Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Answer Man, Series 4, Vol. 7

The Buc fans’ inside man waxes verbose on whether second-and-five is actually better than first-and-10 and other topics, such as Mike Alstott, the 1977 defense and starting QBs

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The Answer Man would like to start out this week's column by assuring the contributors to my e-mailbag that, no, I'm not blind.

I'm not functionally illiterate, either, nor am I running a campaign of deliberate ignorance. And no, I don't get my jollies from leaving a whole pile of mail unanswered.

In other words, yes, I see all of your questions about alternate jerseys and throwback jerseys and the like, particularly now that the Buccaneers are scheduled to play on Thanksgiving. If it will help those of you who intend on sending that question in the future, I can save you the time. I've really got nothing to tell you.

Truth be told, the alternate/throwback jersey question has been one of the most common ones I've received since hanging my Answer Man shingle above the door in 2004. I even tried to head off that stream of e-mails once in the past, though it did little good. Here's an excerpt:

"Will the Buccaneers ever wear another jersey beyond their current red and white ones? Have the above alternate-jersey issues been discussed? These are the kinds of subjects team management likes to plan very carefully and in detail, in order to not only meet the expectations of the team's fans, but exceed them. The introduction of the current uniforms and team colors in 1997 is a perfect example.

One thing is for certain: If and when the team decides to jump into the alternate-jersey idea, it is not going to make it a secret. The team will make certain that its fans know about it well in advance.

There it is. That's what I can tell you on the alternate-jersey question. Hopefully, we can all move on and I can go back to sticking my hand in the mailbag without fear of pulling back a stump."

And, you know what? That's still the best I can tell you.

The underlying facts here are still the same, even though I wrote that two years ago. See, if the team ever does introduce an alternate jersey, it will behoove the team to publicize that fact greatly. You shouldn't expect the alternate jersey to sneak up on you, in other words. Haven't heard anything about them? Then I wouldn't suggest holding my breath until you do.

What is certain is that the Buccaneers will be playing on Thanksgiving for the first time in team history. That's certainly exciting. Tampa Bay takes on Dallas on November 23 while most of you will be carving up a turkey (and watching football, of course).

The Bucs are one of two afternoon games that day, following Miami's visit to Detroit. Later that evening, the NFL Network will air its first live regular-season broadcast as Denver plays in Kansas City. Did you know that Broncos-Chiefs contest will be the first Thanksgiving game not played in Dallas or Detroit since 1977, when the St. Louis Cardinals played host to the Miami Dolphins (and got pulverized, 55-14)? That was a one-year glitch, because the NFL has played all of its Turkey Day games in MoTown and the Big D since 1966, and the Lions began hosting such a game way back in 1934. Seriously, 1934.

Did you know that pretty much the whole league played on Thanksgiving in the early days? The NFL's first season was 1920, and its Thanksgiving Day slate featured such matchups as the Akron Pros versus the Canton Bulldogs and the Dayton Triangles versus the Detroit Heralds.

And did you know that the first real long-standing Thanksgiving tradition in the NFL was an annual battle for Chicago? In 1922, the Chicago Cardinals beat the Chicago Bears, 6-0, starting a streak of 11 straight years in which those two teams would meat on Thanksgiving. Strangely, the first seven games in that series were shutouts of some variety. (The 1925 and 1926 Thanksgiving fans were treated to a pair of 0-0 ties. Woo-hoo.) In 1934, the Cardinals invited the Green Bay Packers to town instead and the Chicago Bears went up to Detroit and those dang Lions have been hosting a Thanksgiving game ever since. Talk about getting your foot in the door.

That game in Detroit was even important at the time. That was the Lions first season in the Motor City; G.A. (Dick) Richards had purchased the Portsmouth Sparrows that year, moved them to Detroit and given them a more ferocious name. The Thanksgiving battle against the Bears, won by Chicago, 19-16, was the first NFL game broadcast nationally by radio.

