Posts Tagged ‘Buccs’

The three pre-game acts for the NFL International game in London between the Patriots and the Buccaneers were to say the least unable to float my boat.

Calvin Harris may have got all the girls, but I can name about 100 acts I would rather have seen do the pre-game musical extravaganza. Someone like The Killers, Kings of Leon or even some Kanye West or a bit of boom boom pow from the Black Eyed Peas. 

Toni Braxton (blast from the past) did the USA national anthem, but it was not that memorable, and Katherine Jenkins suitably warbled through God Save the Queen.

Not that I could see him very well but it was Welsh Boxing world champion Joe Calzaghe who was the Tampa Bay honorary captain who was involved in the coin toss.

We were now just minutes from kickoff…..

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Calvin Harris strutted his stuff at Wembley prior to the NFL game

 

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Some military people unfurled this giant Buccs flag - it looked great

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My wife and I were concerened the Tampa Bay Buccanners cheerleaders were all going back to Florida with colds

 

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Wearing a #1 Buccs shirt boxer Joe Calzaghe helped with the coin toss - joined by the team captains

bucccccccccccccTwo of the busier teams so far in the NFL Free Agency period have been the London bound Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots.

The Buccaneers have given the Washington Redskins a run for their money with the following moving to the sunshine state;

***BIG GAINS***

Kellen Winslow – Tight End (from Cleveland by trade) This guy is a stud and maybe the best Buccs TE since Jimmie Giles.

Derrick Ward – Running Back (from New York Giants) A burner who will add great value to the backfield, with Earnerst Graham and Skoda Williams – well he breaks down far too many times to be called Cadillac.

Mike Nugent – Kicker (from New York Jets) I always think of either gold or chicken nuggets when I read out his name, Nugent is a good young kicker.

In addition Tampa re-signed – Tight End Jerramy Stevens, Wide Receiver Antonio Bryant, Wide Receiver Michael Clayton (not the one played by pretty boy George Clooney),  Safety Jermaine Phillips, Wide Receiver Cortez Hankton.

***BIG LOSSES***

Jovan Haye – Defensive Tackle (to Tennessee)

Philip Buchannon – Cornerback (to Detroit)

In addition Tampa released Linebacker Derick Brooks, Running Back Warwick Dunn, Wide Receiver Ike Hilliard, Linebacker Cato June and will not re-sign Quarterback Jeff Garcia.

So what does all this mean for new head coach Raheem Morris?

Pretty simple – heading into the 2009 NFL Draft the focus for the Buccs will be on defense.

It also means that Wembley bound Tampa Bay will need to get an offensive protagonist and a good one at that as the inclusion of Ward, Winslow and keeping Antonio Bryant means the supporting cast is already in place.

Luke McCown, Brian Griese and the unproven Josh Johnson do not make me think 11-5 and playoff win, more like 7-9 and another season of frustration. The consensus is that this is a rebuilding year for Tampa Bay, but if they do manage to get a stud qb in the next month then they can help expectations rise to a 10-6 or 11-5 season. Matt Cassell would have surely had more immediate fun/wins here than at Kansas City?

The current FA quarterbacks left who have started many games – JP Losman and Byron Leftwich (I still love the memeory of his college offensive linemen carrying him as he fought injury as a Marshall QB – see below) are not really the answer.

I am not ignoring the need for the Buccs to upgrade their offensive line, but defense is where the Buccs will be drawing in new blood at the 2009 draft.

With Derrick Brooks released and Ronde Barber getting older (maybe 1 or 2 seasons left realistically) the team will look for a stud linebacker in round 1. Someone like  Clay Matthews (the younger) or James Laurinaitis would be great picks for the Buccs.

Young defensive players such as Barrett Ruud, Gaines Adams, Aquib Talib, Quincy Black and Sabby Piscitelli are all players you would describe as having a huge upside, and Ruud was worthy of a spot on the NFC 2008 Pro Bowl roster.  

With some clever drafting and a few tweaks in Free Agency the Buccs can be a force to be reconed with, and as ever those people fortunate enough to get (and afford) tickets to the Tampa Bay v New England NFL game in London in October will be able to see of all the moves in March mean success in 2009-10.

