SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:FAB 1. WITH MORE NEGATIVE STORIES, BUCS ACTUALLY LOSE DURING BYEThis is my 18th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I’ve never seen anything like this before. With record web traffic numbers in September, I’m guessing Bucs fans like you haven’t seen a full-fledged circus at One Buccaneer Place for a 0-4 team like this, either.
The daily Greg Schiano vs. Josh Freeman soap opera in the media was absolutely ridiculous. It was unnecessary for the franchise and it was embarrassing to the fans. It should also be embarrassing to the Glazers. Thankfully it ended on Thursday when he was mercifully released by Tampa Bay after general manager Mark Dominik didn’t find any takers in his attempts to trade Freeman.
After covering this team and interacting with its fan base on PewterReport.com, on sports talk radio and in person for nearly two decades, I’ve got a pretty good handle on the psyche of most – but not all – of the Buccaneers fans. After years of embarrassingly rooting for the Yuccaneers for a 13-year playoff-less stretch, Tampa Bay fans finally stopped getting bullied around by other NFL teams and their respective fans. Tony Dungy came along in 1996 as the team’s head coach and made the Bucs respectable, and turned them into winners a year later.
Dungy and Bucs legends like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Mike Alstott and others gave Bucs fans a strong sense of pride. The Bucs – and their fans – weren’t the laughing stock of the league anymore. Bucs car flags, license plates and window decals were everywhere and nearly everyone owned red and pewter-colored attire and wore it proudly around town.
But one month after Dungy was fired in January of 2002, the Bucs returned to their previously embarrassing ways in desperately looking for Dungy’s replacement. The Glazers failed to land Bill Parcells, turned down Marvin Lewis, and were turned down themselves by the likes of Ralph Friedgen and Steve Mariucci. A month after firing Dungy, the Glazers traveled across the country trying in vain to convince the right person to coach their Buccaneers, but to no avail.
In the end, the Glazers had to actually trade for a coach. Jon Gruden came along in 2002 and he took a championship-caliber defense and revamped the offense to produce a Super Bowl winner. It was a golden move by the Glazers. It was a huge risk that had a big-time payoff.
In a scene out of the 1990s comedy classic Revenge of the Nerds, the once-nerdy Bucs fans finally became the cool kids at the NFL school. They could proudly strut around with other “cool kids” from Green Bay, Dallas and elsewhere for a while.
Yet there’s nothing worse for former nerds than the fear of becoming nerds again and losing their recently achieved cool status. When the Bucs began to slide back towards mediocrity after the Super Bowl during the Bruce Allen years, that mentality is what made so many fans get fed up with the Gruden and Allen regime. The Bucs’ 10-6 record in 2010 got fans briefly optimistic about Raheem Morris before 10 straight losses brought sheer embarrassment back to Tampa Bay.
Bucs fans were outraged over the blowouts under Morris, and rightly so. They wanted the Glazers to spend money in free agency, which is something that Gruden wanted at the end of his tenure in Tampa Bay, too (and ultimately what got him fired).
Morris had to suffer for years with the youngest team in the NFL with the lowest payroll in the league. Can’t blame Morris for being a bit bitter after seeing the Bucs sign wide receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and free safety Dashon Goldson and trade for Darrelle Revis right after he got fired.
Just when Bucs’ fans thought the pride was being restored in Tampa Bay when Mr. Trust, Belief and Accountability walked in the door and restored order to order-less One Buccaneer Place, the players realized that the pendulum had swung too far in the opposite direction. Their work environment had gone from being a country club environment under Morris to a prison-like environment under Schiano’s dictatorial ways.
In a report on SI.com, Andrew Brandt backs up the claim by PewterReport.com and other media outlets that Tampa Bay players don’t trust Schiano, and also reveals that Schiano has the players on the sideline filmed during games and singles out those who laugh or horse around on the sidelines.
That’s why when the Bucs tried to sell some national reporters, NFL Network’s Michael Silver and Ian Rapaport, who don’t cover the Bucs on a daily basis, that Freeman had lost the locker room – instead of Schiano losing it – it was laughable. Say what you want about his quarterback play, Freeman is well liked and well respected in the locker room. He’s a great teammate, and left tackle Donald Penn spoke up in his defense on Wednesday to reiterate that point.
