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. BUCS, FREEMAN IN SURPRISINGLY FAMILIAR TERRITORYGreg Schiano benched Josh Freeman a week earlier than most expected. Many believed Sunday’s game against Arizona would be Freeman’s last stand. Win that game and play well and have a chance to move on as the Bucs’ starting quarterback. Lose that game and move on – to another team.
Instead, the Bucs will start rookie Mike Glennon, who has a lot of potential, but should not be confused with RGIII, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, or even Geno Smith or E.J. Manuel for that matter.
On Wednesday, Schiano said he now believes that Glennon gives the Bucs the best chance of winning after saying that Freeman gave the team the best chance to win on Sunday and Monday.
The good news for Freeman is that he has been 1-8 in his last nine starts and it will stay that way. I say that because he’s not starting on Sunday, and Schiano could be 1-9 in his last 10 games as head coach. In other words, Freeman can’t be blamed anymore. The target for criticism has solely been removed from his back and is now squarely on Schiano’s back.
Expect Bucs fans – and even some in the media – to fire away on Schiano come Sunday afternoon if Tampa Bay loses its fourth straight game of the season and Glennon doesn’t play well, and here’s why.
While many were growing impatient with Freeman’s development, the Bucs fan community had not quite given up on the team’s first-round pick in 2009 – but Schiano did. Most can’t understand why a player that was completing 62 percent of his passes saw a drop in completion percentage to 54 percent last year and to 45.7 percent this year.
So what’s changed since Freeman became the first Tampa Bay quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards and set a franchise record with 27 touchdown passes?
In his season-ending press conference last year, Schiano told the media that everyone had to compete for their jobs the next season, including the quarterback, before clarifying that statement over a month later at the NFL Scouting Combine and suggesting that Freeman was his starter.
At Schiano’s direction, the Bucs didn’t sign Freeman to an extension and let him enter a contract year in 2013.
Then the Bucs flirted with Carson Palmer prior to the draft and it gets out into the media.
Then they drafted a quarterback in the third round in Glennon, but Schiano maintains that Freeman is the starter.
Then weeks later on May 19, Schiano said he is “not against” Glennon beating out Freeman as the starter.
Then Schiano clarifies his statement, saying that Freeman is still the starter.
Then Schiano spends most of the preseason playing the backup quarterback, Glennon, rather than preparing Freeman for the regular season and getting the first-team offense in sync. (By the way, Greg, the offense still isn’t in sync nearly two months later.)
No wonder Freeman has had trouble performing.
It’s called head games.
The 80’s rock band Foreigner wrote a song called “Head Games,” but I digress.
Unfortunately, Freeman wasn’t mentally strong enough – or felt too alienated from his head coach – to overcome it, and now he’s on the bench. Some would suggest that if he’s not mentally tough enough to deal with the specter of him not being Schiano’s guy then he shouldn’t be leading an NFL huddle on Sundays. There’s some validity to that.
Others will point to the fact that Schiano’s rigidness of forcing players to fit into his system and ways of doing things, and his unwillingness to conform to players and play to their strengths, and suggest he ruined Freeman. There’s some validity to that, too, even though Schiano has publicly denied any culpability in Freeman’s downward spiral in Tampa Bay over the past two years.
Believe it or not, Tampa Bay was in a similar situation last year. The Bucs were 1-3 heading into the bye week. A win on Sunday against Arizona and they will have an identical mark as they did a year ago before racing out to a 6-4 start.
Freeman started off slowly last year, too, before catching fire after the bye week. Here is a comparison of how Freeman started off the 2012 season and how he his 2013 campaign has begun:
Freeman’s Start In 2012Week 1 win vs. Carolina: 16-of-24 (66.7 percent) for 138 yards with 1 TD, 0 INTsWeek 2 loss at NY Giants: 15-of-28 (53.6 percent) for 243 yards with 2 TDs, 2 INTsWeek 3 loss at Dallas: 10-of-28 (35.7 percent) for 110 yards with 1 TD, 1 INTTotals: 41-of-80 (51.2 percent) for 491 yards with 4 TDs and 3 INTs
Freeman’s Start In 2013Week 1 loss at NY Jets: 15-of-31 (48.4 percent) for 210 yards 1 TD 1 INTWeek 2 loss vs. New Orleans: 9-of-22 (40.9 percent) for 125 yards 1 TD 1 INTWeek 3 loss at New England: 19-of-41 (46.3 percent) for 236 yards 0 TD 1 INTTotals: 43-of-94 (45.7 percent) for 571 yards with 2 TDs, 3 INTs
The biggest differences in the first three games – aside from a 1-2 record last year and a 0-3 mark in 2013 – is the drop in completion percentage from 51.2 to 45.7, the increase in passing yards from 491 to 571 (80 more yards) and two less touchdowns this season than a year ago. Even though he’s played slightly worse, the Bucs could very well be 2-1 right now if the defense wouldn’t have given up two late field goal drives.
