TAMPA – The much anticipated Mark Sanchez vs. Josh Freeman showdown between 2009 first-round picks never materialized, but given the fact the New York Jets beat the Buccaneers, 26-3, and Freeman was awful – completing 14-of-33 passing for 93 yards, getting sacked three times, throwing three picks and producing a QB rating of 12.1 – it’s safe to say that Sanchez would have easily won this quarterback duel had he played.
Freeman’s throws were high, low, late, early, in front of and behind his receivers. On three occasions, he even threw the ball right to the Jets. Bucs head coach Raheem Morris blamed the flat performance offensively against New York to a flat practice on Friday.
“I told the team right there, we came out a little flat in practice on Friday and those are the results you get when you don’t practice hard every day,” Morris said. “We came out flat on offense, you get put into some bad situations on defense early, but then you give up a 33-yard run to get the game out of hand. To get in the game you feel like you have to pass the ball too much and that’s not the way we’re going to be able to win.”
Morris elaborated on how Friday’s sloppy practice negatively affected Freeman and the offense against the Jets.
“I don’t think it was a discipline issue with the flat practice. I think it was a get-going issue. It was hard to get going that day. It was a little gloomy. People were trying to get going. People we trying to be hot. The quarterback missed a couple throws. The receivers didn’t run great routes. We have to get better in Friday practices. The team did a great job as far as discipline all week as far as being there, being where they need to be, practicing hard on Wednesday, practicing hard on Thursday. It’s just Friday they came out flat on the field and I let them know that in our meeting and after practice. It was just a result of what happened today. It’s just what happens. You can’t have any bad practices in this league and expect to go out there and win.”
In the last two games, Freeman, has clearly taken a step back as Tampa Bay has slipped to 1-12 on the season, throwing eight interceptions, no touchdowns and taking five times. Yet Morris said that he will not be benching Freeman despite his downward spiral, and indicated that his rookie quarterback will be behind center next Sunday at Seattle.
“Josh is going to be in the football game,” Morris said. “Josh has to go out there and learn the hard way and it’s the hard way the last two weeks. This week I think he played the best defense in the National Football League and he went out there and they showed him why. They sent us all kind of pressures. We couldn’t handle the pressure up front. We couldn’t handle that at receiver. We couldn’t handle that at running back. They outmanned us on defense and that’s how they play. They played well enough to win the football game.”
Freeman acknowledged that he has taken a step back in recent weeks and that he needs to eliminate the needless, game-killing interceptions from his game.
“Last week was really everything but the red zone,” Freeman said. “My first four games, once we got into the red zone we knew we were going to score. The Carolina game was kind of reverse. We were moving the ball and then couldn’t get it done in the red zone. This week, we felt like we had a good plan, but didn’t come out and execute. We’ve got to learn to start faster, that’s something we have to do. I’m going to put that on myself. I’ve got to push the tempo in the huddle. We had the delay of game off the bat, and we had some motion problems. We’ve just got to eliminate those. You can’t win; you can’t get the right start when you are making mistakes like that.”
After the game, Freeman took all of the blame for Sunday’s debacle on offense.
“It’s all on me,” Freeman said. “I’m the quarterback. I’ve got to find a way to go in and look at these protection calls and get something down. [Jeff] Faine makes some of the calls; I make some of the calls. I need to get to the point where I go out and see what I see and make all the calls and know who I’m hot off of. One time I made a call, Faine out to the left, and he made a call to slide right. It’s one of those things where we need to be on the same page. A lot of those things can be cleaned up.”
Against the second-ranked Jets defense, the Bucs offense was anemic, gaining only 15 yards in the first half while New York amassed 195 yards in building a 19-0 lead. The Bucs finished the game with 124 yards, while going 0-for-14 on third downs, 1-of-3 on fourth downs, and picking up only six first downs the entire game. Tampa Bay’s initial first down didn’t come until the 9:11 mark in the third quarter, and it came by way of a Jets penalty on third down.
Freeman didn’t receive any help from the running game. In fact, he led all Tampa Bay rushers with 21 yards on four carries. Cadillac Williams rushed for 14 yards on 11 carries while Derrick Ward amassed only six yards on four carries. The Bucs rushed for 43 yards on 20 carries.
Tampa Bay’s defense played reasonably well considering it received zero support from the offense. Kellen Clemens, who replaced Sanchez at quarterback, was 12-of-23 for 111 yards with no touchdowns, but didn’t throw any interceptions. The Jets amassed 310 yards in the game, but only gained 115 yards in the second half.
New York’s top-ranked ground game amassed 175 yards on the ground, but it took 42 carries to do so. Thomas Jones rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries (4.2 avg.), but Tampa Bay’s defense held New York to just 28 percent on third down (5-of-18).
