New head coach Greg Schiano's regime is being built on discipline and hard work, evident by Josh Freeman's weight loss and the offense's focus. As Schiano calls is, "The Buccaneer Way."
Players arrived at One Buc Place Thursday morning reporting for training camp. One theme came up repeatedly with offensive players and coaches: hard work.
From Josh Freeman to Vincent Jackson, the coaching staff is pleased with the work ethic the players have been putting in so far.
“I have been very pleased with Josh (Freeman) and his work ethic.” Ron Turner said. “His approach mentally. His grasp of it. He definitely studied. He definitely worked at it. Again he was gone for six weeks. When he came back we started talking and I started firing questions at him and he was definitely ahead of where he was when he left. He started asking me some questions and throwing some things out. He definitely has been thinking about football while he was gone.”
Freeman has made a physical transformation since the final game of last season, coming into camp 20 pounds lighter than a year ago, a sign of his commitment to hard work, dedication, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to make this team better.
“After the season last year, during the time between coaches,” Freeman said, “I had a great conversation with Coach Olsen, and we talked about a number of things, one of which was to be at your best, to be a pro and not at just football, but in life, your lifestyle habits, and that’s one area, where being young, you could eat anything and do what you wanted, but I wanted to take a step and be excellent with my diet and exercise and start working out year round, and that was really it. Just a few simple changes, working out, playing a little soccer.”
At times last year, the team looked unfocused and undisciplined, something that appears to be addressed with the new coaching staff.
“Everybody is focused and is constantly being stimulated from the installations.” Freeman said, “I don’t think anyone on this team has been in an offense with this terminology, but you’ve got a lot of smart guys on our team and we have a great coaching staff. And look at the running backs, LeGarrette is learning and learning in a way that I think he’s trying to become more of a complete back, trying to constantly self improve. You look at the receivers and you got Coach Fleck who is my guy, he’s got a motor like I’ve never seen. The O-line coach, Coach Bob, and Coach Angelico with the tight ends, all these coaches, they’re really intense and guys are getting with it and it’s good. I feel like if everybody just worries about their stuff and does their job, we’ll be able to piece this thing together.”
Receivers coach PJ Fleck spoke with Pewter Report about Vincent Jackson, and his immediate effect on the Bucs.
“"I'll tell you, he's a true professional.” Fleck said, “And I'll keep using those two words with him. He's such a true professional. I mean, the work ethic. You almost have to put reins on him to slow him down. Because he goes and goes and goes, he only knows one way to work. And when you have a player like that, it's special. And obviously you always want to make sure you always have that, so you got to make sure he's healthy and limit reps and things like that, but he's just a true professional, he goes into that room, and you know, Vincent isn't the most vocal leader, you know, he's so professional. And the way he works rubs off and it's infectious to everyone else in the room.
“And I think our group is starting to take that mold as well. How hard they're working. Everyone wants to out-compete everyone, everyone wants to outwork Vincent, so when the bar's set by Vincent, and now everybody's trying to raise that bar, Vincent raises his bar even higher and everyone rises to that level. The bar will rise to the leader and how high that bar is set by the leader is where the group will go, so I think Vincent's done a great job of setting that bar high."
With a young receiving corps, that veteran leadership is welcomed, especially with a new playbook. Fleck says Jackson hasn’t shown any signs of struggling with the new system.
“Vincent's one of the most football-intelligent people I've ever been around and he's a joy to work with. And the great thing about Vincent is he continues to want to learn. Here the guy's been to two Pro Bowls, and he takes the most detailed notes. His handwriting, his penmanship is immaculate. It's fun, it's really fun."
Barring injury, Freeman and Jackson will be the starters opening day, but the rest of the offense may not be as obvious. Dezmon Briscoe, who led all receivers last year, may be on the hot seat after personal reasons kept him from working out with the team in the offseason.
“Briscoe just has to come in here, and prove he wants to be part of this football team, just like everybody else.” Fleck said, “And that's what he's got to do, come in here and work hard, and see what happens. That's pretty much what…we're all trying to do. Trying to make the football team. We all know he cares, we all know he wants to be here, just like everyone else. And he's got a great shot, just like everyone else, to make this football team."
Freeman was asked about week one opponent Ryan Kalil’s full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer guaranteeing the Carolina Panthers will be Super Bowl XLVII champions.
“Good for him. All I know is that this team is going to come and work hard. It’s about fundamentals, trust, belief and accountability and doing things the right way, the Buccaneer way and moving forward and that’s what we’re going to do.”
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