And did you know that I threw out all that Thanksgiving stuff trying to draw attention away from that dang alternate jersey question? Pretty obvious, huh?

Well, here's another tactic. Let's get straight to this week's questions.

**

  1. Bob Lang of Port Charlotte, Florida asks:

Defensive holding is called on a play in which the offense completes a five-yard pass. Statistically speaking, is the offensive team better off to accept the penalty and the first down, or take the play and the second down and five? Since the ball placement is identical, it really gets down to whether you are more likely to succeed in accomplishing a subsequent first down from first-and-ten or second-and-five?

Answer Man: You know what, Bob? That's an excellent question.

My knee-jerk response, after reading the second sentence and before completing your full question, was "take the first down." That's what every team does, after all. But maybe I'm just conditioned to make that response by seeing that same decision over and over again. That doesn't, in and of itself, make it right.

The simple mathematics of your question reveal that this may not be so cut-and-dried, however. If it's first-and-10, that means you need to average 3.33 yards per play over the next three plays to get a first down. If it's second-and-five, that means you need to average 2.5 yards per play over the next two plays to get a first down. In that sense, the second task seems easier. I mean, if a team calls a run on first down and gets five yards, isn't it happy? Yes, every time, because second-and-five is a good situation to be in.

There's more. The Buccaneers averaged 4.8 yards per play last season. The best average in the league was 5.8 yards per play, the worst was 4.1, and the median (not mean) was exactly 5.0. Five yards is good; if you've got it, why not take it, use the next two downs to get five more yards and start again?

But perhaps we're not looking at this the right way. What is the GOAL of any new set of downs? The overarching goal of any possession is to score, but the primary goal of any team facing a first down is to get another first down. To do so keeps the drive alive. To fail kills the scoring opportunity (or forces a field goal attempt rather than a shot at a touchdown).

The goal when the team in your example snapped that ball was to get another first down, and they can accomplish that goal by accepting the penalty. If the team then gets a five-yard completion on its next play, it will be in that favorable second-and-five situation, but five yards closer to the end zone.

Perhaps the closest thing I could make to a concession to your point would be that some teams might be better off taking the play and the second-and-five. Last year, the Kansas City Chiefs averaged 6.29 yards per first-down play. The Seahawks averaged 6.25 yards; the Colts averaged 6.10. Why would any of these teams take the five-yard play and the second-and-five when they could have another first down, five yards closer to the goal line, with the expectation that they can get six yards on the next play. Even the 20th-ranked team in yards-per-first-down-play, Philadelphia, got 5.05 every first down. They can take the penalty and the new set of downs and reasonably expect to be in second-and-five a play later.

Houston, on the other hand, came in last in that category in 2005, with 3.88 yards per first down. San Francisco averaged 3.99. Maybe, just maybe, these teams would be better off taking the five-yard gain, as it is better than what they normally get on a snap.

However, you also have to take into account the confidence, the hubris, of any NFL coach and team. The 49ers would take the first-and-ten, too, because they believe they can do better than four yards on the next snap. And they should believe that. Choosing the second-and-five option because you don't think you can get five yards on your own would be a terribly self-defeating way to go about running a football game.

Remember this, also: Every additional play that is included in a drive is an additional chance for the offense to mess up and kill its own efforts. That is the underlying philosophy of any bend-but-don't-break type of defense. If you're the offense, and you're given a first down on one play, why choose the option that forces you to run one and maybe two more plays to get a first down?

And, despite all my rambling to the contrary, we can't get too caught up in the averages. The Chiefs, Seahawks and Colts averaged over six yards per first down not because they were particularly good at six-yard runs or six-yard out patterns. They brought up their average by hitting more big plays than most teams. If you run for two yards and throw an incompletion from second-and-five, it's punting time. If you do the same from first-and-10, you still have a shot to convert that third-and-eight.