I’m not sure why the Bucs feel compelled to bury Freeman in the media. You don’t see the New York Jets doing this to Mark Sanchez.
Is Schiano a New Jersey bully, as he was portrayed in Silver’s eye-opening article that a lot of folks in Tampa Bay, including PewterReport.com, dismissed when it first came out? Or is Schiano still looking to pile on the justification to bench Freeman by painting him as irresponsible?
All the justification Schiano needed was to say that his QB is completing less than half of his passes, is 0-3 in 2013 and 1-8 in the last nine starts and leave it at that. But to allow constant leaks about Freeman missing a meeting, getting fined, etc. all it does is make the quarterback a sympathetic figure to the fan base and reinforce Schiano’s negative stereotypes. Any leaks by the Bucs are backfiring on Schiano, who is clearly losing support of Tampa Bay’s fan base.
So where does this leave Schiano? Setting aside the embarrassment to the organization and the fan base caused by media circus, let’s not forget he’s 1-9 in his last 10 games and the Bucs are still losing close games, just as they did a year ago.
At least the Buccaneers had some playoff years with Gruden, right? The Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2002, won the division in 2005, and then hosted a wild card game in 2007. Gruden was then fired a year later after the Bucs “struggled” over the next two years, finishing with a 9-7 record in both of his final two seasons.
Doesn’t 9-7 sound good right about now?
Both Dungy and Gruden knew how to utilize talented players and win, which is proving difficult for Schiano despite a plethora of high-priced Pro Bowl players. Dungy’s team knew how to finish games and finish the season strong. The Bucs typically owned the month of December under Dungy. Gruden had a special talent for squeezing a few good years out of aging stars like left tackle Roman Oben, quarterback Jeff Garcia, wide receivers Joey Galloway, Antonio Bryant and Ike Hilliard and running back Warrick Dunn to name a few.
Ever since John McKay helped start this franchise in 1976, Bucs fans have either embraced their head coach, as they did with McKay, Dungy and Gruden, or they haven’t. Now it comes as no surprise that McKay, Dungy and Gruden are the three most-winningest coaches in Bucs history, but they each had a uniquely endearing quality about them.
McKay had charisma and wit and came with a winning pedigree from USC. He was a media darling, which bought him time with the reporters to turn the Bucs into winners.
Dungy brought a feeling of respectability and calm to a turbulent franchise. A strong Christian man, everybody liked – or loved – Dungy, who was a father figure to not only Bucs players, but also to the entire Tampa Bay area it seemed.
Gruden had star power and instant credibility when he came to Tampa Bay and won a championship in 2002. Fans loved his fiery, butt-kicking style. They felt like he was someone they could go to war with on Sundays, and Gruden’s game day “Chucky” persona was at times the Bucs’ 12th man.
As for the head coaches Tampa Bay didn’t embrace, Leeman Bennett and Richard Williamson had no business coaching the Bucs. Ray Perkins was the old school version of Schiano, and Sam Wyche was a charlatan, whom the players never trusted. The players loved and trusted Morris, but he was just as immature as his players at times, and was in over his head as a 32-year old head coach.
Bucs fans haven’t embraced Schiano, either. His TBA – trust, belief and accountability – press conference when he was initially hired was a breath of fresh air at One Buc Place. But after a year and a half, the Bucs have gone 1-9 in their last 10 games after a promising 6-4 start under Schiano. The players don’t trust Schiano and are losing faith in him as the losses mount.
It’s one thing to lose games. Morris lost 10 games in a row, and many of them were blowouts. Schiano’s losses have been much closer, usually by a field goal in the last minute. That seems to be the unfortunate trend under this guy.
But at least Morris’ losses came without all of the sideshow drama during the week, though. His youngry, overmatched Bucs just lost. There wasn’t a new negative headline on ProFootballTalk.com every other hour like there is now with Schiano at the helm.
At some point the Glazers have to realize how embarrassed and frustrated the Bucs fan base is. You would think that a crowd of 44,000 (or less) at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday for the Arizona game would be a strong clue.
It’s one thing to lose a lot of games on Sundays. It’s another thing for the organization to lose credibility with the fans during the week with negative article after negative article along with those defeats.
