This week's electronic conversation between Sports columnists John Romano and Gary Shelton:
JR: After the Bucs got run over by the Panthers on Monday night, you threw a question in the air: Was it an aberration? I am now lobbing that question back at you: Did the Panthers find the chink in Tampa Bay's defense, or was that a one-game anomaly?
GS: We'll find out pretty quick. The Bucs have Michael Turner this week and LaDainian Tomlinson next week. It's going to look like a stampede. If the Bucs don't tackle better, they're liable to get run out of the Romano Power Rankings.
JR: If it doesn't get any better, they're liable to get run out of the postseason. The tackling was troublesome, but the Panthers blew enormous holes in the Bucs' D-line. After awhile, I started looking for Booger McFarland.
GS: I think he's still planted under the Carolina sod. Then again, maybe the Bucs should find out. Jovan Haye and Chris Hovan are both hurting. Can you find defensive tackles at the unemployment office?
JR: Out-of-work stockbrokers, autoworkers and journalists are at the unemployment office. Out-of-work defensive tackles are standing outside pharmacies in Tijuana, Mexico. Do you suppose Joey Galloway could bulk up quickly enough to play nose tackle?
GS: Yes, but he would only go deep.
JR: Jon Gruden has not yet found a formation he likes that includes both Galloway and Antonio Bryant. Is this Gruden being annoyed at a receiver again, or is Galloway really so limited that he can't get on the field for a team where the No. 2 receiver averages 27 yards per game?
GS: I'm not sure how healthy Galloway really is. Maybe he has proprioception of the foot. But I agree with you. The Bucs called 45 pass plays Monday night (38 passes, five sacks, two scrambles), and Galloway didn't get on the field. I know that Antonio Bryant is the new race car in Gruden's Monopoly game, but wouldn't you send Galloway deep a time or two?
JR: Even if you use Galloway as a decoy, the defense has to show some respect for his ability to get downfield. I know the Bucs love Michael Clayton's blocking skills at receiver, but the running backs have one run of more than 15 yards in the past seven games. How much downfield blocking can the receivers be doing?
GS: I think downfield blocking is great. But if that's what it took to be a great receiver, then Anthony Munoz would be Jerry Rice.
JR: Okay, smart guy, so tell me what's going to happen today. Do the Bucs stay in the NFC South race, or do they start packing their bags for that first-round wild-card game on the road?
GS: If you watched the Monday night game, your eyes are probably still burning. So I understand the skepticism. The Bucs haven't looked that bad on defense since 1999, when Gruden's Raiders beat the Bucs 45-0. On the other hand, do you remember what happened the next week? The Bucs beat Green Bay. Something tells me the Bucs win this game. Of course, that same something told me that Lindsay Lohan was going to be governor of Minnesota.
JR: You and I don't agree often, but this is one of those rare cases. I thought Lindsay would be real strong in the Duluth region and carry the state. As for the Bucs, you're probably right there, too. If need be, they'll stack the line and force the rookie quarterback to beat them.
GS: Gee. You got Lindsay Lohan and Matt Ryan in the same sentence. Let the rumors begin!