The Mailbag: Tampa Bay edition
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Time to empty the mailbag again. Thanks for filling it up with such good questions. Keep them coming. Since I'm getting so many notes, I'm going to start breaking mailbags up by teams (and I need some help from Falcons' fans to balance things out).
We'll start with the Buccaneers:
Jeff Bender in Tampa writes: PY - what does "pound the rock " mean for Coach JG and the TBB's . 5 minutes -2nd quarter 17-0 lead - good field po. 3 incomplete Griese speacials in a row - 35 seconds WORN off the clock - Falcons get FG - NOW THEY ARE IN THE GAME . EGraham is ready to do some real damage - Oline is best run blocking unit we have ever had - Please help Signed Confused in Carrollwood
Pat Yasinskas: We'll start off with a disclosure here. The letter writer is a friend of mine. He also was the former backup quarterback to Falcons president Rich McKay when they played together at Tampa Jesuit High. Now that Jeff Bender's impressive qualifications have been established, we'll deal with his question. You nailed it, Bender. Running game was working perfectly and Graham gets better as he goes. No need to pull the plug on that just to have Brian Griese throw a few passes and soothe the ego of an offensive guru. Logic says, stick with the running game as much as possible because it's what's working best. We'll see what Gruden says.
Tasp in Clearwater writes: Why all the angst against Gruden. Why do reporters like to bang on him? Is he not 'media friendly'? Seriously, it seems the press is always ragging on him. Fox has been up and down (with no championship) in Charlotte, but no angst with him from the press. What gives?
Pat Yasinskas: Gruden's very media friendly and always a good quote. Problem is he's an NFL coach and he makes millions of dollars. He also makes some unique decisions that aren't always popular and spins them in ways that make his moves easy to question. It's the media's job to question those decisions.
Jim in Simpsonville, SC writes: Pat--Why is loyalty (marriage to a player) such a big deal when the Bucs are discussed in the media? (Tampa radio host) Steve Duemig almost cries when talking about it. Did you ever stop to think that loyalty doesn't really exist in the real world? [between friends and family of course] But when GM fires 20000 employees does loyalty concern anyone? I'm 43. I'm still looking for loyalty in the workplace. I've discovered that the concepts of fairness and loyalty NEVER come into play when money is involved.
Pat Yasinskas: Good point, but I beg to differ and point to an example of why Gruden and the Bucs get bashed so much for not being loyal. Gruden was preceded by Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay and Dungy was huge on loyalty. The fan base got very used to that concept. Dungy once stayed with struggling kicker Michael Husted when he was missing kicks left and right. The truth behind the scenes was Husted was struggling because his mother was rapidly dying of cancer. Dungy knew that, told Husted he would be the kicker no matter what. A couple weeks later, Husted nailed a game-winning kick up in Indianapolis and got his confidence back. Different strokes for different folks and all that -- but if you were Husted or Jeff Garcia would you want Gruden or Dungy coaching you?