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The Race for 53: QB’s

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In the build up to Training Camp and preseason I’m going to take a look at some of the battles for roster spots. First up and possibly the most controversial, whose going to line up under centre in week 1 ?

luke-mccown

Is it his Team ?

The QB position for the Bucs has always been one for debate, and this year it seems even more muddled than normal. The Bucs have 5 QB’s on the roster, including new first round pick Josh Freeman, Brian Greise, Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich and Josh Johnson. Early in pre-season it seemed that the spot belonged to McCown after he was given the big contract extension. When Garcia was let go in Free Agency it seemed even more clear that this was McCowns team. Then, in the weeks leading up to the draft the position got really muddled. Byron Leftwich was signed from the Steelers in FA and the Freeman to the Bucs draft rumours started to gain some traction.

Looking back over the media stories covering McCowns new contract there’s not a great deal that really says ‘Luke is our man and its’ his team’. Raheem was quoted on Buccaneers.com saying

“I know he is looking forward to the opportunity to be an integral part of our quarterback group this season.”

For me that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement for your new QB, and it looks like there will be a battle royale in Training Camp for the spot. So despite the big contract was the team ever McCowns or is he just baby sitting until Freeman is ready ? This is where training camp will give a real insight into whose team it is and how quickly Freeman is coming along.

I don’t think that the Bucs will take 5 QB’s into camp and Greise will be the first to be let go. Greise does have the veteran nous but for me he just doesn’t suit the Bucs new scheme and with Leftwich being brought in we no longer need Greises’ veteran skills. Leftwich can provide the veteran nous and seems more suited to the new Jagodzinski style than Greise. Leftwich stepped in well during Roethlisbergers injuries and should be the #2 but who will he be backing up ?

Josh Johnson was definitely a project type pick and was a Gruden pick. Whether he’s got the ability or the team feel he can contribute will dictate whether he stays. Johnson was a draftniks dream sleeper pick, small college player with outstanding stats but never tested at the top levels of college ball. In the new Morris led era I just can’t see Johnson making the roster and expect him to be cut after camp. So that leaves Freeman.

Or His Team

Or His Team ?

Certainly there is a lot of hopes pinned on Freeman, but unless he has a Flacco-esque training camp he’ll be handling a clipboard come week 1. McCown has a lot on his shoulders; the pressure of Freeman and on paper the first 7 games look brutal. If the Bucs struggle there will be a clamour to get Freeman on the field.  If we do need a replacement QB it could be a tough call. It’s hard to judge how a player will react in the heat of the NFL, some say just throw them in (Joe Flacco), others it’s better to learn (Aaron Rodgers). If Freeman is ready all well and good but if not keep him on the sidelines learning rather than taking a beating and let Leftwich run the offence.

The season is still a long way off but this is one area of the team that I’ll be watching with interest.

My 3 for the roster are McCown, Leftwich and Freeman.

Written by UK Bucs Fan

May 10, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Alex Smith Traded to Patriots

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Alex Smith has been traded to the Patriots for an undisclosed pick in next years draft. I liked Smith and what he could have brought to the Bucs offence but felt he was never used to his full potential by the Bucs. Clearly more adept in the passing game than the blocking he never the less found himself in the trenches protecting the QB. Once the Winslow trade was done it was likely that Smith would be the odd man out leaving a TE core of Winslow, Gilmore and Stevens.

Smith, a 3rd round pick in ’05 looked to be a good find after a 41 catch rookie season. He’s not matched those stats since, due to a combination of the Bucs needing more QB protection, our QB seemingly keying on key recievers and the Bucs having a lot of TE’s in the rotation. Had the Bucs had a different style of offence I think Smith could have flourished. Going to the Pats with Brady et al could really help him rediscover that rookie season form. As with all ex Bucs I wish him well

Written by UK Bucs Fan

May 2, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Freeman Pick Divides Opinion

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So the #1 pick for the Bucs has certainly divided opinion amongst the Buc faithful. Words like ‘reach’, ‘other more pressing needs’ and a lot of ‘WTF’s have been thrown around like confetti in football forums. So without Johnson throwing a pass in anger for the Bucs the pressure is already on him and the Bucs management to make sure this kid isn’t the next Akili Smith or Ryan Leaf. Clearly Dominik and Morris feel that Freeman is the man for the future and it will be interesting to see how quickly he’s brought through. If the Bucs have an early season stinker, which given the schedule is possible does Freeman get his chance ?

Rumours had circulated pre draft that the Bucs were keen on Freeman, but none of the draftniks really thought that QB was a pressing need, especially when Byron Leftwich was signed during free agency. Most mocks had us taking Peria Jerry, or any number of defensive ends. Morris clearly wanted his man and decided that the cost to trade up 2 places in the first round (a 7th round pick) was worth it to ensure they got their man. The reason given for the trade up was that they felt that if we didn’t trade up to #17 another team would trade either with the Browns or the Broncos and take Freeman from under our noses. Of the teams likely to trade up, one could have been the Vikings as they are about the only team below us that wasn’t truely settled at QB. The Broncos could have taken him but having acquiring Orton in the Cutler trade that looked unlikely. My gut feel is that the Bucs could have sat tight and still got Freeman at #19. Anyway the deal was struck and the Bucs were happy to get their man.

So what does Freeman bring to the Bucs. He’s a big mobile QB in the mould of Donovan McNabb and JaMarcus Russell. Blessed with oft quoted ‘prototypical QB size’ at 6’6 and 248 he’s a big man lining up under centre. He’s a 3 year starter at KSU and has a big arm to make plays down the field. This is one of the attractions for the Bucs in their new offensive scheme. They plan to get teams to stack the box to counter the threat from Graham and Ward and then look for Bryant and the WR core to stretch the field looking for the big plays in 1 on 1 coverage. Although not electric out of the backfield like a Vince Young or fellow draftee Pat White, due to his size he’s tough to bring down.

I’m not going to get drawn on the miles of internet chatter that this pick has warranted. Id rather sit tight, trust in Dominik and Morris and go from there. Once we start to get some news out of camps then we’ll really see what we have on our hands in Freeman. I’d like to see him get a lot of reps in camp and also get some game time preseason. My gut feel is he’s got some time to learn the ropes with McCown and Leftwich fighting for the starting job for this season, and Johnson and Greise likely to be cut.  If it all pans out he’ll hopefully be the starter for next season but in the NFL if is a very big word.

Written by UK Bucs Fan

April 30, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Free Agency Week 2

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So the Bucs have carried on where they left off last week and continued to add to their roster. I have to admit I was shocked when we signed Garcia but when we signed Warrick “Stick a fork in me i’m” Dunn i was stunned. So heres a round up of this weeks Bucs FA activity.

 Signings:

Warrick Dunn

Yes we need help, but do we need a 33 year old RB with 10,000 yards on the clock ? Dunn has signed a 2 year deal and it certainly seems to indicate that the Bucs aren’t expecting Cadillac Williams back this season. Dunn will certainly provide a nice change up from Earnest Graham, and it leaves a lot of questions over the #3 RB spot. Looks like there will be a great battle between Pittman, Bennett and Darby.

Marques Douglas

Defensive End signed from the 49ers and should provide cover at the DE positions. More of a run stuffing DE he should be able to fill the same sort of run stuffing role that Greg Spires and Kevin Carter excelled in.

Antonio Bryant

Another signing that doesn’t thrill me. I can’t see that Bryant provides anything more than we already have at WR. I’ll wait for him to prove me wrong though 🙂

Losses

Brian Kelly

BK has found a new home in Detroit. The terms of the deal haven’t been announced but I’m hoping the Lions haven’t given him more than 2p and signed him to a pay as you play. I just hope for the Lions that he can stay fit

Kalvin Pearson

It looks likely that Pearson may find a home in Detroit with BK. Nothing has been finalised yet but i’m expecting this deal to complete soon

Rumours

Despite signing Antonio Bryant the Bucs still seem to be in the market for WR’s as they have been rumoured to be actively pursuing DJ Hackett.

Kevin Carter has also been linked with the Raiders

Free Agency Moves so far

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Thanks to my ISP fouling up I’ve been without internet for what seems like months 🙂 Rather than creating a load of posts i’ll wrap up the moves and rumours for the Bucs so far.

The Bucs have been fairly active in Free Agency but haven’t landed a big FA signing, even though they are rumoured to be $44 million under the cap. Honestly, I’m happy with the approach we have taken so far and haven’t been drawn into paying over the odds for players on the way down (How much did the Jets pay Alan Faneca !!)

Player Losses:

Greg Spires

I’m surprised at this cut as i thought Spires still had something to offer. He was solid against the run but the Bucs must be confident that Greg White will continue his high level of play and that Wilkerson can provide rotational depth.

