2008 Bucs' Schedule: PNG

Monday, December 25, 2006

Bucs Win 22-7

Well, that was a solid win for the Bucs who showed that they had the better talent than the Browns. Once again the offense was able to move the ball up and down the field with Rattay at QB, though they struggled again to punch the ball into the endzone. But 3 field goals and a TD was all they really needed, as the Browns offense was incapable of scoring on the Bucs, though one opportunity was lost due to a blocked field goal.

This game could have been a major blow out if not for two turnovers (one on downs) inside the 10 yard line. That was another 6 -14 points that were left off the board. The Bucs' offense racked up 355 yards while the Browns were held to a paltry 187. It's becoming increasingly clear that Bruce was the prime factor in the inability of the offense to score. The defense was on a turnover tear, picking off 4 passes, including 2 by Phillips and one by Brooks that was returned for a TD (his 8th career TD return). Buchanon continues to pick off passes, nabbing one, and nearly hauling in another that just barely touched the ground when he came down. That's 2 picks and 4 passes defensed in just the past 3 games. I have a feeling the Bucs may want to sign him to a couple year deal to let him stick around and continue to improve.

Special Teams were solid in the coverage areas again. Returns continue to be so-so, and the kicking game got off to a rough start with an off-sides followed by a kick out of bounds. They later allowed a blocked extra point, though they did also block a field goal.

Overall, it was a good game to watch for Bucs fans, unless you really wanted them to lose for draft positioning. The Bucs are likely to pick between 3 and 6 in the draft, but no later, I'm thinking they'll end up picking either 4th or 5th. Nevertheless, I hate to see them lose and they went out and dominated a lesser opponent for most of the game.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Talking Plank - Week 16

The Talking Plank - Week 16: At Cleveland

Woof. Yeah, right. Well, needless to say the dog pound ain't quite what it used to be, and the Bucs are getting some gratuitous weather heading in, as the high will be 46 degrees. Almost unheard of for this time of year. With both teams playing out the string, what can we look forward to seeing in this game? The Browns have 14 players on the injury report and look like they will be fielding a M*A*S*H unit.

On Offense, the Bucs will be starting Tim Rattay at QB, but will be without Caddy. Nevertheless, the Bucs are facing one of the worst defenses in the league. The Browns are ranked 31st overall, 29th against the run and 17th versus the pass. They've notched just 24 sacks this season, and Ted Washington may not play. If he does, he'll likely be hampered by his knee. Andra Davis, one of their inside LB's (they run a 3-4) is out, and McGinest has a pectoral injury, so that may limit his ability to tackle. With the Bucs likely to give the Browns a heavy dose of Alstott and Pittman, the Bucs should be able to establish the run on the Browns, and let Rattay take advantage of the Browns' secondary, which will be without starting LCB Bodden. The guys remaining are young guys who likely haven't seen an offense as complex as Gruden's. If the Bucs get the ground game going, it should be easy pickings in the secondary if Rattay has anywhere near the type of performance he had against the Bears. The Bucs' offensive line is giving up a sack on every 16.6 pass attempts, which is 12 best in the league, with the Browns getting a sack once every 19 pass attempts. That means that Rattay should have time to throw, and that should result in quite a few points, so long as he watches out for Sean Jones who has 5 picks and 11 passes defensed.

On Defense, the Bucs will be facing a Browns team that has given up 50 sacks (1 every 9 pass attempts) and is 29th ranked overall. The big difference between the two teams' offenses is one has a lot of talent at the skill positions but was being held back by a rookie, while the other one just lacks talent. The Browns have Jurevicius and Edwards starting at receiver, making a solid combo, but nothing spectacular (Jurevicius may not play has he's been suffering from a concussion). They have Droughns at tailback who's averaging a whopping 3.2 yards per carry. They also of Winslow at tight end, and they will likely try to use him like the Bears, but I have a feeling that Monte plans to throw some wrinkles in to stop the tight end and try to get heat on the passer, who will be QB Derek Anderson, a second year player with just 2 starts under his belt. I expect the Bucs to take full advantage of the Browns' offensive line and force them to either keep Winslow in to block, or watch Anderson get pounded. Andruzzi, the left guard, is dealing with a knee injury, while our buddy Cosey Coleman is dealing with a toe injury. Neither guy is likely to be a force in the running game or anything more than a speed bump in pass pro. If either is out, both of the guard backups are rookies. Cleveland is also a mess at the RT spot. So, if the Bucs can't get the heat on against this line, they might as well just pack it up and run home to their mommies for the holidays. I expect the Bucs' defense, which took a step back last week after getting up to the 16th spot on defense (they are back down to 23rd), to really step it up this week. I think the Browns will have a hard time sustaining drives and will likely have to rely on deep plays against our secondary for any chance of success.

