Archive for the ‘QB Blasts’ Category

The QB Blasts: Complete Efforts Truly Exciting

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson

By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com.Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

After watching the Vikings and Bears go at it Monday night, it made me remember just how hard it is to win a single game in the NFL.

The Bucs winning Sunday at the Saints after going down 17-0 really was impressive. What has been a signature of the three Bucs wins this year has been production from all three phases of the game.

The defense could be credited with all three wins, as holding the Saints to 17 is definitely a winning effort. Four interceptions and six points allowed against the Seahawks is, too. In their first win of the season the defense threw in three picks and a TD against Aaron Rogers and the Packers.

Special teams has been huge in all three wins and the Bucs might not have posted their first win until the Seahawks game if it weren’t for their kicking game heroics against Green bay. Remember back to Geno Hayes’ blocked punt and Ronde Barber’s TD in the throwback orange. Clifton Smith gave the offense a chance in the red zone with his long kickoff return in that game. Sammie Stroughter continued to change field position in the Seattle game and Micheal Spurlock’s punt return TD against the Saints gave the Bucs a chance at overtime.

In the wins, the offense has been able to take advantage of what the defense and special teams set them up for. And against the Saints, they even drove the entire field to open the second half and get back in the game.

Raheem Morris says he doesn’t know if this team is a mirage or for real yet and I don’t either, but if you watched Brett Favre and Jay Cutler battle to overtime in the cold last, a win in the NFL is hard to come by — road wins even harder.

The Bucs have put two up in a row and that is something to get excited about.

The QB Blast: Finally A Misdirection Screen

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
carlson

Former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson

By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company,America’s Best Quarterback.

Coming off Josh Freeman’s five interception game against the Panthers, an obvious reaction was to simplify things for your rookie QB, especially going against a Rex Ryan coached defense.

Instead, Greg Olson opened against the Jets with a 5-step drop and a pass over the middle, resulting in an interception on the first offensive play of the game!

Now, Olson didn’t make Freeman throw the ball, but just the dropback in the pocket told me he made a big mistake in the call itself.

I couldn’t bear to watch much more of that poor performance and especially didn’t like Freeman’s comments about how the Jets came up with more unique blitzes that caught the Bucs off-guard. It was Olson’s job to create and call plays that could be successful regardless of what the Jets brought. Not an easy job, but better than saying we were caught off-guard.

I didn’t give my beloved Bucs much of a shot at all this past Sunday, traveling three time zones to play a lackluster Seahawks team, and when Josh Freeman’s first pass once again was a late, over-the-middle interception, I feared the worst.

But credit must be given to Raheem Morris and the other coaches for getting their players to play inspired football in the second half — to win going away.

I will not get giddy about their second win in any sense, but I will say that Olson incorporated a misdirection screen to score a touchdown to Derrick Ward late in the game, something I have been begging to see for years.

Maybe with its success, he will go deep into Gruden’s playbook and find a couple more to take on the Saints.

The QB Blast: Freeman Impressive Despite INTs

Thursday, December 10th, 2009
carlson

Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Carlson

By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company,America’s Best Quarterback.

It is easy for anyone, even those that did not see the Bucs-Carolina game at all, to stand around the water cooler at work (if you are blessed enough to be employed) or comment on your favorite website that Josh Freeman played terribly in his FIVE interception game last Sunday.

Freeman’s performance is one of the reasons players and coaches often say that they need to look at the film before a final assessment is made. 

IN THE FILM ROOM, I DON’T THINK FREEMAN GOT A POOR OVERALL GRADE FOR HIS DAY SUNDAY!

This just in. After another look, Freeman had a very good day, very good.

Did he throw his interceptions? Yes.

Did he throw a perfect touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow? Yes.

Former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson says Kellen Winslow gave a second-rate effort to catch a touchdown pass against 5-10 safety Charles Godfrey

If I was the QB, I would have a big issue with Winslow’s effort at that pass in the end zone. He had a defender not looking at the ball and should have planted and caught it at a higher point over safety Charles Godfrey’s head, then the two options are TD catch or pass interference, ball at the 1 yard line.  A better effort ties the game and puts Freeman in a different position the rest of the way.

