In preparation of Sunday's intrastate battle between the Dolphins and Buccaneers, myself and Niko from Buc 'Em - SBN's Bucs blog - have exchanged some questions about each other's team. Niko's responses to my questions about the Bucs are below. Be sure to head over to Buc' Em to see my responses to his questions about the Dolphins sometime in Thursday.
Matty I: While many aren't surprised with the struggles that Tampa Bay has gone through this season, I don't think anyone thought they'd struggle this much. What's been the single biggest reason for Tampa's disappointing start?
Niko: Its hard to put it on one reason, but the bottom line is the Bucs did for 2009 what they were supposed to do probably in 2006 or 2004. Instead of rebuilding, they kept plugging in BandAids, and now in 2009, that was all that was left. Youngsters, and bandaids. The little flesh colored plastic bandages were removed in the offseason, and now this team has to put together a real team like it did for Tony Dungy in 1996.
Matty I: Josh Freeman made his first career start on Sunday against the Packers and, from an outsider's perspective, played relatively well in leading his team to their first win. Can you break down Freeman's game in a nut shell (strengths, weaknesses, etc...)?
Niko: We were all amazed mostly at his poise. Here is a kid who did not start out brilliantly, and had many drops kill his completion percentage. But unlike other quarterbacks in recent years, Freeman was able to convert 3rd downs and convert red zone opportunities into Touchdowns instead of FGs. He did great moving around and throwing on the move.
Matty I: Many might not be very familiar with these Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tell us a player or two that Dolphin fans might not know too well right now but will certainly be familiar with by the end of Sunday's game.
Niko: Wide receiver Sammy Stroughter (#18) was an up and coming college player who had three or four close relatives die all at once. He suffered from depression at the worst time, going into his senior season and the combine. The Bucs got a steal picking him up in the 7th round and he is going to be a leading receiver for Freeman in the years to come. He ran a kickoff back for a TD, too. Geno Hayes from Florida State wore Derrick Brooks number in Tallahassee, and he has taken his old job now, too. Hayes is coming into his own as a linebacker.
Matty I: How do you see Sunday's game unfolding? Who wins and why?
Niko: We're really not sure how to grade the Bucs win over the Packers, but we know we are still not stocked with enough talent on defense to implement Jim Bates defensive system which Dolphins fans know oh so well. I think it will be a close game and feel that Miami will run for over 250 yards - and we know what happens when you run for that much. If Miami cant run for 100 yards, it will spell trouble for you.
Matty I: And finally, same question back to you. If you could have any player on the Dolphins' roster, who would it be?
Niko: Ted Ginn Jr. would be nice, as we are lacking in WR help.
Thanks to Niko for his time. And be sure to head over to his blog for a little Dolphins talk.
And yes, I too almost fell out of my chair when I read that Niko would like to see Ted Ginn in Tampa Bay. But jokes aside, I wonder if that statement by Niko should tell us something about how others feel about Teddy. Are we being too hard on him because of his draft status - which isn't Ted's fault at all? Maybe there is still hope for him. If nothing else, assuming the Dolphins find a receiver who can stretch the field this offseason, perhaps the Dolphins should call up Niko and help him persuade Tampa's front office to give up a draft pick for Teddy.