During CBS Television Network’s NFL pre-game show, The NFL Today, host James Brown and analysts Charley Casserly broke the news that the Bucs are one of five teams the league office has found to have had impermissible contact with players during the lockout.
It’s unclear, whether or not the team will be penalized for the infractions and if the penalty will come in the form of the Bucs having to relinquishing draft picks or if it will be in the form of actual cash.
Interestingly enough many of the prognostications that have been floated and bantered about when talking about the outcome, of the Bucs 2011 season, has them regressing slightly and missing the playoffs. However, Bill Simmons the Editor in Chief of Grantland.com and one of the country’s most widely read sports writers, and the author of the recent New York Times No. 1 best-seller The Book of Basketball. Is going against the grain in his most recent column titled “The NFL in 2011: All About Continuity” Simmons a pioneer of sports writing on the Internet is predicting the Bucs not only make the playoffs, but will actually play in the NFC Championship Game.
Simmons is also predicting the Bucs over the Lions today!
BUCS (-1.5) over Lions
That’s right, I said Tampa! Why do so few people still believe in JAAAAAAAASH FREEMAN!?!?!?!?? Even if the Bucs had some schedule/luck/momentum help last season, don’t they get credit for overcoming a rash of crippling injuries (they lost five starters in two weeks at one point, including stud cornerback Aqib Talib and center Jeff Faine) and gritting their way to 10-6? What about a full year from LeGarrette Blount? Why is everyone so eager to say how much better Sam Bradford will be in Year 2, but they never say this about Freeman (also entering his second full year as a starter)? Have you seen their schedule for god’s sake?7 And haven’t we learned that it’s much better to be the “Nobody Believes In Us!” team (Tampa) than the “Everyone Believes In Us!” team (not just Atlanta but Detroit, as well)? Relatively Bold Prediction No. 4: Tampa makes the playoffs, Atlanta and Detroit do not.
It’s definitely a bold prediction. The Bucs making the playoffs at 11-5 and going to the NFC Championship Game, while last years media darlings the Atlanta Falcons and this years early media darlings the Detroit Lions both miss out.
The would tickle the heck out of me, for nothing else than the Falcons would be sitting at home, Freeman getting his first career playoff win before Matt Ryan and then beating a division rival in the Saints to advance even further. Talk about a fairytale.
The Buccaneers have won seven of the last ten meetings with the Lions, but Detroit leads the all-time regular season series 28-25. Tampa also prevailed 20-10 in a wildcard playoff win in Tampa during the 1997 season. The teams first met in 1977, a 16-7 Lions victory at the Silverdome. The Bucs’ first win over the Lions came in the 1979 season opener, a 31-16 triumph that propelled Tampa Bay to its first NFC Central title. Two years later, the Bucs captured their second division crown with a 20-17 win at Detroit on the season’s final Sunday. The series see-sawed throughout the 1980s, with the Lions holding a 10-9 edge. Detroit went on a five-game streak, starting in 1994. The Bucs ended the streak in 1997 with a 24-17 win in Pontiac. Later that year, Tampa Bay said farewell to Tampa Stadium with a 20-10 Wild Card victory over the Lions before 73,361 fans. Tampa Bay had won the previous meeting between the two teams in 2008, but lost last season in Tampa, 23-20.
Date: Sunday, September 11, 2011
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET
Site: Raymond James Stadium (65,908)
2010 Records: Tampa Bay 10-6, Detroit 6-10
Network Television: FOX
Play-by-Play: Chris Myers, Analyst: Tim Ryan, Sideline: Jennifer Hale
Bucs Radio: US 103.5, flagship station (103.5 FM, 620 AM)
Play-by-Play: Gene Deckerhoff, Color: Dave Moore, Sideline: T.J. Rives
Up Next: Tampa Bay @ Minnesota (9/18), Detroit vs. Kansas City (9/18)
Series By The Numbers
Overall Regular Season Series:………………… Detroit leads series, 28-25
Home Record vs. Detroit Lions:………………………………………….. 13-13
Road Record vs. Detroit Lions:…………………………………………… 12-15
Current Streak:…………………………………………. Lions, one game (2010)
Buccaneers Longest Streak:…………………………. Four games (2001-05)
Lions Longest Streak:……………………………………Five games (1994-96)
Regular Season Point Total:………………….Buccaneers 916 – Lions 1,117
Most Points, Buccaneers:……….. 38, twice, last Buccaneers 38-20 (2008)
Most Points, Lions:………………………….38, twice, last Lions 38-7 (1992)
Most Points, both teams:…………………….. 59, Buccaneers 38-21 (1990)
Fewest Points, Buccaneers:……….. 0, three times, last Lions 27-0 (1996)
Fewest Points, Lions:……….. 10, five times, last Buccaneers 31-10 (2000)
Fewest Points, both teams:……………………………11, Lions 11-0 (1983)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Bucs O-Line vs. Lions D-Line
Last season the Bucs offensive line surrendered 30 sacks, the Lions defense sacked opposing QB’s 44 times. The Bucs were without Jeff Faine, Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood was not starting when the Lions beat the Bucs in overtime. Mark Dominik has shelled out $110 million in contracts with roughly $39 million guaranteed to LT Donald Penn, RG Joseph and RT Trueblood over the past two off-seasons to protect Freeman, the face of the franchise.