Again, Bob, your question definitely got the Answer Man thinking about that situation in a way I hadn't before. I think there are times in sports when teams follow convention without really considering that the accepted practice is the best one. For instance, it drives the Answer Man crazy when a team losing 14-6 scores a touchdown in the second quarter and feels compelled to go for the two-point conversion. (Send me a question along those lines if you want to read another rant.) In this case, however, I think the convention is correct. First-and-10 is better than second-and-five.

Looking back at all of that, it's a mish-mash of a bunch of different points, so it's possible I've clouded the issue as much as answered it. I'm sure there are some differing opinions out there, so I'd love to hear some of them. Is there anybody out there who supports Bob's "take-the-second-and-five" theory (Bob doesn't explicitly say he supports it, but his tone seems to indicate so)? Is there anybody who opposes it but feels I missed the key reasons why? Shoot me an e-mail and we'll discuss it again.

**

  1. Paul Hunt of Thousand Oaks, California asks:

Hey Answer Man: Recently you answered a question in June regarding the longest run Mike Alstott has had in the NFL. You stated it was for 47 yards against Atlanta in 1997. But I think there was a longer one. I believe it was either the '99 or'98 season, and in week 8 at home against the undefeated Vikings, Big Mike rumbled for a long one to ice the game at 24-23. This was the season when Minnesota went 15-1 (thanks to Tampa!) and lost to Atlanta in the NFC Championship game. I thought this run was at least 50 yards. Am I right?

Answer Man: Well, no, Paul, you're not. Sorry. But you did get a whole lot of the other details right.

The game you're talking about was actually in Week Nine, not Week Eight, but it was the eighth game of the season for both teams, as they had already had their bye weeks. And, yes, the Vikings were undefeated before that game, though the final was 27-24, not 24-23. And your terminology – "to ice the game" – is even the same as what the Bucs use to describe the run in question in Mike Alstott's media guide bio.

However, that very entertaining run was "only" 37 yards, not 50. His 47-yarder against the Falcons still stands.

Wow, it sure is nice to finally be right when someone tries to correct me (see below for more on that.). So, thanks for that, Paul.

**

  1. Larry Anderson of Visalia, California asks:

Hey AM, I know the 1977 season we were terrible on the offensive side of the ball. But I think we were pretty decent on the defensive side. Can you compare the 2002 Super Bowl season with the 2-12 season of 1977, from a defensive standpoint. Thanks.

Answer Man: Well, Larry, it's true that that the 1977 team was sneaky good on defense (and the Bucs just got better in '78 and '79). But you may be doing them a disservice by comparing them to the 2002 squad. Three Buccaneer defenses have ranked first overall in the NFL – 1979, 2002 and 2005 – but given the stats of those three teams and the differing eras in which they were created, it's hard to argue that the best crew of all was the 2002 team.

Still, that's what you wanted, so here goes.

The 1977 team ranked 13th in the NFL in defense, in a year in which there were 28 teams. That was remarkably good for a franchise in just its second year, particularly considering that the expansion rules of that time forced the Bucs to build mostly from castoffs and draft choices in the early going.

The 1977 team allowed 280.4 yards per game; the 2002 squad allowed 252.8. You know what we could go on like this forever. Let's put it in a table format to better illustrate the comparisons. We're going to leave out the word "allowed" in each category, since you know this is about defense (that being said, the sacks, interceptions and turnovers categories are clearly recorded and not allowed). Here goes:

**Category****1977****2002**
Yards/Game280.4252.8
Points/Game15.912.3
Yards/Play4.14.2
Rush Yds./Game145.197.1
Pass Yds./Game135.3155.6
Sacks3043
Interceptions2331
Turnovers4138
Passer Rating57.248.4

Notice we couched the stats in a per-game manner whenever possible. That's because they only played 14 games in 1977; the next year, the NFL went to a 16-game regular season, which is still in use.

