2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Freeman looks to end Buccaneers' playoff drought

By FRED GOODALL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-08-27 11:06

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent generously to upgrade a porous defense in hopes of giving Josh Freeman every opportunity to be successful.

The fifth-year pro is entering the final season of the contract he signed as a rookie in 2009. He likely needs to lead the Bucs to the playoffs to prove he's worthy of the hefty pay raise he could command next year.

Tampa Bay hasn't made the playoffs since 2007 and doesn't have a postseason victory since winning the Super Bowl 11 years ago.

``There's always going to be pressure, but it's all internal,'' Freeman said, shrugging off the notion that because of his contract status there's a greater sense of urgency to get the Bucs over the hump.

``When I look at things, look at what I want to be and who I want to be as a player, it exceeds everything that anybody else could hope for,'' the 25-year-old added. ``When I leave the game, I want to be regarded as one of the best who ever played.''

Freeman became the first passer in team history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, and the Bucs offense also set club records for points, yards and touchdowns in 2012.

But the quarterback's inconsistency also contributed to a late-season slide that saw Tampa Bay lose five of six down the stretch to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

The defense was a problem, too, with a leaky secondary and anemic pass rush factoring in the Bucs nearly setting a league record for passing yards allowed.

Enter cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson, offseason acquisitions expected to make a difference on defense. The Bucs hope their arrival will give Freeman and a potent offense featuring running back Doug Martin and receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams more opportunities to shine.

Revis, a three-time All-Pro who's recovering from knee surgery that sidelined him most of last season with the New York Jets, was obtained in exchange for the 13th overall pick in this year's draft and given a six-year, $96 million contract.

Goldson, an All-Pro last season in San Francisco, signed a five-year, $41.25 million deal as a free agent after helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl.

``The organization did a good job of bringing guys in. ... I think we can get it done,'' Goldson said. ``In San Francisco, it took time. Here, it's going to be the same way. We have a lot to build on coming off last year.''

---

Here are five things to watch as Freeman tries to lead Tampa Bay to the playoffs for the first time in his career.

REVIS ISLAND: Revis made a name for himself in six seasons with the Jets because of his ability to blanket some of the game's top receivers in single coverage. The Bucs have not rushed his return from knee surgery in hopes that keeping out of preseason games would enhance the chances of Revis being fully recovered for the Sept. 8 regular season opener against his old team.

SCHIANO IMPACT: Greg Schiano spent much of last season - his first as a NFL head coach - changing the culture within a team that lost its final 10 games under predecessor Raheem Morris. The Bucs improved from four wins two years ago to seven under Schiano, who's free now to focus on coaching rather than selling his program to the players. ``The biggest thing is that we all understand each other,'' Schiano said. ``This is who we are, this is what we are, this is how we do things, and this is how we're going to win.'' Schiano said. ``The guys believe it. The staff does, I do, and I think there's a respect both ways.''

RUN DOUGIE RUN: Second-year running back Doug Martin made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also finishing third in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson with 1,926 total yards from scrimmage. If Freeman is going to fulfill his potential, the Bucs have to continue to run the ball effectively.

WHO'S UP FRONT: The offensive line had a shaky preseason, allowing Tampa Bay's first three preseason opponents to sack Freeman nine times. The unit was expected to be a strength entering training camp, partly because of the anticipated return of injured guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph. Joseph is back. But Nicks is still recovering from toe surgery, and it's uncertain when he'll be ready play after being one of two Buccaneers diagnosed with MRSA infections.

THE PASS RUSH: Schiano brought in Revis and Goldson to address needs in the secondary, however another key to getting better defensively will be improving the pass rush. The Bucs had 27 sacks a year ago, third lowest in the league. Tackle Gerald McCoy is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance, and Schiano is hoping to get more production out of young ends Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jace AmaroNov 25 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (concussion) is in concussion protocol, according to head coach Rex Ryan, after suffering the concussion in Week 12 against the Buffalo Bills.

R. Griffin IIINov 25 04:23p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III was named the starter for Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts Monday, Nov. 24, by head coach Jay Gruden, but he left open [ More ]

Michael BushNov 25 04:13p

The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent RB Michael Bush (Bears) and cut RB Kerwynn Williams Tuesday, Nov. 25.

Brandon McManusNov 25 03:43p

The Denver Broncos waived PK Brandon McManus Tuesday, Nov. 25.

Connor BarthNov 25 03:43p

The Denver Broncos signed free-agent PK Connor Barth (Buccaneers) to an undisclosed deal Tuesday, Nov. 25, after waiving PK Brandon McManus, according to a source.

