The Dime Package: Week 12

This week, Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins takes a look at Bucs news for this week, including Raheem Morris' decision to demote Jim Bates, Josh Freeman, Kellen Winslow and why the Bucs won't win again this Sunday against Atlanta. Get Postins' unique spin, plus his prediction, on the Bucs each week here at Bucsblitz.com.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. So what is there to be thankful for if you're a Bucs fan? Let me get back to you on that.

Byron Leftwich is now on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season with a sore elbow? Surely I'm not the only one that forgot he was on the roster. And, sore elbow? He hasn't thrown a pass that mattered since September. Rudy Carpenter was signed off the Cowboys practice squad to replace him.

Leftwich won't be here next year. Neither will Carpenter. And, frankly, backup Josh Johnson is 50/50. Like many things Bucs-related this season, it's a mess.

At what point do we start to question the ability of Raheem Morris as a head coach? Part of the job is hiring the right coaches to surround you. So far, his ability to do so is dubious.

You do remember that he fired his offensive coordinator, Jeff Jagodzinski, about 10 days before the season opener, right? Jagodzinski's sin, apparently, was not getting the ball downfield enough, not that it really matters with the weapons Tampa Bay has on offense.

Now there's the news that Morris will call the defensive signals instead of coordinator Jim Bates. Bates remains the DC, but it's essentially a demotion and a vote of no confidence, not just in Bates' ability to call a game but also in Bates' defensive scheme as a whole.

A reasonably smart football person would know that transitioning from the Tampa 2 to Bates' more aggressive, 4-3 man scheme would be difficult, especially for a team built to play the Tampa 2. The transition has been rough, to say the least. The Bucs are near the bottom in all defensive categories. And let's not forget the dearth of talent on defense right now. Outside of Barrett Ruud, Ronde Barber and Chris Hovan, there isn't much in the way of proven talent in this unit.

So Morris has now fired an offensive coordinator and demoted a defensive coordinator in less than four months. One wonders if Morris believes his job is suddenly on the line.

Perhaps it is. And it may have nothing to do with the Bucs' soon to be 2-14 record. It may simple be because Morris is ill-suited for this job.

Michael Clayton caught a touchdown pass on Sunday. That's parade-worthy, right?

I know. I couldn't resist.

Have you looked at Josh Freeman's numbers through last week's game? He's completing about 52 percent of his passes, has thrown 5 touchdown passes and 5 interceptions. His quarterback rating is 63.8.

Now look at the other rookie starters – Jets QB Mark Sanchez and Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who have been playing since Day 1 this season:

Sanchez: 52.1 completion percentage, 10 TDs, 16 INTs, 61.1 QB rating;

Stafford: 55.2 completion percentage, 11 TDs, 14 INTs, 66.9 QB rating.

I would venture to say that Freeman's numbers will hold steady the rest of the season. That, honestly, isn't bad. And this coming from a guy that wanted to keep him on the bench all season.

Ah, but there is next year to think about. Here's our weekly look at the 2010 NFL Draft order, as it stands entering Week 12.

There was some definite separation this week. The Lions won, taking them out of the No. 1 overall pick derby temporarily. That leaves three teams with one victory: Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Cleveland.

As we mentioned last week, strength of schedule breaks the tie in this situation. While I'm not going to bore you with the math at this moment, the Bucs are still clearly in the No. 1 position. Even with the Saints' undefeated record, that wasn't enough to boost the Bucs' strength of schedule to pass either Cleveland or St. Louis.

It's interesting to note that scouts polled by Sports Illustrated recently said the No. 1 player on their boards is RB C.J. Spiller of Clemson.

There are reports that the Buffalo Bills have contacted Mike Shanahan about their potential head coach opening. My over/under for the Bucs contacting Shanahan is two weeks from today. The Bills aren't that enticing a job. Neither is the Bucs, for that matter.

There isn't much to be excited about this season for the Bucs. And with the Pro Bowl set for Miami the weekend before the Super Bowl, there's a good chance the Bucs won't have any representation. Their best shot is TE Kellen Winslow, who has proved to be worth the draft picks the Bucs gave up to get him. Through 11 games Winslow is the team's leading receiver with 47 catches, 483 yards and 5 touchdowns. He's eighth in the NFL in receptions among tight ends. There is some stiff competition in the NFC, namely Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta, Jason Witten in Dallas and Vernon Davis in San Francisco. But if the Pro Bowl committee is going to throw the Bucs a bone – or if they need an injury replacement – Winslow could be the guy.

I thought this week would be a potential win for the Bucs. I even said so last week, thinking the Falcons would miss Michael Turner. But did you see what Jason Snelling did last week? If I'm the Falcons, I give Turner the time he needs to heal. This guy has some skills.

I'm 9-1 for the season. I had inclinations of taking the Bucs until Snelling emerged and Morris demoted Jim Bates and decided to re-install the Cover 2. There's way too much uncertainty among this Bucs team, and the Falcons are coming off a solid effort against the Giants. This may be closer than I'm predicting, but the winner will be clear. Falcons 34, Bucs 17.


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