Bucs Release Josh Freeman: Now Where To??

Now the Buccaneers have cut ties with their one time franchise quarterback where do they go from here?? Is Mike Glennon the man to return the Buccaneers to the playoffs or is he a stop gap until another quarterback is drafted?? All are interesting questions to ponder but when is it time to face the fact that Greg Schiano is NOT an NFL head coach?? Eventually you run out of excuses as the losses pile up and you can only have so many scapegoats. Last week Tampa made the decision to deactivate Freeman vs the Arizona Cardinal.  It looked like the Bucs were going to get their first win of the season when Coach Schiano struck.

This could be the best thing to happen to Josh Freeman. Time for him to rededicate himself to the game.

This could be the best thing to happen to Josh Freeman. Time for him to rededicate himself to the game.

Pinned at his own 15 yard line with 7:00 left with a 10-3 lead, Schiano decided to play slick-em football instead of sic-em footbal. Instead of a safe running play and punt to a Cardinal offense that hadn’t reached the end-zone in 53:00 of playing time He opts to have Mike Glennon, his rookie quarterback, struggling in his first start no less, drop back and throw an interception to Cardinal super corner Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals tie it with a touchdown in the next couple of plays and escape 13-10 winners when Peterson intercepts another pass with :02 left to go in the game.

The puzzling aspect of this game  is Glennon was struggling for most of the day. Why would you pass the football in that situation?? You stood the chance of not only eating at Glennon’s confidence but the trust of your players as well. Who do you blame this time?? Freeman was sitting in a luxury box watching the game.

Yet isn’t this the same guy that tries to play smash mouth defense when the opponent is kneeling in the victory formation?? Strange, strange…strange. How antithetical to opt to try and trick the Cardinals instead of running a power off tackle play with Doug Martin. What is your mantra?? What is your mode of operation? Typical to what is happening in the NFL he’s overcoaching.

However now we have to look at the future of Josh Freeman. Right now he is at the precipice. Where he once wore the captain’ s”C” on his jersey, which he was stripped of going into the 2012 season, he is without a football team. This is still a strong durable quarterback with a lot of gas in the tank at only 25 yrs old. We are only two seasons removed from when he was second to Tom Brady in touchdown to interception ratio (25 to 6). There are a slew of teams that would benefit from picking him up and for several reasons.

  • Denver Broncos: Have him learn from Peyton Manning for the next year or two before taking over for a 38 year old QB.
  • Minnesota Vikings: You just benched Christian Ponder for having not developed. Is Matt Cassel really the answer??
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: The reasons are obvious with an NFL low 32 points scored.
  • Houston Texans: Matt Schaub’s fatal flaw of throwing the inopportune interception isn’t going away.
  • Cleveland Browns: The fire is already lit for every Brown and management is going to get a new QB anyway.
  • Arizona Cardinals: To learn from Carson Palmer and be ready to take over if Palmer continues to struggle.

All these situations seem ideal and for different reasons. In retrospect did Freeman ever recover from the firing of former Buccaneer head coach Raheem Morris?? It was under his direction that he had his best season (2011) and when he was a model citizen and voted captain. Ever since Schiano arrived in Tampa, he’s hinted at replacing the quarterback. Which in this instance undermined their relationship as time as moved on.

So at this point the countdown begins…not Freeman’s resurfacing with another team because we know he will. The countdown is to the firing of Coach Schiano. If Tampa fired Raheem Morris for one 4-12 season after a winning season the year before, how could it not fire this coach for returning the franchise to laughingstock depths at 0-4??

NFL Week 8: The Buccaneers – Doug Martin & The Boise St 50 Club

Doug Martin burst onto the NFL scene with last night’s dazzling performance on NFL Network.

“On any given Sunday” was the phrase coined by the late commissioner Bert Bell back in the 1950’s. Well lets extend that to Thursday nights as well. With NFL Network carrying a full slate of games this year, another stage has been added to showcase players who otherwise would be obscured outside of Sunday highlight shows. Enter Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.

