Reality Check

A quick look into the recent transactions and transgressions of the Tampa Bay Bucs, Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

All is not happy in Oakland. Head coach Bill Callahan notes that teams across the league have caught onto the Raiders offensive scheme, but indications are it is not the scheme that hampers the Oakland offense, but rather a lack of speed and execution. Without a deep threat in the passing game while wide receiver Jerry Porter is sidelined after hernia surgery, the Raiders have relied on the short passing game and crossing routes. In an attempt to kick-start the anemic Raiders offense, the team will line-up running backs Charlie Garner and Justin Fargas. Quarterback Rich Gannon, known to have his moments and point more than a finger here and there had a run-in with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman during the Raiders 31-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Monday night. It was only a matter of time until Gannon's meltdown occurred, maybe Gannon should look in the mirror and realize that the last time we looked, football was a team game and he has had his share of problems in the team's 1-2 start.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to search for help at the wide receiver position. With Joe Jurevicius not expected to return for another three-to-four weeks following knee surgery to repair a torn ligament, the Buccaneers have turned to Marvin "Snoop" Minnis, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs. Minnis should improve the team's speed and quickness at the wide receiver position and could fair reasonably well in a Tampa Bay offense that intends on throwing the ball more in the 2003 season. To make room on the roster for Minnis, Tampa Bay released wide receiver Charles Lee, who fumbled the ball away on his only reception with the team last week. It is rather amazing how the Buccaneers can put points on the scoreboard with the lack of speed at the wide receiver position. Feeding off the league's best defense, head coach Jon Gruden's offense is efficient and opportunistic, which makes them a serious threat to make another run at the Super Bowl. There is a reason why the Buccaneers have not lost consecutive games in the Gruden era.

It could just be that Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan knew what he was doing when he signed quarterback Jake Plummer this past off-season to a free agent contract. Sure, Plummer played in Arizona and had his moments, but when he joined the Broncos, the talk was that he was a fit for the Denver offense. After a slow start, Plummer is progressively looking better in practice and his teammates simply love the guy. He will not make anyone forget Broncos' great John Elway, but the Broncos are 3-0 and Plummer has yet to get comfortable in the Denver offensive scheme. What Shanahan has done with Plummer in recent weeks has been to scale back the playbook slightly, working on the plays that Plummer runs best, as the team and Plummer diligently progress. Don't look now, the Broncos are coming. Jake Plummer will always try to make things happen, he will throw interceptions and he'll force the ball, but in his short time in Denver, Plummer is playing a more disciplined style of ball and that alone gives Shanahan and this Broncos organization a reason to be excited.


Seeking to jump-start an offense that has not shown the ability to get the ball in the hands into a wide receiver downfield, the Jacksonville Jaguars have signed former Pittsburgh Steelers first-round draft pick Troy Edwards. Edwards who fell out of favor in Pittsburgh due to his lack of discipline and less than average route running technique played last with the St. Louis Rams in 2002, catching 18 passes. In a Jacksonville offensive system where a wide receiver has not caught a pass longer than 14 yards the past two-weeks, Edwards should provide the Jaguars with some speed and quickness on the outside, which the team direly needs. The potential for Edwards to play with Jacksonville is good, as Jimmy Smith will sit out the last of a four-game suspension this week and with wide receivers J.J. Stokes and Matthew Hatchette not doing much to enhance their position on the roster, head coach Jack Del Rio is looking for alternatives in the passing game. Playing behind a less than average offensive line and a questionable receiving corps, the problem with the Jacksonville offense has not been veteran quarterback Mark Brunell. The skids are being paved for rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich to take over the reigns at the quarterback position in the near future, which would end Brunell's long and successful run in Jacksonville.

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