On Special Teams, the Bucs will be facing a team with solid punt and kick returners, but the coverage teams have been pretty damn good all year, and I expect that to continue. Both punters are in the same league, but the Bucs appear to have a slightly better kicker. Special teams will be huge, in that the Bucs need to make sure that the Browns don't get good field position or cheap points off returns. If they can hold the Browns return teams down, then the defense should be able to come in and stuff that offense. Overall, I look for us to have an ever so slight edge in this area of play, but a slip up could turn this around.

For once this season, the Bucs will be facing a team that is not anywhere near as talented as them. However, the Browns have won one more game than the Bucs, which means they aren't rolling over and they play hard every game. If the offense comes out playing like it did during the second half of last week's game, then this won't be a contest. Anything else and it could be a struggle. I'm hopeful that Rattay comes out and chews that bad Browns defense apart, and the Bucs pick up their 4th win.

Bucs 27 Browns 17

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bucs Lose 31-34

In a sudden, and almost stunning turnaround, the Bucs were down 24-3 with just over 5 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, when they came roaring back. The Bucs scored their first TD in nearly 4 games worth of play, with Mike Alstott bouncing outside on a nice toss play, taking it 14 yards for the TD. Then, the Bucs kick off to Hester and force the ball out when they hit him, where it landed in Mallard's hands. Just like that, the Bucs were set up for another TD, and Rattay delivered on 3rd and goal from the 9, hitting Alex Smith for the TD pass. Now the Bucs were back in the game at 24-17.

It then looked pretty bad when the Bucs defense let Chicago move the ball right down the field to score a short TD run by Benson, who broke through Phillips' tackle attempt at the legs. Now the Bucs were down two scores again with just over 9 minutes in the 4th. Then Rattay threw an interception that looked to be somewhat on Galloway for not trying harder to get to the pass. But the defense held forcing a 3 and out with 7 and a half minutes to go and the Bears punted the ball and pinned the Bucs down at the 5 yard line. It certainly didn't look good then, but on 3rd and 9 Rattay hits Galloway down the seam for a first down and then, on second down, nails Galloway again about 30 yards down field, then Joey turned on the jets and took it to the house, for a 64 yard TD. Bucs defense forces another 3 and out, and then Mark Jones returns the ball to the 50 yard line. Two plays later, Rattay hits Hilliard on an intermediate slant/post route, and he takes it 44 yards, stiff arm included, to make it a tied ball game at 31 with 3:44 left.

Neither team could do anything the rest of the way and the game went into overtime, where the Bucs just couldn't get a break on field position. Alex Smith fumbled after a first down catch, giving the Bears a shot at a 30+ yard field goal to win, but the kicker missed. The Bucs did nothing, and the Bears did nothing, then punted, pinning the Bucs inside the 2. There, two false start penalties killed the Bucs' chances to get the ball out, and the punt gave the Bears the ball near midfield. One big pass catch later (which hit the ground and should have been challenged/reviewed) and the Bears then hit the winning field goal after one more first down.

It was a great second half to watch, and illustrated the one thing I've been saying to many people all along: in this offense, it's all about the play of the QB. Rattay came in and ran the offense like a veteran and it worked very well. You could even see Gruden getting enthusiastic on the sideline as the offense finally started working again, proving that it was the QB that was the main cause of our problems. Even the announcers mentioned that the Bears saw a more complex offense with Rattay in late last week. Quite frankly, the Bucs should stick with Rattay and make sure he's got it, so they can sign him for insurance purposes. If he comes out and starts sucking, then they, of course, should just let him go. Maybe Gruden should have made this change a long time ago, but Rattay practices poorly, and Gruden is big on rewarding guys who show it in practice. In the end, the Bucs lost, but the game still feels like a win because it proved that we do in fact have the skill talent to beat teams. That was the number 3 defense, after all, that they beat, and they weren't playing prevent. They were in fact coming hard, and the offensive line held up.

