The Morning After

December 27th, 2021

(Photo courtesy

Yes, Victory Monday is here just two days after Christmas! And if you ask Joe, yesterday’s win was the best present under the tree. And you didn’t have to worry about the dog eating the wrapping paper. NFC South Champions, baby! So let’s get rolling.

Hope Returns

A week after getting clobbered by the slimy Saints (again), losing Chris Godwin for the season and Lavonte David and Playoff Lenny until the playoffs (maybe longer), and Mike Evans for who knows how long, there was a pall of gloom hanging over the Bucs community.

Understandable. Taking that kind of hit, and losing 58 percent of your offensive production just before the playoffs on a team that had one goal of repeating, made for a depressing Christmas Week.

Furniture-tossing, bicycle-throwing Antonio Brown looked as if he didn’t miss a half of football after being away from the game because of a messed up foot/ankle and his fake V-card suspension. Brown ended up with 101 yards on 10 catches and all of a sudden, the Bucs’ passing game seemed OK against one of the NFL’s better pass defenses.

The Bucs are now 6-0 when Brown plays this season.

The run game woke up as well. Ronald Jones was efficient and Ke’Shawn Vaughn looked solid, especially patiently reading his blocks before making moves on his 55-yard touchdown run. Well done. Now Joe knows why Vaughn was drafted.

So it appears that when Evans and Playoff Lenny return, the Bucs will be sound on offense barring any more injuries.

Will the Bucs miss Chris Godwin? Hell yes. But the offense shouldn’t crumble.

The Five Blocks of Granite

Joe heard Mark Sanchez — who struggles with Bucs’ names — refer to the Bucs’ offensive line as five blocks of granite. For those who don’t give a damn about football history, Sanchez was thieving a line once written about Fordham’s offensive line in the 1930s, the “Seven Blocks of Granite,” which featured a right guard named “Vince Lombardi.”

The Bucs’ offensive line, featuring three Pro Bowlers, lived up to Sanchez’s hype, even though Joe has a hunch Sanchez couldn’t recite their names.

Tom Brady got hit once yesterday by Haason Reddick. That was it. Once again, the Bucs kept Brady’s jersey clean — it was Brady who dirtied it by running for a first down.

The offense should be OK so long as Brady is behind that offensive line. Entering yesterday’s game, Brady has attempted the most passes in the league yet he’s been sacked the fewest times of any starter. That’s wild and shows how damn good the Bucs are upfront.


Joe has repeatedly over the years written that drama sells and the NFL is fully aware how drama sells its product. Every week there is a new controversy that bubbles up and a few days later, it fades and something new surfaces.

So when the source of so much drama in recent years complains that guys (and girls) like Joe are the ones who manufacture it, Joe has to laugh out loud.

And that’s what we got after the game last night.

Antonio Brown was one of the many Bucs made available for postgame Zoom interviews. It was the first time Brown has spoken with the local pen and mic club in months.

Naturally, Brown was appropriately and respectfully asked about his fake V-card stunt. Specifically, Brown was asked how he felt about Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians having his back after last year publicly stating he would run Brown off for one screwup.

That didn’t go over well with Brown, who pulled an oily Drew Rosenhaus and responded, “Next question… next question” and then mumbled that reporters just try to drum up drama at his expense.

A short time later, Brown was (fairly) asked if his foot was the reason why he missed so much time prior to his suspension and if that foot bothered him at all in the game.

Joe doesn’t see anything wrong with that question either. Nothing. But Brown didn’t see it that way.

Brown then launched into a small rant (at one point he smiled so Joe is wondering if thought the whole thing was amusing or if his response was just schtick) that reporters want to do nothing more than build up drama and he’s here for football and reporters should only ask him about football and leave the drama to the soap opera actors.

This was laugh-out-loud hilarious to Joe. Not one person would be writing about Brown’s shenanigans off the field if they never happened in the first place!

Talk about shooting the messenger.

Brown has no one to blame for his sullied image other than him. If he didn’t pull any stunts, then reporters would be left with nothing else to write about other than his football play.

Quick, name the non-football stories people write about Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. There are none, aside from their good deeds within the community and maybe their passion for boxing, basketball or dogs. Why? Because they don’t do stupid sh!t away from football!

Look, Joe advocated for Brown to remain with the Bucs and thinks it would have been a travesty to launch him for the fake V-card stunt with so much at stake for so many. So Joe is not anti-Brown here.

But to whine to reporters that they are the ones who make him the bad guy is just outrageously hilarious. At least it made for good theatre.

You know, some good drama!

“Next Man Up.”

You heard it a lot from the Bucs, especially with all the injuries that have occurred over the past week.

