them. They made a lot of mistakes and with no Peyton, well.......need not say more. I say Bucs by 10. Go Bucs
  • avatar

    Our Bucs will need a really good effort from the "Great Wall" to block DEs Freeney and Mathis. GO BUCS!
  • avatar

    The beginning of the end for the "great" Bucs defenses was that Monday Night debacle against the Colts back in '03. Maybe this Monday Night game against the Colts will mark the Bucs re-emergance on defense. I know we are a player or two away, but watching Clayborn, Price, McCoy and Foster last week showed me that they have the talent to be dominant.
  • avatar

    As this season goes by I feel the same thing Chidi. We are a nasty LB away from being very very strong. This team needs to make a Julio Jones type trade to get Burfict. Watching Burfict play gives me chills. Seing him completely STONEWALL USC at the goalline... we need that.
  • avatar

    Thanks Chidi, each week I look forward to your article! I feel that whatever this young defense can do this year is just gravy, I wasn't expecting a lot from them. It's wonderful to see the quick development on the line, and shocking (in a wonderful way) progression of our new MLB. Go Bucs! A new era of Buc Ball!
  • avatar

    I'm not sure "strong" really fits Pittsburg this year. They struggled to beat the Colts when they shouldn't have. Freeman hasn't found his groove yet and the Colts' defense gained some confidence Sunday night. I hope we are ready for the spotlight of Monday Night Football.
  • avatar

    Totally agree about Clayborn being a Clay Matthews type in the making. Not so sure about his being the defensive leader. He just seems like a silent assassin to me. Doesn't say much....just vicious. I still see McCoy or maybe Mason Foster being the leader. They are both more vocal and are more apt to fire the players up. Clayborn is certainly a leader by example and that hit he put on Matty Ice made me shout "YEAH!!!!!" Haven't seen a hit like that since last year when Quincy blitzed and just laid out the QB with a full head of steam. Beautiful thing to watch. Ahhhh yes....Buc Ball.
  • avatar

    Thanks, Chidi! An ugly win is still better than a beautiful lose. Love me some Bucs-ball. The next time I am in Tampa, I will visit Cigars of Soho. Love a bucs win and a nice cigar. Go Bucs!!!!
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