Thoughts from the final pre-season game in Washington
That really was a game of two halves. Not just that the Redskins used all their starters in the first half whilst our guys were wearing baseball caps backwards, but also for the coverage provided on the NFL GamePass.
For the first 28 minutes, we got the Redskins' TV feed which meant talk only of the home team and the most annoying commentator in the history of the NFL, Joe Theisman. And the coverage wasn't in HD either.
Thankfully at the two minute warning, it was back to the Bucs' feed and the HD picture appeared too. And from then on, all was right with the world in so many ways.
So who looked good? Free did and I want one of those caps. Oh on the field - Anthony Gaitor can start filling his locker for the season - another great 7th round draft find. Ed Gant will get all the press for his 96-yard pass play, the longest touchdown reception in pre-season history for the Buccaneers. And it was good to see Brian Price out there for the entire game on the defensive line.
Who didn't? Armando Allen may have scored on a screen pass but he fumbled a punt return after earlier showing signs of Tim Brown disease (where you call for a fair catch with no-one within 20 yards of you). 6th round pick Allen Bradford showed me nothing again and was totally outplayed running, receiving and pass blocking by Scooby-Doo Madu.
I had 9:03 down in the James Lee first penalty sweepstake but he made up for no flags by getting Rudy Carpenter killed on the sack and fumble shortly afterwards. I did like Raheem not challenging the play but wanting to see how his defense would handle the adversity. This is what pre-season is all about.
Jonathan Crompton looked OK at the end but I would still take Rudy Carpenter over him as the No.3 QB. And the Bucs have to find room for Gant on the active roster. As John Lynch said, no-one in the NFL is going to let this guy slide if he is cut.
Mark Dominik did his traditional 4th quarter appearance in the commentary booth and spoke a lot of sense as always. Remember how bad Bruce Allen used to sound? And it was nice to see not only Rick Odiso getting himself in the shot but also Assistant PR Director Dan Berglund in there as well. Yes we saw you this week Dan!
If Brian Billcik is the best analyst in the game, and it's a shame the Bucs aren't scheduled to see him in the first two weeks, then Gene Steratore has to be the best referee in the NFL. His style of announcing penalties is just class.
And finally, have you ever been more excited about a young team in any sport than the 2011 Bucs right now? The energy showed on the sideline, the huge amount of talent throughout the roster and the way they played that second half was just a joy to behold. No more veteran cast-offs being signed by Jon Gruden. No more "the future is so bright I gotta wear shades" sound bites. These Bucs are the real deal. Bring it on.
You've been great, enjoy Atlantic Starr