Raheem Morris Says Coach to Quarterback Radio Went Out on Key Play in 4th Quarter

If you remember back during the Spygate allegations a few years ago, another claim that emerged was that the Patriots were sabotaging opponents’ headsets during key moments in games. Since the home team has control over stadium communications, such a move would not be a surprise. Guess what? It sounds like the Atlanta Falcons employed the same maneuver.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Falcons 27-21 on Sunday coming back from down 27-14. Late in the 4th quarter the Bucs drove inside the 10 and had a 3rd and 3 at the four yard line. They handed to LeGarrette Blount who gained two yards, making it a 4th and 1 at the two. If you saw the action or the video replay, quarterback Josh Freeman didn’t receive the communication from the coaches and didn’t know what play to call for the critical moment. He wound up burning a timeout with a few seconds left on the playclock and the offense had to reset. They wound up handing off to Blount on 4th and 1 and got stopped, but what’s interesting is what Raheem Morris is saying a day later.

The Tampa Bay coach says there was some funny business going on at that time. Rick Stroud reported on twitter that “Bucs coach Raheem Morris says the coach to QB radio ‘mysteriously,’ went off in ATL after one play near the goal line, forcing a timeout.” I don’t doubt the truth of his allegation based on what we saw.

Is it a dirty practice? Yes. Do most teams do it? You bet. Does it make it right? No. But it sure as heck is part of the reason why homefield advantage is such a big deal in football. Oh yeah, it also must be pointed out that radio communications had nothing to do with the Bucs losing; they lined up against the Falcons and needed just one yard on a 4th and 1 and got stuffed. They didn’t deserve to win after that stop.

Bucs Bought Own Tickets in 2009

No sellout, no problem. That was the motto for the 2009 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You might ask yourself how that would not be a problem for an organization, but when that organization buys the remaining tickets that fans haven’t purchased, it takes care of a major concern — the local television market.

According to Pro Football Talk, the Bucs bought their own unsold tickets in 2009.  Although Derrick Ward thought Tampa Bay had as good an offense as any team in the league, fans still were not showing up.  There is an NFL rule that allows teams to purchase their leftover tickets at 34 cents on the dollar to prevent television blackouts, and the Bucs took advantage of that policy last season.  What should you do when your team stinks?  If you’re Bucs director of communications Jonathan Grella, blame the economy:

While on-field success surely affects ticket sales, the economic downturn has proven to have a dramatic influence over ticket sales in this and other sports,” Grella said.  “Tampa is suffering from the League’s largest unemployment increase (9.3 percent) in the past five years and the second-worst overall unemployment rate (13.3 percent). So when that’s the case, you can’t take anything for granted. We’ve redoubled our efforts to stay connected with our fans through free events and more affordable seating options ($35 per game season tickets, $25 youth tickets, long-term payment plans and no more club seat deposits or contracts).”

[Read more...]

Derrick Ward: Buccaneers Offense Is as Good as Any in the NFL

Texans Buccaneers FootballI’m all for players having confidence and believing in themselves and their teams — that’s the best attitude you can have. So if new Tampa Bay running back Derrick Ward is confident in himself and proud of his team then who am I to ruin his party? Well I don’t expect much out of the Bucs this year so let’s just say I wasn’t far from laughing out loud when he made these remarks on The Monty Show on Sporting News Radio Thursday night:

“I’ll put our offense up against any offense in the NFL. You can write that down on the internet sites and all that stuff. The offense that we have now can match up with any offense in the NFL. On Sundays, just because you have the big names doesn’t mean that it’s automatically going to come about with yards and touchdowns, you gotta prove it on Sundays. On paper, we stack up with anybody else.”

Without blinking I’d say all three offenses in Tampa’s division are better than the Bucs, on paper and on the field. The NFC East has better offenses and the NFC North has a few better ones. In fact I’d only consider Tampa a match on paper to some of the teams in the NFC West and that’s about it. They’re not a very good team and I’m really expecting a 4-12 season. But who am I to rain on Ward’s party, right? They have a chance to prove it on the field starting Sunday.

Buccaneers Players Didn’t Support Jon Gruden in Tampa

Once Mike Shanahan got fired by the Broncos, I figured there was a chance Jon Gruden could get fired in Tampa Bay. It’s like free agency dominoes in baseball — once one goes down they all fall after that. Still, it is mildly surprising to hear that both Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen were fired by the Buccaneers. Perhaps even more surprising was that Raheem Morris, who spent the season as the defensive backs coach, got promoted to head coach. Morris actually was promoted to DC once Monte Kiffin left to join his son Lane at Tennessee, but he really doesn’t have experience as a coordinator. So for all those wondering what fueled the firing in Tampa, Adam Schefter has the scoop:

Over the past couple of weeks, the Glazer family called in various Buccaneers players to solicit their opinions on head coach Jon Gruden.

One of the worst-kept secrets in the league was the way Buccaneers players felt about Gruden. There wasn’t a real affinity there.

