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.
Here are five things that caught my attention this week:
FAB 1. It’s ironic that a man known for despising injuries and doing whatever he can to rush an injured player back on to the field is doing what he can to keep a player with a mysterious injury off the field.
Yet that’s what it appears head coach Jon Gruden may be doing with his troubled quarterback, Jeff Garcia, whose play has gone from pretty darned good in 2007 to downright mediocre in 2008, and is currently listed as questionable for this Sunday’s game against Atlanta due to a sprained ankle.
Garcia missed Wednesday’s practice due to rehabbing his ankle sprain, which surprised just about everyone when it was announced on Monday because no one – not even Garcia’s teammates – can recall the quarterback being hurt on Sunday in last week’s 24-20 loss at New Orleans. Garcia did not hold his traditional press conference at One Buccaneer Place on Wednesday, either, which only added to the mystery until Brian Griese confirmed after practice that he was told on Tuesday that he would be the starting quarterback this week.
Garcia showed a lot of rust in the Jacksonville game, the only preseason contest that he played in this year due to a calf strain that caused him to miss nearly four weeks of practice in August. Against the Jaguars, Garcia threw two terrible interceptions, completed 11-of-18 passes (61.1 percent) for 79 yards and a touchdown, which gave him a QB rating of 50.2. The Bucs were hoping two weeks of practice prior to the season opener would shake off the rust in time for the season opener, but it did not.
The veteran quarterback was shaky against the Saints, throwing behind receivers, having happy feet in the pocket, and running into sacks as he completed 24-of-41 passes for 221 yards with one touchdown before throwing a game-killing interception on fourth-and-6 from the New Orleans 24 with 38 seconds left. On that play, Garcia threw to Antonio Bryant, who was on the first down line at the New Orleans 18-yard.
The problem was that he was double covered. Meanwhile, Joey Galloway, who was running a clear out, was open in the end zone, and Ike Hilliard, who was running a crossing route similar to Bryant, was also open.
So will Garcia miss this game due to injury, or is this a convenient excuse that will enable the team to go with Griese, who had the hotter hand in the preseason? In three games, Griese completed 26-of-35 passes (74.3 percent) for 174 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
When asked what Gruden told Griese about the decision to start him against Atlanta and whether it was due to Garcia’s injured ankle, or rust due to his missing valuable time in training camp and the preseason due to a calf strain, Griese said, “I can’t tell you what percentage of what was going on in Coach’s mind. You’ll have to ask him that. He kind of explained it to me that it was a combination of a lot of different things.”
A lot of different things could mean that Garcia is not mentally sharp or is distracted by something. Perhaps he is not at 100 percent, and he is distracted by his physical status. Perhaps he is still distracted by the Brett Favre situation. Or perhaps he is still distracted by his failed efforts to get a lucrative contract extension this offseason.
“After a while it does start to play with you mentally,” Garcia said of his contract situation on May 13. “This is a physical game and you want players to go out and give everything they have and lay their bodies on the line and lay their hearts on the line. ‘Well, we want you to lay something on the line, too.' That's what it really comes down to.
“I think we all know there is money to be worked with. Hopefully all of that will work itself out. Right now I just want to focus on being here and improving myself.â€¨ But there comes a time when [the team] wants us to bend over backwards and give everything we have. ‘Well, we want the same out of you.'”
Whatever the reason, Garcia hasn’t been sharp mentally or physically this fall in his limited action, and it may date back to last season when he never regained his mojo after a back injury against Washington. His statistics from the first 11 games of the season are in stark contrast to his last four appearances in red and pewter, which were against Atlanta, San Francisco and the New York Giants last year, in addition to Sunday’s game at New Orleans.
Jeff Garcia prior to back injury in 2007: 182-282 (64.5 percent) 2,135 yards 11 TDs 3 INTs 15 sacks 96 QB rating
Jeff Garcia since his back back injury: 74-of-125 (59.2 percent) 733 4 TDs 4 INTs 12 sacks 73.1 QB rating
The key things to note about Garcia’s recent play is that his completion percentage is down about five points, his interceptions and sacks are up proportionally, and his QB rating is down 23 points.
Perhaps the Buccaneers sensed this was coming, or that the play of a 38-year quarterback could dip this year simply due to Father Time. The play of every NFL player has to dip at some point in time, especially as they approach 40. Let’s look at what the Bucs have done to prepare for this situation after Garcia struggled against the Giants in the home playoff loss:
• On March 3, just after the start of free agency, the Buccaneers re-acquire the veteran Griese in a trade with Chicago.
