Sometimes you just get beat.

As a sports fan, I completely understand a man’s almost impulsive defense of his team. We develop a myriad of excuses build around a very simple concept: The shifting of blame. Crimson Tide fans, myself included, felt just such an impulse around 7PM on Saturday.

Alabama hosted Texas A&M as arguably the nation’s best team. Sure there were those touting Oregon and K-State as contenders, but I think we all felt those teams were a step behind Bama. They have it all, right? The country’s best defense, a mistake free quarterback and an offensive line ready to start for the Chiefs next week.

All of those statements were, and still are, true. But there’s something all SEC fans should know from experience. When you line up in the SEC, even as the nation’s best squad, there’s always a chance you’ll leave with a loss. This can be said for any SEC conference game, but rings especially true in the case of a very talented A&M team.

Texas A&M played about as well as any team could be expected to play under the circumstances. Johnny Manziel showed up and hung 345 yards and two TDs on Alabama – in Tuscaloosa. I’ll say that again – in Tuscaloosa. Do I need to mention a national title shot was on the line? All things considered, this performance was other worldly. Oh yeah, their defense played big as well. This was a perfect storm of incredibly well coached, well practiced kids playing for pride and acceptance. Acceptance granted.

That isn’t to say there wasn’t some Crimson Tide blame to go around. Poor play calling and a costly fumble resulted in a hill too high for McCarron to climb, but that’s the SEC.

As fans we love to collectively enjoy the SEC’s dominance. But in being dominant we have to accept the reality of a loss on any given Saturday. And when you spot a good team 20 points in the first, you should expect to lose.


Tampa Bay has a ton of weapons, but their secondary leaves much to be desired.

The Bucs front office is looking really good right now.  It wasn’t too long ago that we all wrote Freeman off as a guy who couldn’t meet expectations – a guy who couldn’t handle the NFL on a mental level. Enter Vincent Jackson.

The offseason acquisition of Vincent Jackson has given Josh Freeman the extra weapon he needed to stretch the field and regain his waning confidence. We’re now staring down a performer responsible for 5 straight games with a passer rating of over 100, not to mention a TD to INT line of 13/1.

While Jackson has been a huge part of Freeman’s success, it’s impossible to ignore the impact Martin has had on Tampa’s downfield passing game. Doug Martin is the definition of draft day success. You can’t overlook the risk they took on Doug. Scouting a guy and feeling you’ve seen something others overlooked is one thing; checking that gut instinct on a second and third rounder is something else. Dominik was given this opportunity because someone in the Tampa front office trusted his judgment, and it appears Dominik never questioned that fact.

Whether or not Tampa is in the midsts of a huge organizational upswing isn’t even in question, but their playoff hopes in 2012 are more than suspect.

With the likes of Rodgers, Ryan and Brady ripping zone coverage to shreds, shutdown corner play is becoming increasingly important in today’s NFL. When Aaron hits up Denny’s at 4am, he’s subbing out his eggs for 2 deep zones. You just have to get solid man play out of your secondary in order to compete. With that being said, Tampa has arguably the league’s worst tandem in Wright and Biggers.
The pair has landed Tampa near the cellar in total passing yards against and looked bad in the process. If you couple that with a very stout run defensive, you’ve done half the opposing coaches’ jobs for them.

The idea is that Tampa contains the run in an effort to force third and long situations advantageous to zone play from the safety and linebacker positions. The problem with this theory is a lack of secondary personnel to pull it off. Teams will continue to abandon the run and go down field until the Bucs prove they can put up even the slightest fight down field.

As Tampa comes down the stretch they’ll have Brees and Ryan standing between them and a playoff berth. If they get it done it’ll be because Wright and Biggers remembered they belong at this level.