Monday, September 29, 2008

Who’s Your Favorite Player?

The answer to that question (which should be asked in song form) is, of course, “Mr. Derrick Brooks.” (Steph and I apparently both had that stuck in our heads as we watched the game this week…) I loved seeing him tear things up today, just like old times. He’s beating himself up about the other two interceptions he almost had, but he has nothing to be ashamed of in this game. For all the tough positions the offense puts them in, this defense keeps finding a way to bail them out. It’s a formula I’ve seen work in the past for this team, but I’m hoping Griese will stop throwing to the other team quite so often and make the jobs of Mr. Brooks & Co. that much easier next week. Gaines Adams is having quite a year already, and Barrett Ruud (or should I say Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud!) is having another strong season after taking ownership of the starting job last year. I love this defense and can never truly lose hope (even with stupid interceptions thrown by stupid Griese) knowing that the defense is playing at this level.

On the other side of the ball, Earnest Graham is having another great year and the offensive line seems to be improving. Antonio Bryant could be our new guy at receiver, and Clayton continued to look strong (I’ve been waiting three years to be able to say that again). I loved seeing him fight for 6 extra yards after the catch in the first half. The kid is tough (he’s another one who loves hitting people when he plays on special teams), and I’m glad he seems to have gotten out of his head this year… Dexter Jackson looked pretty solid on kick returns today, too, after either just falling down or running backwards whenever they kicked to him last week. Apparently Clayton (who broke our one big return last week, which was called back on a shady penalty call) was telling him it’s all about trusting your blocking and not being scared to take a big hit, and this week he did just that.

Gruden likes to view the season in quarters, and I feel like 3-1 isn’t a bad first quarter considering all the drama and the problems at QB. You just know Garcia is filled with self-righteous indignation on the sidelines every week as Griese screws up but the Bucs still manage to win behind a solid defense and (with the exception of Week 3) a solid run game. You know he’s thinking that he’d be 3-0 as the starter for those games, too, and probably wouldn’t have thrown 3 interceptions in each of the last 2 games, especially with the fact that the offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack (even on the totally immobile Griese) in the last 2 weeks. Well, Jeff... I guess you learned a valuable lesson this year: It’s probably a bad idea to threaten that you’ll phone in the season if you don’t get a bigger contract. You had a good thing going in Tampa, but you can’t really be surprised that Gruden went after Favre in the off-season and didn’t trust you to be his guy during the season if you’re going to say things like that. Because if you meant it? Even a little? Then you’re right where you belong looking all cranky and dejected on the sidelines. Nicely done. Enjoy your new role on the team. I think you’ll find the compensation to be ample.

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