The Buccs are doing the right thing by getting younger – but 2009 may be a tough year ahead.

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We haven’t even reached the 2008-09 Superbowl yet here I am sitting here in my living room safe in the knowledge that I already have two tickets paid for to see the New England Patriots v Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium in October (25) 2009.

It was a bit of a traumatic experience mind you as I tried first to get level 1 tickets but got booted out the internet.

 I then had to wait until lunchtime to visit my local library, wait 25 minutes whilst people were watching Barak Obama video news clips on MSNBC or trying to fix up a date on some sort of dodgy ‘love match’ website before I got on a free pc.

Once there the best tickets available were up on level 5 (way high) but after 1 minute of contemplating that I would not get the possible opportunity to see Tom Brady in the flesh I reluctantly inputted my credit card details into the Ticketmaster website and hey presto – my wife and I are going to our third consecutive NFL regular season game in England.

I just hope the Tailgate party is INDOORS in 2009 like it was in 2007, not like in 2008 when it was soggy, full of queues and generally a damp merchandise flogging failure.

It’s going to be a low scoring affair compared to the Saints v Chargers fireworks in 2008, but seeing Randy Moss, Jerod Mayo, and maybe even the old legs of Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber. Roll on October !

Who else has secured tickets for this game ?

He has 3 rings but can he become a London legend in 2009?

He is a legend throughout New England and the whole of North America for that matter, but after the announcement today that the New England Patriots will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley in 2009 one question remains – can Tom Brady recover from his injury to lead his team to victory in the 3rd annual NFL International Game to be played in London in three years.

Getting to see many players who have won Superbowls will bring extra spice to the game as the Pats and Buccs combine for 7 Superbowl appearances in their history and four wins between them (three to the Pats and one to the Buccs).

This game could go back to a similar point-scoring pattern that was experineced by NFL fans in the UK when they came to watch NFL pre-season games in the late 1980s and the early 1990’s.

I think the NFL pulled a mater stroke by getting the firepower of the Chargers and the Saints to combine for 69 points (and very little defense) in the NFL International game this year, as it was a great way to get new fans into the game.

The 2009 game will be a lot less work for the scoreboard staff, but to get to see a Buccs D and a Pats D face off in a game that matters will be yet another treat for all fans who get tickets.

The NFL has yet again made a great contest – and if you check back on my blog I predicted in August that the Buccs could be at Wembley in 2009 – guess it pays to be on the know !

A lot more to come on this blog over the next few days including my thoughts on Plaxico Burress and his dead leg !

Randy Lerner signing autographs today at the Aston Villa v Manchester City game in Birmingham, August 17 2008

Randy Lerner signing autographs today at the Aston Villa v Manchester City game in Birmingham, August 17 2008

I had to work today in my day job as a media officer supporting people in my organisation at an English Premier League Football (or for USA readers Soccer) match as Aston Villa beat Manchester City 4-2, with local Birmingham lad Gabby Agbonlahor scoring an incredible three goals in just seven second half minutes.

Some of you will by now know what links this particular game has to the NFL, some may not.

Well its a certain billionaire (if you are calculating worth in $ not £) sports team owner – Mr Randy Lerner, the owner of the Cleveland Browns and Aston Villa FC.

After watching a terrific game I was leaving Villa Park stadium when I happened to catch Mr Lerner in a stairwell.

Bemused he looked at me and I looked at him, all that came to mind was to say “Good luck with the Browns!” to which he simply replied “Thank you”.

And with that I went into the lift and he went down the stairs with his people.

Small and insignificant as it was in terms of an exchange of words, it was never the less the first, and hopefully not the last time I get to speak to an NFL owner.

With the likes of Malcolm Glazer owning Manchester United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Buccs could play the Browns in an NFL International Series regular season game in Great Britain in 2009 or 2010.

It would tick lots of boxes, as it would be intra-conference, between two exciting teams, both of whom are potential playoff teams in 2008.

Above all its not every day you get to meet an NFL owner, in England of all places !

What do you think of a Buccs v Browns regular season game in England ?