Oh well. Maybe they can beat Cleveland next week just to get another win and maybe see this offense scoring even more. It was nice to see someone finally able to take advantage of the receivers getting open. Too bad Gruden didn't just start with Rattay. We might have upset the 13.5 point favorites.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Talking Plank - Week 15

The Talking Plank - Week 15: At Chicago

Well, the Bucs are on cruise control to a top 5 pick and they get the "opportunity" to head north to face the Bears at frigid Soldier Field. During the game, however, it's expected to be 50 degrees with a slight wind of around 6mph. Not bad for Chicago in the middle of December. But will that mean anything?

On Offense, the Bucs will be facing the number 3 defense in the league and one that has kept a lot of teams off from scoring regularly. It will be a challenge to pass on this defense, especially with their pass rush, which has racked up 33 sacks this season. However, if there is one place they are vulnerable, it's in the running department. They are giving up 105.3 yards per game, and 4.1 yards per attempt (more per attempt than the Bucs' defense - 3.9). So the Bucs will really need to lean heavily on their run game and try to limit Bruce's throwing. This is the kind of game where Gruden really needs to just run 3 times and punt if needed, and let his defense do the job. The only way I envision the Bucs' offense moving the ball with any consistency is by pounding the Bears, who are small across the line. What may help is that Tommie Harris is out, He's there best DT and that may give the Bucs a little more time on passing attempts. Gruden has stated that he plans to involve Alstott and Pittman a little more in this game. I expect we'll see him use Alstott early, similar to the Washington game, to try and soften the Bears up front. If they don't do this, I can't see them getting any real offense going, save Bruce having the light bulb suddenly come on and he starts hitting receivers left and right. This is going to be like watching a sloth on offense. Let's just hope they stay away from the turnovers.

On Defense, the Bucs may not have to worry about Jones running the ball. He's listed as questionable, and may not play, especially since the Bears don't want to play injured guys in a game that has very little bearing on their playoff positioning (they have, via tiebreakers, a full 3 games on the Saints, so one more and they will likely lock up the NFC's top spot). That would be good. Of course, the Bucs will be facing an offense that isn't exactly lighting up the league. Many of their TD's have come off short fields. They've also had 9 of their 40 total TD's come off special teams and defense. Grossman has been suspect, and we all know the Bucs' defense would love nothing better than to get a shot at Griese and his penchant for throwing picks at the worst time. The defense has slowly been climbing back up the ranks and is now 16th overall. They've been making it very difficult on runners, and the safeties have been playing better in coverage the last couple of games. Buchannon has also had two excellent games in a row, including starting for Bolden last week, getting 2 defensed passes and a pick. Bolden should be back for this game, and that would give the Bucs a very solid set of corners for one of the few times this season. The defense will likely stop any long drives by the Bears' offense, but they need the defense to hold on to the ball and not give the Bears a short field. If that happens, we could be looking at a FG fest. If not, it could get ugly.

On Special Teams, the Bucs will have to deal with the sensational Hester, who has made 5 returns for TD's. Both teams have nearly identical stats on return coverage, but the Bucs returners are no where near Hester's league. The Kickers and Punters are roughly even, though the Bears' kicker hasn't attempted a field goal from 50+. Needless to say, it will be crucial for the Bucs to stop Hester. If he breaks one, that single score will likely doom any hope the Bucs have at winning this game, which isn't very high to begin with. Special Teams will be critical in this game.

Overall, when you look at this, the Bucs might have a shot simply because the Bears have already locked up their division and a first round bye. If they beat Detroit next week, they'll pretty much sew things up for the top spot. With Jones likely out, and Harris out for sure, the Bucs may have a shot at sneaking out of here with a win so long as the offense doesn't turn the ball over, and special teams holds Hester in check. If that happens, they might win a 9-6 FG shootout. The weather sure won't be nearly the problem it was expected to be. In the end, though, I think the Bucs will lose, just don't be shocked if they pull off the upset.

Bears 17 Bucs 9

Monday, December 11, 2006


With yet another loss, we sit here and wonder what happened. Another game we could have won slipped through our fingers once again. The defense was very solid, though it did give up a couple of long drives, one was stopped with a pick by Buchannon. The defense really only gave up 7 points, as the field goal came after a fumble by Williams deep in our own territory.

So the blame mainly goes to the offense. They did move the ball well at times, but the key plays, which were there to be had, were consistently missed. On a couple of occasions, Galloway dropped a pass, but the rest of the time the ball just wasn't going where it should. Once again, there were times when the receivers were open, yet, Gradkowski seemed to be unable to see them and throw the ball. He continues to check down way too often. In fact, his play looks eerily similar to Brad Johnson's play in 2004 before he was finally yanked. Back then Brad regularly passed up a better passing opportunity further down the field for the check down. It cost him his job, and I think it's costing Bruce his opportunity.

