Lack Of “Middle Threat” Hurting Freeman

September 17th, 2013

No Dallas Clark and/or no middle-of-the-field receiving threat has downgraded the Bucs’ passing attack significantly.

That was the strong message from former Bucs tight end Dave Moore, who is the color analyst on the Buccaneers Radio Network.

Moore gave a passionate Xs and Os explanation of key passing attack issues during the Ron and Ian show on WDAE-AM 620 yesterday. Moore was adamant that the Bucs are out of balance because they’re lacking a threat from No. 3 receiver and tight end.

“In third down, if you’re going to play cover 2 against the Bucs, you just cheat those safeties real wide to play over the top of Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson because they don’t have that middle threat. Sure, they have Doug Martin to check it down to run screens, but they have to have that third receiver and that tight end. So when you’re evaluating Josh Freeman, he’s throwing into tighter coverage because defenses know,” Moore said.

“We saw Tim Wright go in motion [Sunday] yesterday from the slot, from a two tight end look, and New Orleans never even covered him. Because they’re not worried about him getting the ball. They’re not scared that Tim Wright, the backup tight end No. 81 is going to beat them. So they kept they’re coverage on the guys they thought were getting the ball.

“You have to have some kind of middle. So you can certainly put it on Freeman, but you need somebody to control the middle of the field to force a defense to play honest. And that’s their missing piece right now. …

“You gotta have somebody to at least make the safeties play honest and not cheat.”

It’s easy to say the Bucs don’t emphasize the tight end in their offense. That’s true. But the position can’t be the liability in the passing game that it is now.

Clark was no superstar last season, but the guy caught 47 balls and four touchdowns. Somebody has to make up that production. The same goes for Tiquan Underwood’s 28 catches in 2012.

Through the first two games of this season, the Bucs have three total catches from the tight end position and from receivers not named Jackson or Williams. In Baltimore, Clark has eight catches.

Somehow, the Bucs have to find a way to develop more threats in the passing game. If not, it’ll be a long season for whatever quarterback is under center.

43 Responses to “Lack Of “Middle Threat” Hurting Freeman”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Hopefully Crabtree’s return will help….but one of the problems is that Josh can’t adjust. He is looking for VJ & MW19 almost exclusively and when he dumps the ball off to Martin, his passes aren’t accurate.
    I don’t regret us parting ways with K2…but one must wonder what it would be like if he were back in the mix.
    I think we need to think about adding Tiquan back…but it probably would mean cutting Hillis. I don’t think they will pull the plug on Ogletree this soon.

  2. d-money Says:

    IM not sure why they took this Ogletree guy over Underwood.

    All underwood did last year was catch just about every pass thrown to him. He may not have the speed of Ogletree but what good is speed if you can’t catch the damn ball?

  3. bucrightoff Says:

    I keep saying it, give Page a chance in the slot. I like his shiftiness and he can’t be any worse than Ogletree can he?

  4. DCBUCSFAN Says:

    So Dave Moore can see the problem but the Bucs braintrust can’t? This nightmare can’t end fast enough!


    freeman sux!!!!

  6. lightningbuc Says:


  7. Adam L. Says:


    That’s all I heard all off-season from people explaining why the Bucs signed Crabtree over Dallas Clark. Sheridan didn’t have a stud TE with the Giants and they won a SUPER BOWL! All I heard was the Bucs didn’t need, the Bucs didn’t need….

    And now… once again… TRUE TO FORM…. Dominik left the cupboard bare and two weeks into the season we’re seeing stories about how TEs have been targeted TWICE and Freeman NEEDS that middle target like a Winslow or a Clark.

    I am so sick of Dominik and this dart-board fantasy he team he put together.

  8. d-money Says:

    They dont need a pass catching tight end they need a slot reciver that can catch the f*&#ing ball.

    Did anyone else notice that when Ogletree caught that touchdown pass Sunday he looked like even he was shocked that he actually caught it.

  9. bucfanjeff Says:

    He’s right and I’ve been saying this same thing for 2 games now. No TE and No #3 WR makes us predictable. Even if you don’t USE the TE or #3 WR that much, you have to have the threat exist to dictate mismatches in favor of the offense. With Dallas Clark, defenses had to respect his presence. I’m not sure Crabtree is going to command that respect even when he’s healthy and it doesn’t address the #3 WR – Ogledrop scares nobody.

  10. ctord Says:

    And here is the third leg of the stool. Rock star went all in on Bowers, Wright, and Stocker/Crabtree. All three decisions have hurt the bucs. This is why the fan base is divided on everything. Because with each problem, there is an excuse from a different aspect of the organization and aguments that can be made to defend or tare down each situation. There are plenty of problems sprinked throughout the team. Freemans issues, Schiano’s ways and philosophy butting heads with talent, and rock star failing to plug the proper holes with his gambles. now we have a bunch of issues that will hinder the bucs success this year. At this point, i have know idea how this will all get reeled back in.

