Random thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL

1. Well, it’s hard to avoid commenting on the Ron Mexico disaster now. Stick a fork in him folks, because he is done. He might play most of the season in Atlanta while awaiting his trial date, but he is going to be tried and he is going to jail. Getting indicted for felonies by the Feds is serious business, and the Feds hold a .950 batting average.

2. Those wails you hear are every other player in the NFL that has been involved in dog-fighting crying in their lockers. The Vick indictment could be the tip of the iceberg. Clinton Portis, this means you.

3. I really like the guy and his column, but it is very tough to cover the entire NFL on a weekly basis like Peter King does. Power rankings are always debatable, but ranking the New England Patriots second to the Indianapolis Colts was ludicrous. The Colts have lost three starters on defense and a valuable defensive tackle. They also lost Dominic Rhodes, and Joseph Addai hasn’t proven he is the workhorse Edgerrin James was. All the Patriots did was go out and get Adalius Thomas to buttress the defense and a gaggle of receivers including Randy Moss to bolster the passing game. The Colts will be good, but there’s a reason the wise guys in Vegas have the Pats as the favorite to win it all next season—–because they should.

4. Ranking the Saints fourth was also silly. Yes, they’re a good team, but this Saints mania in the media is nuts. First, they aren’t sneaking up on anybody anymore. They have talent on offense and will score points, but the big problem for the Saints in 2006 was stopping the run. Listen, the Saints gave up over 2,000 yards on the ground and a whopping 4.9 yards a carry. What did they do to address the situation? Well, unless you’re a huge Dhani Jones fan, they did bupkiss. That’s right. Zip. Zero. Nada. The offense is loaded, but it cannot score if it doesn’t have the ball!

5. Want another reason why the Saints are overrated? The schedule. The schedule makers bestowed upon the Saints in 2007 what they did to the Bucs in 2006 and then some. They get the NFL season kickoff game at Indianapolis on September 6 to start things off. That should be a walk in the park. They then travel to Tampa to play a desperate coaching staff that wants to pound the rock at them. Their bye week is the fourth week of the season, which is bad. They play at Seattle Week 6, come home to play the Falcons and then go right back to the West Coast to play San Francisco in Week 8. They get Philly in Week 16 as a reward for finishing first last season, and then finish the season at Chicago on December 30, where it should be very warm and hospitable. Throw in four night games, which most teams dislike as it disrupts their schedule, and it looks like a pretty tough slate. Injuries and surprises always roil preseason evaluations of the schedule, but I highly doubt that a team that doesn’t stop the run with this slate is going to go 10-6 again.

6. Pretty obvious too that King mailed in the Bucs’ 29th ranking. Just looked at 4-12, saw his pal Chris Simms not starting, and slapped it down. Worse than Houston? Worse than the Raiders? Is this a joke? Without a sixth round rookie starting last year the Bucs were probably a 7-9 team. With all of the additions on offense and defense they’re now going to be as bad as that again? C’mon Peter. Do a little more homework.

7. With all of the preseason publications picking the Bucs to finish dead last in 2007 (with one brave soul forecasting third place), it’s understandable to see the negativity in the press. Of course, the local fish wraps would criticize winning the lottery because people have to pay taxes on the loot. Out of everything I have seen and read, I give props only to John Clayton, who looks like he did a little more research than other folks and sees the Bucs as a team on the rise.

8. Know who else could be good in the NFC South because of the schedule? The Panthers. They get Indy at home, while the Bucs and Saints have to play in the Dome of horrors. They also get the 49ers and Seahawks at home while the Bucs and Saints have to travel to the left coast for both contests. They have to play Dallas, but that too is at home, and I wonder what kind of team Wade Phillips will field. Outside of divisional games, the kitties play at Arizona, at Tennessee, at Green Bay and at Jacksonville. Not exactly an intimidating gauntlet. I still think the Panthers are overrated in general, and I am happy to see quarterback Jake Delhomme’s luck has finally run out, but the schedule makers might have as much to do with keeping Carolina competitive as anything else.

9. Yes, I’ve heard the over/under for Buccaneer wins has been set at about seven by some gambling parlors in the desert. If you’re traveling out that way before the season (as I am), don't be silly. Take the over. Why? Simple. We’ve already discussed that this was likely a seven win team last season without the rook calling signals. Throw in a last place schedule (gets you the Lions and Skins instead of the Cowboys and Seahawks last season), not having to play three games in eleven days, having a bye-week in the middle of the season, and, oh yeah, the fact that the Falcons are going to stink out the joint like a Brit the morning after a hot curry, and you get a recipe that gets you over seven wins.

10. However, if Jeff Garcia gets hurt early in the season I take back everything I just wrote. That’s why they call it gambling. Movie aside: “Are you a gambling man, Mr. Drebin?” “Only when I order Chinese.” So, lay the bills on Moo Goo Gai Pan. And, over seven!

11. Stop worrying. They’re going to be good. Honestly.

12. Okay, one more Naked Gun quote related to football: Frank: “It's fourth-and-15 and you're looking at a full-court press.” I’m sure the front-office and coaching staff feel that way some days. See you at training camp!

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