Sunday, September 30, 2007
Williams had averaged 3.5 yards per carry before going down and looked to be having one of his better games early today. Petigout went down a little later in the game and was replaced by second year man Donald Penn. Expect the Bucs to activate Kenneth Darby from the practice squad to take Cadillac's spot on the roster.
The Bucs will have to rely on Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham to share the load for the rest of the season. Pittman and Graham finished out the Carolina game strong and both have played great so far this season. The loss of Cadillac hurts the Bucs, but may not be as bad as people think. Cadillac had been slowed by his bruised ribs and was not hitting holes with power. Meanwhile, Pittman and Graham have been explosive and powerful running through holes and running over defenders at times.
The Bucs have options to replace Petigout at with Donald Penn and Anthony Davis on the roster. Penn played great after coming in for Petigout and Davis has been a starter in the league for a while now. Petigout was one of the prized off season acquisitions, but he was not really having a great season so far. The loss hurts because of Petigout's experience, but it is not as bad as it seems.
If the Bucs think they need a running back to replace Cadillac they could look at Corey Dillon who is still out their as a free agent. Dillion was released by the Patriots, who went with second year man Laurence Maroney as their featured back. Dillon had been rumored to maybe go to the Bears to help out their bad running game, but has not yet. Pittman and Graham can do the job and their is no reason to go get Dillon, but Gruden is always looking for a guy he can lean on in the running game.
Another matter for the Bucs will be how comfortable they are with Cadillac as their feature back in the future. He has been very injury prone since coming into the league and they may want to go another way in the draft of through free agency.
The Bucs normally have trouble with Carolina, especially running the ball, but this seems like a different team. The young offensive line of the Bucs got great push all day allowing them to run for 189 yards. It seemed like the Bucs runners were never hit behind the line of scrimmage and there were huge holes to run through. What may be more impressive was the fact that Luke Petigout left the game early leaving a line that had 3 second year players, 1 rookie, and 1 veteran.
Julius Peppers found out early in the game that Jeremy Trueblood is not Kenyatta Walker. He did not allow a sack to Peppers all game and pushed him backwards in the run game. The rest of the offensive line did their job as well, allowing no sacks all game. Donald Penn, who came in for Luke Petigout, also did a great job in both pass protection and run blocking. These young lineman have a nasty streak in them that has been missing from the Bucs offensive line for the past couple years.
The defense kept up their dominant play for the third straight week. The Buc secondary shut down Steve Smith and the rest of the wide outs, while the front four got after Carr and disrupted him all day. The pressure from the front four came from the inside and the outside, with everyone contributing. The Buc linebackers looked great again as well, flying to the ball and tackling everything in sight. The Bucs dominated the Panthers were denied the shut out with a late touchdown.
The win was great, but the cost was also high. Cadillac Williams went out of the game in the first quarter with what looked to be a devastating knee injury. The Bucs are calling it a sprained knee for now, but expect it to be a tear after an MRI is taken. Steve Smith, who was on the sideline right where Caddy went down, immediately motioned for the Bucs trainers when he hit the ground. Cadillac was in obvious pain and had to be carted off of the field. It was a terrible blow to the Bucs who have been much better than expected this year and are now leading the division. It looks like the Bucs will have to count on Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham to carry the load for the foreseeable future.
The Bucs looked impressive for the fourth game in a row and are now in control of the NFC South. They are a much better team than most thought going into the season and if they keep it up they will be in the playoffs at the end of the season. The Bucs will have a huge test this week when they have to travel to Indianapolis and play the defending Super Bowl Champs.
The Gators watched top teams go down all day and wanted to avenge last years game, so their is no way they can use the excuse of looking ahead to LSU. The Gators were beat by Auburn plain and simple. Auburn came into the game as one of the worse passing teams in the country, but the Gators secondary made Brandon Cox look like Tom Brady. Cox picked the secondary apart all game and had no problem getting the ball down field to whoever he wanted. The front four of the Gators did a great job of stopping the run once again, but the pass rush was almost non-existent for most of the game.
The Gators did not give up any big plays like they did last week against Ole Miss, instead Auburn moved methodically down the field. Cox picked on sophomore Pierre-Louis and freshman Joe Haden equally throughout the game. Freshman Major Wright, who started for Kyle Jackson, had some great hits on run support, but seemed lost in coverage at times. Cox hit his wide outs in between the Gator zone all game and did not have any turnovers during the game. The defense was stout against the run again, but if the secondary can't stop the pass it doesn't seem to matter.
Gator fans knew that the defense was a weak spot on the team, but the offense was supposed to be able to make up for it. The Gator offense, which had scored at will in previous games was shut out in the first half. The Gators finally moved the ball well in the second half, but it seemed that they had only two options on offense. Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin are great players, but when a defense knows that those two are the only ones who are going to get the ball they cannot be effective. Tebow threw an easy interception because wide out Riley Cooper ran the wrong route and was no where near the ball. Kestahn Moore only carried the ball 3 times for 7 yards and of Tebows 201 passing yards, Harvin had 119.
The Tigers decided that if they were going to lose it would be because someone other than Tebow or Harvin did their job, and that did not happen. Their were multiple dropped passes, blown routes, and bad plays made by everyone on the offense. While some of the players needed to step up, others needed to be able to get the chance. The Gators ran the ball 28 times, but 19 of them were for Tim Tebow. Moore was the running back to get the ball out of the backfield and he only go it 3 times. The Gators should have ran the ball more and not with Tebow. The Gators should have given Moore, James, and Rainey more chances to run the football and make the offense less predictable.