Even so, the 2002 defense allowed 27 fewer points than its 1977 counterpart, a sure measure of its dominance in this comparison. However, the majority of this table actually works in favor of your question, Larry, at least in the Answer Man's opinion.

Now, it's true that the NFL in 2002 was more prolific, offensively, than it had been 25 years before. The two leading offenses in 2002, Oakland and Minnesota, racked up 6,237 and 6,192 yards, respectively. The two leading offenses in 1977, Dallas and Oakland, managed 4,812 and 4,736 yards, respectively. Therefore, it's clear that allowing 252.8 yards per game in '02 was a much more impressive feat than allowing 280.4 in 1977. After all, the second-best defense of 2002 allowed, the Carolina Panthers, allowed 290.4 yards per game. Not even close.

Still, the 1977 defense was impressive in some of the same categories that made the '02 squad special. The '77 crew actually forced more turnovers, 41 to 38, despite playing two fewer games. It also allowed a slightly lower average of yards per play than the 2002 group, although, again, times were a bit different. Either way, it was impressive. And the 15.9 points per game the 1977 defense allowed was particularly impressive given that the Buccaneers' offense was beyond woeful, dead last in the league in both rushing and passing and able to muster only 103 points all season. That put a lot of added pressure on the defense.

And look at that last category in the table. The Answer Man's favorite statistic about that 2002 team has always been the combined passer rating it allowed to all of its opponents. 48.4? In this era?! Ridiculous. To parrot my own line when discussing that number in the past, that's like turning every opposing quarterback into a season-long Ryan Leaf.

Well, the 1977 crew allowed a passer rating of 57.2, which is pretty bad, too. Even given the differing eras, that's impressive.

So, who were the principles of those two defenses, as long as we're comparing?

The 1977 defense was led by defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, obviously. He posted a career-best 13 sacks, though he didn't make the Pro Bowl, nor did any other Buc. The first Buc Pro Bowler was nose tackle Dave Pear, who made it the next year. These Bucs played a 3-4 defensive front and had a very talented linebacking crew of David Lewis, Dewey Selmon, Richard Wood and Cecil Johnson. The secondary was led by cornerback Mike Washington (team-leading five interceptions) and safeties Mark Cotney and Cedric Brown.

The 2002 defense will best be remembered for the perennial Pro Bowl trio of LB Derrick Brooks, DT Warren Sapp and S John Lynch. But that squad was loaded at every position, from cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly to defensive end Greg Spires to middle linebacker Shelton Quarles to safeties Dexter Jackson and Dwight Smith.

We'll never truly know which of these defenses was the best one, of course. They played in different eras and under very different circumstances, and it's fair to wonder what the 1977 group could have done with a competent offense at its side. It's also fair to wonder what the 2002 defense could have done in a much less offensive era; would fewer than 200 yards allowed per game have been a possibility?

No, we'll never know. But, Larry, looking at the stats and having seen that 2002 defense in action, the Answer Man is going to have to roll with the '02 squad. Good question, though.

**

  1. Petar Rusak of Kotoriba, Croatia asks:

**Hi there from Croatia!!

Now that [Luke] McCown is out with an injury, could you tell me when was the last season and how many seasons (total) there was when one QB started all 16 games?? And please, could you name all QBs that started at least one game in all seasons?

P.S. I remember for 2004 (Johnson, Simms, Griese) and 2005 (Griese, Simms).**

Answer Man: Hi there, Petar in Croatia! Saw your boys in the World Cup. That's a tough way to go out, two ties and a 1-0 loss to the tournament favorites.

Okay, I think we have three questions here:

  1. When was the last time the Bucs had a single quarterback start all 16 games of a regular season?

Answer: 2003. Brad Johnson started every game that year.

