© St. Petersburg Times, published January 13, 2002
Talk of the town
Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio:
YOU MAKE THE CALL: Should Tony Dungy keep his job? His teams win consistently, his character is above reproach. He has brought dignity to the franchise on and off the field. So when did we stop rewarding success?
PLAYMAKER: It is difficult to argue two players made a difference in a 31-9 game, but the gap between quarterbacks was huge. Donovan McNabb has the skills to carry a mediocre offense. Brad Johnson has the ability and savvy to direct a good offense, but he cannot carry a poor one.
WHY WAIT?: Why have the Bucs won shootouts with St. Louis in consecutive seasons? Because they went into those games knowing they had to score and planned appropriately. In other games, they seem more intent on reaching their quotas of running plays and swing passes. In the first half, Johnson threw 13 passes. Only three to wide receivers.
DUBIOUS DISTINCTION: The Bucs have the worst offense the NFL has ever seen in the postseason. They assured themselves of that title by failing to score a touchdown in three consecutive playoff games, setting an NFL record with 12 straight quarters in the postseason without finding the end zone. Who remembers Tampa Bay's last playoff touchdown? It came on Jan. 15, 2000, against Washington. Of course, it was only a 32-yard drive, set up after the Redskins quarterback -- guy named Brad Johnson -- fumbled. SISSY: John Welbourn, a 318-pound guard, tried to kick Warren Sapp after a play. He later threw a tantrum when he caught someone playing with his dolls.
Five reasons the Glazers should not fire Tony Dungy:
5: Do you think Bill Parcells will let Todd Yoder have a radio show?
4: He's won more games (54) in six seasons than Leeman Bennett, Ray Perkins, Richard Williamson and Sam Wyche combined (50) in 11 seasons.
3: Bucs fans will be turned off by a team that scores too much.
2: Jeremy Foley has offered to head up the search committee.
1: They'll look like goobers. Oops, too late.
1. Overestimating the line. No area of the team was more responsible for the relative lack of success this season than the offensive line. The Bucs wanted a power offense and lacked the linemen to pull it off. 2. Losing Lovie and Herm. The defense was merely strong this season, not ferocious. Do not disregard the impact of losing defensive assistants Lovie Smith and Herm Edwards.
3. Not having a duplicate Key. It is remarkable Keyshawn Johnson caught more than 100 passes considering there was no other wideout of any consequence.
4. Red zone. The Bucs were punchless inside the 20. First-year offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen must fall on that sword.
5. Complacency. It replaced urgency in September and October.
Checking out the best bets (and ignoring the Bucs) for Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans:
1. RAMS: At least Lovie Smith will reach the Super Bowl.
2. PACKERS: Assuming Brett Favre is not in a charitable mood.
3. STEELERS: Best bet to represent the junior varsity.
4. BEARS: Don't match up with Rams or Packers unless you believe destiny trumps X's and O's.
N/A: BUCS: Nine offensive TDs in 10 playoff games.
Tuna sighting in the bay.