When Rattay came in, though Atlanta was playing a dime zone scheme, he consistently found the right guy to throw to, hitting 9 of 13 passes, with a couple of drops (I thought they were borderline pass interference). It was certainly much more effective decision making we saw displayed in that last drive which likely would have scored a TD if not for the bungled snap. Quite frankly, all things considered, I'm ready for the Gradkowski experiment to end. Time to see if Rattay has anything for the future here (even if only to be a back-up) and see if the system is really the problem (highly unlikely) or if the problem is truly with the QB play, as I believe it is.

It's also time for the Bucs to step up and make a stronger offer for Simms. They have the money to keep him and still go out and either draft a top flight QB or pick one up in FA or through a trade. Gruden's offense is always going to be at the mercy of the QB. He can scale it down and play Dungy ball, but that's not really anymore effective. He needs a solid QB playing here. Is job will be on the line next year, and it would behoove him to do whatever it takes to fix the QB and defensive positions.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ugly Loss/Clayton On IR

Well, that ugly loss was brought to you by Bruce and Co. What a nice display of turnovers. I'm really starting to wonder if Bruce is ever going to improve. His interceptions were just horrible throws, and there were numerous times when he had guys open but failed to throw the ball. He's going to the check downs way too quickly, and seems to be sensing pressure and just freaking out. Then there's the one sack he took because he decided to run out to his right where Joseph and Trueblood had pushed there DE out around the pocket. He should have stayed put but ran outside and the DE just peeled off the blocks for the easy sack. Then there was the sack by Porter from behind when he knew that Porter was running him down, and he had time to throw the ball away as he ran toward the sideline. The pick in the endzone, which came two plays after Clayton sacrificed his knee to get a first down and trying to punch it in after failing to catch the wide open deep TD pass, was just absolutely horrendous. You just don't throw that pass like that. It was hideous. And the defense folded right after that. Think about the fact that we out rushed the Steelers, and could have made it a field goal game, and he does the worst thing possible.

Needless to say I'm not to pleased with our rookie QB. He's just not progressing like Simms did last year. Maybe the light will turn on in the last 4 games? I don't know. If he keeps playing like this, we won't win another game. The defense played well enough to win on Sunday, but the QB didn't, and neither did Caddy, for that matter. But that's a whole different story, one involving a dropped first down pass early, and a couple of fumbles, one of which, thankfully, was overturned.

Going back Clayton, just a couple of plays after dropping a sure TD pass, Clayton converts a huge first down to get us to the 3 yard line. During the catch he stretched out and tried to break free to punch the ball in the endzone. Unfortunately, that play has now knocked him out for the season. Now he'll need to get that knee healed, and work to get leaner and quicker for next season, as well as work on the hands a lot to get rid of the dropped passes. He had moments this season when he looked like he was ready to bust out again, but then he would drop a pass, and now his season has ended prematurely. Let's hope he can get it all back together this offseason and come back and play like we know he can.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Talking Plank - Week 13

The Talking Plank - Week 13: At Pittsburgh

The Bucs are heading up to Pittsburgh to play in what looks to be around 40 degrees at kickoff, and dropping into the upper 30's by late game time. Shouldn't be too bad of weather, but will the Bucs be able to bring anything to the table? Will they, or Pittsburgh, win what is basically a meaningless game that can only lower a team's draft selection?

On Offense, the Bucs will be facing a defense that is in the middle of the pack against the pass, and 10th against the run, having not allowed a 100 yard rusher all year. They will be without SS Polamalu, so that will certainly help the Bucs in the passing department. But what will hurt them is the fact that Buenning is now out, meaning they will be playing with Mahan at LG. That's doesn't bode well against a strong, blitzing 3-4 defense. But if the offensive line can hold up, Gradkowski will have opportunities to torch the Steelers' secondary. Whether or not he connects...well, that's the big question. Caddy may find the running lanes hard to come by, and this might be a good game to start off pounding the ball with Alstott, much like the Bucs did against the Redskins. Wear down the Steelers' linebackers a little, and the room for Caddy to run may present itself. Haggans and Porter, the Steelers' starting OLB's, are both a little banged up, as is Porter's back-up Harrison. So the Bucs need to get physical early and really pound these guys. In a game without meaning, the most physical team can usually start to take over, especially if they can build a lead. If Bruce has time to throw, and can hit some deep balls, and the Bucs pound the ball a lot, they might have a shot at putting up some points. It will be tough, though.