And sometimes, that next man up plays well enough to earn more snaps. Joe believes that is what should happen with well-traveled running back/return man Kenjon Barner.

Aside from one return, rookie Jaelon Darden has not shown Joe anything that suggests he should be the permanent returner.

The Bucs are trying to win another Super Bowl. Since the front office busted its tail to bring in 22+1 starters from last year’s champion, anyone stepping onto a field wearing a Bucs uniform should only be out there for production, nothing more.

There is no room for development. But with Darden, it appears he has been granted learning-on-the-job status. That shouldn’t be.

Joe understands the team has a lot invested in Darden and he’s not going anywhere. But Barner showed he’s at least competent in the return game.  Darden’s greatest strength appears to be ice skating (can the Bucs find a new shoe supplier, please?).

Darden, Joe believes, is still figuring out dudes in the NFL are on a different level of skill than Conference USA cats. In only two of eight games has Darden averaged 10 yards or better on punt returns and one of those games was right at 10.

Though Barner only averaged 8.8 yards (better than all but three of Darden’s games), at least Barner was aggressive and ran north and south. Darden continues trying to outrun guys by running east and west across the field like he did at North Texas, with these big, sweeping crescent moon returns that end up losing yards or with minimal gains.

Again, Joe is not anti-Darden. He likely only needs more work. But a Super Bowl contender shouldn’t be handing a guy playing time to develop. The Bucs are not a developing team. The future is now.

Between Barner’s returns and the immortal Cyril Grayson showing he belongs on the gameday active roster at receiver, the Bucs need to find a way to hide Darden for the rest of the year. You know, Darden develops a wart on his foot or has a wisdom tooth removed or a bad case of allergies and lands on the injured reserve list.

Defense Slams Door On The Stinking Panthers

If the Bucs make a run at another Super Bowl, the defense will play a big part. And the way the defense has played the past two weeks, they are rounding into form at the perfect time.

The Bucs haven’t allowed a touchdown since the fourth quarter of the overtime win over Buffalo two weeks ago, only field goals.

If you hold a team to just field goals, you will be in every game at worst.

Joe doesn’t expect this to continue, of course, but say the Bucs hold opponents in the playoffs to only two touchdowns a game, their offense should be able to win those games..

How cool is it that everyone is so focused on the offense and its issues and injuries, and the defense goes out and stomps on people?

32 Responses to “The Morning After”

  1. Durango95 Says:

    Don’t care about AB’s shakedown of the whiney convoluted media.

    The man does his talking on the field.

    End of story.

  2. Francisco Guzman Says:

    Need a healthy fornette and healthy evans. They have enough weapons to make a run. It’s gonna be about this defense as well.

  3. Sparky Says:

    How nice would it be to go into the post-season not having allowed a TD in 4 straight games? Whats the record?

  4. Sparky Says:

    edit to above: not sure if its still the record but Steelers went 5 weeks, two different times.

  5. Beeej Says:

    Loved that (albeit short) return where Barner paused, then sprinted forward and caught the punt on the run, frikkin awesome.

  6. ModHairKen Says:

    The media are so butthurt whenever anyone won’t answer their questions. Half of the questions border on illiterate. A lot of envy in the media, all with unfulfilled aspirations as an athlete and a journalist.

  7. BA4President Says:

    @Durango95 with all do respect, AB just finished 3 unpaid weeks of not talking on the field. So yeah, the other stuff matters

  8. Joe Says:

    The media are so butthurt whenever anyone won’t answer their questions.

    Joe doesn’t give two sh!ts if a guy doesn’t want to talk or not. Rather a guy doesn’t waste Joe’s time than to give empty non-answers filled with cliches.

    But when a guy calls out folks for writing negative stories about him when *he* is the guy doing the bad things is hysterical on so many levels. LOL 🙂

  9. Izod Says:

    I think we can be fine with RoJo and Vaughn. Personally, not a fan of Fournette’s scared dancing behind the LOS.. seems to be okay with contact only after he’s picked up a head of steam downfield.

    As for Evans, we really missed him today, particularly in the red zone. Godwin is a nice-to-have, but not essential when you have AB and a combination of other capable TEs and WRs. Much more important is that the team executes well, and that comes with great preparation and in-game coaching–unfortunately, that is the area we have shown the greatest vulnerability.

  10. SB Says:

    Probably, maybe the most interesting article you have Ever written Joe!
    I mean that and hope you don’t take it the wrong way.

  11. westernbuc Says:

    Darden’s problem is that he’ll let a punt bounce backwards rather than fair catching it. You’re right, this isn’t the time for development. Licht has invested in special teams, kickers and punters alike, but hasn’t ever figured out the returner.

