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

T Y HiltonDec 19 11:52a

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not participating in the portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

Julio JonesDec 19 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

DeMarco MurrayDec 19 10:52a

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) is likely to play in Week 16, according to a source. Murray has a high threshold for pain, and according to the source, [ More ]

Eddie LacyDec 19 10:12a

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy (eye) said he wasn't able to read a teammate's nameplate a few feet away in the locker room Thursday, Dec. 18. Lacy said [ More ]

Leon WashingtonDec 18 11:32p

Tennessee Titans RB Leon Washington caught a team-high seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown in the team's 21-13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday, Dec. 18. He [ More ]

Philip RiversDec 18 11:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) looked good throwing the ball in the practice Thursday, Dec. 18, according to head coach Mike McCoy. 'Philip had an outstanding day,' [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 18 05:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Dec. 18.

Blake BortlesDec 18 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has earned positive reviews from the team in his rookie season after being thrust into the spotlight early this year. 'That is not the [ More ]

Jay CutlerDec 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was benched just for this week against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler will be active and serve as the [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsDec 18 04:02p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (hand) will be fitted cast that he can play with on his injured hand. Williams still has not caught a pass with the injured [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 04:02p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) has not been able to do any running this week, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

Ryan MathewsDec 18 03:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and appears to be on track to start in Week 16, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

DeMarco MurrayDec 18 02:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand), who was expected to take some team snaps in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, is in no more risk if he plays in Week [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:12p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) said he is not dealing with any pain in his back but is taking things one day at a time. Newton said he [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 02:02p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) left practice early Thursday, Dec. 18, because he is receiving a scheduled day of rest. Manning was not limping when he was walking to the locker room.

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Chris PolkDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 01:22p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) had an increased set of repetitions in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and it looks like he's on track to play in Week 16 [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 12:52p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Andre JohnsonDec 18 12:52p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson (concussion) has cleared the leagues concussion protocol and will play in the team's Week 16 game.

Julio JonesDec 18 12:12p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Case KeenumDec 18 10:03a

Houston Texans QB Case Keenum is expected to start in Week 16.

Philip RiversDec 18 09:22a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is battling a back injury that is more severe than the team has acknowledged, according to a league source. Rivers' back injury [ 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