2013 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

Terrelle PryorApr 23 08:58a

The Seattle Seahawks acquired QB Terrelle Pryor from the Oakland Raiders Monday, April 21, in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in this year's draft. He will compete with [ More ]

Matt RyanApr 22 10:53p

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith is calling for major improvement on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He fears the team could bottom out for a second [ More ]

EJ ManuelApr 22 08:13p

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel (knees) is healthy entering voluntary workouts and feels normal and had no limitations during the Tuesday, April 22 conditioning program. Bills head coach Doug [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 22 07:53p

Updating a previous report, the Baltimore Ravens have officially placed LB Rolando McClain on the reserve-retired list for a second time. The Ravens will retain McClain's rights if he changes his mind again.

Eli ManningApr 22 07:33p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) expects to be 100 percent for the beginning of training camp. Manning has no concerns about learning the Giants' new playbook, instead [ More ]

Ray RiceApr 22 04:43p

Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice looks great physically, according to strength and conditioning coach Bob Roguck. 'He's doing some things differently as far as his diet and so forth, [ More ]

David WilsonApr 22 02:43p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) said he is still waiting for a clear MRI to be medically cleared, but is currently ahead of schedule.

Julio JonesApr 22 01:13p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (foot) will be limited during the team's offseason workouts while he recovers from offseason foot surgery. 'Julio is participating with our athletic performance department,' [ More ]

Eli ManningApr 22 01:03p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) said his ankle is progressing but he does not have a timetable for his return to the field. Manning is currently in a walking boot.

Stevie BrownApr 22 12:33p

New York Giants FS Stevie Brown (knee) said he feels like he is ready to go when the Giants hit the field after recovering from a serious knee injury. [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 10:33a

The New York Giants are likely to cut FS Will Hill after his third potential drug suspension.

Josh MorganApr 22 09:52a

Chicago Bears WR Joshua Morgan is likely to compete for the No. 3 or 4 wide receiver role this year, and he'll compete with WRs Domenik Hixon, Eric Weems [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 09:33a

New York Giants FS Will Hill is facing a year-long suspension after reportedly failing another drug test. He will appeal what would be his third drug-related suspension.

Kyle WilliamsApr 21 09:33p

The Kansas City Chiefs re-signed WR Kyle Williams Monday, April 21. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Colt AndersonApr 21 07:12p

The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent FS Colt Anderson (Eagles) to an undisclosed deal Monday, April 21.

Jamar TaylorApr 21 06:43p

Miami Dolphins CB Jamar Taylor (groin) is healthy following hernia surgery and began offseason workouts with his teammates Monday, April 21. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said he expects [ More ]

Dustin KellerApr 21 05:42p

Eugene Parker, agent for free-agent TE Dustin Keller (knee), said Keller is ready to participate in offseason workouts when he signs with a team.

Eric FisherApr 21 05:12p

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (shoulder, hernia) said there is no timetable for his return following multiple surgeries, but he doesn't think he'll be out for long. 'He's [ More ]

Josh MorganApr 21 04:02p

The Chicago Bears have signed free-agent WR Joshua Morgan (Redskins) to a one-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

A.J. GreenApr 21 03:32p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green said he has added around six pounds this offseason, because he wants to be more physical as a way to beat coverage at the [ More ]

Michael VickApr 21 02:42p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith said he believes he will be the starting quarterback this upcoming season even though the team added QB Michael Vick this offseason. He [ More ]

Navorro BowmanApr 21 02:12p

The San Francisco 49ers plan to place LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) on the Physically Unable to Perform list when training camp begins, because he is not expected to be [ More ]

Eric FisherApr 21 02:02p

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (shoulder, hernia) underwent shoulder surgery and had a procedure to fix a sports hernia. He's currently rehabbing in Kansas City.

Tony CarterApr 21 01:22p

The Denver Broncos signed DT Mitch Unrein to his restricted free-agent tender Monday, April 21. CB Tony Carter, SS Duke Ihenacho and LB Brandon M. Marshall all signed their exclusive rights tenders.

Rolando McClainApr 21 01:02p

Baltimore Ravens LB Rolando McClain is retiring from the NFL again Monday, April 21. 'I gotta follow my heart. It ain't football. If football made me complete I would [ More ]

Tony RomoApr 21 12:42p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) will take part in the team's voluntary offseason program beginning Monday, April 21, according to a source. Players are allowed to lift weights, [ More ]

Marcus LattimoreApr 20 09:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Marcus Lattimore (knee) is not expected to be restricted in any way when offseason workouts begin.

Michael EgnewApr 20 08:42p

The Miami Dolphins likely will add at least two more tight ends this offseason that will compete with TE Michael Egnew for a roster spot.

Armon BinnsApr 20 12:02a

Miami Dolphins WR Armon Binns is currently the team's No. 4 receiver, but the Dolphins have had discussions about WR Rishard Matthews replacing Binns at the spot, according to a source.

Tyrone CrawfordApr 20 12:02a

Dallas Cowboys DT Tyrone Crawford (Achilles') is expected to be ready for the team's offseason program, and he is expected to be a key piece to the defense this season.

M. Jones-DrewApr 20 12:02a

If healthy, Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden is expected to be the team's starting tailback with RB Maurice Jones-Drew as his backup.

Brian HartlineApr 20 12:02a

Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline (knee) is expected to be ready for the start of mini camp, according to a source. He suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in the 2013 regular season finale.

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