That is what is being said by Bucs fans on the PewterReport.com message boards and on sports talk radio shows on 98.7 The Fan and elsewhere. They just want the embarrassment to end. Having to cringe every time they log on to ESPN.com or ProFootballTalk.com with another negative story about the Bucs makes the 2013 season even worse.
For Tampa Bay fans, being 1-9 in their last 10 games means having to put the glasses back on, hike up the pants and dust off the pocket protector once and be prepared to be the laughing stocks of the NFL again. No one wants that, and it’s time for the Glazers to make some changes. Releasing Freeman was just the first of the many changes that need to be made within the organization.
It’s nearly impossible for a team to lose during its bye week, but that’s what has happened in Tampa Bay. With all of the drama and negative stories in the national media coming out of One Buccaneer Place about the Schiano vs. Freeman controversy it feels like this team is somehow 0-5 now.
FAB 2. WITH FREEMAN GONE, SCHIANO HAS TO WIN IN A HURRYSince the start of Tampa Bay’s 2013 regular season, I realize my reporting has stirred things up in the Buccaneers fan base and over at One Buccaneer Place. Most of the fans that have read PewterReport.com, and Buccaneer Magazine back in the day, know that if I am going to err on one side, it will be with the Buccaneers. If all things are even, I’m probably going to give the Buccaneers organization the benefit of the doubt.
I draw my conclusion and report based on the facts and information I know. Typically, I can only report on half of what I know because I get so much information off the record. Since the start of the season I have been portrayed by some fans as a Freeman apologist and a Schiano hater. It may come as a surprise to you that I understand why that perception is out there, although I don’t believe that exact depiction fits my reporting.
I’m not apologizing for Freeman. I think to a large degree that he lost the starting job on merit, but I also believe that Schiano never had his back and was always looking for a reason to bench him. Unfortunately for Freeman, completing 45.7 percent of his passes, a bad preseason in which he failed to complete at least 48 percent of his passes, and a 0-3 start to the 2013 season with a 1-8 mark in the last nine games gave Schiano all the ammunition he needed to pull the trigger.
What I don’t like, and a big reason why I believe Schiano deserves to be fired if the Bucs lose to the Eagles next Sunday, is that Schiano and the organization began vilifying Freeman and unnecessarily attacking his character in an effort to deflect blame away from Schiano after Tampa Bay’s horrific 0-4 start and 1-9 record in the last 10 games.
I believe Schiano when he says he was “absolutely not” the leak when it comes to Freeman’s medical info. I also believe that he didn’t rig the captains’ vote that stripped Freeman of his captaincy after three years. But based on what I know I didn’t believe Schiano when he said that Freeman watching Sunday’s game in the suite was a “mutual decision” and I do believe that he helped orchestrate or at least had approving knowledge of the Bucs’ leaking the fact that he missed the team photo, was late to team meetings and missed a meeting last week in an effort to further make Freeman’s benching look justified.
Maybe Schiano didn’t call up the reporters himself, but I believe he was behind it – and many of the other leaks coming from One Buc Place about Freeman – and instructed someone to do it. Based upon information I’ve confirmed this week, Schiano pulls all the strings at One Buccaneer Place from what temperature the thermostat is set on at the team’s complex to controlling all personnel moves.
I like Freeman. I believe he’s a good, Midwestern guy. I don’t think there is a malicious bone in his body. From my interactions over the years on and off the field with the former Kansas State star I would have no problem with Freeman babysitting my four kids on a Friday night, knowing there would still be one heck of a video game tournament going on with Freeman at the controls when I came home after midnight. There aren’t a lot of Bucs players I know enough to trust to watch my kids, but Freeman is at the top of the list.
I’ve enrolled my sons into the Josh Freeman ProCamps Football Camp, which, in full disclosure, has been an advertiser on PewterReport.com, the past two years. I was very disappointed that Freeman essentially missed the first day of his own camp. I was embarrassed for Freeman for showing up for the last 15 minutes of the camp on the first day.
To his credit he showed up the next day and spent all day talking with the kids and throwing the ball to them. He had a blast and paid a little closer attention to the real young elementary school kids rather than the middle school kids.
