Random thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL

1. It’s a tired cliché, but I think you do need to build your team from the lines out.  It’s no accident that Bill Cowher’s Steelers went to the playoffs ten times during the 15 years he coached them. They also went to six AFC Championship Games and two SuperBowls. The guy won with Kordell Stewart at quarterback for crying out loud!

It’s the lines people. You can have all the talent in the world behind the lines, but if the lines falter, that talent gets destroyed faster than whatever terrorist organization Jack Bauer is battling on 24.

This naturally brings me to who the Bucs should take with either the third or fourth pick in the 2007 draft. As you know from last week, I’m not too keen on the odds of success with a wide receiver. There is an argument however, that an offensive lineman, in particular a tackle, is a pretty good option if you look at past draft history.  Here are the offensive linemen that have been drafted in the top ten picks from 1991 through 2004:

a. 1991 Charles McRae, 7th  (Ouch!)
b. 1991 Antone Davis, 8th
c. 1992 Bob Whitfield, 8th
d. 1992 Ray Roberts, 10th
e. 1993 Willie Roaf, 8th
f. 1993 Lincoln Kennedy, 9th
g. 1995 Tony Boselli, 2nd
h. 1996 Jonathan Ogden, 4th
i. 1996 Willie Anderson, 10th
j. 1997 Orlando Pace, 1st
k. 1997 Walter Jones, 6th
l. 1998 Kyle Turley, 7th
m. 2000 Chris Samuels, 3rd
n. 2001 Leonard Davis, 2nd
o. 2002 Mike Williams, 4th
p. 2002 Bryant McKinnie, 7th
q. 2002 Levi Jones, 10th
r. 2003 Jordan Gross, 8th
s. 2004 Robert Gallery, 2nd

Whatever your definition of boon or bust, I think you’ll agree that if the Bucs got a tackle of the quality that  Roaf, Kennedy, Boselli, Ogden, Anderson, Pace, Walter Jones, Samuels, McKinnie or Levi Jones represent with the third or fourth pick, any fan should be happy. Heck, there’s at least five hall-of-famers on that list. And, that list totals 10 tackles out of 19 taken in the top 10 picks, or over 50 percent. Even guys I didn’t put on the “good pick” list like Bob Whitfield and Jordan Gross are still playing in the NFL and have had productive careers.

So, if you hear a name like Joe Thomas called in late April by Roger Goodell when the Bucs are on the clock, it might turn out pretty well. However, I must admit I still have enough Buccaneer offensive line decision nightmares from the past that I will still be nervous!  I’ll discuss defensive linemen next week.

It takes a big man to admit he was wrong in front of the whole world. While no one can be happy that the Bucs apparently whiffed in hiring both Jethro Franklin and Greg Burns as defensive coaches last season, fans should certainly appreciate that the organization recognized and admitted its mistakes immediately by giving both coaches the keys to the street.

I feel better already now that Raheem Morris is back, don’t you?

6. Let’s just say it:  The Chargers choked. They flat out choked.  Mindless penalties, four turnovers after having only fifteen all season, dropped passes and dropped interceptions.

Think Marty Schottenheimer wants that decision back to go for it on fourth-and-11 in the first quarter when he could have kicked a 47-yard field goal?  How about burning his timeouts coming out of injury timeouts in the second half so he had none left when the Chargers got the ball back down three with 1:14 left in the game?

8. Guess the Patriots are proving that Florida Gator wide-outs can play in the NFL after all. Seventeen catches, 183 yards and 2 TDs represent a pretty good day at the office for Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney. Didn’t see them drop any balls either, Michael Clayton.

I think the Patriots spend more time on players 40-53 on their roster than any team in the NFL. Otherwise, how do you find guys like 35-year old Troy Brown, who plays third or fourth on the receiver depth chart, plays dime corner, returns punts, and in one magnificent sequence Sunday saved the Patriots’ season by playing both offense and defense on the same play and ripped an interception out of Marlon McCree’s hands? Or how do you have Kevin Faulk, not Corey Dillon or Laurence Maroney, on the field for the majority of the offensive snaps against the Chargers, especially the crucial two-point conversion?

  From the “Haven’t You Learned Anything” department: The Vegas wise guys have installed the Colts as three point favorites against the Patriots next week.  You’ve got to be kidding me.

11.  If there was any doubt that Andy Reid is one of the worst clock managers in the league, punting on Saturday with his team down three points and 1:56 remaining in the game removes it. What was he thinking? Well, he said afterwards that he thought the Saints would run the ball and they might get it back. The Saints rushed for 208 yards in the game. Exactly how did he think they would get the ball back?

12. If you’re a lip reader, you saw Tony Dungy repeatedly saying “money” as he watched Adam Vinatieri’s fifth and final field goal split the uprights to seal the Colts’ victory over the Ravens. Best free agent signing of the year. If it comes down to kicks against the Patriots, it will be fascinating.

Want the inside scoop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2007 offseason plans? Want to find out who the Bucs are targeting in free agency and the NFL Draft? Subscribe to PewterReport.com's Pewter Insider by clicking here.

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