Archive for the ‘QB Blasts’ Category

The QB Blast: Stargazing Freeman Must Wake Up

Tuesday, August 4th, 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.

I don’t remember anything from the first day of my first training camp (1989 L.A. Rams), but what I remember most at the beginning of my career was how fast we practiced without being fully padded up.

At Saturday night’s (helmets and shoulder pads) practice inside the Raymond James Stadium, speakers blared every genre of music throughout the practice and cannons blasted after every completion (trying a little too hard to manufacture excitement). It looked like Josh Freeman was there for a free concert, not to win the QB job of the Buccaneers.

It was just the first day, but watching Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich on one side of the field, with Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson on the opposite side running back to back 7-on-7 drills was enlightening.

The Josh’s were certainly the J.V. team, throwing against “vanilla” coverages (and not throwing well), while Luke and Byron looked the part of the savvy veterans.

It will probably be a practice-by-practice difference for Luke and Byron, with each guy having his time in the sun, but the crispness of McCown’s movements within the pocket and quick release make him the odds-on favorite to win the job — even if the starting job is kept open publicly — before the first preseason game.

As for the future franchise QB, it was OK to be a little lost in all the lights and action of the NFL on his first day, but the time for stargazing is over and it’s time to pick up the intensity in every drill.

The QB Blast: A Complex Decision At QB

Monday, July 27th, 2009

jeffcarlsonhead2By 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.

How will a successful 2009 season be defined?

Sunday’s Tampa Tribune cover story is about how Raheem Morris’ cheery persona has changed the atmosphere at One Buc Place, and more was written about how his rookie QB could start this season.

If Morris starts Luke McCown or Byron Leftwich, and the Bucs are on pace to win four games this year, obviously that would usher in “his guy” later in ’09 or for sure in 2010.

The “smart” guys I see on TV say the Bucs should wait until they come back from London in late October to get Freeman into the starting lineup. They are assuming a dreadful start for the franchise or the team wouldn’t be looking to change its QB, right?

But what if the Bucs start out pretty strong? How about 10 wins by the end of the year with stellar veteran quarterback play and leadership?

A move to Freeman after a better than expected year would surely move Morris’ team back a few steps, as the young defense gets a year wiser in the system.

So where is the potential upside to starting a veteran QB now, making Bucs fans so desperate during a bad run with the “older” guys that we’re begging to see what got Morris so excited about back in April?

McCown was told by Morris in the spring that the best case scenario was that if he played well, he could be like Drew Brees (formerly of the Chargers, now with the Saints) and get traded to another team. That is a tough pill and strange motivation to getting the team-first, “buy in” that you want from your signal-caller.

Don’t tell me Morris, his coaches or any of the players is hoping for a bad start so the rookie can build for next year.

But the better they do with a veteran QB, the more questions the team will have next offseason. The Chargers had success after keeping Philip Rivers on the bench for two years before trading Brees, but that came with a coaching change after Rivers’ first year as a starter.

I don’t see Morris keeping his prized possession under wraps that long, do you?

The QB Blast: Your Offseason Approach At QB

Friday, July 17th, 2009

jeffcarlsonhead1By 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.

Hindsight is 20-20 as they say, and Jon Gruden’s tenure is six months in the rear-view mirror.

He wanted Jeff Garcia to return for the 2009 season, but the new regime went bigger, stronger and younger. And they are going bigger, stronger and younger at every position, by the way.

But Jeff Garcia is rumored to be turning heads in off-season workouts for the Oakland Raiders while the bigger, stronger and younger former first pick in the draft, QB JaMarcus Russell, looks on.

With no discernable starter coming out of the Bucs’ final mini-camp and the coaches putting “BucNation” on notice that the biggest, strongest and youngest QB on their roster may be moving his learning curve up dramatically, today’s question is what would you do if you had to reset this off-season from the QB perspective?

If Garcia can take out the No. 1 pick from two years ago, should he be helping lead the Bucs’ No. 17 pick in this year’s draft until Josh Freeman is ready to take the reins full time?