On Defense, the Bucs will, thankfully, not have to deal with Hines Ward, who is out for this game. They will have to deal with Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington, who are both averaging over 15 yards per reception, and that's a little scary. The one thing that may help the Bucs' defense out is that big Ben has been sacked 36 times, and Batch 3 times. That's 39 sacks that the Steelers have given up, or roughly a sack per 10 pass attempts. To put that into perspective, the Bucs have only given up 21 sacks in 365 pass attempts (1 per 17+ attempts). So if Wyms can play, the Bucs might be able to get after the QB and pick up some sacks. The Steelers run the ball very well, but the Bucs defense has been stingy against the run since McFarland's departure. Most of the success against the defense on the ground has come late in games when the defense has been on the field for over 30 minutes because the offense couldn't do anything. So the big key is likely to be whether or not the Bucs' secondary can step it up and play well enough to keep from getting burned deep and on 3rd and long. It's been a problem all season, so I'm not hopeful, but there have been times. If Phillips struggles again, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Bucs give someone else a shot back there. I think the Steelers are going to have problems with pass protection, and that alone might save us from being scored on a lot. And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Steelers' horrendous -12 turn over differential. Of course, the Bucs are -8, but many of those came early with Simms 7 picks in 3 games. If the defense can get some turnovers, that will limit the Steelers' offense and give our offense the short field. That might be enough, but I'm not giving us a lot of hope in that area as we've had difficulty forcing turnovers. I think the Bucs will hold up much better than in the last game, and that may or may not be enough.

On Special Teams, the Bucs have the better kicker and punter, and both teams are about even on punt coverage and returns. The Steelers have a slightly better kick return team, but a noticeably worse kick coverage team. The Bucs may be able to get good field position from kickoffs, and that might provide the Bucs with some short fields, which they'll need. So I give a slight edge to the Bucs on Special Teams, and believe the Bucs could win the game if it came down to the play of this unit.

The Steelers are favored by a TD in this game, and I think that's a possible outcome, though I would say the Bucs have a shot. The Steelers have some real issues that the Bucs might be able to take advantage of if their young talent starts playing up to it's ability. I don't have too much confidence in that, but I won't rule it out. In the end, I have to give a slight lean to the Steelers. If the offense can hit some deep balls, and the defense can get some turnovers and sacks, I think the Bucs will win it, but I'm not confident enough in those areas.

Steelers 17 Bucs 13

Friday, December 01, 2006

Should Gruden Stay?

I've been having forum arguments lately about Gruden and his role with the team. A number of people of turned sour on Gruden (man, are people fickle or what?) and want him gone, or would be fine with his departure. So what do I think of this?

Well, let's get right down to the heart of some of the issues here. Those who favor his departure site the following: 1) He won the Super Bowl with Dungy's team, 2) he's torn apart the Super Bowl team, 3) he's had plenty of time to rebuild this franchise, and 4) his offense is horrible, stinks, etc...

Let me address the points in order. First, the whole Dungy's team thing. Let's see, when Gruden came in, he brought his own coaches, save Muir, who was already hired but did not coach for Dungy. He then brought in WR Keenan McCardell, WR Joe Jurevicius, TE Ken Dilger, TE Rickey Dudley, and RB Micheal Pittman. These were all key skill position players. OT Roman Oben also came in that year. All of these guys were one's he recruited and all were not only key cogs in the Super Bowl team's offense, they were in fact all critical cogs in it. Does anyone seriously think that Dungy could have led our offense to come back from 7 down against the Eagles? Gruden's excellent play calling, which used Alstott to get us out of poor field position, then got a perfect match-up of JJ on a linebacker, on a pass play that crossed Johnson's face for the easy throw that allowed JJ to outrace the LB down the sidelines. That one play turned that game, as it showed that THIS offense could score on the Eagles, and it energized our defense. Dungy has had one of the most prolific offenses under his control, along with a solid defense last season, and has yet to even get to the big game. I will always have a soft spot for such a great man, but he couldn't get this team there. Gruden brought in many key players and got it done. It might have been Dungy's defense (I tend to think Monte had a big role in that D), but it was clearly Gruden's offense.

