Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman addressed the media on Wednesday afternoon and spoke about his team’s need to be more productive on first and second downs.
According to Freeman, in order for his team to be productive it’s all about executing in those early-down situations. Even though the Lions game didn’t go the Bucs’ way and ended in a 27-20 defeat, Freeman understands that it is just Week 1 of the 2011 regular season and that the team’s deficient areas can be fixed.
“It goes back to first and second down,” Freeman said. “When you look at it, when we’re in manageable third downs we’re a Top 10 team. We’re extremely efficient, but if you ask a team and an offense to have to convert third-and-longs each series, more often than not you’re not going to convert. It’s something that’s not our identity. That is not our offense. Obviously, it was a game where we were struggling to get into those manageable situations, but we went back and assessed our problems and [are] hoping to come out this week and make a difference.”
As the quarterback of his team, Freeman knows that the tempo of the game rests on his shoulders.
“Ultimately, I’m the guy that calls the plays,” Freeman said. “I’m the guy that gets the guys up to the line [and] pushes the tempo. Whatever we’ve got to change it has got to start with me and we’ve got to find a way to obviously start faster. It has become a bit cliché, but at the end of the day it’s what you’ve got to do.”
The third-year quarterback out of Kansas State does not believe that his team lost any swagger in their game against Detroit last Sunday despite indications from offensive coordinator Greg Olson on Monday that swagger was an issue on Sunday.
“No, I mean that’s interesting,” Freeman said. “You talk about the whole swagger. I really don’t feel like that was the case. Did we get stopped on some first downs and some second downs [and] put us in some tough situations on third downs? Yes, that was the case, but there was never a time in that game where we didn’t feel like we could drive down the field [and] score a touchdown, get in the rhythm and win the game. Coming out in the second half I was like, all right, [a] one possession game. We’re going to go out and take this thing over. I ended up cramping [and] couldn’t get in the rhythm until late, but no, there was never a moment in that game where somebody turned it down [or] somebody shied away [or] somebody flinched, so to speak. We were ready to go. It was just a matter of execution early on and putting ourselves in manageable third downs.”
Freeman and his teammates know what kind of team they are and said there is no panic within the locker room after the slow start. On the contrary, the Buccaneers are moving forward and preparing for Minnesota.
“We know that we let one get away this past weekend,” Freeman said. “We know we can go out and play better football and win games. There’s no panic within this building, within our locker room. Right now we are just grinding. We’re working on this Minnesota stuff trying to get ready to make sure we go out and execute and get a win this week.”