Reggie BushNov 25 03:13p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) said he'll be ready to play Thursday, Nov. 27, after missing Week 12 with an ankle injury.

Latavius MurrayNov 25 02:43p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) will undergo baseline testing for his concussion Tuesday, Nov. 25, according to a league source. He is feeling good, but he must go [ More ]

Brian HoyerNov 25 01:53p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer was never in danger of being benched in favor of QB Johnny Manziel in the team's Week 12 win over the Atlanta Falcons, according [ More ]

Blake BortlesNov 25 01:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles went 15-for-27 for just 146 yards and an interception in the team's Week 12 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and he hasn't tossed a [ More ]

Matthew StaffordNov 25 01:23p

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford had the worst completion percentage in his career in Week 12 against the New England Patriots at 39.1 percent), and the Lions haven't rushed [ More ]

Brodrick BunkleyNov 25 12:03p

New Orleans Saints DT Brodrick Bunkley (quadriceps) is believed to have torn his quadriceps in the team's Week 12 game Monday, Nov. 24, but he'll undergo an MRI exam [ More ]

Jordan CameronNov 25 11:53a

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) is expected to play in Week 13.

Michael VickNov 25 09:53a

New York Jets QB Michael Vick (calf) is expected to start in Week 13 if head coach Rex Ryan is still calling the shots and Vick's calf is healthy.

Andre SmithNov 25 09:23a

Cincinnati Bengals OT Andre Smith (triceps) will miss the rest of the year with a torn triceps that will require surgery.

Justin ForsettNov 25 12:13a

Baltimore Ravens RB Justin Forsett ran for 182 yards and two scores in a 34-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints Monday, Nov. 24.

Latavius MurrayNov 24 08:13p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) remains a question mark heading into Week 13 against the St. Louis Rams. Head coach Tony Sparano said Murray hasn't passed the league's [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 24 08:03p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) is unsure when he will return from his knee injury, according to head coach Bruce Arians. We still don't know anything about Larry, [ More ]

Andre EllingtonNov 24 08:03p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington and WR Michael Floyd both saw the fewest offensive snaps of the season in the Week 12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Ellington played [ More ]

Jorvorskie LaneNov 24 06:43p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed FB Jorvorskie Lane (ankle) on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Nov. 24.

Chris JohnsonNov 24 05:53p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson will receive work on third downs, because RB Bilal Powell (illness) has been declared inactive for Week 12.

Fred JacksonNov 24 05:43p

Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson (groin) is active for the team's Week 12 game.

Bilal PowellNov 24 05:43p

The New York Jets have declared RB Bilal Powell, OL Dakota Dozier, DE IK Enemkpali, CB Josh Thomas, QB Matt Simms, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 12.

Cyrus KouandjioNov 24 05:33p

The Buffalo Bills have declared DE Bryan Johnson, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, FB Frank Summers, DL Jarius Wynn, TE MarQueis Gray, WR Marquise Goodwin, LB Randell Johnson inactive for Week 12.

Eric BerryNov 24 05:13p

The Kansas City Chiefs placed SS Eric Berry (illness) on the Non-Football Illness list Monday, Nov. 24, according to a source. Berry will miss the rest of the season.

Eric BerryNov 24 05:13p

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (illness) underwent an MRI on his chest, which revealed a mass in his chest. The team believes he has lymphoma, but there is no definite diagnosis.

R. Griffin IIINov 24 03:33p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will start Sunday, Nov. 30, against the Indianapolis Colts, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Jay FeelyNov 24 03:33p

Free-agent PK Jay Feely (Cardinals) will visit the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Nov. 25, for a kicking audition, according to sources.

Vernon DavisNov 24 01:53p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had three catches for just 21 yards in the team's Week 12 win over the Washington Redskins, and that came after he had [ More ]

Ryan MallettNov 24 01:13p

Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett (pectoral) is expected to miss the rest of the season because of the pectoral injury he suffered in Week 12.

Tony RomoNov 24 12:43p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) went 18-for-26 for 275 yards and four touchdowns in Week 12 against the New York Giants, and he didn't show any signs of [ More ]

Shane VereenNov 24 12:33p

New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen had a team-high 62 snaps in the team's Week 12 win over the Detroit Lions, but RB LeGarrette Blount had 17 snaps and [ More ]

C.J. AndersonNov 24 12:23p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson rushed 27 times for 167 yards and a touchdown in the team's Week 12 win over the Miami Dolphins, and it was the most [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group