With new offensive line coach Pat Morris, in tow. This is a critical unit to watch in the season opener. Especially after a less than stellar pre-season performance, where they allowed far too much pressure and seldom moved the LOS.
The most intriguing battle however will be Trueblood vs. Lions DE Cliff Avril.Trueblood has struggled against speed rushers in the past. Avril a speed rusher extraordinaire could give Trueblood fits in his attempt to protect Freeman.
Aqib Talib vs. Calvin Johnson
Johnson had 10 catches for 152-yards and 1 touchdown against the Talibless Bucs in last years meeting. Talib who’s not played in a game since week 12 of 2010 after being placed on injured reserve will be tested by the athletic Johnson.
This is strength versus strength for both teams. Talib and Johnson both represent the best player for their respective teams on defense and offense. Which ever player, gets the best of the other goes along way in helping decide the outcome of this game.
Josh Freeman vs. Lions Secondary
Last year, Freeman led the Buccaneers to 10 wins, becoming the first quarterback under the age of 23 to win at least 10 games since 2004 (Ben Roethlisberger). Seven of Freeman’s 13 career victories have been fourth-quarter comeback or OT wins. Freeman had a career-best 95.9 passer rating in 2010, the sixth-highest mark in the NFL. His 3,451 passing yards last year were the fourth-most in team history and he joined Brad Johnson as the only Bucs to pass for at least 3,000 yards, 20 TDs (25) and fewer than 10 interceptions (6) in a season.
With the Lions top interceptor from last season CB Alphonso Smith out. This should provide the Bucs deep receiving corps some mismatch opportunities. Don’t be too surprised to see Dezmon Briscoe become an early favorite of Freeman with Mike Williams garnering extra attention.
CB Alphonso Smith (foot) Out
DT Nick Fairley (foot) Out
OT Jason Fox (foot) Out
RB Maurice Morris (hand) Probable
DT Andre Fluellen (hand) Probable
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Myron Lewis (ankle) Out
G Ted Larsen (ankle) Probable
LB Dekoda Watson (hamstring) Probable
Lions Head Coach: Jim Schwartz
Lions Offensive Coordinator: Gunther Cunningham
Lions Defensive Coordinator: Scott Linehan
Lions Special Teams Coach: Danny Crossman
STATISTICAL RANKINGS: (2010 Regular Season)
DETROIT LIONS OFFENSE
Overall: 17th (338.9 ypg)
Rushing: 23rd (100.8 ypg)
Passing: 12th (238.1 ypg)
Sacks Allowed: 6th (27)
Points Scored: 15th (22.6 ppg)
DETROIT LIONS DEFENSE
Overall: 21st (343.6 ypg)
Rushing: 24th (124.9 ypg)
Passing: 16th (218.6 ypg)
Sacks: 6th (44)
Points Allowed: 19th (23.1 ppg)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS OFFENSE
Overall: 19th (335.1 ypg)
Rushing: 8th (125.1 ypg)
Passing: 17th (210.1 ypg)
Sacks Allowed: 10th (30)
Points Scored: 20th (21.3 ppg)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS DEFENSE
Overall: 17th (332.7 ypg)
Rushing: 28th (131.7 ypg)
Passing: 7th (201 ypg)
Sacks: 30th (26)
Points Allowed: 9th (19.9 ppg)
Buc Central’s Prognostication:
As always we are not advocating gambling based on our views of the game, especially considering we typically are inclined to make such educated guesses using are heart rather the any rational thought applied to picking. We are merely giving an opinion of who we think has the best chance at securing a victory.
The day has nearly arrived. It’s a day when people crawl out of bed at 7 a.m. so they can finish yard work, chores, and even homework. It’s a day when iPad, Direct TV and NFL RedZone packages are purchased all around the world. It’s a day when dedicated fantasy football fans are glued to their computers five minutes before kickoff because they are scrounging the waiver wire for the backup running back for the Houston Texans. Week one of the 2011 regular season is here!
