Point/Counterpoint: Who are the Buccaneers’ offensive and defensive MVPs in 2012?

Well, we’re going to find out about the Pro Bowl later on Wednesday, and we all hope there are a couple Buccaneers in the mix.  After the season, we should see Doug Martin and Lavonte David at least in the running for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, respectively.  Hall of Fame voting will continue, too, and we’ll have our fingers crossed for John Lynch and Warren Sapp in the Class of 2013.

There is at least one honor that we know will go to a Buccaneer, however, and that would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ MVP for the 2012 season.  If you find that logic impressive, hang on, because we’re just getting started.

That’s because I propose this topic to be our weekly Point/Counterpoint dust-up, Andrew: Who is the team’s Most Valuable Player this year?  Actually, to make it a little more fun and give us a chance to involve a few more deserving players, let’s take a page from the rookie awards and name both an Offensive and a Defensive MVP? Continue reading

Who’s Hitting the Mark?

With only one game left in the season we no longer have to worry about paces and extrapolations when discussing certain Buccaneers and the milestones they could reach.  Now it’s simply a matter of “will they?” or “won’t they?”  Michael Bennett will be the team’s first 10-sack player since Simeon Rice if he gets at least one Sunday in Atlanta; if he doesn’t, he won’t.  Josh Freeman has one more game to hit 4,000 passing yards, Vincent Jackson one more to break the team’s single-season receiving record.

So…will they or won’t they?

Here’s our list of eight potential team records or significant milestones that Buccaneer players may reach on Sunday in the season finale, ranked in terms of how likely we believe they are to be fulfilled.  Watch the game Sunday and see if we’re right. Continue reading

Bucs Add Rookie Safety Saenz

On Wednesday morning, the Buccaneers announced the signing of S Nick Saenz to their practice squad.  The team had an open spot on that eight-man crew since promoting DE Markus White to the active roster last Saturday.

Saenz, who played his college ball at Houston, went north to make his initial entry into the NFL, signing as an undrafted free agent with the Bills in May.  He was released by Buffalo during the final roster cuts after recording 10 tackles and one forced fumble during the preseason, and later spent several weeks in October with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL.

The 6-1, 190-pound Saenz played in 52 games for the Cougars, racking up 248 tackles, five interceptions, 17 passes defensed and three forced fumbles.  He capped his collegiate career with a two-interception outing in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl, helping Houston defeat Penn State, 30-14.  Saenz then ran an impressive 4.46 in the 40-yard dash at the Cougars’ Pro Day in March, helping to earn him the tryout in Buffalo.

Though there is just one week – and three practices – left in the Buccaneers’ 2012 season, Saenz signing isn’t necessarily a brief commitment for the young player or the team.  All NFL practice squad players automatically become free agents as soon as their teams’ seasons are over, whether that be this coming Monday or later in the playoffs.  However, it is not uncommon for the specific players who end a season on a team’s practice squad to quickly re-sign with that same team for the next offseason, agreeing to what is commonly called a “futures” contract that takes effect in March.

For instance, early this past January the Buccaneers re-signed five players that had finished 2011 on their practice squad, including TE Collin Franklin and QB Brett Ratliff.  Days after the end of the 2010 season, all eight players that ended that campaign on the practice squad – including DE E.J. Wilson and WR Ed Gant – promptly re-signed with the Bucs.

David a Top Contender for Defensive ROTY

Since 1987, 19 of the 25 NFL Most Valuable Players (or co-MVPs), as awarded by the Associated Press have been quarterbacks.  The other six years?  Running backs.  One year – 1997 – the award was split between a quarterback (Brett Favre) and a running back (Barry Sanders).  The last player who wasn’t a quarterback or a running back to win the league’s MVP award was Giants LB Lawrence Taylor in 1986.

So, yeah, say hello to your 2012 NFL MVP – almost certainly Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster.

The QB-RB MVP bias is what it is.  Fortunately, NFL rookies enjoy a more open playing field when it comes to their big awards, because the AP awards both an Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year award.  That’s good news for Buccaneers LB Lavonte David. Continue reading

Quite a Pair

In Sunday’s loss to the St. Louis Rams, Buccaneers WRs Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson caught seven passes each, Williams for 132 yards and Jackson for 108.  The duo had pulled off a similar feat in Week Four against Washington, with Jackson nabbing six passes for 100 yards and Williams adding four catches for 115.

