Monday, August 29, 2011
NFL ACLB PREVIEWS - #16: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
PERTINENT DATA: 10-6 last year; 30 to 1 odds to win Super Bowl XLVI.
BEST CASE SCENARIO (Raven): I hate to be a guy who talks about team football of the professional variety from a fantasy context, but I'm about to do just that, so if you are a chump ass who can't handle such nonsense being the basis for more scientific thoughts, then jump over to Grantland or Football Prospectus or something where they will ramble about numbers and sabretrons and punter formulas and all that from a pseudo-scientific background, as we live in the age of everyone believing Science is the one true Religion. I'm just going to tell you what I know, and this "knowing" comes from my gut, which in the past week a scientific study validated the concept of gut intuition, in that all those bactili floating around inside of you actually help steer your thinking, and feed off the cellular memory found throughout your DNA. This means "gut intuition" is a real thing. This also means when you ingest antibiotics every time you go to the doctor, you are actually killing off your own intelligence. Now I am not Christian Identity gun-toting Bible-thumping "let God take have His will done" type dude, meaning I'm not anti-antibiotics. I am very much pro-biotics though. Earlier this year, my entire guts were blasted with heavy duty antibiotics to kill off devils inside of me trying to take possession of my life in a slow, stinging manner. I am cool with that, because it had to be done, and in times of war, even internal wars, there will be collateral damage. But I've also worked very strongly to rebuild my internal gut flora ever since, through lactofermented sauerkraut, kimchi, even made a batch of fermented herring like my Swedish ancestors would have made. It was nasty as fuck, stank to fake heavens, but filled my gut with intuitive knowledge for decades to come. What I am getting at here is I am in a fantasy football league, and last year's winner as well as anyone who honored their debt for losing (which is beer to the winner basically) gets to have one keeper from their roster last year. I was last year's winner, and had Peyton Manning on my roster, which earlier this preseason I thought would easily be my keeper. But I also had Josh Freeman last year, which caused me to actually watch him play a good bit. As the season wore on, and he got comfortable in his role, he actually outperformed Peyton Manning on a weekly basis. I am not shitting you, although you would probably not think so judging by the number of commercials Peyton stars in. Because of this, and because of Manning's neck injury, and because of the supporting cast around each of them, I actually chose Freeman as my keeper over Peyton Manning, because he is the rare combo of an athletic QB (meaning "black") who has his head screwed on completely straight (meaning he doesn't do dumb shit, like bankroll dogfighting operations for family members or disappear in a suicidal fit for two days). He is the real deal, and has really flown under the NFL radar to an extent, even though he started getting some love last year when the Bucs made a surprising run to 10-6, just missing a wild card. And while guys like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco get pushed constantly as "second-tier" great QBs in the league, meaning one level below the Brady and Manning and Brees level, suggesting they are waiting in the wings for their moment, an athletic guy like Freeman will be lucky to get mentioned in a positive context without someone throwing in references to Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham or whoever the fuck else they can lump together as quality players but not quite elite QBs. This seems mildly racist to me, that a guy can't be nimble and mobile and still a rock solid QB. Of course, that doesn't matter because Raheem Morris is just the young hip hop coach to bring swagger to this Bucs team, embrace the chip on the shoulder for not getting the proper respect from the football establishment, and let this guys loose on an NFC South division in love with a traditional NFL offense, like Ryan and Brees QB in Atlanta and New Orleans. Well fuck all those people. This is a new goddamned world, and Josh Freeman is going to bring his show to you all again this year, with a little bit more attention, and by this time three years from now, when Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are still trying to get to a Super Bowl, you'll be knowing the young and loveable and best of both worlds (black and white) quarterback named Josh Freeman is truly, without a doubt, an elite player in this league, even if he can juke a DB when he gets flushed out the pocket.
WORST CASE SCENARIO (Neil): I am not buying the Buccaneers’ renaissance. Last year’s team was one of those that got by with shit like grit, hustle, mirrors and the help of a junky wizard who probably owed someone on the team money and agreed to tap into some black magic craziness to make us all believe that the Bucs had gone respectable. But fuck that. I am a man of science and am not down with that kind of charlatanism. And I absolutely don’t trust that kind of GRIT HUSTLE BOY GET YER WRANGLERS ON DOGGY shit that the media furiously beats off over all the damn time. That’s illusory, and it works upon the part of the diseased mind that fetishizes football as some sort of moral passion play. Good football teams win because they are good and because they are talented. There. End of analysis. It’s that simple. Pluck and MacGyver fucking McGruber with a pickle, a rubber band and a stick of bubblegum are not sustainable building blocks. Eventually, that shit will turn on you and you’ll be caught texting pictures of your Munchkin dong to plasticized whores who will sell you out faster than they sold their own souls because that’s what plasticized whores do. And then everyone will laugh at you and your stadium’s roof will collapse. But we’re not here to talk about the Vikings. We’re here to talk about the Buccaneers, and the only reason I dare to allude to the Dark Lord Favre is because last year people were pretty quick to slobber all over Josh Freeman and tab him the new Favre, which would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that it was only one season and that these sorts of seasons happen all the damn time and then the next year the shitbird team that somehow managed to ride a bus made of pluck, grit and unicorn wishes to a surprise 10-6 season ends up going 6-10. Happens all the time. Just ask the Jaguars. That doesn’t mean that Josh Freeman isn’t any good. He is. It’s just that I remember last season, and I remember my Lions riding into Tampa Bay, still without a road win in the last 168 years and the Buccaneers were actually scared of the Lions. And then the Lions beat them. That told me all I needed to know about those plucky Buccaneers. They are a team of cowards and false prophets and therefore the worst case scenario for them is ugly and cruel and involves them being crucified or burned alive at the stake as heretics and wicked charlatans after going 6-10. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules. That shit’s in the Bible.