  1. How many times has this happened?

Answer: It has happened 11 times in 30 seasons: 1979 (Doug Williams), 1980 (Williams), 1981 (Williams), 1982 (Williams), 1995 (Trent Dilfer), 1996 (Dilfer), 1997 (Dilfer), 1998 (Dilfer), 2000 (Shaun King), 2001 (Brad Johnson) and 2003 (Johnson). As you can see, eight of those 11 times occurred during the long starting stretches of Williams and Dilfer.

  1. Who are all the starting quarterbacks in Buccaneer history?

Answer: Really? All of them? Okay, here goes, in chronological order of their first starts (regular season only):

Steve Spurrier. Parnell Dickinson. Terry Hanratty. Randy Hedberg. Gary Huff. Jeb Blount. Doug Williams. Mike Boryla. Mike Rae. Jerry Golsteyn. Jack Thompson. Steve DeBerg. Steve Young. John Reaves. Jim Zorn. Vinny Testaverde. Joe Ferguson. Chris Chandler. Jeff Carlson. Craig Erickson. Trent Dilfer. Eric Zeier. Shaun King. Brad Johnson. Rob Johnson. Chris Simms. Brian Griese.

Those are the 27 players who have started a regular season game at quarterback for the Buccaneers. Eagle-eyed cross-referencers may notice that two – Reaves and Zorn – are on this list but not the Bucs' all-time roster. That's because Reaves and Zorn started during the three replacement games that filled the gap during the 1987 strike. The players on that replacement roster are listed separately from the rest of the all-time roster.

**

  1. Brad Sylvain of Port St. Lucie asks:

Here it is again AM. I have been trying to get this question answered since the draft. Since last year he had the same 5 starting offensive linemen and in the off-season we have focused on acquiring new talent at that position. How do you think will be the 5 starting linemen next year? Do you think [Davin] Joseph and [Jeremy] Trueblood will have an impact? Also does [Maurice] Stovall have a chance to break into one of the top Bucs receiver? I love the Draft TX AM.

Answer Man: Well, Brad, I hope I didn't get your hopes up, because I'm still not going to answer this question. But since you seem frustrated by the fact that I've been skipping it, I thought I should explain why. I have to do this every six months or so.

The simplest way to put it is: The Answer Man deals in facts, not opinions.

Now, which five players start on the Buccaneers' offensive line this season will eventually be a fact. But stating who those five are right now – unless I happen to be Jon Gruden or Bill Muir – would be an opinion. As a team employee, and not one of the critical few who makes those types of team decisions, the Answer Man does not and should not share opinions on such matters.

Here's what it says on my intro page:

*Got a question about team history, player backgrounds NFL procedures, statistics, football rules or anything of the sort? I'm your man. And if I don't know the answer myself, I'll find it for you.

Please note: Players and coaches are free to answer their questions as they see fit, but the Answer Man is here to offer factual information. I will not be sharing opinions on why the team signed or released a certain player, or predictions on how well a specific player may do this season, or any other topic that is basically a matter of opinion.*

Excuse me if this sounds like a lecture, Brad. I don't mean it, too. Your question is a good one, and if you and I were hanging out in my living room watching a game or something, I would love to discuss it. I just can't in my current capacity. Besides, I think the most salient point is that the Buccaneers have greatly improved the competition and the potential for greatness of their offensive line. Having too many players you like is a good problem with which to be faced.

**

Before the quickies, here's one I'm punting until next time.

  1. Richard Schilling of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania asks:

OK, my feisty, freakishly fit football friend. You want questions? You want questions? You can't handle the questions! (Of course, you read that in Jack Nicholson's voice.) Because you now seem to want to hear my "wildly inventive and completely improbable scenarios," I am digging out one from your "too silly to even bother pile." (I have been told that my questions are easy to find in that pile.) Are there any restrictions on the colors a team can use for its uniforms? More specifically - and here is where it meets your "wildly inventive and completely improbable" criteria - could a team wear uniforms that very closely matched color of their turf to offer some amount of camouflage, leading quarterbacks to lament "He came out of nowhere!"? Further - reaching for "utterly ridiculous" - could the team then paint all walls, doors, and such around the field the same color to improve their ability to blend in? Imagine playing against a team wearing sod-green uniforms with green walls all around the field. I'm thinking "Interception Fest!"

