What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
EDITOR’S NOTE: Boyd Bergquist was the sports director at KETS-TV in East Tree Stump, Nebraska for almost 40 years. Known across the Husker state as the voice of the Boy’s High School Basketball Tournament, Bergquist was a four-time winner of the Marv J. Butz “Golden Cob” Award For Excellence In Nebraska Broadcast Journalism. That background, along with his quick if not cliché-riddled wit and love of single-malt scotch makes Bergquist a perfect fit to be our “Question” guy.
The National Football League (NFL) season is right around the corner, and since we haven’t had a pre-season from which a million questions spring eternal, judging by what’s been coming in from the ol’ mailbag, there’s really two main themes to the questions rolling in here at Dubsism. They both can be stated in comments made by two of our regular readers.
Our old friend SportsChump lives in the Tampa Bay area and fancies himself a Buccaneer fan, which is why he left us the following comment. Let me walk you through it so we can get all the nuances here:
Let’s cut to the chase considering football is almost upon us. It’s a wild time here in Tampa and not only because people are now starting to make liquor in their bathtub.
While, as you suggest, this little (okay, not so little) Brady experiment has the odds stacked against it, they continue to load up on roster talent. just take a look at the running backs this guy has in his backfield. And his tight ends. And his wide receivers.
Here’s what I said that he’s reacting to:
Do you think this Tom Brady thing is going to work in Tampa? The odds say no…the track history of championship quarterbacks getting another ring delivered to a new mailing address isn’t good. Think Johnny Unitas in San Diego, Joe Namath with the Rams, Joe Montana and the failed Chiefs experiment, and Brett Favre through his 18 retirements…and that’s just for openers. The one time it worked, the Denver Broncos had to drag Peyton Manning’s corpse up to the podium to get the Lombardi trophy.
Yes…history is not on the side of the Bucs here, but frankly there’s five points which might make Tampa an exception. Chump touches on the the first one.
In all his time in New England, Brady never had a set of weapons like this. He may have had guys in each category at one time or another, but he’s never had this abundance at one time.
For starters, the Buccaneers have two wide-outs who are both capable of ripping the top off any pass-coverage scheme. Chris Godwin led the team with 86 receptions last season, followed by Mike Evans with 67.
Follow that with a trio of tight ends who are all formidable threats in their own right. Cameron Brate hauled in 36 catches in 2019, while O.J. Howard snared 34 of his own. And let’s not forget Rob “I’m coming out of retirement” Gronkowski. Top it all off with Ronald Jones II’s 31 catches out of the back-field, and Tampa has no want of receiving talent.
But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out an important fact about Tampa’s new 43-year old quarterback.
Let’s cut through the crapola here. There’s two words for why this team didn’t make the play-offs last year: Jameis Winston. You simply can’t chuck 30 interceptions and 7 “pick-sixes” and expect to play in January.
All things being equal, all Brady has to do is step on the field and “screw the pooch” less than 30 times to be an upgrade under center. Even at his advanced age, and as Charles Barkey says “Father Time is undefeated,” that seems like a lock.
Given all that, let’s take a look at another point Chump had pretty well-nailed
Let’s just hope for his sake this O-Line can keep Brady from being on his back side in that backfield.
That’s a bit on the obvious side, but the point it raises is important.
While it will be crucial to keep “Gramps” Brady on his feet, here’s a guy who did a lot of saving his own butt by getting rid of the ball on a two or three count when that Patriot offensive line was a collection of five ham sandwiches.
Say whatever you want to about Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, but no matter where he’s been, his offenses are all about giving his quarterback time to make reads and deliver the ball. Don’t forget in 2015 Arians engineered an offense which allowed a nearly-immobile Carson Palmer to lead the Arizona Cardinals to a 13-3 record while racking up a completion rate of 63.7% with 35 touchdowns against 11 picks. That doesn’t happen without the ability to control the line of scrimmage, so even though everybody is going to look out of sorts with no pre-season, it’s something everybody has to deal with.
In other words, I wouldn’t rush to judgement on this offense. It might take a little time for everything to gel….but it most likely will. Having said all that this team will not be able to rely on the passing game alone.
Now, once a team can control the line of scrimmage, the best way to blunt a pass rush is to establish a running game. It’s even better if rushing attack is a physical, “punch you in the mouth,” between-the-tackles attack.
That’s why I think the recent signing of Leonard Fournette may very well be the move that could put this team over the top. The former Jaguar may have worn out his welcome in Jacksonville, but that now he’s getting his mail a few hours down the road in Tamps, he no longer has to be “savior” of an inept offense.
Instead, Fournette can be the early-down bruising “ground and pound” running back he’s built to be, and won’t have to worry about having to fulfill multiple roles. Ronald Jones II easily fill the role of the receiver out of the backfield, there three tight ends who can work the seams and make catches over the middle. Brady’s “kryptonite” has always been the rush coming right up the middle, and Fournette is the perfect back to keep those “hand on the ground” pass-rushers honest.
But that’s only one side of the ball.
Yeah, it’s easy to talk about quarterbacks, receivers, running backs and the like…that’s what fantasy football is made of. But with the Buccaneers, and hopes for a Super Bowl will depend on whether their defense can be the dominant unit it gave us glimpses of last season. The secondary is young, but incredibly talented, and it only got better with the addition of Antoine Winfield, Jr. Devin White and Lavonte David may very well be the most athletic linebacker duo in all the NFL; they can play “run-stopper” while Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, and Shaq Barrett disrupt pretty much any pass-protection scheme put in front of them.
