My thanks to The Pewter Plank‘s Patrik Nohe for taking the time to give such candid answers to my questions.
Zac Snyder: What is your outlook on the Bucs season this year?
Patrik Nohe: I was very optimistic earlier in the season, not as much now. I just don’t think the Bucs have enough ability on their offensive line. They were satisfied to re-sign their own guys this offseason and didn’t really make any moves to add linemen, that’s going to be an issue considering metrically the Bucs had one of the worst offensive lines in football last year. Donald Penn is horribly overrated. He was a pro bowler last year (replacement) and that is an absolute farce. Penn is slow on his feet, he can’t block good edge rushers and he requires a lot of help. Combine that with a center, Jeff Faine, who I’ve never been wild about and oftentimes seems to mail it in and I’m really not confident in this teams ability to protect Josh Freeman and open holes for LeGarrette Blount.
ZS: Is there any concern that the breakout seasons some of the young Bucs had in 2010 won’t be replicated this year.
PN: Aside from what I just mentioned preventing some repeat performances, yes. Nobody is going to be caught off guard by the Buccaneers this season. They were 10-6 last year, teams will see them coming. They also have some issues in their secondary. Aside from Aqib Talib the team has an aging Ronde Barber and a couple of guys who still have a lot to prove. Their safety play isn’t a whole lot better, especially considering their best safety, Tanard Jackson, has been suspended since September 22nd of last year and won’t be eligible for reinstatement until after week 3.
ZS: What has been the chatter among Bucs fans been about the Lions?
PN: We’re not exactly big fans of your team. First of all, and this is with all due respect, Detroit has not accomplished anything yet but they’re getting a lot of credit as this up and coming team. A lot of Bucs fans resent that. Tampa is up and coming too but somehow the mainstream media seems to hone in on Detroit more. Beyond that, there’s the issues of the quarterbacks. Matt Stafford is very talented but also not very healthy. He gets tossed around in league with and sometimes even ranked ahead of Freeman, but he’s never proven he can hack it for a full season either. Basically it comes down to this, the Bucs fanbase is still irked that the loss to Detroit cost them the playoffs last year and there’s also a feeling the Lions are being given too much and haven’t earned it.
ZS: What is your defense (if there is one) of the Buccaneers fan base refusing to support their team by actually attending the season opening game?
PN: The two most economically depressed cities in the country right now are Detroit and the Tampa Bay area. People think because there are beach homes in the area that there is this affluence about Tampa but it’s been hit really hard. It’s frankly a multi-faceted issue. Tampa is also a very spread out area, there is no mass transit, it can be difficult to get to games and back home and not spend an arm and a leg. Something you also have to consider too is that Tampa is an area where a lot of people move to or retire to, but they bring with them old sports allegiances. Poll ten random people in Tampa and maybe three or four of them are native Floridians.
But, I will say this. I’m tired of defending the Tampa Bay area too. I spent a substantial part of my childhood there and I do believe there are good fans in the area. But I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a terrible sports city. It’s awful. The fact they have three major sports teams blows my mind. The gripe with the Rays has been that if they started to win people would go to the games. They’ve been winning, they won a freaking pennant a few years ago, and people still can’t be bothered to go to a game. Now the Bucs are coming off a 10-6 season with a ton of excitement and they can’t sell out there own home opener in a game that should carry over some emotion from the last season. It’s pathetic. It’s downright pathetic and I hope the Rays relocate. They deserve better than Tampa can offer.
ZS: Give me a game prediction and a couple sentences about how you expect it to go.
PN: The Lions will win. It may not even be close. The Bucs won’t be able to block your defensive line and that’s what will make all the difference. I expect Tampa to have to double team Ndamokong Suh which will leave Donald Penn on his own and that is not going to end well. If the Bucs can block the Lions line, they should have a chance to win. But they won’t. The Lions will win 24-20.