Kevin Carter

Carter was always a short term signing and i’m not surprised to see him leave.

Brian Kelly

Kelly has been hankering after a big money contract and it seemed obvious that the Bucs weren’t going to be the team giving him it. Kelly paid out his final year and has met with the Lions and the Giants.

Anthony Becht

Another somewhat surprising move as Becht was used extensively as the blocking TE. Becht may have seen the writing was on the wall when the Bucs signed Jon Gilmore from the Bears. Becht has now signed with the Rams.

Player Additions:

Jeff Faine

A nice pickup for the Bucs. Clearly Centre was seen as major need and the Bucs swooped early in FA to sign Faine. More of a finesse player he’ll provide leadership to Joseph and Sears who will line up either side of him. Despite 66 starts, Faine is only 26 and will have time to grow with the rest of the youngsters on the line. I really like this pickup.

Antoine Cash

A special teams star who missed ’07 with a knee injury i’m not surprised the Bucs wasted no time in resigning Cash.

John Gilmore

A surprise pickup as I felt that Smith and Becht provided a nice 1-2 combo and Stevens was more than useful as a #3. However, the Bucs had different ideas and picked up Gilmore from the Bears. Gilmore looks like he’ll pick up from Becht as the blocking TE but he’s said to have a good set of hands to go alongside his blocking skills. Gilmore also played Special Teams for the Bears and could be uesful depth on returns

Ben Troupe

Not satisfied with 1 new TE the Bucs have also picked up Ben Troupe from the Titans. Another pass catching TE in the Alex Smith mould, the signing of Troupe should spell the end of Jerramy Stevens in Tampa

Jimmy Wilkerson

I just hope that Wilkerson is able to make more of an impact than the last player we picked up from KC. Signed to add depth at the RDE position Wilkerson has the ability to play all along the D-Line and hopefully will add to the rotation upfront.

Brian Griese

When this one was announced i was stunned. The last position that I least expected the Bucs to look as was QB. Luke McCown stepped in admirably when Garcia went down and with Chris Simms getting back to health I thought we were set. However the Bucs see otherwise and have brought in Greise. However i wonder if this has been done with a trade in mind ? Top of the potential tradees would be Chris Simms who the Bucs maybe looking to offload. Greise brings a nice vet backup and will be fighting for the #3 job in camp

Leon Joe, Matt McCoy, Teddy Lehman

Loads of Linebackers to provide depth and competition in camp… Really can’t see a lot to say here 🙂

Brian Kelly hits the Free Agency Market

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As expected Brian Kelly has opted out of the final year of his contract with the Bucs. By paying out $420,000 Kelly has made himself a free agent. Kelly has been looking for a big pay day for the past few seasons and hasn’t been able to get the Bucs to bite on a long term, high value contract.

However looking at Kelly’s injury record it’s obvious why the Bucs didn’t commit and will any other NFL team pony up big dollars for a CB that has spent more time on the sidelines than between the hash marks ?

So whats the future at CB for the Bucs now ? Philip Buchanon has filled in nicely, and Sammy Davis could fill in the Nickle position, however this makes me think that we need to pick up a top tier CB in this years draft or FA. I’ve seen some mock drafts linking us with Aqib Talib or Mike Jenkins but I certainly think we need some help.

In other FA news the Bucs resigned Michael Bennett to provide some depth in the RB position. Bennett showed some glimpses of form during his limited game time and should benefit from having spent more time with the Bucs offence.

Mike Alstott Retires

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All Buc fans knew it was coming and today is that day.

At a news conference at One Buc Place, Mike Alstott has officially announced his retirement from football. Alstott’s career sadly ended with a whimper,being placed on IR, rather than the bang that we have all grown used to as he ploughed his way through opposition players.

Alstott, was the 35th player picked in the 1996 Draft, few knew that the former Boilermaker would go on to such heady heights. Not quick enough to be a pure RB and not big enough to be a true FB, Mike was best described as a Tweener. An all around talent, he certainly made the most of his natural talents and the Bucs profited from having him in the backfield.

I’m not going to ramble on about his stats as this YouTube clip shows what Mike is all about

It’s hard to put into words what Alstott means to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A true fan favourite, a leader on the field, his playing style excited fans and players alike and his presence will be sorely missed. We are sure to see Mike around One Buc Place however, I’m sure that he’ll find a role with the Bucs.

Mike, thanks for all the memories, you’ll be missed

Written by UK Bucs Fan

January 24, 2008 at 6:31 pm