Posts Tagged ‘Derrick Ward’

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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My upset special McNabb to lead the Eagles to an NFC Championship

My upset special McNabb to lead the Eagles to an NFC Championship

I went 3 out of 4 in the Wild Card weekend and even got an exact score (Falcons 24) so I have a bit of pressure on for the divisional playoff round.

There are usually less upsets this round than in the Wild Card week but I have a feeling that the home teams will take a bit of a battering this Sat and Sun, so here goes, time to put my money where my mouth is……..

Sat., Jan. 10, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Baltimore (11-5, 1-0) at Tennessee (13-3)
Kevin Mawae is out and that is huge.  The veteran Titans C is the rock that has led the way for Lendale ‘who ate all the pies’ White and Chris Johnson to dominate 13 teams this season. No one needs to read here how good the Ravens defense is – but people do need to finally pay respect to Baltimore WR Derek Mason who has shown that he is one of the most reliable wideouts in the entire NFL. Can Ed ‘ball magnet’ Reed get another INT – most likely !
Key 1) Baltimore getting a big run early as opposed to a big run late
Key 2) Albert Haynesworth pressuring rookie Joe Flacco
Key 3) Joe Flacco staying the hell away from Cortland Finnegan
Key 4) Kerry Collins not being forced to pass if Titans go down
Prediction – Baltimore 23-17 Tennessee – Game MVP – LeRon McClain (2tds)
Sun., Jan. 11, 4:45 p.m. ET, CBS
San Diego (8-8, 1-0) at Pittsburgh (12-4)
The Chargers are living the dream, and after using the pocket rocket Darren Sproles to kill the Colts. This time around the Sprolesmeister will have been on the Steelers radar. The Steelers D line is a lightyear above the Colts D line so Rivers will be forced to pass the Chargers up and down the field. Big Ben Roethlisberger has shown that he can guide a team through the playoffs, and I have a feeling that Pitt WR Nate Washington will come up with a huge catch that turns the game. I don’t expect a quality 1st half, but the Steelers have enough class to hang in there.
Key 1) Hines Ward getting 4 catches in the first half
Key 2) Can LT be any sort of factor in the game?
Key 3) Big Ben not fumbling the ball
Key 4) Santonio Holmes drawing double teams to free up Nate Washington
Prediction – San Diego 10-20 Pittsburgh – MVP Ben Roethlisberger (1 td and 250 yards passing)
Sat., Jan. 10, 8:15 p.m. ET, FOX
Arizona (9-7, 1-0) at Carolina (12-4)
Wouldn’t it be fun to see the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship against a former NFC East division foe? Well I really want to write this will be a Cardinals win, but I just can’t. The hype given to Edgarrin James last week was nonsense. He got 73 rushing yards in a Wild Card game – so freaking what. If he got 173 then I would be saing wow. The Panthers have the all round quality to win this without going into 5th gear, but I am sure they will make a bit of a meal of it and Jake Delhomme will get intercepted at least once. Look to DeAngelo Williams to show his class on a national stage but Jonathan Stewart to get the fanatsy tds.
Key 1) Cardinals DBs not getting called for pass inteference in the first half
Key 2) Jake Delhomme sticking to the plan and not trying to be a hero early on
Key 3) Steve Breaston showing up and getting some 1st quarter catches
Key 4) Panthers safeties not being exposed by the long ball
Prediction – Arizona 21-28 Carolina – MVP DeAngelo Williams (120 all purpose yards)
Sun., Jan. 11, 1 p.m. ET, FOX
Philadelphia (9-6-1, 1-0) at N.Y. Giants (12-4)
There has to be one upset special each week and I’ll call it here. I do not think the New York Giants are a dynasty and despite their good record they will finally sucumb to a Donovan McNabb led team that will win a nailbiter. Brian Westbrook will get more involved early in this game, and Eli Manning will make a huge mistake in the 2nd quarter that will turn the momentum. Giants pressure will again be relentless, but the Eagles will gameplan against it, using short passing to neautralise the agression on Kiwanuka and Tuck. Expect it to be close, but expect the Eagles to leave Giants stadium with their playoff dreams intact.
Key 1) The Eagles run d adapting to the difering styles of Brandon Jacbs and Derrick Ward
Key 2) McNabb finding TEs and RBs for short passes to set up a big ol bomb
Key 3) DeSean Jackson getting one big return
Key 4) Kevin Boss living up to his name
Prediction – Philadelphia 31-30 NY Giants – MVP Donovan Mc Nabb (3 tds 240 yards passing)
What do you all think?