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Panthers vs. Bucs: Blogger Q&A


It's Wednesday Panther fans and that means its time to move past last weeks game and onto the match-up at hand. This week the Panthers travel to the Big Sombrero that is Tampa Stadium, home of the Buccaneers. The blogger team from SBN’s Buc ‘em blog joins us this week for the next installment of blogger Q&A. Providing the answers to my five questions is Niko, BucWild and UNFNole who blog quite robustly about the Tampa Bay Bucs. Be sure to check out my answers to their questions over at Buc em.

If you should have a question or two as well feel free to post it in the comments and we’ll see if we can get one of the guys to come over and answer it by the end of the week.

Let’s get this party started:

Question 1: We might as well start at the top. So what is your impression on new HC Raheem Morris at this point? Is there anything about him that has surprised you? Still happy?

Buc ‘em: I'm one of the people who actually knew about Raheem Morris before February of 2009. When he came back from one year at Kansas State, he immediately repaired a great deal of damage from the 2006 secondary, which became a fantastic 2007 defensive backfield. Has Morris made mistakes? Yes. The Training Camp, OTAs, Preseason battle between McCown and Leftwich, all wasted. The Offensive coordinator shambles, and perhaps even the choice of defensive coordinator, which we won’t know for some time if that was a mistake. Cutting Derrick Brooks and his leadership could be another one. There are many Bucs fans who want him removed ASAP. But the knowledgeable football fans understand that the real problem of the Bucs is a lack of experience and talent. Instead of retooling, Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen repaired holes with band-aids, aging veterans and castoffs that are no longer in the league. 

It doesn’t sound an ideal first season for the Morris regime.

Question 2. So is your offense now a passing offense or are you still a running offense? Which should the Panthers plan for the most?

Buc ‘em: It depends on how fast and much of a lead you get on us! The Bucs have been passing a lot because they have fallen behind a lot. Also, they have run the ball well at home. You can expect a heavy dose of Cadillac and Ward, but if you get 14 points spotted on us early that might change that prediction. Or if you’re able to shut down the run like Philly Was, that too could put the ball more in Josh Johnson hands.

The Panthers will certainly want to force the Bucs to play catch up and throw the ball. SS Chris Harris has a big match-up with TE Kellen Winslow.

Question 3. Tell us about the QB situation. Are you happy with Josh Johnson at QB? Do you expect rookie QB Josh Freeman to get a start soon?

Buc ‘em: Josh Johnson has really shown remarkable improvement in just the two games he has played in so far. Bucs fans know Josh Freeman is supposed to be the future of this franchise, but Coach Morris has said this is Johnson's team until Freeman is ready. Freeman has the physical tools to be successful, but Johnson has the ability to stretch the play with his feet, and has a quick release and accurate/ strong arm. As long as he is not part of the problem, Bucs fans are cheering for JJ.

For those Johnson fans it sounds like this kid could become available in the future. He is just the kind of player the Panthers would target in free agency.

Question 4. How have the big Free Agent acquisitions RB Derrick Ward and TE Kellen Winslow met expectations? How do you rate those moves so far?

Buc ‘em: They came after the failure to secure arguably the biggest prize in free agency, Albert Haynesworth. They were met with immediate applause, which turned to some little boos as K2 got a contract extension and did not show up for all the OTAs. However, with his 100+  yard game last week, Bucs fans got to see that K2 can be Josh Johnson's best friend in the passing game, and Derrick Ward simply hasn’t had a chance because quick 14 point deficits have had the Bucs offense more in passing mode. When he has gotten the chance, Ward has made the best of it, and Bucs fans know that no matter what, the running back position is the deepest on the team, and not a major cause for concern.                                                                                                            

We know that Derrick Ward and Warrick Dunn can hurt us so there’s even more emphasis on getting an early lead.

Question 5. Has perennial Pro Bowl LB Derrick Brooks been adequately replaced? Who's your defensive MVP to date?

Buc ‘em: There is no way to replace a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer like Derrick Brooks. You just try to do your best to refill in the position. Geno Hayes was Brooks’ protégé last season, and still gets text pointers from ESPN's newest member. Hayes, like Brooks, is considered a little on the small size, but what Hayes mostly lacks is the experience Derrick brought to the position. One such example is the Slow It Down play you can see on our site from Wednesday. Brooks would have sniffed that play out; instead the Eagles used it to trick Hayes. Defensive End Jimmy Wilkerson had three sacks vs. the Eagles, and has been the lone standout on the Defensive line which needs a complete overhaul in the offseason.                                          

I’m still surprised Brooks hasn’t landed somewhere else. I’m also surprised to hear the DL needs an overhaul. It sounds like RT Jeff Otah may have his hands full with Wilkerson.

Score prediction:

Buc ‘em: Probably a close game as most Carolina/Tampa Bay games seem to go. Probably not a whole lot of defense, nor offense either for that matter. 50 total points seems about right any way you want to slice them up. 23-21 should be the score, and for the last time this season, I will pick Tampa Bay.  

I'm thinking its more like 31-17 Panthers.