The Gators do not have much time to adjust, as they have to travel to LSU this week in what was supposed to be a match up of #2 v. #3. LSU looked like they were caught looking ahead in the first half of the game against Tulane this week, but they will be ready for the Gators this week at home. The last time the Gators played at Death Valley they gave the Tigers their only loss in their BCS championship year. The Gators will need to forget what happened this week and get ready to play LSU or they will get destroyed by what may be the best team in the country.
WVU was supposed to be looking for revenge after losing at home last year to USF, but came out and were dominated by the Bulls defense. WVU starting quarterback Pat White was injured in the second quarter, but he was ineffective even before his injury. This was the second year in a row that Pat White was ineffective against USF and had to leave due to injury later in the game. Whatever the Bulls are doing against WVU other teams may want to copy because they seem to have their number. USF shut down both Pat White and Steve Slaton the past two games, not allowing either to get into the end zone in both games.
The Bulls defense has been dominant all year long and is 10th in points allowed in the country. They fly to the ball and have averaged over 2 turnovers a game this season. The defensive line is lead by sophomore defensive end George Sealvie, who leads the nation in sacks, while the linebackers are led by senior Ben Moffitt. The defense has the speed to run sideline to sideline with anyone in college and have the power to play hard nose football if that's what the occasion calls for. The only great offense left on the Bulls schedule this season will be when Louisville comes to Tampa.
The USF offense did not have a great game against a bad WVU defense, but they did just enough to win the game. With the way the Bulls defense was playing the offense's only job was to not lose the game and Matt Groethe did a good job of moving the offense down the field methodically. Groethe had an average game and although he threw two interceptions, they did not put USF in a bad position. USF got just enough out of their backs to be effective, but nothing explosive. While it was enough against WVU, the Bulls will need a better performance out of their offense going forward if they hope to go undefeated.
A match up of the two best teams in the Big East ended with USF as the victor and clear favorite to take the Big East crown. With Louisville having a bad year on defense, WVU losing to USF, and Rutgers also losing to Maryland, the Bulls are in position to not only be the Big East champ, but maybe go to the BCS championship game. The Bulls have moved into 9th position in the coaches poll and have the easiest road to go of any of the undefeated teams left. The Bulls now have a target on their back for the first time in program history, they better be ready.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
West Virginia comes in to Raymond James with the 9th ranked offense in the NCAA, including the 2nd ranked run offense. Everyone knows Heisman candidates Pat White and Steve Slaton, but it is the emergence of freshman running back Noel Devine and viable wide out Darius Reynaud that has made this mountaineer team more dangerous than years past. Pat White finally has a place to go with the ball in passing situations and Noel Devine provides another extremely fast player on the field to give Slaton a breather.
West Virginia is looking to avenge last years loss at home to USF, which cost them a shot at a BCS bowl game. They may have overlooked USF last year with Rutgers coming in the week later, but their is no way they are looking past USF this year in this huge game. With how bad Louisville has looked on defense, this game will determine the front runner for the Big East crown.
USF is having their best year for the program and are ranked for the first time in the history of the program. They had a huge victory earlier this year at Auburn and totally dominated UNC last week in what looked to be a perfect trap game. The Bulls have shown focus all year long and it will take everything Jim leavitt has to keep it that this week with how much attention the Bulls are finally getting. The whole Tampa bay area is excited for this game and due to ESPN, the nations eyes will be on the Bulls.
USF is lead by Sophomore quarterback Matt Grothe and running back Mike Ford on offense. Groethe can beat you with his arm or his legs and his play will determine the outcome of this game. Grothe did not have a great game last week, but the defense was able to make up for it. This week the defense will be in a tough spot against WVU and Groethe will need to make plays to keep drives going and make sure USF gets points on as many drives as possible. Ford will need to have a good game on the ground to allow open up the passing game for Groethe. Ford has been a nice surprise for the Bulls this season and he may be a difference maker in this game.
The defense will have it's toughest test of the whole season this week. The USF defense has been strong all year and have been able to get after the quarterback every game, but none of them have the mobility that Pat White does. USF sophomore defensive end George Selvie leads the nation i sacks, but had none last year when they played WVU and will find it tough this week as well. If the Bulls can keep WVU under 30 points they should be able to win the game. The Bulls forced WVU into turnovers last year, but Pat White was injured during that game and was highly ineffective. For the Bulls to be effective on defense they will need to get turnovers and stop the running game.
The key to this game for USF will be to minimize the WVU run game, while exploiting its weak defense. WVU has been terrible on defense most of the year and can be scored on, but they hard to keep off the score board. The Bulls play tough at home and have had some huge upsets at home in the past, including a dominating effort against Louisville. The Bulls will have their hands full this week against WVU, but they will have a huge stadium behind them and the nation watching them. The Bulls can create national attention to the program and help recruiting immensely with a win, but may be out of the top 25 with a loss. USF is great at home and does have a great team, but in the end WVU will be too much in my mind.
Final Prediction: WVU 38 - USF 34
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Now Cadillac has been hurt since those games at start of the 2005 season, but that is not a big surprise as he was injury prone at Auburn. Cadillac had his best seasons at Auburn when he had a healthy Ronnie Brown to share time with. Caddy is just not a feature back that can carry the ball for you over 25 times a game for the whole year and the Bucs need to realize that. On top of his injury concerns, Caddy does not pass block well, cannot catch out of the backfield, and has been putting the ball on the ground all too often. Cadillac has more fumbles than touchdowns this year and it seemed that Gruden had enough of it last game and benched him in the third quarter.
Earnest Graham, who has always been great in preseason, got the call and ran for 75 yards on 8 carries and did not fumble the ball. Graham seemed to run with a purpose and was much more physical when he hit the holes and ran over people. Cadillac seems to be timid and dancing around, which is getting him nowhere. It could be because of an injury or maybe that's just how Cadillac is, but it's clear that he is not the punishing back that the Bucs need. Michael Pittman has also made the most of his time catching passes and running the ball the past couple of seasons and should also be involved in the mix.
