Wednesday, Aug. 8
Just heard that Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron and hit No. 756. Sorry to hear that, Hank. For the record you broke with such class and amid such distractions (including death threats) to be overtaken by some privileged brat really does nothing for me.
|Barry Bonds. (AP)|
I really appreciated his talent when he was younger (when he could actually run). He had game-changing speed, a solid glove and just enough pop to keep pitchers honest. Now he's just a cartoon character. I'm sure 30 years down the line we'll forgive and forget and develop an appreciation for the slugger, driven by a generation that didn't know him like fans of today do. No, it seems Bonds is set for a fate not unlike Roger Maris, when Maris broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. And that's both sad, and fitting. We ought to care, but the majority of us just don't.
Besides, he's just keeping the seat warm for A-Rod anyway.
Just finished reading Jon Gruden's transcript from Wednesday's press conference, and I could sense the chagrin all the way from here in Texas (I'm on vacation. My dad says Hi).
You can read the entire transcript on our site, a great little premium feature that goes along with our daily "Gruden Speaks." Here's the link.
But one two particular quotes caught my eye. The first is on the Bucs' depth chart, released on Monday:
"We don't have a depth chart, really, that's concrete. That depth chart was released two days ago, and it's ancient history now."
|Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden. (AP)|
Oh, and here's the other one:
"I think some of the best runs I've ever seen in the league are no-gain runs three-yard runs, two-yard runs…"
Really? Then why didn't you run the ball 48 times in the windy Meadowlands last year? Caddy was getting plenty of 1- and 2-yard gains that day?
Sometimes I wonder.
One of the nice things about being back home during the football season is the local Cowboys coverage (my favorite team growing up). I love the whole "Camp Cupcake" concept. Just because Wade Phillips isn't glowering at players every time they fail to run a route right doesn't mean he's not getting his point across.
|Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips. (RanchReport.com)|
Oh, and Terrell Owens wore a Spider-Man mask at the last training camp practice in San Antonio today for no other reason than to draw attention. Nice to see the self-centered one is in midseason form.
And isn't it nice to have a blog NOT mention Michael Vick. Uh, wait a min — shoot! Guess I'll try again tomorrow.
That's all for today. MP
Thursday, Aug. 9
So much for my vacation
That's what happens when Mike Alstott makes news — your day goes in the crapper. Not that Mike had a great day, either. He knows the end of his career is near. You'd well up too if something you dreamed about all your life was about to slip away.
|Mike Alstott. (AP)|
Still, it's that dream that won't let go. I wanted to play pro golf when I was a kid, but it naturally didn't happen for a variety of reasons. But I didn't let go of that dream until a few years ago. There was always that thought of, ‘If I can just get up at 5 a.m. and start practicing every day for the next couple of years…' Then you realize there aren't enough hours in the day, no matter how much you lobby God for the extra time. It just doesn't come.
We have plenty of great Alstott content on the site right now, including an analysis on how the Bucs will adjust without him in 2007, Plus my own column on why I believe it's time for Alstott to retire.
We're also soliciting your favorite memories of Alstott. Just go to our Bucsblitz.com message board and find the Submit Mike Alstott memories thread at the top. It's not going anywhere for a while.
A word on Jake
The Bucs and Broncos have submitted paperwork to claim at least part of the $7 million in bonus money Jake Plummer walked away with when he "retired" in March.
NFLPA's rules allow the teams to do this. What's interesting is that the Broncos are involved, but the Bucs appear unwilling to share any of the money recouped (at least according to a couple of published reports I've read). That could lead to some sparring, since it was Denver's, not Tampa Bay's, money to begin with.
Plummer never reported to training camp in Orlando, and doesn't appear willing to. Yet, he hasn't filed his retirement paperwork. So what's he up to? Don't you wish he'd figure it out so we could stop writing about this? Lord knows I do.