• Tampa Bay drafted quarterback Josh Johnson in April, giving the Bucs five signal callers on their roster.
• The Buccaneers did not show much confidence in contract extension talks and did not make extending Garcia’s contract a priority, which irked the quarterback this summer. The Bucs’ stance, which is similar to most NFL teams, is to not pay a player for what they have done with a new contract, but to rather pay them for what they are going to do in the future. At age 38, Garcia doesn’t have much of a future with the Buccaneers.
• Tampa Bay didn’t seem to mind its starting quarterback missing the first two days of training camp, which afforded Griese and Luke McCown the opportunity to get more reps with the starters. That’s an unusual stance for an NFL team to take at the start of training camp.
• The Bucs showed serious interest in trading for Brett Favre, who would naturally supplant Garcia as the team’s starter.
Did this perceived lack of confidence in him by the organization become a huge distraction for Garcia? Perhaps, but isn’t Garcia used to challenges by now? Isn’t he used to being disrespected by NFL teams by now? Isn’t he the guy that said he is a fierce competitor who chokes the competition?
Consider this. Phillip Buchanon is in a contract year and has yet to receive an extension. He had to witness the Bucs spend pretty good money on a “name” cornerback this offseason in free agency in Eugene Wilson. Buchanon had to witness the Bucs spend a first-round draft pick in cornerback Aqib Talib, who may replace him if he does not agree to terms for the 2009 season and beyond. The arrival of Wilson and Talib meant that Buchanon’s starting job this fall was not a given, but he went out an earned it in training camp. He choked the competition.
While Buchanon hasn’t had to weather a calf injury like Garcia did, he didn’t whine about his contract situation. He’s content to let the situation play out and he’s focused on the season, starting it off with an interception for a touchdown against New Orleans last Sunday.
The Bucs have to be concerned about Garcia’s 38-year old body, which has taken a pounding in Tampa Bay. In his first game with the Bucs in Seattle last year, Garcia suffered a mild concussion. Then he missed almost four games with a back injury. This year has seen the calf injury in training camp rob him of about four weeks worth of practice. Then he sprained his pinky last week and his ankle on Sunday.
No wonder the Bucs traded for a veteran backup in Griese and were interested in trading for Favre, who has not missed a start since 1992, which is an NFL record.
So here the Bucs are with Griese, who was 5-1 in 2005 in his last six starts as a Buccaneer. He is an incredibly accurate quarterback, who is smart, functions well in Gruden’s offense and has the respect of the players in the locker room, especially after a smooth training camp and preseason. Griese’s limitations are that he checks down to running backs a lot instead of pushing the ball downfield for big plays, and his penchant for game-killing interceptions, usually in the fourth quarter.
Yet, Gruden has decided that Griese is his man for at least this week, and it will likely be a permanent move if he looks sharp and the Bucs beat the Falcons.
“It’s been a very interesting last few months,” said Gruden said about Garcia. “We had the injury that occurred late last season. We had a prolonged calf injury. I’ve studied everything he’s done. I really believe in this guy as a quarterback. Right now he’s not the same guy he was, and I want him to be that. That’s all I’m going to say until I see the ball thrown with the crisp, accurate velocity and confident swagger. We’re going to let him sit out for a week and hopefully he can get back with us soon.”
Why Gruden has not come out and benched Garcia, and why he has had to treat it delicately is because Garcia is the starting quarterback of an NFC South division championship team, a team captain and he’s also pretty outspoken with regards to the media. If Griese flops, Gruden may decide to give Garcia another shot at the starting job and wants to leave that door open – publicly – by not saying this is a performance-related demotion.
Gruden is being coy about the situation much like he was about the Favre rumors in August. If the Bucs ended up trading for Favre, he winds up being the starter. If the Bucs didn’t acquire Favre, Gruden would be back to starting Garcia, which is what happened. Gruden is not going to say anything negative about Garcia in the media and is smart for doing so. Doing that would only make the situation worse.
The same may not be true of Garcia. According to multiple Pewter Report sources, he really blew his top when Gruden informed him that Griese would start this week. Garcia was livid, and even Griese said that he and Garcia had a “frank discussion” about the situation. There may be some frost on the relationship between the two quarterbacks as a result.
