By JOHN ROMANO
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 29, 2001
Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio:
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: By now, Clyde Christensen is surely embarrassed by the amount of flattery we have heaped upon him week after week. Yet it needs to be said again (or maybe at last): The man is an offensive genius.
DEXTER JACKSON: The interception probably will make the highlight tapes, but it was a small part of a big afternoon. Tampa Bay's free safety had two impressive stops in third-down situations, the kinds of plays the Bucs had not been making.
RANDY MOSS: It was darned decent of him to stop laughing long enough to catch a pass or two before Minnesota's season went down the drain.
THE DEFENSE: Welcome back. And please feel free to stay a while. This was the defense of 2000. Maybe even 1999. A defense that was aggressive and intimidating. A defense that not even Jim Kleinsasser could crack.
THE CONTROVERSY: With this many talented kick returners, it is sure to create tension in the locker room. Do the Bucs go with the moves of Dwight Smith or the speed of Todd Washington? The last time we saw something that big moving that fast, it had headlights and a horn.
Five ways in which Tony Dungy is larger than most:
5. His faith.
4. His loyalty.
3. His pride.
2. His heart.
1. His ears.
1. A RUNNING GAME: Christensen insisted the offense would be fine once it began to run the ball. And he was right, although it was beneficial to add a few wrinkles to the game plan. Reverses, rollouts and misdirection plays helped keep the Vikings off-balance and made it easier for Mike Alstott and the offensive line to succeed.
2. THREE-AND-OUT: In terms of points allowed, the Bucs defense has played better this season. Don't believe it. Minnesota's second-half touchdowns were window dressing. The most gratifying sight was the Vikings' three-and-out possessions. After coming up with a three-and-out series only eight times in the first five games, the Bucs kept Minnesota from converting a first down on six consecutive possessions (not including the Vikings' possession at the end of the first half) to open the game.
3. STANDING TALL: A week after being sacked 10 times, Brad Johnson remained stoic in the pocket. No rushed passes, no signs of happy feet.
4. REIDEL ANTHONY: Virtuallynonexistent the previous five games, Anthony was worked into the game plan because of Jacquez Green's injury. His numbers were not overwhelming, but the Bucs will need Anthony and Green to be factors to lighten the load on Keyshawn Johnson.
5. SCREEN PASSES: The good news is there were two successful screen passes. The better news is the Bucs attempted only two.
1. RAMS: First time they have lost at home with Kurt Warner starting.
2. RAIDERS: Might be the most balanced team.
3. STEELERS: Titans in virtual must-win against Pittsburgh tonight.
4. PACKERS: Who knew their toughest competition in the NFC Central would be Chicago?
11. BUCS: For all the criticism early in the season, the Bucs are right on schedule for their usual 3-4 start.
Should pass 'Canes in BCS.
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