Those performances made Jackson and Williams the first Buccaneer receivers to pull off that dual feat twice in the same season since Mark Carrier and Bruce Hill did so in 1989.  On the face of it, that’s more of a statistical oddity than a hugely meaningful achievement, but it does underscore the idea that Jackson and Williams may very well be the best WR tandem the franchise has ever had. Continue reading

Uncharacteristic Red Zone Woes Doom Bucs

Heading into Week 16 of the 2012 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had fielded the third most efficient red zone offense in the entire NFL, trailing only the vaunted attacks in New England and New Orleans.  Red zone efficiency is measured by touchdown percentage – that is, when a team penetrates the opposing 20-yard line, how frequently does it then take it all the way in for six points?

Again, this has been a strength for the ’12 Buccaneers, who had a 65.9% TD rate in the red zone through their first 14 games.  The Patriots stood at 68.8%, the Saints at 68.1%.  Only five NFL teams even hit the 60.0% plateau.  Unfortunately, Tampa Bay’s inside-the-20 numbers took a hit on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, and the direct result was a 15-point loss. Continue reading

St. Louis Rams 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13

The St. Louis Rams will be heading home with the victory, defeating the Buccaneers 28-13.

The Buccaneers were the first team to put points on the board after a nearly 10-minute drive ending in a Connor Barth field goal. Barth hit a second field goal in the second quarter and Mike Williams scored from 61 yards out on a pass from Freeman in the third.

Josh Freeman ended the day hitting 30 of 54 passes for 372 yards. He had one touchdown and four interceptions. Freeman’s touchdown pass was his 26th of the season, tying a Buccaneer record. It is also the 77th of his career, tying the franchise record as well.

RB Doug Martin ended the day with 62 yards rushing on 18 carries. He added seven receptions for 57 yards. Freeman also ran the ball four times for 18 yards.

WR Mike Williams led the way for receivers with seven catches for 132 yards, he scored the only Buccaneer touchdown of the night. This game is Williams’ career-high in yardage for a single game. Vincent Jackson also broke the 100-yard mark, ending the day with seven receptions for 108 yards. It is the second game of the season that both receivers have broken 100.

Defensively, Danny Gorrer had the highlight of the game as he intercepted a deep pass from Sam Bradford on their first drive of the game. LB Lavonte David led the team with 9 tackles, all of them solo. He added a pass deflection and tackle for a loss, one of the five by the Buccaneers’ front. Gerald McCoy ended the game with two QB hits.

For the Rams, QB Sam Bradford had 196 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception. He completed just 13 passes all game. One of his touchdowns went for 80 yards to TE Lance Kendricks.

RB Steven Jackson led the charge for the rushing game, carrying the ball 19 times for 81 yards and a score.

TE Lance Kendricks led the team with 119 receiving yards and a score on four catches. WR Chris Givens has 38 yards on three catches while Brandon Gibson had 33 yards on two grabs. WR Austin Pettis had one catch for five yards that ended up in the end zone for the score.

Four Rams had interceptions on the day, CB Janoris Jenkins caught the first, returning it 41 yards for a touchdown. DE Eugene Sims, LB James Laurinaitis and CB Trumaine Johnson also had INTs. Three Rams had double digit tackles, LB Laurinaitis, S Quintin Mikell and LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar.

Mikell also added a sack on Josh Freeman while DE William Hayes added two and DE Chris Long and DT Kendall Langford had one apiece.

The Buccaneers will close their season on the road in Atlanta next week. On Saturday night, the Falcons clinched home-field advantage and a first-round bye for the playoffs in their defeat of the Detroit Lions.

Bucs Miss on Red Zone Opportunity

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made it down to the Rams’ seven-yard line on a big pass from Freeman to Vincent Jackson for 46 yards.

After three incompletions, down by 15, the Buccaneers opted to go for it on fourth down from within the 10-yard line for the second time today. Freeman completed the pass to Doug Martin who was tackled short of the line at the three.

Jackson’s catch puts him over 100 for the day. This is the second game of the season that both Jackson and Williams have broken the 100-yard mark.

The Bucs turned it over on downs, and the Rams will begin from the three-yard line.


Mike Williams Touchdown Brings Score to 28-13

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers found the end zone in the style that Buccaneer fans are becoming used to this season. Mike Williams found himself wide open, streaking from left to right across mid-field. Josh Freeman let it go and hit Williams in stride.

Williams turned it up field, made a move on the Rams safety and took it in for a 61-yard score.

The TD pass is Freeman’s 22nd of the year, tying a franchise record. It is also Freeman’s career 77th TD. He is now tied for first among Buccaneer quarterbacks all time. The catch is Williams’ 8th touchdown of the season.