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The Point After

We're still waiting to see a flash of, well, something from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

JR: I know the school year has only just begun, Gary, but I'm beginning to worry about Raheem Morris getting a passing grade this fall. Should I be grading on a curve?

GS: Does it matter? Even with extra credit, even with an apple on the columnist's desk, even with a curve, we're seeing a lot of Fs. But I'll say this. Jon Gruden would be 0-3 with this team, too. Tony Dungy would be, too. Sam Wyche might even be 0-4.

JR: I don't disagree, but I'm more concerned about the process than the record. The Jeff Jagodzinski hiring didn't work out, the Byron Leftwich experiment didn't work out, and, so far, the personnel and plans on defense aren't working.

GS: What is working? You don't see a hint, a flash, of improvement. I think people could take 0-3 if they thought tomorrow was going to be better. Instead, it feels like Wile E. Coyote as he falls into the canyon.

JR: Part of the problem is misguided expectations. The Bucs went 9-7 last season, and, based on e-mails I've gotten from fans, a lot of people thought this was still a good team. I don't think they understood that the '08 team was held together with Band-Aids and Ben-Gay and that this team has had an extensive overhaul.

GS: Not extensive enough, from the sight of it. Not expensive enough, either. The NFL is a place where a team can get better in a hurry, but not if it throws nickels at free agency. Which leads us to today's game between the Bucs, who don't spend, and the Redskins, who don't spend smart.

JR: It's always amusing to see a big spender struggle, but it's downright hysterical when it's a pompous clown like Dan Snyder.

GS: Of course he's pompous. He has won a game. Whee! The question is whether he's going to win another. Do the Bucs have a chance today, or do we need to start researching winless seasons?

JR: Yes, they have a chance. And, no, it's not a bad idea to start dusting off articles from 1976 just in case. You did an entire column last week on what the Bucs need to do to help Josh Johnson. If you could boil it down to one sentence, how can they help Josh today?

GS: By playing well enough in other areas to lessen the load on him. He's an exciting athlete, and I think he can make a play or two that can help his team win. But it's unfair to ask him to do too much.

JR: Benching Leftwich was not much of a shock considering the way things started. Moving Josh Freeman to No. 2 on the depth chart was far more interesting to me. The way Johnson throws his body around, do you suppose we see Freeman sooner rather than later?

GS: Certainly, Freeman is closer to the field than he was a week ago, but when was the last time a No. 1 draft pick wasn't at least the second quarterback to get a start? Maybe that says something good about Johnson's development, or something bad about Freeman's. Or maybe after paying Luke McCown money for no starts and Leftwich for three starts, the Bucs are finally getting it right at quarterback.

JR: Brady Quinn was the No. 3 quarterback after being a first-round pick in 2007, but I'm not sure following Cleveland's example is ever a swell idea. I just find it odd because Freeman's playing time should be determined by his development and not the team's won-loss record or Leftwich's passer rating.

GS: So far, I see a lot of Bucs who need to develop more before they play.

JR: And maybe some coaches, too. It's difficult for any coach to survive the growing pains of a rebuilding season, but it's going to be harder for someone without a track record.

GS: Could be worse. The Bucs could have hired Jim Zorn instead. You remember Zorn, the Bucs' old replacement quarterback from 1987. He came in, won a game and left. Since then, things have gone downhill for the guy.

JR: Heck, if the Bucs wait a week or two, Zorn could be available again.

GS: If he trails at the half against the Bucs, he's gone.

JR: I wonder if Jagodzinski has Snyder's phone number?

GS: I think Danny's phone number is unlisted, just like Jags' playbook.

JR: And Leftwich's future.

We're still waiting to see a flash of, well, something from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:22pm]
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