When Brad Johnson was fully demoted after four games in 2004 in favor of Chris Simms, and later Griese, he was a professional about it and did not rail on Gruden. It will be interesting to see what Garcia says whenever he addresses the media. He has already been very outspoken with the media regarding his displeasure of his contract situation.
It’s unreal how the signal caller situation has become a soap opera in Tampa Bay in the Gruden era. Welcome to As The Quarterbacks Turn. This is going to be an interesting season, folks.
FAB 2. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden essentially benching starting quarterback Jeff Garcia for his performance against Jacksonville in the preseason and against New Orleans on Sunday. But what caused the demotion and what is the reaction at One Buccaneer Place?
Pewter Report started getting feedback from multiple sources, including players on Tuesday night that the Bucs may be making a quarterback switch this week that was due more to Garcia’s shaky performance at New Orleans than his ankle injury. While the players and other members of the organization that Pewter Report spoke with regarding Garcia were respectful to the quarterback, they universally felt that backup Brian Griese gave the team the better chance to win right now.
The sources all said that Gruden owed it to Garcia to start at New Orleans and that he should have been given the benefit of the doubt for that game due to his accomplishments from 2007, but that going forward, Gruden owed it to the other 52 players to play the players that give the team the best chance to win. And that’s what Gruden appears to be doing.
So what did Gruden and his coaching staff see in Garcia’s play in New Orleans that led them to conclusion that Griese deserves a shot to continue his hot play from the preseason? Pewter Report reviewed the game tape and found several noteworthy things.
Aside from throwing an interception on a pass intended for Antonio Bryant, who was double covered on the fourth-and-6 play from the New Orleans 24, when Joey Galloway was open in the end zone and Ike Hilliard was also open for a first down, there were these other passing plays that the Bucs wish they could have back from Sunday:
• The Bucs didn’t convert a third down until the fourth quarter on Sunday and had a golden opportunity to get one in the first half when Galloway had created separation on a crossing route on a third-and-9 situation. Garcia’s mechanics broke down, he didn’t set his feet and threw behind the open Galloway.
• On Garcia’s first sack, it appeared as if there was some miscommunication between he and the offensive line. He engaged in a seven-step drop when the offensive tackles appeared to set up in pass protection for a five-step drop. Garcia didn’t step up into the pocket where there was room and was an easy target for defensive end Charles Grant.
• On third-and-6 at 3:29 in the third quarter, Garcia got rocked as he stepped up to throw a pass to Bryant across the middle, which was broken up by cornerback Randall Gay. Running back Warrick Dunn was wide open in the flat about five yards away from Garcia’s right with plenty of room to run and pick up 15 yards. Garcia didn’t see Dunn and forced the ball into Bryant, who was well covered.
• Later in the third quarter, Garcia missed wide open tight end Alex Smith on third-and-2. The ball was thrown behind Smith, who tried to reach back and grab the ball, losing his balance in the process.
• With 4:46 left in the fourth quarter, Garcia had Bryant open on a crossing route on third-and-11 but instead threw the ball behind Galloway, who was well covered down the sidelines. The pass was incomplete.
• On Garcia’s second sack, his happy feet got him in trouble as he escaped the pocket by moving backwards instead of stepping up and moving to the left. Left tackle Donald Penn had wheeled defensive end Bobby McCray around Garcia, who backed right up into the sack. There was an enormous hole to the left that could have been used as a throwing lane or even a running lane. Garcia’s pocket presence was not at top form on Sunday and he appeared to play with a style that was more uncomfortable and frenetic than in recent memory.
Plenty of reasons in Sunday’s game to consider making a quarterback change on top of Garcia’s rust in the preseason. Is this a desperate move to try to ensure that Tampa Bay does not start the season 0-2 this season? You bet, but the Bucs themselves aren’t desperate.
That could change if they lose on Sunday to Atlanta and can’t find the right quarterback in time to turn their season around. Historically, a 0-2 start leads to a 0-4 start winds up as a double-digit losing season (see 2004 and 2006).
I certainly have no axe to grind with Garcia and neither does Gruden or anyone at One Buccaneer Place. Everyone wants him to return to the player that he was last year in leading Tampa Bay to a 7-4 record before his back injury. But it is uncertain as to whether that will ever take place or not in Tampa Bay.
