Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The Point After

The Point After: Playoffs? Only if D can carry team again

This week's electronic conversation between Sports columnists John Romano and Gary Shelton:

JR: Hey, Gary. Welcome back from Beijing. Let me catch you up on the Buccaneers preseason: Brett Favre didn't come, Joey Galloway didn't run, and Jeff Garcia didn't strike gold. Any questions?

GS: Sure. How did the whole not-signing-Bo-Jackson deal work out?

JR: Wow, China was a few more time zones away than I realized.

GS: Yeah, it's a long way. Just think of it: 1.3-billion people who have never seen the Bucs with a good offense. By comparison, only 2.7-million people in Tampa Bay can say the same. So tell me, John, do you see this season ending in confetti?

JR: Depends on your celebration threshold. If you're a big fan of 8-8, I say let the champagne flow.

GS: I only get giddy over a wild-card berth. Is that too much to expect?

JR: That's not true. I've seen you get giddy over a pulled pork sandwich. But, no, a wild-card berth is not too much to expect. I think the Bucs are similar to a dozen other teams that could go 7-9 or 9-7 depending on a few critical plays. Are we in agreement?

GS: Over pulled pork? Absolutely. Over the Bucs? That would be frightening. Let's break it down, though. Do the Bucs have enough offense to be a postseason team?

JR: I'll let you know when I see Galloway run a meaningful route. The Bucs are pretty deep at quarterback and running back, and they may have their best offensive line ever. But if they don't have a receiver who can run past a safety, they're in deep doo-doo.

GS: In other words, it's the same old offense, which makes it about as promising as John Edwards' career. Which brings us to the always-more-important question: How does the defense feel today, and shouldn't the offense be bringing pizza to Monte's meetings?

JR: I've always wondered why the defense did not file for divorce on grounds of abandonment. Monte worked a half-dozen new starters into the lineup last season and got the Bucs back into the playoffs. Is there any reason to think this defense couldn't be just as good?

GS: Sure. People could get hurt. People could get old. People could play bad. But I think it's safe to say that if this team is good, the defense has to be good. And for this team to make the playoffs, the defense has to be the best in the division. Nothing new there, is there?

JR: It's the greatest story ever retold. Here's what I'm wondering: The Glazers appear satisfied with the job done by Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen. But are the fans? Has the up-and-down nature of this franchise eroded what was once one of the most solid fan bases in the NFL?

GS: John, aren't most franchises in the NFL like that? Unless a team finds itself a franchise quarterback, it's hard to not bounce up and down. I think the frustration here has been the failure to get momentum going with young offensive players.

JR: Yes, but Tampa Bay's downs have been a little more severe. In the past five years, the Bucs are tied for 20th in the NFL in victories. Not horrible but not the best way to get a contract extension.

GS: Or to sell season tickets, for that matter. But again, I can live with the downs if the ups are more promising. Even in the Bucs' past two visits to the post-season, you never got the feeling they were a legitimate Super Bowl contender. I don't see that changing this year.

JR: Tsk, tsk. You never have any faith. I say give them a chance before you bury them. Say, 4 p.m. today?

GS: Hey, I'm Captain Optimism, remember? But bring your shovel, just in case.

The Point After: Playoffs? Only if D can carry team again 09/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 8, 2008 12:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pitching on no rest backfires for Erasmo Ramirez, Rays

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — After battling through a 61/2-hour affair Sunday in Minnesota that was the second-longest game in franchise history, Rays officials were quick to decide that even though Erasmo Ramirez had just worked the 15th and final inning, they would stick with him to start Monday's game in Texas.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers, comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    The Rays had good reason to have faith in RHP Erasmo Ramirez starting Monday after closing Sunday based on his resiliency, versatility and efficiency. But it still turned out to be a bad idea as he allowed four runs without getting through three innings.

  3. Rays journal: Dugout bench becomes bed for Logan Morrison at end of long night

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays found creative ways to get through the physical and mental fatigue of the 6½ hours they spent playing — and ultimately winning — Sunday's game in Minnesota.

    Corey Dickerson drapes towels over an exhausted Logan Morrison in the dugout during the 15th inning of Sunday’s marathon victory.
  4. Rays at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. Tuesday, Arlington, Texas

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Rangers

    8:05, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 2: Nick Martinez #22 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
  5. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]