The Bucs defense was just on the field entirely too long in the first half, and the Jets benefitted from great average starting field position at their own 48-yard line due to the fact that Tampa Bay couldn’t get a first down on offense and had to punt six times.
After two games of showing some reasonable improvement on offense and defense despite a couple close losses, Tampa Bay took a huge step back on Sunday with a 26-3 loss to New York. As Freeman’s performance slides and the losses mount, the fates of Morris, general manager Mark Dominik and offensive coordinator Greg Olson seem to hang in the balance. If the Bucs finish the season 1-15, it would be difficult to imagine the Glazers not considering another sweeping regime change.
Freeman’s first pass was intended for wide receiver Antonio Bryant, but picked off by linebacker David Harris. Yet after three straight runs, the Jets were forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Jay Feeley. With 12:40 left in the first quarter, the Jets opened up a 3-0 lead.
On New York’s next series, the Jets went three-and-out before having to punt from their own 39-yard line. However, the ball was snapped to up-back Brad Smith, who threw a fake punt pass to safety Eric Smith that covered 27 yards and picked up a first down at the Tampa Bay 34. After an incompletion intended for Braylon Edwards, Green picked up three yards on second down before Clemens’ pass to David Clowney gained six. On fourth-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 25, Clemens ran a QB sneak and picked up two yards for the first down. On second-and-6 at the 19, Brad Smith was inserted at quarterback and ran the option to gain 12 yards down to the 7. Jones gained one yard on first down, followed by an incompletion on second down. On third-and-goal from the 6, Clemens’ pass to Smith fell incomplete, and the Jets had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Feeley. With 4:47 left in the first quarter, 6-0.
The Bucs offense was woeful in the first quarter, producing three three-and-outs, two fumbles (both of which were recovered by Tampa Bay), an interception, three penalties for 14 yards and 16 total yards. It didn’t get much better in the second quarter, either, as the Bucs’ first series resulted in a fourth straight three-and-out.
Meanwhile, the Jets didn’t have the same problem picking up a first down. On third-and-3 from the Tampa Bay 46, Clemens hit receiver Danny Woodhead for a 24-yard gain down the left sidelines. But on second-and-7 from the 19, Smith was tackled for a 7-yard loss on a reverse. A delay of game moved the Jets back to the 31-yard line, but on third-and-19, Clemens threw an incompletion and New York had to settle for a field goal. Feeley’s 49-yard field goal was good. With 6:53 left in the first half, the Jets’ lead increased to 9-0.
Jones took over the next series for New York, rushing four times for 58 yards. His 16-yarder to the Tampa Bay 42 got the Jets in Buccaneers territory, and his 33-yard touchdown run on third-and-1 capped off the drive. With 3:19 left before halftime, the Bucs trailed the Jets 16-0.
The Jets moved 31 yards on nine plays and tacked on another 49-yard field goal with 11 seconds left before halftime to make the score 19-0.
The Bucs went three-and-out on their first possession in the second half before punting the ball back to the Jets. On third-and-5 from the Jets 25, Green ripped off a 25-yard gain before cornerback Ronde Barber punched the ball free. Cornerback Aqib Talib recovered for the Bucs at the Tampa Bay 45. But Freeman was sacked on third-and-9 from 46-yard line by cornerback Donald Strickland for a loss of two yards. However, linebacker Bart Scott drew an unnecessary roughness penalty to give the Bucs their initial first down at the 9:11 mark. That play gave the Bucs new life and they actually converted another first down on fourth-and-1 from the Jets’ 30-yard line. Tampa Bay couldn’t muster more than five yards after that conversion and had to settle for a 43-yard field goal by Barth. With 4:45 left in the third quarter, the Bucs trailed the Jets, 19-3.
Tampa Bay’s Elbert Mack recovered an onsides kick by Barth at the team’s own 42-yard line. But strangely elected not to go for it on fourth-and-2 at the 50-yard line and had to punt after picking up just eight yards.
