Wednesday, Sept. 12
The contingency plan
Kelly's injury is especially concerning because when the veteran corner is playing opposite the durable Ronde Barber, the Bucs seem to win. They have an over .500 record since 2002 with Kelly in the lineup.
Losing Kelly affects the entire secondary. Phillip Buchanon will move into Kelly's spot on the left side. The dropoff won't be dramatic because Buchanon is a solid corner and, with a year in the Tampa 2 system, has a much better understanding of the scheme.
The real issue will come when the Bucs use their nickel package. S Tanard Jackson, who started at free safety on Sunday, played some nickel corner in preseason. The Bucs could also use Davis there, and since he went through training camp and the preseason with the Buccaneers, he understands the Cover 2.
However you look at it, the only injury that would have been worse for this unit would have been losing Barber. But losing Kelly for any length of time saps the depth dry at this position.
I hope to talk to secondary coach Raheem Morris about this today, but I would lean toward using Jackson as the nickel corner — which means he'll see as much work there as he would at safety — and then have Will Allen and Sabby Piscitelli duke it out for the free safety start. Jackson's coverage skills are too good not to be used as the nickel corner. I could even see them using Jackson at safety in base formations and moving him to nickel in those packages, with Allen coming in off the bench to play free safety.
Let's get real
I won't dispute that David Boston has a legitimate injury. Bruce Allen alluded that Boston's injury was similar to another pre-game injury suffered by Chas Gessner before the final preseason game, and that led to Gessner's move to injured reserve.
But let's get real. This organization must feel betrayed by Boston right now.
For three weeks this guy has professed his innocence to the organization. The organization even came out and supported Boston publicly. To have Boston's positive test for GHB come to light now after all that support isn't just embarrassing to Boston but to the organization.
So Boston's release is, well, perfectly timed to get the Buccaneers out from underneath this mess. I was really hoping Allen would take Boston to task publicly but he didn't. There's a reason for that, though. There could be ramifications to the Buccaneers simply outright releasing Boston because of this positive test. But, by giving Boston an injury settlement and releasing him, that washes the franchise's hands of Boston.
I do have a problem, however, with Allen hiding behind the fact that tight end Jerramy Stevens' DUI conviction last week stemmed from an incident that occurred before he joined the team.
Allen said that every player on the team is accountable to the Buccaneers' strict conduct policies. But he said that since Stevens' incident occurred more than a month before he signed with the Bucs, the Collective Bargaining Agreement was clear about what might happen to Stevens.
This is the same GM that suspended defensive end Simeon Rice in San Francisco for missing a team meeting before the game. So he was asked whether the team would take any action.
"The actions of Jerramy occurred before he signed," Allen said. "The case you brought up (Rice) came before one of our games and under our jurisdiction."
I guess you can't really punish Stevens for something that occurred before he joined the team. But Allen knew the trial was coming when he signed Stevens, and knew there was a chance he could lose him to a suspension if the NFL deemed it fit.
This all just tarnishes the reputation of this franchise and its figureheads, Allen and Jon Gruden. This year alone Torrie Cox has been suspended for violating the league substance abuse policy, Boston has tested positive for GHB and Stevens has been convicted of DUI.
These are all their guys. Gruden was part of the staff that drafted Cox in 2003. Allen helped sign Boston and Stevens.
Allen said he was all for giving people second chances. I am, too. But at some point don't you say to yourself, "Geez, this guy has 10 off-the-field incidents in his NFL career. Can I really sign this guy?"
That's Stevens. And he's never been suspended by the NFL. Ludicrous. Just insane.
If the new NFL is all about player conduct, the Bucs get a failing grade at the moment.