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September 23, 2012 @ 5:50 pm
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Freeman, Anemic Offense Cost Bucs In 16-10 Loss At Dallas

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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Josh Freeman fumbled twice, threw an interception and completed just 35.7 percent of his passes as Tampa Bay gained just 166 yards due in part to terrible play-calling, squandering a great effort by Tampa Bay's defense in a 16-10 loss at Dallas.
WHAT HAPPENED IN TAMPA BAY’S 16-10 LOSS TO DALLAS?
For the second straight week, the Buccaneers lost a winnable game – this time in Dallas, 16-10.

The good news is that Tampa Bay is a much more competitive team under Greg Schiano. The bad news is that after starting the season 1-0, the Bucs have lost two straight and are now 1-2.

Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman was horrific, staring down receivers, holding on to the ball too long and not completing enough passes to sustain offensive drives. After Freeman threw an interception on a pass that deflected off the hands of running back D.J. Ware, the Bucs offense had to punt on seven straight possessions until kicker Connor Barth kicked his 22nd straight field goal in the fourth quarter.

“On third down we weren’t very efficient,” Schiano said.

That’s putting it mildly.

Tampa Bay generated only 166 yards of total offense and completed just 3-of-15 third down conversion attempts. Freeman completed 10-of-28 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown, one interception and was sacked twice, fumbling on both of those sacks. It was one of the worst performances of his career and he should have games like this out of his system by now.

Freeman didn’t get help from receivers Vincent Jackson (one catch for 29 yards), Mike Williams (two catches for 33 yards), Arrelious Benn (one catch for eight yards) and tight end Dallas Clark (one catch for zero yards). These players struggled mightily to separate from the Cowboys’ smothering secondary, which played a lot of Cover 2 Man with two safeties deep and man coverage underneath from the cornerbacks and linebackers.

Trailing 16-7 with 2:43 in the fourth quarter, the Bucs inexplicably ran the ball twice with rookie running back Doug Martin, who carried the ball 19 times for just 53 yards (2.8 avg.), rushing for one yard on first down and then losing two yards on third down. The first running play was called by offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, but Freeman admitted that the headset went out and he absent-mindedly called the second time-wasting running play.

“Today was honestly an off day for our offense,” Freeman said.

Schiano agreed and explained that running the ball in the final minutes with the Bucs trailing by nine points ultimately fell on his shoulders.

“Offensively, we struggled today,” Schiano said. “Everybody is part of that struggle – coaching, playing, the quarterback. … A lot of times in games you do things and you wish you had them back. We did. We thought we had a little thing going on there that may be advantageous. It didn’t work out.

“Is it my decision? Is it Mike’s decision? We’re all together in this thing. … I’m ultimately responsible for everything on this football team. The fact that we didn’t get it, I’m ultimately responsible for everything that happens on this football team. Period.”

The replacement officials cost the Buccaneers with several bad calls. It took two successful challenges by Schiano to right the refs’ wrongs. The first of which was a sack and a forced fumble by Gerald McCoy that was initially ruled an incomplete pass. Schiano threw the red challenge flag and an instant replay review corrected the call and gave Tampa Bay possession to end a Dallas drive in the Bucs’ red zone.

The second egregious error by the officials cost Tampa Bay a touchdown as a forced fumble by defensive end Michael Bennett was not called after Bennett sacked Tony Romo in the third quarter. Cornerback Eric Wright came in, scooped up the ball and ran into the end zone for an apparent touchdown, but the officials had already blown the play dead after the sack.

Schiano successfully challenged the play and replay clearly showed Romo fumbled. The Bucs were awarded the ball at the spot of the fumble, but not the points.

The Bucs defense, which may lose defensive end Adrian Clayborn to a knee injury for some time, played much better than it did a week ago when it gave up 604 yards of offense and 41 points to the New York Giants. Tampa Bay sacked Romo four times, forced and recovered two fumbles and picked him off once while holding Dallas to a respectable 297 yards of total offense.

