This week I traded 5 questions with Niko over at the Tampa Bay Bucs blog Buc Em. We talk Tampa QBs, the collapse against the Skins, rookie head coach Raheem Morris, the Buc's ownership situation, and which Eagle would Tampa steal?
Check out my answers to his questions over there.
BGN - What's up the Bucs' QB situation? We know Leftwich was benched for Johnson who didn't do much better but is obviously still young. There's Freeman waiting in the wings... Who should we expect to see this Sunday and how much confidence do you have in that guy?
Buc Em - Bucs Head Coach Raheem Morris drafted Josh Freeman to be the Franchise QB of the Buccaneers. He expects him to be a John Elway, McNabb, ETC, the face of the team for a decade. Problem is the Bucs were hoping to sneak in a few wins in the first few weeks, so they wanted to have a QB dual between Luke McCown and Leftwich. In doing so, Both Joshes had critical reps taken away from them. In fact, you could say the Bucs Quarterbacks are ill prepared at this stage of the season because NONE of them really have had a large share of practice reps. Byron Leffwich has obvious mechanical flaws, and the Buffalo Bills exploited them with our starting Center out, and the NY Giants copied that game plan to the point Raheem felt since NO surprise wins were achieved, it was time for a change.
The lack of practice reps with the starting team has hindered the progress of Josh Freeman. Josh Johnson has one year of NFL experience even though its mostly just bench stuff, but he is familiar with offensive coordinator Olsen, who was the QB coach last year. You will see Josh Johnson this week, and the NFL will not see Josh Freeman until either Starting Center Jeff Faine gets back or Freeman is more ready. I expect to see Freeman after the Bye.
I know a lot of Eagles fans were watching the Bucs/Skins game hoping to see a Redskins loss and it looked like that would be what they'd get... but the Bucs seemed to implode. What do you attribute that to?
Tampa Bay came out playing hard, but they left alot of points on the field when then kicker Mike Nugent missed two FGs that would have given the Bucs a 16-0 halftime lead.
Josh Freeman looked like a rookie, and at times looked very indecisive. Then you have some questionable coaching decisions as well, such as kicking the FG on 4th down with 4:00 left instead of going for it , and having a fumble prone back as your 2:00 back. None of these plays cost the Bucs the game though, it was mostly lost on the missed FGs, and the youth and inexperience of the Bucs and their coaching staff. In time, they will learn to close out games like that one.
What are your thoughts on rookie head coach Raheem Morris so far?
I may not be the best person to ask, because I actually predicted his rise back in 2007, telling my friends to look out for Raheem Morris, who did wonders with the Bucs secondary when he came back to Tampa Bay after leaving for Kansas State for a year. Judging by what he did to K States defense the year he was there, and what he did to the Bucs secondary from 06 to 07 when he came back, I felt he was going to be a hot coaching prospect one day.
There are a number of Bucs fans (% we have no idea) who feel Morris and GM Mark Dominik are too young and in over their head, however Mark Dominik has been with the Bucs since 1993, and learned under Rich McKay (who built the Sapp, Brooks, Barber Bucs), Jerry Angelo (who left Tampa to build the Bears into Superbowl shape), and Tim Ruskell (who left the Bucs to build the Seahawks into a Superbowl team too), as well as the last GM Bruce Allen. So Dominik has been trained by and worked with some of the best football minds in the country. Then you have Raheem Morris, who has been with the Bucs since the Superbowl season, and trained under Monte Kiffin, arguably the best defensive coordinator of all time, perhaps next to Phily's own Jim johnson. Seeing as the ownership is going to be paying Jon Gruden AND Bruce Allen for two more seasons for doing nothing, it is doubtful they will do the same with Morris and Dominick. Their jobs are pretty safe; unless of course they go 0-16, and that may be unforgivable.
I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the Bucs' ownership? BGN readers may not know that they also own Manchester United soccer club in the English Premier league and have over a billion dollars in debt. When you combine that with the fact that Tampa has almost twice as much cap space as any other team in the NFL... you have to wonder what is up with the Glazers? Can they afford these teams? Are they still committed to the Bucs?
This situation certainly has not escaped the Tampa fan base. The problem is the same economy that has hit the rest of us has hit the rich as well! The Glazers are required to pay a lot of money on interest payments right now, and that money has them cash strapped. The money coming in from the NFL TV contracts is more than enough to run the football operations of the team, but they do not have the cash to offer cash bonuses, instead they have been offering guaranteed contracts, which is also an attractive incentive for a player. Once the interest payments become more reasonable or gone, I personally am pretty sure they will get back to the business as usual for the bucs. Frustrated fans forget that the Glazers saved football in Tampa by purchasing the team and keeping them here at a time when the Rams, and Browns, Footballs historically relevant franchises, left their respective cities, yet the Bucs stayed in Tampa! Fans also forget that not so long ago the Bucs were in Salary Cap hell because of the unwise spending of former GM Rich McKay. The Bucs have not signed players just for the sake of spending the money, and in fact did go after big name talent this year, losing out to Washington for Albert Haynesworth. And speaking of Washington, Bucs fans also seem to not realize that the Redskins have led the league in Free Agency spending, and have not had much to show for it. A Lower Salary Cap surplus does not always spell out to more wins. The Bucs brought in K2 and Derrick Ward, the Best Tight End and Running Back available in 2009 Free agency. If the previous regime had drafted better, the Bucs would not need to rely on Free Agents so much.
Finally, my standard question... If you could steal an Eagle and add him to the Bucs, who would it be?
Right Now? We would take DeSean Jackson. Local Bucs beat writers had us taking him in the draft, but also warned that he reminded Bucs fans too much of some other WR we took with similar attributes, like Florida WR Jacquez Green. However, the Bucs ended up taking Dexter Jackson from App State, and he is now no longer with the team because he could not play WR nor could he play football in special teams duty. DeSean would be a welcomed addition to the Bucs roster. If we could go back in time and take someone off your roster, we would go back and take Donovan McNabb! Enough said there!