His interceptions were as follows:

1. Bad pass to Sammy Stroughter on a dig route.  Maybe Stroughter could have come out of his break a little quicker, but the ball sailed high regardless.
2. The first Beason INT was a play similar to the Super Bowl interception by Steelers’ LB James Harrison before halftime. The LB squats near the line of scrimmage and bounces back just in time to snatch it. Future Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner got caught, so did rookie QB Josh Freeman.
3.  The second Beason INT was another bad pass, with a bad decision, as well. The ball was so underthrown, the LB way in front of the play caught it, but even if it was at his target, it would have been intercepted by the DB. He forced that one, no doubt, but didn’t see any others.
4.  This one was similar to his first, sailed on him in the middle of the field.
5. The final INT was an ill-advised choice to go for it on fourth down from the four after running on 3rd-and-5 from the five yard line. John Lynch made the point of the poor decision on the FOX broadcast. Nonetheless, after looking all over the field, Freeman finally let it go to his tallest receiver and the defender came back to the ball better than the receiver.
 
The only one that gets much criticism is the second Beason INT.  This was a bad decision and a bad throw. The others have to be measured against so many throws with “pinpoint” accuracy and his ability to avoid pressure and get rid of the ball. 

This game could have been changed significantly by sideline decisions, including taking a timeout on 3rd-and-1 in the red zone (where Caddy picked it up).
 
Josh Freeman doesn’t need to “overcome” this “horrible” outing. Freeman was relatively impressive again.

Go back and watch it again if you don’t believe me.

The QB Blast: Morris Failing At Decision-Making

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson

By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

Josh Freeman had his worst day as a pro Sunday. The other rookie QB’s this year have also had similar days, so it’s just a bump in the road on Freeman’s journey to reach his vast potential.

Most seem to be enamored with his “unflappable” demeanor, handling things in a very even-keeled manner as he grows up as a quarterback and begins to define his career path.

Raheem Morris’ career path is tied tightly to his big, young “gun,” but also to his defense’s performance and most importantly to his decision-making as head coach.

These decisions include coaching staff management, roster management, in-game decisions (e.g. challenges, time-outs, fourth-down calls, going for field goals vs. touchdowns or point-differential decisions). At this point in his first season, Morris has a failing grade on all of the above and doesn’t seem to be getting much better as the season progresses.

Sunday against Carolina, the Bucs were goal-to-go on third down from the 5-yard line. This is an obvious passing situation or possibly a QB draw. But the Bucs ran off-tackle from a standard two-back set and got a yard.

On fourth down from the 4-yard line (with nearly 10 minutes left in the game and a chance to cut the lead to one score) Morris chose to “go for it,” which he usually does. That was a point-differential decision that I didn’t like and that goes against traditional NFL decision-making.

With that much time on the clock, making it a one-score game was more important than the TD. The fourth down try didn’t work and kept the Bucs two scores away the rest of the day. If they had kicked the field goal, any single play could have tied the game or given Morris the chance to be “GoForIt” Raheem and go for the win with a two-point try. He never got that chance because of the earlier choice.

There are plenty of other examples of decisions, management issues, roster issues (where is Byron Leftwich, the season’s starter? Did he really hurt his elbow?), challenges, etc., that bring a cloud of questions to his abilities, but we can all make a full season evaluation in just a few short weeks.

Gruden was 0-4 last December with Derrick Brooks and others, so let’s just focus on decisions and managment issues vs. wins after this season.

The QB Blast: Receiving Corps Overhaul Needed

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst
carlson
Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Carlson

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

Sunday’s game was great drama!

The entertainment lasted until the final second and that is what I want from my sports. Yeah, I know the Bucs lost, but it was great theater and that hasn’t been happening around here for quite a while — even before the Raheem era.

Unfortunately, after watching the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots play Monday night, it was abundantly clear that we are nowhere near competing with the best in the league now or in the near future.

This Bucs team does not have “playmakers.”

Do they have good athletes? Sure, there is athleticism running around, but the Saints and Patriots have exciting, game-changing players and even the Patriots found out that their offense isn’t enough to overcome their poor pass defense with the Saints’ non-stop offensive pressure.

So, for the forseeable years ahead, the Bucs will not compete for a division title, because the Saints are way out in front and are young. I don’t know all their contract situations for each of their players, but the Bucs’ best player is a 34-year-old cornerback.