He powered the formerly 2-4 Bucs to a 36-17 victory over the 5-2 Vikings up in the Metrodome. This was an impressive win for Tampa. Going into the game the Vikings were 4-0 at home and had the NFL’s 11th ranked defense which only allowed 14.25 points per game in those 4 wins. Even NFC heavyweight San Francisco could only manage 13 points in the home of the Norsemen. So who was this group that came up north to wreak havoc on a former division rival??

Well avid readers of the Taylor Blitz Times know this doesn’t come as a shock to us. In Tampa’s previous 4 losses, they came by a total of 22 points, and one of those came courtesy of Eli Manning’s 245 yard 4th quarter (520 overall), 25 point performance when they faced New York. Even in that 41-34 defeat, they stared down the defending champion Giants and have scored 28 or more in 4 of their 7 games this year. Josh Freeman is back to how he looked in 2010 when he was second to Tom Brady in the touchdown to interception ratio with 14 TDs to only 5 interceptions. Here we predicted the Bucs to rise into possible wild card contention with the addition of Martin from Boise St. Even with our eye on him Martin’s start to the season has been slow and developing. His play mimics that of a team that showed flashes but hadn’t put a complete game together.

The Buccanneers learned to entrust Doug Martin with the football in his hands as the lead horse.

The big night began for Martin in the first quarter where he took a routine draw play 41 yards to the Vikings 16 to set up the first score of the night to make it 3-0. He finally showed the package of speed and burst this night that Boise St. Bronco fans had been accustomed to seeing.

Later in the first now up 10-0, from his own 46 yard line, Martin took off on a counter gap and completely plowed over Viking DB Jamarca Sanford (SEC / Ole Miss) for 12 more. A completely physical run, the type of attitude run that establishes dominance on a football field. On this night the Buccaneers ran him on counters, stretches, and draw plays that allowed him to gain over 100 yards by halftime.

Then early in the 3rd quarter came his signature play of the night. On a routine screen play, two Viking defenders converged on him, with a signature stiff arm to DT Letroy Guion (from Florida St.) he burst through 3 more Vikings and 64 yards later the Bucs were up 27-10. Ballgame!!

For the night Martin had 29 car. for 135 yards and 1 TD, to go with 3 receptions 79 more yards and another touchdown. Martin was the star of the game and did it on a national stage with the rest of the NFL watching.  Those that doubted his ability to play on this level have all shut their collective mouths for this was a strong performance.

Consider his next three games are against the Raiders (12th against the run), down on their luck Chargers (2nd against the run), and Carolina (19th against the run) he might be able to string together a few hundred yard games here.

For the season Doug Martin sits at 543 yards, which is more than halfway to the 1,000 yards The Chancellor of Football told you he’d get. Do you realize he’s only played 7 games?? Do you realize if he duplicated last night’s performance next week, it would put him on pace for a 1,356 yard season??

For all the Johnny Come-Lately’s we have been touting this talent here for more than two football seasons now. This was a gem we wrote to get some exposure out there about him when no other writer or pundit had anything good to say. It was us and no one else writer-wise. The only guy who did talk about Martin as a 1st round pick and will do great in the pros was fellow NFL analyst Mike Mayock. Ironically, he was the color analyst for last night’s game. We argued the merits of Doug Martin and the National Championship legitimacy of the Boise St Broncos against a tidal wave of naysayers… Which brings us to our next point…

Are you familiar with the Boise St 50 club?? I know you aren’t… The Boise St Broncos class of 2011 was the first Division I (we use old school terminology here) graduating class to win 50 games during their collegiate career. They should have played for the National Championship at least one of those years. Yet NCAA, CBS and BCS politics kept them from their legitimate place as one of the great teams in college football history because they didn’t play in the SEC or a BCS power conference. They were 6-0 against teams from BCS conferences, won 4 bowl games including 2 BCS bowl games, and had 2 undefeated seasons. Now those former colleagues that argued against The Chancellor’s points are nowhere to be found now that every skilled player from that Boise St. team made the NFL.

Kellen Moore is in Detroit along with WR Titus Young, and WR Austin Pettis (Rams) who scored in last week’s game against the Packers. They were the winningest team in college football from 1999-2011. There are other notable Boise St Broncos in the NFL… Ask Aaron Rodgers and now Matt Ryan what they think of Daryn Colledge as a tackle. He started for the 2010 Super Bowl Champion Packers. Then go tap Peyton Manning on the shoulder and ask him what school his left tackle Ryan Clady went to.