Williams can be effective, but he needs to split time like he did at Auburn. Gruden has run a system in which he went with a RBBC before when he was the coach in Oakland. He should go back to that system here and let Graham, Pittman, and Williams all share the load. If you out the ball on the ground as a running back you put your team in a bad position and right now Williams seems to be hurt and it is effecting his ability to carry the ball. Graham has earned the right to get some touches and Gruden should allow him to show everyone what he has.
Monday, September 24, 2007
The defense has its swagger back and are flying to the ball. Last season the Bucs missed a lot of tackles, especially in the run game and there was no one else there to help whomever tried to make the tackle. This year the Bucs are not missing tackles and there are 3 or 4 guys around the ball every time there is a play to be made. Jermaine Phillips has revived his career with Raheem Morris back and is just unloading on people. Last season the safeties got a lot of flak, which was well earned, but this year they are in the right spots and they are making plays. The back 7 in this defense could not be playing any better at the moment and Phillip Buchanon is also a nice addition.
The additions to the defense in the off season have really paid off for the Bucs. Cato June has shown an ability to cover his side of the field and make the tackles when needed, which was the big knock on him. Kevin Carter is a force to be reckoned with up front as is Greg Peterson and Greg White. Barrett Ruud was unbelievable once again this week and just seems to be around the ball at all times. Ruud has stepped in nicely and is making every play that a Middle Linebacker can make. The addition of Tanard Jackson to the secondary has also helped even though he is a rookie. Jackson has provided some speed and run stopping ability from the free safety spot that was missing last year with Will Allen back there. The Bucs still need more of a pass rush from the front four, but the defense is back and they will turn that around too.
Last week it was the Jeff Garcia to Joey Galloway connection that led the Buc offense, but this week it was the offensive line and the running backs turn. The Bucs committed to running the ball and the offensive line just blew the rams off of the ball. Aaron Sears was blowing people up and has shown a nasty streak in run blocking that has been lacking here in Tampa. BJ Askew also made some key blocks from the full back position that allowed the backs to run free.
The running game seemed to get better as the game went on and surprisingly it got better when Cadillac was pulled from the game after he fumbled. Earnest Graham was given the opportunity to carry the ball in the third quarter after Cadillac fumbled the ball and Graham made the most of his opportunity. He ran 8 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Graham seemed to run with an authority that Cadillac has been missing this season. Michael Pittman also had some great runs and catches in the game to help the Bucs move the ball down the field. The Bucs should use all of these guys going forward to keep them fresh and pound that rock.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
The gators had been flying high going into this game and Urban Meyer knew that it may be a trap game. The SEC is a very hard place to win on the road and the Gators always seem to lose to an SEC West team on the road every year. Urban knew the history the Gators had in
Mississippi and it was a good thing he did not take the Rebels lightly. Ole Miss had a great defensive game plan, not allowing any big plays by the Gators. The Gators had to make their own plays by breaking tackles, which they did a lot of. Tim Tebow was forced to take the underneath passes and run a lot as the Rebels held the Gator wide outs in check for most of the game.
The Gator defense, which looked so dominant against Tennessee was exploited by the Rebels. Rebel Quarterback Seth Adams, who almost missed the game with a strained shoulder, picked apart the young gator secondary for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Gators were able to contain Rebel running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis all games, but the inability to get a pass rush allowed Adams to throw all over the young secondary. At times the Gators were able to get to Adams and at least hit him, but for most of the game he was able to sit back and make the throws he needed to keep drives alive. The Gators will need to sure up that secondary if they want to be in Atlanta playing for the SEC Championship.
The Gator offense also struggled against the Rebel defense. The Gators had average 56 points per game in their first three games, but the Rebels were able to hold them to almost half of that. The Rebels did so because they did not allow the Gators to make the big play anytime during the game. Any yardage that the Gators got was well earned and took a long time. The Gators had to dink and dunk all the way down the field all game because the Rebels were covering the wide outs so well down field. Although Tebow ran for a Gator record of 166 yards, it was not what Meyer wanted to see. The Gators need more out of their running backs and wide outs if they want to compete with the tougher teams in the SEC. Hopefully Andre "Bubba" Caldwell and Riley Cooper will return next week against Auburn to give Tebow more targets in the passing game.
The gators have a young team and it showed against the Ole Miss Rebels. Meyer had 18 players who had never been on a football road trip in their life. This game was a great test to show the young guys on the gators that you can never take any game in the SEC for granted. The Gators will need to tighten up on defense and learn what to do when teams are able to take away the big play if they plan on being the SEC East Champion. The Gators get Auburn next week at 8pm in the swamp. The Tigers are down this year, but in the SEC nothing can be taken for granted. Auburn was the Gators only lost last year, and they need to remember how it felt at the end of that game.
Friday, September 21, 2007
RBs: Edgerrin James , Marcel Shipp, J.J. Arrington
Starter: Edgerrin James
Opinion: Edge has been outstanding so far on the season and it doesn't look like he plans on stopping anytime soon. The new coaching staff is dedicated to running the football and Edge has exceled running it for them. He is running with a fullback blocking for him for the first time and he seems to enjoy it. He has a very tough matchup this week though, going up against the Baltimore Ravens.
RBs: Warrick Dunn , Jerious Norwood , Artose Pinner, Jamal Robertson
Starter: Dunn (60%)/Norwood (40%)
Opinion: The Falcons offense has been terrible and the running backs are a part of it. Dunn has not done much this season averaging only 50 yards a game. Dunn has said that he still is not 100% recovered from his offseason surgery, I would keep an eye on this if I owned Dunn. Norwood saw his productivity increase last week, but had a worse week. Norwood is averaging more yards per carry and has more explosion so he may start to get more touches.