I’ll go on the record and say I would rather play 2009 with the unknown potential of McCown, Leftwich and Freeman than watch Garcia break down all the Xs and Os work done through the week by scrambling too early too often.

The QB Blast: Training Camp Will Test Raheem

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

jeffcarlsonheadBy 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 sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

Most of the Buccaneers’ players and coaches are away from One Buc Place until training camp kicks off on August 1, when camp returns to Tampa for the first time since the Bucs won the Super Bowl.

What does that mean to the first year head coach? 

While the training facility at the Disney complex was nice, it had a few challenges. Many teams use college campuses for training camp because the housing, eating, meeting and practice areas are all relatively close and controllable.

Training at the Wide World of Sports meant 20 to 30 minute bus rides in the morning and evening. And while most players napped or rested in their dorm rooms between practices, the Bucs were in the same building (The Milk House) where Disney was constantly hosting AAU-type basketball tournaments, not exactly the most restful setting for preparing to practice the second time in a day.

Raheem Morris has significantly changed the practice schedule for their return to One Buc Place, with less two-a-day practice, but more time with the pads on. And since this team is younger and less experienced it needs as much time with the pads on as possible.

There has been an emphasis on improved strength through weight lifting this off-season, and by moving back to their regular facilities they can be incredibly more efficient with their time in the weight room than the make-shift outdoor program at Mickey’s place.

Those are a couple of issues regarding the facility change, but a bigger issue for Morris is managing the players activities away from One Buc.

In Orlando the players were not as familiar with the city and getting in and out of a quality hotel without being noticed (after bedcheck) is much more difficult, meaning players were probably more likely to stay in. (I’m not 100% sure about this and I don’t underestimate what lengths players will go to go out on the town, but philosophically it makes sense. I do know the hijinks of NFL players after bedcheck would make for a great movie!)

In Tampa players are more familiar with getting to and from their regular haunts and are much more likely to mess around on their free time and have extra distractions from friends, family and business associates probably reducing their playbook concentration time.

This last issue is where Raheem Morris will establish himself with his team.

Tony Dungy continually warned about the negatives that happen after midnight if you are out and about. He didn’t have to deal with too many issues, but on those rare occasions, it didn’t go well for the offending player very often.

I think the benefits of being back in front of the home crowd outweigh the negatives and who knows, the first time they trained at Disney they won the Super Bowl (with a new, young, fiery coach). So why not another one this year by coming back home?

Training camp won’t be held where dreams come true anymore, but we can still hope for another Lombardi Trophy can’t we?

The QB BLAST:

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

jeffcarlsonhead5By 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 sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

In 2006 the Buccaneers played a rookie QB named Bruce Gradkowski, but not by choice.

It didn’t go well.

The current Bucs will have a rookie QB on their roster: Josh Freeman. If he has to play, it might not go well, either. And there’s no guarantee that it will go any better with the veteran quarterbacks on the roster.

At the close of minicamp, Bucs QB coach Greg Olson said everyone in management got together and agreed they might accelerate Josh Freeman’s learning curve after another evaluation early in training camp.
 
Every other player in camp will have his learning curve sped up to be able to contribute on the field if needed. So shouldn’t the coaching staff be doing everything possible to accelerate Freeman’s learning curve just in case he has to be the Bruce Gradkowski of 2009?

Whether because of injury or performance, both veteran QB’s could have coaches and fans looking to the rookie to save them, so shouldn’t the No. 1 pick be fast-tracked in summer school whether or not they have any intention of using him on opening day?

The QB Blast: Ruud Well Within His Rights

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

jeffcarlsonhead4By 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 sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

As a former NFL player I believe current players should try to negotiate as lucrative a contract as they can.

As a businessman I believe people should live up to their contracts and pro sports are big business, but in the NFL, teams don’t have to live up to their end of the contract (they can cut a player at any time — e.g. Derrick Brooks).  A team structures contracts to fit their needs and discards players when either their play or their contract doesn’t fit anymore.

Because these contracts aren’t equal for both sides, it is well within a player’s rights to squeeze his team to pay him whatever he can when he has the bargaining power.

