Following Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints, quarterback Josh Freeman spoke about a report earlier Sunday that said the Bucs QB would likely request a trade. Head coach Greg Schiano denied knowledge of the report and also took the blame for the 16-14 defeat on Sunday.
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman flatly denied a report from early Sunday saying he may ask for a trade before the October deadline.
“No not at all,” Freeman said. “That the first I heard of it, literally was 10 seconds ago, right before I walked in here. Without a doubt I am a Buccaneer and am continuing to prepare and try and go out every week and give my team a chance to win the game.”
Freeman was also asked if possibly the trade demand story could have originated from someone inside his camp.
“Not that I have… if it is going on I need a camp then because there is nothing I’ve heard,” Freeman said.
Head coach Greg Schiano also refuted the report.
It's new to me," Schiano said. "We haven't had any conversations along those lines."
While a trade may not be happening, Freeman’s grip on the starting position could be slipping if he and the offense continue to struggle. Schiano was asked about Freeman continuing to be the Bucs starting quarterback next week and beyond and didn’t give the most overwhelming vote of confidence.
(Hesitating) I see no reason why he shouldn't be,” Schiano said. “I mean I have to evaluate the tape. This is kind of out of left field a little bit. I'm not even thinking about that.”
Schiano went on to assume part of the blame for the woeful offense and the passing game in particular.
"I'm going to have to look at the tape to see what's going on,” Schiano said. “It's just not the quarterback. It's squarely on me. I'm the head football coach and when we're not doing things offensively that we're capable of doing - mostly in the pass game. I thought we ran the ball very well today. Doug (Martin) and the line, I thought it was a good effort that way. We have to look at what we're doing coaching wise, what we're doing execution wise. Again it falls on me. Doesn't fall on anybody else. It's my job to make sure we get it prepared and executed on game day and certainly we didn't do that today.”
Freeman has yet to complete 50 percent of his passes this season including the preseason (36-of-79, 45.6 percent). Freeman said that must improve.
“Well it is interesting because it is really hard to say exactly what it is,” Freeman said. “We have taken our shots (downfield). We have played two man (coverage) teams off the bat and that tends to lower it a bit but you wouldn’t expect it to be below 50 percent. We are just going to continue to see exactly what it is, pinpoint it whether it is accuracy whether it is finding a way to throw different routes. I don’t know what it is going to be but I know we will find out what it is and definitely raise that.”
While Freeman is struggling, so far there doesn’t appear to be any division among the locker room, although center Jeremy Zuttah had a brief heated moment late in the game.
“I can’t do that kind of thing,” Zuttah said. “It doesn’t help us. It doesn’t help us move the ball. It doesn’t help us get points. That’s on me and I won’t do that again.”
Zuttah said the Buccaneers players need to rally around their quarterback.
“We need to continue to do a better job around him,” Zuttah said. “We have to protect better and there are balls that need to be caught. It’s not all on Josh. It’s the whole offense. It’s 11 guys and we have to rally around him.”
The road ahead doesn’t get any easier for Schiano, Freeman and the rest of the Bucs, with a trip to New England to face the Patriots on the slate next Sunday.
This team is a resilient team,” Schiano said. “Their head coach is a resilient guy; he's tough. We're fight our way right off it. But I understand that there will be a huge contingent that makes it difficult for us to do that but it doesn't matter. These guys are tight, they'll stick together, they'll work together, we'll work at it. We have a great challenge next week playing a good team coming off a little bit extra rest and it doesn't matter. (We have) got to get ready and go up to New England and find a way.”
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