That kind of talent led by defensive guru Todd Bowles means that “on paper,” the Bucs should field a “Top 3”-level defense. If that pans out, the Buccaneers become a complete team which can control both sides of the line of scrimmage and has a “field marshal” of a quarterback who knows a little something about winning.
It all boils down to this. I’m a bottom line kind of guy, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can make a convincing case they are Super Bowl contenders. You can talk about the construct of any championship team in any sports; the one thing they will all have in common is everything went right for them. For the bucs to hoist another Lombardi trophy, most of the things I just mentioned need to happen, and they have to avoid the injury bug. If that happens, the sky’s the limit. If not, it’s another 10-6 season which may or may not end up with this team in the play-offs.
Either way, we’re going to get “must-see” TV with a Tom Brady-Drew Brees going head-to-head twice…maybe even three times depending on how the play-off cookie crumbles.
Now, for Chump’s final comments…
Should be fun to watch, if only we were allowed inside the stadium. It’d be even more shit-showier than the beer-fests those games normally are. Either way, the homer in me is still gonna take the over 9 1/2 on their win total, because I too like to live dangerously.
In that first sentence, Chump hit on the second theme which has been overwhelming the mailbag here. I’ll get into that in a minute. But before I get into that serious topic, that second sentence alludes to a couple of contests going on out there. There’s still time to get in on SportsChump’s NFL Over/Under challenge. It’s easy…Vegas sets a number on how many games a team will win this season, and you bet that team will win more or less than that number. The tie-breaker is picking the total number of wins for the three Florida NFL franchises. Easy stuff which will give you a season’s worth of cheap entertainment. And as long as we are talking about NFL contests, you can still get in on “Surprise’s Super Bowl Of Surprises” 2020 Football Pick ‘Em Challenge. This one’s even easier…pick the winners for each NFL game every week, the person who picks the most winners gets a gift pack of stuff.
But time’s running out…you have to join either challenge by the start of the first game on Thursday, September 10th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. time.
We got tons of messages reflecting this sentiment, but the one from long-time reader Jbsptfn best represented the uncertainty our readers are showing about the upcoming NFL season.
I’m not sure if this football season is going to go the whole way because of COVID.
I tend to stay out of the “crystal ball” business when it comes to the world outside of sports, J-Dub has a knack for nailing things like this because he largely ignores political ideologies and just strips the bullshit off things. He says that COVID-19 has been over-politicized and despite the best scare tactics from the media, the American people aren’t buying it anymore. He says that means in order for another shutdown to happen, it won’t happen from fudged numbers and media bluster; there’s going to have to be bodies stacked up in the streets and that simply isn’t going to happen. I can’t help but think he has a point when he says “real” pandemics don’t need arguments telling you how dangerous some people believe they are.
Sunday coronavirus positivity: Just 4.6% positive on cases nationwide today. Hospitalizations have dropped nearly 50% over past several weeks. Now at lowest level hospitalized since June 26th. Deaths plummeting. Cases too. Pray for coronabros. https://t.co/ANN2tMAdFO
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 7, 2020
He says the real threat to the NFL is the NFL itself. For whatever reason, Commissioner Roger Goodell think politicizing the NFL is a good idea. J-Dub says that’s a bad move from a strictly business perspective because the minute you do so, you fractionalize your market. Goodell has also backed himself into a corner because his tacit support of Black Lives Matter sets him up for a “no-win” situation.
J-Dub explained it to me like this. Goodell has a touchy problem on his hands. No matter what you think about the current social situation in America, there’s no doubting it’s being driven along racial lines. Goodell has a league where the revenue-producing fan-base is predominantly white, and the players in the NFL are predominantly black. What that means is depending what happens between now and the election and the aftermath thereof, there’s going to be winners and losers. The problem for Goodell is it may not matter.
J-Dub thinks that Goodell’s tacit support of Black Lives Matter is all about ensuring labor peace, and that it’s a flawed strategy because it only increases the possibility of the “worst-case scenario”…a player walkout. The league and the Player’s Association signed a collective bargaining agreement last spring, but the absence of a possible labor stoppage didn’t stop the National Basketball Association players from staging a boycott a few weeks back. The NFL players could easily do the same thing; there’s already been talk of various forms of protest, and the idea of staging a walkout has been discussed.
Here are the scenarios J-Dub laid out. Goodell somehow manages to keep the peace until the election, at which point one of two things happen. The side that the player’s union wants to win emerges victorious, and being emboldened by the result, the union makes a further list of demands from the league. Either Goodell, the owner’s, or both reject these demands for whatever reason, and the player’s stage a walkout. On the other hand, if the players union doesn’t like the election result, they easily could stage a walkout in protest.
You can agree or disagree all you want with that, but you can’t say either of those scenarios aren’t at least plausible. That’s just as plausible as the idea of how much damage a labor stoppage would be for the NFL…every sports fan in America just spent four or five months learning to live without sports, and the tanked TV ratings for the NBA play-off speak volumes to what the American sports fan is willing to…or not…accept.
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