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    @ bucrightoff

    I agree that Page should get a chance. Perhaps if Demps works out we will see more Page as WR. Page has the speed and apparently the hands.
    We seem to have some underutilized skill players on the roster.

  12. Joke Says:

    The Bucs are really missing the boat on this tight end thing. We ought to be drafting one high every year until we get a great one. Fortunately, VJax brings some of the things that a top tight end can, but he’s got other skills that would shine more if we had a TE who’s a real threat.

    It’s a new NFL. These same receiver-protection rules that are killing us on defense are also making the tight end a weapon like it’s never been before. You get a big, athletic guy with hands and he can live in traffic going up for balls and creating space with his size. This is something you could’ve tried 10 years ago, but with the way you used to be able to hit guys only a freak like Tony Gonzalez would hold up over the course of a season.

    I’m not sure if this one’s on Schiano or Dominik, so I’ll say they’re both letting us down here. Stocker does not bring this sort of threat to the table, and that’s been obvious since his first game.

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    and James…

  14. Red86 Says:

    The biggest lie has been that the Giants didn’t need a pass threat TE. Shockey, Boss and Bennett were big and athletic. They made big plays. Do your youtube research and Boss and Shockey are basically the same guy at the Giants.

  15. Joke Says:

    Not sure where the Page love is coming from — have any of you seen him perform in the slot?

    Here’s a fun little side thought, since Joe seems to love pinning a loss one one player for one play (e.g. LVD last week). By the Lavonte-is-the-goat logic, this one is on Eric Page. On our last possession, he caught the punt at the 16, ran up to the 19, then ran backwards to the 14 and got tackled. If Page had simply stopped at the 19 (much less put his shoulder down and get a couple more yards) we would’ve started the drive 5 yards further upfield. That would’ve made Lindell’s kick a 42-yarder, not 47. And I rewatched his kick: 5 yards closer and it wouldn’t have drifted all the way wide of the goal post.

    So there it is, if LVD cost us last week’s game, then Page cost us this week’s. (Also, he doesn’t really look like he knows what he’s doing back there.)

  16. bucrightoff Says:

    Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Julius Thomas, and of course the original, GOAT, Tony Gonzalez…maybe we need to start scouting March Madness for our next TE.

  17. Couch Fan Says:

    So if nobody covered Wright…. that means he is wide open right?.. So if he’s wide open and the QB doesnt throw him the ball, who’s to blame? Oh.. ok, yea sure. Let’s blame that on Schiano and Dom and everyone else to. Must be the O-Lines fault as well. And of course dam you Leonard Jonson.

  18. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    @ Joke

    Your analogy using Page’s punt return is like your name…a “Joke”
    You cant add 5 yards onto a drive based on field position…things turned out the way it did…that’s like saying if Martin had gotten just one extra yard a carry or VJ would have just gotten 5 more yards….
    Also….the kick had plenty of distance.
    It sounds to me you just have something against Page

  19. Jeagan1999 Says:

    I noticed the same thing on Sunday…seemed like the middle of the field was wide open on several occasions as both VJax and Williams were always running routes down the sidelines.

  20. BirdDoggers Says:

    The offense is definitely missing a dimension. Certain aspects of this team seem to have gone overlooked or forgotten by Dominik and Schiano. Crabtree was signed, although he was never utilized much in the passing game in Green Bay. Even though the TE doesn’t appear to be a big part of Sullivan’s offense, it can still be a valuable tool. Same goes for the 3rd WR. It’s not a salary cap problem preventing them from acquiring the needed talent, it’s their philosophy. And, the philosophy could come back to bite them.

  21. BamBamBuc Says:

    Just watch the sack/fumble play. 6 DBs, 4 receivers, all go routes. Over top coverage on Jackson and Williams, no outlet. No chance.

  22. Joke Says:

    @Tampabaybucfan, yes it was a joke — I thought it was silly to pin last week on LVD, and pointed it out with an analogy from this week’s loss.

    But no, it’s not like saying if VJ had just gotten 5 more yards or Martin 1 more yard. Page already had those 5 yards, then ran backwards, got tagged, and fell over. That’s a mistake that he made, and without it, everyting on that drive takes place 5 yards farther down field.

    I didn’t say the kick didn’t have enough distance. I said that if it had been from 5 yards closer, it wouldn’t have drifted outside the goal post. It started off inside the uprights and hooked left; it was just barely outside the uprights when it crossed them.