For the Bucs to make progress in playing “catch-up” with the Saints, they need to overhaul their receiving corps and give their franchise QB something to work with.

The QB Blast: No Shot At Smashmouth Offense

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson

By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

Am I hearing this right?

Greg Olson is moving the Bucs offense back to Jon Gruden’s and Raheem Morris is moving the defense back to Monte Kiffin’s?

For the record, I never believed the Tampa 2 was out of vogue or couldn’t work anymore. A soft Cover 2 (corners that have flexibility in their sideline coverage) that protects the deep middle a bit with the middle linebacker is a tough defense to work a passing game against.

With a four-man defensive front, it is only great if those guys are solid and that hasn’t been the case since Warren Sapp was let go. Jim Bates’ philosophy of blitz and play man-to-man behind it never made sense for this cast of characters from the get-go. And now Morris has dumped the coordinator on both sides of the ball.

On offense, I was never a fan of Gruden’s program (always ranking in the lower half of the NFL), and I don’t like whatever hybrid Olson has been employing thus far, but I’m giving the guy a break for taking over a week before opening day.

The Bucs do not have explosive receivers like the Saints or game-breaking backs like the Panthers, Saints or Falcons, so they must begin using deception like most of the other teams in the NFL do or they will continue to flounder Sunday after Sunday.

The Bucs personnel just isn’t good enough to line up and play smash-mouth football, and that is what most of their plays are lined up to do. I have been relatively pleased with Josh Freeman’s early play, but he needs help from his play caller if they want to have any sustained success.

The QB Blast: Johnson Ideal For Dynamic Wildcat

Thursday, November 12th, 2009
Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson

Former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson

By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

A hearty congratulations to all involved in getting the “W” Sunday for the Bucs, no doubt.

Some things of note that point to good things ahead: Raheem Morris is maturing. He did not dare the media to write a story about why the Bucs drafted Josh Freeman, unlike earlier in the year when he got worked up over a good game from Michael Clayton, only to see Clayton fade back once again.

Morris also kept the win in perspective, knowing his Bucs must go back out there Sunday and they might not get quite as much help from the defense or special teams in the scoring column.

Did you see Freeman rolling out and making positive plays — by design?

Josh Johnson is slightly more mobile than No. 5, but couldn’t get movement from the pocket unless he was chased out. Good to know that Greg Olson is evolving as a play designer.

And speaking of evolving this offense, the Bucs need to bring Josh Johnson back into it on a regular basis and develop the most dynamic form of the “Wildcat” that the NFL has seen thus far.

The Philadelphia Eagles are losing games by leaving Michael Vick out of their offense and Johnson could bring a dimension to the Bucs that could help everyone.

ESPN The Magazine’s current issue has a long story about the amazing New Orleans Saints offense, but suffice it to say the entire point of the article is to show that if you get the other team’s linebackers to take one step in the wrong direction, you have a chance at success.

When teams have equal talent, which is what the draft and salary cap are supposed to create, deception and personnel mismatches become the biggest determinants for success.

If the Bucs put Johnson in motion from a receiver position (i.e. Ricky Williams), Freeman then has the option to give it to him or fake it to him. Either way it makes the linebackers take a step that way because of Johnson’s running ability, but what he has that no other player has (except Vick) is real passing ability. This piece of the puzzle unleashes mayhem on the defense, not to mention if Freeman takes off in the opposite direction of the motion with the run/pass option as well.

I don’t know how long it will take Olson to read this blog for the idea, but look for it somewhere down the road as other teams get a feel for Freeman’s assets and liabilities and start to take advantage.

The QB Blast: Numbers Reveal Long Odds

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson

JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

As the Bucs took some time off after their return to the U.S.A. to reflect on the first half of the season, I thought about it as well, but decided at 0-7, I needed to keep working to find hope for success as their retro uniforms return for the very first time on Sunday.

The obvious comparisons to the early days of the franchise are too easy right now.  But come Sunday, they will be honoring their only Hall-Of-Famer, who suffered through that first winless season and also led them to division titles shortly thereafter and all the way to the NFC Championship game in 1979.

So, no matter how bleak it looks today, there is hope in sight. Isn’t there?

With the extra time, I decided to crunch some 2009 QB numbers, and see what it might look like on Sunday for Josh Freeman, when he takes the reins of this franchise.