RBs: Willis McGahee , Musa Smith, Mike Anderson
Starter: Willis McGahee
Vulture: Musa Smith
Opinion: McGahee has looked good in both games, but has lost some touches around the goalline to Musa Smith. He should get better as the year goes on, but he does have some tough matchups.
RBs: Marshawn Lynch , Anthony Thomas, Dwayne Wright
Starter: Marshawn Lynch
Opinion: Lynched followed up his good first game with a bad outing. He did run up against a great defense at home when they played Pittsburgh, but the Bills are still bad and defense will dare them to throw so he may find running a little tough unless they open it up. Thomas has been a nonfactor in the running game only garnering 3 carries. The Bills have a tough matucp against NE this week and their great run defense.
RBs: DeShaun Foster , DeAngelo Williams , Nick Goings
Starter: DeShaun Foster (50%) / DeAngelo Williams (50%)
Opinion: This is a true RBBC with both guys getting 50% of the carries so far this season. Foster has a little better number of yards per carry, but he also has a turnover that Williams does not. This will probably stay this way all season unless one of them gets hurt.
RBs: Cedric Benson , Adrian Peterson , Garrett Wolfe
Starter: Cedric Benson
Opinion: Benson had a much easier time running the ball in the second game of the season and put up some great numbers. The Bears do want run the ball a lot so he will get chances, but KC is not a great defense so time will tell what he does. There have been whispers that the Bears are looking at Corey Dillon
RBs: Rudi Johnson , Kenny Watson, Kenny Irons , Chris Perry
Injuries: Kenny Irons (ACL Out for the Year), Chris Perry (leg, out until at least October 14th)Notes:
Starter: Rudi Johnson
Opinion: Rudi is Mr. Consistent getting his 12 TDs every year and he should be back up to his normal 1400 yards as well. Look for Kenny Irons to be the primary backup and to spell Rudi when he needs a break. Could get a look as the 3rd down back as well as he has great explosiveness which is something Rudi lacks. Rudi is still a quality #1 RB
RBs: Jamal Lewis , Jerome Harrison, Jason Wright
Starter: Jamal Lewis
Opinion: Jamal Lewis exploded last week for over 200 yards. With that being said, Cincys defense is terrible and no one really belives that was the real browns offense. The fact is they still have a bad line and will be down in most games. Lewis is not a great option
RBs: Julius Jones , Marion Barber III , Tyson Thompson
Starter: Julius Jones 55% / Marion Barber III 45%
Opinion: This has been a real RBBC with both seeing about the same amount of carries. Barber has looked much better than Jones though and has been getting the majority of the 20 and in carries. Barber is also the main 3rd down back. Expect Barber to keep getting more touches as the year goes on. They have a horrible matchup this week against the Bears though
RBs: Travis Henry , Selvin Young, Mike Bell
Starter: Travis Henry
Opinion: Henry is a great back for this system as he is an excellent one cut and go type of runner which is what Denver needs in the backfield. He's the most talented RB they've had since Portis left and should be in for a great year (barring injury of course). Henry has looked great on the year and Shannahan has shown that Henry is the guy
RBs: Tatum Bell , Kevin Jones, TJ Duckett , Brian Calhoun, Aveion Cason
Injuries: Kevin Jones: Foot, TJ Duckett: Ankle
Starter: Tatum Bell
Opinion: I believe Jones is the starter if he can come back healthy, but until he does the door is wide open for Tatum Bell to take over as the starter and get most of the action for the Lions early on in the season. Jones is returning this week and there is talk that he may get 20 carries. Bell had a good game against the Raiders, but the Lions did not try to run the ball against Minnesota. Still expect bell to get some carries.
Green Bay Packers
RBs: Vernand Morency , Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn
Injuries: Vernand Morency: Knee
Vulture DeShawn Wynn
Opinion: Brandon Jackson was supposed to take his opportunity to be the starter and run with it, but its DeShawn Wynn who has taken the opportunity. Wynn has looked outstanding in his playing time and the Packers are going to give him more carries this week. Wynn is a talented back and this situation should be kept an eye on
RBs: Ahman Green , Ron Dayne, Samkon Gado
Starter: Ahman Green
Vulture: Ron Dayne
Opinion: Green is clearly the best back on the roster for the Texans and with the 2nd year in Kubiak's running schemes, the Texans could have that run offense be much improved from last year. Green is a big upgrade from anyone they had last year and could put up Dominick Davis type numbers if he can stay healthy all year
RBs: Joseph Addai ,Kenton Keith, Kory Chapman
Starter: Joseph Addai
Opinion: Addai is clearly the man and the Colts are not giving anyone else many touches
RBs: Fred Taylor , Maurice Jones-Drew , Greg Jones, LaBrandon Toefield
Starter: Fred Taylor / Maurice Jones-Drew
Opinion: This could be a dreaded 3-way split this year with Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Greg Jones all getting some opportunities. Jones is back this year after suffering a season ending injury in pre-season of last year and will likely factor in some way this year. As of right now Taylor is still the starter, but expect him and Jones-Drew to see a similar amount of touches
Kansas City Chiefs
RBs: Larry Johnson , Michael Bennett, Derrick Ross, Kolby Smith, Priest Holmes
Injuries: Priest Holmes: Neck (PUP)
Starter: Larry Johnson
Opinion: The Chiefs are terrible and Larry Johnson's stats are suffering for it. No one will respect the pass until the Chiefs make them so expect Johnson to have tough sledding in the future
RBs: Ronnie Brown , Jesse Chatman , Lorenzo Booker
Injuries: Chatman Bruised Knee did not practice this week
Starter: Ronnie Brown/Jesse Chatman (?)
