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Publisher Scott Reynolds
“I’ll have to go back and watch the film to confirm this, but during most of the plays I watched him, rookie guard Davin Joseph played very well in his first NFL start. He and fellow rookie right tackle Jeremy Trueblood have a great rapport with each other and are playing better than I thought they would. Trueblood doesn’t look like a guy who has just two NFL starts under his belt and Joseph doesn’t look like a first-time starter. The one thing Joseph really has going for him is his wide body. His frame really aids him in pass protection because he’s so big that it takes defenders a while to get around him.”

“If the reports from various pre-game shows are correct, the Buccaneers are shopping around several veterans, especially the high-priced ones on defense. Under tackle Booger McFarland, who had a decent game today, but was upstaged against the Bengals by his backup, Ellis Wyms, who had two sacks, needs to be traded. Simeon Rice’s production isn’t matching his paycheck and isn’t going to be more dominant in the coming years than he has been from 2001-05. He too needs to be traded. Chris Simms needs to be traded, too. General manager Bruce Allen needs to stockpile as many draft picks as possible to help rebuild the defense with youthful playmakers. Yes, the Bucs have a feel-good affair after winning their first game against the Bengals. But the reality is this team is still 1-4 and not going to the playoffs due to a very challenging schedule that lies ahead. Dumping high-paid underachievers is still the right call for Allen to make. Being 1-4 instead of 0-5 isn’t going to change much this year.”

“It was nice to see a balanced passing attack between Michael Clayton and Joey Galloway. Galloway had seven catches for 67 yards and Clayton had six grabs for 55 yards and the game-winning touchdown against Cincinnati. The more Clayton steps up, the more difficult it will become for defenses to focus on Galloway. Jon Gruden’s offense has room for two 1,000-yard receivers like he had in Oakland with Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. Clayton and Galloway won’t get to 1,000 yards apiece this year, but more days like today will chart a course for that possibility in the future.”

“With a six-tackle, two-sack performance against the Bengals, Ellis Wyms deserves to start at under tackle next week against Philadelphia. The reality is that he and Booger McFarland actually split the snaps about 50-50 at under tackle. But Wyms should be rewarded for stepping up and making the most of his opportunities today. As part of a defensive line that was called out by the media and head coach Jon Gruden last week, Wyms answered the call.”

“I found it curious how Cadillac Williams had 100 yards rushing at the start of the fourth quarter and only got one carry on Tampa Bay’s final two drives, the first of which started at the 10:28 mark in the fourth quarter. That lone carry was a minus-6-yard run that negated his 100-yard day. Of the Bucs’ 17 plays on their final two drives, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden called for rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski to throw the ball 16 times. With plenty of time – Tampa Bay’s last two drives came at 10:28 and 4:21 – in the fourth quarter to only run the ball one time is just baffling, especially with a guy who is averaging 4.9 yards per carry.”

Editor-In-Chief Jim Flynn
“I wasn’t a big fan of Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden’s offensive game plan today. When you face a run defense that ranks 27th in the league, is surrendering 144 yards rushing per game and is without two of its starting linebackers, you have to run the football. Gruden did not. Instead, he opted to put the ball in the hands rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. In fact, Gradkowski threw the ball a whopping 44 times in a game that never had one team leading by more than one score. To his credit, Gradkowski completed 25 of his passes and threw for 184 yards and tossed two touchdowns, including the game-winner to Michael Clayton with 35 seconds remaining in the game. Gradkowski struggled to hit his receivers on a consistent basis and was even intercepted. He really struggled with the deep ball. In the meantime, running back Cadillac Williams was having a good day, and he carried the ball 19 times for 94 yards (4.9 avg.) on Sunday. Sure, the offensive line’s untimely penalties put the Bucs in some long down-and-distance situations, and left guard Dan Buenning’s absence and Sean Mahan’s presence at left guard might have prompted Gruden to throw more often in this game, but Gruden needs to run the football more. The Bucs were fortunate to escape this game with a win after asking their rookie signal caller to throw the ball 44 times.”

“Don’t look now, but Bucs rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski has thrown four touchdowns and one interception in his first two NFL starts. To put that number in perspective, Chris Simms had tossed six interceptions and no touchdowns in his first two starts this season. He wasn’t as sharp as he was in his debut last Sunday in New Orleans, but Gradkowski still managed to make enough plays to help the Buccaneers win their first game of the year. Even when he’s not at his best, Gradkowski still finds a way to lead the Bucs on a game-winning touchdown drive, and make the game-winning touchdown throw. That’s what he did in college, and he did it again on Sunday. That’s why you can’t help but like this kid.”

