In three seasons as the starting quarterback at the University of Toledo, Bucs' rookie Bruce Gradkowski accumulated almost a thousand yards rushing, an impressive display of running prowess that should come in handy on Sunday when he faces an Eagles defense known for tearing rookie quarterbacks limb-from-limb.
This Sunday, October 22, 2006, Gradkowski will be making his third start since taking over for the badly injured Chris Simms. On October 22, 2005, Gradkowski tossed three touchdown passes en route to beating the Bulls of the University at Buffalo, which should be great preparation for what he'll see against the Eagles.
Look, it's entirely possible that the Eagles aren't as good as they think they are. Maybe the reason Reid doesn't run as much as he could with a team that has posted the third-best yards-per-rush mark in the league is because he thinks he can only be effective with the run by surprising people, rather than because he's worried about over-work for Westbrook and Buckhalter, or the mental lapses of Moats.
Maybe the defense really isn't any good, even though the numbers as a whole aren't that bad other than the fact that they are on pace to give up 56 of those killer 20-yard-plus passing plays. And maybe smart coaches like Gruden have figured out that the best way to beat this defense is with quick passing to negate the deadly pass rush, like it's a problem for the Eagles that their defensive line is so good that other teams are forced to overhaul their offensive game plans to keep their quarterbacks alive and Jim Johnson just hasn't seen enough football in his day to figure out what his next move should be.
Maybe all of this true. And maybe a Buccaneers' defense that is currently on pace to give up more points than the much-maligned Iggles defense has enough pride to step up on Sunday against a familiar old foe in McNabb and the Eagles. But there is no way -- none -- that a rookie sixth-round draft pick protected by a rookie right guard and a rookie right tackle and complemented by the league's 28th-ranked rushing attack is going to beat the Eagles this Sunday in Tampa Bay.
Maybe next time, Chucky.