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Letters to the Editors

Give backup Joe Hamilton a chance

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 20, 2001

Since they rose above being the Keystone Cops of the football world, I have been watching the Bucs and enduring their bouts of offensive impotence. The quarterback situation is in a real shambles.

Nobody is crying at the Redskins that Brad Johnson is gone. That may tell us something.

When he isn't tripping, Ryan Leaf's long passes are all Hail Marys, bringing back memories of Trent Dilfer.

Shaun King is young enough to get his act together. For someone just out of the football cradle, he is worth investing in.

But the big mistake is overlooking Joe Hamilton. He scored one of those cherished and rare touchdowns in last year's preseason. So, too, this season. That's a lot for the tiny amount of time he was given. Maybe the Bucs took a dunking from the Browns because they didn't give Joe Hamilton much of a chance to throw any touchdowns.

Before it is too late, the Bucs should give Joe Hamilton half a preseason game. Then evaluate.
-- Ronald A. Baltrunas, Dunedin

The Bucs are picking up right where they left off last season. This wouldn't be a bad thing if we had ended on a five-game win streak instead of an ugly two-game slide. The offensive coordinator is different, the starting quarterback has changed, but the results are still the same.

The Bucs resemble the Redskins of last year; great players and no chemistry. We have an All-Pro receiver in Keyshawn Johnson but for some reason in two preseason games we haven't found a way to get him the ball. When do we get to see the Johnson & Johnson connection that everyone has been talking about? How long before our first-string offense puts one in the end zone? Saying "It's just preseason" is getting a little old.
-- Adam Deeb, New Port Richey

It seems the Bucs "Play to Lose." I know they say preseason. But after watching Saturday night, and with only two more preseason games to go, I am getting worried. We have such a good team, but where is the leadership and direction?

To me it's not so much the players but the staff that is failing. You can have all the talent in the world, but without good leadership you play like Saturday night and the week before. Brad Johnson was a little better, Ryan Leaf was not. Shaun King was not as good as last week, and where in the world was Joe Hamilton?

Preseason is to me to show things to come, and it has failed miserably. This team has the means and talent to win, but it needs to have the cohesiveness to do that, and it doesn't.
-- Barbara Feeney, South Pasadena

It's gratifying to know that word is spreading about why the Bucs offense is so, well, mediocre. Fans and sportswriters alike are zeroing in on the Bucs' perennial problem: lack of protection for their quarterbacks. I certainly hope as the season moves closer our quarterbacks will be allowed to get to the backfield before the opponent's defensivelinemen. Or how about the headline for the piece by Times staff writer Rick Stroud, i.e. "Offensive line has to start showing up."

It would seem to me that although some fans and sportswriters have gotten the message regarding the Bucs' protection problem, none of the team's management has.
-- Fred Nassif, Clearwater

It seems that Ryan Leaf has been guaranteed a spot on the roster regardless of his performance. I wonder if that is the best way to motivate a guy with his track record. Sure he says all the right things in public and he is available to sign autographs.

But did the Bucs bring him in as a public-relations rep or as a quarterback who could demonstrate the ability to get the job done on the field? Is coddling Leaf the best thing for him or the Bucs? Maybe if he was told in no uncertain terms that he is here to compete for the third spot and that it would be an uphill struggle to unseat Joe Hamilton given his experience and past performances, we would have seen more from Leaf on the field.

As it stands I doubt if Leaf will be motivated to do anything more than put up a likable public persona and dog it until he feels he has a real shot at being a starter. What incentive is there for him to do otherwise if he has a guaranteed roster spot based on height and potential and not heart and merit?
-- Robert C. Williams, Tampa

The Bucs are the greatest, a sure Super Bowl contender. Just ask the media and most of their players. I hear much bravado from the Bucs and the media but see very little production. I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing from players such as Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice telling everyone how great they are, criticizing coaches, etc. Enough talk. Show me the money. Shut up and play.

I am also tired of hearing Coach Dungy sugarcoating the problem. I have yet to hear him simply say, "We stunk up the field," etc., as they did last Monday night. Coach Dungy might be a nice guy and a very honorable guy but Tony (as the players refer to him) better start carrying a big stick before it's too late.
-- George Grube, Odessa

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