An American Perception of the Bucs
As many of you will know from Paul's kind messages on the website and email update I have just got married to my lovely wife Helen. We spent two weeks in Egypt for our honeymoon, partly seeing the jaw dropping sights and partly relaxing. It was during the relaxing stage of our holiday that we in a hotel with a large number of American tourists. I had a Buccaneers jersey on most days on the way to the pool and this, unsurprisingly, drew some attention from the American guests.

Once these Americans had gotten over the fact that a bloke from the West Country of England knew the rules of the game, followed the game religiously and knew more players than Tom Brady and William "The Fridge" Perry, we had some interesting conversations. These American tourists were mainly Green Bay Packer and Washington Redskin fans and both sets of fans shared some interesting views with me of my beloved Buccaneers.

With the American press pretty much predicting that we'll be lucky not to repeat the bad old days of Orange (ironically while partly wearing Orange), it was obvious that the views of your average football fan relating to the Bucs were not overly complimentary. One large, bearded Cheesehead just laughed repeatedly when I explained that I believed that our Offense would do some serious damage this season and that our inexperienced Defense could surprise a few people.

I went on to say that unlike last season we will be a very effect redzone offense. K2 and Stevens in the slot against any defender is a mismatch, added to that Antonio Bryant, surely one of the league's best receivers, a mobile QB (assuming Leftwich doesn't start) and a trifecta of running backs and I think we will prove very hard to stop on short yardage. This appeared to be hilarious to this huge Winconsin native, never really worked out why...

A few nights later we were in the bar and one the Redskins fans happened to be up getting a drink at the same time as me. He'd seen the shirt around the pool and started the conversation by saying,"So your team really suck..." As you can imagine this didn't exactly blossom into an eternal friendship. He how did elaborate his point, and some of what he said did mirror my own concerns.

He'd been in Kansas last year watching Ronde Barber getting burned by a QB with hardly any NFL experience, he said that clearly Ronde isn't anything like the player he used to be and we didn't have the depth to replace him. Hard to disagree with either point. The likes of Elbert Mack are unproven although promising and Aqib Talib can't play both sides! He said that he thought Winslow would be injured more than he played, and that Antonio Bryant and Barrett Ruud (incidently the only other two players he knew because they were in his fantasy team) would become disillusioned with life in Tampa having been stiffed on a new contract.

I know most of us would like both of the above players signed up on long term deals but I can't see either becoming disillusioned enough to effect their play on the field. I had a few more small conversations around these themes during my stay and didn't find one American tourist who thought that we would be anything but playing for the 1st overall draft pick. Myself? I'm a bit more positive and believe what I told the Green Bay fan we can surprise a few people but with a whole new offense, defense and defensive line up it is certainly a matter for debate...