Mike Florio at PFT adds that Gruden would say one thing to players one day and then do something completely different the next. OK, given this information the firing makes a lot more sense. The part that’s harder to figure out is why they promoted Raheem Morris so quickly when it seems like he’s inexperienced. I know that the league is trending toward unknowns such as John Harbaugh, Mike Smith and Tony Sparano who never had head coaching experience but were successful, but that’s quite a jump to make. Also consider that Mike Shanahan was available and this really leaves you scratching your head. Maybe the Bucs didn’t want to lose Morris who had been interviewing for other head coaching jobs, and maybe the players lent their support to Raheem. Who knows. Perhaps Morris will show us that the Glazers knew what they were doing.

Worse Collapse: Denver or Tampa Bay?

I’ve already touched on the crappy situation in which the Broncos left themselves by blowing their lead against the Bills. The Broncos did go on to complete the impressive collapse, getting demolished by the Chargers 52-21, embarrassing themselves (and Doc Brown) in the process. Not to be outdone, the Buccaneers lost their final four games of the season to blow a golden opportunity at the playoffs. So which collapse was worse? Let’s go to the tale of the tape.

The Buccaneers were 9-3 having won in Kansas City and Detroit, and at home against the Vikings and Saints to get a four game winning streak going in November. December was a remarkably different month as Tampa Bay got smashed on Monday night against Carolina, lost at Atlanta, then blew home games to the Chargers and Raiders with a playoff berth firmly in their grasp. Even after losing three in a row and dropping to 9-6, all the Buccaneers had to do was beat the Raiders at home and they would have been in the playoffs! They couldn’t even do that! The Bucs limped to a 9-7 finish.

The Broncos were 8-5 and staring an AFC West title in the face. All they had to do was win once and the Chargers would have been eliminated from contention since San Diego was 4-8. Denver had won three straight road games, impressively beating Atlanta, the Jets, and Cleveland on the road. They had won four out of five and were looking strong. A loss to Carolina, a blown lead against Buffalo at home, and the Broncos were suddenly 8-7 and headed to San Diego for an end-of-the-season spanking. They finished 8-8 and were left on the sidelines to watch the playoffs from home. What a shame.

So which collapse was worse, Denver’s or Tampa Bay’s? Furthermore, should these coaches be ridiculed for the downfalls of their teams or supported for their ability to put their teams in a position to win? I think a combination of both is in line and would argue that the collapses were equally bad.

Brett Favre Really Being Traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

UPDATE: Brett Favre has been traded to the Jets

I can’t believe the day is actually coming — not to say that all reports are correct — but the latest out of Tampa suggests Brett Favre becoming a Buccaneer could soon become a reality. From The Tampa Tribune:

The Tribune has learned Favre will not stand in the way of a trade from Green Bay to Tampa Bay and the deal is likely to be finalized within 24 hours.

The chances of the trade unraveling are remote and Favre has indicated to the Bucs directly that he is willing to change teams after 16 years of growing his legend in Green Bay.

Once it became clear to Favre that he wasn’t welcome back in Green Bay, he became more flexible in terms of accepting a trade to clubs outside the division. The Bucs have been interested in Favre since last month, when he announced he wanted to play again.

Well, beggers can’t be choosers, and for Brett Favre to all but demand a trade from Green Bay to another NFC North team was plain selfish, not to mention pretty unrealistic. I really, truly, hope this is the last word in the saga. I will be so satisfied when he finally lands with a new team just so we can end this once and for all (until the next off-season when he retires and wants to come back, yet again). Favre in pewter? Doesn’t sound too bad to me. Now Jeff Garcia is going to be one pissed off mofo, that’s for sure.

Bucs Want Jake Plummer Back

Though Jeff Garcia had a good season for Tampa Bay, there was a time when he hurt his back and struggled to stay on the field. The Bucs were then forced to go with Luke McCown at QB (or a banged up Garcia). If the same situation arises next year, the Bucs are hoping they won’t have to go with Luke McCown as a backup option. I mean why go McCown when you retain the rights to … none other than Jake Plummer. That’s probably what GM Bruce Allen is thinking since he plans to try and talk that summabitch Plummer out of retirement:

One of the improvements the Bucs would like to make is at quarterback, a position general manager Bruce Allen hopes will include Jake Plummer in 2008.

Of course, the Bucs deemed the quarterback position a priority this time last year, too. In March, Tampa Bay traded a 2008 conditional draft pick to Denver in exchange for Plummer last offseason, but Plummer never played for the Bucs, electing to retire instead.

“I’m a very hopeful guy,” said Allen. “Jake got to see what we were doing last year. He has a contract and we expect him to honor it.”

Either that, or they can try to pursue the thing in court where they’ve filed a joint-grievance with the Broncos against the Snake. My guess is that Plummer’s keister is staying put. He took a lot of heat while he played and was constantly scrutinized. His happiest day was probably the moment he could say “peace, see ya later” to all of that. Not a chance Plummer comes back, though it is kind of funny Allen’s going to pursue it. Good luck with that project.