The Bucs shut down DeMarco Murray, who rushed 18 times for 38 yards (2.1 avg.) and one touchdown and frustrated Romo, who completed 25-of-39 passes for 283 yards, with great pressure. But Tampa Bay’s stalwart effort on defense was wasted by a terribly called and executed performance by the offense.

For the second straight week, Tampa Bay was resigned to try to force a fumble on a quarterback kneel down play in the victory formation. The aggressive tactic drew plenty of controversy last week at New York and was used twice unsuccessfully as the game ended in Dallas.

“We need to stop being known for the kneel down play and start being known for winning football games – tight football games,” Schiano said. “That’s what I have to do as the head football coach.

HOW DID THE TEAM’S SCORE? – BUCS vs. COWBOYS SCORING SERIES
First Quarter – Bucs 7, Cowboys 0

Tampa Bay’s defense got things going for the offense as CB Aqib Talib picked off Tony Romo on third-and-15 and returned the ball to the Dallas 29. After a pass interference call on rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne, the Bucs moved into the red zone. On fourth-and-1, rookie running back Doug Martin rushed for two yards to pick up the first down at the Dallas 1. On the next play, Josh Freeman used a play-action 1-yard pass to tight end Luke Stocker to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead.

First Quarter – Bucs 7, Cowboys 7
Dallas benefited from an interception by linebacker Sean Lee on a catchable Freeman pass that deflected off the chest of running back D.J. Ware at the Tampa Bay 23. DeMarco Murray hauled in a 14-yard pass to the 11-yard line and then ripped off an 11-yard touchdown run two plays later. With 1:22 left in the first quarter, the Bucs and Cowboys were tied at 7-7.

Second Quarter – Cowboys 10, Bucs 7
Newly signed Jordan Shipley muffed a punt that Dallas recovered in Tampa Bay territory. Linebacker Dekoda Watson roughed the punter to tack on another 15 yards and that set up Dallas at the Bucs 24. The Cowboys struggled to move the ball and had to settle for a 32-yard field goal to give Dallas a 10-7 lead.

Fourth Quarter – Cowboys 13, Bucs 7
A 49-yard strike from Romo to Miles Austin set up Dallas at the Tampa Bay 30. After a holding penalty, Romo hit Kevin Olgetree for a 17-yard pass and Dez Bryant with an 11-yard strike to get Dallas into the red zone. But the drive stalled at the Tampa Bay 8 and the Cowboys had to settle for a 26-yard field goal.

Fourth Quarter – Cowboys 16, Bucs 7
A 44-yard punt return by Bryant to the Tampa Bay 6 set up another Cowboys field goal, this time from 22 yards out. A holding call pushed Dallas back 10 yards, followed by an 11-yard run by Murray that came up short of the end zone and forced Dallas to settle for three points instead of seven.

Fourth Quarter – Cowboys 16, Bucs 10
On fourth-and-11, Freeman hit Vincent Jackson with a 29-yard pass to move the chains. A 12-yard pass to Doug Martin was followed by a 23-yard strike to Mike Williams. But after driving down to the Dallas 10, the Bucs had to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Connor Barth, his 22nd in a row dating back to last year. Trailing by six points, the Bucs tried an onside kick, but it failed.

WHAT WAS NOTABLE ABOUT SUNDAY’S GAME FOR THE BUCS?
Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib picked off his first pass of the 2012 season in the first quarter to set up Tampa Bay’s first touchdown. … Jordan Shipley was Tampa Bay’s punt returner and averaged 3.3 yards per return. He also fumbled a punt return that set up a Dallas field goal. … Arrelious Benn caught his first pass of the season, an 8-yard reception in the second half. … Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood had his first catch as a Buccaneer, a 7-yarder in the fourth quarter. … Running back Doug Martin had his longest run of his career, a 17-yarder in the first quarter. … Running back LeGarrette Blount had his first carry in two weeks and ripped off an 11-yarder. He finished with 19 yards on four carries (4.8 avg.). … Defensive end Michael Bennett had his second and third sacks of the season, and forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Eric Wright. … Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy also had his second and third sacks of the season, and forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Gary Gibson.

