NFC South: NFL Films

Jaws: Bucs don't have enough offense

September, 1, 2011
When you see my season predictions Thursday afternoon, you’ll see that I’m very high on Tampa Bay’s offense. But not everybody falls into that same category.

Take "Monday Night Football" analyst Ron Jaworski for one. On a conference call with the other members of the broadcast crew Wednesday, Jaworski was asked if the Bucs have enough weapons surrounding Josh Freeman.

“I really don't,’’ Jaworski said. “I think Josh Freeman and I know we've had this discussion before. I think he's a rising star. He's got everything you could want in a quarterback from a physical side, all the throws. He was wired by NFL Films last year, and I listened to his demeanor in the huddle at the line of scrimmage, so you know he's got the cerebral approach down. I think he's a terrific young quarterback.

But that’s where Jaworski veered in another direction.

“I think they have to run the football a lot more consistent,’’ Jaworski said. “Obviously, LeGarrette Blount came in and did an outstanding job last year. I still don't think they've got enough. They've got some quality at the wide receiver in (Mike) Williams and (Arrelious) Benn. I just don't see a team where I say, wow, they're going to scare me right now on the offensive side of the football. I think, as this offense begins to evolve and grow around Josh, then it can become a dynamic offense.’’

I’d throw out the names of receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Sammie Stroughter and tight end Kellen Winslow to argue the Bucs can be a pretty dynamic offense. Dynamic enough to score with Drew Brees and the Saints and Matt Ryan and the Falcons? Maybe so.

But the thing I worry about more is Tampa Bay’s defense being able to keep Brees and Ryan from piling up points.
Although there have been no indications any talks are going on between the Atlanta Falcons and HBO’s “Hard Knocks," general manager Thomas Dimitroff might have been sending a signal in a radio interview Friday.

“I truly believe that an organization has to be in the right spot to jump into something like 'Hard Knocks,'" Dimitroff said. “I think it sheds a lot of light on our league. This is a league of entertainment. There are some traditionalists that struggle with it, but they have to work against the grain a little bit and see that this is about entertainment. 'Hard Knocks' is a good show for the fan base.”

That comes two years after the Falcons declined an opportunity to be featured on the show. Earlier this week, Tampa Bay turned down an offer to be the star of the show this summer.

“We are much closer to being in that spot where it’s not going to be as much of a distraction as it would have been another time,’’ Dimitroff said. “It’s such an individual thing. 'Hard Knocks' could be right for some of the teams that are fairly entrenched. It could be right for some team that wants to kick off some more brand recognition.”

The Falcons are a team with lots of veterans and young players just hitting their prime. They probably could handle the distractions that come with opening their lives to cameras for all of training camp. With three consecutive winning seasons behind them, the Falcons haven’t won a playoff game in the Dimitroff/Mike Smith era and there’s growing pressure due to that fact.

Appearing on “Hard Knocks’’ could help raise Atlanta’s national profile and perhaps help owner Arthur Blank’s quest for a new stadium. But it also could add pressure to a team that already has plenty of it.

An appearance on the show could still be a year or two off. You have to believe the show already had some backup plans in place beyond the Bucs and, despite the lockout, is probably moving forward on those plans. Again, there have been no indications that HBO or NFL Films, which produces the show, have approached the Falcons about a starring role this year. Then again, after hearing what Dimitroff had to say, the show could come calling.
We first told you back in March that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were getting strong consideration to be the team featured in this summer’s edition of HBO’s “Hard Knocks."

Well, it looks like that’s getting closer to being a reality. No deal has been agreed to yet, but Scott Reynolds reports that the show has been offered to the Buccaneers and it’s up to the Bucs to decide if they want to take all the good and the bad that comes with opening all your doors, windows and closets to NFL Films for more than a month.

As I pointed out in this post back in March, there are all sorts of good and bad things that can come with something like this. It could help boost the profile a young team that appears to be rising but still is having trouble selling tickets. It also could put coaches and players into spots that could portray them in a negative light.

In this story, Rick Stroud has more on the pros and cons of appearing on “Hard Knocks." He caught up with Herm Edwards, who was coaching Kansas City when the Chiefs were featured on the show. Edwards does a nice job explaining the good and the bad sides.

Of course, the labor situation could make this all a moot point. If there is no training camp, there won’t be a new edition of “Hard Knocks." But that’s out of Tampa Bay’s control.

The Bucs have to make a big decision as an organization on this one. There’s little doubt the exposure would be beneficial. But the other thing they have to be willing to accept is the fact that, if they sign off on this, things will be out of their control.

The camera crews will be free to capture everything. The Bucs, like any NFL team, have some wonderful things going on and personalities like coach Raheem Morris and quarterback Josh Freeman could really shine in this environment. But, like any other NFL team, the Bucs also have some things and players that may not come across in a positive light.

They’ve got to put it all on a scale and ultimately decide if the good outweighs the bad.

Around the NFC South

February, 7, 2011
The Super Bowl, and all that goes with it, is over. But let’s take a look back at the weekend and some NFC South themes and stories that emerged.

Our Chris Mortensen reported that rock star Jon Bon Jovi has been negotiating to become a partial owner of the Atlanta Falcons. This isn’t a total surprise because Bon Jovi has previously owned an Arena League team and is a football fan. Mortensen reports Bon Jovi’s potential stake in the team would be 15 percent, which is pretty significant compared to some limited partners across the league. But a deal like this could give Falcons owner Arthur Blank a big cash infusion as he works to get a new outdoor stadium.

Joe Biddle writes that Atlanta coach Mike Smith is the perfect model for what the Titans should be looking for in their coaching search. Ironically, Tennessee has interviewed Smith’s offensive coordinator, Mike Mularkey, and a decision should be coming soon.

New Orleans owner Tom Benson was featured in a commercial on local television just before the Super Bowl in which he thanked the fans for their role in the Saints winning last year’s Super Bowl and said “together we can do it again."

Former Carolina coach Dom Capers was an unsung hero as Green Bay’s defensive coordinator Sunday night. You can throw in former Carolina defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac, who now is Green Bay’s defensive line coach, too.

Fine job by my friend Ira Kaufman in his presentation that helped launch NFL Films founder Ed Sabol into the Hall of Fame. I know this was a cause Kaufman felt strongly about for a long time. As the Tampa Bay voter on the Hall of Fame board, Kaufman theoretically would make the presentation for Mike Alstott next year. But, as popular as Alstott is in Tampa Bay, a guy who was a combination running back-fullback but wasn’t dominant at either has no shot at making the list of finalists who get presentations. Kaufman can go ahead and start working on his 2013 presentations for Warren Sapp and John Lynch because they each have a legitimate chance.