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By JOHN ROMANO, Times Columnist
Published December 10, 2007
Talk of the town
Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio.
1. Awaiting the inevitable: The Bucs failed to clinch the NFC South on Sunday, but they might still be celebrating this evening. Atlanta and Carolina already have been eliminated in the division. And if the Saints lose tonight, you can begin making plans for a playoff game at Raymond James on either Jan. 5 or 6.
2. Never doubt the old man: Three months ago, Barrett Ruud was a sensation and Derrick Brooks was supposedly showing his age. Yet here we are in mid December, and Brooks has passed Ruud for the team lead in tackles. This makes 12 consecutive seasons of 100 tackles or more for Mr. Derrick Brooks.
3. Secret service vs. dream police: The Texans have former president George H.W. Bush at their home games. The Bucs have the lead singer from Cheap Trick. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.
4. New guy in town: Cato June was a Pro Bowl linebacker while playing weakside in Indianapolis. His impact as a strongside linebacker has not been nearly as noticeable. June's numbers are not all that different from what Ryan Nece did at strongside for Tampa Bay the past couple of years.
5. Perfection or punting: The lack of playmakers on offense makes the margin for error seem so much smaller around here. Because the Bucs lack enough weapons to overcome third and long, a false start or a sack is an absolute drive-killer.
A list of five
Five excuses overheard in the locker room.
5. Exhausted from helping Simeon Rice move again.
4. Believed U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that said Houston had no weapons.
3. Haven't recovered from Ed Glazer's wild office party.
2. Kinda miss Todd Steussie.
1. Distracted by the offer from Jessica Sierra.
Losing a game in five easy steps
Step 1: Go from a quarterback with 103 NFL starts to one with six NFL starts. Luke McCown played surprisingly well the past two weeks, but his inexperience in knowing when to throw the ball away was critical. Jeff Garcia has been sacked once every 19.8 pass attempts. McCown has been sacked once every 8.7.
Step 2: Get lost on the way to the end zone. The Bucs crossed midfield eight times and scored twice.
Step 3: Go soft on third down. Greg White is doing his part as a pass rusher, but there has not been nearly enough pressure from blitzes. Sage Rosenfels was 10-of-11 passing on third-down plays. That's inexcusable.
Step 4: Reinforce your reputation as the worst special-teams unit in history. Okay, we all know the Bucs are 0-for-gazillion when it comes to returning a kickoff for a touchdown. You've learned to live with that. But now they've allowed opponents to return a kickoff for a score in three of the past four seasons. Good grief.
Step 5: Challenge the odds. It's simply hard to win back-to-back road games in the NFL. Since 2000, the Bucs have had back-to-back road games on 15 occasions and won two in a row three times.
Five super picks
Checking out the best bets for Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz.
1. Patriots: Kissed by destiny. And, um, Brian Billick.
2. Packers: Earnest Graham will have to fight Ryan Grant as '07's most unlikely star at tailback.
3. Cowboys: Roger Staubach was never 12-1. Neither was Troy Aikman.
4. Colts: With Steelers exposed, Colts are the last AFC threat to New England.
11. Bucs: Champagne is on ice. Tampa PD is on alert.
Final five words
Let's increase Jeff Garcia's meds.
[Last modified December 9, 2007, 21:51:13]