As we enter into the second glorious weekend of the NFL season, I faced off in a burning ring of fire against JScott of Buc 'Em. Only one of us could emerge victorious, but we got bored and just asked eachother a few questions.
I'm not really that big a fan of fire, I guess.
Check out our opponent's answers, after the jump!
Dave the Falconer: What do you expect from Brian Griese this weekend? Is he capable of having any kind of sustained success in Jeff Garcia's place? Is Josh Johnson still the QB of the future?
JScott: Keeping my personal opinions of Griese close to the chest, I think he can be successful in leading Tampa’s offense. Due to a lack of mobility he typically man’s up by staying in the pocket, tends to play it safe (think Brad Johnson) with the short secure passes, and doesn’t have lingering injuries at this point. With that said I’m not a believer in the dink and dunk offense.The fans, believe it or not, have been murmuring for Brian to start since Training Camp and the Pre-Season because he’s looked like the better Quarterback. I think those fans remember Griese’s (5-1) record several years ago with the Bucs and think he can at the very least mimic that production. I’d like to remind those fans that he won those games against fairly underwhelming competition (Vikings, Bills, Dolphins) as many of those teams started their respective seasons winless. His one loss came against the Jets if that says anything, ‘but JScott he went (5-1)’ and so I digress.
As to sustaining any success; that really is the ‘Million Dollar’ question: If Griese plays well does Gruden keep <s>My Pinky Hurts</s> Jeff Garcia on the bench? And if he does, will Garcia bitch like a little school girl? I’m thinking he will. The biggest unknown in all of this for the fan base is, when did Garcia hurt his ankle? Because it didn’t happen against the Saints last week and he hasn’t practiced all week, soooo is this Gruden sugar coating the real issue ‘that Garcia sucks’ or is Garcia truly injured? Maybe he was hurt going into the Saints game and just aggravated it without tipping it off to the millions of eyes that were watching, who knows….
I do think Rookie QB Josh Johnson is the Bucs QB of the future, of course that’s until Gruden drafts another QB this off-season, heh. JJ has looked good in Training Camp and in the limited reps he got in the Pre-Season. I didn’t see the accuracy (He had all of one interception his final year at San Diego and it was a tipped pass) I thought I would see in his Final Pre-Season performance, but It’s truly too early to say whether he is the heir apparent, though the signs do point to such.
DtF: Are you concerned that some of your more celebrated veterans are injury risks at this point? Derrick Brooks comes readily to mind after last week.
JS: We’ve actually been very fortunate in that aspect and it’s really an odd feeling you get when a Veteran and Main stay in the defense like future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks is sitting on the bench. We obviously missed his presence on the field against the Saints in the second half and that might have been the difference in the game. Though our key veterans have avoided the injury bug, injuries as a whole have torn up Jon Gruden’s tenure here in Tampa. We had more people last year on IR than we had on our Practice Squad and that’s the way it’s been since 2002. It’s something Gruden’s had to continuously deal with and he’ll continue to deal with it, it seems.
I have to say that with all of the past injuries (McCardell, Jurevicius, Simms, Garcia, Clayton, Cadillac, Petitgout so on and so on) I’ve really grown accustomed to it. I don’t have a newly profound concern for our veterans becoming susceptible to injury because that’s how it been since they arrived (Galloway, Garcia, Petitgout, etc). These guys came to us with injured pasts and so it’s not surprising when they come here and get injured. It’s what comes with the risk of fielding an offense with old players at the key positions.
DtF: Is Earnest Graham the featured back, or is he keeping the spot warm until Cadillac Williams returns? Can Graham be the focal point of your offense with Garcia and Maurice Stovall likely out?
JS: Let me say this, Graham should be the focal point of the offense period. Why Jeff Garcia threw 41 passes in a tight ball game Sunday is beyond me. Earnest Graham averaged 9.1 yards a rush on 10 carries; that is freaking amazing. Your Falcons rode Michael Turner to victory and the Bucs could have done the same thing with Graham. I think Gruden enjoys a good passing game and so he ignores his running game, which at this point, is the bright spot on Offense.
As for Graham keeping the spot warm for Caddy, it appears that he is considering the lack of looks he’s received thus far. The knock on Graham has always been that he can’t break the big one and I’m not sure why people long to see the ‘Big one’; sure it’s great for Sports center highlights but it’s rare to find a back like that. I would argue it’s even more rare to have a back you can give the rock to 20 to 25 times a game and see that same back suit up the following week primed to repeat that production. If Gruden doesn’t realize his run game is his bread and butter, it’s going to be a long season. Instead of not dressing Bennett, he needs to dress him and give he, Graham, and Dunn 10 to 15 reps each a game until a defense stops them…
DtF: Should the Falcons worry about Matt Ryan against your front seven, or is your secondary more potent? Is Aqib Talib looking like a future #1 corner?
JS: Our back-up Defensive End in Greg White got the lone sack for the Bucs last week. I would say to ignore the front four completely, but to be VERY afraid of those LB’s and DB’s. In case you missed it, MLB Barrett Ruud hit QB Drew Brees last week and CB Phillip Buchanon snatched the wounded duck out of the air and took it 26 yards to the house. That will continue to happen throughout the season. CB Ronde Barber injured Saints WR Marques Colston, Colston is not playing this week for the Saints and that’s primarily because of Ronde Barber. Ronde also lit up RB Reggie Bush; he separated him from the ball in the 2nd quarter and Bush got up not knowing what had just hit him.
With that said, Matt Ryan can exploit the defense if he doesn’t get rattled and RB Michael Turner continues to rack up yardage. TE Jeremy Shockey enjoyed a pretty successful weekend and the Saints Wide Receivers could say the same. The Bucs gave up touchdowns of 39 yards, 84 yards, and 42 yards. Two of those were through the air, one was a Rookie mistake (Talib) and the other a veteran mistake (Barber), and the third was a fantastic play by Reggie Bush (though it should have been called back as Gaines Adams was hog tied on the play).
Talib does look like a great find for the future at Cornerback. Despite his mental error last week that led to a David Patten touchdown, he has looked great in every other instance. A lot of people questioned his ability to hit folks and let me tell you thus far he has rivaled Safety’s Jermaine Phillips and Tanard Jackson for the team’s hardest hitter. He’s supposed to relieve Barber once Ronde’s done playing, but I’m not so sure he doesn’t just take Buchanon’s spot, as Barber doesn’t look like he’s ready to finish his career the way he’s been playing.
DtF: Who wins this weekend, the terrible Bucs or the awesome Falcons?
JS: Damn that’s a funny way to propose the question Dave, despite the storm cloud that’s looming above Raymond James Stadium, I’m confident Gruden will entrust in his running game this weekend and I feel our defense will make your team rethink the optimism that the Lions falsely created. Bucs win big: 31-17... Welcome to the NFL Matty Ice and Michael Turner!!!