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 every week during the 2011 season. Every 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, our five Word on the Streets links include a video clip for the first time, as well as analysis of two young Bucs on the rise and a check-in from enemy territory on Monday's matchup. 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. Brandt: Blount is a Star in the Making
Gil Brandt, a long-time contributor to NFL.com, was the Dallas Cowboys' vice president of player personnel for almost three decades (1960-88) and he still likes to put on his scouting hat quite often. In this piece on the NFL's central web site, he picks out 10 players from around the league who began their careers in relative obscurity but may soon be considered stars. Brandt says that the "player-emerging-with-a-breakout-season" story is one that is near and dear to his heart, and he adds to this particular list by estimating where each of these players should have been drafted. One of the 10 rising stars identified by Brandt is Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount, who he puts in the same class as the likes of Saints TE Jimmy Graham and Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee. There are other notes in Brandt's column, including one about second-half comebacks that obviously is relevant to the Buccaneers. (Oh, and if you'd like to hear who offbeat NFL.com analyst somehow connects the dots between former Buc quarterback Shaun King and Gisele Bundchen, supermodel wife of Tom Brady, check out his latest "N if L" video here.)
Excerpt: "He started seven games as a rookie and ran for 1,007 yards after going undrafted. He has good instincts, can block in pass protection and uses a stiff arm. Off-the-field issues kept him being drafted, but from what we're seeing, he should have been a second-round pick."
2. ESPN: Brian Price's Stock on the Rise
We link to Pat Yasinskas' blog about the NFC South on ESPN.com fairly regularly, and the former Buccaneer beat writer was once again in Tampa for part of this week. Yasinskas also covered the Bucs-Falcons game in person on Sunday, not surprising given that it included 50% of the division he is tasked with covering. One of his more interesting notes of the week was on Brian Price, the Buccaneers' second-year defensive tackle who turned in one of the game's most significant plays with a 10-yard sack of QB Matt Ryan late in the fourth quarter. Yasinskas chronicles Price's impressive return from hip surgery and also notes other players in the division who seem to be rising or declining. (While you're perusing Yasinskas' blog, you may find interest in this post about the key injuries in the division or this one about the quarterback the Bucs may have to defend on Monday night.)
Excerpt: "He is quickly becoming one of the best comeback stories in the league this season. Price missed almost his entire rookie season and had a rare surgery to repair damage to his pelvis. As recently as late June, Price was talking as if he might miss the season or at least the first half of it. But his recovery quickly took off once training camp started and Price has worked his way into the starting lineup."
3. Brian Billick and Raheem Morris Trade Coach-Speak
This week we're including a video clip in our five links, and we turn to a conversation between the Bucs' head coach and one of the Fox commentators who called Sunday's game against Atlanta. Former Baltimore Ravens head coach does a regular feature he calls "Coach Speak" for Foxsports.com, and his lead guest this past Tuesday was Raheem Morris. The two reprised a pregame chat they had regarding the Bucs' difficulty getting off to a fast start in games, kicked around the importance of winning a division game and then spent a good amount of time on a topic that clearly impressed Billick: the Bucs' use of iPads for their playbooks.
Excerpt (transcribed): "Coach, we talked about it over the weekend [and] it kind of showed up again when you played, yet you finished so big – but starting slow. It's such a dilemma for so many coaches that watch this show and want to get a sense of how [to overcome it]. Without belaboring it, talk a little bit as we did about some of the things you do just to bring focus about being ready quicker in a game."
4. Indy Paper Expects Bucs Win on Monday Night
It is sometimes instructive to check in with analysts from the opposing town before a big game, and in this case Phillip Wilson of the Indianapolis Star provides a detailed breakdown of how he sees Monday's contest playing out. We'll kill the suspense and tell you that Wilson predicts a 24-6 Bucs victory, but it is still interesting to read which matchups the Indy analyst believes favor each team. Wilson actually expects the Colts to run the ball fairly well against the Buccaneers' defense but, like most, doesn't believe good things will happen when Indy tries to throw on Tampa Bay's aggressive defense. The Indy scribe also thinks Josh Freeman will have a big day if Dwight Freeney and company can't pressure him consistently.
Excerpt: "Don't expect Tampa Bay to take the Colts' pass rush lightly. Everybody saw Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis hound Ben Roethlisberger last Sunday night. Freeney will undoubtedly draw his share of double teams. The Bucs have allowed four sacks in three games. In the end, unless the Colts can somehow conjure up some of the same spirit and fight they showed against the Steelers, this has major letdown written all over it for the visiting team on 'Monday Night Football.'"
5. Shaking Up the South
Yahoo.com's NFL section has a unique feature in which they turn the analytical reins over to a lineup of fans. The results are obvious a bit more biased than the average sportswriter fare, but the features do offer a different perspective that probably speaks to a lot of other fans out there. We first introduced you to this Yahoo feature last week with the stylings of a displaced Bucs fan living in Texas, but this week we're checking in with a fan of a different team in the division. In this case, the contributor is a Carolina Panthers rooter named Robert Southern who took a crack at ranking the four teams in the NFC South through three weeks. Southern is sold on the Saints' offense and has a sneaky feeling about the Buccaneers, but you might be surprised which team he has in the divisional cellar. Or, given that this is a Panther fan doing the writing, perhaps you won't be surprised. (Note that, if you read this and think you can do better than this particular contributor, Yahoo offers a link to those who may want to give it a try.)
Excerpt: "The Bucs held serve this week at home against the Atlanta Falcons and it leaves one wondering if a shift is happening. The Bucs have seemed 'on the verge' for the last couple of years and the one thing missing was a red-hot start. At 2-1 they are certainly on their way towards just that. Beating teams the caliber of the Falcons is a quick and easy way to move up the ladder of respect in the NFC South."