Yet the lasting legacy of that group will be Doug Martin’s NFL career and he’s now off and running. He was the crown jewel of that group and last night was a glimpse into what he can do as a runner. Isn’t it ironic that Tamp Bay RB LaGarrette Blount became infamous for punching a Boise St player and now he sits behind one on the Buccanneer depth chart??

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Another friend to the Taylor Blitz Times is the Ray Ellis Show on Voice of America Sports. Talks about pro football on every Tuesday and has many former players on his show. The Chancellor has been on the show a few times talking football and being from Ohio he knows his football. Tune in on Tuesdays http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/64762/ray-ellis-sports

NFL Week 3 South: Early Season Pivotal Points

Roddy White about to be greeted by the Tampa secondary.

Inside Our NFL rolls on. The NFL has had it’s share of rivalries. Teams that just couldnt’ stand each other and brought out the worst in their opponent. The newest NFL hatefest is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. We’re not sure if it began with General Manager Rich McKay moving from the Buccaneers to the Falcons in 2003, but we do know it’s intense. Last week these two renewed affiliations and played another slugfest this past weekend. One where the Atlanta Falcons were called for encroachment, grabbed Tampa’s QB Josh Freeman’s leg and the young quarterback bucked like a bronco to free himself.  Nearly stepping on a couple of strewn about arms of would be defenders. One where Bucs QB Freeman was sacked, the next series his Buccaneers retaliated with an eight man all out blitz at the line of scrimmage that nearly knocked Matty “Ice” Ryan into next week. What did they do for an encore when they knocked him groggy?? Sent another for one of the most vicious sacks seen in years. In which three players arrived at the same time forcing a fumble and knocking Ryan’s helmet off. Quite simply, the Bucs outhit Atlanta for a 16-13 win.

These young Bucks (pun intended) are growing up before our very eyes. They narrowly missed the playoffs going 10-6 last year yet have started this season slowly on the offensive side of the ball. Right now Josh Freeman has completed 67.9 % of his passes yet has thrown 2TDs v. 4 interceptions. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/tam/2011.htm  He’ll have to improve on the his TD to Int ratio, in fact he was second to Tom Brady with the lowest interception ratio last year. With LeGarrette Blount and this young defense, they are playing close to the vest affairs, having scored 60 points while allowing 60. Yet should pad their 2-1 record hosting Indy, traveling to San Francisco, before an important early season divisional matchup with the New Orleans Saints. The division lead should be on the line….speaking of which, lets take a look.

Tampa Bay 2 1 0 .667 1-1-0 1-0-0 1-0-0 2-1-0 60 60 0 Won 2
New Orleans 2 1 0 .667 2-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1-1-0 104 88 +16 Won 2
Carolina 1 2 0 .333 1-1-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-2-0 60 68 -8 Won 1
Atlanta 1 2 0 .333 1-0-0 0-2-0 0-1-0 1-2-0 60 77 -17 Lost 1

Right now the Atlanta Falcons should be concerned since they are 1 miraculous comeback from  being 0-3. Now those first 3 opponents were 11-5, 10-6, and 10-6 last year respectively, yet it’s against top competition where you measure yourself. Of course it’s still early in the season but they’re being gashed on the ground. They have given up 336 yards rushing so far to opposing teams and at least 1 TD in every game. They need a defensive leader to emerge. Yes, John Abraham is good for 10-12 sacks a season (this year 2) but these defensive linemen either have to get off more blocks or their run as division champs could be in jeopardy. Especially with the “Runnin’ Carolinas” comin to town in 3 weeks. Before that they travel cross country to Seattle then come home to a rematch with the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers. Careful Atlanta this season could get away from you quick. Get back to the run.

