Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris discussed the play of rookie quarterback Josh Freeman on Monday. Freeman threw three interceptions against the Jets, and has eight interceptions in his last two games. Morris said that the Bucs are considering different things to try and get Freeman playing better.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are having another Monday of second-guessing themselves according to head coach Raheem Morris. The Bucs lost to the Jets 26-3 on Sunday to fall to 1-12 on the season. The failures of the offense were the most glaring for Morris.
"Offensively we were not ready to play, and that is on us as coaches," Morris said. "We had no explosive plays, no third down conversions, we didn't get anything going."
The Buccaneers performance against the New York Jets on Sunday was the ninth worst offensive performance in franchise history. The Bucs had six first downs and 124 yards of total offense. Tampa Bay was 0-14 on third down. In Week 3 against the New York Giants, the Bucs had the third worst offensive performance in team history with five first downs and 86 total yards in a 24-0 loss.
Against the Jets on Sunday starting quarterback Josh Freeman had his worst start of his young career. Morris said that the team felt Freeman was prepared to face the Jets.
"Coming off the field Josh looked at me and said ‘I felt we had a good plan. I just didn't execute.' We didn't execute. He always puts it on himself," Freeman said. "That's a good quality. As coaches we get too much credit at times and too much blame. Same thing with the quarterback, we got to get together this week, communicate, and work this thing out."
Freeman completed 14-of-33 passes (42.4 percent) for 93 yards and three interceptions. The first play from scrimmage for the offense saw Freeman throwing an interception to New York linebacker David Harris. Later in the game Freeman threw interceptions to Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Kerry Rhodes. Morris indicated the first interception set the tone for Freeman's performance.
"We talked about it as a staff and I don't think we did a good job as a staff calming him down after that happened," Morris said. "He kind of lost his composure, which is to be expected. That's what we talk about with patience. He's a mentally tough kid. Any time you throw five picks the week before, in a completely different situation might I add, and open the game up and start off with a pick that way. It is tough to get his confidence going. It probably affected him a little bit.
"He's not an overdramatic kid whether it is high or low. That's what you love about him, just losing his sense of the game and some things he normally does well. He's never going to be a throw down his helmet. He might unbuckle his chinstrap fast, but other than that we won't get any real uncomposed issues with the kid. That's not who he is. He may tell his receivers what he wants them to do, or his offensive line, or coach or whatever, but you rarely see an outbreak or loss of composure in any form that you're accustomed to."
Morris said that perhaps he should have talked to Freeman earlier to try and help Freeman. For the season Freeman has completed 52.5 percent of his passes for 1,207 yards with seven touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Freeman's quarterback rating is 55.4. The Jets entered Sunday's game with the number one rated pass defense in the NFL.
"This is a learning experience," said Bucs center Jeff Faine. "He's learning that defenses can trick quarterbacks much easier at this level than the prior level and that they're much better athletes here than they were at the prior level. It's a learning experience, and it hurts right now. But as he continues to go through the maturation process and evolves to his height these will be valuable experiences for us."
A week earlier against the Carolina Panthers, Freeman was 23-of-44 (52.3 percent) for 321 yards with no touchdowns and five interceptions. His quarterback rating in that game was 36.5. Morris said that the Bucs lack of running play, and poor play around Freeman is hurting the rookie's performance. Some easy passes, a scaled back offense, and a better running game are things that Morris is looking for the Bucs to do to help Freeman. Morris also gave a lot of credit to the Jets defense for stifling the Buccaneers running game.
"Yesterday had some [similarities] to the Giants game. They had a very physical defense," Morris said. "When they come off the edge and fill as fast as they do. ... They played well around. It was disheartening to watch, but at the same time it is encouraging. You look at that team, and you have a good example of what you can be if you put your mind to it."
Tampa Bay's offensive line was supposed to be a strength of the team. Morris was asked for his response when a reporter said that the offensive line was easily handled by the Jets defense.
"You're right. We have not played well," Morris said. "We have not played well. No excuses made, none needed. We got to play better. Yesterday when you play teams like that it really shows.
On Sunday Freeman was the Bucs leading rusher with four carries for 21 yards. Starting running back Carnell ‘Cadillac' Williams had 11 carries for 14 yards. Backup running back Derrick Ward had four carries for six yards.
"Part of it could be playing a rookie quarterback, but that's where veterans like myself have to pick up the slack," said Williams. "To me, that's where we're lacking at."
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