It’s noteworthy to point out that the similarity in Freeman’s woes against defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. In 2012 when Ryan ran the Dallas defense, Freeman struggled mightily in a close Week 3 loss to the Cowboys. Facing Ryan again – this time with the Saints – Freeman continued to struggle, evidenced by his less than stellar performance in Week 2.
So what did Freeman do in Week 4 against Washington? He completed 24-of-39 passes (61.5 percent) for 299 yards with one touchdown and one interception and played his best game up to that point in the season.
After the bye week, the Buccaneers won five of their next six games as Freeman threw 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions in that span. He didn’t complete fewer than 52.8 percent of his passes in any of those six games, and had a completion percentage of 60 percent or higher in two of those contests.
Would Freeman have been able to turn it on in Week 4 against Arizona as he did a year ago against Washington?
We’ll never know. It’s Glennon’s show now.
It’s not too late for the talent-laden Bucs to turn the season around. Keep in mind that the combined record of the three teams Tampa Bay has played is a combined 8-1 through the first three games of the season.
However, the key is the Arizona game. It’s as must-win as it gets for Schiano and his future in Tampa Bay, and for the Buccaneers and the future of their 2013 campaign.
The Cardinals are surrendering an average of 26.3 points per game, but the defense has many formidable veterans in defensive linemen Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, linebacker Karlos Dansby and John Abraham, and defensive backs Patrick Peterson, Yermiah Bell and rookie Tyrann Mathieu, who has a forced fumble and an interception in the first three games of his NFL career.
The logic behind starting Glennon this week as opposed to after the bye week is three-fold. First, the next two games – Arizona and Philadelphia – are at home, and that’s always a better option for rookie quarterbacks instead of making their initial starts on the road.
Second, the Bucs feel that Glennon’s learning curve can be accelerated with him having a game under his belt prior to the bye week, so that he can review his own game film – good and bad – and use the extra week to make the necessary adjustments to his game, in addition to having extra prep time for the Eagles game.
And finally, the Cardinals are banged up on defense, losing three linebackers – Sam Acho, Alex Okafor and Lorenzo Alexander – to injured reserve, in addition to having safety Rashad Johnson (finger) and linebacker Kevin Minter (hamstring) likely out for Sunday’s game with injuries. The Bucs feel like Glennon can better handle an Arizona defense that is less than 100 percent healthy.
Glennon’s only predicament might be the fact that he might be without starting wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, who are dealing with rib and hamstring injuries, respectively, and starting tight end Tom Crabtree, who is still recovering from an ankle injury. That means Glennon’s targets on Sunday may be Kevin Ogletree, Eric Page and Russell Shephard at wide receiver and Nate Byham at tight end.
And Freeman doesn’t give the Bucs the best chance to win this Sunday? Really?
FAB 2. McNULTY, GARRETT ARE FAILING BUCS OFFENSE RIGHT NOWThe Buccaneers passing game is having a hard time connecting in 2013. Quarterback Josh Freeman has been more inaccurate than usual, and when he was on target, his receivers have dropped passes. Running back Doug Martin, who usually has good hands and was expected to be worked more into the passing game this year after catching 47 balls for 472 yards and a touchdown, is tied for the league lead with four drops.
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson had two dropped passes at New England before exiting the game with a rib injury. Tight end Tim Wright dropped a touchdown pass against the Patriots.
Wide receiver Kevin Ogletree disappears from the offense for big stretches of games, and then struggles to stay in bounds near the sidelines when he is targeted by Freeman. Ogletree, who is the team’s third receiver when the team goes to a three-wide set, has been a disappointment thus far, catching just three passes for 40 yards and one touchdown in three games.
Consider that Eric Page has only seen action at wide receiver in one game (at New England) and has already caught three passes for 55 yards.