Jonathon Stewart in a preseason game. Back when Carolina was running with regularity

Sorry kids, but last week the Cam Newton experience, was rained out last week against Jacksonville although they got their first win. What has been surprising in these first two weeks is the Panthers haven’t been able to run the football. Stewart is averaging 3.9 yards per carry to Williams’ 2.3, and did you know each hasn’t rushed for more than 100 yards this season. That’s not acceptable!! They’re not supposed to stand and watch Newton! Go keep the defenses honest. Right now it’s all about Steve Smith and the Hurricane tight end connection Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey in the passing game. They have 16,12, and 9 receptions respecively…couple that with 13 checkdown receptions by Stewart and Newton is distributing his passes well. Just in time because quick passing to TEs is what Ron Rivera needs when his team visits Chicago and Mr. Urlacher this Sunday. Think Greg Olsen will be fired up?? Commit to the run on the Bears or Briggs and Urlacher will make life miserable for Newton this week. Afterward they host the Saints…Stewart and Williams need to find a groove.

Speaking of the ‘Who Dat Nation” they are who we thought they were! Uh..not quite, they sit atop the NFC South  with a 2-1 record yet the only time they haven’t scored is during the writing of this article. Lost in the hoopla with the AFC’s quarterbacks in Fitzpatrick and Brady, is the fact that Brees is on pace for 5,648 yards and 48TDs so far. He has 1,059 yards passing, 9TDs to only 2 interceptions and the Saints have scored 34,30, and 40 points thus far this season. Right now he’s carrying the team on his back…er..shoulder. With their next three games on the road to Jacksonville, Carolina, and Tampa Bay, this looks like a prime spot to get Mark Ingram into the mix running the football. This is necessary to rest a defense that has 3 of it’s top 4 tacklers being defensive backs. Lift some weights frontline!!!

We will find out plenty about this division over these next three weeks…

NFL Week 2 NFC South: Will Someone Stand Up & Play Defense

Although this division has won one NFL championship in the last two years, its amazing how pedestrian this division is playing defense. With Cam Newton showcasing out of this world talent, it doesn’t bode well for the Panther’s division mates. The Saints finally showed up against Chicago but ask yourself : Was it the strength of the Saints defense or a Bears offense still searching for an identity?? Division favorite Atlanta won a shootout with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night yet gave up 30 points for the second consecutive week. They cannot keep going at that rate and expect to win the division. A trip to Tampa to reprise last year’s bloodbath against the physical Buccaneers awaits.

NFC South Team W L T  Pct PF PA Net Pts TD Home Road Div Pct Conf Pct Non-Conf Streak Last 5
New Orleans Saints 1 1 0 .500 64 55 9 7 1-0 0-1 0-0 .000 1-1 .500 0-0 1W 1-1
Atlanta Falcons 1 1 0 .500 47 61 -14 6 1-0 0-1 0-0 .000 1-1 .500 0-0 1W 1-1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 1 0 .500 44 47 -3 5 0-1 1-0 0-0 .000 1-1 .500 0-0 1W 1-1
Carolina Panthers 0 2 0 .000 44 58 -14 5 0-1 0-1 0-0 .000 0-2 .000 0-0 2L 0-2

All that withstanding, the Buccaneers could prove to be the early season favorite if they can knock off the Falcons this Sunday. Last year these two played in the most physical game of the season.  One with so much hitting that the personal foul calls caused Roddy White of the Falcons to be pulled out for awhile by his coach and saw  Tampa QB Josh Freeman get a personal foul call after an interception. Even the cheerleaders left that December game sore. Get some nachos, beer, popcorn and get ready for this one. We promise you this will be the game to watch because these two teams hate each other. Who are we leaning toward?  Check in later this week, right Falcons Jennifer?? She’s a little biased by the way.

New Orleans is still in a state of flux after giving up a plethora of yards to the Green Bay Packers in the opener along with 42 points. The “Who Dat” nation better learn how to tackle before the Panthers and Cam Newton come to town. If you can’t bring down DeAngelo Williams and Jonathaon Stewart, you’ll hate having to bring down a 250 lbs quarter back who has set the NFL on it’s collective ear. When he first threw for 422 vs Arizona, most of us scoffed “well that was the Cardinals”.  Then the Panthers threw for over 400 yards against the defending NFL champions and now you have to say “OK Cam Newton is for real”. Others would think it’s premature, we don’t. Ever since the midway point of last year’s college season,we knew he was going pro, so you know defenses were gearing themselves for him. He had some growing pains against the Packers with 3 interceptions, but face it, he bounced back and almost tied the game in losing 31-24. So here the Panthers are, a defensive football team who now wakes up after two weeks not taking care of their end of the bargain.

