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Bucs hope for a rare strong finish, starting with New Orleans

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All they have to do is close the door. That’s it. All they have to is finish. Nothing more. For the Tampa Bay Bucs, contenders at last, the only thing they need to do to reach this year’s playoffs is finish strongly. That shouldn’t be too difficult, right? They have two games left against the Saints, who have lost seven times. They have one game left against the Panthers, who have lost eight. They have a game against the surprising…

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Tony Dungy’s Hall of Fame selection ignites familiar fan debate

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The noise is familiar. It’s still loud. It’s the old Tony Dungy-Jon Gruden debate. You know the discussion. Which coach was more responsible for the Bucs winning Super Bowl XXXVII? Dungy, who turned the franchise around earlier? Or Gruden, who gave it a burst of energy in the 2002 season? The debate was rekindled this week when Dungy reached the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Dungy turned the Bucs around, and he salvaged the careers of Derrick Brooks (who was…

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Browns play Ravens in one of worst Monday Night matchups

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This is Monday Night Football? Really? A 2-8 Cleveland team against a 3-7 Baltimore team? What? Is there going to be a lot of talk about the upcoming NFL draft? No, this won’t be one for the Greatest Hits albums, will it? Cleveland, which just promoted, and then demoted, quarterback Johnny Manziel, against Baltimore, which has lost quarterback Joe Flacco to injury. That leaves Jon Gruden and company to talk about Josh McCown vs. Matt Schaub. It’s the third-worst Monday…

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If the Bucs are getting better, the opening game matters

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For a good team, it doesn’t matter. Oh, good teams, as well as bad ones, want to win their opening game. But when you are standing at the end, who really cares how you start. For a bad team, it doesn’t matter. If a team is going to be terrible, you are just fooling the masses for a week. It is false hope. It is counterfeit football. But a team that is getting better, for a team that is transforming…

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Newest Buc Gosder Cherilus could have been in Tampa Bay earlier

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Perhaps Gosder Cherilus was meant to be a Tampa Bay Buc. It was 2008, and Bucs’ coach Jon Gruden told him there was a chance. And Cherilus, who knew Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood, kind of liked the idea. But the Detroit Lions picked Cherilus with the 17th pick, three picks before the Bucs drafted Aqib Talib. Now, Cherilus is finally here. The Bucs signed him over the weekend to replace DeMar Dotson, who sprained his left MCL in Saturday…

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Former Bucs coach Jon Gruden says he still misses coaching football

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Despite his success in the broadcast booth, former Tampa Bay Buc Jon Gruden says he still misses coaching. Gruden, who turns 52 this month, said on the Paul Finebaum show that he was close to taking the head coaching job at the University of Tennessee in 2012. “I don’t know how close,” Gruden said. “I love football. I’ll be the first to tell you. I miss coaching. But I do look at my job here as a lot like coaching. I…

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