Pewter Report Roundtable

April 5 - editors Scott Reynolds, Leo Haggerty and Jim Flynn have each sounded off on Tampa Bay's 2003 regular season schedule. Is the schedule a friendly one for the Super Bowl champion Bucs? Read how the Pewter Reporters feel about it in this 1,000-word commentary.

Pewter Report Editor-In-Chief Scott Reynolds:

"The first thing that jumps out at me is two tough games out of three to start the season. I'm talking about opening up at Philadelphia on Monday Night Football and then traveling to Atlanta two weeks later. I like the fact that the Bucs will be catching the Philadelphia Eagles defense early this year. Hopefully defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has trouble finding adequate replacements for DE Hugh Douglas and CB Al Harris, who is one of the better nickel backs in the NFL. The schedule has incredible balance for the Bucs with no more than two away games and two home games in a row."

"I thought for sure the Dallas-Tampa Bay game would have been on Monday Night Football. I think the Bill Parcells angle would have been a better storyline than Tony Dungy returning to Tampa Bay. In fact, I think it's kind of a slap in the face to Dungy, because the fact that he couldn't get the Bucs to the Super Bowl in six years and it took Jon Gruden only one will be played up in the media. Keep in mind that Dungy helped lay the foundation for the Bucs' Super Bowl run."

"It's too early to make predictions based solely on the game day dates, times and opponents, so I won't. The NFL Draft hasn't even come yet, nor has the end of free agency or training camp."

Pewter Report Managing Editor Leo Haggerty:

"Again, the National Football League did the Bucs no favors with the 2003 regular season schedule. In a game where continuity is vital, Tampa Bay will have five different start times over the course of their 16-game schedule. Three Monday night games top the schedule with two in the friendly confines of Raymond James Stadium. One against the Tony Dungy-led Indianapolis Colts and the other has the New York Giants as the opposition. The away game is a NFC Championship game rematch with the Philadelphia Eagles in the inaugural contest at Lincoln Financial Field. A late season Saturday matinee tilt against the Atlanta Vicks, oops, Falcons and a Sunday night excursion up the coast to Jacksonville are the other two prime-time games plus the usual 1:00 pm and 4:15 pm Sunday start times. That's what happens when you win the Super Bowl. You become a national draw and the old 1:00 pm Sunday games are the exception rather than the rule. Not complaining here but just stating fact because I would bet every member of the Tampa Bay organization would play all there games at midnight if that would get then back to Houston in 2004 for Super Bowl XXXVIII."

"Just looking over the schedule I see the Bucs going 11-5 and tying the Atlanta Falcons for first place in the NFC South. The Pewter Pirates will win the division on the strength of a better division record, 4-2, to the Dirty Birds 3-3. I think the Buccaneers run the table at home but lose five times on the road. The opener with the Philadelphia Eagles will be a loss along with a Week 3 trip to Atlanta. A West Coast defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in October will precede an early November setback in Carolina. The final defeat will be a meaningless game in Tennessee as the Bucs will have locked up their second straight NFC South crown. I do reserve the right to revise this prediction up until Labor Day."

Pewter Report Assistant Editor Jim Flynn:

"Although the Bucs have some tough games on its 2003 regular season schedule, I'm still more concerned about the NFL's decision to have Tampa Bay play a fifth preseason contest in Tokyo, Japan. The last time the Bucs played five preseason games was in 1998 and the team just happened to finish 8-8 that season. Some our sources in the Tampa Bay organization aren't very enthused about its overseas game against the New York Jets due to the 15-plus hour flight and the wrinkle it throws into team's ability to produce a consistent schedule for its players during training camp. If there's any way the Bucs can get out of making the trip to Japan, I think they'll do it in a heartbeat."

"As far as the regular season goes, the Bucs only play two homes games in the first seven weeks of the regular season. That's a tough stretch, but the good news is the Bucs played five of its first eight regular season games on the road last season and produced a 6-2 record. The Bucs also have two two-game road trips (Washington-San Francisco, Jacksonville-New Orleans) that could be cause for concern. Other than that, I like the fact that the Bucs were given three Monday Night Football contests, two of which are at home. The team has seven nationally televised games, but don't be surprised if that number increases since some of the team's other contests will draw more interest from the networks as the season progresses."

"It's too early to make a prediction now since the team hasn't even entered the NFL Draft or training camp. I do, however, think the Bucs have put together a good enough team at this point to win the NFC South Division again next season, but I don't think the Atlanta Falcons will make that easy."

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