Wednesday, Aug. 22
Caddy: It's time to shine, bud
At one point this offseason no position in Tampa Bay offered more uncertainty than quarterback. Now that Jeff Garcia has solidified the position, Bucs fans can breathe a sigh of relief — until the inevitable injury, of course.
Naturally, one must turn his attention to what else ails the Buccaneers this preseason.
Cadillac Williams, anyone?
Through two preseason games Williams has three yards on four carries. Those are, you must admit, pretty sorry, even for preseason.
Yes, it's preseason. Williams doesn't usually play much in preseason. Yes, Williams usually needs more than three carries to get going. Yes, the starting offensive line has only played three possessions together.
That's an awful lot of excuses to make for a third-year veteran, don't you think?
|Tampa Bay running back Cadillac Williams. (AP)|
It's not that Williams did little against Jacksonville. It's how he did it. I'd have no problem with Williams only seeing a few carries if he were running with authority, hitting the hole full speed and taking on defensive linemen and linebackers. He ran that way in training camp, even in the 11-on-11 contact drills.
But he did none of that on Saturday. He appeared, to me, to run with the same shuffling feet he did toward the end of last year. Then, he had no reason to be confident in his offensive line. Then, he ran tentatively, something no one saw in him during his rookie season.
Williams described last season as a "brick wall." Saddled with a rookie quarterback by Week 4, everyone focused on Williams. Stop the back, they thought, and let the rookie beat us.
It worked. But perhaps that strategy did more damage to Williams than we thought. Yes, he ended last season injured, and his body is healed.
But what about his mind? What about his confidence? He hasn't broken off a run of 10 yards or more in his last seven games, dating back to last year. You wouldn't know it by the talk of Williams' penchant for starting slow, but he's capable of running off chunks of yardage early in games, too.
Running backs coach Art Valero told me during training camp that he made a tape of Williams last year. The tape? Some of the best 1-yard runs he'd ever seen. All were of Williams.
The Bucs did not draft Williams to produce 1-yard runs. They drafted him to be a superstar. Gruden admitted that on draft day. He's the back they want to build around for the next 10 years. Sure, he needs talent around him. But the true superstars in this league can produce without a stellar supporting cast.
It's time for Williams to prove he can do that. And Saturday night would be a great time to start.
The Bucs Buzz
I search the globe for the best Buccaneers stories on the Web — so you don't have to.
One day it's a porn star mustache on Barrett Ruud. The next day it's a "mohawk" on wide receiver Michael Clayton (and I use the term mohawk loosely). The Tampa Tribune, along with reporting on offensive lineman Arron Sears, put together this short piece on Clayton's new hair do. You might remember he had braids earlier this year. Perhaps he's hoping Gruden will think he's a new receiver and give him more playing time.
By the way, here's my article on Sears. We hope to update his condition later today, but you know how the Bucs are about that sort of thing.
Looks like St. Pete Times columnist John Romano and I were on a similar wave length this morning. While my previous blog entry talked about how Cadillac Williams needs to start taking matters into his own hands, Romano writes that Any serious success this season hinges on how well the Bucs can run the ball. Please keep in mind that five of the last six years the Bucs have ranked 24th or worse in running the football. Then, think about those season-ending record. Get it?
And remember those three-receiver sets the Bucs used heavily last Saturday night? Stephen Holder writes that if Gruden gets his way, fans will be seeing it a lot.
Elsewhere, the Albuquerque Journal caught up with third-round pick Quincy Black recently for this article. Apparently, he's been mistaken for teammate Cato June once already this season. Mike Cobb of the Lakeland Ledger writes that the Bucs are practicing their mistakes in practice. Don't worry. Plenty of teams actually do this. But it stands to reason ¬— didn't the Bucs get plenty of work at that last week?
Practice will be starting soon. It's open today, so I'll have a full report if anything transpires. I also hope to get an update on Arron Sears. MP