Monday, January 01, 2007
Gruden vs Alstott
In Tampa, a unique showdown occurred between coach, John Gruden, and the legions of fans endeared by hard charging full back, Mike Alstott. Since winning the Super Bowl, the Bucs have posted losing seasons four of the past five years. 2005, however, was an aberration with Tampa capturing the 2005 NFC South title. During each of those losing seasons, some fans complained on talk radio about the lack of carries for Alstott. Some believed Gruden had something against the popular veteran; for the time being, Alstott didn't help his case by privately complaining about the lack of carries. Meanwhile, the tempestuous Gruden may have bent over backwards by giving Alstott chances at the expense of the more productive, Michael Pittman. Sunday, Pittman had over 108 yards rushing including 33 all purpose yards. Arguably, he's as good as starter, Cadillac Williams, but Pittman usually comes in on passing situations. Yesterday, he started in place of the injured Williams. A five time all pro, Alstott may have been underused considering how nimble he is running the ball. He also has excellent hands; something Cadillac clearly lacks. As for Gruden, he shows poor judgement in evaluating talent. For example, quarterback, Tim Rattay, has a better grasp of the West Coast offense than either, Chris Simms, or Bruce Gradowski. Rattay, however, didn't start until the last two games of the season; furthermore, the selection of Cadillac Williams, also receiver, Michael Clayton, seems inexcusable considering the wealth of talent around the league at these positions. Alstott, and defensive end, Simeon Rice, have insinuated the Buccaneers are poorly prepared for games and fail to make adjustments during crucial junctures. Although that's the head coach's responsibility, there are over 20 other Buccaneer assistant coaches who are also at fault. This may have been Alstott's last game, nevertheless, the Bucs should put him in a key management position to continue his association with the team. For no other player symbolizes the traits of toughness, character, and responsibility than the man known as the " A Train."