WHO WAS THE PEWTERREPORT.COM BUCS’ MVP?
Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett tied a career high with two sacks and forced a fumble against Dallas, and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had the same statistical effort for Tampa Bay, setting a career high for quarterback captures in a game in the process. Both players are recognized as PewterReport.com MVPs this week.

Tampa Bay had a season-high four sacks against Dallas and now Bennett and McCoy are tied for the team lead with three sacks in three games. Bennett leads the team with two forced fumbles.

“I thought we had our best pressure of the season and we need to continue that,” Schiano said of the play of McCoy and Bennett.

WHICH BUCCANEERS WERE INACTIVE?
Bucs' inactives against the Cowboys were: WR Chris Owusu, RB Michael Smith, CB E.J. Biggers, CB Anthony Gaitor, S Keith Tandy, OT Jamon Meredith, and DE George Johnson

Cowboys’ inactives against the Bucs were: DT Jay Ratliff, DT Kenyon Coleman, SS Gerald Sensabaugh, C Phil Costa, WR Cole Beasley, S Matt Johnson and LB Alex Albright

WHICH BUCS GOT HURT?
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn was the most notable injury for the Buccaneers on Sunday. Clayborn hurt his knee in the fourth quarter when teammate Gerald McCoy sacked quarterback Tony Romo. Clayborn had to be helped from the field and then was carted from the sidelines to the locker room.

WHAT WILL UPSET GREG SCHIANO WHEN HE WATCHES THE FILM?
Jordan Shipley was signed to replace Preston Parker, who lost his job – and ultimately his roster spot – by fumbling away punt returns. So what did Shipley do in his Buccaneers debut? Muff a punt that was recovered by Dallas, in addition to averaging just 3.3 yards per return. Not a great start to his career in pewter and red.

With Tampa Bay struggling to move the ball on offense, cornerback Myron Lewis didn’t help the cause by getting a stupid 9-yard, half-the-distance personal foul for fighting after a punt. As a result, the Bucs got the ball on their own 9-yard line instead of the 18. Don’t be surprised if Lewis is released this week as Schiano was livid on the sidelines.

Quarterback Josh Freeman held on to the ball too long and was sacked twice by linebacker DeMarcus Ware and fumbled twice. Freeman’s pocket presence was poor, and it looked like he reverted back to some old bad habits of staring down receivers. The fact that Freeman didn’t call a pass play when his headset went out and called a run with just over two minutes left was inexcusable for a veteran quarterback.

The play-calling was bad, especially on offense. Neither offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan nor defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan made any real adjustments. The Bucs kept running the ball on first down with very little success – even into the fourth quarter when the team needed to pass. The run-run-pass strategy often turns into punts by the Buccaneers, especially in the second half this season after opposing defenses make adjustments.

Defensively, when the Cowboys began moving the ball with deep slants and skinny post patterns, Tampa Bay had no answers or adjustments. Romo hit passes for gains of 18, 21, 18, 49, 17 and 17 yards in the second half. The Cowboys found pass plays over the middle that worked and kept hammering the Bucs defense with them in the second half.

Schiano was also unhappy with the Bucs penalties as the team amassed a season-high 10 infractions for 69 yards. Dallas was whistled 13 times for 105 yards.

WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR THE BUCS?
Tampa Bay (1-2) travels home to play Washington (1-2) next Sunday at 4:25 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox.

