Happy New Year to all Pewter Report subscribers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans. Prior to the official start of the New Year, I thought I would take the 20th and final Dirty Dozen column of 2007 to self-evaluate the best and worst calls I made during the year. All in all, I’m happiest with my prediction that the Bucs would go 10 – 6 and win the NFC South. However, careful review of some of my prognostications makes me realize I need to keep my day job!
Before we get to the highlights and lowlights, I’d like to get a couple of things off my chest: issue number one is that the Carolina game on Sunday is not meaningless. Teams that go 9-7 don’t do much in the playoffs; neither do teams that have lost three of their last four. The Bucs will play with the second-teamers for most of the Panthers game, but don’t think that getting the win is unimportant. Getting to 10-6 and going 7-1 at home is very important to team momentum and psyche.
Key issue number two is how to beat the Giants. The prescription is actually quite simple. New York quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 19 interceptions and put the ball on the ground another 12 times this season (the Giants recovered three of them). For non-math majors like me, that means he has put the ball in enemy hands 28 times in 15 games, for a rate of almost twice a contest. Want to see a Buccaneer win on January 5? Commit everything to shutting down the run and put the game in Manning’s hands.
On to the Dirty Dozen Year-In-Review:
1) I feel better already now that Raheem Morris is back, don’t you? (January 16, 2007)
2) You do realize that the Bucs are going to wind up with Carr or Garcia, don’t you? The one thing head coach Jon Gruden promised at the end of last season was that a veteran signal caller would be signed to compete with Chris Simms. Presuming you aren’t delirious and like Jake Plummer, the only two guys that fit the bill are Carr and Garcia. You read it here first, one of them is playing in red and pewter next season. (February 25, 2007)
3) Readers of this space know that I’ve been pounding the table for Jeff Garcia since late November. No, he isn’t a Pro Bowler anymore, but aren’t you kind of excited to have a quarterback that can really run a West Coast offense on the roster? Call me optimistic, but if Garcia stays upright I think the Bucs make the playoffs. Yes, he will help that much. Mark it down. (March 12, 2007)
4) Like them or loathe them, you do realize that the Patriots are going to contend for the Super Bowl every year that Tom Brady is still in his prime, right? (March 12, 2007)
5) Last week I predicted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would return to the playoffs after the 2007 season. I left out the best part: the Falcons will finish dead last in the NFC South this season. Send a sympathy card to Ron Mexico. (March 22, 2007)
6) Anyone who still thinks the local fish wraps don’t have an agenda just needs to read the ludicrous season prediction article printed last week. Obviously, most season predictions aren’t worth much, but why do the wraps feel like predicting a five-win season is a good thing to do now? Because the schedule came out? We knew the Bucs’ 2007 opponents months ago. The order now makes a difference? (April 16, 2007)
7) Say all you want about the Patriots, but they rule. They sign guys like Donte Stallworth and Adalius Thomas in the offseason to address their needs, and then they turn the draft into Brandon Meriweather, Randy Moss and the San Francisco 49ers’ first-round pick in 2008. They just get it, people. They were four minutes from the Super Bowl last season. If Brady stays healthy, mark them down as Lombardi favorites in 2007. (May 4, 2007)
8) And don’t forget my prediction that the Bucs are headed back to the playoffs with Garcia at the helm this year. It’s going to happen, folks. Garcia would have been worth three wins last year all by himself. That alone gets you to 7-9 with a horrendous schedule and a soft defense. With the infusion of talent from free agency and the draft, the Bucs will be a stronger, deeper team everywhere in 2007, and the schedule is less daunting. Forget the opponents, just not playing three times in 11 days and not playing four of the last six games on the road makes it easier. (June 15, 2007)
9) Don't pay attention to the national football writers. The Carolina Panthers will be finishing behind the Buccaneers in 2007. Why? Well, they just aren’t very good anymore. Jake Delhomme is finally showing that he really was the luckiest quarterback on the planet (has anyone completed more wounded duck prayers?), and that without a power running game, he can’t put the team on his back. The power running game is long gone, and Deshaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams and Eric Shelton don’t scare anybody. Moreover, the defensive line is not what it was a few years ago, and the linebacking corps is shaky. Good thing the Panthers have invested in good corners. They’ll need ‘em. (June 15, 2007)
10) Yes, Randy Moss is going to have a huge year. You might not like him, but I am setting his over/under on touchdowns at 10. And, if I’m betting, I’m taking the over. (June 15, 2007)
11) I know it looks odd, but given the schedules and improvements made, I think Green Bay and Jacksonville will be much better than what most of the pundits are projecting. (September 6, 2007)
12) On the flipside, I think New Orleans is slated for a fall (September 6, 2007) The Bad
1) From the “Haven’t You Learned Anything” department: The Vegas wise guys have installed the Colts as three-point favorites against the Patriots next week. You’ve got to be kidding me. (January 16, 2007)
2) Gotta love Jerry Jones. Wade Phillips? Wade Phillips?! (February 8, 2007)
3) It says here Plummer is traded before the 2007 season starts. (March 12, 2007)
4) If you aren’t happy with the Bucs’ offseason moves so far, just be glad you aren’t a Giants fan. They took a huge cap hit to get rid of LaVar Arrington after just one season. They now have no left tackle. And, their “splash move” has been to get Reuben Droughns to replace Tiki Barber. Reuben Droughns? When the Browns are giving you their cast-offs to start at running back, it’s time to hang ‘em up. (March 12, 2007)
5) This is not a draft prediction, just one man’s hope: 1) Amobi Okoye, DT Louisville; 2A) Anthony Spencer, DE Purdue; 2B) Brandon Meriweather, S Miami; 3) Josh Beekman, G Boston College; 4) Paul Williams, WR Fresno State; 5) Yamon Figurs, WR Kansas State; 7A) Antonio Johnson, DT Mississippi State; 7B) Daren Stone, S Maine; 7C) Matt Herian, TE Nebraska. (April 16, 2007)
6) The problem with predictions is nobody remembers them (actually, in my case that is usually a good thing.) I mentioned a few weeks ago how absurd it was that Mel Kiper wrote this year that Colorado kicker Mason Crosby “wouldn’t last past the second round.” Not only was Crosby not drafted until the sixth round, but he wasn’t even the first kicker drafted. Hell, two punters and two place kickers were drafted ahead of him! No knock on Mel, because how he remembers all of those facts and reports about players is beyond me, but sometimes he needs an anchor for all of that helium that keeps his hair up. (May 4, 2007)