Opinion: Brown had a great opportunity to futher his hold on the starting role last week against the Cowboys, but failed. Brown has been very disappointing thus far and is losing touches to chatman.
RBs: Chester Taylor , Adrian Peterson , Mewelde Moore, Artose Pinner
Injuries: Chester Taylor: Hip
Starter: Chester Taylor / Adrian Peterson
Opinion: Adrian Peterson has the second most yards from scrimmage in the NFC. Taylor is still a little injured and may miss more time, but even if he is healthy, Peterson is going to get touches. AD has looked dominating on the season and expect him to be the full starter soon
New England Patriots
RBs: Laurence Maroney , Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk
Starter: Laurence Maroney
Opinion: Morney has not put up the numbers that many thought he would, but its more about what the Pats are doing on offense thant maroney himself. The Pats have done a lot through the air and when they get up they have pulled Maroney so he does not get hurt. Maroney is going up against the Bills who ahve given up big yardage thus far and Maroney has always ran well against them.
New Orleans Saints
RBs: Deuce McAllister , Reggie Bush , Aaron Stecker
Starter: Deuce McAllister / Reggie Bush
Opinion: Well the Saints have messed with something that works and have given Bush more opportunities to run the ball and it has backfired. They need to get back to having Deuce get some tough runs or it will be a long season for both
New York Giants
RBs: Brandon Jacobs , Derrick Ward ,Reuben Droughns
Injuries: Brandon Jacobs: Knee (out 3-5 weeks)
Starter: Brandon Jacobs
Opinion: With Jacobs hurt, Ward will get the start again. He looked ok last week against GB even though they had to rotate 3 QBs. He is still a viable fill in for now
New York Jets
RBs: Thomas Jones , Leon Washington
Starter: Thomas Jones
Opinion: The Jets offense has been terrible, but they have played two great defenses thus far. They still want to run the ball and TJ is a good back so expect him to have better numbers
RBs: LaMont Jordan , Dominic Rhodes, Justin Fargas, Michael Bush
Injuries: Michael Bush, Lamont Jordan (Back- Probable)
Notes: Dominic Rhodes has been suspended for the first four weeks.
Starter: LaMont Jordan / Dominic Rhodes
Opinion: Lamont Jordan has looked great so far in the season. Jordan finally looks like the guy that they wanted when they signed him as a free agent. It will be interesting to see what they do when Rhodes comes back from his suspension
RBs: Brian Westbrook , Correll Buckhalter, Tony Hunt
Injuries: Ryan Moats (ankle) out for the season, Westbrook (Knee-- Probable)
Starter: Brian Westbrook
Opinion: Westy has been outstanding so far on the season even though the Eagles have been horrid on offense. The Eagles just came out with a report that Westy will have an MRI on his knee so that wil be something to watch very closely.
RBs: Willie Parker , Najeh Davenport, Kevan Barlow
Starter: Willie Parker
Opinion: The Steelers didn't add anyone of consequence in free agency or through the draft at RB and Willie Parker will yet again see a good majority of the carries. They are supposedly implementing more of a spread type offense which is supposed to open up more running room for Parker this year and could take better advantage of his speed
San Diego Chargers
RBs: LaDainian Tomlinson , Michael Turner, Darren Sproles
Starter: LaDainian Tomlinson
Opinion: LT has had a tough start to the season against 2 great run defenses. You know that LT will want to get back on track and get going, expect him to get back on track
San Francisco 49ers
RBs: Frank Gore , Maurice Hicks, Michael Robinson
Starter: Frank Gore
Opinion: Gore placed last week on a heavy heart after losing his mom and played very well. Gores injury has not been a concern and he has looked good so far on the season. He does have a tough matchup this week against PITT
RBs: Shaun Alexander , Maurice Morris, Alvin Pearman
Starter: Shaun Alexander
Opinion: Alexander has looked good so far on the young season. The supposed injury on his hand has been something to watch for, but they play CINCY this week at home. SA has got to be licking his chops after he saw what Lewis did to them
St. Louis Rams
RBs: Steven Jackson , Brian Leonard, Antonio Pittman, Travis Minor
Starter: Steven Jackson
Opinion: Jackson has been the biggest disappointment so far this season. The consensus number 2 draft pick has had two terrible games. The Rams lost Orlando Pace and that will have a bigger effect that they thought in the begining. They play the Bucs this week, who looked great last week on defense
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RBs: Carnell Williams , Michael Pittman, Earnest Graham, Kenneth Darby
Injuries: Carnell Williams: Bruised Ribs (Probable)
Starter: Carnell Williams
Opinion: Williams played last week his bruised ribs and scored two touchdowns. Although he scored two TD's, he didn't get much yardage until late in the game when the Saints were tired. The good thing is that no one else came in when the Bucs were on the goalline, so it looks like their is not vulture here
RBs: LenDale White , Chris Brown , Chris Henry
Injuries: LenDale White (sprained ankle, swollen knee)
Starter: LenDale White/Chris Brown
Opinion: This is another situation that is completely up in the air. The Titans would have loved for White to step up and be the man this season being the most talented RB on the roster but his work ethic is lacking and Chris Brown looked great in game one
RBs: Clinton Portis , Ladell Betts , Rock Cartwright, Derrick Blaylock
Injuries: Clinton Portis (knee tendinitis)
Starter: Clinton Portis
Opinion: has clearly been named the starter and I personally expect a 70/30 type of split this year. Washington ran the ball 490 times last season (about 30 attempts per game) and this year I would expect about 450 of those carries to go to their RBs which puts Portis at about 315 carries and Betts at about 135 carries this season barring an injury of course
I have been very critical of Rays fans recently for not showing up at the Trop for the games against the Sox/Yanks, but I have to admit I was one of those fans until the last 3 years. The excuses I have heard were the same ones I made; there are too many Sox/Yanks fans and you just don't want to be around those jerks. I agree, I hate going to those games when those fans are there because they are obnoxious and makes my game experience much worse. It finally hit me 3 years ago when I was at a Sox game and looked around and saw no Rays fans. My Brother mentioned to me that he hated being the only Rays fans and would rather watch it at home and not deal with the people. The problem is that most Rays fans feel the same way and they stay home to not deal with these fans. If Rays fans would just show up to the game than they would not be alone and we could start to drive out some of these Sox/Yanks fans from our house. I have been to many stadiums across the country and these types of things do happen when the Sox or Yanks come into town, but the teams with stronger fan bases do not have the problem. The onus is on the fans to get out there and support there home team.