Last modified on Sunday, 23 September 2012 18:17
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    so many incredible tools on offense, i just cannot imagine that we have two quarterbacks that cannot capitalize with the tools available. i bet the quarterbacks on the teams we have played think the same thing, what they could do with these players.
  • avatar


    lets put orlovsky in for a game , let josh sit and think. i dont know if that would help him or not. he looks like he is headed down the road to bustville, although i really hope he can turn it around over the next few games.
  • avatar

    I agree that it is time to pull Freeman. Not due to lack of talent though as some suggest. I personally think that he is playing job scared and with no confidence to make plays. Rumur (or excuse) is that his headset went out on that infamous 3rd and long in the 4th quarter and he had to call the play his self. If so why would any confident QB call a run instead of trying to make the play? If he had confidence he would have called a shotgun sideline pass, or some other play that would not only gain yardage, but also stop the clock. I think they have beat him down in the offseason and have him so scared to run, or make a risky throw, that he can't see the field. Since it is going to be a debate until it happens, might as well get the Orlovsky experiment over with and see what we really have in each QB. It also may serve to settle down a young QB's gameday jitters. Peace.
  • avatar


    One point about Martin's running. In college he played in a spread offense where most of their running plays came out off the shot gun with 3 wides on the field. The D was spread out, and he was able to use his vision. speed to find running lanes. Now the kid is being asked to run right up the middle, in a running formation when the D knows where and when it's coming. Even Blount won't make a difference in that situation. They have to find a more creative way to run the ball.As for Free, I'm doubting he has what it takes mentally to be an elite NFL Q.B.. I wouldn't be opposed to benching him if he can't pick it up, and giving him real compition next year.
  • avatar


    FIRST THING OUT OF THE BULLY'S COACH'S MOUTH OF THE BUC'S AT THE START OF HIS PRESS CONFERENCE AFTER THE GAME SHOULD BE I WANT TO APOLOGIZE TO ALL THE BUC'S FANS THE BUCS QWNERS AND ORGANIZATION FOR OUR EMBARRASSING CHILD LIKE OFFENSIVE GAME PLAN PERIOD. WITH THAT SAID IF THEY RUN THE MIDGET HAMSTER ONE MORE TIME UP THE MIDDLE ON FIRST DOWN AND SECOND DOWN FOR TWO YARDS I'M GOING TO PUKE COME ON MAN TRY A REVERSE A SCREEN PASS A RUN TO THE OUTSIDE A QUICK HITTING SLANT PLAY ETE. ETC. PLEASE. AND WITH FREEMON SAYING AND I QUOTE ''TODAY WAS A HONESTLY AND OFF DAY FOR OUR OFFENSE'' ARE YOU KIDDING ME. I'M NO LONGER STICKING UP FOR FREEMON WHO ALL MY FRIENDS SAY IS NOTHING BUT A THIRD STRINGER HE'S REGRESSING FROM GAME TO GAME INSTEAD OF BEING THE STUD Q/B OF 2010 HE CAN'T RUN ANY MORE CAN'T PASS ANYMORE HAS BECOME TIMID AND SCARED GOSH WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM HE'S A TOTALLY DIFFERENT PLAYER.AND IF THE BULLY COACH SAYS WE NEED TO STOP BEING KNOWN AS THE THE KNEEL DOWN BULLIES PLAY GOOD RESPECTABLE NFL FOOTBALL THE FOR GOD'S SAKE STOP DOING IT ALREADY DARN IT. I THINK IF FREEMON PLAYED OUT OF THE SHOT GUN FORMATION WE MIGHT SEE A DIFFERENT OFFENSIVE JUST SAYING. I WANT TO THANK ALL YOU BUC'S FANS FOR LISTENING TO MY FRUSTRATION'S OVER ANOTHER LOSS WHEN WE COULD OF WON WITH THE FIELD POSITION OUR OUTSTANDING DEFENSE GAVE US. WELL WITH THE IMPENDING BLACKOUT VERSE'S THE REDSKINS MAYBE THATS A GOOD THING. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR TIME.
  • avatar