I'd love to write more about my Cowboys whipping the Colts, but it's late and I have a fantasy draft to prepare for. So long for now. MP
Friday, Aug. 10
Driving the back roads
Driving back from my hometown of Longview, Texas, to Denton on Friday, I was reminded of how much that drive down I-20 resembles my drives from my home in North Port, Fla., to Gainesville these days. Same rolling hills, same trees, same cows grazing in pastureland. The similarities are pretty eerie.
I made an unscheduled stop in Big Sandy, Texas — hometown of former Bucs assistant coach and current Bears head coach Lovie Smith. While there is a street named after Lovie in this small east Texas hamlet (you'll need directions. This street is well off the beaten path, even for a town as small as Big Sandy), but there's no "Hometown of Lovie Smith sign greeting you as you enter town on Highway 80.
|Lovie Smith. (AP)|
But no sign for Lovie. Of course, as humble as he is, that probably suits him just fine.
Bucs and Pats
As you've probably surmised, I was not at the preseason opener on Friday night. I'm in Texas this weekend for my annual fantasy football draft in the Lone Star Football League, which I've been involved in since 1993. Most of us went to college together at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. We went to dinner tonight in nearby Bedford. It's always great to see everybody, because we swap old stories we've told 100 times, but they're new to my fiancée, so I get a kick out of seeing her reaction to the stories we've laughed at for years.
As for the Bucs game, I can tell you that Luke McCown had a good night, judging by his touchdown pass to Paris Warren in the second quarter. Otherwise, it looked like a defensive struggle, judging from the play-by-plays and the box score. I have a writer at the game and he'll be delivering an analysis to me shortly for your reading enjoyment.
Meanwhile, if you get the chance, click on this link to Gary Shelton's column on Mike Alstott. I didn't look at Gary's column in the St. Pete Times before I wrote mine, but it appears we took the same tact. Of course, Gary being Gary, he produced a far more eloquent column than I could produce. Here's the link to my column.
That's all for today I have a fantasy draft to prepare for. MP
Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 11-12
It's a fantasy world
Had my Lone Star Football League fantasy football draft on Saturday and I must admit I think I did pretty well. It's a five-player keeper league, and I protected the maximum. I picked 32nd overall and got Detroit WR Calvin Johnson, Carolina RB DeAngelo Williams and Washington RB LaDell Betts with my first three picks. I picked up QB Jon Kitna in the ninth round to pair up with Eli Manning, and got a couple of nice players late in WR D.J. Hackett and RB Tatum Bell. Not bad for a sixth wide receiver and a fifth running back. I'm optimistic — which is always a bad sign.
At least I wasn't the owner that took BOTH Brady Quinn AND JaMarcus Russell in the same draft! Those were two of the whopping five rookies he drafted — Adrian Peterson, Chris Henry and Brandon Jackson were the others. And this from an owner who usually knows what he's doing.
|Marc Bulger. (Getty images)|
And big props to FJ Fantasy Sports, which managed to get me a big draft board by Thursday (ordered on Monday) when CBS Sportsline let me down by not getting me my free board on time. That's one of the few complaints I've ever had about CBS's service. I'll be going back to FJ every year from now on.
Thanks to said fantasy draft, the Rangers-Devil Rays game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (one of my faves, Rusty Greer, was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame) and a night of staying up with my fiancée while she purged what we can only assume was a bout of food poisoning, the Bucs-Pats Observation Deck is finally up. The OD will be our weekly wrapup of each game, complete with analysis and opinion on the preview game. With me being out of town, an old colleague, Eric McKinney, helped me out. I'll be your author the rest of the way in. Here's the link.
Without seeing the game, it seems Kenneth Darby made quite the splash on Friday night. I don't think he's a threat to the No. 3 job, held by Earnest Graham, because I think Mike Alstott's move to the IR, plus B.J. Askew's limited ability as a fullback, is going to open up opportunities for many players. Here's a link to my story about life without Mike.
Looking ahead to 2008
You're going to notice some new content on Bucsblitz.com beginning today.
