Antonio Bryant could be the difference between winning 9 or 12 games next season. A solid to great #2 WR is like adding a great arm to your bullpen. It takes stress off of your rotation and allows each reliever to move down a spot. The same thing occurs with a great deuce WR. It frees up your main target, gives your TE's a little breathing space and forces defenses to stay honest and not crowd the box against the run. This is especially true for this year's Bucs as we posses one of the best offensive lines in franchise history, a stable of reliable running backs and an intelligent quarterback.
So, is Antonio Bryant the difference maker? When he was healthy, he put up some pretty gaudy numbers. But he hasn't played in over a season. What is unfortunate is no one in the media is really telling us anything.
In their recent "let's get jazzed for training camp" article, the St Pete Times called Bryant's offseason, "impressive". The Tampa Trib astutely noted that Bryant "appears to have regained his passion and hunger for the game."
Wow, that was informative. How is he handling Gruden's playbook? How has he carried himself in the locker room? Has he put in extra hours? Has he made plays that exceeded expectations? Is he getting along with the coaches? Teammates? The Media? Has his presence improved the play of Clayton/Stovall/Warren? Does he still drive expensive Italian sports cars at illegal speeds? Is he still refusing to take drug tests? You know, the basic questions.
As of this point, I have no idea if Bryant will even make the team. Some reports think that he is back to his old form. The Bradenton Herald believes that Bryant could do a great job exposing NFC defenses for Brett Favre. We won't know until the end of training camp, and even then all we will know is if he is better than our bottom feeders. Let's just say that I am tapering my expectations.
Unlike ESPN/ScoutsInc, Jeremy Green, this is the story that we should be watching. Clayton/Stovall/Hillard/Warren are not going to inspire fear into the hearts of opposing defenses. On their good days, they are mediocre slot guys. On a normal day they are either slow and/or enjoy dropping catchable balls. Bryant's quickness and ability to get open when he shouldn't be able too are what is needed to elevate the Bucs to a playoff victory.
At least he has no history of steroids like Boston. Well, I hope.
I guess I better start writing my next post, Dexter Jackson - Joey Galloway's Heir or Jacquez Green 2.0?