The exchange with our Dallas cohort was so much fun last week that we decided to shift the momentum to Tampa Bay. Or, more specifically, to our pal JScott over at Buc 'Em. You can see our answers to their queries here. And awaaaaaay we go!
BE: Chris Simms isn't doing too well. Sure, he finally got some reps in a meaningless pre-season game, but the thing is, that was Pre-Season Game #3. Until last night, I would have told you, Simms has a snowball's chance in hell in making this club, BUT with the recent Gradkowski-Point Shaving Scandal, Simms may have bought himself a little more time on this roster.
Gruden has publicly stated Simms is healthy and has ruled out any possibility of Simms making an appearance on the IR or PUP List. From a fan's point of view, I think Chris ought to be given the year off (I'm not writing the checks though), as he is clearly reeling from the effects from last season's ruptured spleen. His passes are often off the mark and his arm strength is not what it once was.
I think Chris Simms has NO FUTURE with the Tampa Bay Bucs. The best scenario for him would be to take the year off and try out for new teams next season when fully healthy. It's hard for me to say that, given all that Simms has put and left on the field, but we just don't have room or the time to nurture a wounded QB. Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowskilook great. Simms' story is a sad one for sure. I'd like to see him stay, but I think the writing is on the wall.
2. Cadillac Williams suffered a significant sophomore slump last year, crippling fantasy football teams across the nation. What has changed since last year to make you believe that he's going to bounce back? Go ahead and make the bold prediction--what will he finish the year with in terms of rushing yards?
BE: I think Caddy is finally 100% healthy (or "110% healthy," as he would say) going into his third season. Juiced Sports actually reported that Caddy had reoccurring herniated disc problems, which seems like a logical reason for why he was slowed so much last season; it was hard to pinpoint exactly which play(s) Caddy got hurt on last season, so a reoccuring herniated disc issue would pretty much say it all. On the bright side, he's dealt with this disc problem since high school and has had a fairly productive career despite the constant potential for injury.
I think 1,200 yards rushing is realistic. I also think his TD numbers will increase without Alstott in the line-up and with Pittman being used more sparingly in the offense. Our offensive line in years past has been very suspect. Add a stout veteran like Luke Petitgout to the left side of the line, give a year's experience to RG Davin Joseph and RT Jeremy Trueblood, and I think Caddy will enjoy some much needed success this year, especially with Jeff Garcia demanding the respect of DBs around the league.
3. Everyone knows that Jon Gruden was worth the bounty Tampa Bay paid for him; I mean, he won a freaking Super Bowl right off the bat. But things have taken a decidedly less positive tone since then, and media reports abound that Gruden is coaching for his job this season. What's it going to take for Gruden to keep his job next season? And do you think his job instability is one reason the Bucs brought in every QB this summer not named Matt Schaub?
BE: It's laughable at best coming off a 4-12 season, but Gruden MUST take this team into the second round of the playoffs (though I think winning a wild card spot should do it). I'd love to bag on Gruden's time as our head coach, but he's had to deal with a TON of injuries and a lack of draft support due to how much was given up to bring him to Tampa. Injuries aren't the only thing that have done Gruden in, though. He has been alarmingly stubborn on offense, stubborn enough to not even attempt to implement the shotgun into an offense that so desperately needed it.
I think the Bucs brought in QBs because Jon Gruden is totally insane about the position. We must have courted every free agent who called himself a QB this off-season. We even attempted to trade for a retired QB and then wondered why he didn't want to skip retirement to have his spleen ripped out of his midsection. You have no idea how happy this fan base was to hear Culpepper had signed with the Raiders. To Gruden's credit, I think he has finally brought the perfect QB to Tampa to run his system in Jeff Garcia.
4. By and large, Texans fans hate Phillip Buchanon. Seriously, we despise him with the fire of 10,000 suns. His acquisition was arguably the worst in franchise history, and that's saying something for a team that's never won more than seven (7) games in a season. We understand the notion of picking a guy who flashed promise up off waivers for nothing in mid-season, but why did you re-sign him this year? And how has he performed? If he hasn't made you question the existence of a kind and benevolent creator, consider yourself lucky.
BE: Oh yes, Phillip Buchanon! Initially the entire fanbase laughed out loud when Buchanon was brought in last season. But to our amazement, he actually looked like a bona fide football player. He actually had ridiculous cover skills and was in on almost every play (of course, he was playing a position that produced a piss-poor performance all season). After last season's performance, it was a no-brainer for the Bucs to re-sign him, especially given our recent injury woes...damn you Brian Kelly! Buchanon has looked impressive this off-season; so impressive, in fact, that Gruden has tinkered with the idea of playing Phillip as a kick returner, though we've yet to see this implemented in preseason play. But Buchanon has definitely been a productive addition to the team.
5. Fill in the blank: The Bucs will finish with a record of 10-6 this year.
BE: I know it's crazy, given that we're coming off a 4-12 season, but this team is better than last season's record would suggest. It seems like every loser squad says this, but we suffered a rash of injuries last season. Our starting QB, who had led us to the playoffs the year before, went down with a horrific season-ending injury, and Gruden elected to start a rookie in his place (read: kiss of death).
This season, however, is new. And with Jeff Garcia as the starter, new life has been breathed into the Bucs' offense. Gone are the days of batted passes at the line. Not that Garcia is any taller, but he can dodge the line and dump the pass off. You could tell early on that our WRs (we have receivers?) were not familiar with a QB who kept plays alive for so long. The defense, despite its age in areas, has great depth and should really challenge its opponents early and often. I look for big seasons from Gaines Adams and Cato June...no pressure, fellas.
I predicted 10-6 because I feel that's the number Gruden needs to eclipse to keep his job. I think with the revamped OL, added players at the skill positions (i.e., a healthy Caddy, a nimble Garcia), and the ever dangerous defense, this Bucs team is set for big things this season. I just hope we start fast out of the gates; if not, the team could easily flame out.