Scout.com hired Chris Steuber to manage our NFL Draft content. If you haven't read or seen Chris' work at NFLDraftPro.com, he does some things that are really ahead of the curve in terms of draft coverage. He's already put together two articles on the 2008 NFL Draft. The first is on the top five rookies and sophomores. in the NFL this season. One is a wide receiver who was recently named Tampa Bay's starter opposite Joey Galloway. Also, there's Steuber's weekly interview series with Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, a Heisman Trophy candidate and a possible first-round pick in 2008. Quarterback is particular interest to Buccaneers fans, unless you think the current young quarterbacks are the future at the position. The series just kicked off.
Also, give this article a look. Our Scout.com personnel guru, Tom Marino, has more than 30 years experience evaluating talent for the NFL, most recently for the St. Louis Rams. He recently ranked the quarterbacks in the NFC South and, while he likes starter Jeff Garcia, he has some concerns. Here's the link. I'll be talking to both during the season about Bucs-related issues such as personnel and the 2008 Draft. You can get their top-rated analysis, plus that of our NFL senior writer and analyst, Adam Caplan, only at Scout.com and Bucsblitz.com.
Also note that our 2008 NFL Draft rankings should be live this week.
That's all for today. I have a fiancée to tend to. Until Monday. MP
Monday, Aug. 13
Clothes make the men
Watch a good portion of the Chargers-Seahawks preseason game on Sunday night, and I really like what the Chargers have done with the new uniforms. They were able to blend a new number design, make the jerseys sharper looking without sacrificing the traditional look of their jerseys. They still have the powder blues (a personal favorite) and the white helmet is a full-time thing now. So many teams want to go out and re-invent the wheel to jazz up their uniforms. The Chargers are proof that sometimes a facelift will suffice.
|The Chargers' new practice unis. (SD Bolt Report.com)|
I don't make it a point to watch a lot of preseason, but I was watching with my buddy, Chuck, while we were breaking down our fantasy league's draft from Saturday. Yes, we broke down each draft and graded it. Yes, we're that sad. You'll see a lot of LSFL entries in here during football season, as the LSFL is the one fantasy football league that I really care about winning. I've been in it for 15 years and have never won it.
Bucs stories around the Web
We've been using the "Bucs Buzz" to keep you up to date on the best Buccaneers stories on the web (usually stories in other publications, such as the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times). Well, to save me — and you, for that matter — a little time, I'm going to enter those links into "Postscripts" each day. These are some of the best Buccaneer stories that I've seen on the Web the past 24 hours.
At the Tampa Tribune (where their new Bucs Web design is confusing the mess out of me), Ira Kaufman wrote a short, but informative feature on cornerback Phillip Buchanon, who is becoming a bigger part of this defense every day.
Also at the Trib, Roy Cummings, one of the best-connected guys I know in the business, clearly illuminated running back Kenneth Darby's situation in this recent article.
Over at the St. Petersburg times, lead writer Rick Stroud spoke to veteran Michael Pittman, who said he's ready for anything after Mike Alstott's move to the IR — including a role as a fullback. Pittman is a player you have to like, as he has a penchant for doing whatever the coaching staff needs or wants him to do, and he usually does it well, to boot.
And Times writer Stephen A. Holder writes that the Bucs are looking for several players that can fill multiple roles to give them maximum roster flexibility on game day — and that includes a possible role for receiver/returner Mark Jones. I still think, however, that Chad Owens is a viable candidate for that role, too. But the Bucs defense is actually going to have to allow some points for us to see that for sure.
And at the Bradenton Herald, staff writer Roger Mooney writes that the Bucs — specifically head coach Jon Gruden — aren't concerned about Jeff Garcia's slow start during Friday's game. I don't think Bucs fans should be that concerned, either. I think Garcia will play much better on Saturday against Jacksonville. He'll play longer, too.