â€¨The Jets drove from their 8-yard line to the Bucs’ 34 in six plays, but Feeley’s 49-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
Freeman threw his second interception of the game with 9:24 left in the fourth quarter when his pass to Brian Clark hit Darrelle Revis in the hands. Revis returned the ball 54 yards to the Tampa Bay 7-yard line. Jones ran the ball off left tackle on the next play for a touchdown. With 9:07 left in the fourth quarter, the Bucs trailed the Jets 26-3, and that wound up being the final score.PEWTERREPORT.COM PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sheepishly, PewterReport.com announces that Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth is this week’s Player of the Game. Why? Without Barth’s 43-yard field goal the Bucs would have been shutout by the visiting New York Jets. He is now 8-of-12 on the year (66.6 percent). Barth also executed a successful onside kick in the third quarter and his kickoffs were decent.IT WAS OVER WHEN…
In hindsight, when quarterback Josh Freeman threw his first interception on the first play of the game to Jets linebacker David Harris. That helped set up New York’s first field goal. That would almost be enough to beat Tampa Bay by itself. But really this game was lost at halftime when the Jets out-gained the Bucs 195-15 yards and built a 19-0 lead. STATS THAT COUNT
Tight end Kellen Winslow recorded four receptions for 26 yards on Sunday, and is now tied with Jackie Harris for the most receptions in a single season by a Buccaneers tight end. Harris had 62 catches in 1995. Winslow has 659 receiving yards on the season and needs just 127 yards to top Jimmie Giles (786 yards in 1981) for the most receiving yards by a Tampa Bay tight end in a single season. … Defensive tackle Roy Miller made his first NFL start against New York as the Bucs started a five-man defensive line. … Adam Hayward started his first NFL game in place of the injured Geno Hayes (hamstring). … Defensive end Stylez G. White sacked Kellen Clemens in the second quarter. He now has 6.5 sacks on the season to lead the Buccaneers. … Tampa Bay recovered its second successful onside kick of the season when Elbert Mack recovered the ball in the third quarter against the Jets. On October 11, Mack also recovered an onside kick against Philadelphia. … Cornerback Ronde Barber recorded his second forced fumble of the season and the 12th of his career. Barber also started his 190th NFL game, which tied tight end Dave Moore (1992-01, 2004-06) for the second-most in Bucs history behind linebacker Derrick Brooks (1995-08). … Cornerback Aqib Talib recorded the first fumble recovery of his career. … The Bucs’ 124 yards of total offense was ninth-worst in team history:
1. December 1, 1985 at Green Bay
Packers 21, Buccaneers 0
5 first downs, 65 total yards
2. November 27, 1977 at Tampa Bay
Falcons 17, Buccaneers 0
8 first downs, 78 yards
3. September 27, 2009 at Tampa Bay
New York Giants 24, Buccaneers 0
5 first downs, 86 total yards
4. October 3, 1976
Colts 42, Buccaneers 17
6 first downs, 89 yards
5. November 26, 1978 at Chicago
Bears 14, Buccaneers 3
6 first downs, 92 yards
6. December 5, 1976 at Pittsburgh
Steelers 42, Buccaneers 0
8 first downs, 105 yards
7. December 14, 1991 at Chicago
Bears 27, Buccaneers 0
7 first downs, 106 yards
8. December 14, 1997 at New York
New York Jets 31, Buccaneers 0
6 first downs, 111 yards9. December 13, 2009 vs. Tampa Bay
New York Jets 26, Buccaneers 3
6 first downs, 124 yards
10. September 19, 1976 at Tampa Bay
Chargers 23, Buccaneers 0
5 first downs, 125 yardsSUNDAY’S STARTING LINEUPS
The announced Tampa Bay starting lineup for Sunday’s game was as follows:BUCS STARTING OFFENSE
WR Maurice Stovall
LT Donald Penn
LG Jeremy Zuttah
C Jeff Faine
RG Davin Joseph
RT Jeremy Trueblood
TE Kellen Winslow
WR Antonio Bryant
RB Cadillac Williams
FB Earnest Graham
QB Josh FreemanBUCS STARTING DEFENSE
RE Stylez G. White
DT Ryan Sims
DT Chris Hovan
DT Roy Miller
LE Jimmy Wilkerson
WLB Adam Hayward
MLB Barrett Ruud
SLB Quincy Black
LCB Aqib Talib
RCB Ronde Barber
FS Tanard JacksonMISSING IN ACTION
Here is a list of Tampa Bay players that were declared inactive for Sunday’s game:
QB Rudy Carpenter (emergency QB)
WR Sammie Stroughter
WR Michael Clayton
G Shawn Murphy
OT James Lee
DE Michael Bennett
LB Geno Hayes
CB Derrick RobersonBUCS IN-GAME INJURIES
Rookie defensive tackle Roy Miller suffered an injury in the third quarter, but returned to the game. There were no other reported injuries.KICKOFF CONDITIONS
The announced attendance for the Buccaneers vs. Jets game at Raymond James Stadium was 62,731 but it clearly looked like there were at least 10,000 less fans in attendance. The kickoff temperature was 73 degrees with 94 percent humidity and a heat index of 73 degrees.UP NEXT
The Buccaneers (1-12) will travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks (5-8) at Qwest Field on December 20. Kickoff is set for 4:15 p.m. and will be televised on Fox.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.