Ron Rivera’s defense is the reason this team is 0-2, they didn’t know what they had on offense. Now that they do, expect more solid game plans and wins to mount up. Has there been a more dangerous 0-2 team than this one?? Face it there isn’t a lot of film on Newton and they still have Williams and Stewart to help pound the rock before we get to a rejuvenated Steve Smith.  Do you realize after 2 weeks Steve Smith has 14 rec. for 334 yards and 2 touchdowns?? He’s the wrong guy to let him start “feeling it”. If you project those numbers over a full season, that would be 112 receptions and 2,672 yards and 16 TDs. This is the wrong time for the NFC South to forget how to play defense. Seriously!! After losing a close tussel to the world champions, Carolina is licking it’s chops looking at the rest of the division and the lack of defense being played. Seriously, has an 0-2 team ever been this optimistic when looking at the rest of their schedule??

2011 NFC South Previews & Predictions

First things first, we’d like to welcome you to the best division in all of pro football. Although the NFL’s marquee rivalries exist between it’s glamour teams, no division is as competitive from week to week like the NFC South. Do you realize that since the division’s inception in 2002, there has been NO repeat champion in it’s history??  It also has the distinction of being the only division in the NFL, where each team has played for the conference championship and a right to go to the Super Bowl in that same time. Not even the NFC East can match that because neither Dallas or Washington have sniffed the NFC Championship in the last decade. This division is defined by physical, spirited play punctuated by last year’s bloodbath between the upcoming Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons in week 13. The hardest hitting game of the NFL season came down to a game sealing interception by Falcon CB Brent Grimes with under a minute to go. As a going away present, Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman was given an unnecessary roughness, personal foul for hitting him several yards out of bounds. Man, you have to love football season!!

As we make our way toward the 2011 season, there are several questions about the teams in this division. Are the New Orleans Saints poised to reclaim the divison from the Falcons?? Are the Buccaneers and the aforementioned Josh Freeman for real after a 10-6 season?? Have the Buccaneers improved enough to unseat them both and become the 10th different division winner in so many years?? How will the Carolina Panthers progress under new coach Ron Rivera and develop Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton?? What will become of last year’s #1 draft pick, quarterback Jimmy Clausen??

To answer a few of these questions, you’ll have to read deeper into this article. As for our picks


Atlanta Falcons 12-4 *

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-5 +

New Orleans Saints 9-7

Carolina Panthers 3-13

We look to the Atlanta Falcons to end the revolving door of NFC South Division Champions. Head Coach Mike Smith has them playing mistake proof football behind a power rushing attack that is augmented by the play action passing of Matt Ryan. With the NFL’s leading receiver (Roddy White) in the fold, it will be interesting to see how potent the offense can become with 1st round draft pick Julio Jones from Alabama. The Falcons overspent for Jones’ services but it seems as though they figure to score with Green Bay if they see them again in the playoffs. They still need a player to emerge to rush the passer along with John Abraham. It was this glaring weakness that was exposed by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the 48-21 loss to the eventual world champions. Last year’s big splash was CB Dunta Robinson. He needs to play up to his potential and not be overshadowed by his Pro Bowl counterpart in Brent Grimes. That embarrassing playoff loss should keep this team motivated and working hard to improve.

It’s time for Matt Ryan to win his first playoff game.  He has amassed a regular season record of 33-13 and has led his team to 2 division championships. Going into his fourth season should be able to handle the entire playbook as well.  He still has workhorse running back Michael Turner and now has 3rd down back Jacquizz Rodgers from Oregon State to add to the explosive Jones. The Falcons are primed for a Super Bowl run and on the Georgia Dome turf this team will  be hard to catch. Right now they still have the lone weakness of rushing the passer that hasn’t been addressed.

The Buccaneers young signal caller, Josh Freeman.