While the Fans do have a duty to get out there, the owners and management of the Rays are at fault for many of these problems. Every time the Yanks or Sox come into town the Rays organization has a promotion in which they have old players from the visiting team come in and sogn autographs. I understand the rays don't have much history, but think outside the box and get a promotion that appeals to Rays fans and not the visiting team. This weekend the Rays have three former Sox players coming in to sign autographs, many of whom were not great, but Sox know them and Rays fans care less. The organization wants the money that the Sox and Yanks fans bring in and I understand that, but they need to start and appeal to the real Rays fans so they show up.
Something else that has always bothered me and contributes to the furtherance of the home field advantage of the away team is the selling of merchandise of the visiting team in OUR STADIUM. The second floor of the Rays shop Tropicana field is completely full of merchandise from the Yankees and the Red Sox. This is absolutely ridiculous. You will never see the Cubs selling White Sox gear, or the Yanks selling Mets stuff, and visa versa. Why is it that the Ray feel the need to bow to these fans that come into the stadium just because they spend money. Maybe if the organization made it easier for Rays fans to have a good time and harder for the visitors to have a good time, the Rays may finally have a home field advantage against these guys.
I agree with the players that it is ridiculous playing a game at home, but feeling like its a road game. The fans are at fault for not showing, the organization is at fault for not putting out a good product for so long, and the organization is at fault for how much they promote the visiting teams. The organization needs to step up and get Rays fans out there and not he visitors because until they do something it will be a road game at the Trop whenever we play important games.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Ruud has calmed all the fears of losing Shelton Quarles in the middle and has relegated Jermiah Trotter, who fans were clamoring for the Bucs to sign, to the bench. Ruud has dominated in the run and the pass game. He has done a great job of calling the defense and setting a great tone for the rest of the team. In the Tampa 2 the middle linebacker should be the leading tackler, and that is what Ruud has been in the first two games. He has shown he was worthy of a top second round pick and has continued the line of great Buc middle linebackers. Congrats Barrett!!!!
Shields previous career high for innings thrown was 186 last season between Durham and Tampa. Shields is 5th in the league in the number of innings thrown behind Sabathia, Webb, Blanton, and Harang, but he has thrown in one less game. While some fans will be upset by the move because they want to see Shields out there, it was the right move to make. The Rays are not contending for anything and Shields health is very important for the future of this franchise. When its all said and done, his number of innings thrown in the regular season will still be up at the top and we have seen enough from him to know that he can be a dominant pitcher going forward.
Ruggiano is finally getting the call after having a dominating season in Durham all year. He ended his AAA season with a .309 average, 78 runs, 20 home runs, 73 rbi, and 26 stolen bases. Ruggiano, a former dodger prospect, has really broken out this season and could be a very nice addition to the outfield for the Rays. He is also a great fielder to go with his hitting. The Rays could use another outfielder to give some of the starters days off during the season, or let them DH while he plays the field for them. With Rocco's health up in the air and Dukes still having legal problems, Ruggiano may be the 4th best outfielder on the Rays. It will be interesting to see how much time he gets and how he will do with his time up with the big club.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Pena is having one of the best seasons for a player in a Rays uniform and while I love Pena, he is not the best player to wear a Rays uniform. Pena may not even be the best first baseman the Rays have ever had, as Fred McGriff is a former Ray. As smart as he is I am sure that Boras has heard of former Ray Wade Boggs, a hall of famer. No disrespect to Pena, but the statement that he is the best Ray ever is inaccurate and is just a PR move made by Boras to try and get the Rays to overpay.
I find it interesting that Boras is so forceful now that Pena has had this type of season, when earlier this year we never heard a sound when Pena did not make the team out of Spring Training. If Boras is so sure about Pena than why would he keep quiet when a $15 million dollar player was sent to the minors? The fact is that the Rays gave Pena a shot when no one else wanted him and Pena has run with that chance. Pena loves being a Ray and has said that he wants to stay with Tampa; maybe Boras needs to listen to his client before spouting off.
I have been a staunch supporter of the Rays extending Pena sooner rather than later, but if Boras is going to play hardball the Rays do have options. The Rays own Pena's rights for the next two years and can just wait and pay him his arbitration contract for the next two seasons. Pena is a great player, leader, teammate and should be a Ray, but they do not need to overpay for him. While Pena was a top prospect, this is the first time that he has had a year like this and it would be nice to see him repeat the feat before shelling out a lot of money. The Rays also need to extend Scott Kazmir this off season and have him set as the number 1 starter here for years to come. The Rays have talked about extending Pena and if they do I am all for it, but they do have time and they do not need to play Boras' game. Rays fans need to realize that this is how Boras' works and not get upset if the Rays do not extend Pena right away. The Rays have said they will pay when someone is worth it, so lets give them the benefit of the doubt and let them do the work.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The tone was set early by the Buc defense, which came out hitting hard and being physical. The Bucs stressed the need to be physical in this game and they showed it. Barrett Ruud continued his great play causing 2 fumbles, recovering one, and tackling everyone in sight. Middle linebacker was a big question mark going into the season with Quarles retiring and Ruud only starting 4 games. Rudd has responded and shown that he may be the next great middle linebacker in the Buc system. The rest of the linebackers joined in with Ruud to dominate the Saints. Derrick Brooks also had a great day after many thought he lost a step after missing a couple of plays last week. Although the Saints recovered, Brooks did cause Bush to fumble the ball on a very hard hit. Cato June had an interception and was flying around the ball all game.