Answer Man: Oy, this is a prime "be careful what you ask for, you might get it" lesson.

Yes, I know you've asked this one before, Rich, and it just didn't capture my fancy. But since I threw down the gauntlet, I guess I have to finish the fight. But I'm going to plead a time constraint for now and get to this one in my next column. (Remember, readers, the Answer Man doesn't claim to know immediately the answer to every question, only that he will find someone who does. And that sometimes takes a little time.) You'll have to bear with me for another week or two to find out if the Sacramento Sods are going to be allowed in the league.

That's what I get for baiting Pennsylvania Rich: More shenanigans (that one's for you, Simon).

**

And what got me into all that trouble above? My printing of a letter sent by Mr. Schilling about a typo I had made in a previous column, complete with a little jab back to point out a typo of his own. Just to emphasize my point of the difficulty in avoiding such a thing in an 8,000-word column, I purposely included another typo in my response (okay, no I didn't). See below.

  1. Chris Jackson of Hobart, Tasmania asks:

**What's Irony? When you're talking about typos, and make another. See: '...calling for AND adverb' [in this excerpt]:

"...alright, yeah, you got me. I typed "starts" when I meant "games." And that is a distinction that deserves a correction here, because Moore certainly is much more likely to break the latter record than the former. Fifty lashes for me. I could point out that little slips like this are hard to avoid in a 7,500-word column, or that I actually had to change the word "easy" to "easily" in your second sentence above when you mistakenly used an adjective in a spot that called for and adverb, suggesting even the greatest of us can fall victim to typos, but that would be mean-spirited, so I won't." [Answer Man's emphasis added.]

Just something small... Cheers.**

Answer Man: Actually, Chris, I'll answer your question: "What's Irony?" Because this situation, it ain't.

Irony is "an incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result," as defined by Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. It is not a humorous or unintended consequence, or even a moment of "poetic justice," as can be seen above in my own blunder while attempting to jab somebody else on a typo.

The Answer Man made a typo. Rich, in correcting me, made a typo. The Answer Man admitted his mistake and attempted to get in a little dig in return. Now, would it actually be an incongruity between what was expected there and what actually happened that I made another typo?

"What's Irony? When you're talking about typos and make another." No, it's not. Nothing about talking about typos would lead one to believe that you couldn't make another one.

No, that's a humorous (and for me, slightly painful) coincidence. Poetic justice, as I said before. I'll leave you with a little excerpt from George Carlin's book "Braindroppings" to illustrate my point. Mr. Carlin gets peeved at the overuse of the word "irony," as was perhaps most notably bludgeoned in the Alanis Morisette song, "Isn't It Ironic?" (A black fly in your chardonnay is unfortunate, but it's not ironic.)

"If a diabetic, on his way to buy insulin, is killed by a runaway truck, he is the victim of an accident. If the truck was delivering sugar, he is the victim of an oddly poetic coincidence. But if the truck was delivering insulin, ah! Then he is the victim of irony."

The delivery of insulin, see, was supposed to help preserve the man's life, but instead it ended it. That is an incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.

But, hey, that's just something small. Cheers.

**

It was a slimmer mailbag than usual, so I got to the end of this column sooner than usual. Therefore, I'll go out with a few extra "Quickies." As usual, these are questions that either need little elaboration or have been sufficiently addressed in previous Answer Man columns.

  1. Seemingly Every Buc Fan in Every State of the Union asks (repeatedly):

[Combining and paraphrasing about 20 separate e-mails from the last two weeks] Hey, Answer Man. Despite the fact that you answer this question in virtually every one of your columns from March through July, I still would like to know when the Bucs report to training camp. Furthermore, it would help me greatly if you could tell me specifically when and where the team is practicing. My family and I are going to be on vacation from [insert random arrival date in late July/early August] until [insert random departure date about a week later] and we'd love to catch a couple practices. Can you help us? You are by far the coolest answer dude in the NFL. Love and kisses.