    Does anybody know if JEFF GARCIA, is available.
  • avatar


    How about his wife, is she available?
  • avatar

    TIME TO PROMOTE ORLOVSKY!!!!! I think at this point it's clear Freeman is not what we hoped he would be! He maybe would be an adequate back up QB. Orlovsky had some good drives in the pre-season and at this point I'm sure he can't play worse than Freeman. Tampa needs to secure a high 1st Round QB next draft to replace Freeman. Offensive play calling is about the worst I have seen!!! If it doesn't get better they will need a new Offensive Coordinator, and new QB coach to go along with that new QB. Hope to see Underwood get more action, because our receivers were almost as bad as Freeman. Pathetic job on Offense!! On a good note, really excited about the development of the defense! It's nice to see our defense back to a level where they put points on the board like the old days!!! A new QB and a new OC would have easily won both of our last games!
  • avatar


    I agree Alsott, what do we have to lose? Freeman seems lost, and the play calling is unreal sad. Martin does not stand a chance if the KNOW the run is on the way. What happened to take shots down the field? If Freeman can't make up his mind, or is not making the right reads, time to try a new QB. How much time will he get to Progress, it's a contract year! I do Love seeing McCoy doing well, and the D is on it's way.
  • avatar


    Why is Blount not starting? Freeman is not a franchise QB. Play calling was terrible. Don't they have a run play that don't go up the middle? Shipley is no better than parker! This team needs a lot of work...
  • avatar

    WTF was that! Worst offensive game I have seen maybe ever. Freeman must not be the answer bcuz the coaching staff doesn't seem to trust him at all. The Cowboys had 9 guys in the box and we continued to run the ball straight up the middle for 2 yds. No imagination on offense at all. No motion. No pick play on the opposing db to get wr open. Damn i'm pissed. So tired of seeing Small Ball offense. The Defense played their asses off for nothing.
  • avatar


    Well maybe if Freeman was allowed, or had the balls to audible to a pass when 9 are in the box, then we would be ok? What I really don't get is that the whole concept is to work the the run so the play action can work....I think that when the whole defense has committed to stopping the run you have succeeded....so throw the ball instead. They will load the box until you beat them on a pass shen you show run. Who am I kidding, they don't even have to show run the defense knows in advance of the play call that it is a run.
  • avatar

    I don't disagree he was horrible today. I don't think defences have caught up with him, so much as they have caught up with the offensive play calling - seriously there isn;t a college team that couldn't make the right defensive calls against the Bucs 95% of the time. When the hand cuffs come off - as they did in the 4th quarter finally against the Giants - he has stepped up....admittedly not today. The guy is still only 24 years old - yes he has a few years of NFL experience that should be showing better, but he still only has 24 years of life experience...he will grow, he has talent, he has shown sparks, but he needs to become consistent and he needs the help of his coaches not the burden of having to overcome them. It would be a mistake to give up on him...this franchise has a history of giving up on QBs too early only to see them have more success elsewhere...in fact the only time we had success was when we took a guy that others had given up on. I think the future is with Freeman and I think it is bright....Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Defenses caught up with freeman 2 years ago. Today he was horrible and he handcuffs our play calling. I'm excited about what our defense may become, but we are not watching our offense of the future, because our QB is not on the team.
  • avatar


    Even Cowboys D coach Ryan said Freeman gave away the intended zones by not looking off coverage, and they rolled their coverage which ever way Freeman was looking. I've said it since day 1, Freeman is not a stud qb. He looks lost, indecisive, and when you have pros like Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark looking back at you as if to say "what the hell was that", you know the qb is average at best. No wonder our past two offensive coordinators have looked vanilla at best.
  • avatar

    The funny thing is Freeman was at his best 2 years ago when he made 4th quarter come back after 4th quarter come back...all of it in hurry-up, shot gun, passing only offensive schemes - where he was the big running threat. Since then, the Bucs have refused to use any of that play calling....running the ball with RBs has become soooooo important, the play calling has become sooooo obvious, and Freeman is asked to throw the ball in obvious passing situations, into great coverage. This slow developing, 3rd and long passing strategy doesn't work for him....his best passes against the Giants - 4th quarter, shot gun, deep passes to Williams and Jackson and Clark on all downs. Why are we trying to fit the players we have into a scheme that doesn't fit them? We have excellent WRs, a great pass catching back, and Freeman who has a rifle and can throw it, but not when he's thinking so much and gets easily out thought by defences....give him the ball and let him throw it. I'd love to see him with 50 attempts next week. As for our defence.....that's more like it....the DL was back to playing fantastic....let's hope that Giants game was just a bad day. This is correctable....correct it Bucs!
  • avatar


