In this weekly series, Buccaneers.com takes a moment each Friday to link readers to some of the more interesting national stories being written about the team…This week's links include a more statistically in-depth look at the hot topic of the Bucs' schedule, as well as some of the key matchups in Sunday's game in Green Bay//
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 dueling perspectives on who will win Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. You'll also find a look at the Bucs-Packers rivalry and an interesting analysis of the early-career win paces of Raheem Morris and several notable coaches. 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. Grantland: Bucs working through rough part of the schedule.
Bill Barnwell left the statistics-oriented Football Outsiders group in the spring to join Bill Simmons' stable of writers on the new Grantland site, and he has since provided a uniquely analytical series of articles on football for fans who appreciate exactly that. A selection of recent headlines include, "Is Matt Leinart Better Than You Think," "Making the Case for Matt Forte, MVP," and "Going for it on fourth down and the rest of the noteworthy moves of Week 10 in the NFL." This week, Barnwell turned his eyes to the Buccaneers and chimed in on a recently hot topic: The strength of Tampa Bay's schedule. Not surprisingly, Barnwell dug a little deeper into the stats than most articles on the subject, and his conclusion is that the Buccaneers' stretch from Games Five to 11 was not only difficult, but perhaps the toughest six-game run for any team since the 2000 season. If you like your sports analysis peppered with second and third-level statistical tools such as "Pythagorean expectation" and "expected win total," you'll like this piece.
Excerpt: "As it turns out, the average team Tampa Bay's played during this six-game nightmare has been playing at about the level of a 12-4 team. And that's the average team. By the Pythagorean expectation, the creamsicles have played the league's top three teams, its fifth-best team twice, and its ninth-best team in six weeks. The closest example of a schedule this tough was in 2000, when the Washington Redskins played six games against teams who had an average Pythagorean expectation of 11.6 wins."
2. Why the Bucs will beat the Packers…and vice versa.
Over at Foxsports.com, analysts Adam Schein and Peter Schrager have an ongoing series called "Rivalry Rants," where they choose sides on a game that strikes them as an interesting or traditional rival. The pair chose Bucs-Packers this week due to their long history together in the former NFC Central. Schrager argues in favor of the Buccaneers, who are obviously underdogs on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs and the only remaining undefeated team in 2011. While Schein draws the relatively easy task of pointing out the Packers' many strengths, Schrager looks back at the swagger with which the NFL's youngest team was playing in 2010 and posits that this might be the week it all clicks for the Buccaneers in 2011. While you're on the Fox Sports site, you may also want to check out this video piece by Dr. Mark Adickes – a former Super Bowl winner who is now an orthopaedic surgeon – on whether or not injuries are up in 2011. It's not specifically about the Buccaneers, but that certainly is a topic that has affected the team this year.
Excerpt: "My love affair with this team started two years ago when they turned to rookie quarterback Josh Freeman late in the season and he led them to a comeback win — wearing the creamsicle unis — over these very Packers. The following season, they fielded the youngest team in the league, I dubbed them "The Baby Bucs", and they went on to go 10-6, falling just one win short of a playoff berth. Freeman was a star, Raheem Morris was being praised as the best young coach in football and GM Mark Dominik was rewarded with a large multi-year extension."
3. PFW analyzes the key matchups in Sunday's game.
This is actually a series of articles on the web site for the venerable Pro Football Weekly crew, which has been covering the NFL in depth since 1967. The long-running magazine – and now the web site, too – specializes in providing lots of quick but interesting notes. For instance, this piece discusses briefly how the Bucs feel about the play of rookie DE Adrian Clayborn, and this one looks at the addition of DT . This week, Buc fans might find a whole series of PFW articles useful in looking ahead at Sunday's game, as the site is taking a daily look at some of the more important matchups between Tampa Bay and Green Bay. On Thursday, it was TE versus SS Charlie Peprah; on Wednesday it was the Buccaneers' interior offensive line against NT B.J. Raji. Click here if you just want to go to the Bucs' team page on the PFW site; it might be worth bookmarking, as it includes such things as daily injury report updates and a run-down of individual player notes.
Excerpt: "Against Minnesota last Monday night, Raji had a very quiet game matched up against excellent veteran OG Steve Hutchinson much of the time. The Packers actually made a concerted effort to cut down on Raji's snaps in that game, with C.J. Wilson spelling him more frequently. Look for a continued reduction in Raji's playing time with the Packers playing three games in an 11-day span and hoping that Raji will be fresher down the stretch, which is when he really came on last season. The interior Tampa Bay trio that Raji will be facing Sunday consists of C Jeff Faine and OGs Davin Joseph and Jeremy Zuttah on the right and left side, respectively. The best of the lot is Joseph, a PFW Midseason All-Pro selection who plays with great power and physicality. Joseph's huge hands and long arms enable him to gain leverage in pass protection, and he can be a dominant run blocker."
4. The history of the Bucs-Packers rivalry.
This is the first time we've linked to a site called "The Acme Packing Company," and considering the specific nature of its content, it will probably be the last. As you may be able to tell from the name, this is a blog in the Super Bowl Nation networked aimed at the Packers. Still, Buc fans may find it interesting to read up on the history of the Buccaneers-Packers series, which dates back to 1977. Tampa Bay and Green Bay shared a division for 25 years and have faced off 51 times. The rivalry peaked in the late '90s and early '00s, when the Bucs rose to prominence but had to work to get past the already strong Packers before they could win a championship. The series also includes the only tie in Buc history, some memorable Brett Favre-Warren Sapp battles and no shortage of Monday night contests. You can even get involved in the discussion by adding your memories of the Bucs-Packers series in the comment section at the bottom.
Excerpt: " With the late 1990s bringing a renewed strength to the Buccaneers, the series became one where the home team won virtually every game. The road team has won only twice in this series since 1998. These would be the 2003 game in Tampa, which the Packers won 20-13 thanks in part to a 98-yard drive which resulted in a touchdown and essentially ended any doubt about the game's outcome. The other game was in early 2005, when Ryan Longwell missed a field goal and extra point and the Buccaneers won by the score of 17-16, winning in Lambeau Field for the first time since 1989."
5. Morris' win pace prompts ESPN columnist to look at some big coaching names.
We didn't check in with ESPN's NFC South blogger, Pat Yasinskas in last week's Word on the Streets, but he continues to provide daily coverage on all four of the division's teams. Yasinskas occasionally delves into some rather interesting historical analysis, and that was the case on Thursday when he compared the early-career win pace of a group of notable coaches. Yasinskas notes that Morris is on a pace that is similar to some pretty recognizable names. If you're reading this before 1:00 p.m. on Friday, you might also want to go here and join in a chat with Yasinskas about everything NFC South.
Excerpt: "Morris and the Bucs still have seven games left to play. That means he's in striking distance of the win totals put up by Bill Belichick (20), Bill Walsh (21), Marv Levy (19), Bill Parcells (22) and Dick Vermeil (18) in their first three seasons. For the sake of comparison, let's see what the other current NFC South coaches did in their first three seasons. New Orleans' Sean Payton was 25-23. Atlanta's Mike Smith was 33-15. Carolina's Ron Rivera is in his first season and is 2-7, but predecessor John Fox was 25-23 in his first three seasons. So Morris isn't far out of line with what some big-name coaches did in their first three seasons. But he certainly could look a lot better if the Bucs stop their slide and have a strong finish."