Tampa BayWatch – My Thoughts on the Bucs

Posts Tagged ‘Byron Leftwich

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

Draft Day 1: Bucs choose Freeman

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With the 17th pick of this years draft the Bucs chose to continue to retool the offense and selected KSU QB Josh Freeman. The Bucs had the 19th pick overall and traded with the Browns to get Freeman. There’s no doubt Freeman has the size and the tools to be a prototypical NFL QB but was it really the best use of the pick. Considering we already have a QB roster of Leftwich, McCown, Johnson and Greise and what appear to be gaping holes on the D-Line should we really have spent the pick on the defense ? There did seem to be no value at pick 19 for the Bucs and I felt a trade down was far more likely than a trade up. However the Bucs wanted their man and gave up a 6th round pick to get him.

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It’s clear that the Bucs seem to be starting on a long term rebuilding plan for the franchise and they see Freeman as a key cornerstone of this rebuilding process. Raheem Morris probably has more of an insight than most into Freeman as they are both alumni of KSU, Morris clearly likes his man and was willing to put his neck on the line to get him. It seems a risky pick to me but if Freeman turns into the next Joe Flacco then i’ll be a happy fan.

The priority for day 2 should be a DT or DE then WR or LB. There seems to be plenty of depth at the DE position and only a few at DT so these guys maybe off the board when it comes to pick 17 in the 3rd round.

Written by UK Bucs Fan

April 26, 2009 at 11:51 am

Free Agency Acquisitions

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The Bucs made a few high profile FA signings during the off season some of which seem to be in areas of the team I felt we didn’t have a need. I certainly didn’t see that the Bucs had glaring holes at either RB or TE but LB was certainly a hole after the departures of June and Brooks. The Bucs were linked heavily with a number of QB’s, both Jay Cutler and Brady Quinn had been linked but the Bucs settled on Byron Leftwich to give McCown a fight in Training Camp.

Derrick Ward certainly bolsters the RB core, but it does make me wonder what the future holds for Cadillac. He came back well from the horrific knee injury before being injured again. Either the Bucs feel he’s not the player he once was or that he’ll be too injury prone to be a reliable back up. Certainly with the size of the interior O-Line and with Graham and Ward in the backfield it won’t be ‘Smash and Dash’ it’ll be more like ‘Smash and Bash’. Ward was a great complement to Jacobs in NY and i’m hoping he’ll make the same impact for the Bucs.

The signing of Kellen Winslow was a real WTF moment. I felt comfortable with the TE core last year and although not in the top tiers in the NFL they delivered what was required. It’s an interesting signing especially when you factor in the signing of Ward. The signing of Ward seems to suggest we’re going to be a smashmouth type of team, but then why sign one of the best pass catching TE’s in Winslow ? Only time will tell how the team are going to use Winslow. For me, Winslow is the #2 reciever on this team behind Bryant as neither Stovall or the re-signed Clayton are a true #2 WR for me. It’s vital that the Bucs figure out the best way of using Winslow.

Crowell has suffered a few injuries with the Bills and I hope he can stay fit. He’s a  got a combination of size and speed and is a physical tackler and should provide a good partnership with Ruud. He’ll be competing with Adam Hayward and Quincy Black for the strong side spot but fancy he’ll be the starter come game 1.

The Bucs seemed to have given McCown the QB job with his new contract, however bringing in Byron Leftwich does muddy the waters somewhat. McCown has had some moments where you think he’s capable of being a starter and then others where you think he’s only good to hold a clipboard. Leftwich brings starter experience from his time with Jacksonville and Pittsburgh and should push McCown for the starters job.

Bucs FA Signings..

Player Pos. FA Type Ht. Wt. Exp.
Angelo Crowell LB UFA 6-1 246 6
Niko Koutouvides LB Released 6-2 238 6
Byron Leftwich QB UFA 6-5 250 7
Mike Nugent PK UFA 5-10 190 5
Derrick Ward RB UFA 5-11 228 5