“Tampa Bay’s defense, which was criticized quite often this week for its lackluster play, answered those critics Sunday by shutting down a potent Cincinnati offense. While the Bucs defense allowed the Bengals to produce 305 yards, it held Bengals RB Rudi Johnson to 52 yards on 17 carries (3.1 avg.) and allowed QB Carson Palmer to throw for just 261 yards. Tampa Bay’s defensive line, namely backup defensive tackle Ellis Wyms, came up big by stopping the run and sacking Palmer twice. While its performance Sunday was definitely a step in the right direction, Tampa Bay’s defense still needs to find a way to create more turnovers. The Bucs have recorded just one interception through five regular season games this year. That’s simply not good enough.”

“You can’t help but be concerned about cornerback Brian Kelly’s turf toe injury, which continues to linger. After missing a significant amount of playing time in training camp and preseason, and Tampa Bay’s Week 3 contest vs. Carolina, due to that injury, Kelly was made inactive again Sunday due to the degenerative foot ailment. That isn’t a good sign for the Bucs defense at all. This unit is vulnerable in the secondary when Kelly isn’t on the field. Juran Bolden, who replaced Kelly in the starting lineup vs. Cincinnati, allowed Bengals WR Chad Johnson to haul in a 51-yard pass in the second half. The Bucs are reportedly interested in trading for Bills CB Nate Clements, and given the fact that Kelly still is plagued by the turf toe injury, no one should be surprised to see the team pull off that trade or another one that lands the Bucs a veteran cornerback.”

Contributing Writer Mark Lennox
“You can’t say that this was a must-win situation because in my opinion, the Buccaneers are already in too deep of a hole to dig out of. My gut tells me this is just another 5-11 season brewing in the coffee pot. And with that, the fallout will begin. This win merely holds off the dogs for another week, but let’s not forget that the Buccaneers schedule does not get any easier. Of the Buccaneers remaining opponents, only three (Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Washington) have losing records. I think that Buccaneers fans are in for a roller coaster for the rest of the season. Realistically, the Buccaneers will likely have to go 9-2 down the stretch to have any hopes of making the playoffs.”

“Cadillac Williams is finally back on track. Returning to Rookie of the Year form may be the only shot the Buccaneers have at a turnaround. Over the last two contests, Williams has rumbled for 205 yards, including 94 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals.”

“Perhaps the biggest run of the game came in the third quarter when Williams broke free down the sideline for a 38-yard gain. Only Bruce Gradkowski’s scrambles for first downs were more significant.”

“After being stifled for the first three games of the season, Williams has put in back-to-back outstanding performances. Through the first four games of his rookie season, Williams rushed for more than 400 yards, a rookie record. With a rookie quarterback at the helm of the offense, the Buccaneers will look to rely on their workhorse to get tough yards and take pressure off Gradkowski.”

“Although Williams was held out of the end zone, his ability to pick up yards on the ground keeps the defense honest and puts less pressure on Gradkowski to make big plays.  Behind the 126 yards on the ground, Tampa Bay was able to gain 300 yards of total offense despite having starting two rookies on the offensive line and a rookie starting quarterback running the offense.”

“Williams averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the ground against the Bengals.  Next week, the Bucs face a much stouter defense against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Buccaneers hopes for turning the season around circle around whether or not Williams can perform at a high level week-to-week.”

“Kudos to the offensive line for producing despite having two rookies playing on the right side.  On Williams’ 38-yard run, rookie Jeremy Trueblood made an excellent block that sprung Williams free. If the Buccaneers could get better performances out of center John Wade and left guard Dan Buenning, they would have quite the formidable offensive line. But honestly, have you ever seen a team get two tripping penalties in the same game? It’s ridiculous.”

“Tight end Alex Smith is turning into old faithful down by the goal line, something Bucs fans envisioned him being after his two-touchdown performance against the Vikings in Week 1 of the 2005 season. Following that game, Smith was held scoreless for the remainder of the season. Smith has caught touchdowns in back-to-back games, on the same play. Gradkowski to Smith might be the next great quarterback to tight end combination in the National Football League. Smith has the tools and intangibles to become a special player.”

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