    Freeman again looking like a rookie with the old "deer in headlights look on his face". He can't hit his receivers and you wonder why they run too much, take a look at his throws. Are we going to sacrifice the team's chances of winning by not making a quarterback change? Offensive coordinator is a joke with no creativity in his play calling as Aikman said. The worries were supposedly going to be with our defense and the offense is the joke with his offensive schemes. Blount needs to be playing more and how in the hell are you running the ball down by 9 with 2 minutes to go. Announcers all game were scratching their heads all day with our play calling. Freeman calling a running play at the end says all you need to know how much confidence he has in himself. Freeman and Sullivan were pathetic!!!
  • avatar

    Sadly, All the money spent on this offense and all the picks, and we have little to show for it. Our Defense is proving to be outstanding reminding this bucs fan of the Dungy yrs in many regards. However we have so many problems on offense that you could spend several paragraphs on it. 1) Martin is not an every down back. In his defense he is not getting a lot of help, but he just is not going to turn this running game around. Freeman is seriously not looking like he is improving at all. Although again he is not getting a lot of help. And here we are talking about coaching. Starting every series with a running play is easy to defend against. If we are going to make this thing work we have to open up the offense. IF you don't think Freeman can do it then get someone else but at least let him go down trying. Blount should definitely be given another chance to be our starting running back. I for one am so glad we did not trade him. As hard as this defense played and as good as they looked when you have 7 three and outs in a row you are not going to win many games.
  • avatar


    Last week the O could not run clock and help the D. The D gave them points and turnovers, the same this week. Freeman is in a contract year, and this is NOT they way to start. WHY are we running on first down EVERY down? I guess if Freeman can't make a pass, we have to run. Freeman can NOT make any throws, guys are open. we could be 3 and 0, and today was sooo winnable, but NO drives AGAIN. I am so fustrated. Why can't Sullivan throw the damn ball? Wepons out the wazoo, and this is what we get?
  • avatar


    Another day of old school Buc ball. The defense was great and the offense stunk. Freeman had a horrible day and learning that the last run play was his fault is just sickning. The Cowboys what I now believe is the best tandem of starting CB's in the league, but Freeman had little pocket awareness and like PR said, held on to the ball too long. But I kind of knew we weren't going to be able to pass the ball coming into this game after seeing the Cowboys go against the Giants. I'm actually more disapppointed in the running game. D. Martin has been running averagely. We better see more Blount next week.
  • avatar

    The offense owes the defense a huge apology for not showing up!! Josh is not leading by example or by getting on his teammates to fire them up. This game was so winable.
  • avatar


    Last week I was worrying two of our 1st round picks, McCoy, and Clayborn weren't living up to standards. Thanks men for breaking out this week. McCoy really brought it, just needs to do it week in, and out. Now I'm really worried about Freeman. Staring down receivers, no clock in his head, back pedal's in the pocket instead of stepping up, and sliding over, it looked like his first game. He looked like he had zero command of this offense, no pocket presence at all. Scott, do they not trust this kid with such simple game plans?
  • avatar

    Freeman is awful..not that his line game him much help either..the offense is again the weakness of this franchise and the play calling is even worse than that of Olsen..that game should have easily been won- the offense and it's horrible play is to blame..maybe someday our offense can play a full four quarters of football..
  • avatar

    What is with this offensive, Josh has all of these weapons & offenisve line & yet nothing. The" D "is the only reason we were in this game. Thanks" D" for keeping us in the game.
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