    I don’t have anything particularly against Page. It’s true that I don’t see what other posters see in Page, and that I’m not pleased with him as our returner given that our punt return has been well below average. I do wish we would’ve done more in the offseason at that position than just hand him the job.

  23. Bobby Says:

    @JOKE….after reading your post I understand the name….

    Back to the post..I was lobbying hard for Eifert if we didn’t get the Revis trade done and had a first round pick. I just feel like the more weapons we have the better off we are. I was happy to see us get rid of Winslow because he was a liability in the run game. Terrible blocker. However, having a TE to throw to and especially having one that they have to cover is HUGE. There aren’t a lot of Jimmy Graham’s out there but there are some TE’s that are good route runners with good hands and we need one. Maybe Crabtree works out for us…I don’t know but my biggest gripe with this offense so far has been that we throw too many side line routes and not enough slants. Sideline routes are the toughest throws and although I think Freeman has pretty good touch on those I also see him hit Mike W and V-Jax on slants and the majority of them go for completions. Why not run those more?? I’ll take 6-8 yards on a play. You don’t always have to try and push the ball down field 25-30 yards on a pass. Just keep the defense off balance. Right now we are just too darn predictable. If we want the running game to work we need to stop running on first down 100% of the time.

  24. DCBUCSFAN Says:

    The Bucs should go get Chad Johnson – and according to the video he has something left in the tank! He would command respect that these other frauds can’t.

  25. Adam L. Says:

    I’ll tell you… the Bucs offense seemed to really HUM when they had two legit TEs. That Dudley/Dilger mashup during the SB years was money.

    You want to talk about the ARROGANCE of Mark Dominik – the league is MOVING toward these big, athletic TEs that can out-muscle LBs and Safeties. The Grahams, Daniels, Olsens… they’re the future of the NFL and this new wide-open passing league.

    Not Dominik. Nah… don’t need that stuff. The Bucs are always playing catch-up.

    Dominik is a POOR G.M.


    And you can disagree with me, but you’re wrong.

  26. stratobuc Says:

    Bad decision to keep Ogiltree and cut Underwood.

  27. Bobby Says:

    Well thank you Adam L for your commentary. Yes you are wrong on Dom being a poor GM. He is rapidly taking this team to a talent level we haven’t seen since the Super Bowl year. Dom doesn’t design the offensive scheme. He goes out and gets the players that the coaches want to fit the scheme they are running. While you and I may agree that a TE should be a part of that scheme…talk to Sullivan about that, not Dom.

  28. Patrick in VA Says:

    Looks like they’re trying to phase Fred Davis out of Washington’s offense for a younger guy. He would be an upgrade over what we’ve got if we can keep him from popping on a test

  29. RealityCheck Says:

    Really obvious to see that this is a huge problem that keeps the Bucs offense incredibly predictable. Remember 2010 Josh Freeman? He connected with Mr. Soldier Kellen Winslow 66 times for 730 yards and 5 touchdowns. His production in other seasons was even higher. Clearly, this is a missing weapon for Josh.

  30. Adam L. Says:

    Thanks for the response, Bobby. You’re wrong though. You ‘ll always be wrong.

    Those 24 wins are screaming HOF at me.

    Trading up for Luke Stocker – brilliant.

    Trading up for Josh Freeman – wow.

    RESIGNING Michael Clayton – oh, the GENIUS.He actually LOOKED at Clayton’s performance and said, “That guy’s pretty good. He deserves $10mill Guaranteed.”

    Signing Byron Leftwich over Jeff Garcia – What a move.

    Brian Price, A. Benn, Kyle Moore, Biggers, Myron Lewis, Anthony Gaitor? Can we get ONE STARTER OUT OF THE GROUP? BY FREAKIN’ ACCIDENT MAYBE?????

    Drafts Mark Barron over a CB because of the great TEs in the NFC South. How many yards did Jimmy Graham have on Sunday? About a billion? I still say Barron was a reach.

    And he’s extended the contract of exactly ONE of his own draftees. That means, by his own actions, he’s found ONE player he wants to keep.


  31. Patrick Says:

    The lack of a TE was obvious during the entire offseason. And the “ROCKSTAR” did nothing about it. His answer to the problem was “Tom Crabtree” (who?), when we had solid production from Dallas Clark last year.

    Dominick never goes the extra mile to push this team over the top. He’ll make a nice signing or two, but then still leave a huge hole in our roster.

  32. Adam L. Says:

    Crabtree DOES have tattoos. That, by law, makes him a bad @$$. Look at Aaron Hernandez.

    Too soon?

