Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow

September 23rd, 2013

Yes, you can point at Josh Freeman’s ugly, ugly numbers. You can stomp your feet about Vincent Jackson dropping passes. You can kvetch about Doug Martin not getting enough blocking.

That’s fine. That’s accurate. That’s OK. But Joe is starting to believe the problems run much deeper that what we see on Sunday afternoons.

And no, it’s not Bucs commander Greg Schiano. It is deeper than that.

NFL Network’s Albert Breer was flown down to Tampa on Friday, before a travel day no less, to find out what the hell was going on with all of these rumors and stories floated about the Bucs in recent days. Because he works for Big Brother, Breer got access that few others get and unearthed the reason the Bucs had a players-only meeting before the season started.

The reason, according to Breer, was that Schiano, the Bucs felt, was working them too hard.

Players had been upset about the nature of Schiano’s second training camp with the Bucs, which some viewed as unrelenting, and that prompted Goldson to solicit feedback.

Even after that, some players didn’t feel like enough changed, with one saying that, “He came into the team meeting, said you guys gotta trust me, we’re in half-pads that day, then the next day, it’s back to the same thing.”

Right there is your reason for the Bucs’ problems. It springs to mind a phrase Matt Millen coined for a long-ago forgotten player. In Millen’s words, the player was “a devout coward.” Joe nearly hit the floor when he read Breer’s passage. Buccaneers were being worked too hard in training camp? Joe hasn’t heard that good of a one-liner on Howard Stern’s show in a few weeks.

Just who exactly said this? It couldn’t have been a veteran. Four years ago, NFL players were undergoing two-a-days, which are now banned. Current practices are picnics compared to those.

And it wasn’t long ago that Don Shula was forcing players through three-a-days.

This just really annoys Joe to no end. Here’s the thing: A team earns the right to easier practices by winning. The Bucs have not earned that right since 2010, and even then they may have taken way too many liberties as the team collapsed.

If Bucs fans want to know the problem with the Bucs, then right there it is. Of course, the Bucs have put a happy face on this, saying all is good within the team’s walls. Joe isn’t buying that. This team apparently has too many malcontents and clubhouse lawyers on the roster to whine about practices being too hard.

You want to know why Schiano had a team photo taken at 7 a.m. on Labor Day? To weed out malingerers.

Joe remembers a line from famous commenter Thomas 2.2 when players balked at the New Schiano Order during the regime’s first minicamp. “They haven’t worked the Rah out of them yet.”

That line still resonates today.

Props to guys like Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis for being team leaders and trying to keep order within what appears to be, nearly two years after Morris was ousted, still a dysfunctional unit.

Benching Freeman: Joe thought it was very telling when good-guy Earnest Graham, a former teammate of Bucs franchise quarterback Josh Freeman when the Bucs were last winners, wondered aloud on Twitter yesterday how much longer Greg Schiano would insert Freeman into the starting lineup?

Joe thinks it will be until the rest of the season.

At this point, barring a major turnaround that Joe simply does not envision, Freeman will not be part of the Bucs next season. Try to come up with a quarterback who, in his first five years as a starter, was playoff-less? The list is unimpressive and small. Vinny Testeverde, and the immortal Bill Kenney of the Chiefs in the early 1980s (who also once threw for 4,000 yards in a season), come to mind.

If Freeman returns to the Bucs next season, it will be his fifth season as the team’s opening-day starter. Joe would be shocked if he was brought back, again, barring a major and unforeseen turnaround.

Magic pill: Greg Schiano says there is no magic pill to revive the Bucs. Joe thinks there is, and it is not magic.

How about catching passes? How about making field goals? How about not making stupid penalties (which were cut down this week)? How about blocking?

Nothing magic about those, but they would go a long way to helping the offense, you know, score points?

Family emergency: For a possessed, driven guy like Greg Schiano to take any time off in the middle of a season, with the season if not his job in crisis, there has to be something major going on. Joe just hopes everything turns out OK. No matter what you think of Schiano as a coach, he’s a helluva good guy. Believe it or not, there are some things more important than football.

Sticking together: Schiano expects his team to remain tightknit. Of course he is going to say that. You would expect him to say his team is at each other’s throats? Just the actions of his players a few weeks ago suggest otherwise.

Winning cures all ills. Winning is the best deodorant. Start winning games and the bickering will subside.

Depth, or lack thereof: Joe makes no secret he likes Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik. Is Dominik perfect? No, but neither is Bill Belicheat. Somewhere last summer, either Dominik or Schiano or their underlings, or all of them, made some major, major gaffes on player evaluation and those mistakes reared their ugly head yesterday. Though the Bucs have high hopes for Tom Crabtree at tight end, guessing he can handle the rigors of being a full-time starter was just that. Guessing. Given that information, it was borderline inexcusable to rely on Luke Stocker as the backup tight end.

