Roy Cummings Chats With JoeJuly 14th, 2010
While Joe hammers away to deliver his readers all things Bucs every day, Joe loves this somewhat quiet time of year. It gives Joe a chance to enjoy plenty of relaxed conversation with his media colleagues.
Joe caught up to esteemed Bucs beat writer Woody Cummings recently, and the veteran beat scribe at The Tampa Tribune & TBO.com graciously agreed to a Q&A session for JoeBucsFan.com readers.
Joe hit up Cummings with questions about expectations inside One Buc Place, the rookie class and more. …Thanks, Woody!
Joe: This new Bucs regime already has gone through two offensive coordinators. Whispers are that if Josh Freeman struggles this year a lot of the blame will fall on Greg Olson. How concerned are the Bucs that Freeman could end up like Alex smith or Jason Campbell and have a flavor of the year for an offensive coordinator? What’s their mindset on that?
Tampa Tribune beat writer Roy Cummings: One thing you have to remember about Josh Freeman is that he has spent all his time as the Bucs starting quarterback working in Olson’s offense. He wasn’t getting very many reps during the time Jeff Jagodzinski was in charge, so I would think he had a pretty easy time making the adjustment to the new scheme. And that’s a scheme that, for the most part, is very familiar to the people who will be playing around him. If Josh Freeman struggles this year, I don’t think it will be because of Greg Olson’s offense or a change a year ago in coordinators. It will be because he’s a first-year starter who is still learning not only the league, but his own strengths and weaknesses.
Joe: How much rope will the Bucs give Raheem The Dream? How will he earn a passing grade from the organization in 2010?
Cummings: I think Raheem’s rope is a pretty long one and extends well beyond this season. The key for him is to A) stick with the rebuilding plan that the Glazers have implemented and B) get the players to buy into his approach and his system. The first part of that equation is pretty simple, because it only calls for Raheem to grow as the team grows. The second part is a little trickier because it requires Raheem to continue to get the most out of his players at a time when they are going to produce only modest win totals – at best. As long as the players believe in Raheem and play hard for him, he’ll be fine. If you see any sign of quit in the players, though, particularly the key players such as Josh Freeman, Kellen Winslow, Gerald Mcoy, etc., then Raheem’s in trouble.
Joe: The Bucs have a profound lack of experienced, proven depth at most positions. How much does this concern Mark Dominik? And do you expect to see the Bucs make more Keydrick Vincent–like signings as the season draws closer?
Cummings: The Bucs are not as concerned about the lack of veteran depth as you might think. It is a concern up front on offense because those guys are charged with protecting Josh Freeman, but in other places the Bucs are more than willing to go with the kids, even in reserve roles. Remember, the Bucs’ goal right now is to build a team that can be a Super Bowl contender for eight to 10 years or more. It will probably be another year or two before they complete the process, so the lack of veteran depth is simply a byproduct of the rebuilding program. As this team grows and gets closer to becoming the team the Bucs want it to be, they will add more veterans. For now, though, they want the kids to play.
Joe: There’s been a lot of buzz around rookie Mike Williams. What’s your take so far on this big crew of rookies? And who else seems to have that something special to be a standout contributor in his first season?
Cummings: I think the buzz created by Mike Williams is well warranted. With all due respect to Arrelious Benn, Williams is the best receiver prospect on the Bucs roster. He has stud ability. So do Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. Those two guys are special and should eventually give the Bucs one of the best interior defensive fronts in football. Of all the other rookies the one I like the most is Myron Lewis. I think he can make an immediate impact on defense as a right corner in the nickel package. The other guy to watch is Dekoda Watson. I’ve talked to a couple of scouts who compared him to a young Derrick Brooks. I’d say give Watson a year or two and then watch out. He could creep up on this team and become the best linebacker they have in the bunch.
Joe : “Joe” is not convinced the troika of running backs is that good, and now Earnest Graham will take a pounding from Day 1 at fullback. This, more than a lack of receivers, will hurt the Bucs. Is Dominik convinced he has the right guys in the backfield or will this, along with defensive end, be an area of primary need next year?
Cummings: To me the running back situation is a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty sort of thing. Some believe the Bucs are very deep, some, like you, don’t. I can see both sides. The good news is that if Williams goes down, the Bucs have a proven and capable backup in Ward and another proven and capable option in Graham. That makes them pretty deep at RB. The problem is that they don’t have a legitimate fullback. Graham can fill that role in Greg Olson’s offense because he’s an excellent pass catcher, but the Bucs have to be hoping that Chris Pressley or some other fullback emerges for them. If that happens, they become even deeper because they can then move Graham back to running back. Bottom line: the depth problem is not at RB, it’s at FB. Correct that and the Bucs should have no trouble putting together a capable rushing attack.
Joe: Over decades, you’ve been a beat writer for various major sports teams. With training camp just two weeks away, do reporters get excited, too? Do you get fired up for football season?
Cummings: Absolutely. The hours are long and the workload is heavy, but it’s the start of a new season and I’m very excited to see where this team is headed. The Bucs right now are like a new book or a new movie that you’ve just started reading or watching. At this point we’re still being introduced to the major characters and we have no idea where it’s all headed or what the outcome will be. That’s exciting and adventurous.