Keep an eye on these subplots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers minicamp
#1 Jun 17, 2008
I predict a 9-7 season, which is obtainable only if clubhouse dissent doesn't bring the whole thing down.
#2 Jun 17, 2008
The Bucs still have a lot of talent, but it looks like Gruden is starting to wear thin here. His roster moves have been questionable and the non extension for Graham is unexcusable.
For a coach that won the Super Bowl after Dungy did most of the work, He hasn't done much since then. I wonder if he gets a pass for that. Because he hasn't been that great since the Super Bowl win.
#3 Jun 17, 2008
Gruden does not really have much to do with extension. Bruce Allen is in charge of that. Furthermore, although I am a Gator fan and a huge supporter of Graham, if he thinks he is going to get Frank Gore type money (which has been reported), he is out of his mind. My prediction is both Garcia and Graham will be signed to reasonable extensions before Training Camp.
Second, Gruden is not wearing thin with me at all. I am a long-time Bucs fan, and I like Gruden. I think he is a no-nonsense guy, who expects a lot of from his players.
The Bucs would have NEVER won a Super Bowl under Dungy. Dungy had chances to improve that woeful offense with 3 different Offensive Coordinators. That team was getting old, and their window was closing. Gruden brought in a functional NFL offense that was able to support a dominant defense.
That being said, I believe some of our struggles the last few years were due to the draft picks we lost acquiring Gruden. You have an aging roster, and then lose four Day 1 draft picks, you have a formula for trouble.
#4 Jun 17, 2008
I find it amusing that the media keeps reporting that Grahams' lack of attendance has been a holdout. He has never showed up to more than half the OTA's in any year, and he has repeatedly denied that his absence is due to his contract situation.
He works out on his own, & that gives the other RB's more reps, which equals more opportunities to knock Graham out of his starting job.
Though Graham had a good season, one season does not a make a superstar. Look at Michael Clayton for all the proof you need there. One of the biggest factors in his success last year was the Buc's o-line, which finished the season sixth in the NFL in Adjusted Line Yards per play.
Football Outsiders has a great article devoted to Ernest Graham and I recommend it to anyone looking for articulate football analysis (not knocking the Sentinel).
I believe Graham should get a one year extension right now with a league minimum base salary, heavily laden with performance bonuses. Throw in a million dollar signing bonus to compensate him for the performance bonuses he missed out on last year, that he missed, only due to Gruden resting him the last game and a half of the season.
If he has a superstar season, give him superstar money.
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