Now the Bucs are playing with a glorified wide receivers trying to play tight end (from Rutgers, no less), Tim Wright (who dropped a touchdown pass). That shouldn’t and didn’t need to be.

Then there are the wide receivers. The Bucs couldn’t have landed someone other than Kevin Ogletree as a potential No. 3 receiver?

These areas have been a major mistake in scouting and evaluation. While it could have been Schiano or Shelton Quarles or Dennis Hickey or all of the aforementioned, at the end of the day, those errors in judgment fall in the lap of Dominik.

Again, Joe likes the job Dominik has done overall. But there is no denying the Bucs could have used better talent and more depth at tight end and wide receiver. To suggest otherwise is simply being dishonest.

So much for Schiano hating Freeman: Yeah, since the combine, pretty much all fans have heard — through notorious unnamed sources — was that Greg Schiano so loathed Josh Freeman, that he was doing all he could possible to Pearl Harbor his career.

Funny thing happened yesterday. With every opportunity to pull the plug on Freeman, who was struggling, and with the game decided early in the fourth quarter, Schiano stuck with Freeman.

Schiano easily could have put Mike Glennon in the game to get some valuable snaps, but Schiano claims that move never crossed his mind.

Does that sound like a guy who wants to run Freeman out of town on the next bus?

Hey,, about those “multiple” unnamed sources…

The maturing of Mark Barron: Yesterday was the first time Bucs safety Mark Barron played like the position he was drafted. The second-year man from Alabama was all over the field, putting Tom Brady on the ground, picking him off in the end zone, breaking up passes. Wow. It was easily the best game Barron has had in his short NFL career.

If there was something to build on yesterday, it was the play of Barron.

Cellar Dwellers: In case you don’t know by now, the Bucs are the sole owners of last place in the NFC South.

Too bad the NFL nixed the Bucs on wearing throwback creamsicles Sunday against the Desert Rats. It would have been so fitting.

Worse than Rah: This may be the worst season the Bucs have had in many, many years. Culverhouse awful. Even when the Bucs completely imploded in 2011, they started the season 4-2 and people were actually talking playoffs.

No one can tell Joe this year’s roster is not significantly better than in 2011 (remember the immortal Great Lumpkin?).

This also reinforces Joe’s notion that there is poison in the Bucs locker room (see first few paragraphs).

Hey, at least when Raheem Morris went 0-3 in 2009, he had an excuse. He had broken down Byron Leftwich as his quarterback.

Virus: Former Bucs tight end and current NBC and Buccaneers Radio Network analyst Anthony Becht said this losing streak is like a virus. And it can continue to spread.

Joe is going to guess in the coming weeks, Schiano will easily find out who is with him and who isn’t. If Schiano is back next year (Joe expects him to be as of today), then it will be very interesting to see what players do not return.

Josh Freeman’s ugly numbers: In case you forgot, Josh Freeman is now a depressing 6-17 when facing teams with a winning record for his career and an embarrassing 4-13 in his last 17 road games.

Help Joe out. When was the last time a team re-upped a quarterback in his contract year with those kind of numbers?

Around the NFL…

Kansas City: The Chiefs are for real. How about that clock-eating drive engineered by Alex Smith for a touchdown that effectively put the game out of reach last Thursday?

If only Smith had been available a year later.

(Oh, still mad that Vince Lombardi Chip Kelly didn’t come to the Bucs?)

Baltimore: The Crows blew out Houston yesterday in a matchup of two playoff teams from 2012. And people mock Joe Flacco, one of the most clutch quarterbacks there is.

Carolina: The Stinking Panthers blew out the Giants yesterday. If they can do this to the Giants, they can do this to the Bucs. A Mike Shula offense no less.

Wow, what has happened to the Giants? They are in the same pickle as the Bucs. Winless. That is one of the early surprises of the 2013 season.

Cincinnati: Joe has this game DVR’ed and will watch it tonight (Joe’s not wasting his time watching the pitiful Raiders play anyone). People like to mock Andy Dalton’s win-loss record against teams with a winning record (the percentage is a little better than Josh Freeman’s). But who would you take, a guy who has guided his team to the playoffs in each of his two seasons in the NFL, or a guy who has yet to accomplish such a feat in four years as a starter?

Dallass: This is why Joe doesn’t gamble. He would have dropped cash on the Lambs based on how awful Jerry Jones’ teams have been in recent years against the spread at home, and how good Jeff Fisher’s teams are against the spread.