With Freeman struggling with accuracy this season, and receivers struggling to get open and catch passes, it’s fair to point out that the Buccaneers have two new assistant coaches in quarterbacks coach John McNulty, who was Arizona’s quarterbacks coach last year, and wide receivers coach John Garrett, who coached tight ends in Dallas last year.
It would be one thing if Tampa Bay’s quarterback problems were to be isolated to just Freeman, whose completion percentage has fallen from 54.8 percent last year to 45.7 percent this year, but they are not. In the first preseason with McNulty, who replaced Ron Turner as the team’s QBs coach, none of Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks had a completion percentage higher than 50 percent, which was what backup Dan Orlovsky was able to produce.
Freeman only completed 46.2 percent of his passes in August. Glennon only completed 47.1 percent.
In the 2012 preseason, Freeman and the other quarterbacks performed much better. Freeman completed 18-of-34 passes (53 percent) for 164 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Orlovsky completed 15-of-20 passes (75 percent) for 150 yards with one touchdown and no picks. Third-string quarterback Brett Ratliff completed 22-of-43 passes (51.2 percent) for 226 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
With Turner’s guidance, Freeman performed better in the regular season, completing 54.8 percent of his passes for 4,065 yards with 27 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Since he left, the Bucs quarterbacks have been incredibly inaccurate. It’s one thing to have one quarterback not complete more than 50 percent of his passes in the preseason, but all three?
One of the more astonishing statements I’ve heard in quite some time from any coach in Tampa Bay came from McNulty this summer. When asked how he would personally help Freeman, McNulty said the following.
“I think the knowledge part of it and the comfort part of it working with him where he says, ‘Hey, this doesn’t make sense to me,’ or ‘Can we do this or that?’” McNulty said. “Mike [Sullivan] has been great at saying, ‘Okay, if that’s what he wants to do, we’ll try to bend it that way.’
“I think it’s just more of a comfort in the system because he has the physical ability to do it. I’m not trying to teach a guy how to throw a ball. I try to stay away from altering a guy’s mechanics and trying to get him to get comfortable with a system.”
Listen to that again.
“I’m not trying to teach a guy how to throw a ball. I try to stay away from altering a guy’s mechanics …”
The quarterback coach’s job is to continue to teach the quarterbacks how to throw and how to maintain proper mechanics or improve mechanics when they stray. This is not the first time the McNulty-Schiano combination has ever come under fire. You can read this article for some background if you wish. (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/53300-greg-schiano-oc-john-mcnulty-not-helping-rutgers-cause)
The NFL is a results-oriented business, and right now, McNulty is not getting results and is looking like a bad hire. He can turn it around if he can get Glennon to rapidly develop into a starting quarterback that is capable of winning games as a rookie, and to be more accurate.
“In our college evaluation of him, [Glennon] was 56 percent [completion rate] as a senior, but he was higher than that other years,” Schiano said. “He had an incredible amount of balls dropped on him his senior year. Before that, he had [a completion rate] in the mid-60s, and even in the high-60s.”
Actually, Schiano’s facts are slightly off. Glennon was a 58.5 percent passer as a senior, and completed 62.5 percent of his passes as a junior. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound QB did complete 69.2 percent of his passes as a sophomore, but he only had nine completions and 13 attempts that year.
In his North Carolina State career, Glennon completed just 60 percent of his passes, which is decent. But it’s not in the mid-60s or high-60s like Schiano suggested.
“I think he is an accurate quarterback, but he hasn’t done it at this level,” Schiano said. “This is a different level, we know that, so that’s yet to be determined – can’t wait to see it. I believe he’s going to be [accurate], but as I’ve said many times standing behind here, you’ve got to go do it.”
McNulty has to do it, too, and coach Glennon up right.
As for Garrett, who is replacing the popular P.J. Fleck, the Bucs receivers aren’t off to a real hot start to the 2013 season. Last year through three games, Mike Williams caught seven passes for 104 yards (14.8 avg.) and two touchdowns. Through the first three games, Williams has 11 catches for 126 yards (11.5 avg.) but just one touchdown.
Vincent Jackson has hauled in 15 receptions for 265 yards, but has yet to score a touchdown and has been plagued by drops to start the 2013 campaign. Last year through three games, Jackson had 10 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown through three games.
