Bucs Bench Freeman After Abysmal Start

The decision that seemed inevitable has finally been made. Quarterback Josh Freeman is walking the plank.

The Bucs, off to an 0-3 start and sputtering badly on offense, have benched Freeman in favor of Mike Glennon. The rookie from North Carolina State will make his first career NFL start on Sunday against the Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium.

After setting passing records last season, Freeman never got his act together through the first three games of 2013. He completed just 45% of his passes (43-of-94) for 571 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Tampa Bay has only scored 34 points through three games. Only Jacksonville has scored fewer. Yes, his receivers have dropped some passes. But in the NFL, when things are not going well, the quarterback is the first player on the offensive side of the ball to take the fall. And if things continue to go south, how much longer will Greg Schiano be the head coach?

Then there are the off-the-field issues: missing the team photo, not being elected as team captain. Freeman is in the final year of his contract, and you have to wonder if he’s played his final game in Tampa Bay. There are rumblings that the Bucs are willing to trade him.

The Bucs picked Glennon in the third round of this year’s draft. He becomes the third rookie QB to start in the NFL this year. Geno Smith (Jets) and E.J. Manuel (Bills) are the others.

The way things have gone so far, Tampa Bay had to do something to shake things up. We’ll find out if Glennon is the Bucs’ quarterback of the future. He has 13 games to show what he’s got, starting Sunday against Arizona.

Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Inept Bucs Fall To 0-3 With Loss To Patriots

Another week, another awful performance by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense.

The Bucs could only muster three points on Sunday afternoon against the Patriots in a 23-3 loss. The Bucs are now 0-3, and in sole possession of last place in the NFC South.

For the third game in a row, Josh Freeman failed to complete 50% of his passes. He finished 19-41 for 236 yards, and an interception to former Buccaneer Aqib Talib late in the first half that led to a Patriots’ field goal. He also missed an open Tim Wright in the end zone. Vincent Jackson dropped two passes, including one that would’ve set up the Bucs inside the Pats’ 5. The Bucs turned it over on downs twice. Ryan Lindell missed another field goal. It was a day of missed opportunities, especially in the first half.

And eventually, you knew that Tom Brady would start catching on with his young receivers. Kenbrell Thompkins caught both of Brady’s touchdown passes in the second quarter as the Pats built a 17-3 halftime lead. The way the Bucs offense has been playing this year, there wasn’t much hope of a comeback.

Doug Martin rushed for a hard-fought 88 yards.

After committing double-digit penalties in each of the first two games, the Bucs only had four penalties against New England.

So now, the Bucs face more of the same questions. They have a quarterback who can’t complete half of his passes. They’ve only scored 34 points through three games, and one of those touchdowns was Mason Foster’s interception return against the Saints. The defense is much-improved from last year, but they can’t do it all. How much longer will Greg Schiano stick with Freeman? The coach seems adamant that Freeman’s his guy. Some of us would beg to differ.

Next week: The Bucs return home to face the Arizona Cardinals.

Photo Courtesy: Associated Press

Week 3 Preview: Buccaneers at Patriots

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new-found soap opera rolls into Foxboro this weekend for a matchup with the undefeated Patriots.

So, how many penalties will the Bucs end up with this time around? They had 13 in Week 1, and ten more in Week 2. The flags have been very costly. Can the Bucs clean up their act in a hurry? They’re going to have to, for them to have any chance to get a win in New England.

Josh Freeman is completing just 45% of his passes through the first two games. There are still plenty of rumblings surrounding his relationship with head coach Greg Schiano. We’ll let the local/national media deal with those “reports.” All we know is Freeman’s on-field performance has been less than subpar so far.

Dashon Goldson will play against the Patriots. His one-game suspension for his hit on Darren Sproles was overturned this week, though Goldson was fined $100,000.

With everything surround the Bucs these days, Doug Martin is not a player to be concerned with. He’s rushed for over 200 yards through the first two games.

The Patriots are off to a 2-0 start, though a lot of the talk has been about how un-Patriot-like they’ve played so far. You have to think – eventually they’re going to break out of their funk.

Kickoff is Sunday at 1:00 on FOX. For the third week in a row, your announcers are Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch. Lynch has had pretty of time already to criticize his former team.

Photo Courtesy: USA Today

UPDATE: Goldson’s Suspension For Hit Overturned

UPDATED 9/18: Dashon Goldson will be able to play against New England after all.  On Wednesday morning, the NFL overturned his suspension.

Below is our previous write-up, when the suspension was first handed down:

 

As if the first two games of the season weren’t painful enough, the Bucs will play the next one without hard-hitting safety Dashon Goldson.

Goldson was suspended for one game without pay on Monday for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Darren Sproles during Sunday’s loss to the Saints.