FAB 3. Here are some of my observations from breaking down the game tape of the Bucs’ season-opening loss to the Saints:
• On the first play of the game, Saints left tackle Jamaal Brown blew Gaines Adams back five yards off the line of scrimmage on a running play. Adams did not record a sack and was not impressive statistically, but was giving maximum effort on his pass rush opportunities and applying good pressure on most plays. Perhaps Adams’ worst play was being held at bay by tight end Jeremy Shockey when rushing from the left end position on David Patten’s 39-yard touchdown pass. Shockey is a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end, but he’s mostly known for his receiving ability – not his blocking. Adams, whom the Bucs believe will develop into an elite pass rusher, must win one-on-ones with tight ends to achieve greatness and truly help Tampa Bay.
• Speaking of Adams, there were several questionable calls in the Saints-Bucs game, with just about every one of them going against Tampa Bay. The most obvious, of course, was Brown’s take down of Adams on Bush’s second half 26-yard catch-and-run. Brown not only tackled Adams while falling backward, but then he held him again once they were on the ground. This was so blatantly obvious I’m shocked it wasn’t called. Another bad call was on Jacques Thomas’ screen pass on second-and-11 in the first half. There was an obvious block in the back on Derrick Brooks by Jon Stinchcomb that wasn’t called, but at least there was a holding call on Jahri Evans (on Barrett Ruud) that was called. Throw in a non-call on middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma who led with his helmet (spearing) on Jeff Garcia with 9:34 left in the third quarter, the non-call of defensive end Will Smith delivering forearm shivers to Jeff Faine’s chest (Jeremy Trueblood was flagged for a personal foul for sticking up for Faine shoving Smith on the play – See FAB 5. for more insight) a bad offensive pass interference call on Antonio Bryant, and Reggie Bush stepping out of bounds at the Tampa Bay 3-yard line on his 42-yard touchdown catch and it was not a banner day for officiating from the Bucs’ point of view.
• I don’t think left guard Arron Sears played well at all. For someone who has gotten an awful lot of hype at One Buccaneer Place and who was coming off a banner rookie year, Sears was flagged for two drive-killing holding penalties and an ineligible man downfield penalty. He also was not terribly effective in run blocking and his pass protection was a little suspect. Fellow guard Jeremy Zuttah, a rookie, played well for a rookie, but only decent for an NFL starting guard. He needs to hit the weight room as he got shoved around too much by New Orleans’ defensive tackles, especially Kendrick Clancy.
• Look for more draw plays from Tampa Bay this year because of center Jeff Faine. Granted, the Bucs ran a very predictable draw in a third-and-23 situation, but Earnest Graham ripped off a 9-yard run behind Faine and Sears, who quickly got to the second level and blocked effectively, allowing Graham to gain big yardage. Having a mobile center like Faine on these types of plays really adds a special element to Jon Gruden’s run plays.
• Cornerback Ronde Barber had some monster hits on Reggie Bush and Marques Colston with both plays resulting in incompletions – nearly fumbles. Barber has laid a ton of big licks throughout his career, but his hitting on Sunday just gave defensive backs coach Raheem Morris some excellent examples to show rookies Aqib Talib and Elbert Mack in the film room this week.
• Wide receiver Antonio Bryant does not have great deep speed. Where his speed kicks in his after the catch. Bryant does not create separation in deep, vertical routes, probably due to the fact that his knee is not yet 100 percent. But he has proven to be an elusive, creative runner with the ball in his hands. The West Coast offense counts on yards after catch (YAC) ability, and that’s what Bryant brings to the table.
• In the third quarter on a third-and-7 situation, quarterback Jeff Garcia tried to step up, but halfback Warrick Dunn, tight end Alex Smith and wide receiver Antonio Bryant were all shallow in their routes. Had Garcia thrown the ball to any of these three players, who were all covered, no one would have gotten a first down without breaking tackles. Instead, Garcia tried to run for it and was tackled by Charles Grant. This was either a poorly designed play by head coach Jon Gruden, a poorly called play by Gruden in this situation as it relates to down and distance, or one of the three receivers ran a poor route, not getting enough depth on the play.
FAB 4. Since the offseason, Pewter Report has reported that the Buccaneers would have to do more blitzing in 2008 to make up for the anticipated lack of pass rush from their front four. True to their intentions, Tampa Bay did bring more than four defenders with regularity against New Orleans.