I believe Freeman is a 25-year old guy with fame and money that parties a little too hard. Yet when I was 25, I remember my roommate and I going to Ybor City every Friday and Saturday night for the first year I spent in Tampa, partying like crazy – we just didn’t have the fame and money. If Freeman’s reputation for partying has hurt his image among Bucs fans, well that’s his own fault.
I wasn’t thrilled that Freeman was over an hour late to the Pewter Report Draft Party at The Grille at Westchase on Friday, April 26. I thought it was irresponsible. To his credit, Freeman, who agreed not to be paid for his appearance from the start, called me a couple of times to alert me to the fact that he was running late and giving me an update on approximately when he would be there.
Once he arrived, the Bucs quarterback spent 30 minutes on the microphone talking with over 125 PewterReport.com visitors in attendance and answering questions. He made up for arriving an hour late by staying an extra hour, signing every fans’ autograph and taking photos with anyone that wanted one.
Freeman was supposed to go to Orlando to hang out with some friends and party that Friday night, but told me he opted to go to Orlando another night and stay at the Pewter Report Draft Party and hang out with the Bucs fans because he was having such a good time. As I left to go to One Buc Place to finish covering the draft at the start of the third round, Freeman called me on his way home to thank me for having him as the guest speaker.
Freeman is not a great leader. He’s not a rah-rah, take-charge guy with a commanding presence that most people, including Greg Schiano, want from their quarterback. At age 25, I don’t think Freeman has developed the mental toughness to thrive in an iron-fisted, micromanaging environment like the one Schiano has created at One Buc Place. This latest ordeal and getting cut by the Bucs will provide a learning lesson for him that he can hopefully use to create a positive outcome at his next destination.
Fans would love to see Freeman get more animated during games and during his press conferences. His monotone voice and his even-keeled nature after losses irks some fans.
As a reporter, I understand it now. That’s how Freeman is. As a Kansas State alum and fan, Freeman irked me when he was in college because I didn’t know him and that he was aloof. Freeman was 2-0 against national powerhouse Texas, but was a horrible 0-3 against K-State’s rivals, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Being a Kansas City native, K-Staters really wanted to embrace Freeman but his personality made it difficult.
In Kansas City, it’s not uncommon to have K-Staters, KU grads and Mizzou alums all coexisting together in the workplace. When Freeman would take the podium after a bad loss to in-state rival KU, he would be so ho-hum about the defeat, always looking ahead to the next game. K-Staters were already furious about having lost to KU, knowing they would never hear the end of it at work on Monday from Jayhawks and Tigers fans. They wanted to see Freeman just as sad, disappointed and angry as they were.
But that’s not Freeman. It never has been. Just like Tony Dungy never uncrosses his arms and never curses. It’s not in Freeman’s nature to be animated. I think if Jeff Garcia’s fiery, feisty persona was transformed into Freeman’s 6-foot-6, 235-pound frame that Bucs fans would have embraced Freeman more than they did.
Of course winning helps, too. Freeman is 20-44 in his 66 NFL starts with the bulk of those wins coming in the 10-6 season in 2010. You can say what you want about the dropped passes and the poor pass protection this year, or not having Vincent Jackson in his first three years, or the defenses blowing nearly a dozen games in the fourth quarter, but the fact is that Freeman didn’t do enough and didn’t win enough to get a contract extension and win over Schiano. With Schiano Freeman compiled a 7-12 record.
Freeman had a great 2010 campaign, and a record-breaking 2012 season with 27 touchdown passes and 4,065 yards, but the facts are that the Bucs were 0-3 with him in the lineup in 2013 and throughout three preseason games and three regular season games he couldn’t complete at least 48 percent of his passes, which is unacceptable for a fifth-year quarterback.
Freeman’s camp believes there were 17 drops through the first three games, but there were probably 17 missed reads or bad throws somewhere in there, too. Whether Freeman is the second coming of Jason Campbell or still a young, good quarterback with the potential to be great, whose progress was being stunted by Schiano is up for debate. I probably lean towards the latter because I think the loss of quarterbacks coach Ron Turner has played a role, and Schiano never truly had Freeman’s back, but I don’t think that makes me a Freeman apologist.
