You might have noticed that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only NFL team without a win this season, and the Green Bay Packers are going to play them on Sunday. And rookie QB Josh Freeman will have his 1st NFL start. The Packers should be favored, but they still have to travel to Tampa and win the game. Though I don't expect Mike McCarthy will let his players overlook any team.
Since I haven't watched a Bucs game this season, and don't know how the team that beat the Packers last season in week 4 has managed to become the only remaining winless team, I asked Buc 'Em blogger Niko Houllis a couple questions:
Brandon: What happened to the formerly great Tampa defense? The draft hasn't been kind in recent years, but they were still very good in early 2008. The collapse seems sudden to me.
Niko: That is a fanastic question. Most would say it's on the sideline singing "Rocky Top"! People can say what they want to, but the collapse started the game after Monte Kiffin announced he is headed to Tennessee to coach his son's defense. Other things happened around the same time too though. We got hurt on our D line, which wasn't that good to begin with. Carolina found a weakness. They were able to put 3 receivers on the field and keep us in a defense which favored their running attack. They were able to gash us for almost 300 yards on the ground in that Monday night game that Bucs fans were waiting all day for so we could finally pronounce our team for real...and give us an inside edge on the 2nd seed just like we had in our Super Bowl year. Little did we know we would not win a game again! Truth is, the Bucs misfired on their #1 draft pick Gaines Adams, and were lucky to get a #2 for him. But the defense had gotten old, and started to patch things up with bandaids like the offense had been doing too. Instead of tearing the team apart and starting over like were doing this year, the team kept using bandaids, and drafting poorly just about every draft.
Brandon: Are their offensive problems solely due to poor QB play, or have other areas on offense let you down?
Niko: Some feel the offensive line has not been playing up to its potential, but truth is it was a FAR drop from starting Center Jeff Faine to second string Sean Mahan, who was released in preseason, only to be called up again due to Faine's injury during game one. Teams were blitzing the heck out of our gap between our left guard and center, and we couldn't do anything about it. So that is not a fair assesment. The biggest problem has been the quarterback play. I'm not sure what the Bucs were thinking during preseason, everyone just knew Byron Leftwich wasn't starting material anymore, and then they traded Luke McCown, who really didn't beat anyone out to prove his worth this preseason anyways. Josh Johnson has some upside, but he doesn't have the pedigree Josh Freeman has. This team has now taken the step, this is the 6th generation of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and we will build around Freeman, though it may be ugly to watch at first.
Brandon: I've read articles that made it seem like Tampa's coaches have been unprepared. Is Raheem Morris a capable NFL head coach?
Niko: This is a hot topic. Any article I write about Morris gets many comments. Mostly negative. The older football fan (not trying to tick off any younger fans...) tend to be more patient because they have seen more seasons of football and understand this happens, while the younger fan tends to be more impatient and want him gone now for the big name guy . Funny how we forget the past, when Steve Spurrier and Jimmy Johnson were wanted but a guy named Tony Dungy came instead!