The Johnson debacle
It sounds like Larry Johnson and Kansas City general manager Carl Peterson are digging in for a long holdout.
Johnson went No. 2 overall in my fantasy draft on Saturday, but his stock is slipping fast. It's not just his holdout. It's the fact that he's lost two offensive linemen so far this offseason. Plus, factor in the Trent Green trade. The Chiefs are going to be terrible this year. I mean, flat out terrible. Here's the latest Johnson update from our Chiefs writer, Nick Athan.
|Larry Johnson. (Getty images)|
So, what exactly is Peterson thinking? Who knows.
I am with Peterson, however, on Johnson. Let him hold out. Johnson has a contract. He signed it. He has to live with it. If the team and the player can agree on a new deal before training camp, more power to them. But if they can't, then it's the player's obligation to show up at training camp on time and play out said contract (Or as Rob Tidwell's wife said in "Jerry Maguire," play out said crappy contract).
Johnson was a first-round pick, so the money's not that bad. I think Johnson is confusing pride with obligation.
If he doesn't show up, I don't know what the Chiefs are going to do. I don't believe Priest Holmes will be a factor. He hasn't played since that spine injury. I don't think he's going to be the same back. If you risk the pick on Johnson, I don't know who you handcuff him to.
Are we there yet?
Jon Gruden said during his Monday morning press conference that Jovan Haye was on lap "478" of the Daytona 500.
You can read the entire Monday morning quote sheet by linking here: I post it every day for Bucsblitz.com premium subscribers. Reading Gruden's words form his own lips is well worth the monthly subscription if you're a die-hard Bucs fan.
|Jon Gruden. (AP)|
It's humorous for two reasons. First, at the rate Haye is progressing, he'll make the roster in about 2011. Second, if memory serves, it only takes 200 laps to win at Daytona, not 500 (it's 500 miles).
Now, I'm NASCAR illiterate, so I could be wrong about that. But if this guy's making so much progress, shouldn't he be a lot farther along in the analogy? Or am I just splitting hairs?
That's all for now. Check for any new entries today, or I'll see ya on Tuesday. MP
Tuesday, Aug. 14
The best Bucs stories on the Web
Just one blog entry today, as I'm traveling back to Florida from Texas. It's been a wonderful nine days of vacation, and a great way to recharge the batteries before football season. But sad in that I have to get back to work — and there's a lot of work left to do.
First, I should point you toward a pair of features at Bucsblitz.com. First, there's a feature on rookie safety Sabby Piscitelli, a player everyone in the Buccaneers' organization is anxious to see hit this Saturday against Jacksonville. This story was supposed to run last week, but I held it, not knowing Piscitelli's status.
Then there's our Inside Slant on the NFC South, which gets you up to date on what's going on with those teams. There's an interesting bit on Carolina's Julius Peppers. Apparently owner Jerry Richardson called him out during Mike Minter's retirement press conference and asked for him to step up as a leader this season. Apparently Richardson's been to the Mark Cuban school of charm. We have other material coming on Tampa Bay's division rivals later in the week, including a rookie update.
At the Tampa Tribune, columnist Martin Fennelly wrote an illuminating piece on linebacker Cato June, and among his many accomplishments is being named the salutatorian of his high school class.
Over at the St. Petersburg times, columnist Gary Shelton makes a case for Chris Simms, who at the moment is No. 3 on the quarterback depth chart. Shelton's case? Show the kid some patience, because he still has the best arm on the team. Meanwhile, defensive end Patrick Chukwurah talked about his Nigerian roots, explaining how his parents sacrificed to pave his way to the United States.
And, in this Orlando Sentinel piece, tight end Alex Smith discusses his prowess at Madden '08, which comes out today. Smith won the Madden title among NFL football players at Super Bowl XL in Detroit. Kind of which he could make that kind of progress on the field this year, don't you?
That's all for now. The weekly blog-in-review hits the server Wednesday morning, along with new entries for the week. Until then. MP