I admit that this guy went to the same college as I did and my kids attended his football camp, but I can also remain objective in my reporting on Freeman. There’s no excuse for any fifth-year QB to complete less than half of his passes, especially in an offense where he threw for 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns and put a wide receiver in the Pro Bowl the year prior.
If Freeman doesn’t have the mental toughness and intestinal fortitude to rise above Schiano’s head games, step up in a contract year and make sure that Mike Glennon isn’t even in the conversation for the starting job then that’s on him. I understand why the Bucs benched Freeman, although I would have given him the Arizona game to try to turn his season around.
I don’t know how his ADHD affects Freeman’s preparation and his play. I have absolutely no idea. But at some point in order to succeed, great quarterbacks have to rise up and overcome dropped passes and sacks and make plays and win games, and it’s obvious Freeman didn’t do that enough.
Yes, the defense has blown too many narrow, fourth quarter leads, but Freeman sometimes didn’t do enough in quarters 1-3 to put the game away in the fourth quarter and prevent any chance of a comeback by Tampa Bay’s opponents. Some of those missed opportunities are on him.
Some of Freeman’s benching was a lack of performance and a lack of results. But some of it was also personal coming from Schiano, and that’s unfortunate and undeniable based on the information I’ve received.
Freeman didn’t win over Schiano and become “his guy,” and that too, is on him. Yet I also think Schiano’s “my way or the highway” style with players prevented that from becoming a possibility, and that will ultimately lead Schiano out of town sooner rather than later.
The way Schiano treated Freeman and handled the last week upset many of the veteran players from what I’ve been told and I believe cutting Freeman is the beginning of the end of the Schiano regime. With 12 games left, I’m told that Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik believe the magic number for them to keep their jobs is six wins with Glennon.
With a slew of Pro Bowl-caliber players on this talented Tampa Bay roster, I believe the threshold should be seven wins, which is what the team achieved last year. Anything less would be a viewed as a clear step back for this franchise.
Schiano might argue that three of Tampa Bay’s losses are by a combined six points. I thought losing close games under Schiano rather than losing in blowout fashion under Raheem Morris was last year’s argument for showing signs of progress. Well if the Bucs, who have more talent on the team than they did a year ago, are still losing close games, is that showing any real signs of progress?
Seattle, Indianapolis and Washington all made the playoffs with rookie quarterbacks, including Seahawks’ third-round quarterback Russell Wilson, so Schiano automatically loses the “I have to play with a rookie quarterback excuse.” No excuses, Coach.
Improve your offense during the bye week and win seven games with your guy. You better hurry.
FAB 3. BUCS DEFENSE MOVING UP THE RANKINGS IN 2013 If there is one thing Bucs head coach Greg Schiano deserves a lot of praise for is the fact that he and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan have done a great job of improving Tampa Bay’s defense in 2013. Last year Tampa Bay had the 29th-ranked defense (379.4 avg.), including topsy-turvy ranks for run defense (first, averaging 82.5 yards per game) and pass defense (last, averaging 297.4 yards per game), while surrendering an average of 24.6 points per game, which ranked 23rd in the league.
Through the first four games in 2013, the Bucs have the 12th-ranked total defense, allowing 332.2 yards, and the eighth-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 17.5 points per game. Tampa Bay ranks 15th against the pass with 238 yards per game, and ninth against the run with 94.2 yards per game. The most important improvements come in scoring defense, where the Bucs are allowing seven less points per game this season, and in pass defense where Tampa Bay is allowing nearly 60 less yards in 2013.
Greatly helping the pass defense is the upgrade in talent this offseason by general manager Mark Dominik with the trade for Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, signing Pro Bowl free safety Dashon Goldson and drafting cornerback Johnthan Banks. Tampa Bay’s defense now has Pro Bowl talent in Revis, Goldson and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
The Bucs have first-round talent in Revis, McCoy, strong safety Mark Barron and defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Linebacker Lavonte David, cornerback Johnthan Banks and defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, who is a starter in dime defense, are second-rounders. That means that seven of Tampa Bay’s full- or part-time starters on defense were drafted in the first two rounds.
Tampa Bay’s defense is eighth in the league with eight takeaways, including six interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The Bucs only recorded 18 interceptions in 2012, and are already on pace for 24 this year.
