From the Press Box: Two Dumpster Fires, No Waiting

Garda is back with thoughts on two big disasters: The Tampa Bay Bucs and NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell's press conference.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown by Jason Getz—USA TODAY Sports.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown by Jason Getz—USA TODAY Sports.

So last night’s football game…..that was interesting.

I don’t know that it’s even worth breaking down that dumpster fire of a game, but a few things were reinforced in my eyes—at least on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers side of things.

What was Lovie Smith thinking in signing a 35-year old journeyman quarterback to lead this team? I get he isn’t a fan of Mike Glennon—for whatever reason—but naming Josh McCown as starter before the two took the field was insane or at least willfully blind. It wasn’t a cheap contract either—twp years for $10 million with $4.75 guaranteed?

That was insane then and it’s just as nuts now.

You have to assume Smith really came to like McCown in 2011, though not enough to avoid waiving him at the start of the 2012 season, only bringing him back when Jay Cutler got a concussion. Prior to 2013, McCown had only had his touchdowns outnumber his interceptions once and had never started for a full season. In 11 years he has thrown for just over 9,000 yards with 52 touchdowns to 48 interceptions.

He had a phenomenal 2013 under Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman. That last part is the key though—Trestman has a history of making veteran quarterbacks play far above their normal ability level. Lovie Smith has never been known as an offensive mastermind.

Which is why he brought in alleged quarterback guru Jeff Tedford to run the offense. The thing is, it seems to me that Tedford didn’t produce many NFL level quarterbacks. Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers are the only two and Boller was never a starter while Rodgers took some serious time to develop.

Sidenote: I suppose to be fair, we can say we will never know if Rodgers would have made it or not had he been thrown right into the fire. Certainly time behind Brett Favre helped but it’s something we will never know for sure.

And Tedford has been sick as well, so how much time has he really had with the quarterbacks?

Really though, who looked at Josh McCown and said “yeah I can see the playoffs or Super Bowl with him?” Maybe you didn’t think the Bucs could bounce back that quickly, but I did. With the defensive talent and the players they had on offense—quarterback aside—they should be competing for that division.

Yet here we are and nobody who covers the NFL—even Bucs bloggers—can quite explain McCown or the signing.

It sure seems to have been a disastrous one right now.

The other lingering question here is, what the heck is going on with the defense? Right now it is ranked as the No. 26 defense in the NFL after three games. And while that might change as other teams play this weekend, it won’t suddenly vault them 15 spaces.

In Week 1 this defense allowed 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Derek Anderson. The Carolina Panthers have been better than expected offensively but this was Derek Anderson. The also let up 103 yards on the ground and generated no turnovers.

Week 2 featured them allowing 235 yards to Austin Davis. Never heard of him? Few had any idea who the third-year quarterback out of Southern Mississippi was before being thrown to the wolves in Week 1 when Shaun Hill got hurt.  There’s a reason for that—he’s pretty raw.

Davis looked very solid in his second appearance against the Buccaneers, totaling 235 yards, though no touchdowns. The Rams dropped 339 total yards on the Bucs defense in their 19 to 17 win.

Sure, the first two weeks featured more of a “bend but don’t break” philosophy, which is what Smith did in Chicago with a lot of success. But you need an offense to do be successfully or else the one or two times you break cost you the game.

Unless the whole thing falls apart and you get 56 points dropped on you.

Friday Night Lacrosse?

Director Peter Berg—you know, he of the Friday Night Lights movie and TV series—isn’t letting his  14-year old son play football anymore and I don’t blame him.

He explained his decision in an article for Time this week and it’s worth a read.

Some of you who follow me on Twitter or who know me on Facebook are aware I coach Pop Warner football. Articles and decisions like this disappoint me, but I understand them.

While my particular organization is very attentive and focused on proper tackling technique, it’s a constant process. You can’t just work on it for the preseason, dust your hands off and say “DONE, let’s go play football” because kids are kids.

They forget and they ignore and they do things that kids do. So you have to go through the whole proper tackling technique in some way, shape or form every week. We do, but as Berg says, it’s boring. Kids stop paying attention and sometimes they look worse after the process than before.

And none of that is going to change a kid who just won’t pick their head up when tackling. You can yell at them, you can bench them you can make them do a multitude of pushups but they either have to buy in or not.

Even then, you have to hope other teams are all doing it too. I’m pretty sure they aren’t though Lord knows I can’t tell you for sure. Like I said, once a kid gets on the field, he (or she) does whatever they do.

So I understand why Berg’s kid is playing lacrosse. My older son plays football and lacrosse and is welcome to do that through high school if he wants. I have seen tremendous positive impact in his life because of football. He’s more focused when he is playing any sport, but has learned confidence and leadership and we’ve found a sort of family in the Pop Warner program.

I suppose you can argue there are many ways to do that which don’t involve people slamming into each other and you won’t get much of an argument from me. But I’ve seen a lot of positivity come out of youth football and I believe there is uniqueness to the experience which is hard to replicate elsewhere.

Found: One NFL Commissioner

“Now I will get it right”

After a lot of silence from Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner finally made public statements about the chaos that has absorbed the NFL for the past few weeks, overshadowing what has been an exciting first two weeks on the field.

The press conference was announced three hours before it’s start time of 3pm EST, which of course the Commish was late for.

He hit the talking points we expected—mistakes were made, new initiatives, new start, we’ll get it right next time.

I appreciate that Goodell says he can see how the league can help fix things in the society it exists in. But we’ve heard this before and he danced around questions of when the league asked for the Ray Rice tape and how they couldn’t get it when they have people who can put together a report on what a draft prospect did on a Tuesday his junior year in High School.

So this press conference was nothing but a lot of air, until I see things change. And right now, it’s hard to imagine it there will be any change.

Props to the press which was there though—Goodell had his feet held to the fire and while we didn’t get answers (or as someone tried to tell me, we just didn’t get the answers we wanted) but the important questions were asked.

Now they have to keep being asked until there are real answers.

Extra Bonus Points to CNN’s Rachel Nichols who absolutely HOUNDED Goodell.

Meanwhile this happened:


ESPN posting player responses under Goodell during the press conference was brutal.

Also, while this isn’t press conference related, I think this SBNation piece by David Roth speaks to some of the overall issues here.

Final Notes

I’ll be in the press box at the New York Giants-Houston Texans game on Sunday for Sports On Earth and will have some stuff from there Sunday night/Monday Morning. If you haven’t gone over there to see what I’m doing, head on over. Not only do you get my excellent stuff, but Matt Brown is doing some great college stuff while Sheil Kapadia and Ross Tucker are on the NFL side with me as well.

So come join us, won’t you?

And you can start with my breakdown of the Jets defense against the Packers offense from earlier this week.

Until next week, stay out of trouble and enjoy the games!

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Comments (2)

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Ruppert's picture

September 19, 2014 at 06:11 pm

"And none of that is going to change a kid who just won’t pick their head up when tackling. You can yell at them, you can bench them you can make them do a multitude of pushups but they either have to buy in or not."

Herein lies the reality which (unfortunately) presents the truly serious, long-term threat to the sport.

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andrewgarda's picture

September 19, 2014 at 07:10 pm


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