PLAYER TO PULL FOR (Raven): I know because he has been around, a lot of people don't like him, but Ronde Barber is a man I can pull for. I saw both he and his twin brother play at UVA where I live, and even though they were identical and both pro-bound for long successful careers, there was always a marked difference between the two. Whereas Tiki seemed to need validation, probably a shortcoming brought about from being an offensive skill position player, Ronde just did his business, and did it better than anybody else. He continued this into the pros, and in an era where dudes are lucky to get through a second contract on the same team, he's had his entire NFL career in Tampa. Not only that, he is the connection to their past, to the Super Bowl victory under Jon Gruden and insane Monte Kiffin defense that knocked the NFL on its ass for a few long years. He is the connection to when the orange uniforms weren't throwbacks but standard game day gear. He is the short history of success in red and pewter that Tampa Bay has achieved. And he's the veteran presence to school the youngsters - including his head coach - in the locker room. And he did it all without acting like a complete douchebag like his twin brother made a habit of doing, both in New York, and then in broadcasting.
PLAYER TO HATE MOST (Neil): Look, I don’t really care enough about anyone on this dumb and pointless team to really hate anyone. Actually, that’s not true. I care about LeGarrette Blount, but I like him, which is why he ended up as my pick for running back for the All-ACLB Team. Everyone else is pretty much just there. Oh, I guess I could pick Kellen Winslow. He seems like kind of an asshole, like the sort of dude who would get caught in a crack house getting sucked off by a junky with no teeth left just because she owed her dealer who also happened to be a Miami booster but then he’d conveniently get left out of the police report and get to go back to his apartment while his teammates all spent the night in jail together just because his daddy was rich. That seems like the sort of dude Kellen Winslow is. He’s a fake bullshit soldier and he probably loves to do shit like dress up in fatigues and scream WAR at the top of his lungs while he’s riding around in his Humvee with dudes in polo shirts named Chet and Lance. He thinks he’s the fucking man and likes to pretend that he’s all hard but the truth is that he’s probably just some coddled spoiled rich boy who gets off on being a fake badass. A soldier? Shit, Kellen Winslow would probably get his ass beat by the No Limit Soldiers and that’s some sorry ass shit right there. Look, I’m just riffing here. I don’t know that much about Kellen Winslow, other than him getting messed up in that shit down in Miami, screaming “I’m a soldier!” that one time and hurting his knees all the damn time and he could be a cool dude, but these are just my impressions. He sets off my bullshit detector, which was created by NASA scientists in conjunction with Einstein’s brain, which was saved and is kept alive in a glass jar filled with special alien electrolytes in a secret facility inside of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. So, I’m sorry, Kellen Winslow, but it’s the merest of science.
BEST NAME ON TEAM: Ashton Youboty.
IN A PERFECT WORLD (Neil): Man, these things keep getting longer and longer, but fuck it, we all knew this would happen. Anyway, in a perfect world the Buccaneers will be exposed as the pretenders that they are, they will slip to 6-10 and everyone will point to that time when they were beaten up by the Lions as the beginning of the end of their failed renaissance. I like Josh Freeman. Well, not really. I don’t give a fuck about him one way or the other to be honest with you, but I don’t hate him either so I feel like he should be given the chance to be a good quarterback. But I just don’t want it to happen in Tampa Bay. I can’t tell you why. It’s one of the great mysteries of our time, like how magnets work and why assholes at the beach always feed the seagulls even though it makes them all obscene and wild and will cause them to shit all over you in spite. Those hateful winged rats. Fuck them. Anyway, no one knows why. It just is what it is. Perhaps I am just in a harsh mood, violent and deranged or maybe I have psychically tapped into a future world where Josh Freeman eats babies and performs analingus on unsuspecting goats (Was that the worst thing I’ve ever made you picture, Josh Freeman tossing a goat’s salad? I mean, come on, goats will eat anything, so who knows what foul, well, shit Josh Freeman would have to work through. Okay, now that’s definitely the worst thing I’ve ever made you picture, no? At the very least, it was the most random, right? Wait, come back . . . Is there anyone even reading anymore? Shit, I don’t blame you. Not that you can read this if you’re not here. Right? Who am I talking to then? Whoa, this is getting kinda heavy. Who knew that talk about Josh Freeman defiling goats would lead to such an existential dilemma?) All I know is that in my perfect world the Buccaneers will return to the land of the eternally shitty and Josh Freeman will be protested by PETA for what he did to those goats. I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that they play the Lions in Week 1. Nothing at all.
PROGNOSIS (Raven): Last year was no fluke. This team is great enough to repeat that 10-6 season, and actually sneak into the playoffs as a wild card entrant, though they will probably lose in that first weekend of playoff games in January. But it will be one more step towards their ultimate potential.