Tampa Bay’s high-priced third receiver, Kevin Ogletree, has been a disappointment with just three catches for 40 yards and one touchdown and a couple of drops through three games. The Bucs are also one of three teams in the NFL that don’t have a reception over 40 yards.
Garrett’s not producing results, either, and now Jackson and Williams might not play on Sunday due to rib and hamstring injuries, respectively. That means the Bucs’ receivers might be Ogletree, Eric Page and Russell Shephard, and Garrett has his work cut out for him.
Sometimes new assistant coaches can step right in and not miss a beat. Mike Tomlin seamlessly replaced Herman Edwards as Tampa Bay’s defensive backs coach in 2001, and Joe Barry made the Bucs forget about Lovie Smith the same year. But defensive line coach Jethro Franklin was not even in the same class as Rod Marinelli, and he was promptly fired after one disastrous year.
The same fate may await McNulty and Garrett unless their respective units produce.
FAB 3. SHERIDAN’S MIX OF ZONE AND MAN COVERAGE IS WORKINGSome Bucs observers are scratching their heads as to why the team is playing so much zone defense, especially with the acquisition of cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is widely regarded as the best man coverage defender in the NFL. That’s something that Revis has reportedly grumbled about at One Buccaneer Place.
But to think that the Bucs are playing nothing but zone defense is incorrect. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan realized that head coach Greg Schiano’s desire to play a high-pressure man coverage scheme had its limitations. The New York Giants game last year where Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks lit up Tampa Bay’s defense for 510 yards, and an 80-yard touchdown strike from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones in a home loss to Atlanta were just a few of the instances where the Bucs’ defense was exploited in man coverage.
Credit Sheridan for playing a lot more zone defense in Tampa Bay’s 21-17 victory at Atlanta to end the season, holding Ryan under 300 yards passing with just one touchdown, and limiting the Falcons’ longest pass play to a 28-yard catch by Jones. Since that triumph in Week 17, Sheridan has done a nice job of mixing zone and man coverage up, and it’s working.
Compare the stats from the first three Bucs games last year with the first three games this season:
First 3 Opposing QBs In 2012Week 1 – vs. Carolina: Cam Newton – 23-of-33 for 303 yards 1 TD 2 INTsWeek 2 – at New York: Eli Manning – 31-of-51 for 510 yards with 3 TDs 3 INTsWeek 3 – at Dallas: Tony Romo – 25-of-39 for 283 yards with 1 INTTotal: 79-of-123 (64.2 percent) for 1,096 yards with 5 TDs, 6 INTs
First 3 Opposing QBs In 2013Week 1 – at NY Jets: Geno Smith – 24-of-38 for 256 yards with 1 TD, 1 INTWeek 2 – vs. New Orleans: Drew Brees – 26-of-46 for 322 yards with 1 TD, 2 INTsWeek 3 – at New England: Tom Brady – 25-of-36 for 225 yards with 2 TDs, 1 INTTotal: 75-of-120 (62.5 percent) for 803 yards with 4 TDs, 4 INTs
In 2013, the Bucs have given up 293 less yards and one less touchdown through the air through three games compared to a similar stretch to start the 2012 campaign. In the first three games of 2012, Tampa Bay’s defense surrendered 67 points, an average of 22.3 points per game. In 2013, the Bucs defense has given up a total of 53 points in three games, an average of 17.6 points per contest.
“We try to have balance,” Sheridan said. “We self-scout, just like the offenses do. So we self-scout and we try not to get too lopsided in any schematic thing whether it’s man or zone or two-deep or one-high. Just like the offenses do, we self-scout and try and have a balance so that when you’re getting prepared for us you can’t say, ‘Hey they’re always going to be in this,’ or ‘In this down-and-distance they always play these kind of defenses.’ We try and prevent that, so I appreciate [fan] concerns, but in our minds we don’t want to do anything all the time. That would be too easy to exploit and attack. So we try to have a balance and keep [opposing teams] guessing and we try to disguise what we’re doing.”
So far it’s working, even if Revis Island isn’t in full effect.
FAB 4. SCHIANO’S GRATING STYLE HAMPERED FREEMAN’S DEVELOPMENTOn Thursday on the Booger and Rich Show on PewterReport.com’s radio partner, 98.7 The Fan, former Bucs defensive tackle Booger McFarland said he received a text from former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who said that Josh Freeman’s play through the first three weeks of the season didn’t warrant benching by head coach Greg Schiano. Later on Thursday’s show, former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy disagreed with Freeman’s benching.
