A few weeks ago, JoeBucsFan ran a pretty cool series, counting down the worst Buccaneers of the past 10 years. Dexter Jackson made it to number one, which is justifiable, given the fact that a second-round pick with a grand total of no NFL production and a tendency to just lay down on kickoff returns is pretty laughable. The rest of the list is a comedy (drama?) of horrors, too: Jeff Jagodzinski, Jim Bates, Edell Shepherd, Sean Mahan, Jeremy Trueblood etc etc etc.
But I just can't agree with one ranking. There's one player who will always be the worst Buccaneer I've ever seen play. The very worst one. The player who will forever be engraved in my memory as the worst football player I've ever seen start a game: Sabby Piscitelli.
I am not exaggerating here. Piscitelli was horrifying. He tried to play safety, but looked more like a safety valve for the offense. He couldn't cover anyone. His angles to tackles were atrocious. He routinely whiffed on tackles even when his angle was good. He caused more blown coverages than anyone I can remember. According to Football Outsiders, he led the NFL in missed tackles in 2009. The entire NFL. And not by any small margin, either: he had 24 missed tackles. No one else even had 20.
Watching Sabby play wasn't just like watching a trainwreck in progress: it was like watching a trainwreck with the absolutely certainty that trainwrecks were to keep occurring play after play, week after week, month after month until Raheem Morris finally accepted that trainwrecks are no way to stop someone from scoring.
Dexter Jackson was a waste of a draft pick -- but he didn't really hurt the team beyond being a bust. He never got on the field. Eric Wright wasn't bad when he played. He wasn't as good as his contract suggested he be, but he was a perfectly acceptable starting cornerback. Even the much-maligned Myron Lewis got very few chances to lose the team games.
Not Sabby, though. No, Sabby started 20 games over three years. If I had to point to a single reason for the 2009 season, I'd point to Sabby. But one play will always define Sabby Piscitelli: that one time he got back on the field in 2010. Sabby wasn't good enough to beat out Sean Jones. When Tanard Jackson was suspended after playing just two games, Sabby was passed over in favor of seventh-round rookie Cody Grimm, who promptly gave up an ugly long touchdown to Ben Roethlisberger.
Later that season we'd all get a good reason why Grimm nonetheless got the nod over Sabby, because during the 11th game of the 2010 season, Cody Grimm broke his leg. Sabby Piscitelli entered the game. And immediately gave up a 65-yard touchdown to Todd Heap, who was probably the slowest tight end in the NFL at that point of his career.
It was comical. Sabby sat in the flat, and allowed Heap to run by him, and no one had deep responsibilities. After the game, Raheem Morris tried to shift blame to Ronde Barber. He called it a communication error. And then he cut Sabby anyway, allowing Corey Lynch of all people to start. Because even Corey Lynch was better than another 65-yard touchdown to a tight end with the speed of a tackle.