Long have we waited to hear those words. We wrestled through off-season uncertainty, and struggled through four lackluster preseason games. We watched rookies and seasoned veterans make a splash during training camp, only to be cut from the team a few weeks later. Now it’s time to make season projections. It’s time to put a dollar in the football office pool and it’s time to sound off about a favorite team’s Super Bowl chances.
There are many unknowns heading into the season for Tampa Bay. Will Josh Freeman regress after such an outstanding sophomore season? Will the Bucs upgraded defensive line be able to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks? Here’s a look at some week one questions when the Bucs face the Lions.
How will Aqib Talib handle Calvin Johnson? In last year’s 23-20 overtime win, Johnson caught 10 balls for 152 yards, and that was with Drew Stanton under center. And in 2008, Johnson had three catches for 66 yards and a score, with an old Daunte Culpepper throwing the ball. Earlier in the week, Talib said he is excited about facing Johnson week one and is looking forward to being back on the field.
I don’t feel that excited about Talib. Let’s look at the facts: He hasn’t played a down since week 12 of last year. That means no preseason action, and barely any practice. Calvin Johnson is among the most physical receivers in the league—not to mention—he runs between a 4.3 and 4.4. Talib is coming off a hip injury, which means his lateral movement is going to be affected. Additionally, he has been hampered with a hamstring strain, and just ask anyone who has ever had that injury and they’ll say that it’s hard to get back into game speed right away. Overall, I don’t trust Talib’s durability. Count on Johnson being shadowed by safeties Sean Jones and Cody Grimm for most of the game. With the Bucs secondary focused on stopping Johnson, look for wide receiver Nate Burleson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew to be frequent targets of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
How will the offensive line be able to contain Ndamukong Suh and the Lions pass rush? The Lions upgraded on the defensive side of the ball in the offseason, grabbing Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley in the 2011 draft, linebacker Stephen Tulloch from Tennessee and underrated corner Eric Wright from Cleveland. Some NFL analysts have even pegged this Lions team as a possible playoff contender. One of the biggest reasons: Ndamukong Suh. It’s tough to bet against a player whose name literally means “House of Spears.”
In the game last season, Tampa Bay surrendered three sacks, but at least they held Suh in check. They’ll need to perform even better if they want to start this season out with a win. I’ve said before that preseason games don’t mean much, but it was worrisome watching our starting unit get pushed off the line, commit penalties, and force Freeman to make rushed decisions.
So, how should the Bucs handle Suh and the Lions pass rush? Keep them off-balance. Start off the game running slants, screens—quick passes to take pressure off Freeman and the offensive line. Secondly, run the ball. If Thursday’s opener between the Packers and Saints was any indication, the defenses will fatigue late in the game. This is the first time starters will have played every snap. In the fourth quarter of the Thursday night game, both team defenses looked exhausted. Players were breathing heavy, crouched over with hands on their hips.
Expect 20 or more carries from LeGarrette Blount as the Bucs will attempt to wear down the Lions defense early. I think Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson will prefer ball control and tempo rather than a spread offense. I expect Suh to make a few plays—that’s what an All-Pro lineman does—though hopefully none of them result in Freeman’s head getting ripped off like Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton.
Overall, I expect a fairly high-scoring affair. Calvin Johnson will likely be double-teamed most of the afternoon, but 80 yards and a score wouldn’t be unexpected. Blount ran for 110 yards and a touchdown last year, and I can certainly see him getting plenty of opportunities this time around. As is most games for the Bucs, the key will be protecting Freeman and staying disciplined. I foresee the offense being able to move down the field, but my gut says Detroit will win this game 27-23.
After finishing the 2009 season ranked 20th with 40 pass completions of 20+ yards, five of which resulted in touchdowns, the Buccaneers, led by QB Josh Freeman, recorded 49 completions of 20+ yards in 2010 with 10 of those going for scores. The team finished with the seventh-most pass completions of 20+ yards and tied for the second-most 20+ yard touchdown passes in the NFC. From 2000-09, the Bucs averaged just 37 receptions of 20 or more yards per season.
The Buccaneers were also one of six teams in the NFL, and one of two teams in the NFC, to have six different players catch a pass of 40+ yards (San Diego, 8; Oakland and Seattle, 7; Baltimore and Cleveland, 6) last season.
2010 NFC MOST 20+ YARD COMPLETIONS
Rank Team 20+ Yd Comp.