The rest of the defense showed up physical as well. Jermaine Phillips and Tanard Jackson were flying around the ball and were making the wide outs and running backs pay for every catch and every yard. Phillips leveled McAllister a couple of times and seemed to be around every wide out that caught the ball. Sammy Davis, who the Bucs signed on Wednesday to replace David Boston, was forced to be the number 2 corner after Phillip Buchanon went out of the game with a wrist injury. Davis looked good in coverage most of the game, but did miss a tackle in the red zone to allow Colston to score. The defensive line pushed the Saints backwards and finally created pressure on the quarterback. The Bucs had not gotten much pressure from the front four in a while, but against the Saints they seemed to bother Brees on almost every play. They used a great rotation of all the defensive lineman to keep them fresh and help them get up the field.
The offense finally came alive and scored on big plays. The Garcia to Galloway connection was working all day long and it seemed every time Galloway touched the ball it was for a big gain. The offensive line gave Garcia great protection all day long and seemed to dominate the Saints defensive line at the point of attack. If the line can keep giving Garcia this amount of time he will be able to pick apart the defense and find his targets to keep this offense moving. The offense did seem to feast or famine during the game though as they either scored or went three and out. Although Cadillac Williams did score two touchdowns, it was not until late in the game that he was able to get some decent games. The holes did not seem to be there in the beginning of the game, but opened up later. The Bucs will need to open more holes and get the running attack going to continue the success they enjoyed against the Saints.
The Gators were able to get out to a fats start thanks to return man Brandon James. James returned the Vols first punt of the game 83 yards for a touchdown. James continually gave the Gators great field position all day with his punt and kick returns. It has long been said that special teams can make or break a game and James showed up big for the Gators. He seems to see every hole that is there, follows his blocks perfectly, and has the speed and elusiveness that is needed to be a great return man. Last season James had at least three returns that went for touchdowns called back due to penalties. If the Gators can keep the penalties to a minimum, James could be in for a great year and help the Gators have a short field all season.
The offense looked great against a weak Tennessee defense. The Gators ran for over 200 yards and Tebow three for 299. With Caldewell out of the game the Gators needed a wide out to step up and Percy Harvin was that guy. Harvin showed that his freshman year was no fluke as he not only went over 100 yards receiving, but ran the ball effectively as well. He made guys miss when they thought they had him and showed the explosiveness that makes him one of the most exciting players on college football. Cornelius Ingram also came up big with some key grabs, including one for a touchdown. Ingram has become a huge option for Tebow and he seems to find him anywhere on the field. While the Gators ran for over 200 yards, they still went with a committee rush approach. Kestahn Moore, the starting running back, had the third most yards behind Tebow and Harvin. The Gators have said they want to run the ball more effectively with Moore and will need him to run better later in the season. Although Moore did not have a great game, the rotation of athletes that the Gators play in the backfield make it almost impossible to defend the offense. Jared Fayson had some great runs as did Percy Harvin. The Gators have many play makers, and they got them all involved yesterday.
The young Gator defense grew up in a hurry. They held Arian Foster to 26 yards on 11 carries after had had games of 90 and 125. The Gator defenders were flying to the ball and making plays all over the field. The Gators finally replaced Kyle Jackson with Major Wright after Jackson missed multiple tackles in the beginning of the game. Wright, a true freshman, has great speed, hits hard, tackles well, and is a much better athlete than Kyle Jackson. Wright made plays all over the field and did not miss tackles like Jackson ha previously in the game. Dustin Doe and Brandon Spikes continued their outstanding linebacker play by making tackles all over the field, and Doe's fumble return for a touchdown turned the tide in the game. If the Gator's can continue to play this well on defense they have a great shot of making it to Atlanta to play in the SEC championship game.
Although the Gators won the game, not everything was great. The Gators had three significant injuries that could effect them in the future. Offensive Gaurd Maurkice Pouncey left the game early in the first half after rolling his ankle. Pouncey is in replacing Trautwein who is out with a stress fracture in his foot. Marikhe Anderson injured the same knee that had kept him out the first two games of the season, but it looks to only be a bruise. The mos serious injury came with only 2 minutes left in the game when Jerimy Finch went down with an ankle injury. Finch, a true freshman, has played great in his limited time and hurt himself on an interception return. Urban Meyer does not seem to optimistic about his injury saying "Jerimy Finch is not good." Hopefully Anderson and Pouncey will be ready to play next week when the Gators travel to Mississippi.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The Bucs told the media today that they had reached an injury settlement with Boston due to his injury and that is why he was released. The injury they were referring to was the mysterious foot injury that Boston suffered in pre-game warm ups before the Seattle game. Boston sat out the Seattle game, but Jon Gruden told the media on Monday during his press conference that Boston was probable and should play against New Orleans this Saturday. If Boston was probable on Monday, why was he so injured he had to be released on Wednesday? The timing of the injury and release is a little too coincidental if you ask me and I don't buy it. Boston knew he had something in his system and mysteriously got a foot injury before the game and know the Bucs have a way out with him and he still gets paid some money, its a win-win situation in their eyes.