  33. Bobby Says:

    Adam L…..does someone pay you to be so ignorant or does it just come natural?? Do you really think everyone’s draft picks all pan out and it’s only the Bucs who miss on picks occasionally? Are you so blind that you would ignore the talent on the team now just so you can point fingers at the players who didn’t pan out? Did it ever occur to you that maybe the reason players haven’t been signed to an extension is that their contracts aren’t up yet?? Do you think that GMC, Mason Foster, Adrian Clayborn, Erik Lorig, & Zuttah aren’t going to get extended? What about Doug Martin, Mark Barron, LaVonte David, Demar Dotson, & Dakota Watson? there is still time for Bowers to pan out too. He seems to be improving.

    As far as FA goes….what other GM has brought in the likes of V-Jax, Nicks, Goldson and Revis in a two year span?? A GM’s job is to draft talent and fill the holes with FA. I think Dom is doing a pretty good job of that. Perhaps with you infinite wisdom and the Glazers money you could have done so much better huh?? You are the definition of Monday morning QB and coaching only you want to take it a step further and play GM too. We are so blessed to have you insight here Adam L…your football IQ is unmatched.

  34. Greig Says:

    Sorry but it’s a lack of (football) brains, instincts, guts and passion that is hurting Freeman.
    There are average QBs with far less talent to use out there who don’t look at bad as Josh.
    To me it looks like he thinks this is just a high paying job that his natural physical abilities allow him to have, he couldn’t care really care less and has no desire. He turns up (from time to time) goes through the motions (sucks) and leaves again.

  35. tonytwocents Says:

    well, If Freeman hadnt started Crabtree, out of position, in the ONLY preseason game that all your starters sit out, then we’d at least have our TE.

    damn Freeman…

  36. MR.T Says:

    I said months ago we should make a legitimate effort to resign Clark with the intention of drafting a good one next year as a replacement, of course we didn’t and now it’s hurting us. Hopefully Crabtree, whenever he comes back, can be a good pass catching threat since it appears there is no other TE on the roster who is

  37. tiny tim Says:

    Funny, but all offseason I and some others on this site was begging for a TE option and a bonafide slot receiver. I was laughed at and told that “Josh has all the weapons in the world” and “Sullivan’s offense doesn’t call for TE.” Some even said drafting a guy like Tavon Austin made no sense if the bucs had a chance because he would only play 40% of the time.

    Funny how those who said/wrote that won’t step up and own that they were drastically over rating how much offensive talent in the skill positions the bucs truly have. Compare the bucs talent to the Pack, Saints, Falcons, Denver, San Fran (when crab come back) etc. and you can see the difference. Having some talent like the bucs and having the most talent you can possibly have are two different scenarios. Funny many didn’t see it in the offseason. Two weeks in and we can already see how limited this offense truly is.

  38. Adam Says:

    Bobby… I will tell you what I tell everyone who points to a good rookie year:

    Michael Clayton had a good rookie year.

    Nicks hasn’t played HALF A SEASON YET!

    GOLDSON played 2 games , got fined and suspended.

    I notice you leave Eric Wright and Derrick Ward off your “free agent gem” list.

    There’s a difference between being ignorant and being a realist. You can ignore the LAUNDRY LIST OF INEPTITUDE that I lay out.

    Well u can’t compare me to Dominik because I’ve never been in a Draft room. That’s fair. Scott Pioli had one more win than Dominik, a slew of Pro bowlers, and a deep résumé from NE. He got fired.

    Why the Bucs have to be OJT for the NfL is beyond me.

  39. Bobby Says:

    @Adam…so you are honestly trying to make the case that this team has no talent???? Wow! I read a lot of foolish posts on here but I would rank you right at the top of the list for someone who should find another sport to post about. You obviously know nothing about the game of football.

  40. Bobby Says:

    Eric Wright and Ward aren’t on the team. You say the team right now is talentless.

  41. Mike10 Says:

    Rock Star def screwed the pooch on this one. However, Freeman doesn’t go through his progressions anyways. So u can have Graham at TE and Welker in the slot, all that equals is option overload for the Free-meister

  42. Rrsrq Says:

    It’s this old Buccaneer Man thing that will prevent certain types of players from joining this team, with the way this team is looking, would you sign as a free agent if this continues. Second point is some teams have two really good TE, Bengals, Colts, Pats (when healthy and not in jail), amongst others

  43. Adam Says:

    I’m saying there are pieces. But the roster is a blanket that is too small. Receivers on the edges nothing in the middle. Doug Martin in the backfield, no viable backup. 2 oft injured DEs w no track record yet they let the sack leader walk and rely on them completely. One real CB and half a dozen misses. And a QB who can’t throw a swing pass.

    Every team has talent. It reminds me of JENGA. you pull out one cube the tower falls.