From where I’m sitting, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have accomplished one thing this season. They’ve shown that they have 3 quarterbacks who can make plays and that they have a defense that is a shadow of its former self. The offense has hardly been lights out this season, but when you consider that the offensive coordinator was fired at the start of the season, that the team has a new head coach, that the starting QB was determined at the end of pre-season, and that two of the QB’s who’ve started this season are new to town, you simply cannot have high expectations. As I’ve said, Byron Leftwich was not the reason the Buccaneers were not winning games at the beginning of the season. They were losing for the same reasons they lost prior to last week: a profound inability to stop the run.
When Leftwich was benched, he was 6th in passing yards in the NFL. Guess who is 6th in passing yards right now? Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have won five in a row.
Leftwich performed well in relief of Roethlisberger last year. Given that Antonio Bryant has played hurt for the entire season, that Michael Clayton is somewhere between Chris Chambers and Chris Henry, and that the Bucs don’t have a reliable deep threat, Leftwich did a credible job. The same can be said for Josh Johnson — except that he was compelled to play against teams like New England (#3 pass defense) and Carolina (#5 pass defense) and Philadelphia (#2 with 15 INTs) and Washington (#1 pass defense). Forget that Leftwich scored 21 points against Dallas and threw for nearly 300 yards vs. Buffalo. Forget that Josh Johnson fought hard against some of the best defenses in the league.
There were some compelling story lines that emerged this week. The Bengals took a not-so-surprising plunge back to earth after beating the Steelers and Ravens. The Giants were undressed. The “Sanchise” took it on the chin 5 times and the Jets found a new way to lose. The Vikings showed just how tough they’re going to be down the stretch. (It looks an awful lot like the Saints and Vikings are going to play for the NFC Championship.) The Eagles did the unthinkable. With all of these stories, perhaps nothing was more surprising that the rapid and complete demise of the once-proud Tennessee Titans.
We’re heading to the Quarter Post. Week 4 is here and games are on tap for 28 teams in the league (Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia are off.). The first three weeks have shown that some patterns are continuing:
Zorn: In search of Directions OFF the Beltway
Peyton and Eli run smooth operations in Indy and New York;
1. Packers at Vikings. Revenge is a dish best served old. I have this feeling that the Vikings may not be served by the spectacular success of last week’s win vs. the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners are a team that lacks the offensive punch and balance of the Packers. The Niners lost Frank Gore early in the game and were unable to run out the clock with less than 2 minutes remaining.
I am wondering if newly-minted OLB Aaron Kampman is comfortable enough in his new position to bring the pain from the edge. He was the best DE you’d never heard of for the past three seasons. He notched 37 sacks playing in a 4-3 scheme. He’s been moved and has only registered one sack through 3 games. Does he break out in Minnesota? I’m sure he’ll want to show former fellow-Hawkeye and current Viking LB Chad Greenway a few tricks.
I think Al Harris and Charles Woodson are really going to be up for this game. I think Brett Favre will be so charged up that he will have to work hard to resist his urges to embarrass the Packers. The men he is most angry with will not be covering Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin. If Favre loses focus, Harris and Woodson could take him to the wood shed.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today that QB Byron Leftwich will be replaced in the position by Josh Johnson. Former Kansas State star and QB of the future Josh Freeman will be promoted to #2. Johnson replaced Leftwich in yesterday’s 24-0 loss at the hands of the New York Giants. But did Raheem Morris do the right thing in going with a young QB? Is the timing right? Is he changing the right piece of the puzzle? Is this is a sign of desperation after the recent firing of the offensive coordinator?