The two other first round rookie QBs (Lions’ Matthew Stafford and Jets’ Mark Sanchez) have started from the first game of the season and have posted mediocre results. The Jets started 3-0, but have fallen to 4-4 as his passing efficiency has dropped significantly. The two top picks average .85 TD passes per game (less than 1 per game), while throwing 1.13 INT’s. They combine for a 64.8 passer efficiency rating.

I also looked at teams in the NFL with just a single win thus far (Titans, Chiefs, Rams, Cleveland) and found eerily similar numbers with or without a veteran quarterback under center. The average passing efficiency of 62.65 is almost identical to the rookies’ and their TD-pass average per game is slightly lower (.73) than the rookies’. The INT rate is 1.1. 

If Josh Freeman keeps up with his more experienced peers, he is not likely to throw a touchdown pass on Sunday, but will absolutely throw a pick.

Most of those QB’s have had a pick returned for a TD and Freeman’s pick will also have a decent chance of that or at least leading to points for Green Bay.  By the way, the combination of Leftwich and Johnson put up 1.14 TD’s per game, but are up a bit higher than their competitors’ INT rate at 1.57. Their efficiency rating is 61.05, right on the number for the other QB’s having rough seasons.

On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers (one of my favorites in the league) of the Green Bay Packers has put up some of the best numbers in the NFL with 14 TDs and only 2 INT’s. His 110 QB rating is tops in the entire league, just ahead of Peyton Manning.

The +12 difference between his TD’s and INT’s is only surpassed by guess who? Brett Favre is at +13, leading the 7-1 Vikings. The only thing not working for the Packers offense is their pass blocking. Against the Vikings last weekend, Rodgers got dropped six times and leads the league in getting sacked. When he gets some protection or creates some for himself, he has very good agility. The Packers offense is very good through the air averaging 2 TD’s per game, with only a .28 chance of throwing one to the other team.

To sum up all of these numbers, the Bucs are likely to throw a pick, possibly for six, so we’ll give the Packers 3 points for that. The Bucs are unlikely  to throw a TD, but the Packers should expect to throw two, another 14 points. So, the QB differential going into Sunday is 17 points for the Packers, based solely on QB stats from other teams with similar records and on the two other QB’s picked ahead of Josh Freeman.

The Bucs running game hasn’t proven to put up 17 points yet, so it doesn’t look good for our boys in orange this weekend, regardless if you like Bucco Bruce or not.

Good luck Josh — and I mean that sincerely.

The QB Blast: Assessing Josh Johnson

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
carlsonBy JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst
 
Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

In July I wrote a note to Raheem Morris with my analysis of his QBs.

Don’t know if he ever read it or not. He never called.

Of Josh Johnson, I wrote: 

1. Has the best whip of any of your QBs, but plays with his thowing elbow in front of his ball too much. Watch his ball in “pat and go” warm-ups. His ball will float with the tip up in the air most of the time, giving DB’s more time to react. It will also be less
accurate with any kind of wind. 

2. Needs to loosen up his upper body while he drops back. He is very robotic on the drop-back and should bring his elbows back down closer to his sides and bring the ball back down to the middle of his chest (keep the tip of the ball down below the back of the ball through the whole delivery–this will cure his floaters).

After Johnson’s four-start stint as the starting QB, I wouldn’t change much of my early assessment, but Johnson did get a bit more fluid in general. He did throw quite a few wobbly balls that floated with the front tip in the air and he would do better to learn to keep the tip of the ball down before release to get more accurate.

I believe Johnson he has very good potential in this league.

Some will write him off because of his draft status and the head coach trying to label him a career backup. Of course, he could have made better throws and better decisions in some cases, but overall I critique the play-calling of Greg Olson for not taking advantage of any of Johnson’s physical attributes.

How bout a rollout?

Pat White was a second round pick to the Dolphins and is getting spot play in the “Wildcat.” Johnson is a better passer and probably a better runner, as well. Could the Bucs not have had a receiver or back go in fast motion (like Ricky Williams for Miami) and create some deception and roll Johnson out the opposite way and help create space for their recievers?

Could they not have intentionally rolled him out on just ONE play in his four games of getting chased from the pocket?

Johnson’s interception returned for a TD on the fifth play last Sunday against the Patriots was his fault, but I heard it explained on radio this week as a “hot” read from a blitz. It wasn’t.