Last year, Earnest Graham was in a pretty good negotiating position to push for a salary equal to that of the average starting running back. Bruce Allen had a policy of not negotiating contracts with two years left on the deal, but sometimes certain policies have to be amended for the good of the team.

This year it is Barrett Ruud’s turn to go for the dough.

The team slimmed its experience in the linebacking corps and left Ruud in a very strong position to be paid in the upper third of middle linebackers. He has handled things properly so far, missing voluntary training and being part of the mandatory events. 

Mark Dominik has watched Allen negotiate for years and will have to forge his own policies moving forward. But for all of Raheem Morris’ efforts to build this year’s version of team comraderie, it gets torn apart quickly when a player that hasn’t sweated in red and pewter gets a new, top-dollar deal (Kellen Winslow Jr.) and a current star like Ruud is paid less than his league counterparts.

Josh Freeman’s Ascent Is Justified

Thursday, June 18th, 2009
By JEFF CARLSON
After studying the Bucs quarterback stable at minicamp, Jeff Carlson writes Josh Freeman is the best QB on the roster.

After studying the Bucs quarterback stable at minicamp, former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson writes Josh Freeman is the best QB on the roster.

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Today, after spending time at minicamp, he delivers his take on the Bucs quarterbacks and the competition for the starting job. 

 The Bucs wrapped up their on-field mandatory and organized voluntary program Wednesday with the revelation that Josh Freeman may get his playing timeline moved up considerably.

 All the “powers-that-be” (from a football standpoint) put their heads together on the subject; the conclusion was their No. 1 draft pick may very well be able to take the ball from center come September after all.

This was no revelation to JoeBucsFan.com readers since I wrote that specific prediction six weeks ago!

After spending time at Bucs minicamp yesterday, here is the QB situation as the Bucs go their separate ways for a few weeks before reconvening at the same spot for training camp — no travels to the “Happiest Place On Earth” anymore:

     1.  Josh Freeman is the best QB on the roster, in shorts and warming up.  He has throwing technique that rivals the best in the league.  He is not ready for prime-time right now.  When he threw in 7-on-7 drills, he was apprehensive and only threw a couple of his chances with confidence. In the 2-minute drill, he drove his unit down to the goal-line (McCown and Leftwich settled for field goals) only to go 0-4 with none of the four throws having a chance to score a touchdown.

 2.  If you took their numbers off the quarterbacks jerseys and had an objective, independent evaluator watching the QBs together, Byron Leftwich would be behind Brian Griese on the depth chart. His value is that he has won some games in this league and was a former No. 1 pick. His unbelievably long delivery and lack of mobility (in shorts and helmets) is so glaring, I can’t see him being a season-long starter anywhere.  

    3.  Luke McCown is OK at this point. He didn’t stand out in a good way or a bad way in what I witnessed. I heard that he wasn’t stepping up in the pocket like they wanted him to so far this spring, but that wasn’t noticeable on this day. He seems to be leaning back a bit too much on some throws, which are leaving his balls a bit higher than they should be. But, with Freeman’s inexperience right now, I would put McCown in as the clubhouse leader on June 17th. That is a long way from September.

  4.  Josh Johnson would seem to be on the outside looking in from a management standpoint since he has no game experience and you need to give the No. 1 pick any extra reps in practice, so where is his opportunity?  That said, he has an incredible whip to his ball and if that independent and objective evaluator was just watching the talent at practice, Johnson would come in at the No. 2 spot on his depth chart. He also was not great in his 7-on-7 reps.  He does need to loosen up on his dropbacks as he is very stiff and tight in his upper body.
 
Here is the truth, if you can handle it:

Neither Luke McCown nor Byron Leftwich have taken command in any substantial way. They certainly don’t have the star presence of a starter. This has left the door open for Josh Freeman to step into the spotlight and the Bucs management open to the possibility that he may be their best option if he starts firing his missiles like he knows where he wants them to land.

Word is Freeman will spend a significant amount of July here in Tampa working.

