Alan Dell: Eric Wright suspension a blessing in disguise for Tampa Bay Bucs

November 28, 2012 

TAMPA

Eric Wright's suspension is the best thing that could happen to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They are off the hook for the $7.75 million owed the cornerback next year because Wright's drug violation voids his contract for the 2013 season.

Wright is the most expensive piece of baggage at One Buc Place. He is overpaid and under-performing. The Bucs were already last in pass defense with him in the lineup.

When the season ends set him free. Take that $7.75 million and invest it in a cornerback that you know will at least be able to show up for work.

You are already better off with Leonard Johnson. The undrafted rookie free agent has made some mistakes, but he will get better and is a better person.

Johnson and fellow cornerback E.J. Biggers struggled last week against Atlanta, but they were going against one of the best receiving corps in the NFL and stuck in there, losing a one point game despite getting virtually no help from the defensive line.

Wright just doesn't get it and cannot be counted on to avoid issues that will get him suspended. Even his statement that he took Adderall for health reasons bleeds with phoniness.

All he had to do was get a physician's prescription and the NFL would've most likely approved his use of the drug. But he didn't. Is he now going to tell us he took an accelerated pre-med course at UNLV and is a doctor?

Trouble has followed Wright around like his shadow since his days at USC in 2005. He had a chance to change his life with Tampa and threw it away. It's a pattern akin to substance abusers.

The Bucs had success with three of their top draft choices and two of their free agent signings with only Wright drawing the ire from fans. Now they can erase him from the books.

The Bucs are more about the future right now and if they can improve quality in their secondary it is going to be very bright. If they want to make a splash this season then it's up to

the defensive to help the defensive backs with a better pass rush.

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One person watching Bucs head coach Greg Schiano weild his magic with interest is Palmetto head football coach Dave Marino.

Marino was finishing up his career at Rutgers in 1989 when Schiano was hired as a graduate assistant. They became good friends, worked a lot of Rutgers camps together, and still stay in touch.

"When the Bucs started off 1-3 and everyone said the college guy can't make in the NFL, I sent him a text and told him to the stay the course -- that you are doing the right thing," Marino said. "He texted me back and said 'you know I will.' When we lost two straight games here (after winning first seven) he texted me and said go back to your core values and what you built the program on."

Marino is not surprised Schiano has so far has made the successful change from being a college head coach for 11 years to going to the NFL.

"Alexander The Great was 18 years old when he took over a nation. Leadership is leadership," Marino said. "People want to succeed and if you can show them how to succeed better than anyone else they are going to follow. You've got to capture their hearts and their minds. if you show them why it's important to be detailed oriented they will do it. He prepares meticulously, but does it in a personable way."

Last week Rutgers announced it was moving to the Big 10. Marino said he and Schiano talked about that five years ago and it had been in the works for longer.

"I remember him telling me when Rutgers renovated its stadium with more seats it did it with the idea of being able to meet specifications for the Big 10," Marino said.

Marino was one of Schiano's staunchest supporters when he was criticized for trying to disrupt victory formations NFL teams are noted for taking in games that appeared to be won in the final 30 seconds or so.

"He made the NFL think twice," Marino said. "Okay if the game is over let the game be over and call it, but don't put guys in that situation. If a play has no meaning then why are we doing it? Change the rule."

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