The Bucs’ pass rush has also been revved up in 2013. After notching just 27 sacks last season, Tampa Bay already has 13 quarterback captures through the first four games. The last time that happened with the Bucs was in 2002. The team is on pace to record 52 sacks this season.
Tampa Bay’s talent is shining as Revis, Banks, Barron and David all have interceptions, in addition to middle linebacker Mason Foster, a former third-round pick, and strongside linebacker Dekoda Watson, a former seventh-round pick, also have picks.
David leads the team with three sacks, McCoy, Clayborn and Foster each have two sacks, and Barron has one sack. Watson and defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim also have sacks for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay’s red zone defense ranks second in the NFL behind Kansas City, allowing just four touchdowns in 14 opportunities to defend the end zone. Opponents are scoring a touchdown just 28.6 percent of the time following the Chiefs’ 25 percent mark.
The Bucs’ goal-to-go defense is also stout, which is tied for second in the league with Kansas City behind New England. Tampa Bay has had six opportunities and only allowed two touchdowns (33.3 percent).
Yet despite these statistical improvements, the Bucs defense has played a significant role at the end of three of Tampa Bay’s close losses to New York, New Orleans and Arizona.
“Even though we played well, there are some things things we can fix,” David said. “[The bye] it just gives us time to go back and work on our fundamentals and fix the basic things that we, sometimes, had messed up on.
“We just need to finish. Some way, somehow, we’ve just got to dig deep and find a way to try to put games away.”
FAB 4. TAMPA BAY HAS RARE FIND AT OFFENSIVE TACKLEMark Dominik has certainly had his conquests and failures with personnel as Tampa Bay’s general manager since 2009. But one of his undeniable successes is landing two starting offensive tackles that were formerly undrafted free agents in Donald Penn and Demar Dotson.
That’s an incredibly rare feat. The Bucs are believed to be the only team to ever to want to start two undrafted free agents at offensive tackle on purpose rather than out of necessity.
“I didn’t know that, but we try not to focus on that,” Dominik said. “Once players are on the team we just try to keep the best guys and get them in position to play. If that’s how it works out then that’s fine, but I can’t think of another team with two undrafted free agents starting at both tackle spots, though.”
Dominik was Tampa Bay’s director of player personnel in 2006 when he prompted then-general manager Bruce Allen to sign Penn off Minnesota’s practice squad. Penn carried a draftable grade out of Utah State but suffered a knee injury prior to the draft, which hurt his stock and caused him to sign with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent.
Penn replaced the injured Luke Petitgout at left tackle in the third game of the 2007 season and hasn’t missed a start yet. Although he turned 30 this year and has started off the season in a less than stellar fashion by allowing one sack in all four games to start the season, Penn is an experienced veteran that made the Pro Bowl in 2010.
Dotson was a much longer shot to make it in the NFL than Penn was. After playing just one year of organized football as a defensive tackle Southern Miss after his basketball eligibility expired in 2007, Dotson was a tryout undrafted free agent with Tampa Bay in 2009. The Bucs liked Dotson’s quick feet, athleticism and 6-foot-9, 285-pound frame, and he earned a contract after the rookie mini-camp.
After gaining close to 40 pounds of bulk and muscle, and quickly learning how to play offensive line, Dotson rebounded from a season-ending knee injury in 2010 to beat out Jeremy Trueblood for the starting right tackle position in Week 3 of the 2012 season.
“Demar has worked really hard at his craft and developing the traits,” Dominik said. “With all that work he has become a really good player. He had as good of a training camp as anyone on the team.”
The Bucs traded for former first-round pick Gabe Carimi to challenge Dotson in training camp, but Dotson rose to the challenge and easily locked down the starting job heading into 2013. Of Tampa Bay’s five starting offensive linemen, Dotson may be playing the best out of the disappointing unit through the first four games of the season.
“It speaks a lot to the development of the players and their work ethic and their development and how much they want to success,” Dominik said. “They have both taken advantage of opportunities when they have risen up. With Donald it was taking advantage of the injury [to Petitgout]. With Dotson it was grabbing the chance when he had it last year and moving forward. I’m proud of them because they came from a hard place to make the National Football League. It’s even harder to become a starter and they’ve done it.”