1. Philadelphia 61
2. Dallas 57
2. Green Bay 57
2. N.Y. Giants 57
5. San Francisco 53
6. Washington 51
7. Tampa Bay 49
8. Minnesota 47
8. New Orleans 47
10. Arizona 44
2010 NFC MOST 20+ YARD TD PASSES
Rank Team 20+ Yd TD Passes
1. N.Y. Giants 14
2. Green Bay 10
2. New Orleans 10
2. Philadelphia 10
2. Tampa Bay 10
The team also dramatically increased their number of long runs, recording 63 rushes of 10+ yards to rank fourth in the NFL last season after recording just 43 and 41, respectively, in the past two seasons. RB LeGarrette Blount led the way for Tampa Bay recording 32 of those runs, while Freeman finished second on the team with 16. The Bucs also had 16 rushes of 20+ yards and two runs of 50+ yards, both tying for the fourth most in the NFL.
2010 NFL MOST 10+ YARD RUNS
Rank Team 10+ Yd Runs
1. Philadelphia 73
2. Kansas City 72
3. Jacksonville 67
4. Tampa Bay 63
5. Oakland 61
The Game Features 2 QBs selected in 1st Rd of 2009 NFL Draft: Matthew Stafford (Det., No. 1) & Josh Freeman (TB, No. 17)…LIONS: Had NFL-best 114 points in preseason…QB Stafford needs 198 yards to reach 3,000 for career. Has 19 TD passes & needs 1 to reach 20. Led NFL in preseason with 154.7 rating…RB Jahvid Best led all rookies in 2010 with 1,042 scrimmage yards (555 rush, 487 rec.). Had 6 TDs (4 rush, 2 rec.) last year. Rushed for 2 TDs on Kickoff Weekend 2010…WR Calvin Johnson has most career receptions (270), rec. yards (4,191) & rec. TDs (33) by Lion in 1st 4 seasons with club. Tied for 2nd in NFL last year with 12 rec. TDs & is 1st Lion with 2 seasons with 12+ rec. TDs. He had 10 catches for 152 yards in last game vs. TB. WR Nate Burleson had TD catch in last meeting…DT Ndamukong Suh had 10 sacks last year, 2nd most by rookie DT since sacks became official stat in 1982. He became 1st Lions rookie to be named to Pro Bowl since HOFer Barry Sanders in 1990. S Louis Delmas led team in tackles (84) last year. DE Cliff Avril aims for 3rd game in row vs. TB with a sack. Had career-high 8.5 sacks in 2010
BUCCANEERS: Last year, became 1st team since 1970 to start 10+ rookies & have winning season (excl. 1987 strike season)…QB Freeman passed for 3,451 yards, 25 TDs & 6 INTs last year to become 2nd QB in team history with 3,000+ yards, 20+ TDs & fewer than 10 INTs in season. Has TD pass in club-record 13 consecutive games. In career, when Freeman has 80+ rating, Bucs are 12-2 (.857)…RB LaGerrette Blount led NFL rookies last year with 1,007 rush yards & became 3rd TB rookie with 1,000+ rush yards. Rushed for 110 yards & TD vs. Det…WR Mike Williams had 65 receptions for 964 yards last year, both 2nd best marks by rookie in team history. Williams had 6 catches for 96 yards & TD in the last meeting. He aims for 4th game in row with TD catch (4 TDs in past 3). TE Kellen Winslow has catches in 76 consecutive games…CB Ronde Barber has 2 games vs. Det. with 2 INTs. In 11/23/08 meeting, had 2 INTs, incl. 65-yard TD. He has started 183 consecutive games, most by CB in NFL history. Barber’s the only player in NFL history with 25+ sacks (26) & 40+ INTs (40). Rookie DEs Adrian Clayborn (1st Rd, No. 20) & Da’Quan Bowers (2nd Rd, No. 51) make their NFL debuts.
The saddest day in Tampa history has just been thrust in front of our eyes. Our lone ranger in the Hall of Fame, Tampa’s greatest citizen and a father figure to all has passed. Lee Roy Selmon, the first ever draft pick of the team we love so much, is no longer with us. Selmon passed away last Sunday after a stroke at the tender age of 56. Selmon was more active in the Tampa community than anyone. Possibly the sole reason USF has a football team.
Earlier this year I was walking into Tropicana Field with my grandfather and a few friends and noticed the bricks outside of the stadium purchased by Rays fans and benefactors. There was one purchased by Selmon. It made me realize something, Selmon was a normal fan, and a normal guy… just like any of us. That’s what made him so special. Most celebrities aren’t like that, but he was. Selmon stayed true to his roots his entire life.
