Hey, anyone impressed with TE Kellen Winslow so far? It's not hard to be, considering he's about the only bright spot on the team at the moment. It's a miracle this guy has four touchdown receptions so far this season.
After watching Kansas City linebacker Mike Vrabel catch the 11th touchdown pass of his career on Sunday (it was the 11th pass he's caught period), maybe the Bucs need to employ LT Donald Penn in a similar formation. I mean, those were some pretty soft hands he showed off when he caught that ricocheted pass against Philadelphia. Had some solid moves, too.
Speaking of Penn, there's some love for this guy around the league. The Sporting News recently put together a rankings package of offensive and defensive lines. The article broke down several qualities of successful offensive linemen, and Penn was ranked No. 3 in the NFL in toughness.
Remember when this guy was a nobody, before he started playing as an injury replacement in 2006, and then took over for Luke Petitgout in 2007 after his knee injury? Penn hasn't lost his job since. He's probably one of the best recent success stories on this team. So why am I worried he won't be re-signed when the time comes?
By the way, the scouts who chimed in on that Sporting News article had no love for the Bucs defensive line. Those scouts called the Bucs one of the three worst defensive lines in football, though they weren't sure if it was adjustment to Jim Bates' new defensive scheme or talent. All I can see is that there are too many problems on this team to point to just one.
The Bucs could, conceivably, end up with the No. 1 overall pick. Now, there's an usually good amount of competition this year for that pick. The Bucs, Chiefs, Rams and Titans are all 0-5, though I don't expect the Titans to stay that way much longer. Carolina, Detroit, Oakland, Buffalo and Cleveland all have one win each. It's unusual to have this many have nots in the NFL this early in the season, but there are some teams that are just truly horrible.
So who's the worst? The Bucs are in that race, unfortunately. I think the Chiefs are going to get better as the year goes on and maybe end up with four wins. The Rams are awful. They'll be lucky to win three. The Titans will surge to five or six. Carolina is going to win too many to get that No. 1 pick, as will Detroit and Cleveland. Of the one-loss teams, the Raiders are just dysfunctional enough to lose out, especially if this Tom Cable situation gets out of hand.
As for the Bucs, there's an awfully good chance this winless start could stretch into December if they don't beat Carolina on Sunday. Have you looked at their schedule? After the Panthers, the Bucs go to London to face the Patriots, and considering their offensive sluggishness, they're going to see the Bucs defense as a Happy Meal. After a bye (mercifully), there's Green Bay, Miami, New Orleans and Atlanta, which carries the Bucs into December.
Green Bay is probably the most winnable game in that stretch. I thought Miami was dead in the water when Chad Pennington went down for the year, but this Henne kid has something. And the Saints and Falcons are going to beat the Bucs down.
I'll make my fearless prediction here. If the Bucs don't win on Sunday, get ready for 0-11 heading into December. And if that's the case, they're my pick for the No. 1 overall selection and they'll be lucky to win two games.
Am I the only one that thinks if the Bucs get the No. 1 overall selection that it shouldn't preclude them from taking one of the three college QBs that are sure to be first-rounders in 2010? I know Josh Freeman is supposed to be the future of this team, but Sam Bradford is a tantalizing talent. At the least, the Bucs could take him and use him as trade bait to get a wealth of talent or draft picks in return, much the way the Chargers used Eli Manning several years ago. Of course, that trade worked out for both teams.
It's an option that should be considered if you're GM Mark Dominik.
And here's another option to consider – firing Raheem Morris. I know that sounds outlandish, given that Jon Gruden was fired to promote Raheem Morris, because the Glazers were worried that he might bolt for a head coaching job somewhere else. But is there anyone out there that thinks Morris could be overmatched for this job? I realize the talent isn't there, but I don't seem much improvement in five weeks, especially on defense, where Morris is supposed to be more proficient. The offense hasn't been too bad, I suppose. But with coaches like Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan and Bill Cowher sitting out there, I wonder if the Glazers might consider making a move if they could get any of those potential Hall of Fame coaches? It's probably not fair to Morris, but if the Bucs do finish 1-15 or 2-14, fair goes out the window (and so do a plethora of season ticket renewals for 2010).
Josh Johnson attempted 50 passes against Philadelphia after the Bucs fell behind early. That sounds like something out of the Jon Gruden-Meadowlands playbook. If you're going to try and establish the run, maybe you could give it more than lip service? I mean Johnson was the leading rusher for all players in that game with 40 yards. Pathetic. On both sides.
Several NFL head coaches are already on the hot seat. Dick Jauron in Buffalo should have been fired a year ago. He actually never should have been hired. He's a latter-day version of Rich Kotite. Washington's Jim Zorn will be fired because Daniel Snyder won't be able to resist it. I think Snyder is the worst owner to work for in the NFL. This guy has no patience and expects his checkbook to solve his team's problems. It's a ridiculous notion. If I ran my fantasy football team like Snyder runs his team I'd have fired myself as owner years ago. The Redskins will not be good again until Snyder sells the team, and there is no love for Snyder in D.C. I can tell you that. I sat next to a woman at an Orioles game in 1999 in Baltimore who spent 20 minutes cussing about Snyder. The things that came out of her mouth were just vile. Snyder makes Dallas owner Jerry Jones look like a pragmatist in comparison.
I had the Eagles 37-10 last week. The final was 33-14. I'm getting pretty good at this. I'm 5-0 on the season (or, if you're a Bucs fan, 0-5). This is the Bucs' most winnable game before December, frankly. The Panthers finally won last Sunday, but they're not that great at the moment. Still, the Panthers are more talented and have a little momentum now, and frankly they're desperate. They're talented enough to contend for a Wild Card spot and know their comeback has to start now. Tampa will get a lift from the home fans and keep this one close, but in the end the Panthers' Steve Smith will kill the Bucs again. Panthers 23, Bucs 17.