It went back to my last QB Blast and the Bucs lack of throwing the ball down the field.

The Patriots did their film homework. They left the middle receiver of a “trips” set “uncovered” by a safety 10 yards off the ball. This would have been a completion for the Bucs if Johnson had been under center — Tom Brady picks these plays up all of the
time – but Johnson was in shotgun, took his eyes off that area to catch the ball, took an extra step and the safety “sat” and then timed it perfectly.

This is one of the reasons Jon Gruden was so late in using the shotgun formation.  It gives up a lot of quick passes to uncovered receivers.  The Patriots and Colts are still under center quite a bit to take advantage in this situation.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, both QB and coach are inexperienced in those situations.

I don’t know if Josh Johnson is smart or if he knows the offense very well as has been published, but he has physical tools that few have had in this league – ever.

With some technique training to his delivery and more film study, he could be a very good starting QB in this league one day.

I hope Josh Freeman took copious notes, because there were plenty of inexperienced mistakes that Freeman does not need to make.

But it all looks quite different from the sideline compared to behind the line — trust me, I know.

The QB Blast: Bucs Pass On The Deep Shots

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

carlsonBy JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

I haven’t been to too many Bucs games purely as a fan.

Usually, I have a professional reason to be there, but Sunday I enjoyed a beautiful afternoon with my son, plenty of empty seats around to spread out (just nine rows from the Bucs sideline).

No one yelled or stood up in front of me until Clifton Smith got knocked out on that punt return just before halftime. People all around us started cursing and screaming over that cheap shot, but not over the lack of deep shots (zero, by the way) the Bucs took with their passing game.

I would be starting to get a bit frustrated over the Bucs’ inability to pressure the secondary deep with any of their receivers, but the Carolina Panthers didn’t do anything differently than the Bucs.

Aqib Talib shut down Steve Smith, but Smith doesn’t have any touchdowns all season and Jake Delhomme didn’t take one shot at his 6-2 receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who was matched up much of the day on 5-10 Ronde Barber.

With the Panthers running over the Bucs on the line of scrimmage and with Delhomme’s four TDs and 10 interceptions on the year, I might be gun-shy to throw it up as well. At least it’s good to know there is another team that doesn’t try to exploit the whole field. And with the help of special teams and defensive touchdowns, the Bucs played within one score.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and a few other Patriots just might use the whole field.

The QB Blast: Bucs Failed All-Out Blitz Challenge

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

“Eight men in the box” has become a household phrase, but “eight men on the LOS” (line of scrimmage) hasn’t. That’s because nearly every NFL team wouldn’t risk the consequences of the “quick six” that most teams would put up against an all-out blitz look.

The Bucs, however, weren’t able to exploit that blatant challenge by the Eagles defense.

Don’t look for the “Eight men on the LOS” to become a mainstay in the NFL. Buddy Ryan, the former head coach and designer of the Bears’ famed “46″ defense, tried to recreate his success of QB pressure with six on the LOS, but teams learned to defeat it with the Redskins’ “counter-trey” running game and quick passing to the receivers in one-on-one coverage.

Unfortunately, the Bucs couldn’t or wouldn’t move their pocket to buy time for the receivers to shake their defenders (even though they have one of the most mobile QB’s in football history) and they couldn’t catch the ball in key situations to move the chains.

If any Buccaneers coaches happen to read this, using motion of a receiver behind or near another receiver also gives you an advantage in man coverage and gives your young QB a little bit bigger window in which to throw.

The QB Blast: Maybe Jags Got Best Deal Of 2009

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
 By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst
 
Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

I’m not here to pile on the Bucs.

I played on teams that finished 6-10 and 3-13 and know the pain and misery that brings. Those years were under Hugh Culverhouse without a salary cap and that was supposed to even things up a little bit.

Unfortunately, the current Bucs will compete with those teams unless they improve significantly, and I don’t think that is on the horizon, although starting Josh Johnson gives them new hope.

This team is undisciplined in all phases right now. Raheem Morris’ interviews and press conferences are growing more rambling, incoherent and contradictory. 

Jeff Jagodzinski, the offensive coordinator, was fired for not being detail-oriented enough. What are we to make of the rest of the coaching staff after Sunday’s performance? The Giants game was the third straight with a complete lack of attention to any detail whatsoever.