I think his upbringing had a lot to do with it. Being the youngest of nine siblings is never easy, especially growing up in rural Oklahoma in a small house with no plumbing, refrigerator or air conditioning. He shared a bed with his brother, in fact.
I was listening to WDAE the Tuesday after Selmon’s death. They invited fans to call in and share their memories of Lee Roy. One man called in and said — that as a child — he had been invited to a Buccaneer Bible study session. That night, when Lee Roy arrived, the boy excitedly announced that he was playing football, and was doing his best to emulate the Buccaneers’ star defensive end. The boy’s brother (or father, I forget) didn’t think he’d make it long in football, because he cried too much. Lee Roy — the six-foot-three, 260lb giant — smiled warmly at the boy and said, “It’s okay. I cry a lot too.”
If that doesn’t warm your soul, nothing will.
The loss of Lee Roy devastates me; it’s like someone just told me my grandfather died. If I can take away anything from this it’s to be more like Lee Roy. Treat people the way he treated people, make a positive difference like he did. Live my life like Lee Roy did. This week it hasn’t left my mind, I feel like I did when my father died.
I still stand firm that Selmon was the second greatest Buccaneer ever, behind only Derrick Brooks, and whichever order they’re put in, it’s fitting; the two greatest Bucs on the field are two of the greatest off the field, too. I can only hope that current and future players can follow in their steps. It’s not all about winning. Hell, Selmon’s career started off 0-26, but he never griped. He never quit. He never stopped being great.
We can only hope that the loss of Mr. Selmon will help bring a fire to the team. It may hurt the young squad more than help, but winning isn’t everything, and times like these put that into perspective. Let’s not forget what he did for this city, this team, and most of all for us. How he’s changed our lives with his words, his actions, his existence.
We will miss you Lee Roy.
Second year RB LeGarrette Blount ignited a woeful ground game during his phenomenal rookie season when he burst on the scene after being claimed off waivers. Blount an undrafted rookie carried the football 201 times for 1,007-yards and 6 touchdowns in 13 games played with just 7 starts. He showed power, elusiveness and a flair for the theatrics as a high hurdling, whirling derby 6-foot-1, 245-pounder. Blount not known as an overly chatty player, decided to fire the first shot across the bow at the Detroit Lions.
With his confidence brimming after his heroics in 2010 Blount had a message for Ndamukong Suh, the 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year, “
I’m runnin right through you Sunday.” Blount said nothing via Facebook, because it was an imposture, looking for his / her 15 minutes fame.
Almost game time, son! Let’s get this!! Aye Suh! Figured I should give ya a heads up and let you know I’m runnin right through you Sunday. Practice all you want but you can’t stop LGB.
Last season against the Lions Blount carried the ball 15 times for 110-yards and 1 touchdown. The Bucs lost in overtime 23-20, but Suh was quiet with just three total tackles beside his name on the stat sheet. This might be an instance where Blount, should have a quiet confidence and remain voiceless, especially considering the criticism Suh has taken this pre-season about being a dirty player.
Why wake a sleeping giant? When the offensive line blocking for you doesn’t exactly instill fear and the same type of confidence you have in its performances.
Update: The Facebook account to which the above post was linked, was a fake. It’s not really Blount at all. After receiving numerous phone calls from officials with the Bucs, we’ve learned it’s a case of indentity theft. The team has notified the appropriate entities to resolve the issue.
For Bucs Central part in helping the thief perpetrate the crime further we apologize first and foremost to Legarrette Blount and the entire Buccaneer organization.
The Glazer family, the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will honor recently deceased Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon during the 2011 season by having the team wear a number 63 sticker on there helmets. Through the entire season reports Stephen Holder of the St. Petersburg Times via his twitter feed.
Glazer says players will wear No 63 on helmet for lee roy selmon all season
A fitting tribute to one of the teams past legends, overall good men and a community leaders.
The Bucs team captains for the 2011 season, as voted on by the players are as follows: QB Josh Freeman and C Jeff Faine (offense) and LB Quincy Black and CB Ronde Barber (defense). For special teams the honor has been bestowed upon LB Adam Hayward. Freeman, Faine and Barber are returning team captains, while Black and Hayward have been anointed for the first time as team captains.
RB LaGerrette Blount insisted all off-season he wanted to prove to the team he’s capable of becoming a complete back. However, G.M. Mark Dominik during his visit to PFT Live, said Blount will again share carries in 2011, but Blount isn’t going down without a fight and hasn’t given up on winning back the third-down snaps that will be split between Earnest Graham and Kregg Lumpkin.
When 15-year veteran CB Ronde Barber takes the field this Sunday for the Bucs. He will become the NFL’s active leader in consecutive games started. Moving ahead of Peyton Manning, who’s the current leader at 208 games and has been ruled out of the Colts season opener. Barber currently sits in second at 183.
