Tuesday, July 22, 2008
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers want to repeat last year's success, it would help to have quarterback , Brett Favre; but it has to be last year's version rather than the interception prone signal caller of two years ago. The problems facing the Bucs this season are the resurgent Carolina Panthers plus the New Orleans Saints. With the recent acquisition of tight end, Jeremy Shockey, the Saints are the consensus favorite to win the South. Meanwhile, the Panthers' Julius Peppers, will be playing for a new contract; so there's no telling how much havoc he'll reek on the Bucs floundering offense. What also helps Carolina is the schedule. Unlike the Bucs, they don't play the Cowboys; moreover in November, the Panthers play three consecutive home games. With a healthy Jake Delhome, the Panthers could sleep walk and win ten games. The Bucs, on the other hand, are projected to finish 8-8 because they will be underdogs when they face the Cowboys in Dallas. If Favre, nevertheless, is comfortable in a John Gruden offense, he could be the difference in two games the Bucs figure to lose. One of those would be Sept, 28, against the Packers. Man for man, Green Bay is a better team; and even without Favre, they would probably squeak out a win; the Bucs, however, have an equal chance of prevailing if they have the cagy veteran. The following week, Tampa Bay travels to Denver; the Broncos would be favored to win, but Favre gives the Bucs an opportunity for an upset. Those two games are the difference between making the post season or finishing out of the running. According to insiders, the Packers players more than organization do not want Favre back. They have grown tired of his "I love you, I love you not" mind games; more importantly, they're ready to move on. This was apparent following their chilling lost to the Giants: the Packers began texting quarterback, Aaron Rogers that they are 100% behind him. So the players were ready to mutiny when Favre offered to come out of retirement. It is still doubtful the Packers would risk trading Favre to just any NFC team, but they might not have a choice. The only opening in the AFC is the Baltimore Ravens, however they have committed millions to first round draft pick, quarterback, Joe Flacco. That leaves Carolina and Tampa Bay. The Panthers still have to resign Peppers so there is no money to absorb Favre's 10-million...all the other NFC teams are set at the position. But regardless of the signal caller in John Gruden's vexing offense, this team suffers from a lack of big plays and systematic play calling. Favre's leadership as well as his willingness to stand in the pocket, could give this lifeless offense some punch. For a team like the Bucs, who live by their defense, Favre has the ability to inspire his teammates on both sides of the ball.
Monday, July 07, 2008
While ESPN baseball announcer, John Miller, was extolling the virtues of the Rays success, analyst, Joe Morgan, sat quietly. Silence is golden, and Morgan didn't have to say a word to prove he is not a believer. Judging by the comments of Boston slugger, David Ortiz, he isn't a disciple either. Ortiz forewarned, "The Rays will fold." Pennant races are strange especially for young teams: The ball gets heavy; umpires blow calls; opposing teams become desperate; and every manager decision is questioned. For the Rays, this is a creepy Catch 22. In every sense of the word, the Rays are babies taking their first steps toward a pennant, and like any toddler, you know they're going to stumble along the way. Unfortunately in the American League East, you can't even afford to trip. Any misstep will be perceived by (the powers that be) as the one causing this club to lose its way. For example, did Evan Longoria throw away a pennant when his errant throw allowed the Royals to avoid being swept. Was that the beginning of the end? Is the prize rookie going to be the one who finally realizes he's way in over his head. You say, "Well, you're not going to win every game," but when you're being outspent two to one, you sure better win that game. If the Rays are reeling, the Yankees are not going to be offering a helping hand when they tangle with Tampa next. With a tenuous four game lead over the Red Sox, the Yanks are the ones in the best position of turning Cinderella into Miss Piggy. Experience clubs like Boston, Detroit, New York, Chicago, also Minnesota realize the pennant race begins right now. The Rays are untested, unproven, plus they have a bad pedigree. No one expects them to be here, so the party won't start until they leave; and it looks like Joe Morgan would like nothing better than to show them the door.