By ERNEST HOOPER and ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2000
TAMPA -- After the Bucs second setback in a row, a 20-17 overtime loss to the Redskins at Washington on Sunday, offensive lineman Frank Middleton did not have pleasant words for his offense.
It turns out Middleton wasn't the only player feeling that way.
Pro Bowl receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who was traded to the Bucs in the off-season with the goal of improving the passing game, had some equally harsh words for his offense.
In Monday's New York Times, Johnson vented a touch of frustration for the first time since becoming a Buccaneer.
"We are a better team than this; we are better football players than this," Johnson told the newspaper. "This is a nightmare. What was I brought here for if they were going to use me this way?" Johnson likely was referring to the offensive woes the Bucs have had in the past two games. One of the NFL's elite receivers, Johnson has 21 catches for 223 yards as the key figure in the mostly conservative offense.
By comparison, the New York Times pointed out, Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith has 38 catches and 536 yards in five games.
"I'm behind Coach (Tony) Dungy, I believe in him," Johnson was quoted as saying. "But we can't keep going like this. This is extremely frustrating."
BIG-TIME BLOCK: Warrick Dunn made one of the most memorable hits of the season when he leveled Redskins safety Mark Carrier on Sunday, and the hit was a result of Dunn's long memory.
"I do remember him hitting me my rookie year, coming up and rocking me a little bit, trying to take me out," Dunn said. "I think I was just in the right place at the right time. The game was weird, frustrating because you're not as successful. Legally, I took it out on him."
Carrier was in pursuit of a scrambling Shaun King and didn't see Dunn coming back to make the block. Dunn sent him reeling and Carrier's helmet flew off. The play happened in front of the Bucs bench and brought a roar of approval.
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said Dunn's hit was the best of the day, and joked that he was going to line up Dunn next to Derrick Brooks at linebacker.
"I can do it, coach," Dunn said.
OUCH: For two weeks in a row, the NFL's new Play of the Week Award has occurred against Tampa Bay. Washington's Deion Sanders won the award on Tuesday with his 57-yard punt return. Last week, the Jets' Curtis Martin and Wayne Chrebet won for their 18-yard touchdown pass.
PLAYERS PROGRAM: The NFL Players Association has set up an incentive program for 12,000 fifth-grade students in Hillsborough County. The Stay Cool in School initiative is part of the NFLPA's Super Bowl party, which will be held at the Cuban Club in Ybor City.
For the next 10 weeks, students will have the chance to earn a first down by getting good marks for behavior and attendance. Those who earn 10 first downs will be eligible to enter an essay contest and seven winners will be chosen to attend a private training camp with NFL players on Jan. 20.
Winners also will get to attend the players party.
TRY AND TRY AGAIN: The Bucs aren't known as a team that will throw downfield often, but receiver Jacquez Green said he thinks they should. "I would (like to see the deep ball more)," Green said. "I think that the deep ball will open up a lot of things. Especially with me, when the secondary sees I can get behind them, it'll open up a lot for us underneath. Sometimes, (King) may not have time to throw or we may be in a different read but my job is to get behind there and try to make a play."
Green, who has 25.8 yards a catch, admitted the passes are not high percentage but said they needed to be thrown.
"We're close," Green said. "I think it's one of the biggest differences with the first three games and the last two games, we just couldn't hit those. We missed them, the deep ball against the Jets and the post route against the Redskins. On deep routes like that, it's a 50-50 chance. Sometimes you hit them, sometimes you don't. (But you have to throw them) and hopefully we can get back to hitting them."
DAUNTE'S RUN: Known for his beefy frame (6 feet 5, 255 pounds) and nimble feet, Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper has proven to be a running threat in his team's first four games. The second-year pro has 5 yards a carry and has carried the ball 40 times.
But Dungy said he doesn't foresee his team practicing to stop Culpepper the runner.
"I think we'll play our normal game," Dungy said. "I haven't watched all the tape yet, but it looks like, for the most part, it hasn't been a lot of designed runs. I have seen a couple quarterback draws, most of it is running when either the protection breaks down or the routes are covered, so from that standpoint we still have to play and still have to defend their offense."
ET CETERA: Defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, guard Cosey Coleman, linebacker Jamie Duncan, safety David Gibson and tight ends Blake Spence and Todd Yoder will attend a SuperStars 2000 Dinner to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg. ... The Buccaneer Women's Organization will host a fall festival for youth organizations at 10 a.m. Saturday on the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium.
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From the wire
From the state sports wire
Baseball Lightning College football Hubert Mizell NBA Sports Etc.
Lightning College football Hubert Mizell NBA Sports Etc.