FAB 5. Here are some things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:
• Now that the Josh Freeman era is officially over, the Bucs plan on giving rookie quarterback Mike Glennon a shot to become the team’s starter moving forward past the 2013 season. Glennon, who lost in his NFL debut, will have 12 starts in which to prove he can be the Buccaneers’ answer at the quarterback position. If not, Tampa Bay will likely spend a first- or a second-round pick on a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft, which appears to be loaded at the position.
• Tampa Bay will likely use the vacant roster spot that was created with the release of quarterback Josh Freeman on another quarterback. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs attempt to trade for New England’s Ryan Mallett or Miami’s Pat Devlin. The Bucs’ brass has always liked both young quarterbacks. Veteran David Carr is also a possibility because he knows Mike Sullivan’s offense and they worked together in New York.
• Count Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon among those impressed with the speed of running back and Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps.
“He’s as fast as advertised,” Glennon said. “He moves real well. You can tell he’s really talented. Whether the ball is in his hands or not, you can tell he’s fast. His speed is his biggest strength. It’s on an elite level.”
When asked if Demps, who had a 14-yard run and a 29-yard kickoff return in his first NFL action on Sunday, is the fastest player Glennon has ever played with or against at North Carolina State, he surprisingly said no. Although Demps is technically faster than former Wolfpack wide receiver T.J. Graham, he believes it would be a close race between the two.
“They are both extremely fast,” Glennon said. “I’m not going to knock a guy I went to school with. T.J.’s parents were Olympic sprinters, so he’s pretty fast, too. When guys are that fast it’s just a blur to me.”
• With Buffalo and Cleveland both losing their starting quarterbacks to injuries during Thursday night’s game, the Bucs made a strategic mistake of letting Josh Freeman go on Thursday afternoon after finding no takers with Freeman on the trading block. At the very least, the Bucs should have waited until after Sunday’s games to release Freeman on Monday morning just in case another starting QB went down with an injury.
With the Bucs having a bye week, the players are away from One Buc Place from Thursday to Sunday, so there was no harm or distraction with keeping Freeman on the roster for a few more days to try to get something out a player that the Bucs have a first-round and a fourth-round pick invested in.
For Freeman’s sake he gets his release and a fresh start elsewhere, which is what his camp wanted. But for the Buccaneers, perhaps a better plan would have been to suspend him for insubordination as former head coach Jon Gruden did to wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson in 2003. That way the Bucs could have at least gotten a third- or fourth-round compensatory pick for technically losing Freeman in free agency.
• One more note on Bucs head coach Greg Schiano. This may come as a surprise to some, but I don’t have any personal axe to grind against Schiano. He has been nothing but nice and accommodating to the PewterReport.com staff, myself included. I believe Schiano wants to win and he believes that his methods are the best way to achieve victories. He has the right to believe that.
I’ve just heard from too many sources at One Buccaneer Place from the football side or the organization to the non-football side that his abrasive style has created an unsettling environment in the workplace, and that there is a real disconnect between Schiano and his staff and a great deal of folks at the Bucs’ headquarters, especially the players.
For the sake of long-suffering Tampa Bay fans and for the players that work so hard at One Buc Place I would love nothing more than to be writing about a 4-0 Buccaneers team and be singing Schiano’s praises for an early Coach of the Year candidate story. But that’s not reality. This team is 0-4 and 1-9 in its last 10 games with Schiano at the helm with a daunting schedule ahead of it.
I don’t think Schiano and his staff do a very good job of in-game adjustments, and I think he and his staff are often out-coached on Sundays. I think Schiano does not do a good job of necessarily playing to his players’ strengths, opting instead to having them conform to his schemes. And I believe his hard-line, toes-on-the-line approach to handling the players is wearing thin and there will be a mutiny at some point in time this season unless the Bucs can get on a winning streak soon, starting next Sunday against Philadelphia.
• And finally, did Bucs head coach Greg Schiano really refer to himself in the third person at a luxury suite holders breakfast at One Buccaneer Place? Really?
Did he really say that the Bucs were “laughing stock” of the NFL and say that “this situation needed Greg Schiano?” Really?
Scott Reynolds says, “Wow.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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