Maybe “Jags” got the best deal of the year, getting out before he could take the blame for this debacle.

Now the Bucs turn to Johnson (a less experienced version of Luke McCown) as their starter after three games and hearing Raheem explain the reasoning behind the change was just sad.

We wanted to hope for the best for this team and for this coach, but the QB choice this preseason wasn’t a hard one and he messed that up.

I think this first Josh may be a better long-term choice than the one eventually coming somewhere later this season, but that is a much tougher one to see in my crystal ball.

The QB Blast: Bucs Season Not About Winning

Monday, September 21st, 2009

carlsonBy JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

Efficiency and consistency.

To me these are ultimately responsible for success on and off the field. The Bucs sorely lack both.

They are individually talented enough to make splash plays in every game. They are also not consistent enough individually or as offensive or defensive units to expect sustained success for a 60-minute football game.

I’m not going to bang on Byron Leftwich much. He is what he is. But the coaching staff chose arguably the most inefficient QB in the game with zero NFL snaps of experience in his two backups.

So when your starter goes down to injury or ineffectiveness, your team is guaranteed to have inefficiency and inconsistency from either backup. Neither has seen much game action including preseason.

I didn’t mind Leftwich winning the QB battle, but when they traded Luke McCown away, it told us all that this season wasn’t about winning. It may be somewhere in the future, but it’s not for the here and now.

So buckle up Bucs fans. It’s going to be bumpy.

The QB Blast: Surprises All Around In Opener

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

carlsonBy JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

Opening day was full of surprises, except the outcome of course, since none of us expected the Bucs to beat the Cowboys did we?
 
Kudos to Cadillac Williams, Ronde Barber and Michael Clayton, surprises all. Who knew the Caddy would be rolling like that after being held out of game action so long in the preseason?  Who knew Ronde was the best player on the team? And who knew Clayton could catch a deep ball on his fingertips?
 
There was enough there Sunday afternoon to keep hope alive for Bucs’ fans and probably enough to make us seasick most Sunday nights as well.

The good news is that we are in the same boat as half the league at this point.

I was surprised the Bucs put up 21 after watching their August performances, along with the change at O.C. last week.

And thank God Jay Cutler (or Jake Delhomme) isn’t our QB, or it would have been really ugly out there on Sunday.
 
The Bucs next opponent, the Buffalo Bills, just forced Tom Brady to be Tom Brady in a one-point loss. 

Do you think the Bucs can create some more surprises next Sunday and post a road win in game two?

The QB Blast: Leftwich Mechanics A Lost Cause

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

carlsonBy JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

When the FOX-TV sideline reporter asks the head coach, “Why don’t you name the quarterback already? We all know it’s Leftwich,” it is a bit too obvious that the final conclusion had been reached before the “competition” was extended an extra week.

Most of us were pretty sure Byron Leftwich was the choice back in June, so the final decision for Leftwich isn’t a problem for me, but something doesn’t add up in the overall scheme of things.

In the week leading up to the Dolphins game, the Bucs went public with their willingness to trade any of their QBs except Josh Freeman.

Raheem Morris went into detail explaining that he never wanted to start Freeman early in the 2009 season (and Freeman never pushed the envelope). But if they trade either of their experienced passers and the starter gets hurt in the first game (e.g. Tom Brady, 2008), then they would be starting him before he was ready and without the need to put him or themselves in that bad position.

Morris also says of the Leftwich choice that he knows he has to clean up his sloppy footwork.

Sorry Ra, after an offseason and a training camp and seven years of NFL experience, those mechanics ain’t gettin’ any better, so you better not get your hopes up on that one.

The QB Blast: Plenty Of Good, Bad & Ugly

Monday, August 17th, 2009

carlson1By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

The Bucs had it all in their first preseason game: The good, the bad and the ugly. 

John Lynch, Raheem Morris, Sabby Piscitelli, Stylez G. White, Brian Clark, Clifton Smith, and the first-half defense were all good.  Ronde Barber was good, too, in his short stint.

The supposed strength of the offense is the offensive line, but it was simply offensive, both in run blocking and pass protection.

