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Gimme Five

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 12, 2002


TALK OF THE TOWN

Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio:

IS THE END NEAR?: Tony Dungy has Bill Parcells looking over one shoulder and Steve Spurrier over the other. There is growing sentiment that if he does not bring a victory back from Philadelphia, he will find a new lock on his office door at One Buc Place.

IS THE END NEAR, PART II?: Second-best rumor, and far less likely, is the Outback folks will buy the team from the Glazer family. Must be all the fun they've had as part of the Devil Rays ownership group.

BRETT FAVRE'S GENEROSITY: We thought the Packers quarterback was tight with Warren Sapp. So how come Favre helped Michael Strahan break Mark Gastineau's record instead of faking 17 or so sacks for Sapp?

NETWORK POSTGAME SHOW: In an attempt to put an emotional face on the game, TV honchos hope to catch a tearful coach afterward. So they'll be switching to Indianapolis for a live interview with Jim Mora.

AIN'T AS EASY AS IT LOOKS: Okay, the 9-7 record is a bit of a disappointment, but the Bucs are in the playoffs for the third straight season. That's the first time in franchise history. And only two other NFL teams can make the same claim this season: St. Louis and Miami. If you want to talk disappointments in 2001, talk to a Giants fan. Or a Titans fan. Or a Colts fan.

A LIST OF FIVE

Five ready-made excuses if the Bucs lose:

5. Emotionally distraught over the Mutiny announcement.

4. Disturbed by the possibility of hearing another Backstreet Boy sing the national anthem.

3. Tired of Bud Selig pestering them for loans.

2. Brad Johnson, Warrick Dunn and several other FSU grads stayed up late partying after Ron Zook was hired at Florida.

1. They're the Bucs.

FIVE NECESSITIES FOR A SUPER BOWL RUN

DO NOT FEED THE DEFENSE: For three days, at least. Make 'em hungry, make 'em angry. The world knows Tampa Bay's offense is poor and its ceiling goes no higher than mediocre. If Tampa Bay is going to win in the postseason, it will take the kind of ferocious defense Baltimore had last season. Aim for 16-13.

THINK DAVE MEGGETT, THINK GARY ANDERSON, THINK JAMES BROOKS: It is clear the running game works best with Jameel Cook and Mike Alstott in the backfield. That does not mean Warrick Dunn should be ignored. He can still be a weapon in the offense if the Bucs figure out ways to get him the ball outside of a crowd. Split him wide, run counters, try draws. Just don't run him between the tackles 12 times.

WAKE UP EARLIER: The Bucs have been way too lethargic on offense in the first quarter. Play with a sense of urgency from the opening kickoff. This offense is not capable of playing catch-up. So don't fall behind.

THROW HIM THE DAMN BALL: Keyshawn Johnson's lack of touchdown catches is more an indictment of the game plan than anything else. He is a possession receiver with good size. He should be a threat in the red zone. Throw him the ball in the end zone.

CONFER WITH SATAN: Selling a soul or two can't hurt. No one is indispensable. Maybe a special teams guy. Or a Glazer kid.

* * *

FIVE TEAM AWARDS

MOST VALUABLE BUC: Statistically, either Keyshawn Johnson or Ronde Barber is deserving. But Johnson gets the nod because that offense would have been putrid without him.

MOST DISAPPOINTING BUC: An endless list of nominees. Start with the entire offensive and defensive lines, Warrick Dunn and every receiver other than Keyshawn. Because of injuries, Dunn gets a pass. That brings us to Marcus Jones, who disappeared after a career year and a fat contract.

MOST LIKELY TO BE EX-BUCS: Reidel Anthony had better hope Steve Spurrier remembers him. And Randall McDaniel ought to call Paul Gruber and Tony Mayberry for post-career advice.

MOST HONORABLE BUC: Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen never avoided scrutiny and never complained about criticism.

MOST MISSED BUC: John McKay.

* * *

FINAL FIVE WORDS

A cold day in hell.

(Official state motto of Pennsylvania)

The lineup

photo   The year in photos: Flash galleries

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