By Eric Schmidt

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a small market team. Their fan base complains that they never get National attention. Well, that has changed this week.

One online website tried to stir up controversy in recent days with the revelation that QB Josh Freeman was not voted as a team captain, and then went on to suggest that the vote might have been rigged. Okay.

We are going to back this up just a little bit. I believe I have missed five, maybe six games, either television broadcast or radio of the Buccaneers team since 1976. I was very critical of Tampa’s performance last weekend in my report on Monday morning. There are issues brewing in Tampa, they seem to be very real, but they also seem to be exaggerated by the media.

One site this weekend wanted to make a big deal over the fact the Josh Freeman was not crowned captain as the team selected leaders. The fact that Freeman wasn’t selected as a captain was a monumental issue. So, the team’s quarterback wasn’t elected captain, immediately puts the team into a tailspin? WR Vincent Jackson was elected as a captain? I believe he has a few more years in the league than Freeman. That decision didn’t seem to be an issue as Freeman and Jackson hooked up for 154 yards last Sunday.

We live in this world based on instant gratification, immediate results. Go to a concert, everyone holds out their phones to record the show instead of watching the actual event. When the concert goers come home, they watch “scripted” reality television shows. This is exactly what is going on in Tampa right now.

The website that started stirring the pot, has quotes from Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Shaun King as a source. This website is owned now by NBC and King is now a contributor for NBC and since he lives in the Bay area, has now become an expert on the Buccaneers. Still waiting for this website to write another anti-Redskins name article. King has not been a member of the Buccaneers since 2003, but is seemingly now an expert? King floundered around the NFL and then up into Canada before becoming a talking head on television after leaving the Buccaneers. King knows his way around the Bay Area, he was arrested for DUI in January of 2011.

So, issues started with the quarterback position this offseason as the Buccaneers signed key free agents, but didn’t offer up a new contract to Josh Freeman. Questions began to swirl after the Buccaneers drafted Mike Glennon with the third-round selection in April’s draft. The media tried to parse the words of head coach Greg Schiano. Why can’t Freeman simply come out and silence his critics?

Is Schiano a hard-nosed, tough coach? Yes. Ask Aqib Talib. LeGarrette Blount and Kellen Winslow. All gone. He was the right coach at the right time. Ask the players of the late 1990′s Jacksonville Jaguars or the current members of the New York Giants about how strict Tom Coughlin is as a head coach. Under Raheem Morris, the Buccaneers were nothing more than a country club, with players hanging out in the Bay area with the head coach. As announcers on Monday night wondered about Philadelphia Eagles players chest bumping head coach Chip Kelly, they must not have watched any Buccaneers games with Morris at the helm.

The latest news out of One Buc Place is that Josh Freeman did not show up for the team photo this week. This afternoon, beat writer Rick Stroud reported that Freeman overslept for a team meeting last Monday and “has been late for things before”.

Freeman was drafted by the previous coaching staff. Schiano has nothing invested in him. Is he the answer long-term? Likely not. Last year, he reported to camp after shedding double digit pounds, but this year he seems to be pouting? Suck it up son. Do you want to be paid like an elite quarterback? Then play like one. Absorb the criticism and move on. Ravens QB Joe Flacco took the risk last year, and it paid off handsomely for him. Freeman has shown he isn’t even Flacco level as a starting quarterback.

Let’s look at the last seven games the Buccaneers have played. After racking up huge offensive numbers under center, Freeman fell flat down the stretch as the Buccaneers dropped their last five of six games. They have now lost six of their last seven with the threat to increase that number in the next two weeks.

When Raheem Morris was the head coach, the argument by the Buccaneers fan base was that no money was spent on free agents. The Buccaneers have spent freely in the last two seasons and brought serious talent to the team. The offensive playmakers on this team are the best I remember on a Buccaneers roster.

The fact of the matter remains that Tampa Bay has averaged just 16 points a game in the last 7 contests. Who is to blame? Schiano and the coaching staff handcuffed Freeman at the start of last season, and once they opened him up, the points starting pouring in. The last six games of the year, everything went south. It continued to go south through this year’s training camp and it showed in Week One for the Bucs.

As the media tries to stir the pot as to whether or not Freeman is upset, fans should simply look at Freeman, in his final rookie year contract year and tell him to suck it up. Love him, hate him? I don’t care. I remember the issues with Doug Williams when he was the Bucs signal caller.

As the media is trying to spin the issues surrounding the Buccaneers on second year head coach Greg Schiano, I am laying everything offensively at the feet of Freeman. Freeman was out-played by Jets rookie Geno Smith on Sunday, embarrassing while entering his fifth year in the league. Perhaps Schiano sees reality. Freeman is simply not that good. How’s that Mark Sanchez thing working out in New York for the Jets? Weren’t they selected in the same draft?

If Freeman is pouting already over his status with the Buccaneers, then there is good reason he wasn’t selected as a team captain. It’s time for him to put on his big boy pants and come to the table and deliver. No more, shedding weight and the Tito Jackson hairstyle. Throw the ball and live up to the hype.

Do I think it happens? No. I think the Buccaneers start the season 0-4, and by the bye week in week 5, Tampa starts rookie Mike Glennon for the remainder of the season.







Filed under: NFC, NFC South, NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. avatar Brett

    Tampa is the 13th largest market in the US. Nearby Orlando is market 19. New Orleans, Green Bay, and Buffalo are small market teams. Tampa is bigger than Denver, St. Louis, San Diego and Pittsburgh. It’s not a small market. had what happened in Buffalo happened in any of the mentioned real small markets ESPN would have been wall-to-wall with this stuff. It still barely got mentioned. There was more ESPN coverage on Mark Sanchez’s shoulder. What is happening in Tampa is really entertaining. The coach may have fixed the captain election and may have lost the team which has about 8 pro-bowl level players. The media is missing out of some really fun stuff.


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