NFL Insider Notebook: Split Between Bucs and Fans
Bucs Not Endearing Themselves To the Community
The Tampa Bay Buccanners have been disappointing this year, as they've already lost as many games as a season ago with six games left. Their attendance is still an issue as the Bucs have blacked out every home game but one this. Gary Shelton of the St. Pete Times believes there's a disconnect between the franchise and the fans and ownership is to blame.
Our take: No team is exempt from losing in the NFL and the fans need to realize that. This is another story that sounds like a list of excuses for people not coming to the games. Every team in that particular area struggles with ticket sales despite fielding winners. If it was management's fault, why did a 10-6 team black out all eight home games last season? Perhaps the fans should stop blaming ownership and either support the team or don't complain when they go to Los Angeles or London.
Tebow vs. Elway
In a 102.3 The Ticket radio interview yesterday, Broncos V.P. of Personnel John Elway was asked if he was closer now to figuring out his quarterback situation for the long-term than he was five weeks ago and answered, "no." The greatest Denver Bronco of all-time is now public enemy number one as many fans can't see why the Hall of Fame quarterback doesn't believe that Tim Tebow has the requisite skills to be a championship quarterback. According to this report, Tebow isn't paying much attention to the criticism.
Our take: John Elway has the best interests of the Broncos organization in mind and he knows infinitely more about being a championship quarterback than the fans. Here's a great breakdown on what Tebow needs to do to get better and how the "he just wins games" argument is bogus.
Brunell Gets First-Team Snaps In NY
The New York Jets and head coach Rex Ryan are playing a little "motivational roulette" as they decided to give 41-year old backup quarterback Mark Brunell some first-team snaps this week in practice, according to Pro Football Talk. Third-year signal caller Mark Sanchez has navigated the Jets to just a 5-5 record after leading the franchise to two AFC title game appearances in his first two seasons.
Our take: This is clearly a motivational ploy to get Mark Sanchez to play better, but he's not the only problem with the Jets. Rex Ryan shouted from the mountaintops that his team was going to the Super Bowl this year but if the playoffs were to begin today, they wouldn't be part of it. Ryan is using Sanchez as his scapegoat.
Orton A Hot Commodity
As a starting quarterback, Kyle Orton is the prototypical average, middle of the road guy who likely won't win you too many games, but shouldn't lose you too many either. His tendency to turn the ball over cost him his starting job in Denver and his career as a starter looks bleak going forward. With yesterday's release from Denver, Orton may be the NFL's hottest commodity especially for teams such as Kansas City and Chicago who are still in the playoff hunt but lost their quarterbacks. There are about 22 teams that are higher up in the waiver process than the Bears, who've already said they would put in a claim, and several of which may have a place for Orton.
Our take: The remaining roughly $3 million that a team would be responsible for could be a huge deterrent for go-nowhere teams like Indianapolis, Washington, Seattle and Arizona, even if Orton would represent an upgrade. As much as the Minnesota Vikings might hate the Chicago Bears, they won't spend that sort of money to keep Chicago from potentially securing a playoff berth. Kansas City and Chicago remain the two best options, with Dallas and Atlanta being potential spoilers as both trail the Bears in the Wildcard race.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie