Midweek Gameplan 10-5-11
The Buccaneers’ Most Recent
Pretty much everywhere you read about the Bucs’ victory over the Colts you see a lot of negative comments regarding the penalties, the inability to get started and how they did not look good until the fourth quarter. Don’t get me wrong, I was as frustrated as anyone with this aspect of the game Monday. I have often been critical in the past of the penalties for the team and how many drives get killed by stupid mistakes. This week, I will try and focus on a positive, as there is so much negative commentary out there. I’m looking at you Pat Yasinskas and your comment that the Colts actually outplayed the Bucs– really?
The positive aspect of the game that I noticed was how well the special teams have been playing of late for the Bucs. Say what you will about overpaying for a punter in free agency, but Michael Koenen has been doing very well on kickoffs and punts. He did have one bad punt in the game, but even his bad punt still netted 35 yards. I remember a time when our average punt netted 35 yards. What doesn’t show up in the stats is how high he kicks the ball and how that allows the coverage to get in position downfield. He had multiple punts fair caught or downed inside the twenty.
In addition, Preston Parker has shown that he is a threat for a big return on punts and kickoffs and this is always a nice weapon to have. The only downside to the special teams is that Conner Barth missed his first field goal, but even that was close as he hit the upright. My point is that there was some concern about the special teams after Rich Bisaccia left for the San Diego Chargers, but Dwane Stukes has picked up where he left off. Special teams have a significant effect on games and you are kidding yourself if you don’t think that the Bucs special teams are contributing to the comeback wins.
Injury Updates and Commentary
No major injuries have been reported from the game, but it often takes a couple of days for the news to get out. Like every other fan, I cringe when Brian Price grabs his hamstring and starts to limp around. He did return to the game, however, so the injury must not have been too bad. I think he is continuing to have problems as he wasn’t able to condition well and his hamstrings are not quite full game ready at this point. Hopefully, these incidences become less and less frequent in the coming weeks and after the bye week.
At the quarter point of the football season, good teams will start to show themselves and you can get an early idea of who will contend for playoff spots. I do think the Lions are for real, but I am still convinced that they will live and die by Matthew Stafford’s health. They are just a different team with him in there, he has the leadership to change the game and pull out a victory like he did this week.
In the same vein, I am still not a believer in Mark Sanchez as an NFL quarterback who can lead his team to victory. With the emergence of the Bills, the Jets may be in trouble if they are unable to run the ball and establish the play action pass. I won’t pile on the Eagles at this time, but I will admit that their three game losing streak makes me smile.
My surprise team to keep an eye on is Tennessee. The Titans are 3-1 and I think they are built for the long haul, more than other surprise teams like the Bills. They have a good defense and Matt Hasselbeck has somehow rekindled his 2006 form. I see them staying in games and eventually competing for at least a wild-card spot, if not the division.
I mentioned Parker above as a return man, but I think he is a guy you have to look at for fantasy purposes also. He is targeted a few times a game and has made the most of his catches when thrown to. He is always a threat to turn a short pass into a long gain. Thus, if you have a PPR league or a flex option, he may not be a bad choice to insert into your lineup with the right matchup.
At The End of the Day
I will likely offend some people will this section, but I don’t like the way the NFL handles their breast cancer awareness this month. As a member of the medical field, I know how devastating this disease is and how it can affect so many lives. In no way am I trying to lessen or diminish breast cancer awareness. It is just that I think that it would be more effective if the NFL would dedicate just one week a year to the campaign rather than an entire month. This is for two reasons. The message is somewhat lost over the month, and it starts to look more like a marketing campaign rather than raising funds for a worthy cause. Many colleges do one game dedicated to raising awareness and this really hits home with the players and fans.
The second reason is that I would like to see the NFL support some other causes with its popularity. I realize that having the pink campaign go the entire month generates more revenue, but other very worthy causes could benefit from other weeks dedicated to more awareness. Concussions and dementia are two very real and prominent issues in football, and why not have one week dedicated to dementia research. There are numerous other causes which the NFL could consider.
Finally, I would just like to throw out there that as many or more people die every year from hip fractures as from breast cancer (40,000+ versus just over 39,000), yet no one except for those of us who treat these would be able to tell you that because it is just not as publicized at breast cancer. Source: American Cancer Society and CDC.
Until next week, remember that there is no room for description in the win column.