What did we really learn from pre-season?
Apart from the fact that season ticket holders begrudge having to pay for "the privilege" of watching these games and that Chris Myers is a good sideline reporter but not a play-by-play man?
Let's start with the good points. No-one really important got seriously hurt. Davin Joseph picked up an injury in his rookie season during pre-season and missed the first three weeks that year too. We need him back based on the size of the holes he and Jeff Faine were creating against New England, but Jeremy Zuttah can cover until he returns.
All of the top three picks showed some nice touches without being overwhelmingly dominant. Along with Zuttah, top pick Aqib Talib held his own and wil start at nickel corner, and Dexter Jackson had his coming out party in Houston. Just watch that return again and see if you can see any real key blocks on the way. That was a pure speed return. Even 6th round pick Geno Hayes looks a keeper for special teams this year.
The worrying points for me are twofold. Jeff Garcia has more rust on him that the Blues Brothers' car and remember how that fell apart at the end of the film? The only time the Buc offense looked really out of synch and started spluttering turnovers were when Garcia was at the helm against Jacksonville. The Bucs did resolve the back-up issue with Brian "son of Bob" Griese and Luke "brother of Josh" McCown proving they can do the job if need be.
And there are the receivers. Trade you a Joey Galloway rookie card for a sighting of No.84 himself? I'd love to hope he will appear by magic on the Superdome turf on Sunday week and gain 100 yards. I'd also love for Wham! to play a comeback gig too.
If we need a nickname for our receiving corps, how about "Invisible Joey and the Question Marks"? Take your pick from Clayton, Bryant, Hilliard, Stovall and Jackson - none of them can honestly be counted on for the entire season. It could get ugly when the Bucs throw downfield this season as there is a little-known new NFL rule that for every 100 short passes to the backs, you have to throw one pass over 30 yards.
We also learned that everyone now loves Chris Simms. His locker is probably already as empty as part of his insides, and his playbook can be posted back from the Cowboys' locker-room where he'll probably wind up. Thanks Chris - you showed more heart than too many other Buc passers of years gone by. Good luck.
Paul Stewart, TBO.com, 29 August 2008