Times staff writer Tom Jones looks back at Sunday's Bucs-Saints game.
By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published December 3, 2007
The Bucs' opening drive was nicely designed and safe, yet it moved the ball and gave quarterback Luke McCown confidence. And best of all, it resulted in three points and set the tone for the day. It might have been Jon Gruden's finest day calling plays.
Many more calls like a reverse in your own zone with three minutes left and a lead and Saints coach Sean Payton won't be looking for new gadget plays - he'll be looking for a real estate agent.
Worst/best use of words
This was written in the first quarter:
On the Bucs' first drive, quarterback Luke McCown rolled out of the pocket and stepped out of bounds.
"Isn't that a sack?" Fox color analyst Tim Ryan asked. Then he answered himself dramatically: "That's going to end up being a sack!"
Big deal. A 4-yard loss on second down. So few yards that Ryan wasn't even sure it was a loss of yardage at first. Then he jumped on McCown for making an "inexperience mistake" for not throwing the ball away. Smacked of a commentator trying to sound smart, and it just came off as petty.
This was written in the fourth quarter:
Boy, oh, boy, Tim Ryan certainly nailed it when he said Luke McCown showed inexperience by holding onto the ball instead of throwing it away. The result was a safety that almost cost the Bucs a game, and Ryan's first-quarter comments weren't petty but psychic.
Marques Colston's 40-yard reception over the Bucs' Phillip Buchanon on a flea-flicker to set up the Saints' first touchdown was one heck of a catch. But any ball that hangs up so long that birds start nesting on it cannot be caught. But know what really set up that score? A holding call on Tampa Bay's Davin Joseph that essentially killed another nice-looking drive on the previous possession.
Do you know why men flip the channel when commercials come on during football games? Because if they don't, there's a good chance the guy's wife or girlfriend will see these cheesy ads of some All-America looking guy dressed in corduroy giving his girl some big fat diamond from Zales or Kay Jewelers. Then the guy sitting there in a Kevin House throwback jersey with potato chip crumbs and pizza stains all over it ends up getting in trouble, and all he was trying to do was watch a football game.
Two questions: Why in the world didn't Luke McCown throw the ball away on the safety? Why in the world was a penalty not called for a horse-collar tackle on the safety?
Speaking of depth charts, don't you wonder why Bruce Gradkowski's name was ahead of Luke McCown's one week ago on the Bucs' quarterback depth chart?
During Fox's incessant promotion of the BCS show, USC grad and Fox analyst Tim Ryan twice asked, "Is there anybody playing better than USC right now?" Yes, Tim: Georgia.
Sure, it's easy to say now that Jon Gruden made a great call going for it on fourth and 1 from the Saints 28 with two minutes left.
But think about it. Maybe it wasn't all that gutsy but really the best chance to win. If Gruden had decided to kick, the Bucs were still a long way from winning.
For starters, Matt Bryant needed to make a 46-yarder - not exactly a chip shot - to tie it. Then the Bucs would have had to hold the Saints, who would have gotten the ball back with 1:50 or so left needing only a field goal to win. Then they would have had to win a coin flip to start overtime and drive the length of the field or would have had to hold the Saints on another drive and then drive the length of the field. And all of this with a quarterback making his first start in three years.
When you think about it, attempting the field goal almost seems dumb.
Most common phrase
In case you didn't know, it's now a federal law. You must shout "Free play" whenever the defense jumps offside and the quarterback drops back to pass.
Fox's Tim Ryan, talking about Bucs quarterback Luke McCown, above: "This guy has more mobility than you think."
Who, exactly, was Ryan talking to? First off, McCown had played all of six games in the NFL before Sunday, so how does anybody know what kind of mobility he had in game situations? But, for what it's worth, he had rushed for 34 yards on seven scrambles coming into the game. Who ever said the guy couldn't move around? Sounded like Ryan was just making something up to fill silence.
Later, when McCown raced 26 yards on a scramble, Ryan said McCown's athletic ability was "underrated." Again, underrated by who?