But one of the most interesting – and I believe truthful – commentaries on the disconnect between Schiano and Freeman and the head coach’s mismanagement of the quarterback came from ESPN’s Jeff Chadiha, who wrote a column titled Bucs’ Top Problem Is Greg Schiano.
Here is a very revealing excerpt:
A good head coach would figure out how Freeman blossomed that year (2010) and find ways to replicate that success. A stubborn coach would do what Schiano has been doing for most of his first two years in Tampa. Play mind games. Push the notion that competition brings out the best in players at all positions. Act as if he can use the same disciplinary tactics that worked on college kids at Rutgers and achieve similar success with grown men.
If Schiano took a good look around the NFL, he would find a changing landscape in regard to young quarterbacks. The teams having the most success are finding ways to play to their quarterbacks’ strengths. They build up their confidence by creating a user-friendly environment. They find success with young players because a little thing like trust goes a long way.
The teams that struggle with their young quarterbacks are just as easy to spot. The New York Jets failed to put decent weapons around Mark Sanchez (and then added Tim Tebow to the mix for a circus atmosphere). The Jacksonville Jaguars have done the same with Blaine Gabbert, while giving him three head coaches in three years. The San Francisco 49ers had Alex Smith all screwed up for five years until Jim Harbaugh became his head coach in 2011. Now Smith is leading a revitalized Kansas City Chiefs team that is thankful for his leadership and efficiency.
The point here is that all young quarterbacks go through growing pains and having a wishy-washy coach with a grating personality doesn’t help. In fact, Freeman’s situation in Tampa feels very much like what happened with Smith in San Francisco pre-Harbaugh.
I must say that I agree wholeheartedly with Chadiha. I think Schiano has played a role in stunting Freeman’s development and ruining him to an extent. The guess here is that if the Bucs go 0-2 with Glennon as the starter Schiano is in deep, deep trouble.
Not only would the Bucs be 0-5 this year, they would be 1-10 in the last 11 games under Schiano dating back to last year. That’s absolutely ludicrous for a team with as much talent as Tampa Bay has, and coaching – and the disconnect between Schiano and the players – would be to blame.
If Tampa Bay starts the season 0-5 Schiano needs to be fired in-season and replaced with Dave Wannstedt in October as the interim head coach. In my eyes Glennon shouldn’t be used as an excuse to buy more time for Schiano if the team whimpers to a 1-10 record in the last 11 games. Enough time. Too many losses.
At 0-5, it’s time for general manager Mark Dominik to show some guts, end the ridiculous media circus and constant distractions in Tampa Bay and fire Schiano, or have the Glazers admit their mistake and move on in 2014 to pursue Bill Cowher or a head coaching candidate that actually has had success in the NFL.
If Schiano’s gamble with Glennon pays off and the Bucs are suddenly 2-3 with wins over Arizona and Philadelphia, more power to him and he’s bought himself more time to see how this whole thing plays out for the rest of the season. If Tampa Bay can’t match last year’s win total of seven victories this franchise is going backwards under Schiano and it’s time for a change in January.
FAB 5. Here are a few things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:
• The Buccaneers have started the 2013 season facing 3-4 defenses, and that will continue on Sunday when the Cardinals come to town. Tampa Bay played the New York Jets, the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots – all of which have a 3-4 scheme as the team’s base defense.
Although Arizona has changed defensive coordinators from Ray Horton to Todd Bowles, the Cardinals still play a 3-4 defense. The biggest difference was under Horton the defensive linemen were responsible for occupying blockers and freeing up linebackers. Under Bowles, the defensive linemen are allowed to shed blocks and go after the quarterback.
One of the biggest differences has been seen in the play of defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Under Horton, Dockett notched five sacks in two years. In the two years prior to Horton’s arrival, Dockett notched 12. So how has the 10-year veteran from Florida State played under Bowles? He already has three sacks through three games.
• It’s a tale of two defensive ends in Tampa Bay. On one end of the spectrum is Adrian Clayborn, the team’s first-round pick in 2011, has successfully bounced back from a torn ACL that cost him the final 13 games of the 2012 season to post 14 tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks and a pass breakup through the first three games of the 2013 campaign. Clayborn’s 14 tackles are the sixth-most on the team and tops among defensive linemen.