For all the offseason practices and two weeks of training camp to prepare, Luke McCown’s first pass was ugly, even if it was Maurice Stovall’s fault for running the wrong route.  McCown purposely fumbling the ball backwards to get rid of it while being face-masked was particularly ugly.  The play came back due to penalty, but it has been those kinds of decisions that have haunted McCown’s tenure in Tampa Bay and puts questions in the collective minds of the coaches.

There was a number of performances that simply fit in the OK category.  Generally I wasn’t impressed with any of the QB’s play, except Josh Johnson, of course.  He will ultimately be on someone’s active roster this season.

I thought McCown should have been left in the game when the ball was turned over in the Red Zone.  It was only eight seconds into the second quarter and it would have given him an opportunity to finish on a high note.  Instead, Byron Leftwich was set up in great position and fired a terrible first pass that was almost picked off.  His second was also a bad throw, but Brian Clark saved the day with a great catch for the score.

The O.C., Jeff Jagodzinski, called quite a different game with Leftwich, calling shotgun and play-action passes on his first four plays in the game (all four on first and second downs) ,and also threw 75 percent more passes in the second quarter (14 vs. 8) than in the first. 

McCown ran on a few of his called pass attempts, while Leftwich got sacked.  McCown left the pocket too early more than once, and I think the coaches are a bit frustrated by that. But Leftwich will be going down from injury on a regular basis because of his style of play.

 Josh Freeman’s interception return for a TD was his own fault and he accepted it (a hitch into a safety rolled over the top is a no-no at all levels of football), even though the head coach tried to take the blame.

Raheem Morris looked comfortable with that big smile on his face, while getting ribbed by his whole sideline on his first (successful) challenge! 

The bad news of the day was the offensive line getting dominated at the line of scrimmage by Tennessee’s front four.  The Titans blitzed about one time all night (McCown hit Clark “hot” for a first down), but other than that the front four stopped the run and clobbered the QB’s.

John Lynch will grow into one of the best analysts in the game, but he will have to sprinkle in a bit more criticism down the road. Elbert Mack’s defense on Nate Washington in the end zone was a dropped TD pass in anybody else’s book, but Lynch said Mack did a nice job.

And I wouldn’t have called Leftwich’s performance “super”, but regardless, Lynch had one of the best nights of anyone in the stadium.

The QB Blast: McCown’s Loyalty Rewarded

Monday, August 10th, 2009

By JEFF CARLSON
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

I read, saw and heard a number of interesting things during the Bucs’ first week of training camp.
 
I chuckled as I read relatively identical stories from each of Tampa’s major newspapers. It turns out that Jim Bates’ new defense needs pressure from its defensive line to be successful and Bates will blitz if he doesn’t get it.

This was put in contrast to Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2, which by the way was one of the NFL’s best for a very long time and depended on pressure from the front four (Sapp, Rice, etc).  But Monte also would bring interesting blitzes if he couldn’t generate enough rush up front (hence, Ronde Barber’s 20+ sacks as a starting cornerback). For the record, Ronde didn’t get beat deep down the sideline a number of times last year while sitting back in the Tampa 2.

Raheem Morris purged a number of veterans that needed reduced practice schedules, citing the need to get meaner and tougher. On Saturday, Morris gave Barber the day off because he is an old-school Benz that needed an oil change, so he left him in the parking lot for the day signing autographs. Turns out he and Gruden do have some similarities, Gruden just had a larger lot for his classic cars.

I like Morris very much, by the way, but didn’t like him entertaining the media with an impersonation of his young star quarterback. He made Josh Freeman out to be woefully unprepared to handle what is in front of him quoting Freeman saying, “I saw Byron throw one deep, so I thought I should too”, in what seemed to be almost mocking “Fast Times At Ridgemont High “whoa dude” surfer lingo.

Morris is entertaining, but I don’t think he should demean his players publicly, especially the future face of the franchise. That kind of ridicule is unleashed in the “rookie show” later in camp, but those have probably been outlawed around the league.

On a positive note, I think Morris has created a practice schedule that should get the most effort out of his players. By going double-days every other day, players can give their all, knowing they get a mini break the next day.

Lastly, Luke McCown may be falling behind Byron Leftwich, but I think he gets the first preseason start not to showcase his potential trade value (what is a QB’s trade value with a 1-6 starting record that can’t beat out a guy that is on his fourth team in four years?).

McCown will start because McCown was the first one to sign on with the new head coach’s regime and the coach’s promise that he would compete for the starting job.