With rumors swirling around Tampa Bay that head coach Raheem Morris could be fired, a few of the Buccaneers said they would like the team to keep continuity in the coaching staff for next season. Quarterback Josh Freeman said it would mean a great deal to him.
"I think it'd be huge to have the same coordinator, the same quarterbacks coach, and familiar faces around the building," Freeman said. "Especially coach Olson. He's gotten to know me and I've gotten to know him. He knows my likes and dislikes. He knows how to push buttons to get more out of me, so just having him around and his teaching style I think would be great."
Freeman said the he and offensive coordinator Greg Olson would meet next week to form a plan for the offseason. After that he will take a break for a while, and get back to work before the team starts offseason practices. The rookie signal caller said he would watch every piece of film from his games over again. He also plans on studying the Bucs opponents in 2010, and others players and teams he feels he could learn from. Freeman hopes he does not have to learn a new offensive system to run in 2010.
"It'd be a setback for everybody. With a new system there would be that adjustment period," Freeman said. "Now we all feel pretty comfortable with each other. I have a better feeling of what plays he's going to call on certain downs and certain situations. It is just kind of everything is easier the more you get to know somebody and work with somebody."
For the season Freeman has completed 55.2 percent of his passes (143-of-259) for 1,683 yards with nine touchdowns and 16 interceptions. His quarterback rating is 61. Freeman was drafted with the Bucs first-round pick in last April's NFL Draft. The second player Tampa Bay selected was defensive tackle Roy Miller. He also would like continuity.
"I don't worry about that. As I've seen this year people come and go," Miller said. "The show must go on. You still have to do what you have to do. You have to perform at a high level. It'd be unfortunate to lose anybody, but I can't worry about that."
Other players lobbied for Morris to stay as head coach. Running back Carnell ‘Cadillac' Williams said the proof for the quality of the coaching staff can be seen in the Bucs strong finish to the season. Tampa Bay went 2-2 in the month of December after getting one win in the previous three months. If the Bucs beat Atlanta on Sunday they would finish the year with a 3-1 record in the final quarter of the season and a three-game winning streak.
"First of all it just shows that Raheem and his staff still have it," Williams said. "They still believe in what they are doing. If you watch a lot of teams that have one or two wins, they just don't play hard. You still see guys out there playing hard and giving maximum effort."
PET SUPPLY DRIVE THIS SUNDAY
The Glazer Family Foundation and the Humane Societies of Tampa Bay and Pinellas are holding a pet supply drive this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Fans are encouraged to donate pet supplies to yellow collection stations set up outside of all gates and club entrances from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM. Each fan that donates will be entered into a raffle drawing for an authentic team-signed item.
The Buccaneers were without center Jeff Faine in practice on Thursday. Faine had an elbow injury last week before the Bucs game against the Saints, but the veteran center still started and played at New Orleans. Faine did not participate in Thursday's practice due to a back injury.
"Faine is sore, it is 16 weeks of injuries," Morris said.
Running back Derrick Ward (knee), guard Jeremy Zuttah (toe), and defensive tackle Roy Miller (hamstring) had limited participation in practice. Tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) had full participation. Defensive tackle Chris Hovan was out with an illness.
The Atlanta Falcons had the following players miss practice on Thursday: tight end Tony Gonzalez (calf), linebacker Curtis Lofton (shoulder/hamstring), safety Charlie Peprah (hamstring), running back Michael Turner (ankle), wide receiver Eric Weems (head), and defensive tackle Thomas Johnson (knee). Limited in practice were: kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring), punter Michael Koenen (head), quarterback Matt Ryan (toe), and defensive end Jamaal Anderson (chest), defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder), and tackle Sam Baker (elbow/hamstring).
MORRIS SAYS HE'D LIKE BRYANT TO RETURN
Morris said that he would like to see wide receiver Antonio Bryant back in Tampa Bay next season.
"We'll go out and figure out what to do as far as bringing him back," Morris said. "I know he would like to be, as I was told and as I heard, and we would like to have him. We're talking about a guy that's been around here and has been, for the most part, a pretty good productive player for us."
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Morris was asked about the production of Bucs wide receiver Michael Clayton, and if the team is content with him being a blocking receiver. Clayton has 15 catches for 214 yards and one touchdown this season.
"No, you want him to be a complete wideout. That's something you want all your wideouts to be. You want him to go out there and you want him to be productive, you want him to have all the success, you want him to be healthy all year – you want him to go through all those issues. This year, I don't know if we had a healthy wideout make it all the way to the end. We started off the year with Clayton and A.B. [Antonio Bryant] and Sammie [Stroughter] and a lot of those guys took a lot of time out. We've got to find a way to make it through the season, we've got to find a way to deal with the long haul, we've got to find a way to deal with that, we've got to find a way to get better. Maybe that's part of the stuff you've got to deal with in the offseason, part of us as a team and us as a structure."