Bucs Lack Of Speed At Wide Receiver A Mirage

January 25 - Pewter Report managing editor Leo Haggerty dispels the myth that suggests Tampa Bay's offense is hindered by slow wide receivers.

This week the major focus of the so-called experts has been that the Tampa Bay wide receivers lack of speed. This is not something that has surfaced since the Pewter Pirates arrived in San Diego to take on the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. It's been an incessant topic of conversation ever since the Buccaneers went to training camp in Orlando back in July.

The one person on the Buccaneers coaching staff who has completely discounted these ranting has been wide receivers coach Richard Mann. The Aliquippa, Pennsylvania native is not one who buys into the notion that the Bucs wide outs are slow.

"When it comes to being slow, it depends on what you call slow," Mann said. "I don't think we have the burners at wide receiver but we do have game speed. We've made some plays. We teach a lot of things that create separation. I think those things have been pretty effective."

Nothing exemplified that effectiveness more than the catch and run by wide receiver Joe Jurevicious, supposedly one of the slowest of the Tampa Bay wide outs, against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game. That play turned the game around and Mann was quick to point that out.

"That's the thing I'm talking about," Mann stressed. "You don't have to be fast to create separation. Basically, it's a little technique that we teach to make that happen. It's a deal that we do to create separation. I think that's picture perfect as to what you saw. We practice it that way and that's what I like about Jurevicious. He listens and he carries to the game what we do in practice. You saw the end results."

In the American Football Conference championship game, the Tennessee Titans abused Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson in the passing game. The 6-foot-1 University of Michigan alumni has had an assortment of leg injuries, one of which is a broken fibula similar to the one that guard Kerry Jenkins played through this season, and that has caused the 5th year pro to miss half the regular season games. He also was relegated to a substitute role in the next to last regular season game against Denver but Mann doesn't think the Bucs will make No. 24 a target.

"I think we'll let our schemes take care of what we do," Mann stated. "Obviously, if we see a chance to exploit some situations throughout the game we'll do it. Basically, we'll run our offense and we'll take what they give us."

All season long the Buccaneers, like all other West Coast offenses, have scripted there first few plays. According to the 45-year old former Arizona State University alumni it will be business as usual for the Pewter Pirates offense. They've preplanned the first 15 plays since game one and there's no reason to change that philosophy.

"No chance at all," Mann explained. "It's a situation where we're going to use the same techniques and the same strategy that we have done throughout the year. It's got us this far and, hopefully, it will get us this next game."

Mann has been coaching for 33 years and he hasn't seen too many performances that rate up with the one put in by Bucs wide receiver Joe Jurevicious. In his 21 years of coaching on the professional level there haven't been too many guys that have gone through what No. 83 did and then answer the bell plus come up with a momentum turning 71-yard pass reception.

"My hat goes of to Joe," Mann expresses. "He didn't practice all week. He really didn't even get the game plan until he got up to Philly. With all he's been through, with his personal trauma of his newborn baby, he's got to be one of those guys that are a strong-minded guy. He has to be. I think it's a tribute to him and he is, truly, a pro player."

The winning or losing of the Super Bowl could hinge on the play of the Bucs wide receivers against a banged up Raiders secondary. If things go according to plan for the Pewter Pirates the plow horses will continue to play like thoroughbred and their coach won't be surprised with that.

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