Yardbarker Horiz

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tampa Sports Media: Screaming For Vengeance in 2009, Part 1

Former General Manager Bruce Allen did not get along with everyone in the Tampa Sports Media.  It appears current General Manager Mark Dominik is paying the price.

Part 1:  Kickers are too valuable to cut?

One sad but humorous aspect of the reporting on the Buccaneers this year has been the fascination with kickers.

Let me recap:  General Manager Mark Dominik brought in Mike Nugent to compete with incumbent Matt Bryant during the preseason.  This is consistent with the message Dominik and Head Coach Raheem Morris have been dishing out since they were appointed:  there will be competition every year for every position on the team.  Unexpectedly, Matt Bryant hurt his hamstring during the first week of the preseason which should have been a feather in first year GM Mark Dominik's cap.  Certainly a job well done for being prepared for unforseen circumstances, right?

Oh, no.  None of that for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Later in the preseason (while still injured) Bryant showed he was not up to the challenge of the every-sport-is-50%-mental aspect of the game with a radio rant.  Unable to kick for the entire preseason, Bryant was cut in favor of Nugent.  So the new GM got it right -- kudos to him, right?

Oh, no.  Certainly not for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Unexpectedly, some sports media reported this as blasphemy instead of a kick-save by the Buccaneers GM (pun intended).  Some reported with glee when Bryant was lined up by the NY Giants for a tryout but then mysteriously (not!) dropped the storyline when he didn't get signed. 

Back in the real world Nugent got off to a horrible start and was released in favor of Shane Andrus.

Andrus was inconsistant in practice and missed his only field goal attempt during game action, so he also was released.

Since then, the Buccaneers have had the services of Connor Barth.

So I ask, what should the General Manager have done?  Kept two kickers on the roster, preventing some wiggle room for getting waiver wire pickups in addition to double-kicker-salary?  Kept Nugent and let him kick his way out of the slump?  Keep Andrus and give up field position on every kick?  Bring back Matt Bryant who couldn't handle competition, wasn't good enough for the Giants, and could only find work in the UFL?

Wouldn't the correct move be to do everything possible to correct this issue this year?  And that is exactly what Dominik has been trying to do.  It's exactly the philosophy which has been utilized since Dominik reached the GM chair -- fix the problem and move on.  Barth may not be the final answer and he can certainly expect an open competition during the 2010 offseason.  Just like every other player on the team.

Against this backdrop begins the odd, strange comedy (folly?) driven by some in the Tampa sports media:
--  The first chuckle comes from the conspiracy theory about how the radio show comments really matter.  Really??  Some athletes get in trouble, serious trouble, and the team works it out.  Why would a radio show matter since it's just an entertainment medium in the first place?
--  The second chuckle comes from how some in the Tampa area sports media believe the money given up for Nugent was a mistake ($2 million), yet none of them predicted his poor performance.  It also appears several are willing to publicly demonstrate that they have no idea how NFL teams work.  There are many cases of players who are signed and cut in the same season and leave "dead salary cap" behind.  One instance is Joey Galloway ($1.7 million) and the New England Patriots.  Another is Jason Elam ($3.3 million guaranteed) and the Atlanta Falcons.   This seems to be a surprise to them when in reality this is business as usual.  So why the negative press?
--  The final chuckle comes from those who on one hand complain because the Buccaneers have cap room and on the other hand (same person in at least one case) complain because the Buccaneers used thier cap space to try to solidify the kicking game.  Maybe they don't realize that two million is less than 1.6% of this year's cap? I would think that people who are paid to understand the NFL would understand this common, league-wide situation, but it seems I am asking too much? 

And now the puchline:  in late November, the 2008 NFC Super Bowl representative Arizona Cardinals held kicker tryouts . . . (c'mon, click the link for full effect!)

(Note that neither got the job -- wow the Buccaneers did know what they were doing -- now why wouldn't something like that be reported in Tampa after all that early season drama?)

To top it all off Atlanta signed Matt Bryant just after the Buccaneers played at Atlanta.  That will add some extra fun to the Buccaneer's last (home) game of the season (don't boo him -- remember what happened to his family).  The media coverage around that last home game should be the final test of who in the Tampa Sports media "gets it" and who's trying to make themselves feel better.

You would think that by halfway through the season the rampage would be over, but, sadly, this article is titled "Part One".  More to come.


  1. I totally agree with your commentary. The team is damned either way, no matter what they do. Mega vitriol on the message boards.

    Of course, the Bucs could do a bit more winning, which would calm everybody down...

    Just found your site. Thanks for your work.

  2. Most teams with new General Managers or Head Coaches have fans looking for results. I think the Glazers will keep an even hand on things and let this develop.

    Thanks for contributing!


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