I counted 10 blitzes on passing plays from Tampa Bay’s defense on Sunday. Drew Brees dropped back to throw 33 times, so the Bucs blitzed almost a third of the time the Saints were passing the ball. Here’s how Tampa Bay fared:
On the second play of the game, cornerback Ronde Barber charged Brees from the left side, leapt up in the air to attempt to sack him only to see the Saints quarterback deftly throw to his left to Bush for 16 yards a first down. Good pressure, but didn’t get the desired result.
On the second blitz, middle linebacker Barrett Ruud came free up through the “A” gap and hit Brees as he threw, forcing an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Phillip Buchanon. Excellent pressure, producing the best possible result – a touchdown for the defense.
The third blitz saw Adams drop into coverage while Ruud and Barber came free on blitzes on a third-and-6 situation. The pass was incomplete as safety Tanard Jackson nailed receiver Marques Colston across the middle. Good pressure and a favorable result.
In the second quarter, safety Jermaine Phillips came off the left side on second-and-12 while Adams dropped in coverage. The result was a quick pass to tight end Jeremy Shockey. The Bucs didn’t get great pressure and allowed Brees to find Shockey open for a modest 6-yard gain.
The Bucs blitzed linebacker Cato June on first-and-10 on their next series only to see Brees throw a high-arcing pass to Bush. Barber read the play beautifully and rocked Bush for an incompletion. Had Barber been a half a second late, he might have forced a fumble and given Tampa Bay its second touchdown on defense. Good pressure, great result.
Later in the second quarter on third-and-3, the Bucs brought both Barber and Ruud – rushing with six blitzers – and forced Brees to hurry and throw an incompletion. Great call, great result.
Tampa Bay kept the heat turned up in the second half, but with mixed results. On a particular third-and-7, Barber came from left side and almost got Brees, who sidestepped and threw the ball to Shockey for eight yards and a first down. Great pressure, but an even greater play by Brees, who had Barber draped all over him and still completed the pass.
June was brought off the corner on a blitz in a first-and-10 situation and Brees' pass to Bush was incomplete. Only a decent amount of pressure, but the desired result was achieved.
Phillips came off the right side on yet another blitz as Brees threw an incompletion to Colston on second-and-10 in the third quarter. Decent pressure, and the Bucs got their incompletion.
Tampa Bay’s final blitz came on third-and-9 in the third quarter on New Orleans’ field goal drive. Barber blitzed off the left edge as Brees hit Shockey for a 10-yard gain. Not enough pressure by the Bucs and Brees was able to convert a big third down.
The net result of the blitzing produced five incompletions and an interception for a touchdown for Tampa Bay. That sounds pretty good until you realize that Brees hit four out of 10 passes for a total of 40 yards in blitz conditions with three of those completions resulted in first downs, and two of those three particular throws coming on key third downs.
The biggest question I have regarding the Bucs’ use of their blitzes was why Tampa Bay didn’t bring the blitz when New Orleans was backed up on its own 1-yard line. Without Deuce McAllister in the game the Bucs were wise to know that the Saints weren’t going to pound it from the goal line, but why not bring the heat and try to force a safety with a sack or at least a real quick errant throw that could be a pick-six? The result of that play? A 16-yard pass to Colston down the right sidelines for a first down.
FAB 5. Here are a couple of things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5 – after a word from our sponsor.
SR’s FAB 5 SPONSOR: JAKE’S HAMBURGERS Please allow me to introduce you to a new section in each SR’s Fab 5, which recognizes one of Pewter Report’s sponsors. I ask you to read this paragraph in each edition as it is these companies that support our efforts and make it possible for you to enjoy Pewter Report’s coverage of the Buccaneers. This week’s sponsor is Jake’s Hamburgers. I’ll admit that before Jake’s Hamburgers became an advertiser in Pewter Report and on PewterReport.com, I was a customer. Their hamburgers are fresh and never frozen, and served up made-to-order diner-style. They’re delicious. Jake’s Hamburgers is not a fast food place, and doesn’t have a dollar menu. They are more expensive than fast food joints, but less expensive than burgers you would get at establishments like Ruby Tuesdays. And they are great. Almost as good as their hand-dipped milkshakes, which come in dozens of unique flavors. Here’s what I recommend. Instead of paying high stadium prices for food or dragging a grill down to the stadium for tailgating, stop by Jake’s Hamburgers for lunch before a 1:00 p.m. kickoff or on the way home for dinner around 4:30 p.m. after the game. There are two Jake’s Hamburger locations in Tampa along Dale Mabry Highway. The first is at Waters Ave. and Dale Mabry just next to the Best Western. That’s where I go for lunch. The second location is at the corner of Van Dyke Road and Dale Mabry in north Tampa behind the Walgreens. Or stop by the Pewter Report-Jake’s Hamburgers Tailgate party at the corner of Tampa Bay Boulevard and Himes Avenue across the street from Raymond James Stadium on game day to grab a burger, fries and a shake before kickoff. Did I mention that they also have a delivery service for lunch, too? There is a Jake’s Hamburgers coupon in the Season Kickoff Issue of Pewter Report that is worth checking out, too.