The Cowgirls proceeded to hit the Lambs in the jaw with a horseshoe. The St. Louis crowd — included the normally sedate media — is already trying to run Brian Schottenheimer out of town, with a warm case of Budweiser as a parting gift.

Cleveland: So just after the Brownies decided to blow up their team in the quest for Teddy Bridewater, they go ahead and beat a playoff team on the road, with the immortal Brian Hoyer at quarterback. This is not the way to get your franchise quarterback locked up, Clevelandites.

New Orleans: Yeah, the Saints didn’t miss Sean Payton last year, huh. Right now they lead the NFC South, and Drew Brees isn’t having a Drew Brees kind of year, either. Scary.

Tennessee: The Titans aren’t likely going anywhere, but it will be interesting to see what happens in San Diego. How much longer before the Chargers decided they may want to blow up their team and make a run for, say, Johnny Football? Which may mean Philip Rivers could be on the trading block come February (or sooner).

Detroit: Joe isn’t sure how much the Lions should get props, beating the now hapless Redskins without Reggie Bush. Pretty solid day by Matt Stafford tossing for 386 yards.

Miami: The Dolphins are starting to look like a fun team to watch. They are 3-0 for the first time in 11 years, behind their young franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who seems to be developing quite nicely.

New York Jets: It appears the Jets are a pretty damned good team. They are hanging in games, even with a rookie quarterback, and more often than not, finding a way to get the job done. Damn, that Lavonte David late hit still rankles Joe.

Seattle: Sure, the Seahawks are good. But Joe doesn’t put much stock into beating the Jags, who are basically a middling ACC team. Hope Teddy Bridgewater likes Northeast Florida/Southeast Georgia.

Indianapolis: Damn, the Colts lose their offensive coordinator from last year and their second-year quarterback is still playing damned good ball. Colts just may be a sleeper team to come out of the AFC the way they punked San Francisco in their own crib.

Chicago: Who says a first-year coach can’t win big? The Bears may be one of the best teams in the early weeks of the 2013 season. What a defense. And that offense has even calmed down bratty Jay Cutler.

Since the Steelers are an unheard of 0-3, you don’t think the penny-pinching Rooney family may want to trade… nah!

Non-NFL thoughts:

1. Joe can’t remember the last time there was such a dreadful slate of college football games for a weekend? Though some games turned out to be close (Georgia and Michigan for example), if Joe wasn’t such a college footballholic, he never would have watched.

2. LSU looks to be a runaway train. Alabama showed that they are vulnerable defensively (at least facing Johnny Football) and LSU is a different cat defensively that Texas A&M. If LSU freight-trains Georgia like Joe expects this weekend, Joe cannot wait for the Alabama-LSU game in November.

3. What the hell is going on with Michigan? First they damned near coughed up a game to Akron — Akron! Then, they had to fight for their lives to beat UConn, truly a miserable team.

Has the Big Ten sunk this low that mighty Michigan has to bust their balls to beat two glorified Division I-AA teams?

4. Clemson once again impressed. Yeah, beating North Carolina State on the road on a Thursday night game is tougher than one thinks (ask Florida State). The fact Clemson pulled away impressed Joe. The Tigers have but two more tests left before they can argue for a BCS title shot: hosting Florida State next month and then traveling to South Carolina in December.

5. Watch out for UCLA. Joe has a hunch that is going to be a dangerous team.

6. This Bo Pelini nonsense in Nebraska. First, the guy is doing an awful job for being a defensive guru. Second, Joe found it all too interesting so many people waved off the unearthed recording (after a win over Ohio State) where he completely freaks out about Cornhuskers fans and two local columnists, dropping F-bombs right and left. So many people dismissed it as saying he was just venting. Well, if instead of dropping F-bombs about fans and writers he was dropping racial or sexual orientation bombs, would these same sophists still be so dismissive of Pelini? Joe thinks not.

7. So Urbie Meyer was up 50 on FAMU and was still going for it on fourth downs? What a charming citizen for the youth of our nation to look up to.

8. So the Rays are clinging to their wild card lead by a nose hair and have to travel to the Yankees and Blue Jays this week to close the season? Yikes.

9. Damnit, you Cardinals. Of all the times to have your closer getting lit up on a nightly basis it’s the end of September ,when you are trying to stave off two contenders to win the division. Good thing that team is loaded with young arms.

10. Why is it that Junebugs are a scourge of Hernando County, and it’s September?

22 Responses to “Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow”

  1. lightningbuc Says:

    Sad that in the economy we are in with jobs being scarce, people are being asked to do more for less, these “men” are bitching about a couple hours of football drills in the heat. Further exemplifying the “sissification” of the NFL.

