12 random thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL:1. I think if I’m Al Davis, no matter how strong LSU quarterback JaMarcus (Pillsbury) Russell’s arm is, I take Notre Dame’s signal caller, Brady Quinn, with the top pick. Why? Well, while Pillsbury might have more upside, Quinn has much less downside. Why the heck has Quinn’s stock been sliding anyway? Consider that Quinn threw about twice as many passes in college as Russell. Consider also that Quinn ran Charlie Weis’ pro offense at Notre Dame for two full seasons. He didn’t have the best talent around him, but generally played pretty well. Who do you think has the better work ethic, drive and experience to succeed at the next level? If I’m betting $30 million in guaranteed money, I’m taking the guy that I know will likely be a good starter for years to come, not the guy whose best moves might be at the training table.
2. Gotta love those Washington Redskins, don’t you? Team Dysfunction and its mercurial defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, just had to have Adam Archuleta so badly last year that they signed him to a 5 year, $25 million contract with $10 million in guaranteed money. Then Williams decided that Archuleta not only couldn’t start, but also couldn’t be the back-up safety. He was third-string by the end of the season. His crime? He couldn’t play in pass coverage as well as Williams wanted. Uh, Gregg, hate to tell you this, but Archuleta was never any good in coverage, partly because he was a linebacker in college, not a safety. So, the Skins burn $4 million of cap space and get a measly sixth-round pick back for yet another free agent mistake. Did anybody watch film of this guy before the checkbook came out?
3. Word is the Skins have to keep wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, because nobody else would take him. They’ll be choking on that contract for another couple of seasons.
4. As I look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster, one glaring area keeps jumping out at me. I see pretty good depth and youth with recent draft classes and the free agent infusions at many positions. Sure the Bucs could use a wide receiver. Ditto with a tight end. But, what concerns me most is the defensive line. I see few stars, age, and a cast of characters most of us couldn’t pick out of a police line-up. Who are the starters? Simeon Rice, Ellis Wyms, Chris Hovan and Kevin Carter? Yeesh. This group screams “draft pick” to me. If the Bucs pass on Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye in round one because Joe Thomas or Calvin Johnson are there and tickle their fancy, look for the next couple of picks to be on the defensive line. This team desperately needs a day one tackle and a day one defensive end. If someone like Adam Carriker slips to the bottom of the first round, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bucs package some picks and move up.
5. Think Monte Kiffin has whispered to Cato June that it’s okay to tackle below the shoulder pads yet? Just asking.
6. I mean, Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden said the Bucs needed to improve their pass defense, right? Doesn’t that include the pass rush? Kevin Carter is a nice stop-gap, but I’m not buying the “Patrick Chukwurah is Robert Mathis” argument, are you?
7. And no, you don’t take Calvin Johnson with the first overall pick of the draft. I don’t care what any Brylcreemed draft geek says. No way. We’ve talked about this before. You can get good wide receivers without drafting them. You can trade for them these days. And, if you draft them you can get plenty of good ones after the first round. Who were the last two wide receivers to go number one overall? Keyshawn Johnson and Irving Fryar. How many teams did they play for? How about Randy Moss? Terrell Owens? Hell, even Jerry Rice gave the Raiders a couple of good seasons. Marvin Harrison is staying put, but just about anybody else can be had. What are the odds of getting Carson Palmer? Peyton Manning? How about Orlando Pace, Walter Jones or Jonathan Ogden?
8. The Pac-Man Jones soap opera reminds me of a line from Die Hard 2, which is a great movie by the way. John Amos, playing renegade army Major Grant, looks at a haggard Bruce Willis and tells him, “You’re the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Willis replies, “That’s the story of my life.” My bet is this guy is out of the league before you can say “strip club frenzy.”
9. Notice: upon careful examination of all of the evidence, it appears that the Buccaneers will finally agree with the other 31 teams in the NFL that the shotgun formation has some utility.
10. Second Notice: the popularity of the shotgun will last until the ball is snapped right over quarterback Jeff Garcia’s head sometime during the first game.
11. Fishwrap mythology of the week: The Bucs are in for a ‘quick-fix’. Firstly, are there any fans out there that would be against fixing the team quickly? Secondly, given that the wraps mean this pejoratively, I think it is worth noting that while the Bucs have signed the most free agents (nine and counting) of any team in the league, the total of all of the signing bonuses they have doled – for all nine players – out amounts to just over half of what guard Derrick Dockery got in guaranteed money from the Bills. Enough said about fiscal responsibility.
12. 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.
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