I figured I’m going to put out one of these offseason wish lists every other week as the offseason progresses. As I mentioned the other day there are a ton of issues that were exposed in the last 4 weeks of the year, and this is the offseason we must address them. Let’s get right to it.
1. Replace Todd Wash (Defensive Line Coach) and Casey Bradley (Linebackers Coach) with ex-Bucs coaches Rod Marinelli (Defensive Line) and Jon Barry (Linebackers Coach). Unless either of those guys wants to take time off from the game, which very well could be the case for Rod Marinelli, they probably have little chance of getting defensive coordinator gigs after this seasons’ debacle in Detroit. In my view, the linebackers and defensive line were a debacle on our team as well. Our line produced only 4 more sacks from last season, and in our defense, 29 sacks will just not suffice. The play of the linebackers, sans Barrett Ruud, was uninspiring at best. Bringing back some familiar faces who happen to excel at teaching certain positions, should be a priority.
2. Re-sign WR Antonio Bryant. Bryant finished the season with 83 catches, 1,248 yards and 7 TD’s. He is a real threat across the middle and on the deep ball. The guy runs crisp routes and has great hands. He’ll only be 28 years old going into 2009 season. If Jon Gruden had a real QB to throw him the ball, this guy has a chance for 100 catches and 1,500 yards. Bernard Berrian got 16 million gauranteed dollars last year in free agency and I would imagine that we will have to throw Bryant a little more money than that to stay.
3. Re-sign SS Jermaine Phillips. I understand that Phillips is an injury risk, but that is the beauty of having Sabby Piscatelli. Our run defense and pass defense struggled at both points that Phillips missed time this season. He is a big hitter and is important to the Buccaneers defense. If we were cap strapped, Phillips could easily be a guy we let walk, but we are not. We are flush with cash, and resigning one of our standout defensive players, is a must.
4. Give the world to FA Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth is not able to be franchise tagged again, and should be one of the more highly sought after FA players of all time. Before his injury near the end of the year, he was a legitimate MVP Candidate. Not just a Defensive Player of the Year Candidate, but a MVP. He finished the year with 51 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 3 FF. He is one of the most disruptive interior lineman since Warren Sapp and would be a real menace in a Tampa 2 base defense. Haynesworth might also help the progression of DE Gaines Adams who was uninspiring after about Week 5 of the season. A DT who can rush the QB and stop the run can single handedly transform a Cover 2 defense into a force. Neither Chris Hovan or Jovan Haye left me in awe this year, but teaming either of them up with Hayneworth should work wonders. Would obviously help our dline depth as well as it would likely move one of those aforementioned guys into a rotation spot as opposed to a starting spot.
5. Draft Graham Gano, the P/K from FSU in Round 2. I know jettisoning Matt Bryant would be an unpopular move in the Bay Area after the tragedy that he suffered last season, but lets face it, football is a cuthroat sport. P Josh Bidwell was a liability at the end of the season (never thought I’d see the day). Gano legitimately has a chance to be a Pro Bowl player at two different positions. With the depth that we like to keep at DL, RB and WR, having one guy take up one roster spot for two different positions would be incredible. This guy is a stud, I know it’s at a very unsexy position, but it’s an important one.
6. We have to get a real-life NFL QB. I know that a lot of people think Matt Cassell will fall on his face while not under the cozy umbrella called Bill Belicheck, I happen to disagree. The guy seems to be a perfect fit for the offense that we run. He is accurate, and my favorite thing about him is the wheels. Actually, my favorite thing about him is the players and coaches that he has worked under, giving him an endless bank of tutorials. Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, Bill Belicheck, Charlie Weiss, Josh McDaniels. For real! It was no surprise to me this guy was succesful this season, although I had never seen the man throw a pass in my life. If you are good enough to make the Trojans or be drafted by the Pats, and stick around, you are above all else a QB who is smart as hell. Rarely do potential franchise QB’s become available in FA (Drew Brees), and teams should be lining up as suitors. It wouldn’t surpris me whatsoever though to see the Pats franchise him and look for a Matt Schaub like deal.
7. Re-sign BJ Askew. Did you see the block that sprung Cadillac Williams for his first TD run against the Raiders. Oh, probably not. Most people don’t ever notice. I do though, and think BJ is one of the best blocking FB’s in the whole league. He also posseses the ability to catch the ball, split out wide, and occasionally (especially if given more opportunities) pickup short yardage. Thought our running game never reached its full potential this year until he returned.
8. Add another playmaker to the receiving corp, namely FA WR TJ Houshmanzadeh. I am not sure whether or not the Bungles will franchise him, but I can’t imagine that he would want to continue his career there via long term contract. It’s Cincinatti. The most inept team in the league, honestly, with all due respect to the Lions. Housh and Bryant together would be a formidable option for any QB we bring in here. He does a lot of the same things as Bryant, but having two crisp route running wide receivers who have hands made of stickum has never been a bad thing in the NFL. For all those people who are saying well we had Joey Galloway and Gruden didn’t let him get on the field. Watch a game. Actually watch one, this guy hasn’t gotten open since ’87. Listen, I love Joey, he did great things for our team and really revived his career under Gruden. The problem is though, when speed guys lose their speed, their done. It normally it happens just like it happend to White Tiger this year… instantly. Sorry Jo.
9. Add an offensive playmaker in Round 1 of the draft. We have been focusing on defense and Oline the last few years in the early rounds of the draft, and I have no problems with that whatsoever. This year, it was painfully obvious that we needed someone who had the ability to take the ball to the house at any given time. We need one, whether it be at RB or at WR, or some kind of hybrid. Percy Harvin, Chris Wells, Jeremy Maclin, Knowshon Moreno would all bring a smile to my face. People are scared around here of smaller wide receivers (Dexter Jackson) and RB’s always bring a little apprehension due to the injury risk (Cadillac Williams) but this was a glaring weakness in our offense, and all 4 of those guys would give us a real splash play threat.
That’s my wishlist as it currently stands. Give me some feedback, want to hear what Bucs fans have to say.