ESPN.com’s NFC South Blogger Pat Yasinskas is reporting the Bucs lead the league in available cap space with roughly a little over $28 million.
Second year DT Gerald McCoy who did more thinking then attacking last season as a rookie said the defensive line played “robotic” under Todd Wash, but under new pass rush specialist Kieth Millard it’s kill anything in front of you within the scheme of the defense. McCoy went on to say, “If you’re not a Buc, you’re in trouble.”
A service will be held for Lee Roy Selmon at Idlewild Baptist Church on Friday, beginning at 10:00 a.m., the team announced that the entire Buccaneers organization – players, coaches and staff – will be on hand to pay their respects.
Jersey Number Changes
CB Anthony Gaitor has switched from No. 39 to 24
RB Allen Bradford has switched from No. 38 to 21
TE Zack Pianalto will wear No. 80
LB Zac Diles will wear No. (undetermined)
LG Ted Larsen (ankle) – full participation
CB Myron Lewis (ankle) – did not participate
LB Dekoda Watson (hamstring) – limited participation
DT Nick Fairley (foot) – did not practice
OT Jason Fox (foot) – did not practice
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (not injury related) – did not practice
CB Alphonso Smith (foot) – limited practice
DT Andre Fluellen (hand) – full practice
RB Maurice Morris (hand) – full practice
5. Joe Jurevicius has two all-time catches against Philadelphia (2003)
On January 19, 2003—with three minutes remaining in the conference championship game—Ronde Barber intercepted a pass intended for Antonio Freeman and returned it 92 yards for the game-clenching touchdown. It was the last game the Eagles played in Veterans Stadium; Barber’s pick shut down the 31-year old arena and skewered Philadelphia’s Super Bowl aspirations.
Nearly eight months later, the Buccaneers opened on the road at Lincoln Financial Field. The Buccaneer defense suffocated the Eagles, and early in the third quarter Tampa Bay held a narrow 3-0 lead. Brad Johnson coordinated a 67-yard drive down to the Philadelphia 13, and on second down, Johnson launched a pass toward the end zone’s back pylon.
The ball sailed over cornerback Lito Sheppard; Joe Jurevicius plucked it from the air, located the sideline, and dragged both feet in under a second—a catch so ridiculous, the Philadelphia staff burned a timeout by challenging the call.
On Tampa’s next drive—nursing a 10-0 lead early in the fourth quarter—Johnson took a third-down snap from the Philadelphia seven yard line. The Eagles brought an eight-man blitz and rended the Tampa Bay line; Johnson rolled right and floated a pass toward the Eagle end zone. Jurevicius extended to make the catch—Pro Bowl corner Troy Vincent bearing down on him—before tipping the ball skyward, twisting counter-clockwise, locating it, and diving to secure the improbable reception and a 17-0 Buccaneer lead.
4. Horace Copeland torches the Eagles (1995)
Outside of his backflip—one of the most exciting and unnecessary touchdown celebrations in Buccaneer history—Horace Copeland didn’t bring much to the team. In his four seasons in Tampa, Copeland caught 115 passes for 1977 yards and 7 touchdowns—about one-and-a-half seasons of work for a better receiver—and consistently regressed as he aged.
There was, however, a signature game in 1995. The Buccaneers traveled to Philadelphia to open the season, and Copeland terrorized corners Mark McMillian and Derrick Frazier. On his first reception of the season, Copeland burned Frazier on a post pattern down the center of the field for the game’s first touchdown. Early in the second, he beat McMillian on a short route and converted a second-and-nine. Midway through the second, he smoked Frazier for another 20 yards, and late in the third, he shook McMillian for 17 more.
Finally, as the game wore down, he beat McMillian and converted a key third-and-nine; it led to a late Eric Rhett rushing touchdown, extending the Buccaneer lead to 21-6. Copeland recorded 155 yards through the air—nearly 10% of his career total—and curiously, did it against a top NFL pass defense. That season Philadelphia finished 10-6, and held players like Michael Irvin, Shannon Sharpe, and Tim Brown to under 100 yards receiving.
3. James Wilder versus the Monsters of the Midway (1985)
Only two men ran for 100 yards against the 1985 Chicago Bears.
Gerald Riggs was one. He was Atlanta’s three-time Pro Bowler and all-time leading rusher, and he smashed headfirst into the teeth of the 46 defense all afternoon—again and again—grinding out 110 of the toughest yards of his career. Riggs carried the ball 30 times for one of the worst offenses in the league, and—unsurprisingly—the Falcons lost the game 36-0.