Da’Quan Bowers, the Bucs’ second-round pick in 2011, cannot seem to crack the starting lineup despite being given the opportunity to after the release of the team’s leading sacker, Michael Bennett. Instead, Bowers is only the starter in dime defense – not base defense or nickel defense – and has just one tackle through three games. Starting left end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim has recorded four tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack, and fellow reserve defensive end Trevor Scott has three tackles.
• If you believe, as I do, that there are some serious, serious flaws in the offensive game plan put together by offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and Greg Schiano (don’t think he doesn’t have any input because he does as the offense is a hybrid of the New York Giants scheme and Rutgers), this is an absolute, must-read article by SI.com’s Doug Farrar. Read this article and you can see why benching Josh Freeman is probably a mistake right now.
• Outside of two missed field goals by kicker Rian Lindell, Tampa Bay’s special teams units have played pretty well. Punter Michael Koenen is averaging 44.9 yards per punt, with a 42.6-yard average with five punts downed inside the 20 and no touchbacks.
The Bucs are covering kicks and punts well, holding opponents to averages of 22 yards and nine yards, respectively. Tampa Bay’s return games, featuring wide receiver Eric Page, are doing quite well. Page is averaging 30 yards per kickoff return and 7.8 yards per punt return with a long of 28.
Page credits the enthusiasm of veteran coach Dave Wannstedt, who is Tampa Bay’s special teams coordinator, for the success.
“The first thing he does is bring energy,” Page said. “He gets you pumped up and you feel like you are learning a lot. He’s intelligent and he has us playing hard. He’s a legend in my book.”
• Kudos to the Glazers for stepping up and lifting the blackout for all of the remaining home games. I doubt any of those games will be a sell out given the team’s 0-3 start and all of the negative press and controversy that head coach Greg Schiano has created with his handling of players and the benching of quarterback Josh Freeman. Lifting the blackouts had to be done by the Glazers and it’s essentially waving the white flag of surrender for the 2013 season – a disappointing season that will likely lead to a house cleaning at One Buc Place, in addition to drafting a new QB in the first round in 2014.
• And finally, I want to thank each and every one of you for visiting PewterReport.com on a daily basis. We are experiencing record traffic for the month of September, and it is my hope that you continue to spread the word about PewterReport.com to the Bucs fans in your life. Share articles, such as this SR’s Fab 5, with your friends, family and co-workers via e-mail, Twitter and Facebook.
At PewterReport.com we work very hard to not only stay on top of the latest big stories, but also stay out in front of the next wave of Bucs news before it even happens to give Tampa Bay fans a preview of what’s to come, such as detailing the pitfalls of Greg Schiano benching Josh Freeman for Mike Glennon in a column on Monday before it happened on Wednesday, and being the first to have player reaction to how Glennon is progressing behind the scenes.
Here are some more examples from recent SR’s Fab 5 columns alone:
In SR’s Fab 5 – 9-6, we forecasted that after a quiet preseason safeties Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron would start making some noise across the middle in Week 1, and they did with knockout hits Jets tight end Jeff Chamberlain and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, and how defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who has two sacks to start the season, was ready to return to his rookie form when he led the team with 7.5 sacks.
In SR’s Fab 5 – 9-13, we discussed how the lack of a quality tight end is hampering Josh Freeman’s offensive production, which is true. We also revealed that wide receiver Eric Page is making a favorable impression at One Buccaneer Place prior to going out last Sunday and catching the first three passes of his career for 55 yards.
Also in that column, we claimed that Da’Quan Bowers was not close to becoming a starter and that Daniel Te’o-Nesheim was outperforming him, which remains true through the first three weeks of the season. We also said that middle linebacker Mason Foster would get the responsibility of covering Saints tight end Jimmy Graham in Week 2 and was up for the challenge. Foster responded with an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown against New Orleans.
In SR’s Fab 5 – 9-20, we talk about the great start to the season for Tampa Bay’s linebackers and Barron, who is leading the team in tackles, and both Barron and Lavonte David split a sack on quarterback Tom Brady. We also lobbied for the Bucs to keep speedy running back Jeff Demps over Peyton Hillis, which happened last week.
To get the cutting edge Buccaneers news you need to know, visit PewterReport.com every Friday for the latest SR’s Fab 5, and every Saturday for my new column, SR’s Pick 6, where I pick six things I’m looking for in the Bucs’ upcoming game.
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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