Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Notes From the Bridge

More information from right inside Buccaneers headquarters that's shared only with Stadium Club members

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Had the Bucs needed their jumbo package in Washington, McDaniel would have stayed at his normal left guard spot instead of playing fullback

From the week ending October 1

Though he placed no blame on officials for the Buccaneers' shocking last-minute loss to the New York Jets, Head Coach Tony Dungy did disagree with one of the more noteworthy calls in the game. As has now been dissected thoroughly, video appears to show that Buccaneer WR Jacquez Green did not step out of bounds at the 11 at the end of a 75-yard reception in the first quarter. An official's whistle was apparently blown at the time of the ruling, making it impossible for the Bucs to use a replay challenge. Dungy recently explained to a visiting network crew that the official who made the out-of-bounds call actually saw Jets CB Aaron Glenn's foot step out of bounds, which is curious since Glenn was wearing a white shoe and Green had on black Buc spikes.

As fan tension mounted over WR Keyshawn Johnson's less-than-anticipated receptions total, Dungy continued to preach patience. Dungy compared the outcry over Johnson's statistics to the fretting about sprinter Marion Jones in the Summer Olympics. Jones won five medals for the United States, but there was some initial letdown when two of the five were bronze, not gold. In retrospect, it was a dominating performance. Dungy insists that Johnson is playing very well in many ways and that everyone will be happy with the results by the end of the season.

The Randall McDaniel-as-fullback experiment may or may not be over for a little while. Against the Redskins, Les Steckel and the Bucs' offense planned to go with a new alignment in the jumbo package, putting TE Patrick Hape in front of FB Mike Alstott and filling Hape's spot at the second tight end with T George Hegamin. The Bucs didn't find much use for that formation in Washington however, and Dungy indicated that the move was going to be made in an attempt to exploit a mismatch with the Redskins' personnel.

As has often quite often in recent years, the Buccaneers' 1999 draft went just about as it was planned heading into the weekend. Specifically, the Bucs were targeting QB Shaun King in the second round and were pleased when he was available at the 50th overall pick, as predicted. However, the team definitely was in the draft market for a young quarterback and had a contingency plan if King wasn't available. Had they missed out on King, the Bucs were next going to target Howard QB Ted White in a later round. When King went to Tampa Bay, White slipped through the draft and was signed as a free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs. That's one reason the Bucs signed White to their practice squad late in August after the Chiefs released him. White had a great training camp with the Chiefs in 1999 and was on the active roster all of last year before heading off to NFL Europe this past spring. Now Buc coaches are getting a close-up look at the young hurler as he shares scout team duty with Joe Hamilton in practice each week.

As has previously been reported in our From the Bridge notes, the Buccaneers spend more time than most teams instructing their defensive backs how to tackle. The emphasis actually begins even before a player joins Tampa Bay's roster, however. When the Bucs are considering drafting a cornerback, one key element always discussed in strategy sessions is whether the player concerned has a tackling mentality. That factor can sometimes make or break a player's chances on the Bucs' draft board. With some good players who developed in a system that didn't stress tackling for its cornerbacks, this factor can be a guessing game, an evaluation based as much on a player's attitude and temperament as his game film. Ronde Barber and Donnie Abraham, for instance, were considered only adequate tacklers in college by the Buccaneers, but the team felt that it could see their willingness to do the dirty work. On the other hand, cornerback Brian Kelly was always a tough tackler in college, as were safeties John Lynch, Damien Robinson and Dexter Jackson.

Dungy recently reminisced about a unique moment during his NFL playing days with the Steelers. Strangely, Dungy is the last NFL player to both throw and catch an interception in the same game, an occurrence made possible in a 1977 game against the Houston Oilers when both of Pittsburgh's quarterbacks were injured. That's a widely told story about Dungy, but few have heard what the current Buc coach says was going through his mind at the time. With starter Terry Bradshaw already forced to the sideline, Dungy recalls seeing backup Mike Kruczek going down next, looking around the bench to find no other quarterbacks and wondering to himself, "I wonder what Chuck (Noll) is going to do now?" The answer came quickly when Noll told Dungy, who had already made an interception as a defensive back, to get into the game under center. Apparently, Noll had formed this emergency plan earlier, but had decided not to tell Dungy in order to keep the rookie player from getting nervous. Caught by surprise, Dungy didn't realize until later that he never even took off his elbow pads.

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