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

Brandt: Bucs Poised for 2013 Breakout

The 2012 Buccaneers matched the win total of the 2011 Tampa Bay squad in the first week of November and could go so far as to double it by season’s end, despite a recent downturn.  That’s a step in the right direction, and at least one experienced NFL analyst believes it will be followed by another big step in 2013.

Noting the sudden playoff runs in 2012 of such sub-.500 2011 teams as Indianapolis and Seattle, NFL.com’s Gil Brandt has identified six teams he believes are “poised to engineer a similar turnaround in 2013.”  Brandt then ranks those half-dozen teams in the order of the likelihood of that turnaround, and puts the Buccaneers at the top of the list. Continue reading

Schiano Happy for Fleck’s Opportunity

On Tuesday, Western Michigan University introduced P.J. Fleck as the new head coach of their football team.  Fleck is currently in his first year as the Buccaneers’ wide receivers coach, but he will obviously be leaving the team shortly.  As he said during his introductory press conference, he “can’t wait to get started on this journey.”

Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano addressed Fleck’s imminent departure on Wednesday, once again stressing that part of hiring quality coaches is understanding that they will likely have opportunities for advancement elsewhere at some point. Continue reading

Bucs-Rams Rekindle Unexpected Rivalry

The first rivalries of note for the Buccaneers, who started play in 1976 and joined the old NFC Central in 1977, were probably the Bears and Packers, though that former one was pretty one-sided throughout the ‘80s.  In the ‘90s, the Brett Favre-led Packers became the hurdle the Buccaneers felt they had to clear in order to fulfill their championship dreams, with that mantle transferring to the Eagles in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.  And even though they weren’t yet division mates, the Bucs had their share of heated matchups with the Falcons and Saints during the ‘80s and ‘90s, helped by geographical proximity.

It wasn’t particularly surprising to see any of these rivalries develop.  There was one, however, that seemed to come out of nowhere: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. St. Louis Rams. Continue reading

One-Eighth of the 2013 Schedule Still a Mystery

A trip to Minnesota, Chicago or Detroit?  A visit from the Redskins, Cowboys, Giants or Eagles?

All of those are still possibilities for the 2013 Buccaneers, even with the 2012 regular season holding just two more weeks of play.

Since the arrival of a 32nd team in the expansion Houston Texans and the subsequent NFL realignment into eight four-team divisions, the league has followed a scheduling format that deemphasizes the “strength-of-schedule” factor that used to figure prominently in the process.  Now, 14 of a team’s 16 games each season are decided by a rotation of division-vs.-division matchups that is known years in advance.  In addition to six games within its own division, each team plays all four teams of one of the other three divisions in its conferences and all four teams in one of the four divisions from the other conference.

Astute mathematicians will surely realize that adds up to 14 games, not 16.  The remainder is the last vestige of strength-of-schedule considerations. Continue reading

Barber Still Impressing at 37

At 37 years old, Ronde Barber is still playing every game and toiling through every practice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  And as Eric Adelson of Yahoo.com Sports recently suggested, he is still underappreciated.

Using the Buccaneers’ Week 14 reunion of their 2002 Super Bowl team as a backdrop, Adelson took an extensive look at the career – the amazingly still ongoing career – of the Buccaneers’ most-tenured player, getting reactions from many of his former teammates.  Barber’s signature play, the NFC Championship-clinching interception in Philadelphia a decade ago, is discussed but Adelman has an interesting perspective on the past and the present of the defensive back’s career.

“The crazy thing is,” writes Adelman, “Barber is actually more valuable to the franchise now, at age 37, than he was when he helped them win the Super Bowl.” Continue reading

Instant Debate: Who is the Bucs’ 2012 MVP?

Doug Martin is having the greatest rookie season in Buccaneers history and is among the NFL’s top offensive producers.  Josh Freeman has a stellar 25-8 TD-INT ratio.  Michael Bennett has been a backfield presence for the defense and Gerald McCoy has been as dominant against the run as he has been as a pass-rusher.  Lavonte David is among the NFL’s leaders in both tackles and tackles for loss.  Vincent Jackson picks up more yards per catch than anybody in the NFL, scores touchdowns and moves the chains.  Ronde Barber continues to make plays even after his move to safety.  Donald Penn is protecting Freeman’s backside on a team that has allowed only 19 sacks.

All of those Buccaneers have been outstanding in 2012? Which one has been the team’s MVP?

That’s not an easy question to answer, but a group of Buccaneer fans tackled it on Thursday night during a live chat here in the Captain’s Blog.  With T.J. Rives of the Buccaneers Radio Network leading the discussion, the chat participants went through such names as Martin, Jackson, Barber and McCoy.  Here are some of the chat excerpts: Continue reading

Talk Bucs with T.J. Tonight!

T.J. Rives, the sideline reporter for the Buccaneers Radio Network and host of several of the weekly radio shows featuring Tampa Bay players, gets his information from the team directly from the source.  Now you can get yours – and share your own opinions – directly with T.J. through another live chat session here in the Captain’s Blog.

Rives, who moderated our first chat last week with guest Shelton Quarles, a member of the reuniting 2002 Super Bowl team, will handle this one on his own.  The chat session will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET but you can begin submitting questions at 6:00.  To go to the chat page, simply click on “Live Chat” in the red bar at the top of this page.

Rives in his eighth season as the sideline reporter for the radio network on game days and has been covering Bay area sports on radio and television for more than two decades.  His weekly coverage of the Buccaneers includes an exclusive pregame interview with Head Coach Schiano and direct interaction with some of the team’s biggest stars.

Got a question for T.J. Rives about anything Buccaneer-related.  Now’s your chance to chat it out.  Join the live chat on Thursday night and get your info straight from the source.

Vitt: Martin a Complete Threat

Joe Vitt, the Saints’ acting head coach, wasn’t on the sideline for New Orleans’ Week Seven game in Tampa as he was finishing up his own suspension.  But Vitt has obviously watched plenty of film on the Buccaneers’ offense in preparation for Sunday’s rematch, and he doesn’t need an in-person viewing to convince him that Doug Martin is one of the most complete rookie running back to hit the NFL in years.

“In my opinion he is,” said Vitt.  “What can’t he do?  I think he’s an excellent screen back.  I think he has good hands.  Listen, he plants his heels eight yards deep in the running game and he’s to the line of scrimmage as fast as anybody I’ve seen.  He can make people miss.  He drops his pads and gives you very little surface to tackle on.  He splits defenders and when he splits the defenders now he’s back to top speed very, very quickly.  This guy is a very, very impressive back.” Continue reading

Anticipation Grows for Super Bowl Alumni

John Lynch and Warren Sapp (along with teammate Derrick Brooks) once famously sat up late one night in 1996, in a hotel room in San Diego, and drew a line in the sand.  Their Buccaneers were about to take on the Chargers the next day in a game they were expected to lose, and that evening’s ESPN broadcast had referred to them as the “Yucks.”  They were determined to bury that nickname forever.

Sixteen years later, Lynch, now an NFL game analyst for FOX, has coincidentally made his home in San Diego.  On this particular Thursday night, however, he was in a hotel room in Tampa, having come to town to call Sunday’s Bucs-Eagles game.  He was up late, and he got a text from his good buddy Sapp.  No outrage this time, just anticipation.  Times had certainly changed. Continue reading