Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio
John Romano, The St.Petersburg Times, published 22 November 2004|
VIRTUES OF MEDIOCRITY
The Bucs have stumbled. They have hiccupped. They have blundered. And still, the NFC will not allow them to fall out of contention. That's right, even at 4-6 you can dream of playoff games. With Arizona, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, New York and St. Louis losing Sunday, the Bucs are still within one game of the wild-card race.
WHEN DID YOU GET SO GOOD?
In his first 35 regular-season games with the Bucs, Michael Pittman had two 100-yard rushing days. In his past four games, he has gone over 100 three times. Not since Warrick Dunn left for Atlanta have the Bucs been able to rely so heavily on a single back.
LET'S HOPE THE CHILDREN WEREN'T WATCHING
The NFL is at it again. First Nicollette Sheridan drops her towel. Now the 49ers expose themselves.
BEFORE GETTING TOO GIDDY
There is a secret to Tampa Bay's revitalized offense. It's called bad defense. Going into Sunday, Kansas City (28th), Oakland (29th), New Orleans (31st) and San Francisco (32nd) were among the NFL's five worst scoring defenses. Tampa Bay averaged 27.2 points against those four. It's averaged 13.9 against everyone else.
MONTE THE MASTER
For the first time in a long while, Tampa Bay's defensive line is not a dominant force. So Monte Kiffin and Co. improvised. The Bucs are blitzing more and are getting better and better. Linebackers and defensive backs account for 32.6 percent of sacks this season. In Kiffin's first eight seasons, they accounted for 19.4 percent.
Five reasons the Bucs might contend
1. A HEALTHY RUNNING GAME
The defense is not on the field as much and the quarterback is not being asked to carry the offense. If Pittman keeps this up, the Bucs should keep every game close.
2. BIG PLAYS ON DEFENSE
Through the first four games, the Bucs averaged one takeaway and 1.5 sacks. Since then, they have more than doubled their output. They've averaged two takeaways and 3.3 sacks.
3. PASSING INTERESTS
The receivers are finally a factor. Joe Jurevicius and Joey Galloway are close to healthy and Michael Clayton keeps getting better. Now, if Charles Lee could just make up with Jon Gruden.
4. SCHEDULING GODS
Tampa Bay still has the easiest route to the clubhouse. Only two of the final six games are against teams with winning records.
5. ...C'mon, you really don't believe this, do you?
Five final words
Guess Mariucci wasn't so bad.