Random thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL

1. OK, I know it's been a few weeks since I’ve weighed in on things Buccaneer and football-related, but we are in the NFL desert known as June, so frankly there hasn’t been much to say. I never intended The Dirty Dozen to be a weekly column, but merely an occasional column when there was something to skewer. I’m just glad I’m not Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com. How do you keep a rumor mill site going when there aren’t any rumors? Well, if you’re a lawyer like Mike, you harp on all the legal possibilities for Ron Mexico, debate ad nauseum the “no contact” rule with respect to OTAs and the collective bargaining agreement, and your lead story some days are things like “Kellen Winslow Changes Agent.” Love ya, Mike, but I can miss the Sprint phone plugs and legal lessons until we get back to real football.

2. I know.  It's been done. But, just one more comment on the endless Michael Vick dog-fighting story. How stupid is Clinton Portis? Chris Samuels? Well, as dumb as they are, Jonathan Vilma of the Jets makes them look like Stephen Hawking. Dog-fighting compares to horse racing? Honestly, two less brain cells and you’d have to water this guy twice a week. He’d be a houseplant. Figures he went to the U.

3. I’m going to pause here and give myself props again for predicting last November that Jeff Garcia would be the starting quarterback for the Bucs in 2007. (I have to give myself props because getting anything from Reynolds and Flynn is like pulling teeth!).

4. And don’t forget my prediction that the Bucs are headed back to the playoffs with Garcia at the helm this year. It’s going to happen, folks. Garcia would have been worth thee wins last year all by himself. That alone gets you to 7-9 with a horrendous schedule and a soft defense. With the infusion of talent from free agency and the draft, the Bucs will be a stronger, deeper team everywhere in 2007, and the schedule is less daunting. Forget the opponents, just not playing three times in 11 days and not playing four of the last six games on the road makes it easier.

5. My only worry besides Garcia remaining upright is the way the schedule is set-up. For you pessimists out there, the first five games are the thing to wring your hands over. At Seattle, New Orleans, St. Louis, at Carolina, at Indianapolis. Even an optimist doesn’t have to squint too hard to see 1-4 being a distinct possibility if this team doesn’t jell in a hurry. With so many new faces, including a new defensive coaching staff under Monte Kiffin, the Bucs’ coaching staff will be put to a supreme test in training camp getting everyone on the same page.

6. Is anybody else worried about Alan Zemaitis? What’s up with this guy? When the Bucs drafted him in 2006, I was psyched because most pundits had him going in the second or third round, so I figured we had a steal nabbing Zem at the end of the fourth. Then, he’s inactive for 16 games. Yeah, there were some injuries, but the Bucs were about to pick fans out of their RJS seats to play safety last season, and the kid couldn’t get on the field for one game?  One? Then you get the Sammy Davis and Phillip Buchanon signings, which certainly isn’t a vote of confidence that Zemaitis is coming along. There are whispers he isn’t a genius. Ok, well, a lot of players aren’t going to be confused with Joe Theismann’s buddy Norman Einstein. Now, there are whispers he doesn’t look that great on the field. So, now he’s dumb and he can’t play either? Is it really possible this kid won’t make the team? A fourth rounder who was one of the leading zone corners in college football might not ever step onto the field in a Bucs uniform?

7. Don't pay attention to the national football writers. The Carolina Panthers will be finishing behind the Buccaneers in 2007. Why? Well, they just aren’t very good anymore. Jake Delhomme is finally showing that he really was the luckiest quarterback on the planet (has anyone completed more wounded duck prayers?), and that without a power running game, he can’t put the team on his back. The power running game is long gone, and Deshaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams and Eric Shelton don’t scare anybody. Moreover, the defensive line is not what it was a few years ago, and the linebacking corps is shaky. Good thing the Panthers have invested in good corners. They’ll need ‘em.

8. You know what I notice? Outside of Tampa Bay, most NFL fans I talk to still think Jon Gruden is a damned good football coach. Moreover, even though the Bucs slid to 4-12 last season and are just 27-37 since the Super Bowl, most fans outside of the fish wrap negativity storm feel like the Bucs will be pretty good this year. Refreshing when you leave the fish bowl to get other opinions.

9. Yes, Randy Moss is going to have a huge year. You might not like him, but I am setting his over/under on touchdowns at 10. And, if I’m betting, I’m taking the over.

10. By the way, if any Bucs fans are headed to Las Vegas this season, you’ll get the best sports odds at the Las Vegas Hilton. Last time I checked, they had the Bucs’ Super Bowl odds at 500 to 1. You won't find much better than 50 to 1 at any other casino. The Hilton is also the place to see games if you’re in Vegas during the season. They show every game on giant screens in a huge theatre.  Dollar dogs and $2 drafts complete the scene. Trust me, you’ll love it.

11. Do people realize that by the end of this season, it is highly probable that Brett Favre will have the most passing yards, touchdowns, attempts and completions of all-time? Does that make him the best-ever?  I mean, I know he’s just keeping the seat warm on those records for Peyton Manning, but it is pretty impressive.

12. By the way, Jeff Garcia has a higher career rating than Favre. And yes, that includes the awful seasons in Detroit and Cleveland.

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