The other man was Tampa Bay’s James Wilder. In 1984, head coach John McKay ran Wilder into the ground; the running back touched the ball an absurd 492 times—a career-threatening number for most players—and McKay’s replacement, Leeman Bennett, seemed content to follow suit. The Buccaneers opened the season against—what would later be considered—one of the greatest teams ever, and Wilder led the charge.
He shredded Chicago’s defense, carrying the ball 14 times for 105 yards and a touchdown—in the first half. Tampa Bay went into halftime with a franchise-record 28 points, and an 11-point lead on their division rival. Wilder finished the day with 166 yards on 27 carries, but the Buccaneers defense crumbled. Chicago scored three second-half touchdowns, and the Buccaneers fell short 38-28.
Wilder’s 166 rushing yards were the most Chicago had surrendered in five years, and it would be another ten seasons before Barry Sanders eclipsed the total.
2. Steve DeBerg smokes the hapless Falcons (1987)
New Bucs coach Ray Perkins drafted nine offensive players during his inaugural offseason—including Miami prodigy Vinny Testaverde—and sought to supercharge the offense by taking to the air and moving away from James Wilder.
Things started off well. The Buccaneers faced off against the hapless Falcons, and Steve DeBerg—incumbent starter at quarterback—completely ruined the Atlanta defense, posting what would be the best game of his 17-year career. He threw five touchdowns in the 48-10 victory—four on Tampa’s first four drives—and led the Buccaneers to records in points, touchdown passes, and the biggest blowout in team history.
His only mistake—an overthrown interception intended for rookie receiver Mark Carrier—was redressed on the following play when backup cornerback Bobby Futrell picked off the Falcons and returned it twenty-three yards to the Atlanta thirty-nine, setting up another Tampa Bay touchdown.
Perkins’s offense never quite came together. He lost 41 games in three and a half years—before being replaced by his offensive coordinator—and DeBerg fled for Kansas City after 1987. His records for touchdown passes and points scored—though tied twice—have never been broken.
1. Warren Sapp wrecks the 49ers (1997)
The Buccaneers hadn’t had a winning season in fourteen years. They’d been through six coaches and 159 losses in that time, and been on the wrong side of innumerable blowouts and humiliations. The classic “creamsicles” became an object of derision, and for over a decade Tampa was the league laughingstock.
But the uniforms changed in 1997, and the culture changed with it. The defense was curing; Hardy Nickerson was the hot-tempered nucleus, Derrick Brooks the athletic playmaker. Warren Sapp, in his third season, was already a premier pass rusher, and John Lynch had found his niche as the big-hitting anchor in the secondary. They were key ingredients in a volatile recipe, and it was bubbling over, on the brink of eruption.
And in the season opener, San Francisco was caught in the explosion.
The 49ers were a perennial playoff team, fielding a quick-strike offense that burned opponents to the ground. They were an early-season Super Bowl pick, hadn’t lost on opening day in five seasons, and boasted future Hall of Famers at quarterback and wide receiver.
Color Warren Sapp unintimidated.
On the 49ers’ first drive—third-and-two—Sapp shrugged off guard Tim Hanshaw and chased down Steve Young in the backfield. Hardy Nickerson slid in to clean up the play and smacked Young in the back of the head, concussing the All-Pro passer and sending him out of the game.
Later that half—on first-and-ten deep in Tampa territory—Sapp caught Jerry Rice on a reverse and hauled him down by his facemask. The tackle incurred a penalty, but also tore the receiver’s lateral meniscus, ACL, and MCL, and effectively ended Rice’s season.
The 49ers caved without their offensive superstars, and the Tampa defense overwhelmed backup quarterback Jeff Brohm, forcing seven sacks and an interception. Nickerson and company throttled the vaunted San Francisco offense, allowing only 191 yards and six points.
The “creamsicles” were history, and the disrespect that followed them. Their performance against San Francisco catapulted the Buccaneers into the national consciousness, earning them reverence and recognition, and laying the foundation for an all-time NFL defense.
The bench mark has been set, for the Bucs as a franchise to go from an organization built largely on the success of teams known for their legendary defensive prowess to potentially become a powerhouse offensively.
As a franchise the Bucs have never, had a team score more then 388 points in a season. The high water mark came in 2000 under the guidance of offensive coordinator Les Steckel powered by the likes of Shaun King, Keyshawn Johnson & Warrick Dunn.
The youngest team in the NFL, for a second season in a row is counting on the resonating success of Josh Freeman, Mike Williams and LaGerrette Blount, from 2010 to catapult them into the record books in 2011.
