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Saturday, September 26, 2009
Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


Time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in our continuing series of team-by-team mailbags:

Tony in Spring Hill, Fla., writes: I'm actually one of a few Bucs fans who was happy with the Glazers firing Gruden and hiring Morris, who seems like he has got something planned beyond the next 14 games. My question is, beyond some sort of miracle this season, what do Bucs fans look forward to in order to get more people in the seats? Do you see Freeman coming in before the bye week if Leftwich becomes interception prone?

Pat Yasinskas: Tony, I’m glad you can see the bigger picture. A lot of my neighbors and friends here in Tampa are freaking out about the Bucs starting 0-2. Did you really expect anything different? I mean, it’s been pretty clear since Raheem Morris was hired and started making moves that this was going to be a rebuilding season. It’s a lot like when Tony Dungy came here in 1996. Dungy, very slowly, changed things around and got his system to work. Morris may or may not have the same success, but you need to look beyond the short term at this situation. This season will be a success if the Bucs show progress later in the year, especially if Josh Freeman gets on the field and plays well. That will generate plenty of excitement. My guess is you’ll see Freeman starting after the Bucs return from their trip to London.


Carlos in Panama City writes: Pat, any news on the Arron Sears front, or do you still have to keep quiet on that one? Simply asking because Sears would allow Zuttah to move to center; Both would be a much better upgrade of the other (Sears is better than Zuttah and Zuttah is better than Mahan).

Pat Yasinskas: All I can say on that one is that Sears is dealing with a personal issue and we won’t say anything more about it unless Sears or the team wants to go into more detail. It’s a sensitive situation and I wish Sears all the best. But I don’t think you’ll see him returning to the Bucs anytime soon and they’re not counting on it. They’re going to stick with Sean Mahan as their starting center until Jeff Faine gets back.


Nelson in Tampa writes: I'm not hitting the panic button on my Bucs just yet, I'll give Raheem some time. But I'm looking to next year if we do have an awful season. What do you think are chances are at Tebow if that happens?

Pat Yasinskas: Ah, the Tim Tebow question. Knew that one would be coming before long. My short answer is he won’t land in Tampa Bay because the Bucs just invested a first-round draft pick in a quarterback with Freeman and they’ve made it very clear he’s the future of the franchise. If the Bucs have an early pick in the draft, I’d be stunned if they used it on Tebow, even if every Gators fan from Brooksville to Apopka was waving orange and blue flags on Dale Mabry Highway. That would be steering away from whatever plan Morris and general manager Mark Dominik have. That said, I know the talk last year was that Tebow couldn’t play quarterback in the NFL and would have to move to tight end. I disagree with that. The more I see of Tebow, the more I believe he’ll be able to do whatever it takes to be an NFL quarterback. But it won’t be in Tampa.


JR in Tampa writes: I was surprised to see that on your piece about Rising and Falling stars in the south, you only pointed out bad in Tampa. I mean, yes, they are looking very bad and as predicted. But on the Rising section, I can't believe you wouldn't give any praise to the bright spots here. I mean Cadillac has done this miracle from having rubber band ligaments and the overall offense being ranked in the top five in the NFL.

Pat Yasinskas: Your point is taken. But our weekly Stock Watch is limited to three players in each category and I’m usually going to put players from winning teams into the rising category. I think I might have put Cadillac Williams in the rising category in Week 1. Either way, let’s again give Cadillac his props for coming back from a second major knee injury. Also, I do recognize Tampa Bay’s offense is playing very well. That’s rare for this territory. But the Bucs have to do something about that defense before we can really raise their stock.