  2. WinterSpringsBucsFan Says:

    Sitting here at work being asked by a JETS fan why did our coach have Revis playing Zone?

    I HAVE NO IDEA! Thankfully I have a number of Giants fans here I can pick on……………for how long though?

  3. ATLBucsFan Says:

    Have to agrre with you Joe on your Schiano stand. Seems to me we’ve given other coaches more than 1.25 years to turn a team around.

  4. JonBuc Says:

    How very Peter King of you, Joe. Beer chuggin’, Raquel Watson stalking, Belicheat disliken….nevermind-you get the point. Great stuff…an excellent read. I was beginning to type last night after being comfortably numb at 0-3 that Joe Philbin has been $. I liked him on Hard Knocks, he had/has a sterling NFL resume and seems to have a steady demeanor that NFL players appreciate ( and wasn’t afraid to give Ochostinko the heave-ho ). On the other hand,I’m afraid The Ittalian Stallion has lost the team….he is a type-cast colllege coach IMO.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    There is no question….we have some problems and they appear to be widespread…..Talent and Coaching.
    The points you made about TE & third wide reciever are absolutely true….however, I am not sure that Freeman could hit them if they were open.
    I have been a Freeman hopeful, but I am now without hope. I think our problems in the locker room begin with Freeman and our problems on the field begin and end with him.
    All it takes is one bad pass or missed open reciever to end a drive. We don’t seem to be able to sustain a drive and that falls on Freeman.
    Sullivan may have a great offense (for Manning)…but its not for Freeman.
    We don’t even need and elite quarteback to win…we just need an average one.
    As for defense…I think Revis will win out on how he is played.
    How many more games are we going to get beat with the short passes over the middle?
    I’m still remain hopeful for Schiano….what other choice do I have….abandon him after less than 20 games?

  6. Paul Says:

    Looks like we’ve officially entered the Teddy Bridgwater sweepstakes. With him and Jimmy Graham coming here for record TE money next year, I’d say things are looking up…

  7. Oil Derrick Brooks Says:

    Re: Clemson

    The officiating changed the outcome of that game. Oh sure, bad calls happen in all games and, I don’t say that too often, but, if you know anything about ACC officials, you’ll get my meaning.

    Freeman is what he has always been. Not sure why everyone expects anything different. Same in college. Same afterward. We traded up for that.

    And, once again, despite his moments of grandeur, Dominick has taken risks that will hurt the team. And, what is aggravating is that they were unnecessary. There was cap room to shore up the positions that needed depth. He simply chose not to.

    I like Schiano. But, like I said before, if he eventually gets canned, he still gave the roster that needed douche of criminals and malcontents. But, maybe it needs one more cleansing.

  8. mvermulm Says:

    I find it hard to call that pass going out the back of the endzone, coming overhead from behind as a drop by Wright. Just like I don’t see the Doug Martin pass down the left sideline to a 5’6″ RUNNING BACK with a LB and Safety covering as a drop. Put the ball over his right shoulder where it is catchable and I’ll call it a drop. Make a RB spin to the outside while running full speed and I don’t call that a drop. I call it a bad throw. VJ should have had the slant pass, but that was also thrown behind with a LB crossing his face and a safety hitting him hard in the ribs yet again. VJ looked like he was done with Free after that. The INT was another case of throwing to a covered WR late, and it cost the team a lot of lost momentum going into the half. It’s time to see if Glennon can deliver a pass on time and read a defense.

  9. [THE HANGOVER] The One Where We Discuss Enny Romero’s Big League Debut And Closing In A Playoff Spot | Rays Index Says:

    […] Another week, another loss for the Bucs. This thing is going to have be blown up at some point. First will be the quarterback. And if that doesn’t show any promise, the coach will be next. [JoeBucsFan] […]

  10. Pete 422 Says:

    I don’t know, something is off as far as coaching, and it’s offensively. There isn’t much rhythm and when they do get some, the offense can’t finish & score a TD. They should have had 2 TDs early and started that game up 14-0.

  11. Christopher Says:

    isn’t it funny how the “team captain” edict from Dominick has led to one of the weak-willed in the league the last three years? If you’re captain of only a pretty good college football team, I think the propensity is there for some small-time power tripping, i.e., “this isn’t going my way, so I’m taking my ball & going home”. That said, a 7 a.m. photo shoot is asinine…and you really couldn’t tell that Freeman isn’t much of a leader in 5 years on the field, you had to sink your year by letting Freeman throw himself under the bus with the 7 a.m. photo shoot. It is amazing the team leaders emerged in free agency, and pre-Dominick (Revis, Goldson, Jackson, and Joseph)…

  12. BirdDoggers Says:

    It’s up to the few veteran players on this team to stand up and tell the rest of the team that the practice situation isn’t nearly what under the old CBA. The younger players need to lose the sense of entitlement, if that’s what the problem is. The ownership, management and coaches need to create the culture, not the players.

