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February 23, 2011 @ 11:15 am
Current Rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

2011 Free Agency Preview

Winslow Already Thinking Big For 2011

WRITTEN_BY Scott Reynolds Scott Reynolds
Scott Reynolds


Tampa Bay tight end Kellen Winslow is excited about the 2011 season, and believes that with the help of Josh Freeman he can double his statistics from 2010.
You can’t blame Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow for thinking big about the 2011 season, especially after Tampa Bay surprised the league with a 10-6 record and narrowly missed the playoffs last year. But exactly how big is Winslow thinking?

“I think we can double our numbers next year just [because] things were not clicking [early in the season],” Winslow said about his 2010 receiving statistics as the season came to a conclusion following the victory at New Orleans. “I think we can double our numbers next year. I really do.”

While doubling his 66 catches for 730 yards and five touchdowns seems overly optimistic, especially since his production dipped a bit from the 77 catches for 884 yards and five scores he put up in his first year in Tampa Bay due to the emergence of rookie wide receiver Mike Williams in 2010, Winslow feels he will be more in sync with quarterback Josh Freeman in 2011. Recording 80 catches for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns is not out of the question if Freeman’s play and offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s play-calling is as sharp as it was at the end of the season.

The Bucs beat two playoff teams in Seattle and New Orleans as Freeman completed 80.8 percent of his passes for a combined 495 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in those contests. Winslow, who has managed to play two entire seasons in Tampa Bay since his arrival, despite chronic knee pain, caught a total of 10 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks and Saints.

Williams was Freeman’s go-to receiver early in the season as Winslow often drew double teams due to his reputation and performance from 2009, and the lack of game film on the rookie wide receiver for opposing defensive coordinators to study. In fact, it wasn’t until Week 9 that Winslow found the end zone. By that time, Williams had five touchdowns – nearly half of his franchise-record 11 TD catches in 2010.

But since catching six passes for 65 yards and one touchdown against Carolina, Winslow caught fire as he and Freeman got on the same page, and he hauled in four more TDs over the final eight games of the season as the Bucs were trying to make their postseason march. The dynamic tight end actually had a sixth touchdown this season, but his pivotal scoring reception against Detroit was wrongfully taken away by the officials, who flagged Winslow for offensive pass interference. An official apology from the league office did little to soothe the hurt from a 23-20, overtime loss to Detroit that ultimately cost the Buccaneers a chance at the postseason.

“When we lost to Detroit it was kind of out of our hands anyways,” Winslow said. “That was a hard loss for us. When we found out we couldn’t do anything about it. It just sucks. We were happy with the win, but there was nothing we could do about it.

“We met our goals and that’s all we can do. Usually with 10 wins you definitely get in [the playoffs], but we have a tough division.”

Winslow’s optimism for 2011 is fueled by head coach Raheem Morris, who willed his team to believe that it would achieve 10 wins last year while every national and local media outlet forecasted a losing season in Tampa Bay.

“It was not surprising to us because we put the work in,” Winslow said. “With a coach like Raheem, it’s very easy to follow him. It’s funny how we have so many young guys and we are able to do this. It’s crazy when you think about it. We are so young, but next year we have a lot to build on. It’s real exciting.

“He is doing a great job with the defense, but all of the players have his back. I think everybody has come together and set a goal in mind and we have reached it, but we just didn’t make the playoffs.”

Winslow is excited about the potential of Tampa Bay’s offense with the rapid development of players like Freeman, Williams and rookie running back LeGarrette Blount, who rushed for 1,000 yards in 2010 despite not being a starter until midseason.

“LeGarrette Blount is just a great talent,” Winslow said. “Once he really knows what he’s doing, the sky is the limit for that guy. We’re so young. We have so much to build on here. He came in and all odds were against him. Coach Morris gave him a chance and he ran with it.

“Arrelious Benn, LeGarrette Blount, [Erik] Lorig, Mike Williams, [Ted] Larsen, [Derek] Hardman – there are so many young guys, and so many young guys on defense. When you get to grow together a lot of good things will happen.”

