By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, December 27, 2012
TAMPA — Bucs QB Josh Freeman admits he "hasn't played well enough to win," during the past couple weeks, when he's racked up a combined eight interceptions.
Which led Freeman to do some self-evaluation. What he said he found was that he and the offense need to get back to the basics and try not to do too much.
"Point blank, we just have to run the offense," Freeman said. "That's what we've been doing, and I hate to say, 'Slow it down.' But that's kind of what we need to do. If you look back to when we had that stretch where we were an extremely explosive offense, the stuff that we were doing wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We were doing our stuff. Obviously guys were making plays, but we were letting the system create the plays and you've got to keep that in perspective."
For Freeman, that means throwing it away sometimes as opposed to sitting in the pocket too long and taking the extra hit. It means sticking with his progressions.
He said the team tried to out-do itself at times following a mid-season, six-game stretch in which they averaged 33 points per game — during which Freeman had just three interceptions, and the Bucs won five of the games.
"Everybody has been pushing, everybody wants to go out and do well," Freeman said. "And and the end of the day, what allows you to do well is consistently running your stuff. You have these big games, you have these huge numbers and scoring all these points, and you feel like to maintain. To keep scoring this many points to one-up your previous performances, you (think you) have to put together some herculean effort, and you really don't. All you have to do is run the offense. Us being ourselves, us going out and just playing is good enough to win ball games."
PRO BOWL PROPS: Coach Greg Schiano said he was thrilled for DT Gerald McCoy, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection Wednesday night. "I hope this is a long stream of those types of things over the years," Schiano said. Schiano said there were certainly other Bucs players he believed were deserving, but said those type of awards may come more often with team success. "Usually what happens is (when) you win, even more guys get recognized," Schiano said. "If we win, there will be more of that to go around."
Rookie RB Doug Martin, WR Vincent Jackson and S Ronde Barber were chosen as alternates. "It's definitely an accomplishment," Martin said. "As a rookie, it's a great honor."
CLARK'S CALL: TE Dallas Clark believes the Bucs have a bright future. The question is, will Clark be part of it?
Clark, 33, who signed a one-year, $2.7 million deal in the offseason, has been productive, with 47 catches for 435 yards and four touchdowns. And coming off two injury-plagued seasons, Clark has held up physically, playing in all 15 games.
But it appears he would have liked to have been more involved in the offense. "It's been a great first year, a phenomenal lockeroom, I loved the guys" he said. "It's been a lot of fun. Just would have loved to help out more. But you show up for work and do as much as you can."
When asked if he wanted to be back with Tampa Bay, Clark said "we'll see what the options are. ... But that's the offseason," he said. "Right now, we're focused on finishing the season on a positive note."
WRIGHT STUFF: Schiano said he's unsure if CB Eric Wright, who is coming off a four-game suspension, will play Sunday against the Falcons. But defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan acknowledged how much the team missed Wright, having lost all four games he had to sit out for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. "He's an NFL starting corner, and that's what we brought him here to do," Sheridan said. "It was a hit for us I think. The guys that have stepped in for him have done more than an honorable job."
PRACTICE REPORT: Bucs LT Donald Penn missed his second straight day of practice Thursday because of a non-injury-related personal issue. G Roger Allen (groin) also did not participate.
Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com