USA TODAY Sports
The backlash against Tim Brown and Jerry Rice is continuing to grow, and this time Peter King of Sports Illustrated weighs in. He says a lot of the stuff we've been saying: Callahan would never throw the game intentionally, and to suggest that he would is insane.
But King says two interesting things as well. For one, he suggests that the Raiders didn't even change their gameplan two days before Super Bowl XXXVII, after talking to one offensive player. His second contention may be more interesting, as it suggests that the Bucs didn't even know the Raiders' audibles -- a claim that's significantly older and more feasible than the idiotic claims made by Rice and Brown.
As for the claim that Tampa Bay knew what plays were coming because the Raiders didn't change their playcalls, and Gruden passed along the lingo to his Bucs' defensive players: Do you think Rich Gannon, a smart, cagey veteran quarterback, is going to shout out plays or signals if he gets a sense Tampa knows exactly what he's calling? I asked a source not on the Raiders but who knew the Raiders offense under Callahan and then-offensive coordinator Marc Trestman if it were possible the Bucs knew what plays were coming.
"No way,'' the source said. The Raiders, he said, most often would call two plays in the huddle, and Gannon, at the line of scrimmage, would indicate which play was the real play by using a code word for either the first or second play he'd called in the huddle. Say the code for the first play was "Fresno'' and the code for the second play was "Sadie." Gannon wouldn't be giving the play away by saying, "Fresno;'' the only people in the stadium who would know what play was coming would be the 11 men on the field for Oakland. Now, as for audibles beyond the two playcalls in the huddles, who knows? Could there have been four or five times in the game the Bucs knew the play? Could be. Was that the difference in a 48-21 loss? Stop it.
This makes perfect sense, really. The Buccaneers knew the Raiders' system: it was the same offense run by Jon Gruden, but that same offense was run by plenty of other coaches around the league as well. It was a West Coast Offense. The Bucs knew the offense the Raiders were running, and they were probably to deduce a lot of playcalls by formation and offensive line and receiver splits. But that doesn't mean they knew the Raiders' audibles ahead of time.