He's bucking lots of other things, too, as he tries to establish the kind of offense that worked so well for him in Cincinnati and Cleveland. The line has been damaged by holdouts and injuries. In training camp Infante looked at a slew of quarterbacks. Former Raider Marc Wilson has emerged on top, but he doesn't keep the ball low and avoid interceptions, which is the style Infante likes. Infante also favors running backs who can catch, but neither Kenneth Davis nor Brent Fullwood is an especially gifted receiver.
The defense was better than the offense last year. It has some talented players, including linebackers Brian Noble, John Anderson, Johnny Holland, Tim Harris and cornerback Mark Lee, but bear in mind a second depressing stat: Since 1980 just four Packers have made the Pro Bowl, none of them on defense.
One more statistic and we'll give it a rest: The Packers made $3 million last year, the second-highest profit in their history. And that was during a strike season. So who needs to be great?
On April 24, 1987, four days before the draft, the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS traded Steve Young to San Francisco for second-and fourth-round draft choices. No one questioned the move at the time. Everyone knew Tampa Bay was going to get Vinny Testaverde, and the formula of a young star plus an old vet ( Steve DeBerg) to show him the ropes is the correct one.
Now the second-guessers are being heard from, as Young continues to wow them on the coast and Testaverde struggles. Vinny made his first start against New Orleans on Dec. 6. The kid had butterflies. He fumbled twice, which led to two Saints touchdowns. Then he settled down. New Orleans won 44-34, but the 34 points scored against the Saints was the most they gave up all season. Testaverde broke the NFL's rookie single-game passing record with 369 yards and two touchdowns. But he ended the season with a 43% completion rate and a lot to learn.
What does the future hold for Testaverde and the Bucs'? We're not about to second-guess coach Ray Perkins on his handling of quarterbacks. He played with Johnny Unitas; he scouted and broke in Phil Simms. His first two 1988 draft choices were offensive players, including the country's best college lineman, tackle Paul Gruber, in the first round. He traded DeBerg and brought in an even older pro, Joe Ferguson, to help baby-sit his young quarterback. Alas for Vinny, my prediction is that the Bucs stop here.
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