Answer Man: Like I said, I was paraphrasing a bit. But, seriously, I can't beat that question down no matter how many times I try. So why fight it? Here you go:

Tampa Bay training camp practices start at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex on Friday, July 28. On most days, particularly during the first week-and-a-half, the team practices twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. All practice are free and open to the public. The final practice of camp will be held on the morning of Thursday, August 17. For a full daily schedule of Buccaneer camp practices, check out this link.

**

  1. Pete Nice of St. Petersburg, Florida asks:

When do Tampa Bay individual game tickets go on sale?

Answer Man: The exact date has not yet been announced, Pete, but it is almost always during the first week of training camp. Last year, individual tickets went on sale on Saturday, July 30. The year before, it was Saturday, July 31. When the date is set this year, Buccaneers.com will make sure all of its readers are well aware.

**

  1. Chris of Tampa, Florida asks:

Does spiking the ball count as an incompletion for the quarterback against his stats?

Answer Man: Yes, Chris it does. We've talked about spiking the ball before in terms of why it isn't considered intentional grounding (see here for the first time I took that question) but I don't think anyone has previously asked if it is considered an incompletion on the quarterback's stats.

Still, there's not much need for elaboration here. Yes, it counts. No, that doesn't seem completely fair, but this is a team sport and there are lots of ways in which individual statistics fail to accurately reflect a player's performance. Quarterbacks also take the brunt of it, statistically, if a receiver happens to fall down and a well-targeted pass goes directly to a defender as a result. Stuff happens.

**

  1. Perry Banse of Clearwater, Florida asks:

What year did the uniforms switch from the orange to the pewter and red?

Answer Man: 1997.

**

  1. Scott Bodager of Venice, Florida asks:

I've noticed a jersey style change on this website, specifically the numbers...is this just for camp or a permanent change? Thanks!

Answer Man: I assume you mean the number font used on the practice jerseys, which have commonly been different than what is used on game jerseys. Yes, that is just for practice.

**

  1. Casper Larsen of Fredericia, Denmark (That's btw. in Northern Europe for you Americans without a globe on your office desks) asks:

Hey Answer Man. A little question from across the sea. If a QB throws a pass that hits the field goal post and bounces back, and then caught by a defender in the end zone will it be an interception or an incomplete pass?

Answer Man: You probably thought that question was too weird to have come up before, right Casper. Wrong. The Answer Man first handled this one in my 11th column, way back in 2004. Check it out.

By the way (btw), thanks for advancing the stereotype that the average American knows no world geography beyond his own country's borders. The Answer Man thought Denmark was in South America.

**

  1. William of Tampa, Florida asks:

There once was a man named Jimmy DuBose who played for the Bucs. What was his position?

Answer Man: For a minute, I thought you were going to grace us with a limerick, William. I don't want to know what you would have rhymed with "Bucs."

Anyway, Jimmy DuBose was a running back. He was actually the second player ever drafted by the team (the college draft, not the 1976 veteran allocation draft) after Lee Roy Selmon. DuBose, out of Florida, played three seasons in Tampa, appearing in 33 games with 15 starts. With 704 yards on 184 carries, he is the 18th-leading rusher in franchise history, just ahead of Steve Young, Trent Dilfer and Thomas Jones.

**

Okay, that's it for this week. Keep the questions coming, as we've got to fill these next few weeks before training camp with some interesting, if not necessarily important, football talk. Of course, I've already got one I've got to field from Rich up there, and there's also a good question in my queue from Justin about coach/player tandems with the most tenure together. I hope to get to those two and several more in the next edition. Thanks and good night.

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