Tampa Bay Recap Week 14

The Bucs were beaten up by the Jets this weekend and will now have travel to the west coact in order to face the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday. Read on to find out more about how the Bucs graded out against the Jets, the latest concerning Sammie Stroughter's injury, who now leads the team in sacks and which college football player Mark Dominick already has his eyes on.

Coach Raheem Morris said Monday the Buccaneers have to scale back some of the workload on rookie Josh Freeman and take the pressure off the 21-year-old quarterback.

"You've got to calm him down a little bit," Morris said. "You've got to establish your offensive identity as far as the run, you've got to get him some easy completions. You've got to get back to his hard core play-action pass. We talked about it. When do you give him too much? When do you give him too much? And we kind of found out. You've got to reel some things back on him a little bit.

"He played against a really good defense, and you don't want to overdo it. You don't want to put him in remedial classes. But at the same time, you want to take a little pressure off the young man, take some stuff off of him, put it back on the coaches, put it back on the guys around him and do some of those things."

Morris said while Freeman doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve, his confidence was clearly shaken by throwing an early interception Sunday against the Jets, a week after he threw five picks in a loss at Carolina. Freeman finished Sunday's game 14 of 33 for 93 yards with three interceptions for a passer rating of 12.1. The Bucs have not scored a touchdown in their last two games.

"We talked about it as a staff, and I don't think we did a good job as a staff of calming him down after that happened," Morris said of the pick by Jets linebacker David Harris. "He lost his composure a little bit at the time. As a rookie, you expect it. That's what we talk about when we talk about the patience. I'm sure it had some kind of psyche on him at the beginning of the game. He's a mentally tough kid, but anytime you throw five picks the week before -- in a completely different situation, I might add -- and you start off with a pick that way, when you're searching for an easy completion for the young man to get his confidence going, it probably affected him a little bit."

A week earlier, Freeman passed for a career-high 321 yards at Carolina, but three of his five interceptions occurred in the red zone.

"I remember a couple weeks ago when he went out there and threw for all those yards, we're saying, 'Hey, how far can he take this thing?'" Morris said. "Is he going to be the guy to stand back there and throw the ball every snap? I looked at you guys and said, 'I don't know. I don't know how fast you push him and how fast you let that thing go.' Maybe you've got to scale him back a little bit now."

HOT TOPIC

A lot has been made by coach Raheem Morris of the Buccaneers' poor practice prior to their 26-3 loss to the New York Jets.

That effort apparently carried over into the game. But Morris defended his team's practice habits, saying Friday was not the norm.

"That's not a fair statement," Morris said when asked whether such practices were common. "We had a bad Friday practice. A terrible Friday practice. It was horrible. I told them right after practice on Friday. I told them on Saturday morning. And (Sunday) after the game, I talked about it with (the media). But throughout the season, that was more of an exception."

As to what was so discouraging about Friday, Morris said, "We couldn't get anything going on offense. The defense was a little bit sloppy. But the defense came out and responded and played well (on Sunday)."

A Friday practice is considered one of the most important of the week because a team typically concentrates on scripted plays to open a game with, red-zone and goal-line work and fine-tuning complicated aspects of the game plan.

Curiously, Morris opted not to take any dramatic steps during the practice beyond calling out players afterward.

"It wasn't the time," he said. "You sat back and watched the practice and couldn't believe what you were seeing. You (huddle) up at the end of practice and let them know what just happened, and you let them know there was going to be a direct response for this practice. And there was. It's called getting your face beat off 26-3. I can't give a better example than that."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik already has his eyes on Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Either Tampa Bay or St. Louis figures to have the first overall pick, and Dominik expects Suh to be at the top of many draft boards.

"The only thing that worries me is living up to the hype," Dominik said. "If he gets six sacks as a rookie playing defensive tackle, someone's going to call him a bust because of the high expectations. How's he going to handle that?"

--Coach Raheem Morris pointed to a lackluster practice last Friday as a harbinger of what was to come against the Jets. But Morris said the Bucs haven't had many of those practices this season.

Morris opted not to take any dramatic steps during the practice beyond calling out his players afterward for their lack of attention to detail and intensity.

"It wasn't the time," he said. "You sat back and watched the practice and couldn't believe what you were seeing. You (huddle) up at the end of practice and let them know what just happened and you let them know there was going to be a direct response for this practice. And there was. It's called getting your face beat off 26-3. I can't give a better example than that."

--"Too bad it's painful." -- C Jeff Faine, on the development of QB Josh Freeman.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--WR Sammie Stroughter has a back strain, and he did not play against the Jets. He is expected to return to practice next week. He is expected to return to practice this week. Stroughter is third on the team with 27 receptions.

--DT Roy Miller made his first NFL start Sunday despite a right ankle sprain.

--QB Josh Freeman has thrown eight interceptions in his last two games, both of them losses.

--DE Stylez G. White took over the Bucs' sack lead with 6.5.

--PK Conner Barth is now 8-for-12 on field-goal tries this season, and he improved his kickoffs against the Jets.

--QB Josh Freeman had a career-low 12.1 passer rating in Sunday's game against the Jets.

--RB Cadillac Williams needs 55 yards to pass Ricky Bell for sixth place on the Bucs' all-time rushing list.

--TE Kellen Winslow is sixth in the NFL among tight ends with 62 receptions this season.

--WR Michael Clayton has a knee sprain and will be questionable for Sunday's game at Seattle.

--CB Ronde Barber will tie TE Dave Moore on Sunday for second on the Bucs' all-time list for career games played with 191.

--WR Yamon Figurs would handle the kick return duties if WR Sammie Stroughter is unable to play with a back strain.

REPORT CARD VS. JETS

PASSING OFFENSE: F -- QB Josh Freeman threw an interception on the first play of the game and never recovered. He finished with 93 yards passing and two more picks to give him eight in two games.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- The Bucs averaged 2.2 yards per carry against the Jets despite a game plan that was supposed to emphasize the running game.

PASSING DEFENSE: C -- Face it, the Jets were not going to allow backup QB Kellen Clemens to throw the football around the yard. He finished with 111 yards passing and no turnovers.

RUSHING DEFENSE: D -- The Bucs did a decent job getting off the field in the first half, but they played about 40 plays. The 33-yard TD run by Thomas Jones broke the game open, and the Jets rushed for more than 170 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The Bucs were stressed by having too many kickoff returns and six punts. That wore them out, but Yamon Figurs did a decent job in place of Clifton Smith and Sammie Stroughter.

COACHING: F -- The Bucs were not prepared to play, especially on offense. Having a rookie quarterback start the game by throwing inside to a receiver covered by Darrelle Revis is not a way to instill confidence.


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