    AB will be driving headlines all week with this, but who cares. I don’t ask for players to be thought leaders or intellectuals. Let the Florios and Peter Kings and BSPN personalities cry about it. And they can keep crying about it when we hoist the Lombardi.

  12. Jerry Says:

    The question to Brown about his foot was a loaded question. And he was smart enough to recognize it. It’s a classic journalistic trick.

    The media does many times have certain agendas and narratives they like to write and promote. You had several reporters the past month calling for Brown to be cut. Their articles seemed to be written in specific ways to try and make the Bucs and Arians look bad if they don’t cut him. Mike Florio even wrote about how there should be criminal charges.
    Brown also saw how Aaron Rodgers was torn apart by the media. Rodgers talking about it to the media didn’t help at all, it only made the drama worse.

    The Bucs and/or his agent also likely also told him specifically not to talk about it.

  13. Bucsfanman Says:

    ‘YAWN!’ on the AB drama. I 100% agree with Joe. Yes, media sometimes ask dumb questions and post-game pressers are boring but the holier than thou schtick is a bit much.

    I felt the play-calling was more creative but we are still not seeing big plays from Miller or Johnson. Props to Grayson and Vaughn and the offensive line!

    Defense was sharp and Whitehead was a one-man wrecking crew.

  14. Kentucky Buc Says:


  15. Bird Says:

    Super yawn on the AB not being nice to the media. 😂
    Seems like joe even getting fired up even though he makes fun of most media outlets.
    Like the press doesnt want drama . Bucs should have known that was coming and not allowed him to Q&A session. Oh they were asking nice respectful questions 😂 Whoever asked the question and got that response will get an atta boy or atta girl especially since it pertains to covid.

  16. Listen Linda! Says:

    Can’t believe they egged the Bucs bus!

  17. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe … ‘Now Joe knows why Vaughn was drafted.’

    Wish I shared that enthusiasm Joe. Yes his 55-yd run was great, but Ke’Shawn showed little beyond that. On the day: 7 rushes for 70 yds. Very nice average obviously, but that means his other 6 runs totaled 15 yds … 2.5 YPC. That’s not being consistent IMO. Lenny is very consistent rushing. Even RoJo is relatively consistent. Ke’Shawn? Not as consistent from what I can see.

    Vaughn’s only played in 4 games, so that’s obviously not much of a sampling of what he can do. In those 4 games he has 18 rushes for 120 yds (for a very nice 6.7 YPC average). In there though he has 3 long runs totaling 87 yds (55, 15, 17 yds), meaning that he gotten 33 yds in his other 15 rushing attempts (2.2 YPC average on those). Who knows though, maybe with more frequent use he’d become more consistent.

  18. alton d green Says:

    how bad do we miss M. Evans? 4 FGs. I didn’t get to see the game live. Only ESPN’s Gamecast. It shows a line and an X when there is an incomplete pass. At time I thought i was watching a porn movie there was so many Xs. Normally there is a reason or an excuse. When we got to the red zone, it was like the field was 10 ft. wide. YES he is #1 in TDs and yardage. There has been several games when he was lucky to get 60% (yesterday) Is it because of dropped passes or mis-communication? We’d better get our ^%$# together. Remember Hineyman kicked our arce and Dallas beat them 154 to 7! (joke). Sure hope we get our key players back before playoffs. If we lay another egg like last week, i would rather it be a reason and not an excuse

  19. Hodad Says:

    It’s not nice to pick on the mentally ill. That’s what A.B. has, a mental illness. I’m not joking here Joe. The man has problems, expecting him to act, or answer questions in a normal fashion is not possible. He shouldn’t even be put in front of the media.

  20. Joe Says:

    Seems like joe even getting fired up even though he makes fun of most media outlets.

    Nah. Just thought his logic was hysterical.

  21. Joe Says:

    It’s not nice to pick on the mentally ill. That’s what A.B. has, a mental illness. I’m not joking here Joe.

    You are not the first person to suggest that and you may be right.

    AB never did all this weird s(p)it until after he got knocked the hell out in a playoff game by Vontaze Burfict. One of the dirtiest hits Joe ever saw.

  22. Ed Says:

    Other than the red zone FGs yesterday showed that the Bucs can still score 30 points without having the throw the ball 50 times a game. I liked that the ran the ball which minimizes sacks and turnovers. The only thing I’d like to see is them mix up the run game, everytime I watched the formations I could see that the runs were going to the right side. The one run that went left for touchdown by Vaughn was to Smith’s side with Marpet leading the way. Stop being so predictable. Other than those 2 issue, the Bucs played their most complete game of the year with no let downs. That was 60 minutes of balling!