Winslow was happy to quiet the Buccaneers’ critics, who pointed out the fact that Tampa Bay had not beaten a playoff-caliber team for most of the season. Back-to-back season-ending victories over Seattle and New Orleans proved to the entire country that the young Bucs had grown up quickly and were ready to do some damage in the playoffs.

“When you look at the teams we beat, it’s about getting to that next level – the elite teams,” Winslow said. “The Steelers, the Saints, the Falcons, the Ravens – those type of teams that we have to beat to get to that next level. We’re right in the middle I think, but to get to the elite teams we have to do some things and get there and we will.”

While representatives for the NFL Players Association and the NFL owners are meeting to try to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement to avoid a lockout scenario that could threaten the 2011 season, Winslow remains focused on the next time he will hit the field on a Sunday – whenever that is.

“We’re already hungry,” Winslow said. “We feel like we were just reaching our potential. It’s going to be real fun, so I definitely think [the fans] will [embrace the Bucs]. It’s definitely going to be a sight to see.”

Seeing Winslow score 10 touchdowns in 2011 is something both he and Buccaneers fans definitely would like to see.

• Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris received a two-year extension when the Glazers picked up the option on his contract following the 2010 season. However, Morris will not be getting a raise that wasn’t already scheduled into the original contract he signed in 2009 when he became the Buccaneers head coach regardless of the superb coaching job he did in 2010. Morris also didn’t get a raise for becoming the team’s defensive coordinator back at the end of the 2009 season. Don’t be surprised if Morris’ agent drives an incredibly hard bargain after the 2011 season if the Bucs remain winners. No NFL coach likes the lame duck status, but if Morris isn’t handsomely compensated for being both the head coach and defensive coordinator he may not re-sign in Tampa Bay and look elsewhere as a free agent after 2012. Assuming the Bucs remain winners under Morris, the raise the Glazers give their head coach better be enough to retroactively pay for the years in which he carried the double duty of head coach and defensive play-caller and was not compensated for it or they will risk losing him.

• One of the reasons the Buccaneers fired offensive line coach Pete Mangurian is that the team didn’t feel he was specialized enough to install pass protections. A case in point was that in Jon Gruden’s last year as the team’s play-caller, Tampa Bay only allowed three unblocked, free-hitters to hit the quarterback on blitzes. In 2009, when Mangurian replaced Bill Muir as the offensive line coach, that number swelled to over 40 quarterback hits, which the Bucs knew was unacceptable. So offensive coordinator Greg Olson installed the protections himself instead of Mangurian and the number of free hitters coming on blitzes resulted in only six hits on quarterback Josh Freeman – a massive reduction. That’s one of the many reasons why Mangurian was replaced with Pat Morris.
Last modified on Tuesday, 01 March 2011 10:10

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Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds

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  • avatar

    good move to sign the new OL coach.....gotta protect our star qb......with him we always have a chance in any game...the more I think about it the more I think we may sign a LT early on in this draft......especially if we sign Johnson DE in FA.
  • avatar

    4bucs, your suggesting that we need a LT is based on what? Glad you are not the GM. Penn has had a very high performance grade from day one. One sack given up in 2 years. Pressures and hits have come from other line positions. What is your problem?
  • avatar

    IM so Happy Winslow is here and So happy for him that he got out of Cleveland and became a Buc,He's gotta still be pinching himself that He's not in that mess up there and is apart of something awesome here in Tampa Bay which he pobably never expected in his wildest dreams to happen so quickly,if at all when Dom traded for him.He plays with a lot of pain but always shows up.Keep up the Great work Kellen !
  • avatar

    Winslow is a baller. He's going to be a major force for as long as his knees will allow. Hopefully that is a long time.
  • avatar

    Its great to hear Winslow saying most of the right things. He was acancer in Cleveland, but it seems that the Winslow wasnt the problem....the Browns were. He did lose me a little when he mentioned Atlanta as an elite team without mentioning the patriots or colts. I know im knit-picking, but that seemed a little weird.
  • avatar

    I think he was talking about the elite teams we lost to last year... therefore, no pats or colts. Makes sense...
  • avatar

    Scott, That is awesome info on the offensive line pass pro install issue. That's is REALLY interesting and provides insight on the eventual outcome that we didn't have. Thanks.
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