THE QB BLAST: Raheem Scoring With Honesty

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

jeffcarlsonhead2By 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 sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

Honestly, Raheem Morris gets it!

I ran into Morris a couple of times this week at events, getting to spend some “quality” time with him. He is one of those guys that can make anyone feel like you and he have known each other forever.

Morris talked about he is being honest with his players, something that they can deal with. They may not like what they hear, but they can deal with honesty.

It was the lack of honesty (or perceived lack thereof) that had so many Buccaneers’ players upset with Jon Gruden. It seemed there was always a promise of something never realized that had so many badmouthing the king of potty-mouths.

Morris is on the right track with his truth tactic. From Luke McCown’s reaction to the drafting of Josh Freeman, it’s clear the Bucs head coach had been upfront with McCown about their future potential quarterback.

This new truth approach will always be delivered through Mark Dominik’s and Raheem Morris’ perspective, so there will still be some unhappy campers sent home like the ousted bachelors/bachelorettes on The Bachelor that can’t figure out why their dream lover didn’t want to marry them.

But courtesy and honesty go a long way in the NFL, and in this I know personally that Morris is correct in his approach with players.

I enjoyed my time in the NFL and have no regrets, but if there was one thing I thought was owed to me that didn’t happen was a phone call from Ray Perkins (offensive coordinator-New England Patriots) to let me know that they had decided to go in another direction at quarterback. Instead I got a phone call from Bill Parcells’ secretary telling me that I could disregard the training camp information that they had just mailed me.

Again, courtesy and honesty go a very long way in the NFL.

The QB Blast: Leadership Doesn’t Equal Wins

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

jeffcarlsonhead1By 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 sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

Before these dog days of OTAs and minicamps end and give way to the dog days of training camp, where the players grind each day out as one bleeds into the next without much difference, let’s open a dialogue regarding interesting Buccaneers conversations I’ve had with people on various topics.

One regarded Derrick Brooks’ future as well as his past. 

I read Chris Hovan’s comments about enjoying playing with Brooks and how he had never seen anyone take over a locker room like Brooks did.

My question is what is the value of being great in the locker room to value on the field? It’s kind of like defining a team with chemistry. When the team wins it has great chemistry, but when it’s not winning, the chemistry isn’t so good. 

Going into December, the Bucs needed to win one of their four games to go to the playoffs and then it would have been a whole new season in the playoff tournament. But for all of the great locker room guys, whether it was Brooks’ leadership or Jeff Garcia’s or anyone else, they couldn’t muster enough mojo to get a single win in the final month of the season.

So should there be a lot of worry over losing the locker room leadership provided by any of the players from last year’s team?  The guys that are still on the roster, and the guys that are gone, couldn’t rally the private locker room setting to get it done in public. 

Don’t think I’m bashing a player, I’m taking on a concept.

I want my football team full of Derrick Brooks-type players — players who lead by example on and off the field. But let’s not keep having that conversation about locker room leadership, because that obviously doesn’t win games in December and that is really the only measurable at the end of the season.

The QB Blast: OTA Absences Overblown

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

jeffcarlsonheadBy 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 sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

I know Warren Sapp had very vocal opinions about Kellen Winslow’s absence from the early OTAs (Obligatory Team Activities) and some more harsh words for his best friend Keyshawn Johnson. But I have a some rhetorical questions for Warren and others that got worked up over players skipping off-season practice. 

In the glow of the San Diego night as the Buccaneers passed their Lombardi Trophy from hand to hand, did the subject of Keyshawn’s absence from the off-season program come up? 

Did Warren have harsh words for Derrick Brooks when he held out of training camp for more money?  And can we all agree that training camp in August is a bit more important than voluntary practice in May, right? 

Was Jon Gruden or the New York Jets worried about Brett Favre’s off-season practice compliance and team comraderie-building?

If memory serves, the lowly New York Jets got off to a pretty hot start with Favre at QB and little practice time.  Are the Minnesota Vikings worried about the retired Favre being a part of their May practices?