  23. Durango95 Says:

    “But when a guy calls out folks for writing negative stories about him when *he* is the guy doing the bad things is hysterical on so many levels.”……JBF

    Apparently a player doing some “bad things” away from the field is urgently worthy of 6-8 paragraphs in what is otherwise a well written piece of post game coverage.

    Remember, It’s all about time, place and manner, Joe.

    At least one or two members of the local media need to realize things don’t always occur on their own self-righteous timetable.

    Granted, the national sports media is much worse.

  24. Rob In Land O Lakes Says:

    DR said: “Who knows though, maybe with more frequent use he’d become more consistent.”

    That’s exactly what I’m hoping for. Same with Darden. Darden may NEVER be a legit return guy but this is not the year to experiment.

  25. stpetebucsfan Says:


    “A lot of envy in the media, all with unfulfilled aspirations as an athlete and a journalist”

    Seems like the ENVY is coming from a blogger who wished he was half as able to demonstrate critical thinking skills as a journalist.

    I was a “Sports Journalist” for 20 years and NEVER ONCE envied the athletes or owners I covered. I was happy being a TV STAR and having women come after me and people asking for my autograph. I never blew out a knee…never go concussed and faced CTE but yeah I really longed to be a professional athlete.

    The NFL did NOT take off UNTIL MEDIA COVERAGE!!! The NFL only exists at it’s current level because of MEDIA COVERAGE.

    Some in the media suck…some players suck…some fans suck and some bloggers suck. Here’s a tip for anyone who gives a spit…BLANKET STATEMENTS are rarely accurate!!! It’s what’s wrong with our politics NOBODY even comprehends the freaking word NUANCE! DETAIL.

    Meanwhile what I do not understand as I agree totally with Joe is who the hell advises these players? Is it only their money men.

    AB was off to a great start and said a lot of the “right things”. ALL he had to do is say yes I made a mistake, I’ve paid the price, and of course I appreciate the support of my coaches and teammates in what was a trying time. It’s behind us I’m focused on the Jets.

    AB would have rehabilitated his image in ONE press conference if only he had the brains? advisors? to help him.

  26. Wild Bill Says:

    At the very least AB is excentric. At the most he is borderline mentally ill. Physically gifted but mentally unstable. I am speaking in generalities because I am not qualified to diagnose his issues. Is he an exciting playmaker? Absolutely. Is he capable of abnormal behavior? His record speaks for its self. With AB you will likely always get the good mixed with episodes of the bad. Does he help win games? Absolutely. I personally think his football gifts out way his instability. Unless he damages overall team morale I think he is an important asset for the Bucs. “Just win baby” was the Raiders attitude back in their hayday. So what if his picture does not end up on a box of Wheaties.

  27. Doctor Stroud Says:

    AB’s antics takes the spotlight off of Mike Edwards, which he is probably thankful for.

  28. RustyRhinos Says:

    “Now Joe knows why Vaughn was drafted”
    Because he was a 2 year SEC starter for Vanderbilt, and had multiple 100 yard games, can run catch and block, getting two 1100 yards plus seasons against the SEC when he was the offense and only weapon on Vanderbilt teams. And had many fantastic games against SEC and ACC and Pack10 teams. I am extremely excited to see him get plenty of reps with the 1&2’s and several game time plays. Been a Vaughn fan since he went to play for Lovie Smith, in Ill.

  29. Ash Says:

    Vaughn was terrible beside the one run still can’t catch the ball will definitely have to draft someone else the entire run game looked pretty inefficient but if you only look at the stats it looked better than it was I’m not asking ab to be a moral leader did he perform? Cool that’s all I care about not everyones feelings or who got butthurt or his personal life in general just love the game of football

  30. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    If the front line isn’t blocking how do people expect the running backs to be successful? They were hit at the line or behind it as much as they had opened lanes to run thru. They’d run for 10 yards on first then get stuffed behind the line on 2nd. This line is not built to be leaned on in the run game, they’re built for the pass. They simply are not strong or consistent enough to do it. There is nothing wrong with that though because of Brady or strength is passing. Our coaches need to adjust a little faster at times

  31. Coburn Says:

    The passport thing was a bit over the top fot me. It wasn’t just the media though.. fans were acting like he best someone up. I do feel he prob sbohkd have been a bit more humble about the situation, but yeah. Maybe it depends on how alarmist you are about covid. I think everyone should get their two shots at least, but don’t like thr idea of passports and what they’ve done. I just rolled my eyes at this thing personally but to each his own i guesd

  32. Dan Williamson Says:

    Listen, after the last two years of “journalists twisting the news to fit their narrative instead of just reporting it, then its no wonder no one, particularly players, dont trust them. Always looking for the next “scoop”. That said it wasnt an outlandish question and the ankle question in particular wasnt out of line. Its just AB being AB.