Now buoyed by the fact that they learned how to win last season will propel the Buccaneers into the playoffs in 2011. Coach Raheem Morris has to get some early pressure from draft picks Adrian Clayborn, Da’Quan Bowers, and Mason Foster to help cover secondary deficiencies until CB Aquib Talib gets back from suspension. Where did they learn how to win? Well last year going into week 15 they hadn’t won a game against a team with a winning record. They had lost several close games to teams with winning records but when it counted in the last two weeks, they beat the playoff bound Seahawks 38-15. Then in the last game of the season they outhit and beat the defending champion Saints 23-13 in the Super Dome. In that game the Saints were trying to catch the Atlanta Falcons to steal the NFC South but called off the dogs when they realized the Bucs weren’t going away.

What has been lost in this offseason is how good this team was playing when the season’s final seconds ticked away. Did you know that Josh Freeman completed 61.4 % of his passes and finished the season with 25TDs thrown to only 6 interceptions?? Or how about Freeman was second only to Tom Brady with an interception percentage of only 1.3% with 474 passing attempts?? Right, we know you didn’t. The NFL pundits are too busy talking about Manning and Brees than to actually see what is happening on a week to week basis right in front of them. Consider that he is only going into his 3rd season. Yikes!! Now add to that battering rams RB LaGarrette Blount, then FB Earnest Graham, and you can see this team overpowering the weak tackling New Orleans Saints as they did last January.  They have to approve against the run and they addressed their defensive front 7 with 3 picks and several free agents. On the rise and will make the playoffs this year. Possibly the promised land next year.

Descending back to the pack are the New Orleans Saints. The light defense that couldn’t tackle Marshawn Lynch in last year’s playoffs is still in tact. Why they are returning to the pack?? Try the fact that in their Super Bowl season when they had Darren Sharper, they led the NFL with 26 interceptions. Those numbers fell to less than 10 for the 2010 season and the last time we saw the Saints secondary?? Matt Hasselbeck threw for over 400 yards, 4 touchdowns and had a perfect passer rating in the Seahawks WildCard 41-36 win. They added DE Cameron Jordan in the draft to help the pass rush but the team returns with 10 of 11 defensive starters who underwhelmed last year. So the last two times we saw this defense was when division rival Tampa took their lunch money and Matt Hasselbeck throwing a 7 on 7 skeleton drill. Listen, Drew Brees can pass for 6,000 yards and wouldn’t be able to right this ship.

As a passer he has been on a roll ever since arriving in New Orleans. Brees has won a Super Bowl, passed for over 5,000 yards in a season and has been regarded as one of the best in football.  All of this after the Chargers left him unsigned with a shoulder that needed surgery, it seemed his career was over. So here we are several seasons later in the midst of Brees’ renaissance, will he take the ball out of his hands and hand it off to a Mark Ingram as often as he should?? A question no one is really asking. If Ingram provides a more stout running game, it will rest the Saints defense, but will it knock the Saints passing game out of it’s rhythm?? Last year, the Saints were knocked out of a good passing rhythm by their own defense’s inability to get off the field. It’s one of the reasons Brees tossed 22 interceptions last year. Interesting questions that we think it will take New Orleans beyond this year to figure out. So no playoffs trip this year.

In Cam they trust. Coach Rivera has decided to go with Newton in their final pre season game and we know what that means: He’s going to start the season barring a subpar performance. Somehow this could be the vanguard of introducing the spread offense as a pro football attack. With power backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart still in the fold, we know the Panthers will be running the football. Against some 8 man fronts this season, Newton or Clausen should have 1 on 1 opportunities to showcase their arms. If Clausen gets in the game he needs to hit on those since he’s auditioning for his next NFL stop with each throw. Its a mistake if the Panthers start Newton right away. They should let him get into the season first before inserting him into the lineup, somewhere around week 5. Right now the Panthers have a great young group of defensive linemen and building a solid defense around MLB Jonathon Beason. They just need to trade QB Jimmy Clausen, WR Steve Smith for draft considerations and bring in some weapons on the outside. Right now, they’re in last place in the NFC South.

Next up, the NFC North!!

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