GS: Here's an idea, John. Because the Bucs had to go to Atlanta this weekend, maybe Raheem Morris can take time to have lunch with Leeman Bennett and discuss what happens to coaches who start their tenures 1-9. From here, it looks as if Bennett's '85 model is the standard to which this team aspires.
JR: Actually, that's not a bad idea because Bennett managed to survive a 2-14 record and get a second season in Tampa Bay. He could teach Raheem how to sell ownership on the idea that things are improving without any actual evidence. And, just to be safe, Raheem may want to ask how a person goes from NFL head coach to Winnebago salesman.
GS: Well, you have to be driven.
JR: You've been reading your Carrot Top joke book again, haven't you?
GS: My mistake. I thought it was the Bucs' playbook.
JR: Do you hear rim shots when you type?
GS: Doesn't everyone? I've got to tell you, the more I watch bad football, the more I feel like vaudeville has returned. Except, of course, Milton Berle was a better pass rusher than anyone the Bucs have.
JR: Gandhi was a better pass rusher than anyone the Bucs have. This defense has no snarl. No nastiness. No bite. I thought I saw some blood last week, but turns out it was just Chris Hovan's makeup running.
GS: You realize, of course, that all of this is the Falcons' fault. If the Bucs had won in Atlanta in December, they would have made the playoffs, and maybe there wouldn't have been so many decapitations during the offseason. Instead, the Bucs lost 13-10 in overtime, and the Glazers decided it was time for a rebuilding year. Instead, we got an unbuilding year.
JR: We've seen teams take a step backward in this market before. The Rays did it a few years ago (almost stepping all the way back to Triple A), but at least you could see the promise of a Carl Crawford, or a James Shields or a Scott Kazmir. The Lightning was awful last season, but you could see Steven Stamkos grow in the second half, and Mike Smith tickled your interest. The problem with the Bucs is there is so little room for your hopes. Josh Freeman could be good. Aqib Talib is a nice player. But who else is going to take this team to the playoffs in 2010? Or 2011?
GS: Kellen Winslow is a nice player. Cadillac Williams isn't bad. Tanard Jackson. There are some other players, like center Jeff Faine, tackle Donald Penn and guard Davin Joseph, who could do just fine if they were surrounded by better people. And while Barrett Ruud hasn't had a great year, let's see him when he has legit defensive tackles keeping the offensive linemen out of his lap. So here's the question: Is there a nine-on-nine league around here anywhere?
JR: Exactly. And the good news is the Bucs might look like big spenders under a nine-man salary cap.
GS: Not only that, but I think they've been playing a 2-3-4 defense all season long, so they'd be used to it.
JR: So now that we have completely trashed the players, the organization and Carrot Top, I have to admit I think the Bucs have a decent chance at an upset today. The Falcons have their problems on defense, and I think Freeman comes back strong after an embarrassing effort against the Saints. Are you going to climb on board with me?
GS: Not if that board stretched from here to Atlanta. I know Atlanta has lost four of five, but the Bucs are on the road, where they couldn't even beat Buffalo or Washington, and Michael Turner is averaging 5 yards a carry. And riddle me this, Batman. Who covers Tony Gonzalez over the middle? Or, for that matter, anyone else?
JR: Sheesh, I liked you better when you were telling corny jokes.