Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Race For Suh

The Bucs’ ugly ’09 reached new heights this week with Jim Bates being stripped of his title of defensive coordinator. Hey, at least he lasted 3 months longer than Jagz. As a result, Raheem Morris assumes the role of DC (the job he should have started the season with) for the Bucs’ final 6 games. Of those games I think even the most optimistic Buc fan would see no more than 2 wins. After this week’s matchup against the Falcons, the following 3 contests should be somewhat competitive given how each of those teams is currently performing. I don’t like the Bucs’ chances of winning at Carolina or Seattle, but they might have a shot against the Jets if Sanchez and company continue their downward spiral.

Let’s say they win 1 more game to finish 2-14. As bad as that looks, sounds, and smells, the Bucs might have a bit of competition for the #1 pick. Who are those fortunate franchises?

Well, 5 of them sit at 3-7 on the year (Buffalo, Kansas City, Oakland, Washington and Seattle), and they all have at least 1 winnable game remaining on their schedules.
Buffalo – MIA, NYJ, @KC
Kansas City – BUF, CLE, and 2 against the plummeting Broncos
Oakland – WAS and @CLE
Washington – @OAK
Seattle – @STL, TB, TEN

Let’s assume that they each win one more game. With 4 wins, that removes any chance (IMO) of a tiebreaker with the Bucs.

That leaves the Browns, Lions, and Rams competing with the Bucs for the right to be the worst team in the league. Their remaining schedules:

Detroit (2-8) – GB, @CIN, @BAL, ARI, @SF, CHI
The Lions were a part of last week’s most exciting game, a contest which allowed them to earn their second victory of the season. Looking at their remaining opponents, it’s a good thing they got that win last week because I don’t see another one on the horizon.

Cleveland (1-9) – @CIN, SD, PIT, @KC, OAK, JAX
Man they’re bad, but if they play with the same energy they brought to Detroit last week, I could see them winning one of those final three games putting them at 2-15 on the season.

St. Louis (1-9) – SEA, @CHI, @TEN, HOU, @ARI, SF
Assuming (I know, HUGE thing to do) that the Bucs win another game, I think these guys are picking first overall. I don’t see the Rams beating any of those teams, especially with Marc Bulger out with a leg fracture. He’s not Peyton Manning, but he’s better than Kyle Boller.

Uh oh, Tampa Bay may not have an unimpeded path to making Ndamukong Suh a Buccaneer. There’s one team that I see standing in their way, and if the Bucs manage to win another game, things could get dicey.

St. Louis – Bulger shouldn’t and probably won’t be the guy in St. Louis beyond this season. Their biggest need is finding his replacement, and they will likely have a few options when looking to do so. I still think that Clausen, Bradford, or Locker will be the preference.

Cleveland – See St. Louis. Despite possibly finishing with a better record than the Rams, the Browns might arguably be in worse shape. They certainly will if Manjackass returns as HC. Even if they do hire a new HC and GM (as I 100% expect them to do), I don’t see the Browns spending any more time on Brady Quinn. I see them starting over there, and whoever the Rams don’t select should be options for the Browns.

Detroit – Here’s the Bucs biggest competition for Suh IMO. If the Bucs and Lions finish with the same record, the Lions will get the earlier pick due to a far weaker strength of schedule. They too could certainly use a guy like Suh in the middle of the front of their defense. That said I still think that LT is going to be their pick. How much longer are they going to trot Jeff Backus out there with Matthew Stafford under center? The rookie passer from Georgia might be the biggest factor that allows the Bucs to draft Suh.

Watch these final six weeks closely. If Detroit is able to somehow upset one of their remaining opponents, I think it’s a done deal, but if not, Bucs fans might be in for more disappointment. For what it’s worth, I’ve got my eye on Detroit's finale at home against the Bears as the game that could make this discussion a non-issue.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and Go Lions!!


  1. Let me give you some context as to why I fear the way this draft will play out for the Bucs. In 1989 there were five prospects that were considered sure bet future pro-bowl caliber NFL players. Among them: Deion, Derrick Thomas, Troy Aikman, and Barry Sanders. The Bucs chose sixth, and those players not members of that elite set were considered marginal. One of those players about whom there were doubts was Broderick Thomas, who had a very pedestrian career of tackling ball carriers 8 yards past the line of scrimmage and having short passes floated over his head that would explode into 20 yard gains. There are three very good DT's that will go quickly in April, and while the Bucs may get one of the ones not named N. Suh, I dread seeing him in another uniform anchoring a SuperBowl caliber defensive unit. I think he's the kind of player that in two years will be in the running for a DPY award.


  2. i've been watching suh in the nebraska-texas game, and i would not be entirely opposed to the bucs forfeiting their remaing games to ensure they acquire his rights in april.


  3. Suh is easily the most dominant player in college football and the defensive equivalent of a franchise QB.

    The only excuse for not drafting him would be because someone took him ahead of us.