Midweek Gameplan 9-28-11
The Buccaneers’ Most Recent
It was a big win for the Bucs last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, and I was glad to see the defensive line show up after I questioned their production last week. I also liked the fact that the offense started out with some simple passing plays and got Josh Freeman going initially. The only problem was that he ended the first drive with an interception rather than a touchdown pass. I really think he did not see the defensive back on the play and thought he had an easy toss for the touchdown. Either way, I expect him to bounce back this week and return to the form we became accustomed to last week.
One of the big heroes of the day was Earnest Graham, but he has barely gotten any recognition for it. Looking at his stat line, you can see why he is being ignored. He had seven catches, but for only 37 yards, which is not eye popping. Except those catches were bigger than the stat line indicates. The Bucs got in quite a few third and short situations and chose to pass the ball rather than running it. Three of these times, Freeman threw a short pass to Graham who made the first down yardage. This extended the drives and kept the Bucs defense off of the field, which keeps them fresh. One of his other catches was ruled a touchdown, but was reversed by replay.
Last year Josh Freeman consistently looked at Kellen Winslow on third downs (which he did a couple times Sunday, also), and the defense knew it was coming. It is good to see that Freeman has another reliable option on these downs to consider. Even though he did not have a great rushing game, Graham has shown in the past that he can be a punishing runner in short yardage situations, and this will keep the defenses honest when he comes into the game in this situation.
Injury Updates and Commentary
Cody Grimm suffered an injury to his knee in the game, and there has been some wide speculation on what the injury actually is. What seems clear at this time is that he has an MCL injury. What is garnering the most speculation is whether he has an ACL injury also. He was scheduled to have an MRI early this week, but everyone has been fairly tight lipped about the results. There was an initial report that he had an ACL injury, but he has still not been placed on Injury Reserve at this time.
While I cannot add anything to whether or not the ACL is torn, I will say that this is the critical portion of the prognosis for him this year. MCL injuries are not typically addressed surgically and because it is a stout, broad ligament, it usually heals up well in about 4-8 weeks depending on the extent of the injury. If the ACL in injured, this almost always requires surgical reconstruction and puts him out for the season.
The only thing I can speculate on why it is still undecided is that the MRI did not show a definite tear and that he may have just have some minor tearing and signal changes on the MRI. Thus, he may be scheduled for a repeat MRI when the swelling goes down or for a diagnostic arthroscopy in the near future. Either way, hopefully we will find out more soon.
I would like to see the NFL start their flex scheduling for the Sunday night game earlier in the year. Currently only the last few weeks are subject to the flex schedule and can be moved into the Sunday night slot. I think it would be great if they would start this earlier in the year, like after about week 6 or so. That way, they get one of the best games into the night slot so that the entire nation can see a game of two teams that are doing well. With so much parody in the league these days and with teams so variable from year to year, it is impossible to schedule the best matchups during the season.
I know this would cause more problems with people traveling to the games, but as long as the games were decided about 3-4 weeks in advance, most of these could be alleviated.
Luke Stocker is doing well this year and has been targeted in every game thus far for the Bucs. While he has no touchdowns and only a handful of yards, he should be on your radar as he is only going to get more looks and better numbers as the year goes on. I am mentioning this, because if you are in a keeper league he may be worth stashing on your bench at some point later in the year. I don’t think he will be a guy you start this year, but he may be in the future. Kellen Winslow has been very durable, but he may go down again given his knee problems. Thus, Stocker becomes a potential valuable asset in the coming years.
At The End of the Day
I am not much of a Tampa Bay Rays fan, but I love the fact that they have caught the Boston Red Sox and have a great chance to make the playoffs. This is one of the great times of the year for baseball, and it is always exciting when the playoff spots come down to the last game of the season. Let’s hope the Rays come through, as I will admit I don’t like the Red Sox.