This story is intended to be read by Pewter Insider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers. 1. WR, DE, CB ON THE DRAFT RADAR With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being 0-6 a lot of Bucs fans are starting to look more closely at the 2010 NFL Draft. That focus gained momentum when the organization proved that to be a priority when they traded defensive end Gaines Adams to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick.
In the past few weeks, I've done some digging and have found a few draft prospects that the Bucs are looking at closely. Among them are a wide receiver, a defensive end, and a cornerback. Plus, I found out that one of the top defensive ends in the Draft is not viewed positively at One Buc Place. Considering that is a weak position on the team and in the draft, it is significant that the Buccaneers are not all that interested in one of the few first-round defensive ends that fits their defensive scheme.
All that information can be found in my column in the new Pewter Report magazine. In there I got a great deal of draft info from sources inside the Bucs. You don't want to miss it, click here.
2. FREEMAN DURING THE GAMES Some Bucs fans on the message boards have discussed and wondered about how closely Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is monitoring the game while he has been the backup to Josh Johnson the past three games. Fans have noticed that Freeman does not wear an earpiece to listen to the play calls the way former Bucs quarterbacks used to. Freeman is listening to the plays, and is paying attention to audibles from the offense and defense prior to the snap.
"I have a walkie talkie to listen to the plays," said Freeman. "I stand on the far end with [wide receivers coach] Richard Mann. We call the play, if there are any alerts, I'm watching the defense to see if they are getting in position for them. Pretty much you go through the game from the sideline as if you were in."
I asked Freeman if Mann gives him pointers, or tells him things that he is seeing defenses do. Freeman smirked, and then shook his head no.
"It is kind of mental reps, but really it is observing the game," said Freeman. "You have a broader view so to view everything that is going on. Instead of dropping back and looking left or right you can see the entire field and everything that is going on. It is almost like watching film. You can see what's going on, and if it is time to go in I feel like I'm getting in the rhythm of the game." 3. BUCS MISSING QUARTERBACK COACH During the game Freeman occasionally gets called over to a huddle with offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, and Johnson. The rest of the time during the game Freeman will chat with some teammates and Bucs staff while watching the game. If the Bucs had a quarterbacks coach he could stand by him and get some in-game pointers. Surely a quarterbacks coach might see things from a defense that a 21-year old rookie quarterback might not see.
Olson has to perform both duties due to the Bucs firing Jeff Jagodzinski prior to the start of the regular season. The Glazers, general manager Mark Dominik, and head coach Raheem Morris are all culpable for the mistake of hiring Jagodzinski. Tampa Bay doesn't have a coach that is working with Freeman during games on Sundays, and that is a missed opportunity to prepare Freeman for becoming the starter. It also hurts Freeman if he is called to go in a game due to injury or ineffective play. 4. MORRIS AND DOMINIK DUCK ADAMS QUESTIONS Last Sunday I asked Dominik with Gaines Adams (fourth overall pick 2007 draft), and Dexter Jackson (58th overall pick) not panning out, what does it say about this team's scouting staff?
"I think it is one of those things in what does it say about what we want to do as an organization," Dominik said. "We are going to continue to provide this team with the best players possible. If we don't feel a player can do what we are looking for then we are going to move on and find that type of player."
On Thursday, Morris turned down an interview when told there would be a couple questions regarding Adams. Morris said he wouldn't do the interview because Adams is no longer on the Bucs. Morris wouldn't answer if Adams has to be considered a bust, and what does the miss on Adams indicate about Tampa Bay's ability to evaluate talent.
Due to Morris' refusal to talk, one can only assume that he considers Adams a bust. At the beginning of training camp, Morris laid out the framework for Adams not to be considered a bust.
"Double-digit sacks. That is what he is going to be graded on," Morris said. "There is no secret about it. I have no problem telling Gaines, ‘Hey Gaines, if you don't do it this year, then you are going to be considered a bust.' I told him that in the team meeting. I tell him that every once in a while when we walk out together. He can't wait. He is embracing it, and he is going to come out ready to play. There is no other thing that is going to define Gaines Adams more than his sacks and production. Production speaks volumes. That is how we have always lived."
Dominik and Morris could answer the questions in a few ways to save face and deflect blame. They can claim those players were picks by Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden. Morris can say that in 2007 he was focused on evaluating the two safeties the Bucs drafted, Sabby Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson. Dominik can say that he was a pro scout at the time that was focused on bringing in talent like Donald Penn and Jimmy Wilkerson. However, the whole reason to duck the questions is because Dominik and Morris decided to retain director of college scouting Dennis Hickey, and the majority of the scouting staff when they were put in charge of the Buccaneers.
Typically, shakeups in the scouting staff come after the draft, and prior to the next football season. The reason why Dominik and Morris couldn't do a shakeup when they got their jobs is because January is too far into the draft process to lose all your staff that is working on evaluating the talent. New Kansas City general manager Scott Piolo and head coach Todd Haley changed out a lot of their draft-scouting department after last April's draft. Morris and Dominik could have done the same. By retaining that department, Morris and Dominik have to answer for the multiple mistakes made by their employees.
Sources have told Pewter Report that the big advocates for the Adams selection were the Glazers, Hickey, and former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Gruden wanted to trade two second-round picks and the Bucs first-round pick to Detroit to move up and take wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Allen was going to give Gruden his way. The lobbying of Kiffin was the most powerful voice in convincing the Glazers to take Adams, but Hickey was also for staying at the fourth overall selection and taking Adams. The Glazers loved watching Simeon Rice sack the quarterback, and were enamored with getting a potential younger version of that Buc great.
It is my job to ask tough questions when necessary, and I will continue to do it. I'm going to try and interview Hickey about this topic. Stay tuned. 5. WEEKEND DRAFT FOCUS A lot of the best pass rushers in this year's draft class appear to be ‘tweener' defensive ends/outside linebackers, players that are similar to Chargers linebacker Larry English. In the Bucs 4-3 system those players would have to play defensive end, and there is always a question if they can hold up against the run.
A first-round prospect in this mold is TCU's Larry Hughes. A year ago Hughes led college football in sacks with 15, and also had 19.5 tackles for a loss. Some questioned if his production would dip as a senior with teams keying on stopping him. Hughes has been up to the challenge as he has eight sacks in six games so far this year.
The best game in college football this Saturday is TCU traveling to BYU for a matchup of the 10th team at the 16th-ranked team. BYU figures to be out for revenge against Hughes. He led TCU's 32-7 victory with four sacks and two forced fumbles. Against BYU, Hughes will need to show that he can stop the run, and rush the passer with a team dead set on stopping him.
Hughes (6-3, 257) has a fabulous motor and intangibles. At this time he looks like a late first-round prospect.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com