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Publisher Scott Reynolds"When you go to the Buccaneers' official website, the first thing you see is a full-page ad for individual ticket sales for the home opener against Atlanta. That means that the 2008 home opener is not sold out yet, which is not a good sign. For the record, during the first televised preseason game at Miami, the Bucs ran exactly 10 commercials for individual game tickets over the three-hour period. No commercials for Buccaneers.com. No commercials for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders swimsuit calendars. No commercials for Bucs merchandise on Buccaneers.com. Just commercial individual game tickets. All three of those entities were advertised last year, but with plenty of seats available for all eight homes games, the obvious priority is to push individual game ticket sales. Last year, all of the games were sold out by the start of the preseason. This year, not one single game has been declared a sell-out by the Buccaneers yet. That's an ominous sign for Tampa Bay, which barely sold out its home playoff game last year and then raised ticket prices by as much as 25 percent in some seats in the stadium. Don't be surprised if some of the games – even the home opener against the Falcons – are blacked out. To all of the folks who couldn't afford to renew their season tickets due to the current state of the U.S. economy and the untimely ticket price hike, I feel for you. For all of the folks who could afford to renew, but chose not to because they prefer to save their money and sit at home to watch the games on their new wide-screen TVs, you might have made a mistake. You might only be watching the away games on those plasmas and not the home games if there are blackouts, which haven't happened in Tampa Bay since 1998."

"On Friday, the Tampa Tribune reported that the Buccaneers were moving Greg White back to right defensive end. Yet in the Jacksonville game, the vast majority of White's playing time came at left end. After being named Pewter Report's 2007 Defensive MVP after recording eight sacks and seven forced fumbles from the right side, White should be playing right end. He clearly hasn't made any impact plays from the left end position in three preseason games, while Gaines Adams hasn't made any from the right end spot. Why in the world did the Bucs mess with a good thing? Adams got almost all of his seven sacks, including his postseason QB capture of Eli Manning, from the left side where he was able to use his speed to take advantage of slower right tackles. As previously mentioned, White flourished at right end. In fact, his lone rep at right end forced Jaguars quarterback Cleo Lemon to step into the arms of pass rushing under tackle Jimmy Wilkerson for a sack. If I'm Monte Kiffin, I got back to what produced a combined 15 sacks in 2007 to start the season and end this failed experiment right away. Who cares if Adams was drafted to be the next Simeon Rice-like rusher from the quarterback's blind side. If he's more effective at left end, leave him there."

"I don't care how much money the Bucs paid defensive lineman Marques Douglas in the offseason (Douglas' 2008 cap value is $2.6 million and includes a $1.6 million roster bonus). The veteran isn't worth it. He's made five tackles through three games, including two against Jacksonville, but has been outplayed by fellow newcomer, defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson, who has six tackles, two sacks, one fumble recovery and one quarterback hurry and one pass defensed. I think he's also been outperformed by second-year defensive lineman Greg Peterson, who has five tackles, one tackle for loss and has applied more QB pressure than Douglas has. Wilkerson is an obvious keeper, but if I'm Jon Gruden or Bruce Allen, I would rather keep a young defensive tackle like Peterson, who has an upside over the 31-yard old Douglas, who doesn't appear to be quick enough off the ball to be a great fit for Monte Kiffin's team."

"With cornerback Ronde Barber turning 33 this year, the Bucs would be wise to keep undrafted rookie free agent Elbert Mack over veteran Eugene Wilson if Tampa Bay is weighing both players for one roster spot. Mack has an interception, six tackles and two pass breakups during the preseason, while Wilson has four tackles and has yet to make a play on the ball through three games. In fact, his biggest play was a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty against Jacksonville. Wilson has struggled in his transition to playing cornerback in the Tampa 2 and Mack appears to have more upside, especially since he recorded eight interceptions to lead the NCAA at Troy last season. The Bucs shouldn't take the chance of trying to sneak Mack on the practice squad. He's earned a spot on the roster in my book."

Editor-In-Chief Jim Flynn
"Teams typically rest their starters and opt to feature players that aren't going to make the 53-man roster in their preseason finale. Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia threw two interceptions vs. Jacksonville on Saturday night. To put that number in perspective, Garcia tossed a total of four interceptions during the 2007 regular season. Then again, three of Garcia's picks came vs. the Jaguars in that regular season loss, which means Garcia has thrown a total of five interceptions in his last two meetings with Jacksonville. After watching Garcia struggle on Saturday night, the Bucs should seriously consider taking a different approach to their preseason finale vs. the Texans on Thursday night by playing their offensive starters for at least the first half. Garcia, who missed most of training camp and Tampa Bay's first two preseason games with a calf injury, clearly looked rusty. He completed 11-of-18 (61.1 percent) passes for 79 yards. While he tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Clayton, Garcia's two interceptions to safety Reggie Nelson were ugly, and so were some of his other errant passes. Tampa Bay's offense has been without several key starters, including Garcia, wide receiver Joey Galloway (groin), fullback B.J. Askew (ankle) and guard Davin Joseph (foot). This offense needs those players to get healthy, but just as important is the offense's need to find its rhythm and enter the 2008 regular season with confidence and momentum. If you don't believe that, go back and look at the events that transpired leading up to Tampa Bay's playoff loss to the New York Giants."