If the Bucs decide to bring back Derrick Brooks during training camp or even during the season, will anyone be talking about how he couldn’t possibly be prepared because this is a new defense for him and he didn’t practice in May?

The Bucs have scheduled OTAs for a portion of each of the six weeks leading to a final mini-camp in mid-June before breaking until training camp. But unless OTA attendance becomes by the league, let’s not get overly worked up about a few missed workouts. 

The QB Blast: K.I.S.S.ing Good For ’09 Bucs

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

jeffcarlsonhead2By 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 sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

The Bucs are an amorous bunch under Raheem Morris as there is a lot of K.I.S.S.ing going on this off-season. “Keep It Simple Stupid” is what the Bucs are planning to do on both sides of the ball this year.

First I heard Luke McCown’s take on how much more simple the offensive concepts are in Jags’ offense compared to Jon Gruden’s.  Chucky’s offense wasn’t all that complicated from a conceptual aspect, but his terminology was ridiculous, making the transmission from the sideline to QB’s headset to the rest of the team a real challenge on every play.

I’m for keeping things simple, especially when everyone is new to the system. 

Turns out simple also is the philosophy on the other side of the ball, as well. 

Barrett Ruud talked last week of Jim Bates’ defense allowing the players to let their athleticism out because there won’t be as much thinking going on as there was under Monte Kiffin’s program.  I guess the same philosophy should hold that if you have an entirely new defensive system and the only guy familiar with it is the coordinator, then K.I.S.S.ing is the right thing to do for this entire club.

Haven’t heard if the special teams coordinator is going to K.I.S.S.–he isn’t telling.

The QB Blast: Morris Is Too Everything

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

jeffcarlsonhead1By 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 sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

When the Glazers gave a first-time head coach a chance way back in 1996, they went with a low-key, unassuming defensive coordinator named Tony Dungy and found success that hadn’t been seen here in almost 20 years.

Then they tried a big-name coach in Jon Gruden and tasted the success of a Lombardi Trophy only to see the luster and energy come off the team the following year and a struggle to regain that form ever since.

Now the Glazers have reached back in the bag for another defensive minded first-timer in Raheem Morris. Though this time, the demeanor is all his own.

After watching a “Mic’d up” segment on Buccaneers.com of Morris working every facet of the team, including throwing passes alongside Josh Freeman, position-coaching players, coaching up his assistants and even making sure the DJ had the music right seemed a little over the top.

It is worth a watch because, in my time with five different NFL franchises, I have never seen anything like it.

 It may be a new day in Tampa Bay and there may be a new wave in coaching styles, but it better work on the game field or else this “too excited, too happy, too involved” style will go away quickly.

The QB Blast: Moses Must Start

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

jeffcarlsonheadBy 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 every Monday or Tuesday. Carlson has sports radio and TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

Josh Freeman will be a “Day 1″ starter! It’s just a prediction, but it is also a must.

How can Freeman not start from Day 1?  Did you know that he is 6’5″ and 250 pounds and has a great arm? 

This is Raheem’s guy — the No. 1 guy on his board — and how could his guy not be good enough to start?

The Atlanta Falcons’ guy started from the start, took his team to the playoffs and won offensive rookie of the year.  Surely the Buccaneers’ guy is as good as the Falcons guy, right?

There is no definitive starter in place for the Bucs, unlike the Aaron Rogers situation in Green Bay behind future hall-of-famer Brett Favre.  The team itself isn’t expected to be great with any of the currently rostered QBs, so what’s to lose?  The offensive line and running game should be good enough to not worry too much about ruining this giant gladiator signal-caller by throwing him to the lions like Detroit did with Joey Harrington a few years ago.

No, this cool, calm, huge fella with a “monster arm” should be throwing bombs, missiles and other projectiles at opposing defenses from the first snap of the first game and not make the fans wander in the desert waiting for Luke or Byron to play poorly enough to give Raheem’s massive Moses type quarterback his chance to take this franchise to the promised land.

Let’s all hope and pray that his Goliath-like guy doesn’t meet the same fate as the original (good thing there isn’t a short quarterback named David on this roster).