At his introductory press conference, new General Manager Bruce Allen said he wanted to take the Bucs' roster and 'augment it with some fresh talent'...such as RB Charlie Garner
Charlie Garner, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new tailback, spent five seasons on the West Coast after starting his career with five years in Philadelphia. His numbers for the San Francisco 49ers (1999-2000) and Oakland Raiders (2001-03) indicate that he may have been underutilized in Philly; during his five years out west, Garner averaged 1,562 combined rushing and receiving yards per season, scored 34 touchdowns and picked up 4.7 yards per carry.
It was no surprise, then, that Garner was one of the main targets for the Bucs' new general manager, Bruce Allen, when the free agency period began in March. Though Garner had his least productive year of the five in 2003, thanks in large part to a lingering knee injury that he chose to play through, the Bucs were convinced that the former Raider had plenty left in his tank.
Felipe M., however, might not have been as convinced. Using the 'Your Turn' feature on Buccaneers.com, Felipe sent a question to Allen regarding Garner and what the team expects out of him in 2004. Earlier this week, Allen addressed Felipe's question, providing an answer you will find below.
In the first half of Allen's 'Your Turn' interview, posted on Buccaneers.com earlier in the week, Allen pointed to the pursuit of Garner as one of the main reasons the team did not make a stronger effort to retain the services of running back Thomas Jones, who signed with Chicago just a few hours into the free agency period. Here in the second half of his interview, in response to Felipe's inquiry, Allen focused on Garner's productivity over the last five years.
Allen also addressed such topics as the Bucs' special team upgrades, the concept of character in choosing new players and Tampa Bay's chance to return to the Super Bowl in 2004. A full transcript of that interview is below. You can also watch the video versions of both halves of Allen's interview in the Buccaneers.com Video Archive or in the Broadcast Network box on the home page.
Your Turn with Bruce Allen, Part Two
1. Rick, St. Petersburg, Florida: Please tell me that we're looking for an explosive return man for kickoffs and punts.
Allen: "Well, Rick, we got one explosive person for punt returns in Joey Galloway. I don't think there are more than two or three players as fast as him in the NFL. And as far as kickoff returns, we have the draft coming up, but we did sign two free agents who have been capable kickoff return men for other teams (Brandon Bennett and Jamel White)."
2. Chris W., Atlanta, Georgia: What is the timetable for Chris Simms to get a shot at the starting job?
Allen: "Well, Chris, we think Chris Simms has a bright future, and I think this preseason he's going to get a lot of time behind center in game action. He's having a terrific offseason so far. One of the nice things is, if your quarterback can stay healthy, it usually means you're going to win football games. Chris will be patient, but we think when he gets his chance he'll do well."
3. Mike, Washington, D.C.: Your dad was such a great coach…did you ever think about getting into coaching, rather than the business side of the game?
Allen: "Thank you for the compliment about my father. Actually, out of college I did go into coaching. I coached at Arizona State, and then became the head coach of a small college in Los Angeles. I always felt, being around the players, that there was a better way of handling the business side than the coaching. I'm going to stick to this side right now and count on our coaches to do a great job."
4. Felipe M., San Francisco, California: How much does Charlie Garner have left in the tank? Are his recent injuries a concern?
Allen: "Well, his recent injury is not really a concern because it really never kept him out of any games. Over the last five years, I think he's the sixth most productive running back in the NFL in total offense. We think he's got a lot in his tank and he should help us this season."
5. Michael Watkins, Dunedin, Florida: Will the Bucs have to start grooming tall defensive backs in an effort to keep up with this new wave of tall, athletic receivers around the league?
Allen: "That's a great question, and one of the reasons we wanted to sign Mario Edwards. He's six-foot, he's 200 pounds…because we know this draft is loaded with big receivers. We can't draft them all so we know we're going to play against a few of those in the future."
6. Shannon Gunderson, Tampa, Florida: I was wondering what it takes to get a general manager job in the NFL? I am currently a sports management major at the University of Florida. Does it take a certain degree or lots of networking?
Allen: "Shannon, what it takes is, most of the general managers in this league come from the personnel side. You either start in scouting and work your way through that, or you start in coaching and then move yourself into the front office. There are plenty of ways to get those opportunities, and it's a wonderful league to work in."
7. Aaron L., Boston, Massachusetts: Is Joe Jurevicius healthy? Do you see him playing as big of a role in the offense this year as he did in 2002?
Allen: "Well, Joe's not been able to practice yet. We're hoping he'll be cleared to practice later in June. When Joe is healthy, he is an effective player, especially in the red zone area. We're hoping that his rehab continues and we have some good news later on."
8. Wes, Tampa, Florida: What role does character have in your philosophy of picking players whether in free agency or in the draft?
Allen: "Wes, that's an important aspect of it, the same way you look at a player for his size and his speed. We're looking for players that are going to be good teammates, good members of the community and make sure they fit the Tampa Bay Bucs mold."
9. Steve Scheft, Orlando, Florida: Are you satisfied with what has been done to try to upgrade the special teams so far? I thought that was one of the team's major problems last year.
Allen: "Well, Steve, we've made a great emphasis of doing that. We've signed five or six players already that will be starters on our special teams. I think from the draft we're going to get another few players, and I think with that and the extra emphasis we're doing this offseason on the practice field on special teams, we're going to see a dramatic improvement in our team."
10. Jason B., St. Petersburg, Florida: Right now, with the roster as it is, are the Buccaneers good enough to get back to the Super Bowl?
Allen: "Well, Jason, number one we have to stay healthy. I think injuries play a key role. If we can get two or three key contributors from this draft, I think we have as good an opportunity as anybody."