There is no sport more popular in the United States than NFL Football, and for many sports fans in Central Florida, there is no passion greater than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of media sources for information on these fans' favorite topic, from the inside access provided here on Buccaneers.com to the information disseminated by local and national newspapers, television networks, radio stations and internet sites.
The question is no longer, is there adequate coverage out there for my favorite team? Now the question is, with everything out there being said about the Buccaneers, did I miss anything?
That's why we are bringing you the "Word on the Street" about the Buccaneers on a near-weekly basis during the 2011 season. On Friday, we'll recap some of the national coverage about your Bucs that you may have missed, and provide you with the links so you can check it out yourself.
This week's links include Pro Football Weekly's Midseason All-Pro Team, which features a Buccaneer offensive linemen. You'll also national input on the Albert Haynesworth signing and some news from enemy territory. You may, of course, have already read about some of these topics, but this is a chance to get another perspective and find out how the Buccaneers are viewed in communities other than our own.
So, without further ado, the Word on the Streets:
1. Joseph recognized as one of league's best.
On Tuesday, with the ninth week of the NFL's 17-week season in the books, the experts at Pro Football Weekly put together their "2011 Midseason All-Pro Team." As with the official AP All-Pro first-team squad that is named at the end of the season, this is actually a more exclusive honor than the Pro Bowl because it essentially recognizes only one player at each position (there are some concessions, such as four LBs and four DL to acknowledge differing 3-4 and 4-3 fronts around the league). Thus, there are only two offensive guards on PFW's Midseason All-Pro Team, and the Buccaneers' Davin Joseph is one of them. Tampa Bay's offensive line has been the most consistently effective unit on the team this season, ranking second in the NFL in sacks allowed per pass play, and it is encouraging to see one of its own recognized on a national scale. The PFW team put Joseph at right guard, where he plays on the Bucs' line, and chose San Francisco's Mike Iupati as the starter at left guard. Check out the article for their thoughts on Joseph and to find out who else made the team. And for a slightly different take on the midseason all-star idea, read Pat Yasinskas All-NFC South team choices on ESPN.com. Semi-spoiler: There are three Bucs on the squad. Read the offensive picks here and the defensive picks here.
Excerpt: "Joseph might be the best run blocker in the game, and the Bucs have not been shy going right behind him on most of their critical plays. He has earned the seven-year extension he signed in the offseason and has been one of the team's bright spots."
2. The Bucs had reason to sign Albert Haynesworth.
The Buccaneers claimed former New England Patriot defensive tackle off waivers on Wednesday, a move that was destined to draw national attention, given the difficulties of his last three years with the Redskins and the Patriots. Haynesworth spoke to the press on Wednesday after his first Buccaneer practice, which brought another wave of analysis. You have likely heard or read much of the local reaction, but national outlets have obviously chimed in as well. Over at NFL.com, excellent league reporter Albert Breer looked at the move from the Buccaneers' point of view and focused on what he sees as the team's main reason for making the move. Over at CBSSports.com, the experts of the Sports XChange believe that Haynesworth can bring a lot to the Buccaneers if he's motivated to do so, helping to draw attention away from the team's young defensive ends.
Excerpt: "Dominik feels good about handing him over to Raheem Morris, who has handled personalities/problems like Kellen Winslow and Aqib Talib in the past without incident, and without disrupting a locker-room culture in which both coach and GM take a lot of pride. This, of course, will be one heck of a test."
3. Clayborn heads list of second-half breakout candidates.
We normally don't link to articles behind a subscription wall, but we've made an exception on this one because ESPN.com is a very popular destination with a lot of subscribers to their Insider section. You'll need that to check out Mel Kiper's recent article on the rookies around the league who are set to break out. We'll clue you in to the number-one player on his list: Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn. If you're interested in ESPN.com's draft and post-draft coverage but don't have an Insider subscription, you can instead check out Adam Schefter's look at how well the 2011 class is performing so far. That particular part of Schefter's "10 Spot" article doesn't include any Buccaneers but if you continue reading to the bottom of the article, you'll find a prediction that should please Tampa Bay fans.
Excerpt: "It's common for rookies to come on late as they combine fresh legs and a better understanding of the nuances of the NFL game, and the lockout that took place earlier this year didn't help. While there are many rookies who are already making their mark, including recent standouts like Vikings QB Christian Ponder, here are 10 guys who have been relatively quiet in the first half of the season but who could really make a jump in the second half."
4. Bucs have to wait for word on whether they will face Andre Johnson.
As always, it's good to check in with those members of the media who cover the Buccaneers' upcoming opponent on a daily basis. This Wednesday article from John McClain of the Houston Chronicle is about the Buccaneers tangentially because it discusses in detail whether or not star wide receiver Andre Johnson and a handful of additional Houston starters will be able to overcome their injuries in time for Sunday's game at Raymond James Stadium. The biggest question is Johnson, who has missed the Texans last five games due to a hamstring injury but may be able to return just in time to face the Buccaneers. The verdict at midweek: Wait until the weekend. McClain also makes his prediction about who will win Sunday's game at RJS (he sees a close game and does like how the Bucs have played at home this year). While on the Chronicle's web site, you may also want to check out this article by Jeffrey Martin analyzing Bucs QB Josh Freeman to see which star passer in the NFL he is compared to.
Excerpt: "Johnson has missed five consecutive games after undergoing surgery to repair an injured hamstring. If Johnson misses a sixth consecutive game, he'll get two more weeks to recover because the Texans have their open date between the Tampa Bay and Jacksonville games. 'There's still a possibility,' Kubiak said. 'He's on schedule. Everything's going well, but it'll be a weekend decision again.'"
5. Michael Bennett quietly having an outstanding season.
If you hadn't heard of the web site Pro Football Focus before, that makes two of us, but it's on our radar now. We came across this article discussing three keys to Sunday's Bucs-Texans game and felt it was worth your attention. Profootballfocus.com says its aim is "to provide the most in-depth, accurate and thought-provoking information on professional football player performance available on the web. Each week our team spend hours analyzing games to provide you with information you simply can't get anywhere else. Which TE is the best blocker for run and for pass? Which Cornerback is the best run defender? Which Tackle was the worst pass protector in 2010? It's all here." One interesting claim springing from their statistical research is that Bucs left end Michael Bennett is having a star-quality season. However, Bennett faces a difficult test this week in his opponent across the line.
Excerpt: "The only star on the Buccaneers' defense has been third year defensive end Michael Bennett (+17.6). He has been averaging three pressures a game as well as two stops. His play against the run has been unmatched by any other defensive end in the league, and the amount of pressure he brings doesn't hurt his case at all. The problem is that he spends over 95% of his snaps lined up at left defensive end, which puts him across from PFF All Pro right tackle Eric Winston (+8.1)."