2015 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

Connor BarthAug 26 08:53p

Free-agent PK Connor Barth (Broncos) agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Aug. 26, on a two-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Brandon McManusAug 26 10:33a

Denver Broncos PK Brandon McManus won the kicking job as PK Connor Barth was released Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Connor BarthAug 26 10:33a

Denver Broncos PK Brandon McManus won the kicking job as PK Connor Barth was released Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Evan RoysterAug 26 10:13a

Atlanta Falcons RB Evan Royster (undisclosed) was waived/injured Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Rex GrossmanAug 26 09:23a

Free-agent QB Rex Grossman (Redskins) was signed by the Atlanta Falcons to a one-year, $1 million deal Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Taylor MaysAug 26 12:43a

The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent SS Taylor Mays (Bengals) Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Orlando ScandrickAug 26 12:43a

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick (knee) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Tuesday, Aug. 25. An MRI confirmed the injury.

Michael VickAug 25 07:42p

Updating a previous report, free-agent QB Michael Vick (Jets) signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday, Aug. 25. Financial terms were not disclosed. QB Bruce Gradkowski (finger) [ More ]

Evan MathisAug 25 06:13p

Free-agent OG Evan Mathis (Eagles) agreed to a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Jameis WinstonAug 25 04:33p

Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie QB Jameis Winston (ankle) suffered a sprained ankle Monday, Aug. 24, against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head coach Lovie Smith still expects [ More ]

Josh JohnsonAug 25 02:53p

Cincinnati Bengals QB Josh Johnson was released Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Victor CruzAug 25 02:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (calf) doesn't know when he'll be able to return to practice as he continues to deal with inflammation in [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerAug 25 01:23p

Tennessee Titans backup QB Zach Mettenberger has performed at a high level in training camp and the preseason, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt laughed off a suggestion that the [ More ]

Bruce GradkowskiAug 25 12:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB Bruce Gradkowski (finger) suffered a dislocated finger on his left hand during the team's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers last weekend, according to [ More ]

Andre WilliamsAug 25 12:22p

New York Giants RB Andre Williams could overtake RB Rashad Jennings as the lead back sometime this season, maybe even to open the season. Williams has worked on his [ More ]

Mike EvansAug 25 09:13a

Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) isn't believed to have a serious hamstring injury. 'I talked to him and he didn't feel like it [ More ]

Jameis WinstonAug 24 11:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston completed eight of his 13 pass attempts for 90 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in the preseason game Monday, Aug. 24, against [ More ]

Doug MartinAug 24 11:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin rushed six times for 59 yards in the preseason game Monday, Aug. 24, against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mike EvansAug 24 09:12p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) left the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, Aug. 24, due to a strained hamstring.

Todd GurleyAug 24 06:52p

St. Louis Rams RB Todd Gurley (knee) will still sit out the entire preseason even though he has been cleared to practice, according to head coach Jeff Fisher.

Jordy NelsonAug 24 06:32p

Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (knee) has a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but the MRI revealed all of his other knee ligaments are fine.

Montee BallAug 24 05:22p

Denver Broncos RB Montee Ball has already lost the backup running back role to RB Ronnie Hillman. RB Juwan Thompson may also surpass Ball in the near future, according to Mike Klis of 9news.com.

Jordy NelsonAug 24 05:22p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (knee) is officially out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Jason McCourtyAug 24 04:42p

Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans CB Jason McCourty (groin) is expected to miss a few games after undergoing groin surgery Monday, Aug. 24, according to sources.

Ronnie HillmanAug 24 04:32p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman has worked his way the second running back position behind RB C.J. Anderson. Hillman said head coach Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme has helped his [ More ]

Joique BellAug 24 04:02p

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford said the Lions will still take a committee approach at running back even when Joique Bell (knee, Achilles') returns.

Joique BellAug 24 03:02p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (knee, Achilles') is expected to return this season as a bellcow running back, according to head coach Jim Caldwell. Bell has been nursing injuries [ More ]

Maurkice PounceyAug 24 01:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) will undergo surgery on his fractured ankle Monday, Aug. 24, or Tuesday, Aug. 25. There is no timetable for his return, but it [ More ]

Jeremiah RatliffAug 24 01:42p

Chicago Bears DT Jeremiah Ratliff has been suspended three games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Jason Pierre-PaulAug 24 01:42p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (hand) plans to report to the team before the start of the regular season but his status for Week 1 is uncertain, according [ More ]

Reggie WayneAug 24 01:22p

Free-agent WR Reggie Wayne (Colts) agreed to a one-year deal with the New England Patriots Monday, Aug. 24, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Michael PrestonAug 24 10:22a

Miami Dolphins WR Michael Preston posted on Twitter that he was released Sunday, Aug. 23.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group