Goldson has a knack for drawing personal foul penalties over the past few years.  I questioned the two he received in the opener against the Jets.  But this hit was definitely helmet-to-helmet contact.  He got fined for his actions against the Jets, and now he’s been suspended for next Sunday’s game against New England.

Bottom line: Goldson needs to clean up his act.  I know he’s a hard-hitting safety, but if the refs are going to keep penalizing him for the way he hits, he needs to adjust, whether he wants to or not.

Photo Courtesy: AP

Bucs Doomed Again By Penalties and Mistakes in Loss to Saints

In many ways, this game was eerily similar to the opener against the Jets.

Once again, the Buccaneers had way too many penalties. Once again, their quarterback had an uninspiring day. And once again, they allowed their opponent to get into field goal range at the end of the game and beat them. The Bucs lost to the Saints on Sunday night, 16-14, in a game that was delayed by more than an hour by the weather.

Let’s jump right to the fourth quarter before we look at some of the numbers. Mason Foster picked off Drew Brees and returned it 85 yards down the right sideline to give the Bucs the lead at 14-13. It stayed that way until the final 90 seconds. The Bucs had 3rd and 6 from the New Orleans’ 32. The Saints were out of timeouts. A first down ends the game. The Bucs decided to hand it off to Doug Martin – who had a huge game – but he failed to pick up the first down this time around. Ryan Lindell missed a 47-yard field goal. The Saints took over with just over a minute to go, but Brees made it look easy, marching his team down the field, inside the Tampa Bay 10. Garrett Hartley made a 27-yarder, and the Bucs were 0-2.

Think Greg Schiano will be questioned about that 3rd down play call? You’d better believe it.

And then there were all those penalties. Last week, they had 13. On Sunday, they had 10 more. They’ve been flagged for over 100 yards in each of the first two games. Many of the penalties have involved communication issues or personal fouls. That’s lack of discipline. And it’s pretty clear the coaching staff hasn’t done enough to address this serious problem.

Then, there’s Josh Freeman. He needed to have a big game, and he didn’t. And when he finally hit Vincent Jackson for what appeared to be a 73-yard touchdown in the third quarter, it was nullified by – you guessed it – a penalty. Two plays later, Freeman threw an interception. He didn’t do nearly enough to silence his critics. He finished just 9-of-22 for 125 yards.

On a positive note, Martin had 29 carries for 144 yards. It was nice to see him get going after a rough opener in the Meadowlands. As for the defense: geez, if they can only get rid of these stupid penalties, they’d be a pretty good unit.  They allowed Jimmy Graham to do whatever he pleased in the first half, however.  For the second straight week, they held an opponent to less than 20 points.

NEXT WEEK: The Bucs come up north to play the Patriots.

Photo Courtesy: tbo.com

Week 2 Preview: Buccaneers vs Saints

The Bucs host the New Orleans Saints in Week 2 on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Here are three things to keep an eye on:

1. Josh Freeman. This could be number-one for quite awhile the way things are going. We’ve heard a lot about #5 recently, and much of it isn’t positive. He was not chosen as a team captain. Then he recently missed the team photo. There are rumblings about his relationship with Greg Schiano. Simply put, Freeman has to have a big game against the Saints, otherwise fans are going to start calling for rookie Mike Glennon to take over.

2. The offensive line. This unit could get a boost if Carl Nicks returns to action, which he claims he’s ready to do. He did not play in the opener due to a MRSA infection. The Bucs need to get Doug Martin and the running game going to take some pressure off Freeman. Speaking of that, the O-line also needs to do a better job in pass protection.

3. The penalties. The Bucs had 13 of them against the Jets for over 100 yards. Five of those penalties resulted in first downs. Then there was that flag on Lavonte David at the end of the game. All of those mistakes gift-wrapped a win for the Jets. If a similar scenario plays out on Sunday, we can only imagine what kind of field day Drew Brees will have.

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

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Breaking Down the Numbers: Bucs vs Jets

A closer look at some of the statistics from Sunday’s painful loss against the Jets:

13: The number of penalties committed by the Bucs. That is way too many. And by the way, that doesn’t include the penalties that were declined.

5: The number of times the Jets got a first down as a result of Tampa Bay penalties.

4.2: The number of yards the Bucs averaged per play. That’s not going to get the job done.

65: The number of rushing yards Doug Martin had. It’s no secret that other teams are going to stack the line of scrimmage to try and stop Martin this season. But if Josh Freeman can’t even complete half of his passes, as was the case Sunday, well I think you know where I’m heading with this.

154: The number of receiving yards Vincent Jackson had on Sunday. Yeah, he’s good.

5: The number of times the Bucs sacked Geno Smith. That’s encouraging.

3: The number of times the Jets sacked Freeman. That’s not encouraging.

Photo Courtesy: USA Today