• One thing you have to love about the play of middle linebacker Barrett Ruud is his sense of football awareness. A split second after rocking New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees on a blitz, causing an errant throw to get picked off by cornerback Phillip Buchanon, Ruud gets up and joins the convoy that escorted P-Buc to the end zone. Ruud didn’t celebrate his big hit. He alertly got up and smashed right tackle John Stinchcomb to prevent him from tackling Buchanon near the 10-yard line. Heady, hustling play there, Mr. Ruud.
• So why did Bucs head coach Jon Gruden choose Brian Griese to start in place of Jeff Garcia instead of Luke McCown? Through much digging over the past few weeks we have come to find that McCown simply doesn’t have a lot of supporters at One Buc Place from the powers that be. As it turns out, Pewter Report thinks more of McCown than the Bucs’ brass does. The reason is that McCown lacks the anticipation necessary to become a consistently effective quarterback in the West Coast offense. Drew Brees had excellent anticipation on Sunday, completing key third down throws while being blitzed and almost sacked. Anticipation, as defined by the coaching staff, is throwing the ball to the right spot at the right time. McCown has a tendency of throwing the ball just a half-tick too late, or sometimes simply too late, which results in a sack. While McCown has physical tools galore, the team doubts whether McCown will ever develop the anticipation necessary to earn the team’s trust. Complicating matters is the fact that he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2009 and he’s itching to start after starting only seven games in six years in the NFL. Pewter Report’s fear is that the Bucs give up on him the way the Saints gave up on Jake Delhomme, only to see McCown turn into a Delhomme-type player who haunts the Bucs down the road after his game matures.
• Here’s what I want to see out of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ college scouting department. Take a flier on a speedy wide receiver in the later rounds – and I don’t mean slow-footed Paris Warren, either. No more seventh-round draft picks on running backs like Kenneth Darby (2007) and Cory Boyd (2008). These were wasted picks, especially Boyd, on a team that has Earnest Graham, Warrick Dunn, Michael Bennett and Cadillac Williams already on the roster. Meanwhile, Marques Colston was a seventh-round steal for New Orleans last year, and the likes of Wes Welker and Hank Baskett went undrafted in 2003 and 2006, respectively. Welker has gone on to become a Pro Bowler, while the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Baskett, whom I loved at New Mexico, has caught 40 passes for 708 yards (17.7 avg.) with 24 of those catches creating first downs and four going for touchdowns – including TDs covering 89 and 90 yards. Since 2006, Baskett, who has been a reserve wide receiver, has out-performed former first-round pick Michael Clayton (52 catches, 657 yards (12.6 avg.) and one touchdown) and former third-round pick Maurice Stovall (17 catches, 188 yards (11.1 avg.) and one touchdown).
• And finally, remember how Bucs center Jeff Faine was receiving forearm shivers to his chest from Saints defensive end Will Smith, which prompted Bucs right tackle Jeremy Trueblood to push Smith and draw a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty? Here’s what really happened, according to Faine. “It was very chippy [against New Orleans]. I got warned the whole game. I was taking shots left and right. To call a spade a spade, I was holding [Smith’s] facemask underneath and I was trying to get a 15-yard penalty out of it by having him lay on top of me. I was holding him down as long as I could and it eventually got to the point where they weren’t going to throw the flag, so I figured I might as well get up. I felt bad [that Trueblood got that penalty] because he got the blame, and I started it. But it is what it is. It happened. I wouldn’t consider myself a dirty player, but I’m taking every advantage I can.”
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org