Behind Enemy Lines: with What the Buc?
Patrick D. Starr
Once again we give insight into the Houston Texans upcoming opponent and we enlisted the help of Derek from the site What the Buc? who covers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
We dive into questions that cover the impressive rookie class the Buccaneers drafted in 2011, ex-Texans Zac Diles and Frank Okam, Head Coach Raheem Morris, Quarterback Josh Freeman and much more.
Question to What the Buc?
The Buccaneers has a pretty solid draft class in 2011, can you update us on their rookie class?
It was another strong draft indeed. The Bucs continued to try and rebuild a defense that used to be their hallmark by doubling up on defensive lineman. Starting with Adrian Clayborn, a run stopping, high motor end out of Iowa and then lucking into Da’Quan Bowers. Bowers was a very highly rated end out of Clemson who plummeted after a knee injury and rumors of it being serious (and degenerative). Adrian has stepped into a starting role and continues to improve and show the high motor that made him the Bucs first pick in the draft. Da’Quan shows speed and versatility but is being kept off the field by surprising veteran, Michael Bennett but expect to see more of the young man with the recent injuries to the Bucs defensive line.
Next up is tacking machine Mason Foster who was selected to replace Bucs MLB, Barrett Ruud. As part of a youth movement here (labeled ‘Youngry’ by Caoch Morris) the move to a rookie Mike has not been without setbacks but Foster has played well and has shown the athleticism the team wanted at the position. Recent injuries have slowed his progress, but Foster looks like he was an excellent pick.
The Bucs have Kellen Winslow Jr but needed to get an heir apparent (and preferably a more well rounded one as K2 is not known for his blocking prowess). Luke Stocker out of Tennessee was the selection but injuries have plagued the young man so despite looking like a football player, the jury is still out on him in Tampa.
Ahmad Black out of UF was the next pick and one that drew a lot of applause here locally. A product of one of the premier high school programs in the state (Lakeland), Black has a nose for the ball despite poor measurable. Sadly, he was injured early and has been an afterthought since then. Despite no similar fanfare, Anthony Gaitor (out of FIU) has turned some heads and has actually played regular season reps. With a style similar to the ageless wonder, Ronde Barber, Gaitor looks to have made a place here and if he can learn to watch film the way Barber does, he may be someone to keep an eye out for.
Since the team is enamored with big backs, Allen Bradford was the pick late out of USC. A bruising AND fast back in college, Bradford looked to spell LeGarrett Blount and provide a good option on 3rd downs in pass protection. Sadly, he failed to impress and was cut (and then subsequently cut by Seattle as well). The last pick was Daniel Hardy who, while serviceable, is not longer with the squad.
Overall, the draft was very good with Foster and Clayborn being the highlights.
Has Josh Freeman taken a step back as a quarterback this season?
Statistically yes but not as pronounced as many think. The lack of an offseason really hurt Josh and the young group of receivers. Most point to the increased interception total but anyone watching knows that last year’s numbers were ridiculous. Josh continues to be a tireless worker and one of the most competitive players on the field. His receiving corps has been a weak link and defenses have picked up that they HATE press coverage which is screwing up the timing of the rather poor OC, Greg Olson. I am confident that Josh will right the ship, but it is a rough road from here, especially with the injuries on the offensive line the team has dealt with in parallel.
LaGarrett Blount has been slowed by a knee injury, how is his injury and his play so far this season?
His knee seemed fine last week and he is a bruiser. When he is on the field, we are a better team. The fact that they refuse to leave him in on 3rd down is ridiculous as Kregg Lumpkin, the 3rd down back since Earnest Graham went down for the year, is seemingly no better at blitz pickup. Blount is a threat as a runner and a receiver so to take him off the field is foolish.
Can you talk about Head Coach Raheem Morris' influence on the organization and what he does so good to make his young team perform.
Coach Morris has a passion that is infectious. He is also as genuine as you will find. Many people don’t know that he is one hell of a position coach as well. The biggest risk is that recent events seem to point to him not having as much control as he probably should have to the depth chart. That worries me. Coach Morris’s players WANT to play for him and they WANT to win for him. This bad stretch will be a great test to his ability to rally a team that is struggling seriously and the addition of Albert Haynesworth will not make that any easier.
Why are the Buccaneers great one week and non-exsitant the next, in your opinion.
Immaturity. From top to bottom. That is on the staff as it is their job to impart that maturity. No excuses.
Have ex-Texans Zac Diles or Frank Okam contriubted to the Buccaneers since their arrival?
Diles not so much but Okam has been outstanding. If not injured, Okam would be getting healthy reps and to be honest, had he been healthy, Haynesworth would not be a Buccaneer.
What does veteran Ronde Barber mean to the Tampa Bay organization?
He is the rock. The guy continues to play and a freakish level and shows a dedication that few have. Teams HAVE to account for him because he plays everywhere and his desire to be here has bolstered the confidence the team has in Coach Morris.
Who are some not household names Texans fans should look for on Sunday that could make an impact?
Preston Parker (FSU product) has come on strong since an injury early in the year to our slot receiver to be a very reliable and dangerous receiving threat. He is fearless and shifty and with the poor play of Mike Williams, has really been a go to guy for Josh. On defense, Michael Bennett (the guy keeping Bowers out of the lineup) is someone who better get paid soon or he will get paid elsewhere. He plays LDE primarily and is a complete player.
1st round selection in 2010, Gerald McCoy is out for the season, what effect does that have on the Bucs defense and does it make fans question his durability for the long run?
Huge. We signed the malcontent Albert Haynesworth and it has everyone concerned as he seems to be made of tissue paper. When healthy, he has played very well this year but you cannot help the team on the training table.
What do the Buccaneers have to do on Sunday to beat the Texans?
Stop the run. Sadly, we don’t do that often and you guys are pretty damn good at it. We are decimated in the middle and our fundamentals are falling apart. I said on my show Tuesday that I might not even put Schaub in pads, opting instead to run the ball 65 times. If Coach Morris can design a scheme to help our defense to contain your formidable running game, we have a good shot. On offense, it has to come together soon. The talent is there and we are a few inches away from some amazing plays. I honestly think it will fall in place and you will see a big number from that squad some week soon (hoping this week! J)