  13. Couch Fan Says:

    I’ve been saying it all off-season. Nobody can win with Josh Freeman as your QB. Schiano seems to stubborn to make a chance and he seems more than willing to allow Freeman to cost him his job. And if that holds true that he has nobody to blame but himself… at this point i wouldn’t even care if Schiano got fired, though I would prefer he stayed.

  14. Mike Says:

    Best thing I’ve seen in over a year on here! Really hit home Joe! I’ve never been for Freeman and I have that right. I grew up in WPB Florida and have been a Bucs fan since I was a kid. I never thought Freeman should’ve been a 1st round pick. I’ve watched every game this year and wonder what is going on with our team? I’m at a loss! I think Schaino has done great at ridding us of problems, but at this point you can tell Freeman is one of them. I’m not a Glennon fan, but let’s get real….. How much worse can he be? Freeman should’ve been a 3rd-5th rounder…… One season made him look good. Here’s something for you. What if Freeman only plays good when we are suppose to lose? Nobody gave us a chance in 2010 so he had no pressure. I could be wrong, but why not?

  15. Buc1987 Says:

    “1. Joe can’t remember the last time there was such a dreadful slate of college football games for a weekend? Though some games turned out to be close (Georgia and Michigan for example), if Joe wasn’t such a college footballholic, he never would have watched.”

    Yes Joe atleast we still have college FB to look forward to on weekends…

  16. Bucs244 Says:

    Who is the “posion” in the locker?

  17. DCBUCSFAN Says:

    I think the Glazer family should do the upstanding thing and reimburse season ticket holders for this rotten product. “It’s a Bucs Life”

  18. alan porter Says:

    Schiano is Ray Perkins 2.0

  19. Joe Says:

    Thanks for the kind words guys.

  20. MakaveliTheDon Says:

    sorry Joe, since this isnt being addressed, I gotta throw this out there:

    I saw us down by 17 with 13 minutes left, at the NE 33 yd line, it was 4th & 13. And we GO FOR IT??? Instead of kicking a 47-49 yd FG???

    Who do you think makes the final decision to go for it on 4th down??? Sully?? Please…

    Did Schiano really like our chances of converting 4th & 13 better than kicking a 47-49 yd FG?? Where we could have cut it from a 3 score lead, down to a 14 point lead with still 13 minutes on the clock??

    Schiano had a moment of insanity, or straight up quit at the end of the 3rd quarter.

    The guy was 4th down happy with 2 previous attempts, and he had a moment of insanity and went for it on 4th & 13! ….And don’t give me sht about not trusting the kicker. When youre still in the game, you have no choice but to trust your kicker! We could have kicked a 47 yd FG to cut the lead to 14! How often does our team convert a 3rd/4th & 10+???

    And even if we MISS the FG, at least it would show that Schiano was still playing to win, and that he wasnt giving up yet. But he did give up. After just 3 quarters.

    Schiano’s Gotta Go!

  21. MakaveliTheDon Says:

    Funny how guys blamed Free, and now that he’s most likely gone, they skip over El Capitan and Put Dominik in their crosshairs?

    I can understand that Freeman is done. I wish him success. If/when Glennon starts, I’ll back him up and wish him success. But if the Glennon experiment fails, and this team implodes, is Dominik the one orchestrating practices?? Is Dominik the one making mid-game/halftime adjustments and locker room speeches.

    Dont be scared to admit that Schiano may be a subpar coach. I was a Freemanite, and I now admit that he’s a subpar QB (so far…).

    BUT, I wont give up on my team unless we rack up 8+ losses. But in the meantime, we need to make some 1st quarter season adjustments, the way we havent been making adjustments during games.

    Schianos Gotta Go.

  22. Rich TPA Says:

    Freeman is holding on to the ball to long. When he releases the ball the passes are consistently off. Receivers have to slow down to catch them or miss them all together. There is a two part problem here but the receivers do not know what to expect from play to play. The passing game issues lays mostly on Freeman. These guys get paid a lot of money and it is their job to practice and play. If they are bitching, send them down the road. Work ethic is part of winning. Offensive line looks better than some teams have. Defense is doing very well but they have some things to work out as well. Suck it up, watch film, practice, practice, practce, get the chip off of your shoulders and give your fans the “W”s.