“There’s a chance, just because of our youth and the experience we got last year,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson told the St. Petersburg Times. “We’re still the youngest team in the league, but we do have experience, and that’s a huge positive. I do believe we’ll get better.”
The above trio helped generate the fourth highest offensive point total in the 35-year history of the Bucs with 341 points.
While it might be a tad bit premature to start comparing the group to many great offensive trio’s of yesteryear. However, there is a possibility that with the continued development by Freeman, Williams and Blount that the Bucs offense could become a force to be reckoned with.
Now no ones insinuating the trio of Freeman, Williams and Blount are even in the same realm at this point as the Cowboys, you know the originally triplets, consisting of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, & Emmitt Smith, or the Colts led by Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison & Edgerrin James, or the “Greatest Show on Turf” with the likes of Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, & Isaac Bruce, or the 49ers who were led by Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Roger Craig or even the San Diego “Super” Chargers under Don Coryell who were led by Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner & Chuck Muncie.
But, if and it’s a big if, they become more consistent and continue to progress they have the makings of the next set of triplets to grace the NFL landscape.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have brought back recently released DE George Johnson, signing him to the practice squad. To make room for Johnson the team has released 2011 7th round draft pick TE Daniel Hardy from the practice squad.
Veteran RB Earnest Graham will be the teams primary third down back heading into the season opener against the Detroit Lions says offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
Second year receiver Preston Parker has unseated incumbent KR Micheal Spurlock as the teams primary kick / punt returner.
Aqib Talib who did not play during the pre-season “can’t wait,” to face the Lions and receiver Calvin Johnson.
Recently signed LB Zac Diles is penciled in as the teams second string WILL backer behind starter Geno Hayes. Adam Hayward will serve as the Bucs backup middle linebacker.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today that they have signed LB Zac Diles to a two-year contract and claimed TE Zack Pianalto off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.
Diles joins the Buccaneers after spending the past three seasons with the Houston Texans, where he played in 50 career games with 33 starts. He has amassed 209 career tackles, 1.0 sack, one interception, three passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He has also added 20 special teams tackles during his four-year career. In 2010, Diles had his best season in the League, playing in 15 games with 11 starts and finishing third on the team with a career-high 81 tackles. He originally entered the league as a seventh-round selection (218th overall) of the Texans in the 2007 NFL Draft and was most recently with the St. Louis Rams this offseason before being released during their final cuts.
Pianalto, who played collegiately at the University of North Carolina, originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Buffalo Bills in 2011. With the Tar Heels, he played in 34 games, recording 94 receptions for 918 yards and three touchdowns.
The team also announced it has signed T Will Barker, S Ahmad Black, QB Rudy Carpenter, TE Collin Franklin, WR Ed Gant, TE Daniel Hardy, RB Mossis Madu and LB Derrell Smith to the practice squad. All eight were waived by the Buccaneers as part of their roster reductions.
In addition, the club waived CB D.J. Johnson and DE George Johnson.
Lee Roy Selmon arguably the greatest Buccaneer every, to lace up a pair of cleats and don shoulder pads, passed away Sunday, from complications after he was hospitalized at St. Joseph Hospital, following a massive stroke, he suffered Friday at his home in Tampa.
Following a standout career at the University of Oklahoma, the former Sooner earned six straight Pro Bowl nominations from 1979 to 1984, and collected 78.5 quarterback sacks during his nine year NFL career, which ranks first in team history. After being the number one overall draft pick and first every college player drafted by the Bucs in 76’. He went on to win the 1979 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
He became the first member of the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor in 2009. Selmon,known as the “Gentle Giant” wore number 63, his jersey remains the only number officially retired by the franchise.
The Glazer Family issued the following statement:
“Tampa Bay has lost another giant. This is an incredibly somber day for Buccaneer fans, Sooner fans, and all football fans. Lee Roy’s standing as the first Buc in the Hall of Fame surely distinguished him, but his stature off the field as the consummate gentleman put him in another stratosphere. Put simply, he was first class. He was the real deal. We are so blessed to have known this fine man and to have called him one of our own, yet so sad to have lost him so soon. Our hearts go out to the Selmon family at this time of their loss.”
Selmon was beloved by many for his heroics on the football field, but a football player he was merely, not. He was a great person full of humility that captivated an entire city for not only what he did on the field but what he did in the community, after his playing days.
He was very active in the Tampa Bay Area, involved in numerous charities. He also started a successful restaurant chain, and was instrumental in paving the way for the University of South Florida, to start up its football program.
Bucs Central sends its sincerest condolences to the Selmon family.