The second point about tearing up the team usually starts with Lynch and Sapp. First, if anyone remembers what happened with Lynch he was injured during the 2003 season, and appeared to be affected by it in both speed and his ability to tackle. Quite frankly, Lynch played poorly that year and he had a big cap number. The Bucs appeared to have a very good safety in Jermain Phillips and wanted to go into the next season with him starting and Lynch playing back-up, considering his slip in play. Lynch wanted to stay, but only if he started. At the time, the move looked to be an OK, though not great, decision on the part of the Bucs. I really doubt the would have let him go if they knew he would become the Pro-Bowl player again and that Phillips would go south. But the cap makes you think about the future, and Lynch was getting up there, so the decision was made. Then we come to Sapp, who's play had dramatically slipped, and who's cap value to resign was going to be tough to swallow, especially since McKay had stupidly given McFarland a huge contract extension. That made the decision one the Bucs simply had no choice on. Not too mention everyone still thought McFarland might be the next coming of Sapp, or close to it.

When you look back both of these decisions kind of hurt the Bucs as Lynch would still be solid at safety, and Sapp's numbers were better than McFarland's by a large amount, even though they aren't anywhere near his prime. But let's really evaluate what's happened here. The Bucs gave up high picks to get Keyshawn, to move up and draft Walker, and to secure the services of Gruden. In fact, these moves cost the Bucs 4 first round draft picks in the past 6 years. Gruden had nothing to do with any of these (though 2 first round and 2 second round picks were given up to secure him from the Raiders). With the big FA contracts given to guys like Rice and McFarland by Rich McKay, the Bucs have been in draft pick and salary cap hell for most of Gruden's tenure. Last year they finally had a full draft complement, but that was coming off an 11-5 season. Now the Bucs will finally have a ton of cap space as well as picks, and now Gruden can finally start the final stages of this rebuild.

Which addresses number three. Gruden has managed to put a lot of pieces together on offense, but now the defense has just suddenly fallen apart, but probably at a good time. With 4 picks in the first 70-75 draft selections, the Bucs will have a lot of chances to get the key holes filled on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, I think some key positions may be filled with young stud veteran FA's since the Bucs have the cap room to buy some help. If they can fill some of those key spots, they may be able to actually work on some offensive weaknesses such as Center, LT, and QB (assuming they don't pick up a solid Vet and decide to keep Bruce and/or Chris around). Gruden needs to be given this year to rebuild because it's the first time he's gotten to go to the grocery store with a full wallet. He can shop at Macy's this year instead of WalMart.

And the final point is about his "horrible" offense. Let's be frank (actually, I prefer to be Richard but being frank helps my point), Gruden's offense requires one thing above all else to be successful: solid QB play. Gruden has simple had a horrid run of luck at the QB spot. After winning a Super Bowl, it becomes clear the Johnson's arm was loosing strength badly. After he was shipped off to the Vikings, where he didn't play for a while, the rest allowed the arm to be effective for a while, but he's starting to look so-so again. Then Simms was going to be the starter, only to get knocked out and replaced by Griese. Then, Griese gets knocked out allowing Simms to become the starter again. Then Simms starts off slow and gets knocked out because of his spleen. So here we are with the Bucs 5th change at QB with 4 different guys, 2 of which have a season or less of starts. When your offense is so dependent on the QB position, this is not a good thing to have happen to your team. Let's be honest, how many times has Bruce failed to see or hit wide open receivers? How many passes to the backs were dropped because they were very poorly thrown? The reality is that Gruden's offense is getting guys open in the passing game, but Bruce isn't getting the ball to the right place at the right time enough to make this offense credible. Once the passing game suffers, teams load the box. Even Parcells admitted they got lucky when Bruce hesitated and threw the ball to Galloway late allowing the defender to recover and make the first pick in that game. If Bruce throws the ball on time, it's 6 points, and the Bucs are up 14-7 when Caddy's already been running the ball for 4.6 yard per pop. That one play was the catalyst that got the Cowboys in the right position to take over that game.

So we need to see Gruden get a QB, whoever it is (Gradkowski, Simms, Plummer, Favre, Green, Shaub, a draft pick, etc...) that can play solid. They don't have to be great for this offense to work. They just need to be able to exploit defenses that stuff the box to stop Caddy. You get that QB play, and this offense will put up yards and points. We did it with Johnson, and we can do it again with solid QB play from someone else. The Bucs must do everything they can to secure the QB position next year.

So, if you're in the "Gruden must go camp", try and keep these things in mind and understand that you can't hold him fully accountable until he's had a good shot at fixing this team. He deserves to be here next year. After that will depend on whether or not this team starts making real progress with the off-season they are likely to have this year.