"The most disappointing aspect of Tampa Bay's 23-17 loss to Jacksonville was the offense's carelessness with the football. After going two straight preseason games without a turnover, the Bucs offense turned the ball over three times alone in the first half on Saturday night thanks to running back Earnest Graham's fumble and Jeff Garcia's two interceptions. Tampa Bay finished the game with four turnovers and a missed 23-yard field goal by kicker Matt Bryant. That's not the type of production an offense should be having in Week 3 of the preseason and it's definitely cause for concern."

"Bucs rookie guard Jeremy Zuttah fared better than I thought he would in place of guard Davin Joseph, who is sidelined with a broken foot. Zuttah played with good technique and held his own vs. the Jaguars' physical defensive tackles. But while he successfully engaged the defenders, Zuttah did not have much luck moving Jacksonville's bigger defensive linemen, such as defensive tackle Rob Meir, off the ball, which hindered Tampa Bay's ground game, which is expected to lead the way for the Bucs offense this year. All in all, it was still a decent start for the rookie out of Rutgers."

"If Tampa Bay's defensive line can be more consistent in its effort to get after the quarterback it is going to be a dominate unit in 2008. The Bucs have been swarming to the football all training camp and preseason, and Saturday night's game was no different. Tampa Bay held its first two preseason opponents to less than 200 yards of total offense, and it nearly accomplished that feat for the third straight week by holding the Jaguars to 201 total yards. What was even more impressive was Tampa Bay's ability to hold Jacksonville to 37 yards rushing on 26 carries (3.4 avg.). The longest run produced by the Jaguars was just 9 yards. Granted, Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury, but Tampa Bay's defense can hold its head high after the team's 23-17 loss to Jacksonville."

Beat Writer Writer Charlie Campbell
"Is it time to start a quarterback controversy? This Pewter Reporter thinks it is almost that time. This opinion is not just based on starting quarterback Jeff Garcia’s performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It is based off of the organized team activities, the mini-camp, the training camp comprised of missed practice, his preseason performance, and questionable arm strength. Garcia is a good quarterback, but given the amount of time he has missed it is a valid question to wonder if the team would be better off starting backup Brian Griese against New Orleans“Griese has been sharp in the preseason and has engineered long drives in every preseason contest. Griese has taken more reps in practice and is more in tune with his blockers and receivers. Garcia seemed hesitant to push the ball downfield at all, and when he did those passes were not well thrown."

"The importance of the first game of the season can not be understated. True, the Buccaneers started their Super Bowl season by losing to New Orleans, but this a different year and a different Tampa Bay team. It would give the Saints a huge advantage to show up in the Superdome with a rusty quarterback. Jeff Garcia is not the only one who could be rusty as fullback B.J. Askew and wide receiver Joey Galloway have had little to barely none practice time respectively."

"At this time, the opinion here is that Brian Griese gives the Buccaneers a better chance to win against the Saints. Jeff Garcia is a more a proven quarterback that can lead a team to the playoffs, but Griese is the quarterback that is more capable to get the Bucs a huge win to start the season. Griese did that in Minnesota to start off the 2005 season, and looks like the best option to that in 2008."

“Throughout the preseason the Bucs rotate players into the special teams units to see which players earn the final roster spots to be special teams leaders. The coverage units have been pretty solid in the three-preseason games, but the return units have left a lot to be desired, evidenced by the team's 17-yard kick return average against the Jaguars. Versus Jacksonville, the blocking on the returns was most ineffective thus far."

“Rookie returner Dexter Jackson had nowhere to run on his two kickoff attempts. Jackson had two returns for 32 yards, an average of 16 yards. Micheal Spurlock had the exact same numbers. Clifton Smith was the only returner to have anything better with a 21-yard return. The punt return unit fared much better. Jackson had one return for 13 yards and Smith had a return that went for 11 yards."

“The Bucs need the special teams units to produce this season. It would be a major boost to this team if they had dangerous return units that consistently gave the offense short fields to work with. They drafted Dexter Jackson in the second round with this contribution in mind. Outside of a 30-yard punt return by Smith, in three games that is the only splash play the team has had in the return game. It should be a little concerning for the Buccaneers that only one splash play has been made in the return game after three contests.”

 


Want the inside scoop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2008 season? Want to find out how the Bucs are planning to defeat their opponents, defend the NFC South division title and target players in free agency and the draft in 2009? Subscribe to PewterReport.com's Pewter Insider by clicking here.

WATCH Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds and Jim Flynn on select Sunday nights at 11:30 p.m. on Sports Zone with Al Keck and Tom Korun on ABC Action News in Tampa Bay for Bucs game highlights and the latest Bucs news. And for the best local coverage of Tampa Bay sports and Tampa Bay news, check out ABCActionNews.com.

LISTEN to Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds each Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. on the PewterReport.com Buccaneer Blitz with Steve Duemig on WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal.

 

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