This is another situation in which this regime has gone out and signed a player who was a veteran or had problems and he did not work out. This was up there with the Charlie Garner, Todd Steussie, Jerramy Stevens, and Derrick Deese signings that have made this team laughable since the Super Bowl year. The Bucs are at least 15 million under the salary cap, with Jon Gruden needing to win and they are signing guys like David Boston. Is this the current regimes fault, or have the Glazers finally had enough of the bad spending and were in control of the signings this past year?
The Bucs re-signed Mark Jones to the roster to replace David Boston. Jones has been with the team on and off since he was drafted by the Bucs in 2004. He is a punt/kick off return "specialist", i put that in quotes because he has not done anything special, and does not offer much in the receiving game. He should resume his duties as Punt and Kick returner for the Bucs who had been using a rotation of guys like Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard, and Earnest Graham at those spots. While Jones has been with the Bucs and offers a steady presence to Special Teams, he is not a receiver that the Bucs feel confident in playing patterns, which begs the question of why they didn't look elsewhere. Keenan McCardell and Eric Moulds are both out there in free agency right now and have no team to play for. While both have been cut by a team this off season, they would be an upgrade over most of the wide outs on this team. Did they try to get these guys? Were they allowed to try or are the Glazers being frugal? Whatever it is, it's a bad move and just another one in a long line of them.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Davis was a first round draft pick in 2003 by the Chargers, but never lived up to the hype. He played three seasons for the chargers, playing less games every season, and than was traded to the 49ers in 2006. The Niners let him go and the Bucs signed him in the off season. Davis actually played pretty well in the preseason for the Bucs and had a legitimate shot to make the team at the end of the preseason. The good thing for the Bucs is that he was with them during the preseason and knows the defense, which is hard to get acclimated to quickly.
Davis will most likely move in and have to be the Nickle corner for the Bucs. Ronde will shift to Brian Kelly's spot and Phillip Buchanon will take over for Ronde. This means that the fourth corner most likely would be Tanard Jackson who had started at safety in the first game of the season. Jackson play corner in college and got time there in the preseason as well. When he is playing the fourth corner Will Allen will have to come in and take over at FS.
The move to get Davis signals the fact that the Bucs are not confident that Kelly will be ready to go at least next week and maybe longer. Losing Kelly is going to hurt the Bucs badly on defense, especially with New Orleans coming in with their dynamic offense. The Bucs are without their best cover corner and are back to where they were last season.
Monday, September 10, 2007
If Kelly cannot go than the Bucs defense is back to where it was last season, without their number 1 cover corner. Kelly shut down Deion Branch all game, not allowing Branch to even catch one ball. Kelly being in the secondary allows the Bucs to move Ronde Barber around and let him blitz from the nickel corner spot. If Kelly is out than Ronde is forced to cover the number 1 receiver on the other team, which leads to mismatches for the Bucs often and also does not allow the Bucs to let Ronde do the other things that help such as blitzing.
Cadillac's injury is very concerning because it is not an injury you want a running back to have. He takes hits every time he touches the ball and having bruised ribs will effect every aspect of his game. Gruden told the media that it is similar to the same injury he fought through last year. Now Gruden said this like its not big deal, but if you remember last season, it definitely effected him negatively. While Michael Pittman is an adequate fill in at times, he has never been a featured back and it takes away from the Bucs at full back where Pittman had been effective thus far. Earnest Graham may see more time while Caddy is out, but he has never seen much time in the regular season. Cadillac was looking to show that he is the runner from the first half of his rookie season and not what we have seen since than, but this injury is not going to help him.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Department released results of David Boston's blood test after his DUI stop. The police found GHB in his blood when they did the drug test. GHB, known as the date rape drug, is used by body builders to lower their insulin level, which is supposed to release more growth hormone. The actual effects have not been verified, but most body builders will tell you it does work. This is not the first time he has been caught with illegal substances in his body, as he was suspended for a year when with the Chargers for taking steroids. Boston has also had problems with other substances, so this may be the end for Boston if Goodell follows his previous rulings. This is a blow for the Bucs who hoped that Boston would be another wide out threat next to Galloway. Boston had been close to being out of chances by teams, and this most likely ended it.
The AL East race is close with the Red Sox leading the hard charging Yankees by 5 1/2. The Yankees are the wild card leader at the moment over Detroit by 4 and Seattle by 5. The Rays will play those Mariners in a four game set after their series in Boston. After the road trip the Rays will come back and play the Sox and than finish the home stand against the Yankees. The Rays can make or break some of these races if they start to take games and series.
The Rays have been playing very well recently and have had their best 40 game stretch in the history of the team. The bullpen has been solid and the starters have been dominant at times. The hitting has been on fire ever since the meeting they had after a dismal game against the A's and the Rays are showing everyone what many of us have been saying for a while, the future is very bright. The Rays have not lost a series since they played at Boston in the middle of August. This is not the same team that played in that series and the Sox should be ready for that. Scott Kazmir has dominated the Sox over his career and has held David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in check throughout his career. The Mariners are running out of chances and while the Rays have not played well on the road in the past they are coming off of consecutive road series victories and will be a formidable opponent for them.
The Rays are not playing for the playoffs, but they may be playing for something more important and that is to show fans that they are going in the right direction. So far the Rays have given the fans something to be optimistic about and the fans have responded with showing up. The Rays fans showed up in pretty good numbers last Saturday during football season against a bad Toronto team. The momentum the Rays are building will have fans talking and caring about them in the off season. The Rays players are playing for themselves and the fans, which makes them more dangerous than the other teams that barley missed out of the playoffs. This run could give the Rays a taste of what it is like in a pennant chase and many of the teams they are playing will be wishing they are playing someone else.